As her son was diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, Auchterarder mum Gillian Healy was at a loss on how to support him.
That’s when she came across Parents Supporting Parents, a local charity that aimed to help parents find support as well as being a shoulder to cry on.
It was set up in 2019 by a group of parents who were struggling to find credible and relatable advice on additional support needs and other parental worries.
Since registering as a charity in July 2020 – in the midst of the pandemic – the Auchterarder organisation has helped more than 2,000 families from across Scotland.
Dyslexia primarily affects the skills involved with reading, writing and spelling, while dyscalculia impacts the ability to understand and learn maths and numerical based activities.
Dyspraxia, otherwise known as developmental co-ordination disorder, affects physical co-ordination and it can impact various aspects of daily life, such as movement, co-ordination and speech.
Gillian, who is now a trustee, said the charity took her under their wing and helped her through a challenging family experience.
She said: “The charity helped me see that what my family was going through was a lot more common than I’d realised.
“I felt like they knew exactly how I felt. All I wanted to do was help my son and they showed me how to and that I wasn’t the only one crying and worried about how to navigate this journey.
“My son is severely dyslexic and it helped that the trustees have all been in the same place that I have. I could automatically trust them.
“Having that shared experience means you’re not preaching to parents who come to you for support, you’re simply just trying to help navigate them through the minefield.”
The need for the charity has grown since the pandemic began, Gillian said, and the charity are now on the hunt for new trustees.
They knew exactly how I felt.”
Lockdown meant parents and carers were given an insight into their child’s wellbeing that they may have missed before.
The charity now offer advice on any issues parents raise, such as anxiety and mental health in children, additional support needs and screen time.
Online meetings mean the charity can invite a wider range of experts and reach an audience further than just Auchterarder or Perthshire.
Since January 2020, more than 2,000 people have secured a place at an online event.
Upcoming sessions will see the charity invite experts from across the UK to help parents understand the teenage brain and risky behaviour, sex consent and the law and drug, alcohol and harm reduction.
We’ve turned our own struggles into a force for good.”
Laura Kelly, development officer
Laura Kelly, development officer, said: “If you have a child who is struggling, our message is clear – please don’t suffer in silence. Share your concerns.
“We welcome parents and carers to talk to us if they are unsure where to turn or have specific concerns. We have great relationships with other charities in their own fields and we can signpost parents and carers to other valuable resources dependent on their needs.
“While we are a charity founded in Auchterarder, our audience has widened significantly with many families engaging with us from all over Perth and Kinross, and even further afield across Scotland.
“We’ve turned our own struggles into a force for good in Parents Supporting Parents. We are tremendously proud of the fact we’ve been able to support so many parents to date, and it proves to us that what we offer is absolutely invaluable.”
For advice and support, or to become find out how to become a trustee, visit the Parents Supporting Parents website or email email@example.com.