Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Archive for June 2011

Living abroad with a special needs child

with 3 comments

So what I didn’t tell you when I wrote my letter to editors last week, was that it wasn’t the first time I’d tried to get magazines to address their lack of coverage of special needs issues.  From the beginning of my involvement in the exchange with Parents magazine, I started paying attention to web sites and magazines to see if they fared any better.  On the whole, they didn’t.  So every time I tried and failed to find what I was looking for, I’d contact them with my complaint, and wait for the response.

By and large, I’m still waiting.  That is the problem with being invisible, of course.  It takes a lot of us saying the same thing to get noticed.

One time I clicked from a fellow foreign service blogger’s site to Expat Arrivals, and again, I noticed there was no mention of special needs issues within the expat community.  I was unsure if I should approach them in the same way.  After all, special needs parents make up a small proportion of expats.  But then I thought about it.  In Pudding’s preschool autism class of just 6 children, one girl had been born and raised in the Middle East, and a second child (besides Pudding) is about to move overseas this summer.  A further two boys are first-generation immigrants.  These are issues affecting 5 out of 6 children in her class.  I know this area is more geographically mobile than many parts of the US, but that still makes a sizable group of children sharing similar experiences to Pudding, not to mention the many children of Foreign Service Officers who have special educational needs like our daughter.

To my surprise and delight, the editor emailed me back, and acknowledged the lack of coverage in this regard.  Then she asked for my help in providing an article about our expat experiences.  Expat life is about letting go of your expectations, and finding the enjoyment in a different way of living.  There are highs and lows, but it never gets boring.  Does that sound familiar to my fellow special needs parents?

Here is the link if you’d like to read more, and here are other posts I’ve written about my take on living the expat life.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm

An Alternative SPD Lexicon

leave a comment »

I finally got around to writing a brand new post for the SPD Blogger Network.  I’ve decided to share with you what my brain thinks when I hear terms like “IEP”, “bilateral coordination”, and “motor planning.”  I’m pretty sure that most parents of kids with sensory issues will agree with my definitions.  If you have any of your own- please feel free to add them in the comments.  You can read the post here.  I guarantee you’ll laugh or your money back.*

SPD- Sometimes Pretty Demanding.
IEP – Incredibly Enervating Process.
Motor Skills – What we develop as we drive our kids from OT, or PT, or ST, school, social skills groups, doctors, and specialists with reluctant, squabbling children doing their best to distract us. Requires…
Motor Planning – bringing enough snacks/ juice/ stickers/ fidgets to keep the kids relatively calm for the journey. Inevitably leads to a…
Gross Motor – how my car looks after all the snacks/ juice/ stickers/ fidgets end up dumped out on the floor.

And while you’re there, take the time to read Spectrummy Daddy’s post and you’ll learn why he is always our superhero, even when he doesn’t realize it.  His entry is part of the Sensational Dads series this June, which you should definitely be reading.  There are some amazing posts on there.  Go on- enjoy!

*Money back offer strictly limited to return on payment for reading the post.  Oh look at that….it is free of charge!  Costs nothing but a click.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 6, 2011 at 6:58 am

Turning Visible

with 23 comments

Dear Editors,

I don’t have a lot of time to read, but I do spend a lot of time in waiting rooms.  Too much time in waiting rooms, actually.  I see all kinds of parents like me in there.  Stay-at-home mothers and fathers, ones who go out to work, ones who work at home, parents of multiples, parents of adopted children, parents of only children, parents of lots of children, expat parents, gay parents, ones who married their childhood sweetheart, single parents, divorced and remarried parents, mixed culture and multiracial parents.  I’m a special needs mother, you see.  We’re all different.

We think differently too.  We can be a contentious group.  Sometimes we feel so passionately about something that we drown each other out.  The powerful voices which get heard are not necessarily the most accurate.  Day in, day out, we witness our children struggling, and we forget that there are other kids struggling in different ways.  We scour books, magazines, and the internet for the information we are looking for, but forget to take in another account.

So I understand, I do, that it is hard to speak to us.  I get that when you try to print information, it becomes a debate.  If you focus on one disability, it excludes others.  You choose a celebrity spokesperson for the cause, and ordinary special needs parents can’t relate, or disagree with their stance.  You find medical experts to write on the subject, and still we complain.  What does a doctor know about our lives?  The clinical analysis of the doctor and the parent’s loving description of their child are completely at odds.  And parents change too.  Perhaps what seemed to be insurmountable barriers at first later become hurdles to be leaped.

You’ll never get us to all agree about what you should be publishing, so save yourself the hassle.  Continue to ignore the issues, and save yourself the backlash.

But there is something I think we all manage to agree on: we’re invisible.  We can’t see ourselves, or our kids in the media.  It isn’t just our children who feel marginalized and excluded.  When you don’t cover special needs issues in your magazine, you send the message that we don’t matter.  It creates a barrier between parents of typically developing children and those whose children are developing differently.  If you’re the parent of a special needs child, you want other children to understand and respect those differences.

And if you’re a parent of a child who is typically developing, you want your children to understand and respect those differences.  Because now more than ever, your children will spend time with ours.  They’re in the same classrooms, playgrounds, communities, and increasingly, the same families.  We are friends and relatives, and we need to know we matter.

I urge you to dedicate a section of your magazine each week to the special needs community.  There are many different parents raising kids with all different kinds of disabilities.  Let us see them.  Hear our voices.  Present a platform that represents every parent, every reader.  If your magazine, or part of your magazine discusses parenting, it is your duty to write about all kinds of children, and all kinds of parents.

The father whose child isn’t able to sit up by herself at one year old wants to see himself when reading your magazine.  The mother who can’t manage to take a shower because her children need to be watched constantly needs to see know she isn’t on her own.  The grandparents who have never met anyone but their grandchild using a G-tube want to know there are others out there too.  The mother who doesn’t understand why her toddler can’t say mama, let her read possible reasons in your magazine so that she might discuss them with her pediatrician.

When I read your magazine, I feel ignored and invisible, but I’m lucky enough to know that I’m not alone.  You have it in your power to make all of us turn visible.  Let us see ourselves in your pages.

Yours Faithfully,

Just another special needs parent.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 2, 2011 at 7:26 am

Wordless Wednesday 01 Jun 11

with 7 comments

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Memorial Day Festival

Happy Wordless Wednesday Everyone!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 1, 2011 at 7:23 am