Category - Special Needs

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Disabilities Are Not “Special Needs”
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25 Quotes About Parenting A Child With Disabilities
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A Trip To The Mall That Meant So Much More
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Special Gifts For Special Families
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Dear Parent Of A Newly Diagnosed Child…
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The Special Needs Parenting Sweet Spot
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Why This Mama Bird Ain’t Happy About Back-To-School
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I Didn’t Expect To Feel Like This When She Turned Ten
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Cooking With Kids With Special Needs
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Parenting Exposed (literally)

Disabilities Are Not “Special Needs”

It’s taken a decade of research into genetics and specific diseases and disabilities for me to gain even a fraction of understanding of my daughter’s syndrome. I still have no idea what I’m doing half the time. And I make plenty of mistakes.  Case in point—until recently I didn’t even realize that the label “special needs” was outdated and unacceptable. I’m immersed in this community, yet I was unaware. And if missed this, maybe you did too? I’m not easily offended. I curse, I make gross jokes. I try not to take what people say too seriously and I try to cut people some slack when they say the wrong thing. We all slip up. Words don’t tell the whole story. Our actions and intentions define who we are.  But, when we are told point-blank that something is offensive, we should pay attention. Isn’t it our responsibility as compassionate citizens to do no harm whenever possible? And seriously, updating our vocabulary costs us nothing. Let’s take the r-word for example. I’ve written about it quite a bit over the years. The word itself is harmless. It means late or delayed. When used appropriately, it should cause no harm. But it does.[…]

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25 Quotes About Parenting A Child With Disabilities

Here are a few quotes about parenting that never fail to deliver a ray of sunshine on the difficult days. Feel free to leave a comment with a favourite quote that inspires you. 1. “Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that they are exactly the person they are supposed to be and that, if you’re lucky, they just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” ~ Joan Ryan 2.  “One of the great things that any community can do is not teach tolerance, but live tolerance, not talk respect, but live inclusivity.” ~ Michael Pritchard 3.  “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller 4.  Don’t focus on what she can’t do. Focus on what she can do. Like a boss. ~ Lisa Thornbury 5.  “Parents of children with special needs create their own world of happiness and believe in things that others cannot yet see.” ~Unknown 6.  “Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us.” ~ Unknown 7.  “Listen[…]

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A Trip To The Mall That Meant So Much More

This post isn’t intended to be political, but his electoral “win” makes me worry about my daughter’s future. He who shall not be named doesn’t even try to hide his distain for people with disabilities. It makes me wonder if her life will be more difficult because he’s giving people the message that it’s okay to be intolerant and cruel. However, there’s a kindness army rising up against hatred and discrimination. Kids are being raised to believe in equity and love and compassion. We’re surrounded by it, basking in their warmth and inclusion.  My daughter’s school and neighbourhood friends treat her like the important person she is, worthy of respect and friendship.  Avery’s been asking to go shopping with friends for weeks. She doesn’t actually care about buying anything. It’s about the experience. And her purse. She brings it with her on special outings. Inside you’ll find her lip balm, her pretend debit card, her (bicycle) driver’s license and a handful of coins.  I drove my daughter and her two friends to our local mall to do some Christmas shopping.  I tried to stay in the background to give Avery the feeling of shopping on her own with her friends like[…]

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Special Gifts For Special Families

What do exhausted, stressed out parents really want? What’s an age appropriate gift for a child with autism? Is there an inexpensive toy suitable for a child with fine motor delays? Can certain games help with speech and language development and if so, are they actually fun? All good questions I’ll try to answer below—my merry gift to you this retail festive season. Parents, especially those parenting a child with special needs, rarely take the time to pamper themselves. The holidays are a perfect opportunity for you to gift them something that forces them to take a moment. Yes, I said “force them.” I know this from experience. #stubborn Presents To Pamper Parents:           Special parents can be painfully practical. Since we’re often at a loss for time, practical and useful is always appreciated. Practical Presents for Parents:         Sometimes it’s hard to know what to buy for a child with physical or developmental needs. When in doubt, ask the parents what might be appropriate. Here are a few ideas.  Gifts for Kids With Cognitive, Motor, and/or Speech Delays:               Happy gift giving!  Feel free to message me[…]

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Dear Parent Of A Newly Diagnosed Child…

The early days when you suspect something might be wrong with your child completely suck. Literally—the fear and worry sucks the life out of you to the point where you wonder if you have the strength to actually go on. But the day you hear the words, the actual diagnosis, is the worst day. It’s indescribably (though I’ll try) horrendous.  When we got the phone call that confirmed our daughter has a chromosomal disorder I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t make sense of  what was happening. There was a loud ringing in my ears that made it hard to think. I fled outside and gasped for air. I couldn’t breathe. I eventually came back in and sat quietly on the couch beside my husband and we cried.  A few months later our daughter ended up in hospital which is a despicable story in itself (doctors are wonderful people, but they don’t always see what you see. When a medical professional tells you that it’s all in your head, listen to your gut and do what needs to be done.) This is when further genetic testing revealed the extent of our child’s chromosomal deletion/duplication. The first few weeks with this new knowledge[…]

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The Special Needs Parenting Sweet Spot

It’s a struggle to stay rooted in the present. Memories of traumatic moments from the past seep in and thoughts of what “could” happen trickle through the cracks. These leaks can start to erode the “special needs parenting sweet spot.”  “Be mindful!” I remind myself constantly. “All the good stuff is happening now! If you don’t open your eyes and breathe, you’ll miss it.”  Sitting sandwiched between two conversations at my daughter’s adaptive soccer league last week I felt like my happy place was put in peril. As I sat on a cold metal bench watching wildly enthusiastic kids chase after soccer balls followed closely by their volunteer partners. I couldn’t help but hear the two conversations happening separately on either side of me.  One pair talked about their young children recently diagnosed with complicated disorders. The fear, the confusion, the anxiety—I remember it well. The “beginning” is a unique kind of difficult. So many questions, so much anxiety—parents reaching out in desperation to anyone who might have answers, or at the very least offer some guidance.  My stomach clenched as I listened to the despair in their voices. Though my compassion was overshadowed by my relief in having escaped the early[…]

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Why This Mama Bird Ain’t Happy About Back-To-School

A friend posted a question on Facebook asking, “Are you happy or sad about your kids going back to school?” The majority of responses were something like, “It’s been fun but I want my routine back!”  My sad face emoticon response was in the minority. I am not excited about my kids heading back to school in the least.  That might make me sound all, “Oooooh, I’m such a wonderful mother. I enjoy every single second with my perfect children, crafting and baking wholesome snacks, and exploring nature on our many hikes and adventures. Hashtag…. #blessed” As if. The last thing I hiked up was my skirt at the waterpark.  Me lamenting my kids return to school doesn’t make me some kind of earnest earth mother who savours each second with her spawn. Of course I savour some seconds, but not all of them. Some seconds/minutes/hours are loud and clingy and annoying and totally cut into my highly coveted “me time.”  Admittedly, I’ve had it easy. My husband is a teacher, off for the summer. I always have an extra set of hands. I’d be singing a vastly different tune if I was home alone with my kids for sixty-eight days straight. […]

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I Didn’t Expect To Feel Like This When She Turned Ten

As her tenth birthday approached, I felt on edge. Normally the prospect of a celebration has me excited—party planning, baking buying a cake, and wrapping gifts are generally joyful. But instead of joy, I felt dread.  It wasn’t until after her party, when it was quiet and I was alone pouring over images of my daughter as a baby, a toddler, a school girl, right up until photos taken that morning of the amazing ten year old person she has become, that it all came out in a rush of emotions I didn’t expect.  I was choosing photos for a video to document our daughter’s first decade of life. You can watch it below if you feel inclined. I know, it’s kind of like me saying,”Hey, wanna watch slides of our vacation to the Grand Canyon?” And then forcing you to sit through two hours of photos of my family posing in front of various rock formations. Except, this video is only two minutes long and it’s worth watching if only for the song. God I love this song. Milestone birthdays—there’s obviously a lot of nostalgia that go along with watching your child grow up…and away. As babies, they clung to us. They[…]

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Cooking With Kids With Special Needs

I took Home Ec in high school. Didn’t you? I learned to sew (a little… I made lopsided pillows and a hideously blinding canary yellow duffle bag). I also learned the basics of cooking. We baked tea biscuits, made lentil soup, learned how to cook rice, and even made a pie from scratch. We put together a bunch of other dishes I can no longer remember, but the principles stuck. The other night my son asked how I knew how to make a roux (the base for the sauce in our mac and cheese) and I told him, “My grade nine Home Ec teacher taught me.” He was shocked I could remember that far back and also that he had never heard of this “Home Economics” thing. I told him it was easy to remember since my teacher was hard to forget. She cut her thumb during one lesson and nearly fainted before she was rushed to hospital. Another time she set one of the ovens on fire and we had to be evacuated. I found her antics hilarious and as a result, I got sent to the office more than once. Not cool I know. Even less cool since[…]

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Parenting Exposed (literally)

Parenting makes us vulnerable. We expose parts of ourselves we never imagined we would – emotionally and in some cases, physically. Something happened several years ago that I’ve only shared with a select few. I feel like now is a good time to dust off the details and share it out loud because I can laugh about it now.  Back in the summer of 2011 when my daughter was a spunky five-year-old, we were invited to attend a big outdoor children’s event. I didn’t want to go. It was difficult taking my daughter out back then. She’s a precocious kiddo whose physical and cognitive delays make it tough to rein her in sometimes. But my son who was obsessed with lizards at the time was desperate to see the reptile show at the party. His needs frequently come second to his sister’s—which is often the case of siblings of kids with special needs. He was so looking forward to holding a Bearded Dragon, how could I deny him that (creepy) pleasure?  We were at the event less than five minutes when Avery stuck a sponge covered in green paint in her mouth, picked up a pile of goose poop in her[…]

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