A few weeks ago the kid and I were walking into the grocery store and this woman stared us down. At first I thought she was trying to figure out our relationship. The kid is a tall, Mexican/White teen and I’m a short, Black woman. Then I realized she was staring at the kid the hardest. He had on his headphones and was scripting. We walked into the store only to receive more stares from people in the aisles. One was so busy watching us they nearly ran into the tower of oranges!
I use to let the stares bother me. After a while I began to meet a person’s gaze, smile (usually), and say hello. One person was bold enough to ask what was wrong with him. I replied “nothing” and kept walking.
As a caregiver and/or parent, it’s important to protect and defend our kids but, not lose our minds in doing so. Here are a few things I’ve learned on how to keep my cool and defend the kid at the same time.
Krysten Cooper is an Administrative Coordinator at a day program for adults with Developmental Disabilities and a caregiver. She's been working in the disability field for over 10 years. In addition, she provides virtual administrative assistance to families of children with disabilities. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and she blogs at www.KrystenCooper.org. Krysten resides in the Los Angeles area and you can find her tweets at @krystenc06.
With awareness and advocacy of the disability world growing it is important for the church to get on board and prepare. Often times we have people with special needs sitting in our pews and don’t even know it. Does your church have a special needs ministry? Are your ushers prepared to serve people with special needs? If so, great! If not, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Be yourself!
Treat your special needs guests with the same love you would anyone else.
2. Be careful of seating.
Is the person in a wheelchair? Are the aisles easy to navigate? Ask the person where they’d like to sit. Don’t just assume they’d like to sit in the overflow area. If there are seats available in the main seating area, offer them.
3. Use people first language.
“Sam has a disability” not “Sam is disabled.”
4. Be compassionate
Remember, most people with disabilities have Developmental Disabilities, meaning they were either born with it or it onset before age 18. Having the disability is outside of their control just like your height.
You cannot catch the disability! I’ve come across so many people who act like disabilities are contagious. THEY’RE NOT!!
I hope these tips are helpful. People with disabilities are just that, people. They have feelings and love the Lord just like you and me.
About the Author:
Krysten Cooper is an Administrative Coordinator at a day program for adults with Developmental Disabilities and a caregiver. She's been working in the disability field for over 10 years. In addition, she provides virtual administrative assistance to families of children with disabilities. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and she blogs at www.KrystenCooper.org. Krysten resides in the Los Angeles area.
PRESS RELEASE: MOCHA AUTISM NETWORK Joins the National #GivingTuesday Movement To Encourage Spending With A Purpose
Monika L Brooks
Mocha Autism Network
MOCHA AUTISM NETWORK Joins the National #GivingTuesday Movement To Encourage Spending With A Purpose
Oakland, California - November 19, 2014 – Mocha Autism Network has joined #GivingTuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses and individuals—to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season,
#GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities; to give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate and help create a better world. Taking place December 2, 2014 – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.
The goals of the Mocha Autism Network are to expand its outreach to underrepresented areas in the Bay Areas. Goals include:
“We are proud to be part of the #GivingTuesday movement to promote philanthropy in the area of underrepresented areas. This initiative provides an opportunity for communities to be a part of its own progress in Autism Awareness,” stated Monika Brooks, Executive Director of the Mocha Autism Network.
About Mocha Autism Network
Mocha Autism Network is an organization motivated by love and fueled by our beautiful children on the Autism Spectrum. Organized in 2013, the Mocha Autism Network was created to increase information in underrepresented communities. As the identity of people on the Autism Spectrum becomes more recognizable and divers, it becomes clear that if our children are to be properly taken care of, it is up to us to stand up and be noticed on our own.
#GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give. It will culminate with a global day of giving on December 2, 2014. This effort harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners— charities, families, businesses and individuals—to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate and help create a better world. #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a global moment that is dedicated to giving around the world.
To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, please visit:
The Statements of Toni Braxton garnered a lot of reactions. Nadine Finigan- Carr has written about the issue. Please comment and share. Thanks so much.
So Toni Braxton has been promoting her memoirs, Unbreak My Heart. As a result, she has been granting interviews and doing the talk show circuit to sell her book. I have always loved Ms. Braxton’s music. I was sorry to hear of her financial difficulties a few years back. I’m glad that she has been able to move past that phase in her life; and, I originally hoped that her book would sell and help her to continue to do so. Now that I have read a few of the articles from the interviews and seen her on Good Morning America, I am not sure if I want to read the book.
You see, Toni Braxton’s son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her family is an #AutismFamilyofColor. The fact that the media is spotlighting one of us should bring us joy. The part of her story that continues to be highlighted in interviews is what she originally thought was the cause of autism. She believed God was punishing her for an abortion she had in 2001 by “giving her son autism.” In fact, on Good Morning America today she stated at one point – “I thought that it was God’s punishment (Source: http://gma.yahoo.com/video/toni-braxton-reveals-details-her-131945370.html).” Headlines in major newspapers like the Washington Post “Toni Braxton laments son’s autism as ‘God’s payback’ for abortion” abound. Ms. Braxton no longer believes this to be the case but this is what the media keeps highlighting because controversy and drama nets more readers and viewers.
Many people question why they were blessed with a child on the Autism Spectrum when first
diagnosed. There is truly a mourning period for the child one thought you would have. This is
understandable and acceptable. Many of the parents in the survey I conducted last month had grief and mourning as a part of their narrative. A feeling of ‘what did we/I do wrong’ which you have to work through. One of the most poignant of the responses describes how one mom felt when she found out about her child’s diagnosis and the grief she manifested...
So... Remember the LAST Time we had to talk about Autism Awareness and Reality TV? When we talked about how Rapper Saigon did 5 out of 6 things NOT to do when discussing the possibility of autism with the other parent? If you didn't, you can check it out on the Classy, Black Girl site.
When I heard that there was another child on the Autism Spectrum to be discussed on a reality I was ready to be mad. Seriously... I was all warmed up from the "Royal Blue for Autism Awareness" campaign and raring to go.
And in walks co-parenting couple Meelah Williams and Musiq Soulchild on RnB Divas Atlanta.
And they are awesome!
They are showing that with active listening, co-parenting CAN indeed happen. Yes, there will be some hard days... There are anyway. But to know that each parent is listened to and their opinions respected, that totally makes a different.
So let's use examples shown by Meelah and Musiq to talk about great tips for co-parenting a child on the spectrum:
Meelah Williams can be found on twitter at @ItsMeelah and doing great things for the Atlanta Area. Please give both her and Musiq (@MusiqSoulchild) support and love on this Journey.
Today is the last day of Autism Awareness Month. For the past 30 days, there have been articles, feature stories, and blog posts about autism. Every time I read one, I hoped that it would mention families like mine. But each time, I was disappointed. It appears as though Autism is only seen as having an effect on white families with means. But I know that is not true. My son is on the autism spectrum. We’re not white. We make do financially. So I decided to reach out to families like mine so that I could share our stories.
In March, I posted a survey to ask Moms of Color (Dads, too!) about their experiences raising a child on the spectrum. I’m a scientist by training so surveys are my go-to for capturing data. I posted the survey on social media venues and asked people to share in their networks. It’s a snowball sample not random, not population-based, not scientific research – just a mom who happens to be a scientist asking other moms questions. I received 16 responses from moms all over the country in a two-week period. I originally planned to follow-up with those who gave me permission in an email and get their pictures but I’m an autism mama and life got in my way.
The responses I received were poignant, touching, wonderful stories of experiences along the road of families living with autism. These moms and dads had been through the wringer trying to get their children diagnosed and treated appropriately. People who did not consider themselves advocates in any way, shape, or form before autism touched their lives became advocates for their children. One mom said “before children I went along to get along but now I don’t care whose feathers I ruffle, as long as my son gets the help he needs!” Another has been led to a new career as a special educator because of her experiences.
Current statistics from the CDC put the prevalence of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at 14.7 per 1000 children or roughly 1 in 68 children. On average, children with ASD are not diagnosed until after age 4, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age 2 (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html). Most of the families of color here were diagnosed between 18 months and 4 years old. However, a few were not diagnosed until elementary school age and one wasn’t diagnosed until age 16. Every parent knew that something was wrong but couldn’t quite put their finger on what it may be until the diagnosis was finalized. Many were told by pediatricians not to worry and to wait until the next check-up for evaluation.
Wake Up For Autism
Standout post: "Autism ISN'T for Dummies"
Spearheaded by Jodi Gomes, Wake Up For Autism is a great, informative site for parents and professionals alike.
Standout Post: "A Little Kindness"
Pam Malhi's Goal is to increase Autism Awarenes in the Asian/Asian American Community
Special Needs Network
Advocacy, Training, Philanthropy
Standout Post: "The Autism Journey"
Special Needs Network’s mission is to raise public awareness of developmental disabilities and to impact public policy, while providing education and resources to families, children and adults.
Standout Post: "Where I’m At This Weekend (And How I Keep Up With The Boy & His Staff Remotely)"
Gloria Perez Stewart utilizes her blog to discuss how to be an Advocate, Law Student and Mother. All while working through Autism as a blended family.
Sailing Autistic Seas
Advocacy, Blog, Information
Standout Post "Autism Awareness: My Early Intervention Experience"
Ms KP is without apology one of our favorites. She provides information as well as her own personal experiences.
Information, Resources, Blog
Standout Post: "Social Skills Groups 101"
Special-Ism is an online publishing source chock full of professional blogs addressing the ‘Isms’ impacting children at home and in the classroom. Each and every article we publish features an ‘ism’ accompanied by professionally recommended solutions.
The Coffee Klatch
Excellence in broadcasting for the special needs community. Empowering parents and educators with world renowned mental health and autism expert.
Paul Siebenthal (Aspienaut)
Writer, Speaker, Advocate and Mentor. I work for NASA - New Autism Spectrum Awareness! Aspienaut - Wired Differently!
_Raising awareness & acceptance for autism esp within the asian community Lets get talking about these issues & help others understand. #autism #asian #awareness
Tips to Make Mornings Easier
Most families—especially those with children who have learning and attention issues—have trouble moving from home to school and other activities first thing in the morning. These tips can help you streamline your morning routines.
Ways to Address Low Self Esteem in Teens
Adolescence is a trying time under the best of circumstances. For teens with learning disabilities, the daily and life-long struggles of coping with their disability-related symptoms can be wearing and dispiriting.
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