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...
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...
Service Monkeys

Service Monkeys

Recently, I saw a man with a service monkey at the airport. Is your jaw on the ground? Because mine was, in amazement! I had to look it up right away and what I learned was amazing! Service Monkeys According to monkeyhelpers.org, “The most obvious difference between capuchin monkeys and other service animals is their dexterous hands and amazing fine motor skills. This enables them to perform tasks such as: turning pages scratching itches retrieving dropped objects inserting straws into bottles turning on buttons/switches for remotes, phones, computers, etc. repositioning limbs on a wheelchair Other differences include: their long life span of 30-40 years small size which allows them to cuddle in their human partner’s lap or nook of their neck monkeys have hair, like humans, which helps to alleviates problems with fur-related allergies Monkeys also have a strong sense of hierarchy which provides the motivation to care for and be cared for by their human partner. Helping Hands trainers and placement staff utilize this natural hierarchy to create a mutually beneficial and nurturing relationship between the monkey and the recipient.” Then I found this video showing a service monkey in action and helping this amazing young man. You have to watch this! Other service animals include miniature horses and pigs. And if you’re wondering, most airlines do let them on planes to serve people with disabilities....
Just Because

Just Because

Sam has recently become obsessed with this book, Just Because by Rebecca Elliott. It’s about a little blonde hair blue eyed boy whose older sister is in a wheelchair. The little boy loves to lay by his sister, laugh with her, look at books with her, be outside with her, pretend with her, and dream with her. The boy doesn’t know why his sister is in a wheelchair and doesn’t talk and has curly hair….just because. Sam makes me read it to him at least 10 times a day. I recently found him sitting on the couch hugging it…..just because. Chloe also loves the book and gets excited when the brother and sister pretend the wheelchair is a rocket and go up into space! Rebecca Elliott has another book about the same siblings and hospital visits the sister has to make, Sometimes. It is also a very sweet book and both of my kids like it a lot. I think these books will become more and more important as Sam matures and understands the many things that make his sister different and can see pictures that look a lot like his life in a fun, happy book. I’m grateful he already understands it enough that reading the books is important and special to him. I can’t recommend these books...
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....