Apr 18

Want to spill your guts? Easy to Love but Hard to Raise is looking for contributors!

keyboardHey – we’re looking for parent-writers to contribute regularly to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise! Our current set of dedicated contributors has hit the wall – call it blogger fatigue, call it writer’s block, call it LIFE, but many of our original writers have decided they need a break from our wonderful spot on the cloud, so we’re looking for new voices to add to our roster.

New blog contributors should be caring for a child (or children) – of any age – who is easy to love but hard to raise.  You can be anywhere in your parenting journey: your kiddo can be newly diagnosed, you can be in the thick of the teen years, or you can be looking back with the experience (or exhaustion) of someone who has been there and done that!

You do not have to be a professional writer to contribute. We value authenticity and truth. Stories and anecdotes about your life as a parent are most welcome. Easy to Love but Hard to Raise is not a place for “expert” advice, judgement, or preachiness. Our contributors write about what they did as opposed to what you should be doing. Above all, it’s the experience of parenting that we’re most interested in. Our readers come to us because they want to know they’re not alone. 

If you would like to contribute to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise, please email Adrienne at editorial@drtpress.com. Include a sample blog (previously published blog posts will work just fine!) and a short explanation of your child’s special need, how old your child is, and any other information about your unique perspective that you can offer. You need to be able to commit to at least one blog post a month,

 

 

 

Aug 09

Children Seen But Not Heard? Promote Self-Advocacy

It is next to impossible to ask ADHD children to wait a moment.  They need to say what’s on their minds right at that instant or they’ll forget what they were going to say.  I know that this can become tedious at times, but it is important to allow ADHD children this privilege because it will help them to speak up and advocate for their academic needs in the classroom.  Parents are pivotal in developing this self-advocacy skill in their children.

 

ADHD and/or learning disabled children need to be able to ask for academic assistance in the classroom.  And they need to have their questions addressed as soon as possible so that connections can be made to the information delivered.  By allowing your ADHD and/or learning disabled child to form and ask pertinent questions about whatever is going on at home, in a movie, etc., and expect answers in a timely fashion fosters the ability for him or her to do so in the classroom with the same expectations.

 

Usually classes with special needs students have aides to assist the teachers as well as the students.  It is important that your child feel comfortable enough to approach either the teacher or the assistant with academic questions whenever necessary to be able to perform well in class and therefore obtain the most knowledge.

 

If our special needs children can develop this skill in their formative classroom years, they will be ready to advocate for themselves in college and out in the workforce.

Jun 01

Take Care of Yourself in a Big Way at the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat: A weekend getaway for moms of kids with ADHD, ASD, FASD, and other brain-based disabilities

This mama ain’t been very happy lately. In fact, my never-ending worries about my 11 year old daughter, Natalie, who has ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and is on the fetal alcohol spectrum, have put me in a real funk. Most days, my bed starts calling my name by mid-afternoon. I’ve had zero motivation to work or do most anything else. I’ve felt like avoiding any and all social interactions. This funk has been severe enough, and lasted long enough, that I decided I had to make a conscious effort to do something about it—to take better care of myself. So, I made a few small changes in my daily routine. I started going for a short walk several days each week. I pulled my vitamin and mineral supplements out of the cupboard and recommitted to taking them daily. I gave myself permission to spend more time reading for pleasure. I’ve been scheduling a few lunches out with friends.

I firmly believe that when you’re living with the stress of raising a child with special needs, you have to make a conscious effort to take care of yourself. After all, as the saying goes, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Even small investments in your own well-being, like those I listed above, can make a difference in how well you cope with day-to-day challenges.

Yes, small is good. But big is even better! So, I’ve also pledged to do something significant. I’ve registered to attend the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a two day getaway especially for moms of kids with special needs.

The Happy Mama Conference & Retreat will take place July 28–29, 2012, at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa, in Conover, North Carolina. Here’s what the retreat is all about, as described on the Happy Mama website, www.if-mama-aint-happy.com :

What: A CONFERENCE that focuses on your needs as the mom to a child with a very real, but invisible, brain-based disability, like ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, FASD, PBD, SPD, PDD, or one of the many other overlapping conditions that make parenting your child an extra challenging situation, and a RETREAT, where we’ll provide you with wonderful food, spa opportunities, fun activities, and camaraderie with other moms who know exactly where you’re coming from.

Why: Because parenting children with invisible disabilities is an extremely stressful, isolating, and emotional job and one which can impact your health and well-being in a negative way.

 The retreat, hosted by DRT Press (publisher of  Easy to Love but Hard to Raise) and the website {a mom’s view of ADHD} (founded and edited by Penny Williams) and supported by a growing list of sponsors, including CHADD and the Catawba Valley Medical Center, will offer the perfect blend of education, support, and pampering.

Saturday’s speakers will cover: “Parenthood, Stress, Health, and Resiliency,” “Advocating for Your Child in School,” and “How to Be Happy: Calming Techniques for You and Your Child.” Sunday will be devoted to fun and pampering, which may include spa treatments, relaxing by the pool, gem mining, hiking, yoga, horseback riding, or kayaking.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can hardly wait!   

Sharon Barbary Bryan registered for the conference, but has since found out that she’s unable to attend. Sharon is donating  her conference registration and on-site lodging, approximately a $350 value, to a deserving  mom! The retreat organizers are running a contest to determine what lucky mama will be the recipient of Sharon’s generous gift. Here’s how it works: Follow this link. Nominate a special needs mama whom you feel deserves to attend the retreat, by writing a sentence or two in the comments field (of that post, not this one!) explaining why she needs a break.  The contest will run June 1 – June 22.

If you are interested in attending whether you win this contest or not, please don’t hesitate to register now. Registration is just $129 until July 1. If you are “in the business” of ADHD, FASD, ASD, or other brain-based disorders and wish to become a retreat sponsor, email happymamaretreat@gmail.com for their sponsorship package.

In the meantime, take a few steps, big or small, to take better care of yourself. You work so hard to bring happiness to your special child. You deserve to be happy too.

May 04

Helping Each Other

I love this blog, our Facebook page, and the book, Easy to Love But Hard to Raise because they all focus on connecting and supporting parents of children with invisible disabilities, mental illnesses, and brain-based special needs. Together, we are stronger, wiser, and hopefully a little more satisfied with this defining life experience of parenting kids who need more.

When my twin boys were first being diagnosed as toddlers a few years ago, I discovered my county support network, Parent to Parent of Whatcom County (P2P). Their free services include the emotional support of a trained Helping Parent whose parenting experiences match mine as closely as possible. They also offer hosted social and recreational events, current information on disabilities and medical conditions, and referrals to community resources.

The first essay I wrote about life as an ETL parent eventually appeared in my local P2P newsletter. A couple of years later, a different form of that essay now appears in our beloved Easy to Love But Hard to Raise. I feel as if my experience with P2P is coming full circle. Later this month, I will host a reading and support meeting for the group, the book is being considered for a new Parent Support Book Club they’re developing, and I’m considering becoming a Helping Parent myself.

A couple of weeks ago, our family attended a free P2P-only ice skating event. My boys had been asking for months to go for their first try, but I’d been avoiding it. I didn’t want to deal with public meltdowns and crowds of people that don’t understand us. But with P2P, our experience went far better than I expected, the kids had a positive first experience, and we were surrounded by people who “get it.”

Barbara Claypole White has blogged here before about whether or not to join a support group, and in the end, it’s a personal decision that has to work for you, in your circumstances, in your own life. For my family, P2P has been exactly what we needed. Barbara said it well when she wrote, “Finding the right group—or stumbling into it in my case—is a blessing. We may cry in the middle of sessions, but by the end we’re laughing. And if you can laugh at least once during a day of parenting an obsessive-compulsive child, you’re a momma who can keep on truckin’.”

If you need the support of others near your community, Parent to Parent USA has local chapters throughout the country that just might be a good fit. Check ‘em out, and please, keep on truckin’.

May 01

Going on a book tour! A book BLOG tour, that is!

Since Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, was published as of February 1, things have been going GREAT for the book, the editors, and the writers who contributed to our collection of essays.

We’ve been selling books, talking to folks, and creating fellowship and community among beleaguered parents of children with invisible disabilities, mental illnesses, and brain-based special needs everywhere!

The book’s been reviewed, the editors have been giving talks, the authors have been doing readings, newspaper articles have been written…and now it’s time for a book tour! A blog tour, that is, because let’s not go too crazy: we’re operating on a shoestring budget in our teeny tiny publishing company. We’d love to send Adrienne and Kay cross-country talking to folks about the trials and tribulations and stresses of parenting highly unpredictable children, but that’s not in the budget.

So we’ll do it, virtual-style.

Here’s the plan: if you are a BLOGGER or a WRITER or have a FOLLOWING on Facebook, we’d love for you to be part of our summer book blog tour. In exchange for a scheduled review, guest post, blog interview, podcast, or a Facebook or Twitter interview, or something else you’ve thought of…you will get a copy of the book (or 2, if you’d like to do a give-away), cross-promotion on the Easy to Love blog and Facebook page, and our undying appreciation and LOVE.

All of this will go down this summer.

E-mail Adrienne at editorial@drtpress.com to volunteer.  We hope to have everything scheduled by the end of May, so don’t wait to long to contact us.

 

Feb 08

More Facebook Support for Sensory Processing Disorder

Bless the Internet. When I’m having a hard time coping with my twin’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or anxiety, I search for two things: books with new tips and other parents who understand. I’ve found the Easy to Love… Facebook page to be so vital to my day, I’m thankful that more and more resources are available to parents through literature and the Web.

Yesterday I stumbled across this little article by Occupational Therapist Bob Trapani at auburnpub.com, a Cayuga County, NY newspaper that explains Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in a way that most anyone can understand. I’m going to send it to the relatives in hopes that they might be able to really comprehend our “invisible” disorder.

The article also mentions new Facebook support pages for parents of children with SPD and for occupational therapists. The pages are NY-based, including advertising local support meetings, but relevant articles and commiseration are also posted there.

Where are you finding support as parents of children with SPD? We’d love to hear from you.

 

Jan 31

Happy, happy Blogaversary! We’re celebrating with a present for YOU!

One year ago we started this blog! In blog years that’s like a century! I think I can speak for all the contributors here when I say it’s been wonderful to be part of this community. Parents of children with invisible special needs need help, commiseration, and the knowledge that they are not alone, and this is what we’re trying to do here at Easy to Love but Hard to Raise.

 I’ve had many days where I’m perplexed, depressed, worried, sad, and puzzled my by ETL child’s behavior and posted about it, only to find out within minutes that I’m neither alone in my problem nor am I without solutions.

Looking at the facts and figures for the site I see that we’ve had over 75000 blog posts read! The two posts clicked on most often are: If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going … or Making Sense of the OCD Diagnosis, by Barbara, and Detachment parenting, or Confessions of a Robot Mama, by me, Adrienne. Interesting, right? Both posts are about shouldering through a rough situation, which in a lot of ways is the theme of this whole thing – book and blog! As parents of children who are easy to love but hard to raise, I don’t see that we have any other choice in the matter.

We’ve also gained over 1200 fans on our Facebook page, which is amazing. Between the comments on the posts and the discussion going on through Facebook I’ll steal something a poster recently said and tell you that I feel like this is the best support group I’ve never met! I’ve had many days where I’m perplexed, depressed, worried, sad, and puzzled my by ETL child’s behavior and posted about it, only to find out within minutes that I’m neither alone in my problem nor am I without solutions.

I thank you all for this, from the bottom of my heart.

cover of Easy to Love but Hard to RaiseBut enough of the facts and figures and gushy thank yous. In celebration of our birthday, we’ll be giving away 5 copies of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise this week! All you have to do to enter is post a comment on this post telling us WHY your child is easy to love and also hard to raise. At the end of the week I’ll be drawing names. Go! (and spread it!)

(cake photo by flickr user chidorian)

Jan 25

Information Brings Calm

A couple of weeks ago I posted here about my twin’s potential transition from coverage under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and associated Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) to only Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (504). Does this sound like a mouthful of legal gobbledygook to you?  It was to me until my local chapter, Parent to Parent of Whatcom County, loaned me a great resource, From Emotions to Advocacy (2nd edition), by Pam and Pete Wright of the now famous Wrightslaw Website.

This book is exactly what I needed. I have the emotions of special needs parenting covered in spades. But learning about my children’s rights and some of the programs and processes brought a calm I was not expecting.

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Sep 19

Block Scheduling a Blessing to the Special Needs Child

Our high school has “block” scheduling.  This was a major consideration in choosing course levels for my Easy to Love student.  In block scheduling, students usually have four classes a semester, or half year, sort of like college, and then a lunch and access period where students can do homework or see other teachers for extra help if that particular teacher is “off” at the same time.

Coming from an eight subject year long load–with eight subjects of homework assignments and test schedules, year long, I thought this would be easier for my Easy to Love child.  Students still have all eight subjects in high school every year.  The subjects are just divided in half and the class periods are doubled, 80 minutes.  This is how students can get a year’s worth of knowledge in half a year.

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Aug 22

Readers – Help Improve Our Blog & Share Your Thoughts!

Dear lovely readers of the Easy to Love but Hard to Raise blog,

I’ve agreed to be part of a survey through WEGO health, a social media company for ‘health activists.’ Up until recently, their focus has been on people suffering from and dealing with a number of health-related concerns, but they are trying to now include health caregivers in their activist community, which is certainly what you and I are as parents of children who are easy to love, but hard to raise.

Under this note you’ll find the snappy intro letter from WEGO health. Read it, don’t read it, participate in their site or not. But please DO participate in the survey they’ve set up for us. I really do want to know what you think about our blog!

Thanks,

Adrienne

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