A Prayer for Special Needs Moms at the Start of the School Year


Although I wrote this prayer seven years ago, I find myself returning to it every year when approaching fall and so many unknowns.

As a mom of two sons with widely diverse needs and school programs, it is always a challenge to adjust to new school routines, expectations and individuals in our lives we must answer to and learn about, just as they have to learn about us. How will communication work this year? Who will be my “go to” person in the school? How will I know how my kids are really doing?

My 11-year old son who has autism will need much more support than my 13-year old son who has autism but is high-functioning and independent. They both will need compassion, patience, kindness and understanding. As will I.

Whether it be to a higher power or a school administrator, it’s a prayer I feel we all can relate to.

A Prayer for Special Needs Moms at the Start of the School Year:

Please, oh please let this be a good year for him.

Please let his teacher’s classroom be structured, but not rigidly so.

Please let her have patience and humor, but be firm enough to set boundaries.

Please let her have some smidgen of knowledge that different is not wrong.

That behaviors are not meant to be disrespectful.

That hints and subtleties are not ignored, but rather missed.

And that she has a little boy with a very tender heart who wants to please.

Please help her communicate with me in ways that are constructive.

That are helpful and kind.

That are seeking answers, and not blame.

And that are open to our support and adaptations.

Please let the other kids realize that awkwardness is not rude, and a loyal friend lies inside.

And please, don’t let others sell him short, for he is truly intelligent and a valuable teacher himself.

Please let my son have a good year, and learn the best he can.


The author’s sons

Follow this journey on Everybody Stims.

 Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images



When a Troop Leader Asked My Son With Special Needs to Join the Scouts


When I answered a phone call four years ago, I had no idea the stranger on the line would eventually become one of the most important people in my son’s life.

I didn’t know Mrs. B, but I did know we both lived in the same small town and that she was a special education teacher at a local school. I saw her occasionally walking her dog down the road but never really ever spoke with her.

I was shocked when I heard the reason for her call.

She had called to ask if my son could possibly become part of the town’s Cub Scout troop.

I was floored.

No one had ever asked for my son to be part of anything.

I honestly can’t remember some of the details of the conversation because I was in too much shock. But I do recall stammering about his disability, trying to explain why she might not want him there.

Mrs. B kindly reassured me she knew about his diagnosis, and that she and the other boys in the troop wanted him there because my son was a “good boy.”

That simple phrase, kindly delivered, gave me hope my son would be able to experience the joy of being part of a group of other children around his age.

So with great trepidation, I gave my permission for my son to join the troop.

As the troop leader, Mrs. B proved to be incredibly patient and calmly addressed my son’s socially unacceptable outbursts and actions in a way he was able to process. But she also genuinely seemed to like him and made him feel like he was “one of the guys.”

She found humor in many situations that would have caused almost everyone else to choose to not interact with him and related his activities and interactions with the other boys and leaders to me in a consistently positive manner.

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To ensure my son would be properly supervised, she actively participated in every activity along with the boys, weathering sub-zero temperatures so my son could compete in the mid-winter Klondike Derby, handling the fish and worms for my son who wanted no part of that aspect of fishing and allowing herself to be carried through the woods on a travois pulled by my son as part of a first aid badge activity.

She also personally bought my son Gatorade and pizza countless times as a reward for his hard work, pulled strings so he could attend Boy Scout camp under the safe oversight of her co-worker and spent countless hours helping my son complete his badge paperwork.

She also became one of my best friends, providing information, advice and suggestions, which have helped me to ensure my son’s academic success. She encouraged me to allow my son experience some “normal” activities, telling me that he might surprise me. She also asked me to walk with her several times a week so I would experience a few minutes of respite.

I wish there were more people like Mrs. B in this world. Her obvious compassion and care has made all of the difference for my son, giving him the gift of being treated just like everyone else and giving me the gift of seeing that someone else truly cares for my son.

My son is only a few months away from earning his Eagle Scout rank, an achievement which is due to the sacrificial work and care of Mrs. B, a former stranger who is now one of my son’s greatest advocates.


Jon Stewart’s Final Episode Raised More Than $2.2 Million for Autism


On Thursday night, the world watched as Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show,” took his post behind the anchor desk for the last time. The comedian left more than a mark on comedy history, though. With charity fundraising company Omaze, he helped raise more than $2.2 million for New York Collaborates With Autism (NYCA), Business Insider reported. NYCA is a nonprofit organization that creates programs to improve the lives of people with autism spectrum disorder.

Stewart reached the tremendous amount by giving fans the chance to win two tickets to his show’s final taping. To enter, a person had to donate $10 or more to the cause. More than 47,000 people entered, with an average donation of $45.50, according to BI. The winner, below, and his guest also got to meet Stewart.

In February, Stewart hosted the sixth biennialNight of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs” in New York City, an event that featured performances and sketches from comedians like Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Louis C.K. Since 2006, the event has raised more than $18 million for autism schools, programs and services, according to its website.

We’ll miss you, Jon. Thanks for doing some good.


To the Friends, Family and Classmates Who Don’t Invite My Child With Autism


It’s a scenario I hear time and time again: our autistic kids getting left out from birthday parties.

Whether it be from classmates, friends or family. It stings.

Some of our kids may not care. They don’t like to be around a bunch of loud people. But asking is still the right thing to do. Don’t assume they, or we, won’t want to take part. Include us! Let us make that decision for ourselves.

If we decline, understand. It’s not you. We may be having a rough day. Our kids may need a break from sensory stimulation. We may have therapy engagements. There could be a million reason we can’t come, but you won’t know unless you invite us.

Recently, it happened to my son. He doesn’t know yet. I assure you when he does, he will be hurt. He’s sensitive. He constantly worries people don’t like him or think he’s weird.

I hid the pictures of this party from my Facebook timeline when I let him play a pool game on my account. He also has a generic account, that his father and I control, to play games. I logged into that and hid the pictures from that timeline too.

It’s just a matter of when his friend says something about the party. He will know. He will know he wasn’t asked. He will then ask us why.

How do we answer that?

Maybe it was an oversight? It happens. Or maybe it wasn’t. We’ll never know because I won’t ask. I don’t like confrontation like that.

All I know is, it hurt. When those pictures of his friend and the other kids having fun came through my feed, my heart sank.

It’s hard when your kid isn’t included. We know how amazing our children are. Sadly, others can’t see that. Judgment clouds their minds. They assume our children are bad or a problem or a handful.

Get to know them. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

You will see life from a perspective you never expected. You may even learn a few things. Like tolerance, acceptance and perseverance.

Our kids deserve that and more.

So please, from one mother to another, don’t forget us! We matter!

This post appeared as a guest blog on Kelly’s Thoughts on Things.


12-Year-Old Cancer Patient Uses His 1 Wish to Feed Hospital Patients and Staff


This boy is bringing new meaning to the words “comfort food.”

While Lucas Hobbs, 12, was undergoing treatment for stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, he missed good food.

The aspiring chef felt that the chemotherapy messed with his taste buds and his appetite, leaving him not wanting to eat some of his favorite food and losing weight, NBC News reported. And having to eat hospital food didn’t help either.

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Now, Lucas is in remission and he’s decided to use his Make-A-Wish to fill the bellies of the patients and staff that helped him get better. Lucas orchestrated several food trucks to dish out tasty treats with original names, like the “Blood Transfusion” and “Rockin’ Remission” snow cones. He made some visits to his local church and police department before parking the food trucks outside the hospital for staff and patients to enjoy.

I am here to give back the kindness that everybody gave me when I was sick,” Lucas told the NBC News. “I am here to return that kindness.”

Get more on the story from the video below: 



50 Ways My Life Has Changed Since Having a Baby With Down Syndrome


Our world changed when we received the prenatal diagnosis. We were scared and filled with worry and didn’t think we knew how to raise a child with special needs. We took the time to get educated, and we surrounded ourselves with a wonderful support system. Although we didn’t expect to be on this journey, we embrace it and are thankful for our beautiful children, who bring so much light and love to our lives.

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As I travel along this journey with my family, my life has changed in the following ways….

1. I need a calendar.
2. I plan my day around therapy and appointments.
3. I laugh a lot.
4. I cry a lot.
5. I worry a lot.
6. I think way too far into the future.
7. I savor milestones.
8. I cry when milestones are met.
9. I want to make the world a better place.
10. I look both ways multiple times when I cross the street.
11. I feel my heart fill with love when I look at my children.
12. I watch my children sleeping and I listen to their breathing.
13. I avoid play places during cold and flu season.
14. I don’t take life for granted.
15. I snuggle my children too hard sometimes.
16. I think about the challenges my daughter will have to overcome.
17. I think about all of the good people in the world.
18. I think about all of the haters in the world.
19. I worry about the first day of school for both girls.
20. I get mad that my daughter has Down syndrome.
21. I love Down syndrome.

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22. I see the love between two sisters.
23. I go to bed too early.
24. I want my children to see the world.
25. I want my girls to take care of each other but live their own lives.
26. I love the attention my daughter gets when we go out as a family.
27. I get bothered when people stare.
28. I want to put my children in a bubble.
29. I’m a helicopter parent.
30. I detest the word “retard,” and if you use it, I will call you out.
31. I savor quiet moments.
32. I love when the girls scream in excitement.
33. I love my new friends who have my back.
34. I love my childhood friends who love me no matter what.
35. I think about if my daughter with special needs will find a partner and if she will get married.
36. Since giving birth, I can’t jump on a trampoline because I pee my pants.
37. I spoil my children.
38. I love that my daughter only sees her sister and not Down syndrome.
39. I love when the girls wrestle and play dolls together.
40. I never expected my life to be filled with so much love and gratitude.
41. I want to run up to families who have a child with Down syndrome and tell them that we are on the same team.
42. I cry watching commercials.
43. I admire bands and celebrities who take their time to appreciate our children.
44. I find it really hard that the girls are so close in age.
45. I love that the girls are so close in age and that they enjoy the same things.
46. I am tired.
47. I want my daughter to know that she has filled my heart with love since the very beginning.
48. I love that the world is making shifts — inclusion, acceptance and seeing the ability.
49. I’ve learned that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, religions and abilities.
50. When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to get married and I knew I wanted a family. I never expected my life to take the turn that it did. An unexpected diagnosis. An unexpected journey. We hope and pray for healthy children and a journey that doesn’t involve trials and tribulations. We hope for the easy road, one filled with flowers and beauty. We have visions of the perfect family, the white picket fence. We don’t think about how life may take us down another path, one we never expected or hoped for.

The journey we were presented with was at first too much, too scary, filled with uncertainty, fears and worry. We soon came to realize this was the plan, this was our journey, our own personal story we get to share with others. We soon came to realize that as a family, we will climb this mountain, we will take in all the amazing and beautiful moments. We’ve been blessed with two healthy and beautiful girls. We’ve been given a life filled with so much love, light, joy and happiness. Our plan took a slight curve, but let me tell you, I wouldn’t change the journey, I wouldn’t want my life to be any different, I wouldn’t want the path with no bumps, no hills, no stumbling blocks. This is our life, our family, our story.

Follow this journey on A Perfect Extra Chromosome.


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