Most Popular Posts for 2011

Spent some time today combing through our 2011 posts to put together a “most popular” list for our new visitors and frequent visitors alike in case you missed something or want to share a great article with a friend. I wanted to include ALL of them as I think ALL of them are awesome and inspiring posts. I took a look at how many comments and facebook likes each post received. So here ya go – Most Popular Different iz Good posts for 2011!

Different iz Just Fine – January 7, 2011

Giving Sam a Voice – February 7, 2011

Symbiosis – February 9, 2011

My Kid Rides the Short Bus – February 16, 2011

It’s the Little Things – April 18, 2011

A Poem for Special Teachers! – April 27, 2011

Just a Little Girl – May 9, 2011

Different is Love – May 24, 2011

Showers, Escalators and Airport Toilets, Oh My! – September 13, 2011

Different is . . . – December 12, 2011

Samantha Enjoys Christmas in a Different Way – December 20, 2011

Different is…

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

Different is…

Different is the loooooooooooooooooong pause after you answer the question, “How old is she?”

Different is the questioning the new doctors have over why this “normal” child is on a liquid diet instead of table food.

Different is checking your schedule for doctor and therapists appointments before you plan a play-date.

Different is your darling explaining orthotics to her friends.

Different is the questions from the school-mates as to why she is acting like THAT.

Different is explaining “words” like IEP and GERD to your friends.

Different is saying; “Sissy, you are sweet I could pour you on my pancakes.”

Different is blowing Daddy hugs so hard he almost falls over.

Different is singing no matter where we are or who is watching.

Different is getting up and dancing in the restaurant when the Latin music moves you.

Different is chatting to the birds and animals on the walk and not noticing or caring who sees.

Different is saying my name is. What is your name? May I have a hug now?

Different is the one more hug, Mommy before you go.

Written by Susan Moran

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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.

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!

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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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Trashion Show



Thank you to Veronica Coleman of Magic 95.5 Wake Up Call for hosting a Cell Phone Recycling Drive for our Gift a Voice program in conjunction with The Trashion Show tonight, Friday, March 25, 2011.

Veronica recycles used items and creates handmade designs that she sells under the name Reno Upcycle.  Trashion Show will feature everything from the everyday to the obscure designed by Veronica, Lauren Gifford and Kimberly Phipps-Nichol (a Different iz Good Board of Director).

Hope to see any of you local folks there tonight! Kimberly also talked Camilla into being a model for her, so she will be wearing a couple of Kimberly’s designs! Oh my!!

Check out the Reno Tahoe Tonight article to learn more about Veronica and the Trashion Show (Page 74).

The Good

(Guest post by Andy Flowe – Andy  blogs at Go With the Flowe)

Andy and Sammie

Eventually, I intend to write about the downsides of growing up with a sibling with special needs (although they usually turn out to be upsides as well, at least in the mind of this unapologetically  idealistic college student).  But first, I want to get a little corny.  Every year, my family packs our bags and heads out to the annual Chromosome 18 conference.  We’ve been to over 15 conferences, held everywhere from San Antonio (the home of the Chromosome 18 Registry) and Plymouth, Massachusetts to Anaheim, California and everywhere in between.   We’ve turned it into our annual family vacation, and we all look forward to seeing our second family at the conference every summer.

The thing that I personally enjoy the most at the conferences has been all of the other siblings I’ve met.  It’s really helpful to talk with others who have experienced the same struggles and joys of living with a sibling with special needs.  We usually find a room away from the prying eyes and ears of parents and sibs, and swap stories, be they about how hilarious, sad, frustrating or just plain annoying our siblings can be.  At the 2007 conference in Plymouth, I guiltily admitted to the other sibs that I had milked up the relationship I had with my sister for a recent college application essay.  My admission was met by almost unanimous laughter from the older siblings, and when the laughter died down they all cheerfully admitted that they too, had played up the “I have a disabled sibling” card in their college applications.  “But,” one friend assured me, “It’s okay, because its all true!”  And I realized that despite how cheesy the essay sounded, it was, for the most part, true.  So without further adieu, I present to you the corny, unedited version of the essay that got me into college four years ago.  Enjoy:

My sister has been and always will be the single most important person in my life. Sammie is 20 years old and she supposedly “suffers” from Tetrasomy 18p, but I’d argue that she’s never suffered a day in her life. Tetrasomy 18p is a rare chromosomal abnormality that causes both behavioral and mental impediments, and Sammie is the happiest, most loving, generous, caring person I know. My mom recently asked me “When did you realize that Sammie was different?” I thought about it for a second, then I thought about it again, and I finally realized that I never thought that Sammie was different, she was just Sammie. There’s nobody like her in the world, and I could not be blessed with a better big sister.  In middle school, my dad and I would get into shouting matches roughly once a week over some trivial thing and we’d have to stop and figure things out when we looked over to find Sammie bawling her eyes out, tortured by our fighting.  My dad and I would each give her a hug and talk to her until she felt better, assuring her that we still loved each other.  Whenever my mom or dad would come home with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, the standard of judgment was always Sammie. If Sammie liked my dad’s new girlfriend, then we all liked my dad’s new girlfriend. She was able to weed out the bad matches and my parents made several romantic decisions based on Sammie. At times, I was jealous that Sammie received more attention than me because of her disability, but I always found myself back in Sammie’s room with her arms around me assuring me that she would always love me. I was invincible within those arms.

Andy and Sammie

I’d like to think my writing has grown a bit since writing this, and the corniness of  it (especially the last line) totally makes me cringe, but I still stand by the substance of it.  At the last few Chromosome 18 conferences, we’ve held a “Sibling Panel“, where a bunch of us siblings get up in front of parents and answer questions about what its like to live with a sibling with special needs.  This past year, after the panel was over, a few parents came up to me to talk, and one told me “Gosh, Sammie is just so lucky to have a brother like you.”  The compliment came as a surprise, and it was definitely flattering, but I found myself feeling a little disappointed that I hadn’t completely gotten my message across.  If there is only one thing that I can teach others about growing up with a special needs sibling, it’s this:  Sammie isn’t the lucky one, I am the lucky one, and there is absolutely no way I would be the person I was today if it wasn’t for her. She pushes me to be a better version of myself every single day, and all she asks for in return is some love.  And I’d like to think that if everyone had a Sammie in their lives, the world would be a whole lot better place.

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Symbiosis

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

I walk past this image at least once a day in the park at the end of my street .  I could take a more direct route through to the tube station, but always find my feet walking me this way.  This morning I realised it was time to pen a small note to work out why.


What I see here is intricate and interesting and kind of wrong in the middle of a park full of neat, planned and ordered foliage.  It strikes me every day and I have thought more than once about stopping the park keeper to ask how long it has been there?  Whether the ivy affects the health of the tree?  Is that a stump it’s growing on?  Whether they ever think about cutting it down and releasing the tree of its needy interloper? Or which of them actually came first?

But I never do. Not just because I think the park keeper hates me. You see unlike the other gardeners there with whom I have a happy hello-filled acquaintance, he either avoids my eye with no great subtlety or gives me a grudging smile if he absolutely has to…Anyway, I digress….

I don’t ask because I just love it as it is.  Love that I don’t really know whether it is a stump covered in ivy, opportunistically grabbing onto a tree that was unfortunate to be standing right next to it.  Or that the new tree was planted next to an old thing and they’ve developed a symbiotic need and love for each other.  I love that it makes me slow down, often stop, just to look across and down and up to see whether I can see the join.  Whether the tree is behaving as it should and marvelling at the sheer tenacity of that ivy.

I even enjoy the comparisons I find and the images it puts in my head; about me, my son, his DNA, what a pretty way to see something uninvited become so very…necessary somehow.

However I mostly love that in this picture, the sun is shining down on them both, as it does on us all.  Plain or startling, boring or exciting, healthy or wizened, different or the same.  Not how anyone planned it I’m sure, but glorious nonetheless.

Different iz Just Fine

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

I knew pretty early on that there was something wrong with Ian’s speech. His first “words” were really just a series of grunts. He had a grunt for everything and while it was endearing in the beginning, as new sounds began to emerge, communication with him quickly became a frazzled real life version of the Mattel game Mad Gab. Ian is our third child and although I’d heard all of the excuses from others (“boys are late talkers” “he has older siblings to speak for him”), I felt certain that there was more to his speech difficulties. I talked about Ian’s speech a lot in the beginning. I think I was trying to reach out, looking for some information to grasp onto and I was met with a lot of shoulder shrug responses. To save Ian from having to endure confused looks or being waved off by others, I felt that it was my duty to explain to everyone that he couldn’t talk very well and that he just needed some patience to get his point across. My need to explain paid off one day when a woman said to me, “Ian reminds me of my grandson.” She then proceeded to tell me about her grandson’s diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech and told me to call the school district to get him some help. Being the avid, obsessive researcher that I am, I spent the next few days on the internet digging around for any information I could find on the condition. I’m sure that by the end of it I looked like one of those red-eyed, unkempt cartoon characters that haven’t had their morning coffee yet. The school district got Ian in immediately for an evaluation. They concluded that he was behind verbally and developmentally and said that he wasn’t even on the charts for his age group. At this point, you’d think I would have cried, but what they told me was something I’d already known in my heart for a long time. Instead of tears, I felt at peace. Finally, there was confirmation that he needed help and he was going to be getting that help. They enrolled him in the developmental preschool for the following Monday and started him in speech therapy. Ian’s diagnosis for Childhood Apraxia of Speech didn’t come for another nine months (in December 2009). His therapist pulled me aside after a session of therapy and mentioned that he might benefit from a communication device. The device – a Dynavox computer – was $8,000.00 and would partially be covered by insurance, but only if we had an official diagnosis. Willing to do whatever it took to help Ian, I agreed to it and his therapist formally gave him the test for Apraxia. This time, I cried, but it was out of pure relief. The diagnosis that I’d been pushing her for was finally becoming a reality. With a diagnosis comes a plan of action – a series of steps to follow to tailor his therapy specific to his condition. The therapist got the paperwork ready while I stressed over the cost of the device. I spent a lot of time praying, talking it over with my husband and confirming with the therapist that this was the best option for Ian. This is where the story gives me goosebumps because I know that God had listened to and answered my prayers. I was playing around on my iPod touch and the idea hit me that I might be able to find some apps with fun games that would help Ian with his coordination. Searching for games turned into searching for flashcards with pictures which turned into searching for educational apps until finally, I stumbled on Proloquo2Go. My fingers started to shake with excitement as I viewed the screenshots – it looked very similar to the software that the Dynavox rep had shown me. I read the reviews, went to the website and called up the therapist. She was just putting our application into the fax machine to send to Dynavox when I told her to hold it right there and then proceeded to talk for ten minutes straight without stopping to take a breath. In short, the therapist (having no knowledge of Proloquo2Go) got excited, talked to her collegues and decided that we should give it a shot. That very night, my husband and I went to Best Buy, purchased an iPod Touch for Ian and downloaded Proloquo2Go. Over the last year, Ian’s speech has improved dramatically. While he is still unclear to most, he has the basic building blocks for speech in his arsenal. A large factor in his improvement was his iPod and Proloquo2Go. “Apraxia is a presumably neurological speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to plan, execute, and sequence the precise movements of the tongue, jaw, lips and palate that are necessary for intelligible speech. Children with (verbal) apraxia are able to hear and understand words; but they have trouble with the motor skill necessary for formulating consonants and vowels into spoken words. While they may have a few words or phrases they can speak clearly – what’s referred to as “pop-outs” – they are unable to imitate what is asked of them. While researchers have several theories, the cause of apraxia is not yet known.” (The Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Problems by Debbie Feit, pg. 66.) Different iz Good’s Gift a Voice Project is about giving kids more than words. When you donate to Different is Good, you are also giving these kids a better chance at socializing, fitting in and expressing their deepest thoughts. You’re giving them a chance at just being a kid. Did you enjoy this article?  We invite you to share it with your Facebook friends! Thank you!

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!”