Friday, June 3, 2011

The Need for Peer Support

I am so excited to attend the annual CCA family retreat this month. My family has been to four retreats but has missed the last two years. Our first retreat was in Nashville (2005) when Peter was just four years old and Jacob only six months. It was an amazingly fun and carefree time as well as educational and supportive. We met many families going through the same issues as we were, and Peter saw kids that had the same differences as him-- trach, feeding tube, one ear, etc. What made the biggest impression on me though was seeing all the kids together and how quickly they connected at all age levels. From toddlers to teens the interaction and synergy was intoxicating.

I also left that first retreat extremely impressed by the siblings of the CCA kids. I loved how siblings were included in all the activities, and I was very impressed with the level of maturity, compassion, and wisdom that all of these children and young adults possessed. It made me very proud to think that my boys will grow up participating and contributing to such a wonderful organization and cause.

Peter was seven years old at the last retreat we attended in Myrtle Beach (2008), and lately I've felt that he has been missing the camaraderie and support of his CCA buddies. He is starting to make more comments about his appearance, looking in the mirror a little harder, and vocalizing concerns about his teeth. The issue of needing peer support was even brought to our attention at his IEP meeting this year. Growing up is challenging and awkward for all kids but my heart really breaks when I think of all the extra things our kids have to tackle both medically and socially.

Attending the retreats will be a family priority in our house for many years to come. We all need it, we all benefit from it, and we all have a great time!

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