Conway High School opens Parent Resource Center for special needs families

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Conway High School has opened a new Parent Resource Center for parents with special need children. The center is open to all parents in Horry County whose children have a mental or physical disability.

“Why is my child acting this way? Why are they not talking? Why are they running from wall to wall? What’s wrong with them? Did I do something wrong?” Those are questions Shelbia Wiley, Conway High School special education department chair, often hears from parents with special needs children. She hopes the new Parent Resource Center at Conway High School will help answer them. “They don’t know what’s out there for them and their children, so that’s why we’re here. We’re going to make sure they’re aware of what’s available for them in the community.”

The Resource Center is currently open during school hours, but Wiley plans to eventually keep it open after school as well. Inside, parents can find books, guides, and articles on various disorders and disabilities, including ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, and down syndrome. It also includes an interactive activity space for kids. The center will also host parenting classes and support groups for parents.

Wiley says helping parents become better advocates for their kids, ensures a better future. “Many kids with disabilities, they graduate from high school. They attend college. They can be a very important part of society, if we provide them with the adequate resources.”  “The informed parent is better able to help the child,” added Mary Forrey. She’s a special education teacher at Conway High, and also has a 28-year-old daughter with autism. She said she wishes a similar resource center had been around when she raised her daughter. “I went to the library, I would try to find books, I couldn’t find anything. My only reference was Rain Man.”

Forrey also stressed the importance of advocacy in raising a special needs child. “Initially they had her in a fully inclusive class, which was absolutely the wrong setting for her. I had to fight to have her pulled from that. If I had not been informed, I would not have been able to advocate for her.”