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