What I Can Do

What I Can Do

“What I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for.” ~ Shauna...
Toy Like Me

Toy Like Me

Have you heard of Toy Like Me? It’s a campaign for ran by parents of children with disabilities promoting change in the toy industry to better represent disabilities. And the toy industry better watch out because if there is a group of people who are patient, persistent, and willing to never stop fighting for what they want, it’s special needs parents! And what a great idea! According to an article on Upworthy, three parents came together and decided their children (one in a wheelchair, one who is deaf and visually impaired, and one who is blind) decided their children needed their assistive accessories to be represented in the toy world to make them feel comfortable and promote positive self image. They made a prototype doll with a cochlear implant, which they shared on social media. The image was shared enough that one week later, a toy company contacted them to take their idea and run with it! There are dolls and a current push for Lego to catch on to the idea. Read the full Upworthy article here. Both of my children, Chloe with special needs and Sam who has no special needs but has a sister with special needs and is exposed to special needs often, love to see pictures of children in wheelchairs in books or toys with special needs equipment (we have a teddy bear with a wheelchair), or when there are children with special needs on one of their favorite shows (Sesame Street does a pretty good job of featuring children with special needs in their episodes). Whenever there is something that reflects those unique aspects...
Wings for Autism

Wings for Autism

Today this article showed up in my newsfeed. It is a mom thanking JetBlue for the service they provided her son with autism before and during a flight. She liked that she was able to indicate his special needs and make a few specific remarks about those special needs when she booked online. Then when she called just to make sure everything was okay, she was offered assistance and silent boarding when they arrived at the airport. She selected silent boarding and indicated how much this helped her son get settled into the new environment and get his headphones on to cancel out the noise when his fellow travelers started boarding the plane. Additionally, extra care and patience were shown to them throughout the duration of the flight, as the staff were aware of his needs based on what she was able to share when she booked the flight. I thought many of these things were good and important to consider when traveling by plane with a person with special needs. I didn’t know some of these options were available and was excited to share them! This also made me think of a JetBlue program I had heard of awhile back called Wings for Autism. The Wings for Autism program was created to offer a safe environment for families to practice traveling with an autistic child, and be surrounded by others in similar situations. By getting comfortable with the airport and flight experience (without actually leaving the airport!), both parents and their children with special needs could gain the familiarity and confidence needed to fly for real when the...
3 Reasons I Don’t Mind When Young Children Point and Stare at My Child With Special Needs

3 Reasons I Don’t Mind When Young Children Point and Stare at My Child With Special Needs

I might be making several generations of special needs parents angry by saying this, but it’s true. I don’t mind when young children point and stare at my child with special needs. In fact, I like it! I’m such a rebel, I know. ‘Don’t point’ and ‘don’t stare’ are pretty basic social recommendations for people of all ages. But let me explain my deviant way of thinking by sharing two examples from the happiest place on earth…you guessed it. Disneyland! Example one. I was waiting with Chloe for the rest of our party to get off a ride that Chloe wasn’t able to go on. We were sitting on a bench and a very cute family was sitting next to us. The mom was passing out snacks and planning their next stop when one of her sons, probably 4 or 5 years old, kept looking at Chloe and/or her wheelchair. His mom noticed and told him it was not nice to stare. Then slowly but surely, he wiggled his way closer and, pointing at Chloe’s pink wheelchair, asked me, “Why is she sitting in that?” I smiled a big grin, excited to talk about how we all have differences and planned to encourage him to chat with Chloe because, well, she loves making friends! Before I got a single word out, his mom went in to panic mode. I’m sure she was thinking, ‘Oh no. He was staring, now he’s pointing and asking questions. He is breaking social protocol. What an embarrassment!’ She grabbed him and angrily told him how it is not nice to point, stare, and annoy strangers....
Our normal (and totally disruptive) behavior…

Our normal (and totally disruptive) behavior…

My daughter is kind of noisy… okay, really noisy. She yells and laughs and if you give her any attention for it, she ups it a notch and gets MORE yelly and MORE happy! This is particularly true when we are somewhere where she should be quiet… or maybe it just seems that way. We were visiting a church this weekend that wasn’t one that we usually go to. Dylan was in prime form on her dad’s lap. Happy as can be, yelling, cheering. Can you say disruptive? This loud behaviour in a normally peaceful, calm, somewhat quiet environment? There are families and children there so of course the noise level can fluctuate but it’s not out of the norm for parents to take disruptive youngsters out in the hall if they get a little too crazy. Well, there she was, going and going, and my husband looked over at me and whispered “Should I take her out? I whispered, insisted, “no!” (Mind you, I don’t even like to take my typical children out when they are misbehaving because I don’t want them to realize they can go run in the halls if they are a little loud and naughty first!) This begs the question… how do you balance your special needs child (or adult) being loud and, under typical circumstances, disruptive with providing exposure about special needs to the community? And, not helping but, of course the child, like many toddlers, is completely oblivious to this “expected” behavior and the peaceful environment. This goes for any setting, restaurant, malls, plays, music events… Of course with church there is...