IDA/MAP Webinar Series #1

Caring for Parents: Elements & Models of Support


According to recent studies, raising a child with a disability can cause more daily stress and long-range health problems than parenting a child without disabilities. How can professionals provide support to families and what can parents do to manage the stress of raising a child with special needs? This webinar session presented by Diane Simon Smith, a Marriage Family Therapist (MFT), and a parent of two children with disabilities. She will discuss the emotional needs of parents raising children with special needs and models of support to meet those needs. The models presented will be the therapeutic support group, a retreat for mothers ( and a retreat for couples. The presenter will discuss the benefits, risks, and key components of each.

The session is the first in a series of “Ideas Worthy of Replication,” hosted by the Interdisciplinary Collaborations for Quality Committee of the Infant Development Association and co-sponsored by the Infant Development Association and the MAP to Inclusion and Belonging Project of WestEd Center for Child and Family Studies.

The goals of this webinar series are to bring attention to quality trainings and programs rooted in the concepts and knowledge areas of the California Competencies documents including:

• the Early Childhood Educator Competencies

• the Revised Guidelines for Infant Family and Early Childhood Mental Health

• and the Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual

This series will inspire others to develop similar programs or training to make them more accessible to others throughout the state.


Diane Simon Smith brings unique personal and professional experience to her work with families of children with special needs. She holds a Masters in Public Health and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, she has worked for over 20 years with parents raising children with disabilities as they struggle with issues of loss and rebuilding new meaning. She has led parent support groups, as well as sibling workshops. She is the creator of two retreats -- Healing the Mother’s Heart (for mothers) and The Journey Together (for couples). Diane is a South Chapter Board Member of the Infant Development Association. In 2012, she was awarded the Parent Leadership Award by the California ICC. Her two sons, one with severe cerebral palsy and one with Fragile X Syndrome, have been her inspiration and greatest teachers.