Parent Voices

You Are Not Alone

Damar Services recognizes that even as caring, compassionate, and professional  its staff members are, no one can understand what it’s truly like to parent a child with behavioral and developmental disabilities except someone who has lived that life.

Parent Voices was created as a place for parents to meet other parents for the purpose of supporting and encouraging each other regarding issues that few others truly understand.  The Parent Voices program sponsors casual times of gathering, as well as various workshops to help parents. These gathering sessions provide valuable information parents need to continue parenting their children with these challenges.

As a parent of a Damar child, Denise Lyons understands both the reward and the struggle of having a child who has been placed in a residential facility.  As Damar’s Parent Advocate and Director of Parent Voices, Denise serves a dual role – making sure Damar never forgets the parent experience; and providing valuable opportunities for parents to connect and interact with each other.  Through her work with parents, she helps them navigate the care experience and find ways to be more involved with the children who are served at Damar.

If, at any time, you want to talk to a parent who has also walked this road, or for more information about Parent Voices, please click here and provide your contact information. We’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

One Parent’s Story

From Isolation to Elation — Houston’s Journey

If you clicked on Houston’s video above, then you already know my story. I’m Denise Lyons, parent advocate and proud mom.

My son, Houston, came to us right before his 6th birthday. He was immediately a beloved member of our family. Houston came to us with a diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome, developmental delay (moderately mentally handicapped) and autism. With each diagnosis, we felt even more hopeless.

Damar changed everything for our family.  From a time of living as prisoners in our home and isolated from what many people would call “normal family activities”  due to Houston’s behavior and challenges, our son grew and changed in ways that we never thought was possible.

We knew Houston was being placed in Damar for the help he needed to stay safe and keep others around him safe, and to learn to cope with daily life situations.  We didn’t expect the other things he experienced which also changed life for him…friendships with true peers, many Special Olympics opportunities, hockey, field days, proms, lasting memories with staff that he regards as family, and so many other blessings.

At Damar, he learned how to cope with being told “no”, with facing things that didn’t go his way and with understanding how to deal with emotions and feelings that were within himself.  He learned academic skills and social skills that helped transition him successfully into a member of the adult community.  He was extremely proud of himself as he worked with his class in volunteering at food banks, serving lunch in a mission and helping in many areas around the Damar campus.

We are grateful to Damar for changing not only Houston’s life, but the lives of our entire family.  He is an amazing young man with so many opportunities ahead of him.  He now understands that, despite his challenges that won’t allow him to do everything he may desire to do, he can be the best at who he is and feel proud of himself in the process.

Additional Resources

Indy’s Special Child

Autism Society of Indiana

Family Voices