Being Different Inspires Others

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(Guest post by Monica McDivitt – Monica blogs at Like a Butterfly) We searched for Rodeo Championship BBQ Cook-Off booth numbers 913 and 915 where a rodeo dance was being hosted for a camp in which Samantha participates. The area outside of the … Continue reading

Showers, Escalators and Airport Toilets Oh My!

(Guest post by Camilla Downs –  Camilla blogs at CamillaDowns.com)

In July 2011 Lillian and I attended the Chromosome 18 Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana and thought I’d share some of our adventures with y’all!

We had an absolutely beautiful and fun time on our trip together.  Airports are a challenge for us as Lillian has worries and fears and depth perception and balance issues.  So we aren’t going anywhere fast when we are in an airport.  That Mama you see with a frightened looking 9 year old that has a death grip onto said Mama’s arm, hand or any body part she can grab a hold of {sometimes painfully} . . . that’s us!!  Lillian did a fantastic job going through security here in Reno.  It wasn’t crowded and we didn’t feel rushed.  Heck, she even had a ball when she beeped going through the scanner and Mama had to be searched and patted down.  Mama was just so darn happy to get the privilege of having a little ole body massage that early in the morning and at the airport . . . who woulda thought.  My only complaint is that the pat down {aka body massage} didn’t last nearly long enough!

It completely escaped my thought process when reserving our hotel room to ensure the room had a bathtub.  Showers are a “not happening” zone for Lillian.  Ain’t no way she’s getting into a shower!!  I was pretty pooped after finally making it to Indy and we actually had a VERY fabulous corner room with an awesome view . . . I did not want to mess with changing our room.  So, let’s just say that’s the longest Ms. Lillian Darnell has gone without having a bath!!  She did go swimming while she was there and I wiped her down with a wash cloth . . . in my world that’s darn good nuff!!

Our Chromosome 18 events were on the 2nd and 3rd floors.  There were escalators between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors.  Another “not happening” zone with this little lady.  I don’t know how many of you have attended conferences in big hotels; but one thing is for sure . . . the elevators move slow as molasses {especially at this one due to one elevator being serviced the entire time}!  I could not talk Lillian into getting on that big bad scary moving stairway thingy just for one little ole floor.  So, off we went to wait for the elevators to ride for one floor move.  I know, I know, you’re thinking why didn’t ya just use the stairs.  Some stairs are okay with Lillian . . . just a few stairs . . . that’s okay.  Stairs inside of a building or even outside like a library are okay.  But, definitely not those industrial stairwells inside of big buildings, you know, the kind that echo and seem to go on forever.

What long trip with our kids with special needs would be complete without mentioning airport toilets?  These have got to be one of the scariest inventions EVER for some of our kids! Hahahaha! Thanks to another awesome, beautiful and wisdom filled Chromosome 18 Mama, we have conquered those darn scary thrones of airport-dom! A few years ago at one of our conferences Shelley Hunt, Mom to Becky and Sarah Hunt, shared with us that she always had post notes in her purse.  She used said post it notes to cover those annoying little sensors so the toilets would not flush unexpectedly.  Lillian felt the need to use the bathroom while we were waiting at the Dallas airport for our connecting flight back to Reno.  We got in the bathroom and she started saying never mind, I don’t need to go. My mind sprung into action . . . “What was that little trick Shelley shared? Oh yes, post it notes.  Oh Lord, do I have any?”.  So I began to search our bag and my purse for one of those magical post it notes.  I finally found one, and only one, marking a page in the book I was reading.  I had just discovered a treasure!!  So Ms. Lillian used that darn airport toilet and we left that bathroom with our heads held high knowing we had conquered that scary flushing white throne!

Showers, escalators and airport toilets . . . oh yes . . . quit the adventure! Seriously, I think y’all can tell I like to have a sense of humor about all this jazz.  That’s me . . . that’s the way I process, I choose to see the humor cause I just don’t care for the alternative.  What do y’all think?

“A sense of humor… is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.” -Hugh Sidey

If you’d like to see more pictures of our Chromosome 18 Conference adventures go here y’all!

{Enjoy this post? Feel free to “like” it below and share with your Facebook Friends by pressing here! Thanks y’all -Camilla}

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor.  Please see their details on our Contributors page.  If you’d like to guest post for Different iz Good check out our Write for DIG page for details about how YOU can share your stories and tips with our community.

Different is Love

(Guest post by Susan Moran –Learn more about Susan by visiting our Contributors Page)

(©2009 Artwork by Lillian Darnell - All Rights Reserved)

Different is Love

Different is learning love is like a rainbow:

Full of colors and joy-
Full of experiences that upon memory are as colorful as a rainbow,
Full of expectations that upon collaboration are as colorful as a rainbow;
even though the collaboration changes the expectations beyond imagining sometimes,
Full of joy for all of the differences that no one could have predicted and yes, these joys are as colorful as a rainbow.
Different is learning love is like a rainbow, very colorful and full of mystery and joy.

Kaleidoscope

My journey with my darling daughter is like a kaleidoscope. It is a mixture of emotions at levels never before experienced or even imagined. She has taught me that love is joy. Different levels of joy and excitement over “small” things that others take for granted.

These joys occur on HER time table, not on the schedule from some developmental chart or some doctor or teacher’s notion of when is “right” for it to occur.

Love is those first independent steps that we had to wait an “extra year and a few months” for her to take.

Love is the pride that beams from every fiber of her being and through her soul when she “gets it” whatever the latest it is!

Love is the sheer, pure joy when my darling finally, after years of trying, jumps over that yellow bar at PT.

Love is knowing when to whoop and holler at her success and when to celebrate quietly so as not to interrupt the moment for her.

This kaleidoscope love of mine is wonderful. It is so full of color that changes and mixes and is constantly in flux.

I am blessed to have a kaleidoscope love child. Are you?

{Wanna share this with your Facebook Friends? Feel free to “like” it below and share with them by pressing here! Thanks y’all -Camilla}

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor.  Please see their details on our Contributors page.  If you’d like to guest post for Different iz Good check out our Write for DIG page for details about how YOU can share your stories and tips with our community.

Just a little girl

(Guest post by Alisha Marie Peters – Alisha blogs at The Moments That Change Everything)

I know this blog’s mission is to empower difference, which I am all for… but at the same time; I’m starting to see that my girl is so much like any other 3-year-old girl in so many ways.

Don’t get me wrong, she is different in a lot of ways, but the beauty is, I don’t think she sees that yet. And just this once, I’m not going to focus on what makes her different, even though I love all of her. I’m so proud of who she is and all that she’s accomplished with so much stacked against her, and I really hope she grows up knowing that. And that she embraces who she is, all of who she is, and knows how truly amazing she really is.

But, this time I want to let the world know that in most aspects, my girl is just like yours.

But really, just in the last little while I’ve seen enormous strides in her development, and I’m seeing just a 3 year old girl… just that, a little girl doing things that all little girls do. She hates having her hair done. She loves her independence. She loves school and all her friends there. She is a daddy’s girl through and through. She loves dolls and Minnie Mouse. She laughs at things that are funny, some that I’m even surprised she gets! She loves attention, but at the same time can be really shy until she really gets to know someone. She doesn’t really care for goodbyes. She can throw some amazing diva-esc temper tantrums over not getting her way! And she has an attitude that is much bigger than she is!

And the thing that inspired this whole post, she loves… and I can’t stress that word enough, loves Tangled!! She got it for Easter, and I’m sure has watched it entirely through over 20 times in that short week and a half. She loves the whole thing, but definitely has her favorite parts and songs. Now you may not understand why I think this is such a big thing, or why I’m happy about it. But you see this is something that I thought would never happen for my little girl. I would hear people complain about having to watch this show or that over and over, and secretly I would think how lucky they were that their child had made such an important connection. And I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if mine ever would.

So yes, I’m “Tangled out” I guess you could say, but I’m so, so happy…. Ecstatic really. I love that she is just a girl some days. She’s a happy, always smiling, wanting her way kind of girl. Didn’t I just describe every 3-year-old diva in America??

Em laying on her butterfly pillow with her favorite doll, watching Tangled

{Like this post? Feel free to “like” it below and share with your Facebook Friends by pressing here! Thanks y’all -Camilla}

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor.  Please see their details on our Contributors page.  If you’d like to guest post for Different iz Good check out our Write for DIG page for details about how YOU can share your stories and tips with our community.

A Poem for Special Teachers!

(Guest post by Monica McDivitt – Monica blogs at Like a Butterfly)

Sam and One of Her Awesome Special Ed Teachers

Teacher Appreciation Week is around the corner. Though I believe ALL teachers are invaluable, I am giving extra props to special education teachers. Surprise, surprise! :)

They aren’t just teachers. They are physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, researchers, nurses, and our children’s cheerleaders! Their patience, creativity, organization, ability to accept and understand the differences in each of our children and their ability to motivate, identify, appreciate and celebrate small victories are what make them different from the rest! Few things are more rewarding than knowing you have made an impact on the lives of children who are struggling to reach their full potential.

Two years ago I wrote this poem for Sam’s LIFE Skills teacher and paraprofessionals, printed it, framed it and gave it to them as a gift. It was written from Samantha’s perspective. I hope you like it:

You greet me every morning with a great big smile
Help me out of the car
Even if it takes a while

I am a little girl who cannot hear or speak
But still you understand me,
Week after week.

I have more challenges than most other people, you know
But you never give up on me
Even if my progress is slow

You help me with my daily life skills
Help me to succeed
Teach me how to sing and play
Adapt it to my special needs

I am strong and happy
I like to giggle and tease
Sometimes I may even drop down on my knees

You work very hard everyday,
Help me learn and grow
You are patient, kind and loving

This I wanted you to know
It takes a special person to be a teacher like you
And my Mommy and Daddy are grateful
For everything you do!

Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

{If you loved this as much as I (Camilla) did and want to share with your Facebook Friends, just go here to do that!! Thanks y’all!}

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor.  Please see their details on our Contributors page.  If you’d like to guest post for Different iz Good check out our Write for DIG page for details about how YOU can share your stories and tips with our community.

It’s the Little Things

(Guest post by Geri Kochis – Geri blogs at EmilyAnn)

As a warning – This post is my own opinion and I apologize upfront if I offend anyone.

In the Geri dictionary, Cheerleader would have had following description: cliquish, flexible (body), high energy, lot’s of makeup, crazy parents, revealing clothing, and popular (kids/teen/adults).

Emily joined a special needs Cheerleading squad in October/November of 2010 (Idaho Cheer Spirit). This was a competition squad, so they did more than just practice. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and really concerned she wouldn’t perform well enough. The kids not on the special needs squad also worried me. Most of children (even adults) don’t know how to react to Emily. It is not uncommon for her to walk up to strangers and say she likes their shirt or shoes, or just say random things. To make it worse, Emily has bi-lateral hearing loss along with 18p- so her speech can be hard to understand at times. The response to Emily is usually, umm.. ok and then a confused look directed at me. I didn’t think Emily would fit in with her traits combined with my thoughts on Cheerleading. Here were are 5 months out and a National Championship later and I can admit I was wrong about everything.

Not only did Emily’s squad welcome her with open arms, but so did the entire gym (Idaho Cheer). No one cared that she would say random things, or sometimes get distracted by the other squads tumbling. The promoters/producers of the competitions made the squad feel special and they always received at least medals. The support from all the parents (different gyms, states) at the competitions was great. I can’t think of once where the entire crowd wasn’t cheering for our girls. The spirit squad had great coaches that always encouraged the girls to do their best without discouraging.

Idaho Spirit has had junior coaches. These coaches were girls from another squad with an age range of 11-15 (maybe a little order/younger). I have never in my life encountered girls that age who were so accepting of differences and truly cared about the girls. The parents of these girls should be proud.

This past weekend Idaho Cheer Spirit earned the title of National Champions (along with 4 other special needs teams) in Anaheim California. Cheerleading has made such a difference in Emily, and me as well. The Geri dictionary has definitely changed.

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Acceptance of Different

(Guest post by Susan Moran –Learn more about Susan by visiting our Contributors Page)

There are many things to accept in this world. We must accept different people, different cultures, different religions, different points of view, different methods of accomplishing tasks, different schedules, expectations, rules, directions, likes and dislikes and the list goes on and on and on.

In our house, one darling really needs help with accepting different expectations and different methods of accomplishing tasks. She likes sameness—it is comforting to know how and when things will be done. However, as stated above, this is NOT how life really works. So, I am challenged daily to help her embrace and enjoy flexibility. :) To this end, I made up a song/chant with her in the car the other day.

I wrote a song to help IM deal with adjusting her evening schedule to include sitter time. She loves her sitter but still struggles with differences in routines and how things are done. All things should be done Momma’s way, don’t you know?! :) So, here it is.

Izzy’s way, Izzy’s way
I like to do it Izzy’s way
Sometimes it’s dif-fer-ent,
But that’s O. K.,
I LIKE to do it Izzy’s way.

We also talk about how this song can help at school, at PT, at doctor’s appts, where ever things are different—we can sing this song and make it a good day. :) It helped that night and another night too. :)

I bet you know some one who could use flexibility training too. :)

What will you do today to embrace, celebrate or help some one with differences?

(We would love to hear your thoughts in the Comment section and if you’d like to share with your friends on Facebook, just press here! – Thanks y’all –Camilla!)

My Kid Rides the Short Bus

(Guest post by Loni Scovill Smith –  Loni blogs at His Apraxia Journey)

Why Different iz Good Exists!

When I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, there was a stigma attached to kids that rode the “short bus”.  I believe most of it stemmed from ignorance and fear.  Back in those days, when you saw the short bus, you imagined it was filled with kids afflicted with the worst of the worst disabilities.

My son rides the short bus. And he isn’t afflicted with the worst of the worst. In every way physically, he seems normal. He looks and acts like any other five year old in preschool. He’s social, fun, smart, stubborn, but very different in one specific way – his speech is unintelligible.

I am a mother in the age of the internet, a time when information is at everyone’s fingertips. I live in a decade where we can stay connected with others virtually; I have easy, accessible ways to pass on information to others about my son’s condition. Whether it’s through Facebook posts, my blog – His Apraxia Journey, or even this Different Iz Good blog, people can learn about Ian’s speech apraxia and having that knowledge eliminates the fear or ignorance that they might have been experiencing. That’s pretty darn cool.

Because of social networking and the plethora of information readily available at our computers, the doors of acceptance have been opened wider than ever before to our children with disabilities. Knowledge is beautiful.

As I prepare my son for the probability of attending a special education kindergarten in the fall (complete with another year of riding the short bus), I revel in the fact that he is loved and accepted by all of those around us. There is not a horrible stigma or fear and ridicule attached to him, rather, there is joy with each new word he speaks clearly, there is celebration for the success he finds in the special help he receives. There is compassion.

My kid rides the short bus and everyone celebrates his differences. Being different is no longer scary, it’s acceptable. It’s understandable. It’s beautiful.

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Everybody’s Different

(Guest post by Sara Jackson Johnson –  Sara blogs at Sara in Between)

Why Different iz Good Exists!

Everybody’s Different by Sara Jackson

Every day I look around and this is what I see
Lots of different ways to look and different ways to be
Sammy’s only got a dad and Melly’s got two mummies
Emma’s face is often sad while Tommy makes things funny
Jacob’s hair is curlyish and Angie’s always sneezing
Louis gets up earlyish and Ella’s feet are freezing.
I find it odd the world around us thinks we’re all the same
As I think they might be looking without turning on their brain
So let’s celebrate our differences and how unique we are
And change the record, shout out loud and spread this message far
Because everybody’s different, it’s very plain to see
She and you and him and her and them and us and me!”