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ETCH offers ‘special needs’ resources

Upon finding out their child has a special need, parents of special needs children usually experience a number of emotions.

They often wonder what to do, what to expect and whether they can give the child what he or she needs.

Rehabilitation experts from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Center want parents to know that information, resources and support are available.

“Fortunately, parents who have children with special needs are not alone,” said Anne Woodle, director of ETCHRC.

“There are many resources n our community,” she added.

There is often shock and disbelief upon learning a child has any developmental problems or special needs.

Parents hearing a diagnosis for the first time may, understandably, not want to face that their child needs special services and may face years, or a lifetime, of challenges.

Many parents agonize over the possibility that somehow they are to blame for their child’s condition. All parents wish the best for their child, and it can be difficult to know where to turn.

ETCHRC specialists advise parents of a child with special needs to acknowledge emotions, celebrate the child, seek information, learn about community resources and use a team approach.

“Caring for a child with special needs,” Woodle said, “is a partnership between health care providers, the community, the extended family, educators and therapists.”

Woodle suggests that parents also get involved with family groups, make friendships with others who have similar circumstances, and try the Internet as a resource for information.

Additional resources also may include:

• Books written for parents of children with special needs

• National organizations such as March of Dimes, National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities or those representing your child’s condition

• Support groups or other parents.

“Learning as much as you can will help you and your child face the challenges of the future,” Woodle said.

You will become one of the most important members of your child’s treatment team,” she added.

Many families often struggle with the financial burden of raising a child with special needs.

United Way support helps ETCHRC maintain its open door policy.

Since 1947 ETCHRC has been “providing care to special children” regardless of family financial circumstances. Contribu-tions made by the community ensure children will receive the ongoing physical, occupational and speech and language services they need to reach their greatest potential and to lead happy, health lives.

For additional information on the United Way Campaign, visit the United Way Web site at

For additional resources regarding children with special needs, call East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Rehabilita-tion Center at 865-690-8961, or visit the Children’s Disabilities Information Web site at or the ETCH Web site at

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital is a private, independent, not-for-profit pediatric medical center that has served the East Tennessee region for more than 70 years and is certified by the state of Tennessee as a Comprehensive Regional Pediatric center.


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