Designing Support Groups for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities

About This Program

Target Population: Individuals or organizations who work with parents with intellectual disabilities

Program Overview

Designing Support Groups for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities by Through the Looking Glass (TLG) is an 86-page training module designed to be a tool for any individual or organization that is considering forming a group for parents with intellectual disabilities. The module includes the rationale and benefits of a specialized group, many concrete organizational and format ideas, examples of interventions by facilitators, important disability accommodations, small details that are important to success, and video clips of a TLG group with discussion questions. The module also includes a copy of TLG's Strategies and Adaptations in Working with Parents with Intellectual Disabilities.

Program Goals

The goals of Designing Support Groups for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities are:

  • Reduction in social isolation
  • Normalization of the challenges of parenting
  • Increased willingness to ask for parenting help
  • Increased repertoire of parenting ideas and skills
  • Increased self-esteem, parenting confidence, social skills, and assertiveness
  • Expanded social networks and friendships
  • Increased opportunities for community with other families
  • Increased acknowledgement of one's disability, identification with a larger group of people with intellectual and other disabilities, peer support regarding one's right to be treated with respect, and disability empowerment
  • Decreased vulnerability to domestic violence, substance abuse, exploitation, and depression

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Designing Support Groups for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities.

Essential Components

The essential components of Designing Support Groups for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities include:

  • Support group of up to 15 members that meets regularly (once per month or once per week)
  • Support group format
    • "Snack & chat"
    • "Move & groove" (warm-up activity such as balloon volleyball or stretches
    • "Talk time" (for support and addressing parenting and personal issues)
  • Lunch together
  • Special summer all-family activities
  • Accommodations that are disability accessible
  • Transportation assistance and provision of childcare (when needed)
  • Facilitators who provide members extra assistance and time regarding logistics or problem-solving as well as support to share in group
  • Ongoing support group (rather than drop-in or short-term) allows for changes to occur over time and offers ongoing support and monitoring; veteran members mentor new members
  • Movement toward disability identification and empowerment
  • Focus on and support of parent strengths
  • Facilitators who find opportunities to build self-esteem and confidence of members
  • Parenting topics that evolve from needs of members"

Program Delivery

Recommended Intensity:

Training module recommends 2.5-hour monthly group session but can be modified to a 2- to 2.5-hour weekly group if desired

Recommended Duration:

Training module recommends ongoing groups that new members may join

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Outpatient Clinic


This program does not include a homework component.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

A program needs to have meeting space for about 16 people plus a separate room in which to provide childcare (when needed). One or two group facilitators are needed plus childcare or playgroup staff (when childcare is needed).

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Experience with clients who have intellectual disabilities and experience in group facilitation are important qualifications. Mental health background is helpful.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

The module provides detailed information for implementing specialized support groups and may be ordered from Daisy Jacala at Through the Looking Glass,, 510-848-1112, ext. 8107

In addition, phone or email consultation is available, if needed. TLG may also be contracted to provide further agency staff training regarding working with parents with intellectual disabilities, including implementation of support groups. For trainings or consultation, contact Sherrie Hansen, PhD (contact information above).

Number of days/hours:

Varies based on need

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Designing Support Groups for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities.

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Designing Support Groups for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities.

Contact Information

Daisy Jacala
Agency/Affiliation: Through the Looking Glass
Phone: (510) 848-1112 x8107
Fax: (510) 848-1112

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: April 2024

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2014

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2014