In a New Year’s post, I promised that in 2009, I would share top websites/blogs focused on all things special needs. My monthly highlights will include sites I believe best support families and professionals facing the daily challenges of special needs, in addition to my own, of course!
My first, well-deserved shout out of 2009 goes to Terri Mauro and her popular website/blog at specialchildren.about.com.
Terri’s no-nonsense, honest and humorous take on the challenges of special needs parenting is refreshing. She calls life as she sees and experiences it. The parent of two teens with special needs, she knows the territory well, and she’s earned the right to share her hard-won wisdom.
If you spend any time online, you’re probably already familiar with About.com. If you research special needs sites, my guess is you also probably already know Terri and have benefited from the wealth of information, resources and personal takes she shares daily, including through her blog. But just in case you haven’t yet connected with this online special needs dynamo and advocate, allow me to introduce you briefly.
In addition to her online gig, Terri is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Sensory Integration Disorder, with a new book out soon. In 1994, she two adopted two children from Russia with special needs: a now 18-year-old with language-based learning disabilities and 15-year old with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
“Almost everything important I’ve learned about raising my kids has come, in one way or another, from fellow parents of children with special needs. We can be an amazing resource for each other. That pretty much sums up why I’m doing this, and what I hope to encourage other parents to do.”
Terri’s valuable story and personal experiences with special needs parenting and adoption, give voice to a subject that receive far too little attention. Yet, the numbers of people in the United States who are becoming special needs families through international adoption, including due to hidden disabilities, is growing. Many people don’t want to talk about the reality. Terri and I do.
Here’s just a piece of Terri’s challenging journey of adoption and commitment to online special needs advocacy:
“After we adopted our kids in 1994, I was really lucky to find a community of parents online who had also adopted from Eastern Europe. On the one hand, I had people from the adoption agency saying, “Have they caught up yet?” and on the other, professionals like the neurologist who gave my daughter a brief exam and said, with disgust, ‘This child has cerebral palsy. Why did you adopt her?’I had teachers telling me all through the year that my daughter was flying and soaring, and then at IEP meetings that she had made no progress. My son had a documented history of prenatal alcohol exposure, but his neurologist said that since there was nothing to do for FAE, we shouldn’t think about it.
So to be able to communicate with a bunch of parents who were dealing with the same issues, who could recommend books and techniques, who could tell me what their kids were doing in school and what language issues they were seeing, was just transforming. Instead of going to a meeting and saying, ‘Hey, I think my daughter should be mainstreamed,’ I could bring in the results of a survey showing where children with her background and her same learning challenges were being placed in schools across the country.
The degree to which the Internet — from e-mail groups and forums to blogs and websites — has empowered parents cannot be overstated, and I’m grateful to be able to participate in that.”
To learn more about Terri Mauro and her efforts online click here:
I’m honored and grateful that Terri recently reviewed my book Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations, through her ‘Harried Parent’s Book Club Review’ posts, granting me the coveted 5 stars! You can read that review here, along with an excerpt from BP about that unnerving subject of staring here. Full disclosure: I was going to make Terri my Jan 09 All Things Special Needs focus before that review even came my way. That said, I do believe that what goes around, comes around. In short, good Karma!
Thanks, Terri, for all you do to create greater awareness of those with special needs, including for adoption and hidden disabilities. Keep up the terrific work. I’ll be watching, along with all your other groupies.
Photo and logo courtesy of Terri Mauro. Used with permission. All rights reserved.