A Different Kind Of Singing

Children like Lillian are why the Turning Views Foundation and the Gift a Voice Project were created. The Foundation’s intent is to make a DIFFERENCE for those that are DIFFERENT. First, by providing to nonverbal and/or speech impaired children an iPhone or iPod touch so they can FINALLY have a voice and be able to communicate in a more fluid and modern way. – Camilla Downs

Want to help us? Make a cash donation, donate your last generation iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, or host a Gift a Voice Cell Phone Recycling Drive. Visit our Get Involved page to learn more ideas. We are a 501(3) non-profit and will provide you with a donation receipt.

Samantha Enjoys Christmas in a Different Way

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

Samantha is running back and forth in the front hallway. She is flapping her arms and giggling. I watch, smile and walk into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Suddenly, I hear bells jingling on the Christmas tree. I look over and see the top of the tree moving from side to side. I stop what I am doing and walk over to the family room to see what Sam is up to. Is she pulling an ornament off of the tree? Trying to sit on or tackle the tree? I enter the room. She is wearing her pink and gray leopard print gown. Her hair is messy but it is pulled back into a ponytail. She is sitting quietly in front of the tree, admiring the lights and trinkets. I know she was probably trying to sit on the tree but all is good. She is safe and happy and that is all that matters.

John and I carefully purchased a new tree this year because Sam had mangled the old tree. After 4 years of being leaned on, sat on and knocked over, half of the lights were no longer operating and the bottom branches were touching the floor. It only took one day before this new tree began to look like the old one, except this one has the multicolored lights instead of the clear ones. John and I figured Sam would enjoy the different colors.

The truth is that Sam doesn’t understand Christmas or any other holiday. She is usually quite easygoing but will run and look for a quiet place to hide if there are too many people around. She will refuse to eat in a large social environment, even if she is at home. For this reason, we miss out on many extended family gatherings. If we do attend, John and/or I have to chase Sam around to make sure she doesn’t grab and eat dirt from houseplants, play with toilet water, break something or go into meltdown mode. I then find myself explaining her behavior(s) to family and/or friends. Though I do not mind educating others about Sam, the ‘chasing around’ and meltdowns are not fun and the only solution to this type stress and chaos is to have holiday events at our own home where Sam can feel safe and disappear into her room if she feels the need to do so.

Sam is sweet, smart, funny and craves her routine. She recognizes that many things are different this time of year so we continue to follow a routine throughout the holidays. I know it sounds dull and boring but John and I must do what is beneficial for Sam. When change does occur we do our best to get her through it successfully. Since Sam is nonverbal and still does not understand how to use communication devices, I often wonder what goes on in her mind. How does she feel? What is she thinking? Is she afraid? I am not sure if these are things I will ever truly know but I have much faith and hope and continue to work with her daily.

For the time being, I know she likes Christmas trees, lights and ornaments. She picks one ornament off of our tree each time she passes and by the end of the night several ornaments are scattered throughout the house and I find myself picking up the same ones every night. I also know that she doesn’t care about presents and never demands anything (except her baths or snacks). It can take several days after Christmas before she is interested in opening a single gift. Tissue paper, bows, tulle, wrapping paper, gift bags are often more interesting than the gifts themselves and this is okay. As long as I see a smile on Sam’s face I know she is content. This is Sam. She is easy to please and John and I are blessed.

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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.

Top 10 Christmas Wish List 2011

Please take a peek as the first “Top 3″ items won’t take a bite out of your money budget – Just a small bite out of your time budget!

  1. Share the Different iz Good website , Facebook page – facebook.com/DifferentizGood and our Gift a Voice Project with your online community.
  2. Donate any used cell phone, smart phone, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad for the Foundation’s Gift a Voice Project.
  3. Host a Gift a Voice Cell Phone Drive.
  4. Apple Gift Cards
  5. iTunes Gift Cards
  6. Amazon Gift Cards
  7. New iPod Touch or iPad
  8. Buy stuff from the Different iz Good store
  9. Cash Donations – Any Amount (Cash, Credit Card or PayPal)
  10. Sponsor a person with communication disabilities:

Approximately $600 will buy one NEW iPod Touch, Proloquo2Go (or similar) AAC Application, iMainGo speaker/case or similar and a cover (exact cost will depend on needs of recipient).

Approximately $1,200 will buy one NEW iPad, Proloquo2Go (or similar) AAC Application,  speaker and a case/cover (exact cost will depend on needs of recipient).

If you’d like more information about our Wish List items please comment below, comment on our Facebook Page or send an email to list @ differentizgood . org.

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.

Thoughts from a Momentary Perspective

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

Sara Jackson and her Family

I’ve been struggling with some genetic results I received this week for my youngest, which told us that in fact he has two rather than just the one extremely rare genetic disorder. I’m pretty sure this takes him from one in few thousand to one perhaps on his own and while that’s kind of cool, it’s also quite lonely from where I’m sitting, not yet with the head space to learn the new stuff.

So I’ve done some hibernating, ruminating and finally blog-style tantruming and now I’m quietly trying to calm my feelings.

What has helped is catching up on an amazing TV programme shown here in England on BBC1. It was about surgeons at the Oxford Craniofacial Unit who use their skill to operate on children with disorders, malformations and life-threatening conditions affecting their skulls and faces.

These amazing professionals are leaders in their field, with extraordinary skills and techniques and the stamina to perform 7 hour operations. They are artists in helping to break and reform bones in the skull to allow room for brains, to help attach muscles to allow a smile reflex, to perform an extraordinary operation, then attach a brace and turn it a milimetre a day to gradually change the shape of a head and reduce pressure in the brain. What they do in these operations somehow didn’t seem gruesome, because of the humanity with which they held themselves, and the effect is nothing short of miraculous.
What is amazing is that they carry out their duties with an amazing humility and kindness, knowing that what they are doing is saving lives, but also helping people to look less different. To feel less obvious and blend a little more and as such have a slightly easier time of life.

What really struck me was something that the one of the surgeons said and understood about his patients. That parents struggle with these huge decisions while their children are young and have no choice when things are life threatening. But at some point these children become older and often decide that enough is enough. After countless operations the danger is over and only the cosmetic remains which is why some of them arrive at the conclusion that they are who they are. Job done.

I watched with admiration and tears at the humanity of these surgeons, the strength and pain of the parents and the amazing resilience of these kids.

Still days after I’ve watched them I’m carrying around the lessons that they didn’t know they were teaching me when they agreed to be filmed by for once what appeared to be an emotionally intelligent TV crew.

Difference and all it embodies is often far too complicated to put into words, but today to help me concentrate on renewing my perspective, I’ve enjoyed looking around the edges.

{Did you 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.

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!

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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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Gift a Voice FUNdraiser – Vino for Voices

Whose ready to have some FUN while at the same time raising money for the Turning Views Foundation, Different iz Good and Gift a Voice?

Clark is our next Gift a Voice Recipient

We’ve got a great time scheduled for Wednesday, March 30th, from 6-8 pm at Kona Gold Coffee and Wine Bar y’all! An informal night of fun, wine, chocolate (Dorinda’s Chocolates to be exact!! YUM) and appetizers.

March 30, 2011, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Kona Gold Coffee & Wine Bar
3304 South McCarran Blvd Reno

Over TWENTY FIVE donations for our over the top awesome raffle!  Ranging from Jewelry to Gift Certificates to Wine to Oil Changes to Massages to Bread Baskets to Chocolate to Limousine services to Dental Exams to Books to Chiropractic Exams and all things in between!!

100% of the event fee goes to our Gift a Voice project.  Kona Gold is donating the space, the wine and the appetizers and Dorinda’s Chocolates is donating the chocolate.  Kona Gold is also donating all their tips for the night to our Foundation!!

Bring your inactive and used iPhones, smart phones and cell phones for donation to our Cell Phone Recycling for a Voice Drive.  Receive (1) One FREE raffle ticket for each phone donated.

Join us and support those in our lives with special needs and those with communication disabilities!

Help us spread the word about our Vino for Voices event by sharing with your Facebook Community and pressing that little ole “Like” button below!! We appreciate it times a million y’all!!

(After check out please print your PayPal receipt as that is your ticket to “taste”!!)


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