Feb 22

Guest post: A Letter to the Future Teacher of My Exceptional Child



Dear Teacher,

My son will be entering kindergarten this fall. Two years ago, I used to envision myself dropping him off for his first day of school with a tremendous sigh of relief. I would bring him to your classroom, where he would run off and be engaged in any number of different activities, and I would then head over to the Boo Hoo Breakfast, where all the other parents would lament over where the time had gone and I would pretend to be nostalgic but inside just feel relief. This was the fantasy I indulged in until a year ago. I figured I was like a mother giraffe that kicks its calf onto its legs until it staggers into survival. Now I know that when I leave him with you, there will be no great relief. Every day that I send him into the tribe is a day I worry about how he is doing, what he is doing and how you are doing with him. When my phone rings or my inbox has an e-mail, my immediate thought will be, “It’s about him.” Continue reading

Feb 20

Guest post: Been there, done that, where’s the t-shirt?


I fly at least once a month for my job and each time I arrive at the airport, I am met with the announcement of what color Homeland Security has assigned to our potential travel threats. The color red equals a severe threat of attack, while blue offers a “guarded” risk.

Everywhere we drive, colors represent something similar, as well. From the first time we start to drive, we recognize that the color red, whether on a stop sign or light, dictates that we should stop, while yellow guides us to slow down or proceed with caution.

At least once a month, I see someone post something on Facebook about being “dumb enough to wear a red shirt in Target” and after seeing some version of that sentiment for about the tenth time, I started thinking.

What if I was able to wear a brightly colored shirt that enabled me to alert those around me that I was in the company of a small child with ADHD? What if I had the luxury of presenting myself with a universally-recognized color garment that told people to “proceed with caution” both in how they regarded my child and how they addressed me? Continue reading

Feb 19

Guest post: The Shoes that Matter

A life long resident of upstate New York, Kristin Osborn lives at the foot of the Adirondack mountains with her husband and two kids, 11 and 4. Kristin is a graduate of the State University of New York’s creative writing program and has been working as a manager in medical sales for 10+ years. Being a mother to a son with ADHD has finally given her the outlet to start writing again, as being able to put her feelings into stories is a therapy that’s hard to match.

red_shoes_muohace_dcI have been following the site for a few months now and it has really helped me to deal with my feelings about being a mom to a four-year-old with ADHD. I know so many people ask questions on here, but for me, it’s helped me to just write down my thoughts about my experiences. It’s even helped me to consider starting a blog, just so I can have an outlet. I bet some people can agree! Here’s something that happened just last week:

Last week a Dora the Explorer fruit snack took an 800-mile trip with me. Through a thirty-minute wait at security and through two flights, that chewy little purple smush hung on tight. I travel a lot for business and so because I have a small child with ADHD, I relish those overnight trips by myself. I get to wear clothes that are clean and that also match and I get to eat in restaurants where the food doesn’t come served exclusively on a red tray. Continue reading

Jan 09

Reader post: Let it Go!

Nana is mom to an 11 yr-old drama tween daughter, a highly gifted, highly adHd/SPD 8 yr-old son, and a stubborn 5 yr-old son who plays the clown. Wife. Employee. Volunteer. Friend. Artist. Craftswoman. Occasional Quirky Crazy Person. She blogs about all sorts of things at nanahgregg.wordpress.com.

letitgo copyI am terrible at New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve never really sat down and made an actual resolution – have always been a bit cynical.

Over the past few months, I think I’ve grown a bit, or matured or something, but I’ve been a bit more reflective.

Having been blessed with a twice-exceptional ETL and 2 other equally challenging kiddos, I am constantly looking on the internet and talking to friends about parenting issues. It’s such a learn-as-you-go occupation, being a parent. It’s so easy to get caught up in what I’m doing wrong, what my perception of ‘good parenting’ means, and what others think that I think I’m missing out on opportunities to be a great parent

So this year I am making a resolution. I’m writing it down, right here for everyone to see and so I can remind myself regularly.

Are you ready for it?

“Let it go.” Continue reading

Jan 07

Reader post: Lockdown

Melissa is the thirty-something mom to 9 adopted, Easy-to-Love children all between the ages of 11 and 4. One of her children is in public school and the rest are all homeschooled while she work on her Master’s in mental health counseling. Life can get a little crazy sometimes, but it is always interesting!

school lockdownTwo days before Christmas break, my 8-year-old easy-to-love son put the local elementary school and high school on total lockdown. This was only six days after the horrible school shooting in Newtown, CT, one day before the December 21, 2012 “End of the World” was supposed to happen, and on the same day that (unknown to us) students in various towns around our state took guns to school and put other school systems in other cities on lockdown. To say that the local police and sheriff’s departments were edgy, and that the school administration were nervous would, I’m sure, be an understatement.

My son has been diagnosed as ODD, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. One counselor suspects FASD as well and another says that’s “hooey,” but regardless of this Ds, my son certainly has some issues with impulse control alone with his other challenges in life. He’s an amazingly talented kid who is very bright, can be very sweet and loving, but also has a stubborn, defiant streak a mile wide that we have been working on since he was placed in our home four years ago through foster care. Continue reading

Oct 03

Guest Post: Mom’s Income / The Real Cost of Childhood Special Needs

Laura Weeds Wright’s blog is The ODD Mom. Here’s what she says about herself: “I deal with more parenting challenges in a week than most parents probably deal with in a year. I’m an ODD mother — the mother of a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I’d love to say this doesn’t define me, but something that consumes your every waking hour can’t help but define you. So rather than hanging my head in shame, I’ve decided to wear the label like a badge of honour. Come with me…it’s an ODD life I live.” This blog post was first posted on her blog in April, 2012.

As I sit here in the middle of the afternoon, chaos reigns around me. On the table beside me sits a stack of bills that I’m trying to juggle payment on — I have to decide which ones need to be paid now and which ones can wait until next payday. In the living room Stitch is playing, happily throwing blocks around and laughing madly as they bounce off the furniture. Down the hall Bear, who should actually be at school right now, is playing his Leapster, the fact that it’s an “educational” game allowing me to fool myself into believing it can be classed as “work.”

Continue reading

Jul 19

Guest post: Elizabeth reminds us about the importance of a network for our special needs kiddos

I think we can all say we have heard the saying “it’s not about what you know but who you know.” Building your networks can be a life changing process both professionally & personally. I think this holds true more for us moms (of children with special needs), then all other professions combined.

The first Network that I built is a professional one of caring individuals (therapists, doctors, etc.) who will diagnosis & treat your child. Not just as a number but as the beautifully unique human being that they are. The second Network that I built was a personal one of supportive individuals (friends, family, and support groups) who will provide me an ear to listen & a shoulder to cry on. Most of the time all we really want to know is we are not alone when dealing with the extreme situations & issues that arise in dealing with our children from day to day. The third Network that I built is a Faith/Religious one of understanding individuals (priests, prayer groups) that has shown me by their example how to grow closer to our Lord during our darkest & most difficult times. These three Networks are what allow me to make it through the day and able to face another tomorrow optimistically. I think we must all remember that our Networks are only a phone call, email, text or click away. Make sure each of these Networks is working for you & your children!

My name is Elizabeth Contreras and I am a Stay at Home Mom with 3 blessings(8, 3 ½, +2) and an amazingly supportive husband! I have 2 SPD kiddos & 1 SPD/Autism kiddo. I am very active in my church & I am on the steering committee for the Catholic Women’s Conference here in San Antonio (www.pilgrimcenterofhope.org/cwc)


Jul 12

Guest blog: Why is “getting” our kids so hard?

Kim Stricker is a Chicago area elementary education teacher, writer, and mom to two tween boys.   Kim shares the unconventional experiences of parenting an adopted child with ADHD and Asperger’s, as well as his younger bio brother, at her blog, http://www.lifeslikethis2@blogger.com .  She is also a parent advocate and blogger for http://www.empoweringparents.com.  

“You just don’t get me.”   These are the words spoken to me by my twelve year old son last weekend.  The words were said in the middle of one of our endless verbal battles of why he should do something I have asked versus whatever it is he wants to do at that moment.  He is right.  I don’t get him.  In fact, I haven’t really got him since he was about two.

My son’s natural temperament is choleric.  A theory dating from BC meaning he likes to be in charge of everything,  is moody, and highly disorganized.  Add the official tags of ADHD and Asperger’s; he is too busy and doesn’t care what the rest of the family or world thinks either.  I don’t get him.

I want so very much to parent him and have him reciprocate a tenth of our family’s naturally good humor, kindness, and patience.  However, those moments are very few and very far between.  We do celebrate the small steps he is finally able to take with the aid of medications and therapies.  He asked my husband how his day was last week.  We were beyond thrilled for days.

I don’t get why his brain doesn’t seem to enable him to learn from mistakes,

 I think if I can get him more, I could perhaps get more of him, increase his rare smiles and maybe even get the ever elusive hug.

consequences, and solid parenting.  I don’t get why he is embarrassed by my actions; yet his disrespectful behavior is not at all embarrassing to him.  Countless parenting books, doctors, and interventions leave me stymied.

How do I get him more?  Friends offer advice like expect and focus on the positive and ignore some of the behaviors.  My husband and I walk around reminding each other he has special needs and kids do well if they can.    I think if I can get him more, I could perhaps get more of him, increase his rare smiles and maybe even get the ever elusive hug.

Jul 10

Guest blog: Beth’s Story

Today’s guest blog is by Beth. She is the mother of two beautiful sons who have always been “Easy to love but hard to raise”. My oldest son has ADD and Dyslexia, my youngest has a diagnosis of ADHD with impulsive tendencies and PTSD.

When I became pregnant it was totally unexpected.  My husband had two children from a previous marriage who were 13 & 18 and I had brought a 7 year old into the mix. I had been told after my first child that there was no hope for concieving another child so imagine our surprise when after TEN home pregnancy test and TWO blood tests I was definitly pregnant!

My blessing turned into panic when my first exam showed I had a spot on my cervix, after a biopsy I was told it was cancerous cells that would have to be taken care of. I refused to have treatments while I was pregnant and suffered through with the stress of very high blood pressure. It was considered a high risk pregnancy. After 8 months my body and the baby couldn’t take it anymore and my blessing was brought into this world a month early at 5lbs.

His daddy named him Trex although I have no clue to this day where that comes from. It is a strong name and just like a tyrannosaurus Rex he roared his way into this world. Continue reading

Jul 05

Guest blog: Life in Shadowland (or, Things I Wish People Understood about Having a Child with a Neurodevelopmental Disorder)

Today’s guest post is by Kelly Schmidt, mom to Nathaniel, and Ph.D. candidate in a developmental psychology program. For Kelly’s full bio, see the  bottom of her post.

 When Kevin and I were married 10 years ago, we understood that there were no assurances that we would have a child because I have an endocrine disorder that causes fertility problems.  Nobody was more surprised or excited than us when we learned 2 months after our wedding that we were expecting.  I chose the name “Nathaniel” very deliberately because it means “Gift from God”.

Nathaniel has a BIG personality.  His smile is high wattage, his giggle is contagious.  He is scary-smart and has an amazing memory.  Sometimes he is so thoughtful and concerned about others, he takes my breath away.  He has a very strong faith and knows more about the Bible than many adults.  He loves sports (especially basketball), Legos, video games (much to my dismay), and reading (which makes me proud), and his brother Joel.  He likes to draw cartoons, help make pancakes and cookies, and talks about Pokemon and Mario Bros. endlessly.  He is 110% boy.

Nathaniel also has behavioral and psychiatric disorders.  The behavior disorder is called Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD.  The psychiatrist calls his psychiatric disorder a “Neurodevelopmental Disorder” but since insurance companies don’t reimburse for treatment of that, she calls it “Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)” for billing purposes.  He has some features of bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorder, and even Aspergers syndrome.  He doesn’t meet clinical criteria for any of those disorders, however, because he is typically not symptomatic anywhere else but at home.

Continue reading