Special needs families celebrate the joys of parenthood with many triumphant milestones and memorable experiences. We also get to witness the beauty in acts of kindness and selflessness in how people, unrelated to our family, behave with our special needs children. We get to see these acts of kindness in teachers, therapists and other service providers. We’ll also see it in caregivers who provide our family respite services and full time support. However, finding caregivers for special needs families presents many challenges that range from identifying caregivers to finding one who is a good match for special needs families to keeping a caregiver long-term.
Our journey as a family exploring the healing power of cannabis for our son Richie has been a long learning experience. While the learning curve was an arduous one, I’m happy to report that we’ve found the right cannabis medication that works well for Richie. The most interesting part of my experience was how much I had to learn. Thankfully, I had Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Releaf for guidance, other parents for support, their shared experiences, and online resources for further research.
We are all treading through uncharted territory right now as we are dealing with having to take caution against a fast spreading illness, decreased hours or losing our pay entirely, helping our kids with online learning - while balancing our already stressful lives before COVID 19 and all that followed. Add to this the struggles that come with challenging behavior exhibited by our children and teens with special needs and we’ve got a well-stirred recipe for anxiety and some serious meltdowns.
Autism awareness is a topic that is discussed all year ‘round. However, during the month of April, we hype up awareness by sharing and celebrating success stories of individuals and children on the spectrum who are doing and learning things people didn’t think at one time were possible. I have heard people mention that we are inundated with information about Autism and that it’s too much. I’ve also heard others mention that they despise Autism Awareness Month because of their private struggles with autism as a self-advocate and as a parent. I understand why people may feel the way they do, there is no easy path to follow when living a life with autism or caring for a loved one who has it. Still, autism awareness is needed for understanding, for sensitivity, for acceptance and access.
Treating Autism with Medical Cannabis Part V - Visiting a Medical Cannabis Dispensary: Things to Know Before You Go
If you’ve been following this blog series, you know that we have been chronicling our experience with using medical cannabis for treating our son Richie who has autism. If you’re interested in learning more about how other parents, medical professionals, legislators, and concerned citizens, have recognized the incredible potential healing power that medical cannabis has for treating patients who have tried everything else – this is the series you want to follow! That being said, if you're considering becoming or you’ve recently become a qualified patient or caregiver for your son, daughter or loved one and you’re feeling a little anxious or intimidated about visiting dispensaries for the first time, here are a few things to know before you go!
Treating Autism with Medical Cannabis Part IV: “The Science Behind the Development of an Individualized Treatment Plan”
Since Florida has allowed access to using medical cannabis to treat eligible conditions, the use of medical cannabis continues to increase dramatically across the state. For individuals and families of children with autism who have qualifying conditions, medical cannabis has proven to be an effective treatment plan for healthcare professionals and families to consider.
Now that Richie was approved for being treated with medical cannabis and I was approved as his caregiver, our next step is going through the actual treatment process. In this blog segment, we’re going to share what we learned from Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Releaf about how to develop a personalized treatment plan for our son Richie. I’ll begin by sharing what we learned from Dr. David about the different medical cannabis strains available.
I was recently asked by a fellow parent why I refer to my son Richie who has autism as nonspeaking as opposed to nonverbal. After explaining my reasons, she felt differently and we agreed to respectfully disagree. I know there are parents who refer to their children with autism or other disabilities who don’t communicate with oral speech as “non-verbal” and this is completely acceptable. I also respect the fact that many people will not agree with my thoughts on this topic. I respect this because I was a parent who once introduced my son Richie to other people as non-verbal all the time. I'm no stranger to having unpopular opinions, but after learning just how brilliant our son Richie is, I tend to care little about what others think and more about what I feel is best for Richie.
Tampa Bay Families of Children with Autism Turn to Medical Marijuana for Effective and Life Changing Results
Over the years, the public opinion has taken a noticeable shift in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. While many opponents continue the long and wasteful debate over marijuana being the gateway drug to addiction or worse (because prescribed opioids or other narcotics aren’t, right?), more cases are proving – undeniably - that medical marijuana is changing and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands across our country and around the world.
You may have heard or read about how scientists have been researching stem cells and their potential for treating, healing and curing certain ailments. While I may have heard of stem cell research and cord blood banking a few times over the past decade, there has never been such easy access to this important information and research like there is today.
CBR (Cord Blood Registry) is the world’s largest newborn stem cell company with certain information and resources to help your family’s journey into a future of possibilities.
It has been 14 years since my son Richie was diagnosed with Autism. When he was two years old, I received the news many parents in my same situation may have long suspected but dreaded. When you first hear the words, “Your child has autism,” it is a life-changing moment. It’s important to understand that the grief cycle that comes with the autism diagnosis is not a process. A process, by definition, is a series of steps that lead to an end. Please note that my son’s diagnosis is NOT all gloom and doom – it certainly isn’t. I get to experience many moments of joy and happiness that are unmatched to those of parents of children with no disabilities. I write this in hopes that friends, family members, and other members of our society read this and express sensitivity to all parents of children with autism and essentially all special needs parents – because after all, the feelings experienced are almost universal.
The holiday season is once again upon us and with it comes thoughts of togetherness, celebrations, and gatherings to look forward to. Thanksgiving festivities are among the first to kick-off traditional gatherings, shopping rituals, and preparing classic meal favorites. However, this time of year may look a little different for special needs families as they experience different types of challenges. Children and adults with disabilities may have sensory issues, socialization or communication challenges, and other issues that make holiday gatherings something they might prefer to avoid. Parents of children and adults with disabilities may experience anxiety, worry, or possibly isolation. Here are some ideas that may help with having a fun and memorable gathering without anxiety or dreading the event happenings.
The opportunity for individuals with disabilities to save, plan and look forward to the future was once a scary thought. Being hopeful about the future seemed less promising for members of the disability community because many barriers made planning and saving impossible. A recent survey conducted by America Saves, states that only 40 percent of households are making good or excellent progress in saving, and more than 27 percent report no progress at all. The numbers are even more dismal for the disability community – the National Disability Institute reports that an estimated 1.9 million households that include an individual with a disability do not have a checking or savings account. Before ABLE United’s program, some were not even provided the same opportunities to save as the general population.
Some of us feel a little apprehension about starting a new school year alongside our children. This can especially be difficult for parents of children who struggle with reading, writing, math, staying focused or being organized.
What does it mean to have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?
You may have heard the terms, “sensory processing disorder, sensory integrated dysfunction, or sensory related issues.” Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that causes the brain to have difficulty with receiving and sending messages with other senses. You may have heard the term, “sensory overload.” This phrase is often used to describe what a child or adult is experiencing when there is too much information for one or more of their senses to process. Children and adults who experience issues with sensory processing disorder may struggle with academic performance, making friends, diet and eating, participating in the community, challenging behavior, and more.
#ABLEUNITED is Celebrating its First Anniversary as the Savings Difference Makers in the Disability Community
It’s been a year since I opened my ABLE United account for my son Richie and not only has our family been able to save and plan for Richie’s future, we have something we’ve never had before. We have peace of mind.
Happy Father’s Day to all The Special Needs Dads Who Turned Challenging Times into Special Blessings
Raising children with special needs can be as challenging as you might imagine it to be. You’ve seen us from time to time. We’re the ones walking past you with the scratched arms from frustrated pinching. You’ve seen us lifting our child out of the car and gently placing them onto their wheelchair. You’ve seen us leave an entire cart of groceries in the middle of the isle because our child was about to have a major meltdown. You’ve watched us chase our kid down the street after they've masterfully escaped from our home. Maybe, you were the neighbor who brought them home to us when we thought he or she was sleeping soundly in their bed! Perhaps you’ve spotted us sitting in our car alone crying or just taking a moment of nothing eventful to ourselves. You may have wondered, “How do they do it?”
When it comes to ABLE United, great news just keeps on coming! Don’t miss out on your chance to jump-start your savings plan for the future today. ABLE United is offering five eligible Floridians with disabilities a chance to win a $500 contribution to their ABLE United savings account! Enter today and visit daily for extra chances to win – but hurry, this fantastic offer ends June 15, 2017!
If I had a quarter for every time someone said they were sorry after learning I have a son with autism, I would have a small fortune! It’s true that having a child with autism has its challenges, but because of a supportive family, great friends, the expertise and guidance from colleagues, and a team of compassionate and talented educators, Richie is doing great. And all is good because we see the positive side to family life with autism.
Why I'm Going to #LightItUpBlue for Understanding and Acceptance!
Our family has been active members of the autism community since Richie was diagnosed at the age of two - thirteen years ago!
Since April is World Autism Month, our family will #LightItUpBlue with Autism Speaks to increase understanding and awareness of autism. Of course, it should go without mentioning for those of you who visit my blog often, that this is a deeply personal topic for me as a mom of a teen with autism. It's highly likely that you know someone with autism too since the CDC estimates autism's prevalence as 1 in every 68 children in the United States.
Recently, I wrote a post about how the Americans with Disabilities Act has made many life-changing improvements that have successfully increased the participation of individuals with disabilities in their communities. However, there is still much work that needs to be done.
Author: Christine Goulbourne