Category - Special Needs

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Avery’s Moment In The Spotlight
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The Bawl Ball
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The Kindest Thing A Friend Ever Said To Me
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When Your Kid With Special Needs Is A Rock Star!
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Here Comes The Bride?
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Little Cough, Big Scare
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The Home Run That Made Me Cry
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The Time I Told My Child With Speech Delays To Stop Talking
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My Child Has A Profound Speech Delay
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Rare Chromosome Disorder Awareness Week

Avery’s Moment In The Spotlight

Last summer my brother and his family hosted a breast cancer fundraiser in their yard—”FraserFest” was an outdoor concert with bands and food and fun under the stars. But before the stars actually shone, there was rain—crazy heavy rain, strong winds, and even a tornado sighting. To wait out the weather, the adults huddled under the porch while the kids hung out in the basement. When I came downstairs to see what they were doing, I found my daughter encircled by a group of the kindest kids you’ve ever met. Only an hour earlier Avery had been in tears—she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t perform on the stage with the band. “Puh-lease!” she begged. “I want to sing on the stage.” Now, thanks to these big hearted kids, it was her moment and she basked in the glow of the spotlight. Thanks kids. You made this kid’s heart swell. 🙂

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The Bawl Ball

Sometimes our expectations don’t live up to reality of a situation. This is why I try to keep my standards high, but my expectations low. This is a strategy shared with me by a friend. In her case, she’s referring to dating in her forties, but it applies in most life situations—essentially, don’t ever accept being treated as “less than”, but also readily expect to be disappointed. Sometimes reality bites. I forgot this lesson recently and it wasn’t pretty.  But you know who IS pretty? This girl. A friend generously offered Avery a pair of tickets to a Father/Daughter Charity Ball. Her family couldn’t use the tickets and the mom, who is kind to the core, knew how much our girl would love the spectacle of it all. The evening is sparkly and pink and musical and magical. Plus, dancing with daddy. All the things she loves. As the ball approached, we shopped for a dress and shoes. Avery spun around in the store and used the twirl test to choose a pretty black dress with golden flowers. We did her hair and make-up, she wore jewelry and fancy shoes, and her dad matched his tie to his little girl’s dress.[…]

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The Kindest Thing A Friend Ever Said To Me

  The time she baked me a cake. My best friend is a great listener. To be friends with me this past thirty-seven years, she’d have to be. I can be a bit of a windbag. I’m owning it.   Unlike me who sometimes spits out words without tasting them first, she chooses her words carefully.   She gets why I worry about my special girl. And she knows I’ve struggled to come to terms with the realities of having a child with special needs. She understands how the life I imagined for myself is both exactly and not at all what I had expected.   As we sat in her garden, sipping wine, I told her about a family I met several years ago whose daughter then, reminds me so much of my daughter now.   My Avery was just a toddler when I met this family at an activity group for kids with a variety of special needs. The girl was about nine—the age Avery is now.   She, like Avery, didn’t have any dysmorphic features. At first glance, she appeared pretty typical. It was when she spoke that the disparity between her chronological and developmental age was[…]

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When Your Kid With Special Needs Is A Rock Star!

My friend Kathy Buckworth invited our daughter to participate in a live-to-air segment she was hosting for a local morning show—CHCH Morning Live. At the risk of sounding like a proud stage mother, Avery (and Kathy!) nailed it. I hesitated at first when Kathy asked us to take part. The show is LIVE and in accordance to the old adage, “Never work with kids or animals!” I was aware that this Hallowe’en centered segment could go sideways at the drop of a (witch’s) hat. But, I knew my girl would love it. To be in the spotlight and to feel important, if only for 120 seconds, how could I deny her that? Avery is often overlooked for cool experiences on the assumption that kids with special needs can’t perform or participate safely or cope with the situation at hand. I get it. I do. However parents who don’t have the pleasure of parenting a child with special needs don’t understand how capable kids can actually be if given the chance. A playdate at your house? We can make it happen! She dreams about it. Roller skating party? My girl would love it! Maybe she can’t skate with grace, but I’d[…]

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Here Comes The Bride?

This girl is a perfect mix of sporty spice and Barbie Girl. She’s equally happy climbing trees and examining bugs or shopping for “bootiful” dresses and experimenting with clip-on earrings and pink nail polish. But lately she’s been decidedly more girly, obsessed with fru-fru frilly and smitten with wedding gowns. (This video snippet is Avery wearing her cousin’s bridesmaid gown…like a boss.) The matrimonial fascination started shortly after my cousin Kelsey announced that she’s getting married. When Avery heard this exciting news she wanted to know who was going to the party and would there be cake and what will her dress look like?! To add to the wedding whimsy we watched a video of my cousin Allison’s wedding. Avery watched intently, admiring the beautiful wedding gown, the flowers, the dancing. She was mesmerized. On the car ride home so told us she would be getting married. “Who are you going to marry?” I asked her. “My brother Bastian,” she answered with absolute certainty. I get why she’d want to marry him—he’s sweet and funny and he makes a mean bowl of mac and cheese. He’s a catch. “You can’t marry your brother,” I told her. “He’s already part of[…]

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Little Cough, Big Scare

  It started as a simple cough. Then simple turned into complicated. And we took one giant step backwards. “We’ve come so far,” I sobbed to my husband. “It’s unfair,” I cried into his shoulder. It took me years to quiet the fears after our daughter suffered her first and nearly fatal seizure. It took time and hard work to get back on track after that. But, eventually the PTSD faded into fleeting worries, and those worries began to quiet. Mostly. We finally had a taste of what family life is like without the fear. So this summer we ventured far and wide and high. We traveled by plane—up in the air for hours away from the possibility of medical assistance. We enjoyed a cabin high up in the mountains. We frolicked in lakes, camped, and canoed, paddling farther and farther away from access to help if we should need it. But guess what? I wasn’t worried. At all. Life was sweet—the sweetest and most fun it’s ever been for our family. Then the cough.  Our son got it first. Just a dry hacking cough, no other symptoms. A month later, near the very end of our family vacation in[…]

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The Home Run That Made Me Cry

Though I enjoy peanuts and popcorn and crackerjacks, (and a cute baseball hat), I stink at baseball. It’s probably why my softball team called me “No Depth Perception Lisa.” My nephew however is a talented player. He plays on a traveling rep team in the states. He’s a pitcher. And a bit of a belly itcher. But that’s only because of the mosquito bites. 🙂 Zach’s team finished the season on top. They take their sport seriously and practise hard. What’s as impressive as their dedication is the coaches’ commitment to teamwork and good sportsmanship. For extra practise and for the love of the sport, my brother Mike built a baseball diamond in their yard. (Yes, there were lots of “if they build it, they will come” jokes.) They hosted a party for the team while we were there visiting. The coaches wrote something inspirational about each player to share while they presented them with a ball signed by every player. I was touched by their passion for this sport. Well, not enough to actually play in the parent/kid game they had that night, but certainly enough to watch. The day of the big game, my nephew took his little[…]

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The Time I Told My Child With Speech Delays To Stop Talking

  Yesterday I posted a story about our daughter’s “profound” speech delay and you left such kind and supportive comments. It means a lot to my husband and I that people care so much. But it also makes me feel like a bit of a dick. Like my sharing/over-sharing about recent trials is an attempt at garnering sympathy or even worse, asking for a pat on the back for stellar parenting. I’m not a stellar parent. I’m just a parent who is crazy about her kids and wants the best for them. Pretty par for the course I’d say. We all want that for our children. We can’t even help it—it’s instinctual. A few people commented on how patient I am. Very lovely to say, but it made me laugh. If only they had seen me this morning… We were running late and I asked Avery to put on her socks. The first time I made eye contact, got her attention by saying her name, and spoke slowly and simply—”Avery, put on your socks.” She didn’t put on her socks. I found her a few minutes later playing with ‘Veterinarian Barbie’ so I asked, “Avery, what did I ask you[…]

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My Child Has A Profound Speech Delay

 My parents say they’re grateful that our early home movies have no sound because….me. Blab, blab, blab. I’ve always been a chatty Kathy Lisa. I have a lot to say, but I listen too.   My son conversates just like me (real word even though Spellcheck is screaming “Can’t you see the red squiggly line??”). He starts talking from the time he rolls out of bed and continues asking questions and sharing ideas and jokes and facts and observations all. day. long. But he too knows how to listen. His big brown eyes open wide while I’ll telling him a story and he pauses before he speaks to make sure he really processes what’s been said. I love this boy. Our daughter, she has a lot to say tool. The trouble is her “talker gene” is broken. She knows what she wants to say, but struggles to get the words to line up in an orderly fashion to march them across her vocal chords and out to listening ears around her.   When Avery was a baby we were advised to teach her sign language as speech would not come easy. In fact, we were warned that she might never be[…]

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Rare Chromosome Disorder Awareness Week

This unique celebration falls in early June every year. Is a rare chromosome deletion cause for celebration? I suppose it depends on how you look at it and how such a disorder affects you or someone you love. I hadn’t given much thought to chromosome disorders. I knew they existed, but I hadn’t delved much into their causes or various manifestations. When our second child was born, tiny but perfect, it didn’t occur to me that there could be something unusual lurking amid the tangle of her DNA. It wasn’t until our daughter was eight months old that concerns about her atypical development were confirmed. She had stopped feeding and was losing weight, there were some unusual physical traits, and the traditional milestones she was supposed to have achieved had not been met. After months of struggling to find help (doctors who saw Avery claimed she was fine and that we worried too much), the chromosome test results requested by our family doctor, our sole champion, came in. Avery was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder. And so there it was—our family’s new reality. Despite our suspicions, we were shocked and afraid, sad and confused by it all.   Avery’s[…]

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