Mellow Ability is a 14-week programme, from Mellow Parenting which aims to support parents and their children with additional needs to enjoy resilient emotionally thriving family lives. The programme focuses on children aged 4-7 years old who have or are just about to start school.
Mellow Ability is based on our original Mellow Programmes but expands the material, including topics specific to children with additional needs and disability. Mellow Ability aims to reduce social isolation, stress and pressure in family relationships alongside improving the social and emotional development of children with additional needs and disabilities
We aim to help parents to be themselves, accept, understand and be with their children as they are. We encourage parents to have hope and dreams for themselves, as well as supporting them to be proactive in shaping their children’s future.
Mellow Ability was born out of need: it was devised and written by health professionals who are, importantly, also parents of young people with additional support needs (ASN). It combines their professional experience of working with children, parents, families and professionals over several decades with their personal parenting stories. As well as being grounded in the research literature and influenced by their professional practise, Mellow Ability has been shaped by the highs and lows they have experienced with their children; it is about what they would have found helpful when their children were young and they were struggling to know where to turn and how to cope.
Mellow Ability is targeted at parents whose children are about to, or have just started, primary school. This seems to be a significant step in the life of the child and their parents; involving separation, courage and adjustments from everyone. This transition can throw up lots of different feelings for parents – anxiety, joy, sadness, loss – to name but a few. With their children spending longer periods away from them, parents may have more time and not know quite what to do with it! Some parents might feel a bit lost and unsure what to do with themselves whilst others might appreciate the peace and quiet and the freedom (and then feel guilty about it!). Mellow Ability aims to meet people at this juncture in their child’s and their lives, when things might seem a bit up in the air, but when they might also have a little more time just to be; to think, reflect and learn about themselves and their children.
Mellow Ability aims to create safe, supportive spaces for “hard pressed” parents who are often stressed and challenged by loving and caring for their child with ASN. The groups provide opportunities for parents to reflect on their experiences as parents (and people in their own right), with the mixture of emotions often involved, the ups and downs, the messiness, the exhaustion and the fears for the future they might have (amongst other things!). But it is also practical; providing information, and support on topics such as play, communication, safety, sensory issues, enjoying our child’s company, supporting siblings, how to access support and planning for the future.
Similar to other Mellow Programmes, it uses video and strengths-based feedback to help translate ideas into real life and to build confidence and self-esteem. Periodically throughout the programme, there are also opportunities for parents and children to come together as a bigger group, bringing to life the every- day realities of what parents do as well as having fun. Sessions involving the children are scaffolded and supported by practitioners (as well as the other parents in the group) and give everyone a chance to try out new ways of relating to their children and practising what has been learnt.
Parents who have attended the Mellow Ability groups have stated that they benefited from the Ability groups and would like other parents to have the same opportunities to attend that they have had. They highlighted that the groups have helped to reduce their social isolation, stress and feelings of alienation by helping them to build friendships, gain new support networks and to feel optimistic about the future.