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This 3-hour online course is written for social workers, psychologists and parents who are assessing the needs of children with developmental disabilities.


Tammy H. 

"There were several takeaways (preach to the choir comment; expectation/stress link; What does ____need? that I will incorporate into my own training of foster parents."

Christopher H. 

"The presenter allowed participation throughout the training, This was helpful because I was able to practice hands-on."

Heather R. 

"It was helpful to understand the stressors better. I would like more ideas for how to support them in the counseling room. "

Course Overview

Parents of children with developmental disabilities face all the challenges of typical parenting along with many other stressors specific to their child’s needs. This can lead to chronic stress resulting in negative impacts on their own health and well-being. For many people this is a life-long journey that impacts all aspects of life: physical, emotional, financial, social, and existential. Children with developmental disabilities have increased vulnerabilities which require their caregivers to understand how to best support their care and treatment. It is therefore critical that human services professionals and caregiving parents work collaboratively to strengthen the internal and external resources of the parents.


We will review some of the stressors common to parenting a child with developmental disabilities, how these stressors impact parents, and ways for professionals to be meaningfully supportive to the families they serve. Parents deserve support for their own needs as they are caring for the needs of their child.

This intermediate level course is appropriate for psychologists, social workers, counselors, educators, and other human services professionals working with families who are parenting children with developmental disabilities.

A woman hugging a disable child

Participants will be able to:

Describe the common stressors and impact of parenting children with developmental disabilities.

Utilize a trauma informed, collaborative approach when working with parents of children with disabilities.

Identify methods to support parents of children with disabilities to improve their health and well-being

" Enjoyed the trainer's knowledge of the subject and her experience in working with children and families.  Was an excellent course with lots of examples.  This course should be given annually and open to all direct care staff that work with children and families. The presenter was very thorough with her delivery and content."

Mavis M. 

Laura Gaines, MSW, LISW-S

Laura is a clinical social worker with over 28 years’ experience working with children and adults with special needs. She received her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the Ohio State University and is a licensed independent social worker. Her career experiences include managing group homes for people with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities; associate professor at the Nisonger Center, a university affiliated program for intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities; and the family services coordinator at Dahlbery Learning Center, a preschool for children with special needs. She is also an adult and adolescent therapist who treats secondary problems related to learning disabilities and developmental delays.

An uncertain journey – most parents do not intend to be the parents of a child with developmental disabilities. The awareness of concerns and the diagnostic process can be sudden or take years to resolve. Even parents who choose to parent a child with developmental disabilities find that some aspects of their journey are not as they expected

Parenting a child with developmental disabilities often impacts all areas of life including physical, emotional, financial, social, and existential

Expectations – A parent’s expectations of how their child will develop, the impact of a diagnosis, the levels of support available to them and the long-term impact of their child’s needs greatly affects their ability to adjust to the changes a diagnosis brings to their lives. 

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