Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Is How I Do It: Kristi Campbell of Finding Ninee



This is the latest post in the This Is How I Do It series, which features bloggers who have kids with special needs and their best tips for juggling parenthood, special needs and life in general. 

Blogger: Kristi Campbell of FindingNinee 

Her child: Tucker, 4, who has autism spectrum disorder, speech and language delay (possible dyspraxia), social/emotional delays and sensory issues.

My three biggest secrets to sanity are…
Finding in-real-life friends in similar situations. The camaraderie I feel with parents from Tucker’s PAC (preschool autism classroom) has been life and attitude changing. Bloggers. Moms. Worriers. Warriors. Supporters. People who get it. Community. Remembering that I am me and that I have a voice and a soul that exist outside of my son and his needs.

I keep track of my child’s therapy and medical appointments by…
We’re blessed that so much of Tucker’s therapy happens during his long school days. For his other appointments, I find iPhone calendar alerts to be extremely helpful. I love that I can set the alerts to remind me multiple times of each appointment.     

One way I relax (actually really, really relax) is…
Just this week, I treated myself to a haircut and highlights and realized how much I miss spending an occasional three hours at a chi-chi salon having a wonderfully talented man make me feel pretty.  Before becoming a mom, this was a quarterly routine. Since Tucker was born, it’s one I’ve skipped and have vowed to stop skipping. In fact, after my appointment, I immediately booked another for three months from now.

When I get bummed out about something related to my child, one thing that gives me a lift is…
Knowing how lucky we are. Reminding myself that there are mothers who have had to say forever goodbyes. Appreciating the moments. Focusing not on Tucker being unable to say his name and instead on the fact that he wants to. The progress. 

If it weren’t for [fill in the blank], I am not sure I would be able to get through the day
Goofiness. Laughter. Snuggles. Unsubscribing from every parenting milestone email I signed up for when my baby was born.

The way my husband and I split up responsibilities for caring for our child is…
I paused my career about four minutes after Tucker was born and have only recently gone back to work part-time, so most of the responsibility has been mine. Sometimes, for us, splitting the responsibilities has meant recognizing when the other (usually me) needs to sleep in on the weekend and finding a way to make that happen.

The way I deal if strangers stare at my kid or say things is…
Obviously, I don’t like people staring or wondering “what’s wrong” with my son. I usually smile and say hello and try to engage in “normal mom talk,” which often leads to me sharing that my son is on the autism spectrum. On the flip side, I recognize that I stare, too. If I see a child on a playground or out with his parents, and he’s obviously special or reminds me of my son, I stare. I’m not doing it to be rude. I stare because I’m looking for my tribe. Special needs parents provide a sanctuary and a level of understanding that typical parents aren’t always able to.

One great therapy technique I recently learned for my child from his therapist is…
Trying something new and bizarre to get him to pronounce a particular sound. We’ve been trying to bring Tucker closer to being able to imitate the “f” sound. We manually manipulate his bottom lip to help him feel from where the sound originates. He hates it and I’ve been awful at not giving up when he begins to cry. Recently, at the playground, Tucker was lying on the top of the slide upside-down. I took out my phone to snap a photo and it became obvious that he wanted it. I used this opportunity to try and make him say “ph.” It worked and now every night at the playground, he lies on the top of the slide upside-down and pushes his lower lip in and tries to say “ph.” What used to make him cry has become a game for both of us.

One site I’ve found lots of good ideas on is...
We recently used care.com to find a sitter and I really like that I was able to select potential candidates using criteria that includes whether they are willing to work with special needs in the first place. While I found many of the applicants flaky, we have come up with two great ones—one of whom we’ve just begun to use (a huge success for us as it’s the first time we’ve ever felt comfortable enough to use a sitter).   

My favorite recent post is...
The Land of Empathy and Wonder. While I like the post on its own, it’s become really important to me over the weeks. The love and support that it received inspired a new blog series called Our Landwhere empathy and wonder rule. The idea behind it is to remind the world that it’s possible and necessary for all of us to see beyond differences and quirks and instead appreciate the magic. It’s been utterly inspiring to read and share each unique voice. To date, they include a 19-year old college student with cerebral palsy, a music therapist for a variety of kids with differing-abilities, a special needs mom, and a woman who encourages self-compassion.   

I rock because…
Tucker has given me the ability to see. To see everybody. While I continue to register their wheel chairs, their white canes, and their silence, I see them. Seeing each person behind his differing ability has given me a bigger, more diverse and wonderful world. That rocks. And because of it, so do I.

29 comments:

  1. Ellen,
    Thank you so much for posting this. I got all teary reading my words here among your amazingly awesome pages. I really appreciate it and hope that you and your family have a great week.

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    1. Thank you for an awesome post, Kristi. You have a great week too! I am off to the BlogHer conference.

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    2. You do rock Kristi keep being the best mom you can be.

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    3. Ellen, I know! I saw that you're speaking and won the VoTY award which is very well deserved. I thought about going, but am not...and have told people on my post today that if they see you to please say hello and congratulations. Very well deserved.

      Nisha,
      Thank you.

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  2. "Tucker has given me the ability to see. To see everybody. While I continue to register their wheel chairs, their white canes, and their silence, I see them. Seeing each person behind his differing ability has given me a bigger, more diverse and wonderful world. That rocks. And because of it, so do I." Wow love that I feel like having Cerebral Palsy has done the same for me.

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    1. Nisha,
      I look forward to getting to know you further. I've mentioned it to Ellen before, but I'll say it to you - I found my two very best blog friends due to her special needs weekend linkup. I really look forward to getting to know you as well. Also? I would love to have your perspective for the Our Land series!!!

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  3. Kristi, my friend, my sista. You rock. You are absolutely the best mom and in virtual world friend. I love how you have taken a post that made you weep yet turned it into a weekly series where we all get to experience the World of Empathy and Wonder.

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    1. Kerri! (OK ELLEN, this is one of the two that I mentioned that I found via your sped weekend link-up. We text. We are a tribe. Thank you.)

      And thank you Kerri for contributing to the Land of Empathy and Wonder <3

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  4. "Goofiness. Laughter. Snuggles. Unsubscribing from every parenting milestone email I signed up for when my baby was born."

    All of this! Our son doesn't fall on the spectrum (has autistic tendencies but not enough to be on the spectrum), but has SPD. He was a delayed speaker (used maybe 5-10 words until he was two and a half) and is in speech therapy. He hit most other milestones right on target except for speech, but I found I no longer felt like I fit in with other mommies with kids his age (on birth boards) due to their child seeming so advanced over mine. I felt like a failure because ours wasn't speaking or meeting some motor skills on target; didn't know that he had other issues going on. I completely ignored all the e-mails the second time around, even the birth boards for the most part, and it made for a happier and saner mommy.

    I will finish with this -- yes, you rock (which is one of the reasons I follow your blog). :)

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    1. Stacey,
      I think unsubscribing to those (horrible reminders of what is not happening) milestone emails was one of the best decisions I've made. I'm glad that you're a happier and saner mommy for unsubscribing to them too. And YOU rock. We all do. And thank you so much.

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  5. My heart just about bursts when I read this. I love this post, Kristi, especially that last paragraph. Wow. There aren't enough words in the world to describe how amazing you are. xo

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    1. Kerry! You were part of the inspiration for this post, my awesome friend who WILL be so famous one day. Ellen, if you're still reading these, this is Kerry - my amazing 19-year old (19!!!!!) friend who authored the first Our Land Series post and has CP and is. Well. Brilliant and amazing. I found her because of you. I adore her. And I just realized there are THREE.

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  6. Kristi, that's not the only reason you rock. Let me count the ways!! You are awesome!

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    1. <3 you sistah. Thanks for coming over here to comment. YOU ROCK.

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  7. There are two types of empathy: Technical empathy and emotional empathy. Technical empathy is the ability to recognize what other people feel and infer why they reacted to something a certain way. Emotional empathy is giving someone a tissue when they are crying or offering help when someone needs help.

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    1. Anna,
      I have never heard that before and feel ignorant for not realizing that there is, of course, a huge difference. I suppose I need to begin to clarify that emotional empathy is the one that I seek for my son and for all of our children (and not children) who struggle to fit into a world that doesn't yet understand them...or appreciate them. Thanks for that perspective.

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  8. Oh, so many things touched me about this post...the sense of gratitude you have for life, your ability to see the lessons that Tucker can teach you, the way you changed up the script when things weren't working, your hope and optimism, how you have created community for you and Tucker, hope, joy, laughter. Have I said enough? Well, on more thing: You.

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  9. I'm proud to call you my friend, Kristi! I loved the comments on staring at other kids w/in our tribe. I found myself watching a girl at K's swim classes last night. I could tell she had sensory issues. I looked at the fear in the teacher's eyes and I stared even more...burning holes into his head, potentially. I watched the dad hold the younger sibling and try to calming help his daughter cope and I stared hoping he'd feel my compassion. I watched the little girl, and hoped she could see me smile back at her. As you say, so she knew that I saw. I also stared at O in my arms and thought, "man, I hope it goes better for you".

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    1. Tatum! Because I found you through Kerry who I found through Ellen, I think Ellen deserves a medal for us finding one another here, too, don't you? And hello. I'm proud to call you MY friend. I love that you got the staring part. Love. Huge love. Because although it sucks when "gawkers" stare at our kids, it's amazing and wonderful when people are staring because they "get it." That's huge and affirming and amazing. And friend, I hope it gets better for O, too. For all of our kids. I had no desire to go to BlogHer, but now, wish I were because I'm sure Ellen will be awesome in taking down some walls to acceptance. And you know what? As we ALL are. All of us - bloggers, writer, readers, advocates - we're tearing down the Berlin Wall of special needs separation. I hope, anyway...

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  10. I don't think anything I could write here could possibly sum out just what a profound impact reading this post just had on me. What a beautiful person you are.

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  11. Sorry. Make that sum 'up'.xx

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  12. "I stare because I’m looking for my tribe." -This touched my heart so immensely. Thank you Kristi!

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  13. Kristi, you are one beautiful lady--inside and out. And thanks Ellen, for showcasing Kristi. Great piece.

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  14. Reading your series over at Our Land has also given me the ability to "see" also. Great series. And I think its great that you're doing something for yourself. I think that we all should have that special treat that's just for us even if its only three hours quarterly ;-)

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  15. I just love this entry. I, too, feel like my eyes have been opened since becoming a mother to a child with special. needs. I'm ashamed that as a special ed teacher of 11 years, it took having a little dude with missing chromosomes to open my eyes fully. I look forward to reading your blog and getting to know your story. www.edivaput.blogspot.com

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  16. My son has also taught me about empathy and that independence is overrated. But he does not have autism. I'm not sure I would use the term "special needs parents" though. I know there is no such thing as "special needs mom/dad" and I detest that term intensly as well. We must be careful and not use ridiculous words like "special needs parent" etc. And SN mom makes no sense whatsoever.

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Thanks for sharing!



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