Discovering An Online Parenting Community

(Disclosure: I am proud to be working with Brawny® on a series of sponsored posts as they inspire people to be “Tough to the Core.”)

When I first entered the world of special needs parenting a few years ago I was scared and lonely. I only personally knew three other people who had children with special needs and only one lived near me. It wasn’t until I started talking about it and researching Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder that I found a whole community online and I suddenly didn’t feel so alone. I connected with other parents in Facebook groups, even creating my own for moms of children with SPD. I had hundreds of moms that I could go to with questions, share my concerns and that would join me in rejoicing over the smallest steps forward.

Recently I went through some struggles when I had to transfer my children to a new school district. It was hard and I felt like I was having to fight for my children to get the services they deserved. The main thing that got me through was knowing that I was doing it for my children but there was a part of me that thought about all the other parents doing the same thing for their children. Whether we know each other or not, we are part of a community and we inspire others around us and help them stay strong, even when they don’t feel like they have any energy to keep fighting. I felt empowered to advocate for my children and developed strength I didn’t even know I had.

On top of people I met online, I discovered numerous blogs about parenting children with special needs. I can relate to many of the stories they write so I wanted to share a few of my favorites.

24/7 Modern Mom: Alicia writes about many topics, including being a mother of triplets who have Autism. Anytime I am having an issue with special education or anything else she is always there encouraging me and I’m so thankful she is part of my online community. She wrote about the struggles many of us face on the weekends in her Autism is Hardest on Saturdays post. She also shared the painful story about her kids not being invited to birthday parties, a story that I could relate to because I’ve been in similar situations numerous times before.

Lemon Lime Adventures: Dayna’s website is the resource that I wish I would have had when the words “Sensory Processing Disorder” were first spoken to me. She covers everything from the basics of what SPD is to sensory friendly activities to sharing relatable stories about her own child. She even created Project Sensory and the Sensory Fix™ Toolkit.

Flappiness Is: This blogger has written some wonderful posts, including a series of open letters. She has a letter to the person staring at her child in the grocery store and a letter to her friends. I’m a fan of these letters and have discovered that they are more for us to get our thoughts out than they are for the people who will probably never read them. I wrote my own to my son’s social worker and it’s probably the most in-depth I’ve been about my children.

Anytime I think life is just too hard or I’m not sure what I’m going to do to get through things I think of those parents with special kids who walk this journey with me. If I’m struggling with a situation at my kid’s school or anything else comes up I reach out to other parents for motivation, ideas and support as I learn to navigate our new normal.

My online community inspires me to be tough. Who inspires you?

Want more information on how to be tough to the core? Check out the inspiration video series featuring Everyday Heroes from Brawny®: http://www.brawny.com/tough-to-the-core

Stay connected with Brawny® on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Having Faith In Tough Times

(Disclosure: I am proud to be working with Brawny® on a series of sponsored posts as they inspire people to be “Tough to the Core.”)

The summer before I headed into my Senior year of High School my life completely changed. My {step}mom had been complaining she didn’t feel well and within a couple days she was in the hospital fighting for her life. She had Viral Encephalitis and was in a coma and the cause was thought to be West Nile virus. After weeks she came out of the hospital but the swelling in her brain had caused brain damage and she was never the same. She developed a seizure disorder, suffered from memory loss, battled depression and had noticeable personality changes.

For nine years my mom battled Epilepsy until it took her life in June of 2009. She truly taught me a lot about life and was tough to the very end, never letting her illness dictate her life. My mom spent hours a day fighting back against memory loss by writing down everything, doing memory boosting activities and trying to strengthen her memory retention skills. She also tried different medicines and procedures to get her seizures under control. She strived to keep her life, and her children’s lives, as normal as possible and she was sure that by trying as hard as she could, she’d succeed.

Every day was spent reading the Bible, listening to encouraging speakers and immersed in Bible studies. Her Faith never wavered. She believed that she would get better. Having Epilepsy she was not allowed to drive and this was probably one of the hardest things for her to accept. Her Doctor had told her that once she went at least 6 months without a seizure she would be allowed to drive again. Every time I talked to her she told me that she would be driving soon and then every seizure she had she started the countdown clock again. For over 9 years she kept a positive attitude and believed that she would be able to drive in her near future. I really think she’s up in Heaven cruising around in her sports car!

I try to teach this same strength to my kids. I want them to remain positive in the face of struggles and have faith even when it’s hard to. I think these two things can get my children through any tough situation they encounter.

Thanks to Brawny® for encouraging these conversations. Want more information on how to be tough to the core? Check out the inspiration video series featuring Everyday Heroes from Brawny® and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Being Tough For Your Kids

(Disclosure: I am proud to be working with Brawny® on a series of sponsored posts as they inspire people to be “Tough to the Core.”)

When I had children I did all the obligatory mom things I had in my head that I was supposed to do. I read numerous parenting books, baby proofed our home, joined mommy and me groups to socialize my kids, filled the closet with tiny little outfits and basically tried everything to be a “good” mom.

The only thing I didn’t do was prepare myself to take the journey as a mom of kids who have special needs. When the boys were three and two I decided to swallow my pride and took them to the Doctor to share some concerns I had. When the Pediatrician dismissed me, I pushed because I knew, I knew, something was not right. I told him I wanted referrals and I had both boys tested through Early Intervention. With delays found in multiple areas, both boys were accepted and given speech, occupational and developmental therapies. I then pursued diagnosis with my youngest and it turns out my mother’s intuition was right. There was something going on and it was called Autism. A hard diagnosis to accept but suddenly it all made sense.

Just like there is no manual for parenting, there isn’t a step by step guide to raising children with special needs. In many ways it is harder because even once you have a diagnosis for your child, that gives you an idea of what to look into but not every child with the diagnosis is the same. Even Lucas, who has Autism, is on a spectrum. Some children with ASD are non-verbal and some can express themselves verbally. Some children I can identify as having Autism just by their outward behavior and some, like my son, you wouldn’t be able to notice the Autistic traits of until you were around them.

Once we were on the special needs path there were a variety of obstacles in our way. Hours of therapy each week that interfered with work, six month wait lists to get an appointment to see the developmental pediatrician and meeting after meeting with the public school system to get services my children deserved. I did everything I could to help my boys catch up to their peers and ensure that, once in school, they’d be able to learn and grow.

Sometimes you are tough because you have to be. Special needs parents have to be tough for their kids because we are their advocates and {sometimes} the only ones that will be looking out for their best interests.

Brawny® Paper Towels and Wipes have always stood for good old-fashioned toughness and that’s why Brawny® wants to share the inspiring stories to those everyday heroes out there – the folks who truly define what tough is.

Want more information on how to be tough to the core? Check out the inspiration video series featuring Everyday Heroes from Brawny®: http://www.brawny.com/tough-to-the-core

Stay connected with Brawny® on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Brawny® Partners With The Wounded Warrior Project®

I am proud to be working with Brawny® over the next couple months to share about their partnership with Wounded Warrior Project®. The Brawny® brand has donated $1.4 million to the Wounded Warrior Project®, which, it says, shares the same brand spirit and values: an inner strength that emboldens and inspires people to be “Tough to the Core.” WWP helps wounded servicemen and women adjust to civilian life and persevere through the visible and invisible wounds of war. US Service men and women are some of the toughest people. They put themselves in harms way to protect us and it’s a choice that they’ve made that I will be forever grateful for.

Another group that comes to mind when I hear the word “tough” are parents of children with special needs {and the children themselves}. These moms and dads have to be tough, not for themselves but for the children they are raising. As one of those parents, I had no idea what was to come when I got pregnant but once I had my children, and disabilities were diagnosed, I had no choice to be tough because it’s my job to protect my boys and advocate for them.

More so than the parents, the children are tough. They learn to embrace their differences, overcome their obstacles and adjust to a world that doesn’t always understand them. These kids here? They make me proud to be their mom every day.

Tough is so much more than physical strength. For some, it’s about being resilient. For others, it means showing compassion. Tell us what “tough” means to you and the Brawny® brand will donate $1 to WWP for every text or photo submission, and for $5 for every video (up to $350,000). You can share your definition and donate using #ToughIs on Facebook, Instagram or visit www.brawny.com/wounded-warrior-project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay connected with Brawny® on Twitter and Facebook. To learn more on the partnership, go to www.brawny.com/wounded-warrior-project and for more information on Wounded Warrior Project®, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.com.