We have a new Featured Parent to introduce you to!
Fun and Function: Who are you and your kids?
Jen B.: I'm Jen B., and my kids are T., 11 years old, and J., 17 years old.
FF: What is the nature of their special needs?
JB: T. has PDD-NOS, TS, SPD, Anxiety issues, ADHD-Inattentive type, dyslexia, and asthma. J. has Aspergers, TS, Anxiety issues, SPD, ADHD-Inattentive type, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, hyperextensive-hypermobility joints in his feet, hands, and back, and asthma.
FF: Where can we find your blog?
JB: I write at Special Needs Homeschool.
FF: What would you say is your biggest challenge in raising a child with special needs?
JB: The biggest challenge for me is a tie. Tied for first place is lack of sleep and dealing with people who don't want to understand. Not understanding and not wanting to understand their issues are two different things. People who do not understand can be educated and have the possibility of becoming great advocates! People who do not want to understand are just a festering sore spot, especially on days when working on 3 hrs of sleep per night for weeks. My boys both have sleep issues and functioning on very little sleep yet keeping a level head is a challenge! Having a sense of humor and laughing every day is the best remedy for both challenges!
FF: What would you say is your greatest joy in raising your children?
JB: Their successes. My greatest joy is watching them succeed. We are homeschoolers and I get to watch them take their first steps, over and over again, every time we learn something new in their classes! They have taught me so much! I never once thought, "they need to catch up," or "this is impossible." Hopelessness is not a word in this house, only hope. They taught me to hope. In that hope, they taught me pure joy.
FF: What would you say has been the biggest help you in raising your kids?
JB: The biggest help has been yahoo groups. Amazingly, I have met the most wonderful people online that have dealt with similar issues. They have inspired creativity in me, helped me find resources, and are an infinite amount of support. I have come across some groups and people that I didn't connect with but I just left those groups and tried again until I found what fit. I have made lifelong friends in these groups.
FF: Give us one tool you would hate to live without.
JB: Our pets. I know it isn't a tool per se, but honestly, I don't know how we got by before they came into our lives. Our two dogs and cat have brought a social development tool into the house that I couldn't have imagined possible. They love unconditionally and are very forgiving. The pets know how to react to meltdowns, don't judge tics, and can't have their feelings hurt if something isn't said just right. They provide tactile stimulation, security, responsibility, joy, fun, deep pressure therapy, positive character development, and so much more. The changes in my boys since adopting these rescues is beyond comparison.
FF: If you could give one piece of advice to another parent who's child has just been diagnosed, what would it be?
JB: Your child is the same child you know and love before the diagnosis was given. When someone comes to me with a new diagnosis, my first words are always, "Welcome to your new normal! Congratulations!" Then we have a celebratory Snoopy dance for receiving an answer (or more!). A diagnosis is just a stepping stone to learning more about life. The only real change is now there is a starting point to work from. With that said, listen to your parental instincts. Everyone will have advice and suggestions, take what you feel will work for you and your child, throw out the rest. You know your child best! You are the best advocate!
FF: And finally, an addition to our interview series - how do you make it through the summer months?
JB: We are a homeschooling family and as such, my boys don't make that "school to home" transition. My summer months are the same as any other time of year, filled with activities! However, they do make that "routine to no routine" transition. It helps to keep the routine as similar as possible, keeping the times we eat regular, sleep regular, shower regular, chores, and things of that nature. Signing the boys up for camps, volunteer activities, and get-togethers help the summer go by quicker. On the extremely hot and humid days, when they can't enjoy being outside due to their asthma, we treat it the same as a snowstorm day and play board games. That family time is so valuable, no matter what time of year it is!
Jen, 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!