Getting Support

In addition to educating yourself,  one of the first things a new JA family should do is build a support system. Everything changes after a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, and many families find themselves struggling to adapt to their “new normal.” Aside from tapping into the resources of current friends and family, you will find there is a wealth of knowlege to be discovered by making connections with other JA families.

The question is: How do you find these families? Social media is one option, but in my experience, the best connections are those that have some type of personal introduction.
Contacting your local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation is a great place to start. The AF sponsors local events, family days, camps and even national conferences like this one:

If you are unable to attend the national conference, you can take a look at past presentations and see some of the sessions as they stream live by visiting their vitrual conference. Many times, the folks that you meet at these local or national events are already connected in social media specific to the arthritis community (even specific to a particuar diagnosis), and can help steer you in the right direction.
Meeting and interacting with other families that understand the trials, tribulations and victories unique to  JA can be an emotional life saver, for ALL family members, since all family members are affected by JA!
Remember, you are not alone. If you seek out others who have “been there and done that,” you will find those connections will help you find peace with your new normal much more quickly.

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