April 16, 2015

Recently my frustrated husband had a conversation with Cole where he told Cole that he was behaving like a selfish child and that he was only thinking of himself. It got me thinking and I realized that in many ways it’s true, he is selfish. It also made me wonder if this is something that is common amongst kids with special needs. By nature of their condition(s) they require additional attention and care, sometimes at the expense of someone else’s needs. It’s just a reality of their lives.

I don’t think that Cole is inherently selfish or narcissistic but I think it’s hard to not exhibit these tendencies when you’ve had people (your parents) basically catering to your every need for your entire existence and bolstering your self-esteem at every opportunity. Because he isn’t physically able to provide some of the niceties or support or even comfort, he’s not really developed a strong means of expressing empathy, sympathy or emotions using other tools. The toll of some of his brain injury also makes it hard for him to completely have a handle on his own emotions or his interpretation of other people’s feelings.

At the heart, Cole is a loving, kind kid but some of his behaviors feel manipulative and selfish. He doesn’t often recognize the impact his behavior, especially bad behavior, has on the other people around him. He’s not prone to big tantrums or anything that dramatic especially in public, but he does express anger and frustration with some choice actions like teeth gnashing, biting, and striking out with his arms or legs, often directed at his dad and me. It’s not pretty and it’s not something we condone but it’s also not something we’ve yet figured out how to maneuver. Punishment doesn’t serve us well because he doesn’t care to associate the punishment with his action.

Sometimes his lack of recognizing that there are other people who likewise matter simply translates into outright rudeness. We might be on the phone with his grandparents and when he tires of the conversation or feels ignored, he reacts with frustration by grinding his teeth and vocalizing by shouting or whining. He’s unwilling to accept that not every conversation will be about him or will interest him.

I can’t help but wonder if this something we haplessly fostered. All children become the center of their parents universe, but when you have a child who needs you for everything, the tendency is to pour everything into them and unlike typical children, who gradually become more and more independent, your child continues to need your dedicated attention, which can also be a source of frustration in their own desire for independence. You want to make their lives as rich and full as possible, and you want them to feel loved, cared for, and empowered. But where is the balance?

March 6, 2015

I read a fascinating article at that gave science-supported tips for improving your child’s intelligence. I too believe that making a strong effort to instill confidence, healthy self-esteem and providing a happy, loving environment helps children to thrive. I attribute much of Cole’s success to my husband and I supporting his interests, challenging him mentally and physically, and immersing him in a nurturing, stimulating and accepting community.

I recommend checking out the article, as it’s quite interesting – : Ten Steps Backed By Science

The basics are as follows (and more detailed in the article):

1. Music Lessons
2. The Dumb Jock Is A Myth – Be active!
3. Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read With Them
4. Sleep Deprivation Makes Kids Stupid
5. IQ Isn’t Worth Much Without Self-Discipline
6. Learning Is An Active Process
7. Treats Can Be a Good Thing — At The Right Time
8. Happy Kids = Successful Kids
9. Peer Group Matters
10. Believe In Them

While I recognize that Intelligence isn’t the only measure of a person, it is a worthy trait to strengthen and develop. A well-rounded personality tends to be more successful in the long run. Humor, empathy, compassion, common sense, courage, integrity, and self-confidence all are necessary traits to develop as well as intelligence, though I feel like the ten expressions for supporting intelligence likewise support some of these other traits.

It’s what we put into our children that ultimately help them to become their best selves. Our modeling, our support, our example, our trust, and our faith, all impact their lives and their development.

March 3, 2015

I resigned from my post as Secretary of the Board of Directors of THERAsurf yesterday, a
sad day for me.

THERAsurf is a non-profit organization whose mission is to give children with special needs, all needs including physical, an opportunity to experience the therapeutic benefits of the ocean by taking them into the water and up onto the waves. My son Cole had wanted to surf since he was a tot and when I met Kim, one of the two founders, we were able to make that dream a reality. He’s been surfing for many summers now and his love for the ocean has not waivered.

I got involved because it’s a truly special organization. There are other terrific organizations that do similar things, but often will not take kids with physical needs. It takes a special breed of surfer to ride waves supporting a child who needs more than just handholding. THERAsurf also really focuses on getting to know the children and to making the kids and their families feel comfortable, safe, and welcome at the beach and in the ocean. It’s their hands on approach that really makes it stand out.

With Cole’s surgery looming in early summer, I felt like I couldn’t be an active participant and board member this year. Work has become really busy and life in general busier now that my husband is traveling much more. The organization deserves to have someone who can provide attention, time and care to the position. Sadly, I feel like I can’t be that person right now. I hope to be able to do some work from the sidelines because I dearly love the organization and I love what I’ve witness in the kids who have experienced a surf day with us.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a child who cannot walk, gleefully riding waves. The confidence and self-esteem levels rise into the clouds and their families watching from the shore swell with pride. I’ve seen many a seasoned surfer brought to tears watching the kids enjoy something they too are passionate about. It’s a day unlike any other and I’m glad that I could be part of the magic…