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

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

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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.

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.

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.

(Is this an article you’d like to share with your Facebook Friends – Go Here to do that – And Thanks Y’all – Camilla)

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.

Listening with my Eyes and Ears

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

Sam grabs my hand and walks me to the door that leads to our garage. This means she wants to go for a ride in the car. She usually grabs my purse, slings it over her shoulder, or cross body, and walks over to me. Today she communicated differently but I got the message.

After the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, visiting family, having family visit and being totally out of her structure, element and routine I believe Sam deserved to have some normalcy. She didn’t feel well on Christmas night and she is feeling the same today. She is congested and has what John and I usually call a “smoker’s cough” so I placed her in her car seat and we went for a drive… to nowhere. Actually we drove around the quieter streets of our Katy community, where it is calm and the trees are big and pretty. Sam didn’t mind.

As I drove, I had the car stereo on and it was probably louder than it needed to be but I love listening to music and Sam could feel the vibration of the bass from the speakers. I take a glimpse in the rearview mirror and see her beauty instantly. She is wearing a pink, holiday shirt with a peace sign on it, which she received as a gift for Christmas. Her hair is all pulled back into a ponytail with a big, pink bow and a curly lock of hair hangs on the right side of her forehead. She has an enormous grin on her face and she is kicking her right foot with much delight. I thought to myself, “She sure is pretty in pink and very happy.” I couldn’t help but smile.

Sam has never called my name or said Mommy and I am not always sure she understands what I say or do but I keep holding her and talking, reading, signing and singing to her and I encourage others to do the same. That’s all that matters. Sam smiles, giggles and cries. She thinks and observes and is a pretty amazing problem solver. When she takes my hand and walks me to the door that leads to garage, or walks me to the kitchen, bathroom, or even hands me a book or a toy, I know what she is saying. This month she has been giving big hugs and making more eye contact. Sam is communicating without speech.

Do I wish she could speak? Would I love to hear her beautiful voice? You bet! For now, I get giggles, babbles, cries and gestures and if this is all I ever receive as far as communication, I can be happy. It is more than many doctors ever expected. This is Sam’s language and I am always listening with my eyes and ears.

Happy Holidays and Thank You

Thank you for your support, donations and sharing of the website and facebook page.  Because of YOU the Different iz Good movement and the Gift a Voice project have taken off like a rocket!

Please enjoy this beautiful card we created for you, your family, friends and online community.  We encourage you to share the “card” as much and as often as you would like.

Thank you from me, Camilla, and from the Different iz Good community!!

November 13th is World Kindness Day

World Kindness day is HERE!  You can read more about World Kindness here.  Practicing kindness is a great way to bring families, friends and neighbors together. Here are some ideas for your celebration  (Ideas for this were excerpted from this World Kindness Day post.)

1. Leave something special on the neighbor’s doorstep. Flowers, a baked good, an invitation to share a meal.

2. Make your kid’s bed. Do the one chore your kid hates the most for him/her.

3. Make a contribution toward the Turning Views Foundation and Different iz Good movement. Change and one dollar bills from piggy banks count too. Don’t forget about the Different iz Good store!

4. Write a thank you or draw a picture for someone you love. Tell them what you love about them and thank them for being themselves.

5. Pay the bill for the car behind you at the coffee or fast food drive thru, let your child give the money from the back window.

6. Pick up some trash. Spend an hour cleaning up a park, school, or even your neighborhood.

7. Post on a Friend’s Facebook why you are grateful to have them in your life.

8. Smile at 10 people today.

9. Visit a grandparent or elderly friend.

10. Call a friend or family member just to say “Hey” and tell them you are grateful to have them in your life!

Come on over and add to our list and also share with us how your World Kindness Day celebration went in the comments.