One Family’s History of Support Spans the Generations
Debbie Wasserman is a Telephone Support Contact in Highland Park, Illinois. Here she describes her family’s long history of support for those with alopecia areata:
“My family’s involvement with support through NAAF began when our son first began losing his hair to alopecia at age 6. Like many of you, I was desperate to find out if there were any remedies and how other families were coping with this same issue. Thankfully, we quickly found a local family with a son a few years older. After meeting with them we felt immediate relief that our son would be able to lead a normal life just as this older boy was doing. Although we had a lot to learn we saw that it could be done. How wonderful it was to find helpful support in my time of need.
Throughout the years the NAAF staff has proven knowledgeable and helpful in how to approach many different situations, in school and outside of it. After I and my family attended our first conference 15 years ago, I agreed to become a Telephone Support Contact. Additionally, I became involved with NAAF as a Charlie’s Angels coordinator and a Conference support group session leader, ready to reach out to other parents and children experiencing the same struggles as my family. My family’s experiences with NAAF have changed our lives, and we wanted to provide similar support for other families.
Each summer we would attend the NAAF summer conference and participate in the support sessions for parents. All the while, we would pull aside older kids to ask what we could expect next with our son. It was then that we realized that our son could contribute in a unique way. We started having him come to the support sessions to answer the questions of other parents. It was a big hit as, it seemed, every parent wanted to talk with him privately or set up time for their own child to speak to him directly.
Our son recently graduated from college and attended his first conference without us. He has already made his own unique impact on NAAF by speaking on the opening day panel and leading support group sessions, and he has even helped to develop a conference panel of young adults sharing their experiences growing up with alopecia and answering audience questions. With the NAAF staff, he is currently developing a mentoring program where he hopes to match young adults with younger children, providing the children with someone just a bit older than them who fully understands their concerns.
It is clear that we have passed the torch to the new generation. Our hope is that other families that need support can also find it through the resources at NAAF.”