Laurie — 5 Minutes for Special Needs



Well hello there stranger! I’ve been MIA for a month and I’ve missed your posts and interactions. But as of today, I’m back, and can’t wait to catch up on some great posts here!

What have I been doing all this time? (Besides doing the happy dance upon the arrival of my new escape Kindle?)

I was apparently re-enrolled in Special Needs Parenting 101: Moving Forward Often Means Moving Backward. And it was like that dream I used to have in college – the one where I wake up in class on the day of finals and realize I didn’t attend lectures or read the book. But for this one, I couldn’t wake up.

Here’s the syllabus for my recent refresher course:

  • Revamping my oldest daughter’s medications (always a joy…) because her moods had plummeted in recent months.
  • Repainting her room to cheer her up (and also as the next installment in the Reclaim My Home From Craziness project).
  • Working through her 2 week meltdown after I painted the room in colors she picked. Because attachment disorder is just like that. Even 8 years later.
  • Discovering that she’s failing math, after doing great until a month ago.
  • Realizing the math grade coincides directly with the moment the IEP team decided she was doing so well she could stop receiving pull-out support for math.
  • Living through hell every day because of the homework battle for said math.
  • Watching her self-esteem plummet, and friendships start to strain…. because of, you guessed it, the math.
  • Reinstating pull-out services with the IEP team today.
  • Reeling from the mind-numbingly easy change that seems to have instantly cured my daughter.
  • Feeling relieved (and I have to admit, a little annoyed) at the unbelievably perky child who’s replaced my brooding-for-the-past-month one.

It’s a class I have a feeling I’ll be taking over and over and over and over again as a parent of special needs.

You’ve probably audited this one more than a few times too. Who knows? Maybe we can get honorary doctorates in it someday.

One can hope, right??



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On Our Tweens and (Not) Letting Them Flounder

“You must be so busy, with four kids!” People say when I introduce my family. And I look at them, thinking, “Well, no, not really.” (Minus the doctor and specialist appointments).

You see, until this year, there haven’t been extracurricular activities. It was enough to take two older girls to the park 3 days a week and not have them throw a rock at another child or eat wood chips. It’s not that we didn’t get out in the community, it’s just that I decided pretty much right away that it wasn’t going to work for our family. Mostly because I couldn’t handle the stress of my own expectations for the experience.

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Parenting and World War II Movies – The Big Realization

We’re in the trenches, people. We eat, sleep and breathe what our kids need at home. Advocate for them at school and in extracurricular activities. Read and pursue resources. Maybe even dream about them. I know I do. With two girls diagnosed with a slew of different special needs and their sisters who’s lives have acquired some secondary ones of their own, it’s truly a 24/7 life in the trenches.

Which is why escape is a welcome pastime. Personally, I love movies, mostly because I’m a closet geek and enjoy biographies and World War II films. I didn’t realize until tonight, when I picked a film to watch, that there’s probably a reason I resonate with this genre.

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Rebuilding Life – An Interview With a Pro Who “Gets” Us

You know those stories we all tell about our kids’ care team professionals who don’t have a clue? The ones who clearly don’t know at all what life is like outside their 15-minute office visit with our child and her challenges? My guest today is NOT one of those professionals! Harriet Cabelly is a Life Coach who’s also a mom of an grown child with special needs. She specializes in helping individuals and families rebuild their lives – and grow into even better ones – despite challenges they face. I’m excited to introduce her to everyone here today!

Q: Harriet, please tell us a little about you and what you do.

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A Homework Miracle At The Kitchen Table

She looked up at me, wrapped tight in the blanket that was holding her together. Thirty minutes she’d been yelling at math problems on crumpled paper in front of her. Pencils strewn around, nerves frazzled. Now she sat quiet. Smiling with those big brown tear-soaked eyes. Oh, she was so proud of her work! She finally got it – this long-division beast!

But even more amazing (as you can imagine if you saw my last homework post!) was HOW she got it.

Since her learning disabilities relate to auditory processing and mood, it often seems the moons and stars have to align perfectly for us to have a shot at explaining a math concept or vocabulary word without the interaction ending in a giant meltdown.

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The (Not So) Fine Art of Negotiating With My Tween’s Bipolar

We’re getting ready to go to the beach. It’s New Year’s Day. (Yes, I know I’m lucky. Truly grateful!) While I’m packing, my daughter with anxiety disorder and Bipolar is escalating. She follows me around the house as I collect towels, bathing suits, beach shoes.

“You threw out my old swim suit?!” She accuses, screaming at me.

“Last time you wore it, I told you the suit was finished. It had holes.” I reply.

“It was FINE. And you KNOW it! You want me to look ugly and all my friends are going to laugh!” She yells.

(None of her friends are coming, but you and I know that’s not really the point.)

“I’ll talk to you when you’re calm and respectful, honey.” I remind.

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The Hardest Word I’ve Ever Said

Seven years. Over a thousand hours at hospitals and specialist appointments. Countless interventions at home. And it turns out the most important word to help my daughter’s treatment is this:


No… we’re not doing a nineteenth round of medication adjustments. It’s time for hospitalization.

No… I won’t take her home from the hospital and keep doing the things that haven’t worked in the past.

No… I won’t take her home, period. She needs more help than we can give her. It’s time for residential placement.

No… We’re not going to let her case be assigned to an intern at your teaching facility.

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Wounding Words, Wondrous Words

I almost couldn’t hear it when she spoke.

Words uttered under breath, understood loud and clear.

“You’re so late,” she rolls her eyes, clicks her tongue in disapproval.

I smile anyway, pass by, walk my daughter to class.

Fifteen minutes after the bell rang, we’re entering campus.


The words rattle me again.

But not just the words she said, since they were true.

It’s what I made them: “What a bad mom.”

Were those her words?

Or just what I felt?


The morning to that point? Fury-filled.

My oldest twisted in angst, missing her sister, angry at her absence.

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Balancing Journey vs. Destination Mindset With Our Kids

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K LeGuin

I think we as parents of special needs understand this more than any other parents in the world. And even still, I fight this truth so much. As someone who’s good at getting things done, organizing time, and facilitating groups and projects, the journey mindset nearly drives me crazy. I’m the mom who, on a long car drive, says “no, we’re not stopping to go to the bathroom again. We’ve got to GET to grandma’s house!”

We all do this at times.

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Well THAT explains a lot! (New Neuroscience Research Findings)

“Did you notice how angry your sister is getting when you talk to her like that?”

“Can you see that mom is frustrated when you’re not listening?”

“What do you mean, you didn’t think she was sad? She’s crying!”

These might seem like things only parents with kids on the Autistic spectrum may say to their kids. But as a mom with 2 children who have Bipolar Disorder, it’s the same here… just unpredictably. One day (or week) things seem neurotypical, the next, eye contact is gone and the stimming behaviors are back. My least favorite of the behaviors is how my oldest daughter doesn’t seem to be able to read emotions accurately in friends and others around her.

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