Art support group helps parents of children with special needs

Glenview mother Mia McNary understands how hard it can be for a mother to take time for herself. But finding a support group, especially when you have a child with special needs, can be very rewarding. That’s why McNary began offering art classes for mothers of special needs children three years ago at her Glenview studio Masters in Art.

The class came about after McNary’s son began attending a therapeutic residential school in Wichita, Kansas. McNary, a lifelong artist, used art to help get through that adjustment period. Believing it could help other mothers as well, McNary asked a group of friends to try her class to find out.

“They said they felt so much better,” McNary says. “I thought, ‘Wow, there’s something there.'”

McNary says the class is non-traditional therapy, as mothers discuss the challenges and joys of parenting a child with special needs, while also learning artistic techniques and history. She stresses that moms do not have to have an artistic background; some of her students prefer to spend some classes thinking and listening to conversation instead of painting.

Because this is not solely an art class, McNary makes sure every class revolves around a specific theme the mothers can discuss before they paint.

McNary says there are mothers taking her class with neurotypical kids, as well as moms of kids with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, mood disorders and ADD/ADHD.

“I realized doing this we all have many similar issues; however, families with special needs kids have the same issues on a more intense level,” she says. Sharing these challenging topics helps both sides of parenting. The moments of, ‘Ah, we are all the same,’ breaks down resentments for the families with special needs and better understanding and compassion for families with neurotypical kids. …They leave the studio feeling they are lighter and more content with their own life.”

Classes will be held Monday and Friday mornings starting this fall. A Friday evening class may be offered as well.

For more information, call (847) 922-8789 or email

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