Looks from strangers

IMG_7090Whether we’re walking down the street together or I’m pushing her in her adaptive stroller, we get stared at.  Some people are sly about it – they look out of the corner of their eye.  Others are overtly staring – gaping mouthed – at us.  Some days I can ignore it.  Other days, I stare right back at them.  It really depends on how much sleep I get the night before.  This issue has been a BIG topic of discussion on one of the many amazing special needs parent groups that support me and Lily along this journey of ours.

One mom (shout out to Jackie from Queens!) piped up some awesome suggestions which I want to share with parents who are on a similar journey and also for our friends/family who want to better understand just one of the many micro-annoyances that are a part of our day-to-day lives.

1) You have to stop caring what other people think. Completely. Unequivocally. From the bottom of your heart, stop caring about other people’s opinions relating to your child or your parenting. YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST AND YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB! (how do I know? because we are all trying our best – that’s why we’re here on the chat board) The rest of the world just has no clue, and it is unreasonable for you to expect them to. The rest of the world is NEVER going to understand what our lives are like – it would be impossible to convey the mountains of information relating to our kiddos and we each have a different story.

2) You should keep in mind that (even if it seems like they are really really not) those other judgy, nosy, know-it-all people are doing their best too! Their best just sucks, but it’s not really their fault – no one taught them good manners or how to behave. They don’t have good tools to share suggestions in a helpful way. People often don’t think things through, they just act.

3) If you can’t beat em – join em! LOL!!!! I am a big fan of dealing with other’s inappropriate interventions with passive-aggressive techniques! If I’m on the subway and actually feel like bothering to address the people who are glaring at me and my 6 y.o. who is having a melt down I will LOUDLY remind my daughter that I’m not going to give in to her meltdown, that doing so would teach her that she will get what she wants by throwing a temper tantrum, that it would be unfair for me to not provide consistency and stick with consequences that have been pre-determined (if you keep hitting your brother I am going to put you in the stroller, etc), and that when she has a calm quiet voice and body I am looking forward to helping her and addressing what ever is causing her to feel so upset. My daughter can’t hear any of this, of course; when she’s melting down she’s in full-on fight-or-flight mode and has lost connection to the outside world temporarily. .. but the rest of the glaring people can hear me 😉 and honestly, I think they know I am talking to them, not my daughter.

This is NYC!!! There are people who smell like urine in the subways, people begging for money, ice cream trucks playing that horrific song (over and over and over 😉 lol), there are sirens and traffic and long lines, a million annoying things that are intruding on the peace and quiet of others … a kid having a moment while leaving Dunkin Donuts should be the least of their concerns! Someone who intrudes upon your life is small and petty and not worth one second of anxiety. They don’t have the right to cause you stress!!!! I do understand your anxiety, I used to feel it ALL the time, and then I just let go … one day I stopped and looked at the big picture and realized that I was so hard on myself, being critical b/c I knew my kids were disruptive and annoying to others – but I thought about what advice I would give to a friend with unruly kids and I realized that I was just not being very understanding or nice to myself. Be as understanding and caring and supportive of yourself as you would be to your dearest friend. What we do it SO HARD! Give yourself credit and take care of your self and don’t worry about what other people think.

I’m hoping that one day I can completely ‘let it go’ like this wise momma has done. Until then, I’m going to pray for as much sleep as possible.

 

A (hopefully) brave new world

As most Americans are reeling about the outcome of the presidential elections, the special needs community is taking it particularly hard.   I’ve not been able to put words to my thoughts and fears about Trump being elected.  Thankfully a fellow Rett momma warrior, Lauren Cooper Allen, did just that on Facebook’s Pantsuit Nation site and I just had to share.  You can click here to see the original post if you have a Facebook account and read all the amazing and beautiful responses.  I recommend that you read the responses.  It filled me with hope.

This is my 13 year old daughter Molly. She has Rett Syndrome (RS), a neurological disorder that effects 1 in 10,000 GIRLS and WOMEN worldwide.

Molly cannot walk or talk and often has uncontrolled hand movements much like the ones Donald Trump made fun of and mocked in reporter Serge Kovaleski.

15085596_10211510858434011_5619371133999671014_nI have watched, often silently, as my daughter is stared at. I have watched as people have pointed and spoken in hushed whispers “what is wrong with her?”.

I have spent tireless hours educating others on disability and acceptance, and my fears now have become a hard reality.

Not only does my family face catastrophic cuts to the social service programs that allow
us to care for her at home but I fear that the walls to tolerance and acceptance which we have worked so hard to chip away at are being slowly built back up.

How long before children think it is OK to mock, ignore and marginalize her? How long before she realizes that she is not a valued member of our society?

Here is my plea. If you see a disabled child, please, speak to them, smile at them, let their parents know that you are committed to taking care of the most vulnerable members of our society.

 

❤️

Photo credit: Elise Hanna

#togetherstronger #lovetrumpshate #buildlovenotwalls

 

The to-do lists are endless

My soul is hurting this week. 

I’m still fighting for basic Medicaid services (like diapers, overnight respite, daytime respite) while trying to prepare (and not completely flip out) for Lily starting kindergarten next month. 

I’ve had to postpone our move to the Upper West Side which means she will be in for quite a bus ride to and from school. So I need to make sure it’s as comfortable, and as safe, as possible. I’ve already gotten a doctors note requesting what must happen but trying to find the right person within the DOE to make this a reality is proving impossible.

Good news is that I’ve averted the ‘adaptive stroller’ issue for the bus but that was a research project and fight in its own right. And the fight is only half over. 

There’s always so much to do. The lists I have written down, and in my head, are endless.  So the idea of moving while all this is going on (and I’m not even adding the to-do’s from my job) makes my head reel. 

At the top of these lists (other than bussing and Medicaid) is to get her new school up to speed with her abilities, and needs (they’ve never had a Rett sweetie nor do they have experience with the Tobii), get Lily acclimated to a new school with new kids and new teachers, find a few new home-based therapists to replace those that fall off after pre-k (hint: this is not easy), and remind myself that it is all going to work out. Deep breaths. 

I wish I could say that Lily’s sleep has stabilized but that would be a lie. And the panic attacks, though less frequent for now, are still happening. 

The upside? Lily is keeping me laughing with her silly antics. Yesterday she kept pulling down her Peppa Pig artwork from the wall. Shamekia the nanny initially thought it was an accident so kept pinning it back up. But after the third time she found it on the floor, she asked Lily ‘you don’t like Peppa Pig today?’ And Lily scrunched up her face in a recognizable look of disgust, which means ‘no.’  And then she giggled about it.

Why my child doesn’t like Peppa Pig all of a sudden is still unknown to us. But I love that she is always finding new ways to let us know what she likes, and doesn’t like. 

If we (meaning me, Shamekia and/or her therapists) figure out why Peppa has turned into persona non grata, I will let you know. But for now, I will leave you with a visual of my kid admiring her art wall sans Peppa from earlier today. 

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A visit to the library, with Teetee!

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I didn’t mean to keep you all hanging from my last entry. I did take Lily to the library as she requested. But we had an extra special guest with us – Teetee Angela from Florida!!!

Initially Lily was enthralled with the library. We read a few books, tried to find a few new ones (Teetee and I thought the book Chicken Cheeks was hilarious; Lily was ambivalent) and flirted with the idea of taking her to the ‘get ready for kindergarten’ program that was serendipitously starting while we were there. However, at that point she had enough and we left.

We had such a great weekend with Teetee.  Not only did we go to the library, but we went to Brooklyn Crab for lunch and went swimming at a friend’s pool where Lily had the time of her life.  We were so sad when it came time for Teets to head back to Florida.  Good thing we get to see her again in a few weeks!!

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Don’t go Teetee Angela!

 

 

 

 

The true star at the ballet

 

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A few months back, Lily and I were invited by her dad’s family to see a special ballet performance geared towards children with disabilities up in Connecticut.  Lily had a ball.  And as you will see (and hear – yup, that’s her yelping THROUGHOUT the clip), this kid had a GREAT time.

(Hopefully you can view the video.  For some reason, some browsers only show a picture, and not a link to the video.  Ping me if you can’t access it.)

 

A day in the life…

The ever talented Suzanne Fiore came over the other week and beautifully captured a Saturday afternoon of Lily time.

Click here to see more of the beautiful photos Suzanne took and read about a day in the life with Lily.  And please feel free to share with your own social networks.  #CureRett.

 

A different kind of learning

Lily continues to impress both her home-based and school-based teachers and therapists (all 15 of them). This kid is super smart and silly, and most days she’s doing amazing things with communicating on the Tobii. Just the other day she had a conversation with her home teacher Denise to tell her that she was ‘angry’ and ‘greedy’ at school because she couldn’t play with the computer when she wanted to. And Denise explained that Lily can’t always get what she wants when she wants.

Oh, the perils of being an only child, raised in a single-parent home and having special needs on top of it. Creating boundaries and holding to them, reminding her that yelling is not nice, that sharing is important; I’m doing the best I can. But sometimes I’m not sure it’s enough.

She continues to be (mostly) sweet and loving and loud. I’m pretty sure that most parents of 5 year olds question their parenting skills and are driven mad by the noise and the insubordination. This brings me a strange sort of comfort. Makes me feel almost ‘normal’.

But I digress. Learning. It’s different for girls with Rett Syndrome. Some days this kid is on fire – engaged, communicative and creative. But there are those other days, the days when she didn’t get enough sleep or something else Rett related is going on, that she really struggles. I’m grateful that she, and I, have such a great support system who understands her ups and downs and are so creative in their approach.

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Admiring her artwork – and her favorite ‘literary’ characters

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Snapshot of her play/therapy room (PS someone got her first big-girl tooth!)