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Parents' concerns about children with specific learning difficulties: insights gained from an online message centre


Amanda Kirby
Professor of Developmental Disorders in Education
The Dyscovery Centre
Allt-yr-yn Campus
University of Wales
Newport NP20 5DA


Major developments in the use of the internet have enabled easy and widespread access to information and the ability to form virtual social networks. For parents of children with developmental disorders, who may at times feel isolated, having a forum to discuss their fears and concerns with other parents who are sharing similar experiences may provide a source of support and advice. Waiting lists for assessments, including for children with developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), remain in many areas; a professionally supported message centre could also add an additional level of service and empowerment for these parents. This could potentially reduce the need for unnecessary assessment in some cases and help to bridge the information gap between health and education.

The Dyscovery Centre message board has been established for over four years and has seen increasing usage during that time. This paper aims to explore the range, frequency and types of concerns that parents of children with specific learning difficulties express when accessing the message board. The impact of this type of support is discussed. The paper then explores how this approach and other online strategies can effectively run alongside more traditional services in both health and education.