API of Downriver, Michigan (USA)

By Kate Scheller, API Leader & Support Group Co-Leader

When did your group form?

We are excited to say that API of Downriver was formed last October, making this our one-year anniversary!

When a parent comes to your group, what can she/he expect? What meeting format do you have?

When a parent comes to a meeting, he/she can expect a very friendly and laid-back atmosphere. We have an excellent meeting space that holds books, toys, games, puzzles, puppets, etc. for the kids to play with. There is a room helper, and the children are always in view and can choose to play or sit near their parent.

We start with introductions and an icebreaker question, then move into the meeting topic. Our meeting style varies depending on the subject or the group; it’s really go with the flow. If it’s a very small group of just a couple of us, we try to make it more personalized within that given topic. No parent ever has to talk if they are not ready to do so. We really want all parents and child to feel comfortable and relaxed.

What kind of discussions does your group have? What are some common questions that parents answer?

We have all types of discussions. We really try to follow the group’s cues and steer our meeting to their needs and questions. I think the most common questions are about sleeping better, eating better, and behaving better…the 3 Bs! I have heard some really excellent responses from our parents. We seem pretty lucky to have such a great group of parents!

Are kids welcome?

Yes! Kids are encouraged to come, as well as dads! My oldest loves meeting days, because he gets to come play. We really have a great meeting location.

There is a stigma associated to support groups as well as support in general. What would you say to a parent who said that they didn’t need a support group because those were for “people with problems”?

I’d say, you really are missing out! If you asked any one of our members, not one would associate the group as a bunch of parents with problems. I think we all see it as a place to let your hair down, be in company with  who understands you, a place where you can speak freely, ask honest questions, and not be judged. It’s a place to bounce ideas off of other parents, share your knowledge, and gain some of theirs.

Anything else you’d like to share about the importance of parents attending API Support Groups?

If you haven’t yet attended an API meeting, now is the time. Even as a Leader, I still gain so much from our meetings. I think, sometimes, people have a fear of attending a meeting because they feel they aren’t “AP enough,” so if you are sitting out because that’s how you feel, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! There is no API standard. We all practice the principles in our own way; therefore, all of us can offer a unique perspective. At each meeting, we always remind parents to take what can fit and work into their family and leave the rest. I really can’t stress that enough. So what are you waiting for? Get to a meeting!

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