Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Invisible Disabilities: Why Can't People Understand?

It amazes me when people tell me, matter-of-factly,  that my children do not look disabled. I actually had an intense conversation with a friend where he blatantly told me that there was nothing wrong with my sons and if he was in a relationship with me, I would not be saying that my children have autism. He went on to point out that when he was a child, his mother told him that he could be anything he wanted to be. He was implying that a)I was somehow a bad mother for saying my children have autism and b) children with autism cannot also be successful.

The sad part about all of this is that it isn't uncommon for people to make these types of comments when a disability dies not manifest itself in a physical way. Saying little Johnny doesn't look disabled doesn't change the facts. Furthermore, it's insulting to a parent to make such statements.

I,  for one, have nothing to gain by saying my children have autism. I am not receiving any disability benefits ( but if I was, so what?) nor am I exhalted to some higher level of being. The fact is, all disabilities are not visible. People should be more respectful and practice more compassion when talking to others about their child's state of being. I never associate autism with anything negative nor do I want it to define who my children are as human beings.

We live in a society that still has a long way to go when it comes to disability awareness and acceptance...and I intend to remain on the frontlines when it comes to raising awareness.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Raising Autism Awareness

Check out this video at https://youtu.be/rguyTZeeQv8 where children talk about their experiences with autism. Promoting awareness and acceptance of autism requires distributing information by way of individuals' experiences. First-hand accounts offer authentic hard-to-ignore facts that are often ignored in media depictions or second-hand observations.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Hopefully this time of the year brings reflection as we transition into 2016. What did we learn? What could we have done differently? What made us the happiest? I don't believe in resolutions, but I do believe in goals.

My goals for this New Year are to be the best mom that I can be, take better care of myself, do more yoga, eat healthier and focus more on the positive rather than the negative (maybe even get another tattoo).

May your holidays be filled with inner peace, may you find happiness and may you prosper in the coming year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Making a Difference: Disability Awareness

Let's make a difference in the coming new year to raise awareness and support acceptance of all disabilities. The simple fact that people with disabilities have to ASK to be understood says a lot about our society and the emphasis we place on " normal", "regular", and "typical".

So, as 2015 winds down, let's all make a commitment to take up the cause,  whether it's autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc. No matter how small, we can make changes happen! Looking forward to this next chapter of raising awareness!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Raising Autism Awareness Through Social Media

Check out Dr Marquis Grant (@DrmarquisGrant): https://twitter.com/DrmarquisGrant?s=09

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What's So "Special" about Special Education?

Today was one of THOSE days. It's sad when you have to literally fight so that your child can live his "normal." People seem to be content with the idea that children with disabilities are a burden, particularly in the inclusion classroom. Even with the protection of the law, children's rights are often denied in the academic setting. To add insult to injury, parents are often painted as "crazy" or overzealous when they advocate for their children. I often ask the question: what's so "special" about special education? #onetiredmom

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Changing Our Perspectives: Parenting Children with Disabilities

The stories shared about parents of children with disabilities are often grim, heartbreaking, sorrowful and a dozen other negative adjectives. True, life can be difficult when a child has special needs but it can also be extremely rewarding. We need to share more of our positive stories so that other parents know that it's going to be okay. There is light at the end of the tunnel even if we don't always see it. 

When I tell people that both of my sons have autism, I usually hear the same sympathetic phrase uttered: "Oh I'm so sorry. " I used to smile politely, knowing that they meant well but one day I realized that I was contributing to negative perceptions by not responding.

So now when people say how sorry they are that my sons have autism, I tell them "There's nothing to be sorry about." I share with them how amazingly well my kids are doing and how proud I am of their accomplishments.

Even if my boys have setbacks or bad days, so do "typically" developing kids. It's a normal part of childhood. I want people to walk away with a sense that having a child with a disability is NOT a tragedy.

#children #disabilities #parenting #perspective

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spoiling or Accommodating?

Are we accommodating our children who have special needs or are we merely spoiling them? I don't have a clear answer for this. All I know is that I do what I have to do in order to get through the day. If my son is having a tantrum/meltdown in public and I can calm him quickly by getting him a drink or snack or whatever--sorry, but I'm doing it! It may not be the best solution but the alternatives are far more disruptive.

Of course there have been plenty of times when I haven't given in/accommodated his behavior but no one wants to give credit for progress. They'd rather point their finger in disapproval. All I know is if there's a better way, I am always open for SUGGESTIONS. Until them, call it what you want...

Calming a Child with Autism: Parenting 101

I needed this advice yesterday! My son had a complete meltdown in school because he had lost points for talking in class. Being a teacher myself,  I try to support the expectations for behavior and consequences that my children's teachers have developed for their classroom.

What I learned from this article is that maybe my own expectations were a little too much for my son. His meltdown likely stemmed from his anticipation of losing TV time or having an earlier bedtime at home because he lost those points. I wish there was a parenting handbook for children with autism because (a) it would be a best seller and (b) it would make life so much easier!

I absolutely realize my mistake of not aligning my expectations with the needs and nature of my son. Will I continue to make mistakes on this journey?  Yes! But this was definitely a lesson LEARNED!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Promoting Positive Images of Disabilities

I have always felt that those of us closest to the disability community have a responsibility to raise and support awareness. We cannot allow the media or scientific research to create images of individuals with disabilities that are used as the basis for how others think, feel and interact with people who have a disability.

I do not have a disability but my sons do. I don't want their lives to be summed up by character portrayals in movies or horror stories reported in the media. I don't want their life outcomes to be predicted by contradictory research studies. My children, like so many others,  are happy, healthy human beings looking for their place in the world. We have challenges but they're not life shattering. We survive and move on.

My hope is that others will use their social media presence to promote disability awareness so that we ( I consider myself a member by way of guardianship), as a community, can take ownership of who we are and articulate how we want to be perceived in our society. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sensory Processing Disorder

With so many variations of disabilities being identified,  it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed by so much information coming to you at one time. Why can't there be a quick reference guide for parents of children with disabilities??? My life would DEFINITELY be so much better (maybe).

#overload #overwhelmed #tiredmommy

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Thankful for so many things, but my children are way at the top of the list. They've come a long way and I'm looking forward to watching them grow and celebrate their successes. I am also thankful for the love and support from family and friends as we've navigated this journey on the spectrum.

Happy Thanksgiving ♡♡♡

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tomi Tells About His Day

Download at www.mystorybook.com/books/94361

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dr. Marquis C. Grant Twitter

Check out Dr Marquis Grant (@DrmarquisGrant): https://twitter.com/DrmarquisGrant?s=09

Tomi Tells

I have truly enjoyed being able to start writing creatively again. My skills are a little rusty but I am determined to use whatever means available to continue to bring disability awareness into the mainstream.

Children with disabilities are not much different than their peers; they have the same feelings, needs and thoughts as anyone else. In fact, I often say it's becoming harder to tell the kids with disabilities from those without disabilities.

My goal as a mom, educator, advocate, writer and speaker is to create a new perspective of our children--one that is different from the one created by the media. I am doing it not only for my children, but all children who happily live their lives with and without a label attached.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tales of a Frustrated Special Education Teacher

I remember when I first ventured into special education after 5 years of teaching language arts/reading. I was apprehensive even then about the amount of paperwork required for the job. Despite my misgivings, I moved ahead because I knew there was a need for highly qualified teachers in the field.

Once involved, I was able to organize my time well enough to the point where I could balance my role in the classroom with my paperwork requirements. Several years later, when my oldest son had his own individualized education plan ( IEP ), I developed an even greater respect for the special ed process.

Fast forward four years later, and I am in a completely different place as far as my mindset. The amount of paperwork has seemingly doubled and 24 hours in a day doesn't seem to be sufficient for me to meet the demands of my job. As much as I value the need for special education,  I am becoming a statistic...one of the hundreds of special education teachers with one foot out the door and the other one slipping...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Life My Autism

Raising awareness and promoting acceptance for autism and other disabilities.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

There,There Mila

Mila Li is a little girl on the spectrum navigating her emotions as she reacts to situations that she encounters throughout her day.

Check it out at https:// www.mystorybook.com/books/92311

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Alex Bean, Boy Wonder

Alex Bean is a little boy who does not let his disability stand in the way of his work as a superhero. Like my previous characters, I created Alex as a way of raising awareness about disabilities and supporting acceptance of individuals who are different, not less.

Check out Alex and his world of super-heroism @ https:// www.mystorybook.com/books/90972.

My Sister Uri Loves to Dance

My Sister Uri Loves to Dance is a story told from the perspective of a sibling who's sister has her "own special way. " Instead of focusing on what Uri can't do, the story focuses on what she CAN do.

Link: https://mystorybook.com/books/89633/

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Social Stories for Children with Autism

Social stories for are important resources to use for children who may experience expressive and/or receptive language difficulties...particularly children with autism. The language in social stories is generally kept simple and the visuals provide support for what is being communicated. Social stories can be used at school or home to engage children in communication.

Friday, November 6, 2015

I See Things Differently

While this is my first attempt at writing a children's book, I hope it isn't my last! My goal was to create a story for my own children in hopes of creating a better understanding for them about differences that make us unique. I look forward to creating more stories to share with others in hopes of raising awareness about disabilities, differences and other individuality in our society. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Modern Classroom Caught on Tape

I normally devote most of my blogging to disability awareness but after seeing the video from Chicago, I realized how much awareness needs to be raised about the realities of modern education.

Admittedly I did not want to watch this video initially but when I did, it brought out so many emotions. My thoughts were: I hope that this is some sort of parody. But I knew it wasn't. Sad that this is what the classroom has become in modern contexts. What's even sadder is that this isn't an isolated incident.

After 11 years of teaching experience, I still can't say that I have seen it all because there's something new every single day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Reblog: Inclusion to Normalcy

Check out the opinion piece below...I might add that we need to re-evaluate our use of the word normal in any form or fashion. We base normal on a standard of perfection that none of us can ever truly achieve.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sensory Hotspots

Raising Autism Awareness

Check out Dr Marquis Grant (@DrmarquisGrant): https://twitter.com/DrmarquisGrant?s=09

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Are Labels Really Necessary?

I realize that there is a difference between saying my children are autistic as opposed to saying my children have autism. The first statement defines the child...kind of like race or gender. The second statement describes an aspect of the child...similar to eye or hair color. The question then becomes: are labels necessary?  Why do we have labels anyway? Is it an honest-to-goodness effort to bring awareness to disabilities or is it simply another way to separate us into categories based on a norm? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Parents of Kids with Special Needs Get Asked the Oddest Questions

I know people mean well when they make certain comments or ask questions related to your child's disability, but sometimes all I can do is shake my head in amazement.

I personally don't think that I would be able to ask a parent some of the questions that I have been asked in the past. I believe some part of me would be hesitant,  not knowing how the question may come out or the emotional impact it may have on that parent.

My favorite questions/comments:
1. Will he ever be able to live on his own?
Answer: Some kids WITHOUT disabilities grow up to be adults still living at home.

2. He needs to be more organized and keep up with his classwork/homework.
Answer: Ummmm...yeah.

3. I don't know how you do it.
Answer: It's called parenting.

4. I'm so sorry (when they learn about your child's disability).
Answer: Why? Who died?

Check out the link below to read the entire blog from Today's Parent:


Friday, October 23, 2015

Follow Me on Twitter

Check out Dr Marquis Grant (@DrmarquisGrant): https://twitter.com/DrmarquisGrant?s=09

Halloween Safety Tips for Children with Special Needs

10 Halloween Safety Tips for Children with Special Needs By: National Lekotek Center - http://pinterest.com/pin/105553184990201004/?s=3&m=blogger

Mommy Madness

What was I thinking taking a day off...and letting the kids stay home too??? My youngest son has been up since 4am reading his words dictionary and he's only on the letter "G"!

Autism: A Family Affair

The name "My Life My Autism" acknowledges the reality that autism impacts the entire family,  not just the person with the diagnosis. Of course everyone will be affected differently, but as a family unit, support each other without judgment. We can approach life on the spectrum as the glass being half full or half empty. We can become victims of our own grief and disappointment or find ways to move forward and learn how to live a life of purpose and resilience.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Talking to Your Kids About Autism Spectrum Disorders

Watch "Asperger's syndrome explained for children" on YouTube https://youtu.be/s9eATBV-_lg

They did a better job explaining it than I did when I had the brilliant idea of talking to my oldest son about autism a couple of years ago! I had a light bulb moment watching this episode (even though Asperger's has now been integrated with the other ASDs). I watched it again with my son who looked on with genuine interest with a "Thanks Mom" afterwards. Maybe it resonated and maybe not, but I thought the episode was so wonderful that I have shared it on all of my social media!!! Kudos "Arthur"!

Sesame Street and Autism

Hopefully we will see more efforts to create positive images of individuals with autism. Way to go Sesame Street!

Life On the Spectrum

Mommyhood is a huge responsibility by itself. Throw in a disability and things can become pretty interesting,  to say the least. Poor sleeping habits, poor eating habits, meltdowns, communication...a day in the life of an autism mom can be a downright roller-coaster ride. But we survive it and we need to let others know that they will survive it too!

When I first saw the image of the mom sprawled on the chair, I laughed to myself because I could see myself through this image. Then I realized that we need to share more of our stories so that we can support other parents who may be struggling trying to adjust to life on the spectrum.

As parents of children with autism, we should speak freely about our feelings; not to be judged but to support those in their own journeys as well as raise awareness about our experiences for those standing on the outside looking in.

What are your thoughts? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sleep Tips for Kids With Sensory Issues

I am definitely interested in trying most if not all of these techniques. Co-sleeping is not really working for me anymore and I'm constantly tired and cranky in the morning after being elbowed, kicked and pushed to the edge of the bed throughout the night. One of my next projects will be making a weighted blanket using instructions I got from Pinterest just to see if it's really going to work. Keeping my fingers ( and toes) crossed!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Supporting Disability Awareness

Bringing awareness to disabilities is a cause all of us should support. I often think of my mother, who spent 52 years of her life with full use of her limbs only to be left paralyzed by a stroke 7 years ago. Disability is not a "them" issue, it's an "us" issue because it has the capacity to affect all of us indirectly or directly.

I worked with children with disabilities for many years before I became the mother of two children with autism. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be impacted in such a profound way and nothing could prepare me for the twists and turns that I have faced trying to navigate our lives in the most productive, beneficial way possible.

Today, I am fully committed to raising awareness of autism as well as other disabilities not only for my own children but for others as well. We have to be the voice of advocacy, demanding change and supporting those causes that are most important to improving the life outcomes for people who live with a disability every day.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Illusion of Inclusion

I truly believe that if we stop trying to define "normal" in our society that special education would not exist. We judge our children based on a norm and when they don't fit the mold, we attach a label to them.
Once the label is attached, a child is placed where we think they should belong according to how well they can keep up with their peers. If, by chance, they are placed in a regular education environment, there is a high probability that their classmates will be low performers.
In other words, there is this this illusion of inclusion...where the idea of a free appropriate public education is recognized in theory but in reality expectations for the child to achieve are minimal at best.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Raising Autism Awareness

Autism is an individualized experience and we should treat it as such. What works for one child on the spectrum may not work for another. With a great deal of diligence and patience, we can find ways to support children with autism as they navigate through personal, academic and social settings. The important thing to remember is that you can not give up nor can you beat yourself up when things don't go as planned. Take things one day at a time...celebrating even the smallest victories along the way.

Monday, October 12, 2015

IEP Roadmap: What You Should Know

IEP roadmap infographic - http://pinterest.com/pin/550283648198550603/?s=3&m=blogger

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I Want to Inspire People

When I learned that my oldest son had autism,  I felt very alone and very scared. Although I worked with children with disabilities as a special education teacher, it wasn't the same as facing the prospect of raising a child with a disability. I have always tried to look at situations with an open mind, but I began to wonder what it was like for parents of children with disabilities who had no prior knowledge of the ins and outs of special education,  disability rights, advocacy, etc. I decided pretty early on that I wanted to be a voice for those who were not able to raise their own voices. I want to support parents and families as they navigate their lives raising children with special needs. I may not have all of the answers, but I'm going to give it everything I have.

Neuro Tribes: How autism has been badly misunderstood | New Scientist

Neuro Tribes: How autism has been badly misunderstood | New Scientist

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dear Parents of "Normal" Kids

This is a letter addressed to parents of "normal" kids. I felt compelled to write this letter after reading about the neighbors suing the parents of a boy with autism whom they felt was disrupting their community. Not only was the boy with autism a menace, he was inconveniencing the other children and their parents with his social behaviors or lack there of. The fact that it has resulted in legal action through our court systems truly (and unfortunately) represents the times in which we live. Do they have a right to protect their children? Yes! Was this the  right way to go about it?  I doubt it! But even more disturbing is the manner in which we go about our lives in this society unaffected by the world around us until a situation happens to us. I always ask the million dollar question, as I would to the neighbors in this community or the countless others whose comments and actions have been nothing short of irresponsible: what if it was your child? It is easy to scoff at the efforts of others when we are on the outside looking in. But what if one day your normal child became impaired due to an illness or accident completely out of his control. What if the word "disabled" became your reality and you had to spend every single day fighting for your child's right to be a child who just happened to face difficulties? Some would argue that they would handle things a certain way but you can never really know for sure until you've been dealt a hand that leaves you vulnerable. There is no parenting manual to tell parents of children with disabilities how they should manage in a world focused on perfection and normal. Maybe the parents of this particular boy could have done things differently, as hindsight is certainly 20/20; the same could be said for the neighbors who thought it was perfectly okay to create a safety plan for a child with a disability based on their inexperience with children with disabilities. But honestly, you do the best you can under the circumstances. This isn't to say that any child--with or without disabilities--has the right to harm anyone else; but to assume that these parents were not doing all that they could do to manage the situation isn't a fair assessment. Parents of any child do what they think is best and try to learn things along the way. The fact that these parents are willing to file a lawsuit indicates to me that if they did, in fact, face the reality of having a child with a disability, they would stop at nothing to see that their child was treated fairly...which is what they should want for other children as well.

Sensory Overload

Sensory overload can be triggered by any external or internal factors that can cause a child to become overwhelmed. Whether it's crowds of people,  loud noises, bright lights or all of the above, it is important for parents to recognize their child's triggers and explore ways in which to decrease or eliminate subsequent behavior. Planning, not punishment, is the idea way of approaching the issue. For example, my youngest son would completely go into a full-fledged meltdown whenever we would go into a Walmart, screaming, crying and even throwing things off the shelves. I was at a loss as to what was prompting the behavior until someone asked me if I thought it was sensory overload. The thought had never crossed my mind but I decided to eliminate Walmart from our outings and opted for the more scaled down Walmart market. Believe it or not it worked. Not only do we manage to get our grocery shopping done, but I am still able to expose him to real-life social experiences that I feel are important for getting him prepared for independent living. It may take some trial and error, but understanding and addressing sensory overload is about finding ways to make our children's lives easier in the long run.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bullying and Autism

In honor of Bullying Prevention Month, it is important to shine the spotlight on bullying and autism.  Bullying can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. However,  children with disabilities ( particularly autism) may be more likely to be victimized because of their differences. Because autism is the fastest growing disability category thus far, we need to create opportunities for awareness, especially among school-age children.  It is important that we advocate for programs like character education to build positive relationships and support acceptance among peer groups.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Early Detection of Autism

It is important for parents to know the signs of autism. Early detection and interventions can significantly improve the outcomes of children with autism.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Never Compromise

Never compromise who you are in order to make others happy. Our differences are what make us unique and we should embrace them! If we lived our lives with this mindset, there would be no need for labels and ideologies that separate us based on ability.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Raising Autism Awareness

Raising awareness about autism is a challenging task. We assume that people should just accept those things that are different in others but that is often not the case. So we have to speak out a little louder, push a little harder, work a little longer in order to support those we love with autism.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Disability Awareness

Disability rights are often not automatic. Advocating for equal access is necessary if each one of us in society is to benefit from the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness penned in our Constitution.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Caring for Yourself

As parents, we devote so much of ourselves to our children...but we have to take time out to support our own physical, mental and emotional well-being    for our own sake as well as for the sake of our children.

Raising Autism Awareness

What NOT To Say...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Raising Autism Awareness

Check out Dr Marquis Grant (@DrmarquisGrant): https://twitter.com/DrmarquisGrant?s=09

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tumblr Blog

Check out my new blog site at mylifemyautism.tumblr.com!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Importance of Advocating

For the past year I have devoted much of my time raising awareness about #autism through social media. It is important for all of us to become advocates for change, whether it's for autism, #gender identification, #racial injustice or #climate control, there are so many issues that need our attention. You may not be able to change the world,  but you can support the change process.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Early Signs of Autism


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Committed to Raising Autism Awareness

Keeping with my commitment to raising awareness through social media, I have created a Tumblr account. I believe change will only come through persistence and personal commitment!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Puberty on the Spectrum

Check out my article: "Puberty on the Spectrum" at www.mylifemyautism.com

Friday, July 31, 2015

Improve Access to Healthcare and Insurance Coverage for Children with Autism

As the mother of two boys with autism, I understand how frustrating it is to have to fight for basic needs for the care and support for children with disabilities. With the lifetime cost of caring for individuals with autism can range from 1.4 million to 2.4 million dollars. Many insurance companies refuse to provide coverage for children with autism. Most families cannot afford to pay out of pocket for needed therapy services, leaving them either financially strapped or foregoing the therapies altogether. 

I have started a petition on Change.org to advocate for greater access to health care services and mandates requiring insurance coverage in all states for children with autism.

Click on the link and sign the petition!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

9 Tips for a Happy Marriage While Parenting a Child with Special Needs

9 Tips for a Happy Marriage While Parenting a Child with Special Needs

There is a great article by Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmidt for couples who are parenting a child with a disability. You can access it by clicking the link below:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Autism Survey

I am conducting a survey about individual perceptions of autism. Results from the survey will be collected, analyzed and reported in order to improve research and perceptions as well as raise awareness about autism spectrum disorders. Please take a few minutes to provide responses by accessing the following link:

Your participation is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ten Facts about Autism

1. Autism impacts individuals in different ways. Even when looking at gender, autism seems to manifest itself differently in boys than it does with girls. 
2. Research suggests that thousands of gene mutations could explain the variances among people with autism.
3. Autism was first described in 1911 by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler. He used he term in reference to patients with schizophrenia and, later, the term became associated with children who were exhibiting behavioral difficulties.
4. The word autism is derived from the Greek word "autos" which means self. People with autism have been noted by be isolated from social interactions.
5. More boys than girls are diagnosed with autism. This could call into question whether more boys than girls actually have autism or if it is just a matter of boys having a greater probability of receiving a diagnosis due to gender biases.
6. Some studies have indicated that children with autism have at least one parent with characteristics of autism.
7. The risk of a sibling having autism increases by 30% or greater if another child in the family has been diagnosed with autism.
8. Parents of children with autism have elevated stress levels similar to that of combat soldiers.
9. In some cultures, mothers are blamed if a child is diagnosed with autism.
10. There is no cure for autism. However, effective interventions can decrease the severity and scope of autism.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Promoting and Supporting Disability Awareness & Acceptance: Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books

As the mother of two children with autism, special education teacher and disability advocate, I am always looking for resources not only for my own children but to share with others who are involved in the lives of children with disabilities on a personal or professional level. I am always looking for ways to promote and support disability awareness, so when I come across something great that does both, I am more than excited to pass it along!

Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books creates personalized picture books for children with special needs, including those on the autism spectrum. Since the spectrum is so large, the books offered can be tailored to address a range of behaviors and needs.There is one book for children who exhibit more introvert behaviors and one book for children with more extrovert behaviors. 

The books can be individualized not only to include the child's name and birthday, but also discuss their hobbies and interests before discussing their special needs. 
Pseudonyms and other fictionalized information can also we be used to provide a more generalized platform for parents and teachers who want to address disability awareness and acceptance as part of a character development curriculum. Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books also have books for diabetes, epilepsy, food allergies, vision/hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, and physical disabilities.

The final touches on everything and the website (www.someonespecialbooks.com) will be going live next weekUntil then, you can visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/someonespecialbooks or follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/?lang=en

Monday, July 13, 2015

Raising Disability Awareness and Acceptance

I was reading a Facebook post about the lack of media coverage for the Disability Awareness Day parade that recently took place in NYC. Unlike the fanfare experienced by participants in the recent LGBT parade, the parade recognizing disabilities was met with considerably less interest.  I realized unequivocally one crucial fact: we are NOT there yet! Society has yet to find a place for individuals with disabilities...so it is up to us to blaze a trail; to push our way to the top so that disability awareness and acceptance becomes a front- line issue. We cannot wait for others to take up the cause and "do the right thing." This is our fight and we have to become passionate about it if we expect to see real change being made.
#disabilitypride #awareness #acceptance

Friday, July 10, 2015

Factors That Influence the Impact of Child's Disability on the Family

Although this is not an exhaustive list, these are factors that influence the impact of a child's disability on the family unit:

  • Socioeconomic status: simply put, you have more human and fiscal resource options when you have more money.
  • Education:  parents and caregivers who have more education may be likely to research more extensively to find answers. More parents need to become better educated about their child's disability and the resources that are available for them.
  • Culture: there are differences in how disabilities are handled within various cultures. Some may see a disability as a stigma or handle matters privately without outside interference, making diagnosis and interventions difficult. Early diagnosis and intervention initiatives should include direct interactions with families in minority communities. 
  • Physical: the more obvious a disability,  the more uncomfortable parents may be with socializing or other public outings. 
  • Communication Deficits: if the child is not able to articulate his needs, it could lead to frustration on the part of both the parents and the child. The same is true for children who exhibit behavior problems.
  • Support Systems: do they exist? How stable are these systems when it comes to meeting the needs of the family? 
Every family is different,  so the true impact of a child's disability can only be accurately measured on a case by case basis. However, an assessment of the family's needs should be done in order to determine the best resources to use to improve their overall quality of life.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Early Education About Acceptance

We need to start early educating our children about the importance of #acceptance...and the task is one that should be delegated to parents, teachers and any other adult with a vested interest in the lives of our children. Remember, no one should have to ask for acceptance; it should come automatically. Our differences are what make us special and should never be used to make us feel ashamed, degraded, ostracized or rejected. #earlyeducation

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Oddballz: MusicTherapy for Children with Disabilities

Music therapy has been used to support social, cognitive and language development for children with disabilities. The use of music therapy has become increasingly popular, especially for children with autism spectrum disorders. According to the American Music Therapy Association (2012), "Music is a very basic human response, spanning all degrees of ability/disability."

As a special educator and mother of  two children with autism,  I am always looking for music that will captivate and promote learning.  I was browsing YouTube for music and came across a picture of a cartoon boy in a wheelchair and was curious.  I clicked the link and was immediately surprised by how high-energy the music was with a modern up-tempo beat and knew right away it would be a hit with my kids, but it was when the song ended that I was even more impressed.  I went to the website associated with the account and discovered a program called "The Oddballz."  Previously, I had never thought of a program aimed specifically at accommodating students with disabilities. The Oddballz allows children with autism spectrum disorders the traditional benefit of music therapy.  Additionally, it deepens their investment in the therapy by specifically infusing the personally relatable status of disability.

The Oddballz offers the benefits of music integration while promoting awareness and acceptance of children with special needs. Their program takes the "dis" out of disability by utilizing popular children's stories and songs. By incorporating a creative flare, the programs offered will get grab your kids' attention and engage them in the learning process. The resources are so diversified that children with and without disabilities will enjoy following the stories and moving to the music! The site is so awesome; I plan on using the resources at home and potentially integrating it into my classroom activities! I would encourage anyone who works or lives with children on the autistic spectrum, or those who have a disability, to visit http://www.theoddballz.com and take in and enjoy lively music and charming characters created with our wonderful children in mind.

Dr. Marquis Grant
My Life My Autism

Parent, Educator & Advocate
Click the link: http://www.theoddballz.com

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dating Rules for Parents of Children with Disabilities

Dating Rules for Parents of Children with Disabilities
Like myself, there are many single parents out there raising children with autism or other disabilities and trying to carve out some small capsule of a social life. For many, that's a difficult, if not laughable task. Most of us have devoted so much of ourselves to our children that we have had few opportunities to get out and mingle. For those who have been lucky enough to build a social outlet, there may be questions about how to successfully navigate the dating scene.
  • Don't go in with too many expectations. Just have fun with it...try to avoid looking for someone or something. The less stress you have while socializing, the more you will enjoy your experience. 
  • Try not to feel guilty about having social time. A little separation anxiety is normal,  but as long as your child is in the care of a trusted babysitter, relax a little. 
  • If you meet someone new, don't be too quick to disclose your entire life to them. This may be a major turnoff and be a red flag that you are the needy type.
  • Wait a while before introducing a new guy or girl to the kids. Children who have issues with transitions or sensory overload (to name a few) may not behave well if you bring home someone new. Needless to say, no one will be happy in this case.
  • Talk to your child in an age-appropriate manner if you foresee introducing someone new into the picture. Particularly for younger children,  you may want to use social stories as a means of communicating the new situation. 
  • Reinforce your love and commitment to your child so that they don't begin to feel left out or abandoned as you are spending time away from them.
Just remember, creating a social life for yourself is nothing to feel guilty about. Being able to go out of the house from time to time is a healthy practice that will allow you to de-escalate from your everyday stress, giving you a healthier outlook on life.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Autism Research: Real or Embellished Science?

It is extremely difficult to not find an article about the "latest findings" or "cutting research" about autism that is subsequently debunked by yet another study or article a day or two later. I constantly find myself questioning both the validity and the reliability of these studies. Are these researchers truly reporting concrete findings from well-organized studies or are they playing on the emotions of parents looking for answers regarding their children's diagnosis? Any reasonably orchestrated study on a disability of this nature should take years to accurately analyze and report; even then,  findings should be reported with caution.

I wonder about any research study that reports a link between autism and cesareans that is ultimately refuted, causing needless panic and emotions for expecting parents wrestling with the decision of delivering their child via this method. Yes, we need a lot of research about the causes and implications of an autism diagnosis but what we don't need is a bunch of quackery and embellished science making our lives even more uncertain than it already is.