Parenting Special Needs Podcast
Summary: Parenting Special Needs Magazine now has a Podcast!! Parenting Special Needs’ Podcast provides practical tips, shares life’s lessons, tackles the challenges and celebrates the joys of one of life’s greatest gift. Get empowered, educated and inspired with host and Parenting Special Needs Magazine Publisher/Creator, Chantai Snellgrove as she keeps us informed on the latest trends in the special needs community. She will discuss books, ideas and news you want to hear, as well as interview special guests like parents, authors, industry experts, doctors, trendsetters, and all-around successful people that understand what we are all going through, as well as different ways to navigate the, often times, confusing questions, frustration and diagnoses. As a special needs parent, Chantai knows that “Together, we learn from others who have been on this path before us.”
Episode #34: Super Dadvocate Tom Petrik [Click to Listen to Podcast] In today’s Purposeful Conversation, we are talking with advocate, Tom Petrik. We selected Tom to be our 2019 Dadvocate. Who is Tom Petrik? Tom is a teacher assistant in special education, a coach for Special Olympics, a recreational coach, Eagle Scout, and an NRA Rifle Instructor. He is currently working at a private school Camelot Therapeutic Day School in Chicago. He’s married to his grade-school sweetheart and has four sons. Chris, his third son, who is 25, has an official diagnosis of Fragile X, and ADHD. Tom and his wife believe that he also has autism. Why we selected Tom to be our 2019 Dadvocate?: We’ve been running our Parenting Special Needs Facebook page since 2009, and while I’ve never had the pleasure of “officially” meeting Tom until this podcast, he has been advocating and sharing his knowledge and posting comments under our “Advice Needed” posts for years. In the ten years that we’ve been asking “Advice Needed” questions on our page, I can count a total of (maybe) three men that have ever commented. And I don’t recall if the other two did it consistently, but Tom has done it for years! So, Tom, in my mind, stuck out from the crowd. Curiosity set in, and I wanted to know more about Tom, for instance; why he doesn’t have a problem speaking and advocating right along with a bunch of women. I thought it was time to find out more about him and to say “thank you.” Even now as we have started a new support group called Parenting Special Needs Magazine Support Group, Tom has been right there, jumping in once again to share information and ask probing questions to help provide resources and information. In this conversation, you’ll hear the following: * Why Tom doesn’t have a problem advocating. * Why he feels it’s important to advocate and what other dads need to know. * What he wishes he knew earlier about raising a child with special needs. * He believes we’re at a specific tipping point right now with inclusion. * The two words Tom would like everyone in the special needs community to hear. The key message: You can do this! Actionable advice: Find out what programs and supports are available from your state, every state is different. Sign up early, many programs or services have long waiting lists. Make sure to set future plans up in advance. Links or articles mentioned in this podcast: Parenting Special Needs Magazine Facebook Page Parenting Special Needs Magazine – Support Group What is Fragile X Medicaid Waiver by State Subscribe to our free email newsletter now to access our free email@example.comJohnSmithSubmitForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
Episode #33: Encourage Traveling without Limits [Click to Listen to Podcast] In today’s Purposeful Conversation, we’re talking with Mom entrepreneur, Julie Jones, from Have Wheel Chair will Travel. Julie talks with us about accessible travel and her new magazine Travel Without Limits. Julie Jones: I’m from Australia, which you can probably tell from my accent. I have a son, Brayden, who I also refer to as BJ in my blogs. He’s now 23 years old and lives with cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and needs assistance with all of his day-to-day living. So, he’s entirely dependent when we travel. I write for Have Wheelchair Will Travel, as well as some other publications, including yours. And I love sharing our travel adventures with people. I’ve always expected that, as a family, we would travel and when Brayden was diagnosed with cerebral palsy that became a little trickier. My focus, in the beginning, was very much around therapy. I really delved into this five-days-a-week therapy and was very much like a mouse on a treadmill: It just wasn’t sustainable. I think, like many families, in the beginning, it’s all-consuming. Although you don’t give up on that therapy, you realize that you need to have more of a balance. So, travel for us is very much a balance, and it’s been perfect for Brayden and his sibling, Amelia, as a connecting point and for us a family, as well. Takeaways from this podcast: * Find our what started Julie on this magical accessible journey helping her family and others. * Learn about Australia’s first disability-specific travel magazine Travel Without Limits, its mission, and why you should read it. * Learn about accessible travel and the changes and improvements taking place, tips that savvy, accessible travelers know, but that less savvy accessible travelers don’t. * Hear Julie’s number one tip to encourage families or someone new to disabilities. Accessible Travel & Balance [0:53] Julie talks about how accessible travel created a balance and a connecting point for her family and a love for sharing their travel adventures with others. [2:34] New and exciting things are happening with accessible travel. [3:22] Julie shares the reality and the need for more articles on traveling with a disability. [6:30] Julie discusses the mission and how the magazine will aid us all when traveling with disabilities. [7:10] Julie shares about one of her favorite stories in the new issue about a woman who needs four support workers to travel. Despite the many, many challenges, she continues to travel and enjoy it. Read it here. Find out Julie’s most fun, accessible trip to date [8:15] The most fun and accessible trip was also magical [12:21] Hear about tourism provider changes and exciting things that are happening with travel, events, and inclusion. [16:15] Everyday items to pack that savvy accessible travelers know and less savvy travelers don’t (four or five great things to pack are shared). [18:57] Julie’s tells her number one tip for parents or someone new to having a disability and traveling adventures. Listen to find out where Julie’s next travel adventure is taking her, what will be in the next issue of “Travel Without Limits” and how you can share your travel adventures, tips, and tricks. Remember to enjoy the adventure.!! Links mentioned in the Podcast: Real Moms Share: Julie Jones Rolling on with a Positive Attitude!
Episode #32: Raising a child with special needs: Know what is Predictable? [Click to Listen to Podcast] Do you want to know what’s “predictable” and “constant” about raising a child with special needs? What you will learn in this podcast: [0:29] The only thing that is predictable? [2:24] Know this and beware of it EACH YEAR? [2:50] As our children progress, expect the following [4:05] A few things that DID NOT work for me in my personal life and with my kiddo. Do you know what’s “predictable” and “constant” about raising a child with special needs? I’m living this lesson right now, in my own life, with my daughter. She’s getting ready to leave school and transition to the “next phase” of her life; which is hopefully a college program and working. Our “Plan A” goals, visions, and mapped out path had a few twists and turns…AND….because of changes, our “Plan B” is currently in LIMBO! And, just FYI, LIMBO is scary. It knocked me for a loop and it has caused anxiety for my daughter who prefers, likes, AND NEEDS routine. Needless to say, our whole household is anxious. I’m sharing this because I know…that I know…that I know change is bound to happen. Why? Because “stuff” happens. Teams change, teachers change, schools change, principles change, districts change, rules change, and SPOILER ALERT, our children change, yearly!! If each year, your family went to your favorite amusement park and rode the same roller coaster, you would know what twists and turns to expect. I like how author, Diane Linder (Beyond Words: Reflections On Our Journey To Inclusion), explains it: Each year brings new expectations; each year brings a new ride, complete with twists and turns. While many students progress along a line, a straight line with a known slope, children with special needs do not. They ride a wavy curve, and the parents and teachers have to learn to accept this. It will be a bumpy ride–the ups and downs determined in part by progress. As our child progresses, expectations change. And, as they change we all must re-adjust. Each year brings new teachers, new aids, new team members, and for a child with transition difficulties, this in and of itself is a challenge. Though the challenges change, the types of adjustments are similar. We must all find a balance between high expectations and acceptance. Finding a balance takes time and effort. We can all handle the ride much better if we are able to learn from each other. But think about the below quote… Links mentioned in the podcast: The Delicate Balance between Expectation and Acceptance A Path to the Future Subscribe to our free email newsletter now to access our free firstname.lastname@example.orgJohnSmithSubmitForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
Episode #31: Do you suffer from decision fatigue? [Click to Listen to Podcast] Do you suffer from decision fatigue? Here’s Help The other day, a friend and I “jinxed” each other by saying, “I DON’T want to make another decision!!” at the same time. Have you ever said that?? I say it all the time to my husband: I just don’t want to make another decision when he asks, “what’s for dinner, breakfast, or lunch”, or “what do we have to eat, or where do we want to eat?” I just can’t make another decision or even think straight. Did you know that’s called decision fatigue? Yes, that’s a real thing. We Make Thousands of Decisions Every Day Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make about 226 decisions each day on food alone. And as your level of responsibility increases, so does the multitude of choices you have to make. It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day (whether you realize it or not). Each decision, of course, carries certain consequences with it that are both good and bad. What you will learn in this podcast: • What is decision fatigue exactly? • How can you overcome or beat decision fatigue? • One of the best strategies successful people use to work around their decision fatigue • A few things that worked for me in my personal life and with my kiddo. • Recap and best practices for combatting decision fatigue Simplify the choices you need to make through the day by turning small decisions into routines. What is decision fatigue exactly? [2:17] As a person makes decisions throughout the day, the brain depletes its limited amount of mental stamina, and starts employing one of two shortcuts. How can you overcome or beat decision fatigue? [2:46] Simplify the choices you need to make through the day? One of the best strategies successful people use to work around their decision fatigue [3:34] Listen to what Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did [4:07] President Barack Obama had this to say… A few things that worked for me in my personal life and with my kiddo. [4:45] What works for my morning routine [5:37] My earring hack [6:57] My make-up hack [7:38] Helping Kailee get dressed in the morning [8:11] Decision about fitting therapy into our daily routine Recap and Best practices for combatting decision fatigue [9:07-10:51] Ways to help you decrease decision fatigue Curious minds and decision fatigue brains what to know? QUESTION: Decision Fatigue can anyone help me with these two questions. If not can you recommend a professional, we could ask? Can being constantly bombarded by questions or a child that perseverates cause fatigue or decision fatigue brain? If so, any suggestions or quick tips to help? Answers by a few Professionals: ADRIENE FERN MSE,ESE, CPM Director Of Family Services at PALM BEACH SCHOOL FOR AUTISM INC I agree there is decision fatigue. A helpful strategy lean on a partner, family member or friend to assist in making decisions. The burden of having to make decisions solely is a major contributing factor to brain/decision fatigue. Emma Gierschick AFR 100 Women of Influence 2018. Woman of the Year 2019. Children with a disability specialist. White Ribbon Advocate Absolutely – it’s exhausting and sooooo much easier to just give in or get frustrated (which doesn’t help anyone) I try asking my daughter to ‘show me’ what she’s trying to say or use Pec images to demonstrate what is happening. It’s generally worse if she’s feeling anxious so I try to calm and reassure her and give her emergency bush flower essences too. Remy Nirschl
#30: How to set clear goals and plan naturally [Click to Listen to Podcast] As parents of children with special needs, we have to be able to not only set goals and help our children reach them, but we also have to become good at planning. Wouldn’t it be great to have a successful, easy to use method (or “recipe” to follow) for planning and to set and achieve clear goals? Well, I’ve found a couple of methods (processes) that have helped me and I know they can help YOU. What you will learn in this podcast: * How to set and achieve clear targets * Clarify your focus with Realistic Thinking * What doing your homework means * Important IEP tips to be aware of * The process of planning naturally * Easy ways to define the next concrete steps How to set and achieve clear targets [2:59] Set and achieve clear targets or goals by thinking realistically and making sure you do your homework. THAT’S IT…sounds simple enough, right? Explanation of thinking realistically as it pertains to success [1:52] What happens if you don’t use realistic thinking? [2:44] You can be positive and full of hope for your child’s future? But, that alone is not a strategy. Make sure you’re doing your homework? [3:41] A couple of examples are explained that should be covered when doing your homework. [4:14] Example to clarify realistic thinking [5:03] Important tips we all should KEEP in mind when planning [5:27] Good time to review how your child learns best The process and steps are broken down and defined when using natural planning. [6:32] An example of natural planning being used in everyday life [8:49 -13:38] The 5-step process broken down and explained. Links or resources mentioned in the Podcast: How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell Getting Things Done by David Allen Wrightslaw This post contains affiliate links, which means Parenting Special Needs LLC, could receive a commission if you purchase using this link. We appreciate your support. Subscribe to our free email newsletter now to access our free email@example.comJohnSmithSubmitForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
#29: ABLE Accounts and TAXES: What special needs families need to know [Click to Listen to Podcast] In today’s Purposeful Conversation, we’re talking with attorney BRADLEY FRIGON about ABLE Accounts and TAXES and what families need to know. BRADLEY J. FRIGON, JD, LLM (Tax), CELA, CAP is a Special Needs attorney and has been practicing law for over 35 years. He has extensive experience in all aspects of elder law, estate planning, estate and probate litigation, special needs, guardianship and conservatorships, Medicaid, probate administration and tax matters. He practices law in Colorado, Wyoming, and Kansas. What you will learn in this podcast: * How can ABLE Accounts help families with special needs * Explanation of the new ability to roll over 529 funds to ABLE accounts and is it advisable? * Account limits and restrictions * How the newly enacted TAX Act impacts you * TRAPS families need to be aware of Why ABLE Accounts are Important? It’s the first time where individuals that are receiving Medicaid and SSI benefits can actually have a savings account that doesn’t disqualify them for those types of benefits. [2:59] Restrictions and that fact that not everybody with a disability can set them up. [4:06] Understanding the new tax act that was recently enacted Watch Video Explanation of the new ability to roll over 529 funds to ABLE accounts [5:58] If you already created a college fund, now what? [7:27] Can you roll over an ABLE Account and what are the limitations? Are there any traps or things that families need to know about when using ABLE accounts? [8:09] The basic things you need to understand the complicated restrictions. [10:30] ALERT tax-free distribution and penalties The MOST important thing that families need to understand [11:53- 17:29] Explanation of the payback provisions and notes to be included in Power of Attorney documents or revocable trusts Links mentioned in the Podcast What the Federal Tax Overhaul Means for Families with Special Needs How to Select a Special Needs Attorney A Special Needs Planning TImeline: 9 Steps to a Sound Family Plan Common Mistakes Parents Make with their Special Needs Trust Subscribe to our free email newsletter now to access our free firstname.lastname@example.orgJohnSmithSubmitForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
#28: Being United, Pampering and Taking Care of Ourselves [Click to Listen to Podcast] No time for “me time,” pampering or taking care of your self? Julie says it like it is…we are united!! When we walk into a room of special needs moms, there is this underlying, understanding of “yeah, we’ve all been through it.” And, we’ve all sat in front of a doctor and have had to hear something really hard about our child. And there is also an underlying understanding that “okay, we don’t have to explain it all, I don’t have to tell you why I kind of smell, and I didn’t actually shower, and I didn’t do my hair. I don’t have to tell you why my jeans are from the 90s. You get it!!!” In today’s show, Julie tells how she’s working to unite us all and bring inspirational speakers, pampering and fun to us, the “special moms”, all around the world. Together we are stonger! Connection not Isolation Encourage all moms to try and find another mom or other parents to connect with. Dads matter, too. They need to find other dads because men can have different struggles. This is the reason behind her writing the book, United In Autism: Finding Strength Inside the Spectrum. Julie wanted to give parents an inspirational book with different stories from around the world. Her daughter was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. The book’s message will resonate and inspire parents raising children from various parts of the world. United In Autism: Finding Strength Inside the Spectrum Julie tells us about interviewing one family in particular that left her crying for three days. It touched her so much she could not sit on the sidelines and do NOTHING; she had to do something. “Tweaking” our perspective on our husbands Hindsight allows Julie to share about missteps she took with regard to her husband, and NEW thoughts about “tweaking” our perspective. She makes a really important point that will be helpful for many relationships. In today’s show, Julie tells us about what made her start taking better care of herself and the little tricks she’s figured out to incorporate it into her daily routine. She reveals her secret “lunch hour” and a couple of things she does to get in her “me time” that doesn’t require much money, and don’t make her feel kind of sneaky and bad about it. Press play and listen in! Related: Five New Year’s Resolutions for Special Needs Parents Your action steps Go pamper yourself Go do something nice for yourself. Don’t let too much time pass, because then you’ll forget. So do it now. Links mentioned in this episode: United in Autism.com United In Autism, Julie Hornok Facebook United in Autism: Finding Strength Inside the Spectrum Book Synopsis: A diagnosis of autism can rock a family’s world. The toll it takes on everyone involved can be one of isolation; a child who doesn’t respond to the world around them, a parent who gives dedication, patience and love often with no expressible love given back. It’s a messy equation with huge emotional and financial costs. As a mother of a daughter with autism, Julie Hornok has experienced her fair share of these parenting challenges, and now brings together thirty inspiring and heartfelt stories from parents raising children from all places on the spectrum and from all corners of the world. These mothers and fathers have experienced some of the worst of what this disorder can do,
Sharing…211: More than just a crisis hotline [Click to Listen to Podcast] Did you know that 211 is not just a crisis hotline? Today’s purposeful conversation today is about 211. 211 is not just a CRISIS Hotline; it’s a HELPLINE. Our guests from 211 are Colleen Phillips and Randee Gabriel. They’re going to talk about the work they do and the services 211 provides: From a helpful listening ear when you don’t know where to turn… to an important partner in helping you connect to community resources. Dialing “211” provides individuals and families in need with a shortcut through what can typically be a maze of health and human service agency phone numbers. What is 211? 211 is a community connection agency and a call center that really helps connect people to services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and it is free AND confidential. When might someone dial 211? Could someone call 211 and you would direct them to, or refer them to almost anywhere, right? The answer is, “yes.” 211 has over 1600 agencies in their database, so they can certainly connect a person to any resource they have currently in their database. They work very collaboratively with other like-minded organizations in other communities. So certainly, a person can pick up the phone if they just want to talk to someone. Maybe they’ve had a fight with a spouse, or maybe they just want to “vent”. A person doesn’t need to be seeking services to speak with one of our representatives. They are “there for you” when you want to be connected to an agency, or if you just want to talk. If you ever find yourself in a difficult time, or if you’re ever in a situation that you don’t know how to navigate, certainly pick up the phone. 211 has a robust website, which is 211treasurecoast.org. Navigator Network Currently, this very exciting program is only available in Palm Beach, Fl., but it very needed in every state and county. The Navigator Network is for families of children (newborn to 22) that have disabilities. It, too, helps families navigate the maze of services, helps them get connected to an agency for persons with disabilities, and has helped with crisis situations and getting people connected to the med waiver in a crisis situation. They can provide assistance with referrals to other agencies, or to get them connected to someone at the school district if they’re having difficulties with services through the school district. And although that’s only in Palm Beach County, Fl., it does serve approximately 450 families a year. Help Me Grow Program: A National Initiative This started in Connecticut, and is now throughout the United States (presently in 27 states). Florida became one of the affiliate states for the national organization four years ago. The program promotes early identification of developmental, behavioral and educational concerns. So as parents of children with disabilities, we all know how important that early identification piece is. The earlier, the better. The program also performs developmental and behavioral screenings for families online, through the mail, or it can be done with them over the phone. If the child has concerns, or the family needs information and resources and materials, we provide that. We provide referrals with follow-up and care coordination. This is what really sets Help Me Grow apart from other programs: Instead of doing the screening, assessing the results, and providing resources to the families, our care coordinators stay with that family. Good mental health is just as important as physical health The holidays are a very joyous time. While this is a very wonderful time of the year for most, there are others that really struggle this time of year. 211 is available for them during the holidays,
Sharing…Why the holidays ARE less stressful for me? [Click to Listen to Podcast] Holiday help things I found to be helpful! Thinking about the upcoming holidays made me realize that I’m not as stressed or overwhelmed as I used to feel in previous years. And it made me wonder, “Why is that and what am I doing differently?” Why ARE the holidays less stressful for me? It’s taken me years to figure out some of these things so I thought in today’s purposeful conversation I would share with you all… what has really helped my family and myself. Hopefully, you won’t have to wait years to see if some of them will work for you. Holiday decorations organized. OK….this one was a biggie! Decorating for the holidays used to be a bit of a “dreaded chore” in our house. My husband and I did not look like the couples in the Hallmark Christmas movies: All smiles and full of love working together…no, that DEFINITELY didn’t happen. There was hassle, grunts and sometimes even a few “harsh” words… not a good start for creating the beginnings of holiday festivities. But, I learned with some simple, helpful tips from professional organizer, Susan Parziale (Parz-e-allie,) ways to organize holiday decorations that have made a huge difference. Purchasing Gifts… I also use a simplified gift formula that comes from Amanda Morin. Sometimes just figuring out what to buy for everybody makes me feel overwhelmed…sometimes to the point that I don’t really function very well. But I love Amanda’s suggestions for reducing the number of gifts by using a simplified gift formula for each child. She calls it: Want, Need, Wear, Read. Listen to learn more. Grinch Popcorn Recipe For teacher’s gifts, therapist’s gifts, and for those that I want to say a special “thank you” to, I’ve always made it a point to learn to make one really delicious treat that they’re not going to get elsewhere and package it nicely using containers or gift bags from the dollar store. I really can’t afford to buy everybody that helps my daughter an expensive gift, but I try to make sure that they know that we appreciate them. Related: Stress-Free Cookie Decorating with Kids Forced Family FUN!! We also instituted “forced family fun”… I say “forced” because that’s how it started out, but now it’s become so much fun that we all look forward to it. Forced family fun really has become the time to enjoy each other and spend quality time doing something that’s a little out of the ordinary. It tends to make us think of when we were young again and recall some great memories. So there you have it… here are some tips that I’ve used to make the holidays easier for me. I’ve also included a link to some of these articles that we’ve shared in the past. I hope some of these tips will make your holiday a little more stress-free… Remember the old saying, “Less is more”? I’ve really come to understand that saying is TRUE!!! None of us ever knows what life has planned for us, and I think as special needs parents we get really good at adjusting to all the curve balls that come our way….the ones we can’t control. But, I think having tips from others that have figured out different ways of doing things can help us with the things we can control… I want to wish you all a less stressful holiday season. Links mentioned in this episode:
3 Moms share about navigating transitions with their child [Click to Listen to Podcast] I asked three mothers to share their experiences with us regarding navigating various transitions with their child(ren). One mom shared about going from preschool to a mainstream class, another shared about putting her son in a residential home, while a third mom explained to us the “transitioning” from high school to a vocational day program. There is something to be learned from each of their experiences. I asked them to share exactly how they did it and to please make sure they included any challenges or tips that may help others. Erin Harris is our first guest [0:00 to 9:49] Erin shares two transition tips she learned and we can all benefit by putting her tips into our child’s transitions. Erin is a Mother to four children: twelve-year-old daughter, eleven-year-old son, a seven-year-old son (who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, hearing impairment, cecostomy tube, incontinence and presents with an intellectual disability), and a four-month-old daughter. She shared these two important, general tips with us that could apply to MOST of our children. These tips are NOT typically thought about when we’re thinking about transitions but would be important to note. Let’s Recap: #1- Start planning any transition early; give yourself plenty of time. #2 Help to facilitate inclusion, review every single minute of the child’s day in this new environment and think about what the barriers are, what equipment is needed to promote inclusion and request your team to be onsite to do that. Parents have to advocate for this because it’s not necessarily going to “just happen.” Our Next Mom is PJ [9:49 to 17:49] Paige Jennifer (PJ) Nein and her husband have been together for 40 years and have five children: One Biological child, three adopted children with special needs, and they are helping to raise their friend’s daughter. What I hope that you get from listening to Paige’s experience is that it’s not a level playing field out there for our kids… each state, county, etc., is different and services can change year to year within your school or district. Related: Improving Transitions: When it’s Time to Change, You’ve Got to Rearrange The last mom I spoke with was Sandra Cariker [17:49 to 01:12:02] Her 13-year-old son, Nathan, has an intellectual disability and epilepsy. He also struggles with behavior issues. Sandra shares about putting Nathan in a residential placement at the age of 10 and feeling like it was the only option available to be able to help Nathan on a long-term basis. I am sharing our entire conversation, although long because I think it is worth listening to (put in your earbuds and listen when you’re cooking dinner, exercising or taking a walk). There is something to learn from every experience and to understand what others might be dealing with based on their child and where they live. A few highlights (This is not all of the highlights covered in our conversation, so please listen when you can.) [18:34] FEELING Like Residential Placement was the ONLY OPTION Available! [26:03] Her tremendous eye-opener [23:00] I was for it and My husband was not … (Family Decision that was very hard especially when you’re not in agreement.) [35:05] How, as a family,
Fresh Meals made easier with: Laura Fuentes, Founder of MOMables [Click to Listen to Podcast] Do you struggle with planning healthy meals for your family? Does it seem like your kids crave carbs? Do you need help eliminating processed foods and sugars from your family’s diet? Well, if you do, then you’re in luck because in today’s purposeful conversation, our special guest is Laura Fuentes, Founder of MOMables (momables.com). Laura is also the author of four cookbooks, has competed and won on Food Network, has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and many other media outlets. She says that her most important job is being a wife and mom. She’s going to share her expertise with us, provide tips, and help us out. She helps transform meal times by helping parents eliminate processed foods and sugars from their family’s diet. As if that isn’t enough, she and her husband “world school” their children. How MOMables came to be Laura found herself packing lunches for her 3 children (ages 6, 10, 12) like many parents do, day in and day out, and realized that lunches were getting repetitive. She started creating lunches and writing about it online. MOMables, initially, had a Blog and she soon discovered that there were many other parents that were struggling, too. These parents really had no resources to refer to, so she became a resource to them. As time passed, the community grew and their needs also grew with it. People wanted to eliminate processed foods and sugar, for example. What was the best way to do it…how could others do it? So, she showed them… How can parents start to eliminate the processed foods and sugars in their family’s diets? Most people simply don’t realize how much sugar is added to food. Even foods that say “all natural” or “all organic” are often sweetened with additives. Many of these sugars are triggers for many kids with special needs or special dietary issues. There is a simple philosophy: Imagine what your grandmother used to have access to and try to use those same ingredients. Only now, we’re going to find hacks to execute that quickly…we are, after all, in a new century! But, do not get overwhelmed, do it gradually. You can find replacements for your most often used menus; nowadays, there is a replacement or substitute for just about everything. Ways to Remove and Replace Unhealthy Options What would happen if your grocery store no longer sold an item that really wasn’t super healthy, but tasted great? What would be the worst thing that would happen? My guess would be that you might try to find something else, right? So, the mindset would have to change: it wouldn’t be, “what else could I feed my child?” so much as it would become “what if I simply just didn’t buy it?” Eventually, hunger and creativity sets in, right? So, with that in mind, just get that main ingredient that satisfies the taste buds. How to loop in that trigger food for them and satisfy it with other items. REAL food is so expensive to eat, is there a way to stretch the budget? The short answer is yes, real food does cost more at the moment; it does cost more to eat a roasted chicken with a side of roasted broccoli and some potatoes than it does to eat spaghetti and some sauce from a jar that you heat up. But, you could pick up a $6 roasted chicken at Walmart (or similar places), some frozen broccoli and some russet potatoes, toss them in a little seasoning and olive oil. You might, very well, still be under $10.00 for a family meal. However, in the long-term as it relates to your health, it’s actually cheaper to be healthy than it is to be sick. Think of it as preventative medicine to eat better. Back to how can you stretch your budget: The first thing is pantry staples: Food that needs to be cooked is less expensive than ready-made foods.
#23: Be Inspired, Dream Big with John Tucker and Rachel Osterbach [Click to Listen to Podcast] In today’s purposeful conversation (episode #23), I am speaking with lead cast members John Tucker and Rachel Osterbach from the EMMY winning A&E Television Series “Born This Way”!!! I ask them about being TV Celebrities, their personal aspirations and being a role model for others. In case you’re not familiar with the show, “Born This Way” follows a group of seven young adults born with Down syndrome. Together, they pursue their passions, their lifelong dreams, explore friendships, romantic relationships and work, all while defying society’s expectations. Their willingness and courage to openly share their lives, through a lens that is not often shown on television, is admirable and we learn they have high hopes just like anyone else. The series also gives voice to the parents by allowing them to talk about the joy their son or daughter brings to their family, and the challenges they face in helping them live as independently as possible. “Born This Way” is in its 4th season. John and Rachel actually made EMMY history last year by being the first individuals with Down syndrome to present an award at the televised Emmys. And, we’re making a little history of our own here at Parenting Special Needs Magazine by featuring these Celebrities on our Cover!!! I had the pleasure of speaking with John and Rachel to find out how they feel about being a “TV celebrity”, and to find out some of their personal aspirations and how they’re working to achieve them. I also asked them for their thoughts on being a Role Models and the message they want others to hear. Sean McElwee, unfortunately, had a family emergency and was unable to be interviewed live, but he also shared with us in our article: “Born this Way”, Paving the way. Below, is a video featuring Sean. I want to share a personal experience from watching the show…one that caught me off-guard. “Born This Way” is definitely having an impact and I witnessed, first hand, the impact these ROLE MODELS are having on others. I was watching a few of the shows to prepare some interview questions and I asked my daughter, Kailee, to watch a couple of episodes with me. When the show was over, Kailee looked at me (with all seriousness) and said, “You know, Mom, I think I could live in an apartment with my friends!!!” Inside, my heart beamed as I realized what had just happened. She was inspired. And, I said, “Yes, you could! It is definitely something to work towards.” What also struck a chord in me is that the parents featured in the show are role models/mentors for us (the parents) as well. We can learn from them as they help pave the way and help their children to pursue their dreams and live as independently as possible. Listen to the podcast, be inspired, and hear for yourself their enthusiasm and excitement. Takeaways to keep the top of mind: John said: Don’t give up on those dreams because you don’t know when they will come. Rachel said: Anybody can reach their goals and their Dreams. All you have to do is just be yourself and follow your heart. Links mentioned in this episode: Born This Way: John Tucker’s “Shake Your Booty” Music Video Born This Way A&E TV Shows “Born The Way” is ...
Art Therapy: What it is and isn’t [Click to Listen to Podcast] Today we’re talking with Raquel Farrell-Kirk, MS, ATR-BC about art therapy: What it is and isn’t. Raquel has been a professional art therapist for 17 years. She’s worked in a variety of settings where art therapy can be found; in psychiatric settings, outpatients, also in educational settings with children with special needs. Raquel owns and operates a learning center for children with special needs who are being homeschooled. Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the arts, art making, and the creative process as the core of how we do our therapy. It is how we affect change, how we treat clients and explore their issues and give them new skills. We do that all through art and art-making. What does an art therapy session look like? At the beginning of a session, you are going to “get a feel” for where your client “is” that week. We check in with our client and ask how things have been since the last time? What’s going on? Then, the middle of the session is the “meat” portion….the art making. I find out where you are and I’ll say, “Listen, this is what I thought would be really helpful for us to work on today.” This is the theme, this is the “why”, these are the art materials. Are you okay with that? Can we go ahead and get started? Then the bulk of the time is really devoted to allowing that person to make their art. Most art therapists like to leave some time at the end of the process to talk about what you made, what was frustrating, and what worked. If you completed a piece, what did it mean to you? Then, any topic or confusion, that was brought up as someone was making the art, has an opportunity to be discussed. How can my child benefit from art therapy? We like to say at my learning center that art therapy classes take a backdoor approach. If I said to a student, “Hey. I’d really like you to go see Mrs. Raquel every week so that she can work with you on social skills and how to follow instructions and control your impulses.” Hmm, that’s not the most appealing description. They’re probably going to balk at that or be resistant to that. However, if I said, “I’d like you to go see Mrs. Raquel. She has a really special art group every week.” Then when they come to that art group, things are happening on two levels. On one level there’s the content of what we’re doing: We’re making a collage. But, I know that what I’m doing is also setting up a process where you’re getting to practice those skills. So maybe I’m bringing you in a group of three because I know that I want you to develop a skill related to working with others. I’m not going to bring you in by yourself. I’m bringing you in on a group of three and I have enough crayons or markers for everybody, but I’m only going to put out one pack. So, now everyone has to share. They have to negotiate. They have to say, “Can I borrow that one?” Maybe I’m giving you one sheet of paper, so now you have to plan and think to yourself, “Okay, we’re going to draw on this as a group. What do we have to do?” This allows you to use the art, which is something that is inherently relaxing and enjoyable and can make people feel very productive and proud, to allow them to feel good and to say, “Hey, look what I just made.” But, you’re using it to get to the therapeutic exercise of practicing sequencing and having impulse control. If I give you watercolors and you don’t practice sequencing, you’re going to get muddy water because you’re going to do things out of order. Or, you’re going to be really impulsive and now you’ve got brown paint when rea...
How to delegate your to-do list to your kids. [Click to Listen to Podcast] In today’s conversation, we’re going to talk about delegating your to-do list to your kids. I recently experienced an “A-ha” full circle…about delegating MY to-do list that I cannot wait to tell you about. Delegating your to-do list to your kids, I know what you’re all saying right now, “NO WAY…my kids couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do it.” But, hear me out; if we want to raise our kids to be thriving adults, then we will need to start teaching them key responsibilities. And chores can be a perfect way to do it. Responsibilities Strengthen Connections The following question was recently asked – Should parents require their kids to do chores? That question was asked and answered in our current article “Why chores are good for your kids — And how to get them to do them?” Obviously, the answer was a resounding “Yes.” Experts agree that by asking your kids to help out with household chores, not only does it enhance their self-esteem and sense of responsibility towards others, but it also strengthens your internal family bonds. Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson, a professor of early childhood education, says, “By assigning chores, you let your child feel confident, capable and valued.” Or, as I like to tell my kids when they asked me why they have to do chores, I say, “Because you’re part of the family; we all live in this house together, so it’s all of our of responsibility to stay on top of the household chores.” Here is a story to help illustrate the point…just for those parents that are thinking, “No, I don’t want my kids to do chores, let them have fun, school and homework are enough.” Think about yourself for a moment, if you belonged to the PTA, for example, and you just go to the meetings and don’t sign up for anything…you don’t really feel very committed to that PTA/ group, right? But, if you’re part of the PTA team chairing “The Fall Festival” or “Spring Carnival” you’re going to be a lot more involved and feel connected to the group and responsible for the outcome of the event. This also works with our kids when we delegate responsibilities to them; if they help with the laundry, setting the table, or helping with the making a meal. Not only does this help them build skills, it keeps them to feel more connected to the family and helps them gain confidence as well as competence. I started having my kids do chores when they were little, not because I knew chores would make them more confident and capable, but because I needed to keep them busy while I was trying to get my own to-do list done. So, even as young as two years of age, I remember giving Kailee (my youngest daughter with special needs) a chore. Her chore was to wipe the baseboards in the house with a wet rag while her older sister did another chore. I didn’t really care about the baseboards being cleaned; it was safe, she could reach them, there were baseboards in every room so she could go with me, and the wet/damp rag would keep her calm. It worked out that everyone was participating in chores, and they never knew any different. As she grew, I gave her more tasks that I felt she could do: I also starting using this opportunity as a time to “fit in” therapy practice as well as building skills. For example, when we were working on strengthening her hands and arm for pencil grip and writing, she got the chore of doing all the mirrors and windows in the house. I taught her how to use the Windex bottle and squeeze it and then wipe it before it ran or dripped on the floor or counter (she thought it was fun to spray our mirrors and windows … I never put pressure on her to do it perfectly). It was helping her practice her therapy, it strengthened her hand,
Making a Difference | Peaceful Fruits: Paving The Way for Socially Good Partnerships [Click to Listen to Podcast] In today’s conversation, I am speaking with Evan Delahanty, the Founder and CEO of Peaceful Fruits, a socially good, snack startup that employs people with disabilities to make healthy, delicious, and rainforest-friendly fruit snacks. I am excited to speak with Evan because I believe he is also “peacefully paving the way” to form and create economic opportunities for people with disabilities everywhere. The backstory on Peaceful Fruits Evan started the company after two years in the Amazon as a Peace Corps volunteer. Initially, he knew he wanted to create a business that was authentic, healthy and delicious and would also stay connected to that economic empowerment mission he was a part of in the Amazon. It was just an incredibly organic coincidence that he met AJ and Peg. Evan says, “He got incredibly lucky.” Evan was at a farmer’s market CSA just about 100 yards from his mom’s house, quite literally, in week one of Peaceful Fruits. He was handing out fruit snacks from a Ziploc bag to test the market and would say ‘Hey, would you buy this…would you buy this…would you buy this?” One of the folks that got incredibly excited was a young man named, AJ, and his mom, Peg. It just so happens that AJ is about Evan’s age and has Down syndrome, but AJ’s a champion, envelope stuffer and “sticker-er”. His mom told Evan, “Hey when you get past the ‘Ziploc bag phase’ and you need some helping hands, give us a call.” Six months later he did just that and a great relationship was built. Soon, AJ was able to do it by himself. After a couple months his mom said, “Hey, Evan, I’m on the board of this great local nonprofit called the Blick Center which does vocational and day therapy and all types of other therapy for folks with developmental disabilities and other mental health issues.” Peg told Evan that there were 15 other people, just like AJ, that would love a job with Peaceful Fruits. This came at a crucial time for Evan because after he appeared on The Shark Tank, he found himself having to fulfill $75,000 in orders, the biggest his company had seen, yet. The Blick Center quickly cornered off space in their basement for a “Peaceful Fruits Factory”, rolled up their sleeves and got to work to fulfill the orders. It was an incredibly motivating time for both organizations, and that was just the beginning. An Incredible Diamond in Hiding Evan calls The Blick Center a “diamond in hiding.” He continued, “In many ways, this partnership has been a Godsend and incredibly helpful that we were able to benefit from their space, their HR, their knowledge, their folks…” Bonnie King, Lead Occupational Therapist with The Blick Center, has been working closely with Evan to identify where Peaceful Fruits can be flexible on the business side and how The Blick Center can be flexible on the non-profit side to pool resources and ideas to create a project that is closely partnered. Together, Bonnie and Evan developed the structure of the company; designing a process, writing it down, documenting it and managing it to develop procedures that would be clear, understandable instructions for their employees. But let’s be honest, it does take more elbow grease. It does take more foresight and planning to lay out those processes and to lay out that partnership to be successful. You can’t throw anybody, especially someone with special needs, into a hectic environment and expect them to start knocking it out of the park from minute one. There’s going to be some training; there’s going to be some ramp up. That’s the reality and it’s okay. In addition, The Blick Center trains; hires and places these employees in various positions within the company,