We have a new Featured Parent to introduce you to!
Fun and Function: Who are you and your kids?
Allison C. Douglas: I'm Allison C. Douglas and my kids are Tia, 9, Mike, 5, and Jakim, 3.
FF: What is the nature of their special needs?
ACD: Tia is typically developing, Jakim has speech and motor delays, and Mike has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Effects, PTSD, ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder, and fine and gross motor delay. All of my children were adopted through foster care, and have abuse/neglect backgrounds, so that presents its own special challenges.
FF: What would you say is your biggest challenge in raising a child with special needs?
ACD: I am constantly in motion. Play therapy, OT, PT, developmental pediatricians, medication management, social skills group, orthotics fittings, parent support groups. Sometimes I feel like I'm as much a chauffeur as a mother. I often find it difficult to maintain the inner stillness and calm I need to navigate my kids' special needs when I'm running to multiple appointments most every day.
FF: What would you say is your greatest joy in raising your children?
ACD: Watching my kiddos progress is really amazing. I am so proud of their accomplishments. The day Mike began to tantrum, but stopped, grabbed my hand and said, "Mommy, my body wants cold, then it wants to run," was like winning the lottery for me. We had been working so hard on helping him to identify his sensory needs, it was completely gratifying to see it actually work!
FF: What would you say has been the biggest help you in raising your kids?
ACD: Having a husband who plays an equal role in parenting is invaluable. I simply could not do this alone. Jon, my husband, and I have also worked really hard to build a professional support team for our kids. Mike's therapist is absolutely brilliant. She has been a huge help to our family.
FF: Give us one tool you would hate to live without.
ACD: We would be lost without our iPad, it's such an awesome multi-tasker. We use it for everything; watching Phineas and Ferb during long waits at the doctor's office, playing Scrabble, working on speech flashcards with our little guy, or processing social stories and enjoying multi-sensory apps (we love Bloom) with Mike.
FF: If you could give one piece of advice to another parent who's child has just been diagnosed, what would it be?
ACD: Find a support group, whether it's a group of friends or a more formal group through a therapy center, autism activism group, NAMI, etc., being around other parents who "get it" is so comforting. It's also a great place to get recommendations for service providers, learn about new therapies or products that might make life a little easier (Um, hello... Plasma Car and weighted blanket), and find a shoulder to lean on after you've spent the morning with Epic Meltdown Kid in the Target Store of Doom. 'Cause they've been there too.
Allison, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and all the readers here at Fun and Function.
If you would like to be a featured parent or professional, just let us know!