Dr. Zoe Shaw, A Year of Self-Care

Special Needs Kids

Raising a child with unique needs presents many challenges & unexpected blessings. Real moms of special needs kids share their stories & wisdom to help other moms on this journey. #gritandgracelife

What It's Really Like to Have a Child With ADHD

What It’s Really Like to Have a Child With ADHD

I ran inside before the car even pulled away from the curb. Letting them see me cry was not an option. Whether they could tell by my anxious pace or the slope of my shoulders, I’m not sure. But I needed the space, the separation, to cry. Really cry. Looks Can Be Deceiving I am a tangled mess of emotions. I felt like a failure, my nerves frayed, and my ego constantly bruised. I needed the space to let it all out, in choking heaps of sobs. I needed to grieve the “normal life” and “normal child” fantasy that has been slowly eroding for 12 long years. My son looks “normal” on the outside. He’s very good-looking. He dresses nicely. There is […]

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As a Mom, I Want You to Know This About Down Syndrome

“We suspect the baby has a genetic abnormality that is causing the birth defects.” Right from the first suspicion that there were issues with the baby girl growing inside of me, the doctors switched from referring to my baby as “your baby” and “she” to less personal terms like “the baby” and “it.” It was my first taste of how our culture views and treats people who are born, for lack of a better term, different. At 20 weeks gestation, we knew our little girl, Fiona, would have Down syndrome. The diagnosis came a few weeks after we had found out she also had a life-threatening heart defect and bilateral clubbed feet. We were heartbroken and scared. Life was never going to

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A Helpful Hack for Moms with Special Needs Children

Special Needs Child? A Mom Shares Practical Tips to Keep You From Drowning

Having a special needs child requires a certain amount of organization to cope with the endless piles of paperwork. In just the first five years of our daughter’s life, more paperwork has accumulated than in my life altogether. I never imagined the avalanche of white that would follow doctor appointments, test results, therapy sessions, medical bills, healthcare claims, prescriptions, as well as school, grant, and scholarship applications. I soon found myself overwhelmed and drowning in piles of important details. Too often I was caught unprepared without detailed information of my daughter’s medical history or current care readily available for inquiring professionals. This created significant hiccups at times. I already had to wait months to see certain specialists, and my face-to-face time with

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Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month: A Therapist and Mom Shares Her Journey

Since 1998, I have had the opportunity to work with children on the autism spectrum. It has been a huge blessing to be able to serve children in many different settings including home intervention, private practice, and in schools. As a therapist, we are in need of a vast amount of skills in our toolbox to serve a variety of children with a variety of abilities. Each child and family comes to us with unique needs, and it is an honor to be a part of that family’s journey. In my current private practice, I pull on past therapy sessions to help me with treating children today. While I continue to challenge myself to stay on top of the latest in therapy

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Episodes 48 and 49 Cameron James

This Grit and Grace Life Podcast Preview – Episodes 48 & 49 with Cameron James

Pop singer Cameron James’ story is a real-life example of the struggles our cultural icons face behind the stage and behind the scenes. In this podcast episode, Cameron shares the details of her daughter’s rare disease, and how she grappled with guilt, understanding the causes of the condition and staying hopeful through scores of doctor visits.

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How Can I Believe in the Goodness of God When My Child Is Suffering?

“I can’t do this anymore, Momma,” my five-year-old daughter, Avery, whispered to me in the dim light of the pediatric intensive care unit, slipping her wrist, riddled with IV’s and cords, around my neck. Pain is always the worst in those first few hours before dawn and it had reached an excruciating peak for her. I took note of her sweet little arm resting on me—a bittersweet miracle. It was the first time she had moved her arm since the surgery that occurred the day before. That simple act was something I wasn’t sure she would be able to do when the surgeon was done with her. I had handed Avery over to doctors countless times in her life, but this occasion

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A Few Things You Need to Know About People With ADHD

A Few Things You Need to Know About People With ADHD

At this point in the COVID-19 situation you’d think we have this daily routine, this new “normal” figured out. You know, the wake up, get-through-the-day, go-to-bed routine. Yet, here I am, still over-thinking every little thing. I have ADHD and so does my teenage son. This lack of normalcy is harder than hard. We thrive on routine and rhythm, and it’s missing. Those of you who struggle with ADHD personally know what I’m talking about. Those of you with kids who have ADHD really know what I’m talking about. When I was diagnosed with ADHD (as a college student) 25 years ago, I realized that I have to learn some coping mechanisms, some unique and interesting ways of making my scattered brain

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To the Woman Who Cleaned up After My Autistic Son NEW

To the Woman Who Cleaned up After My Autistic Son

We never know when a meltdown will happen. We know that certain environments don’t sit well with my five-year-old. Open spaces cause him extreme anxiety. New places make him want to flee. But, we can’t stay cooped up in our home forever—especially for a trip to speech therapy. Yes, we have become quite familiar with the waiting room of our son’s speech therapist. I must say that she has a well-equipped one. There is every type of busy toy you could think of. Coloring books, train sets, magnets and a framed metal board, and all kinds of sensory playthings. Even so, my son has bad days. To look at him, you would never assume he has extra special needs. There is a

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What My Beautiful, Imperfect Baby Boy Taught Me About Perfection

What My Beautiful, Imperfect Baby Boy Taught Me About Perfection

Almost 11 years ago, I was happily pregnant with my second child. Blissfully dreaming about a healthy baby, my biggest fear was managing two babies under two years old. I was completely ignorant of all that could go wrong. After all, I was healthy. I ate well. I took my vitamins. I didn’t drink or do drugs. I did everything that is required of a pregnant woman. I was owed a healthy, perfect baby. Issues happened to other people. Not us. But, as often happens in life, God had other plans. And those plans came in the form of a child born less than perfect. Problems came in the form of a child who would face challenges I never imagined, with something

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Welcome to Holland. A Message Every Mom Needs

Welcome to Holland. A Message Every Mom Needs

Some people walk into parenthood with a very specific set of ideas on what it will look like. They have lots of plans. You know the ones, right? “Oh, my child will never act that way in public.” And, “Oh I will never feed my child that.” Those people are delightful, no? Me, I was definitely not one of those people. In fact, if there were a spectrum of pre-parental awareness (think 10—knows everything and 0—knows nothing), I would have been a -20. I was 100% clueless as to what parenting would entail, how I would handle it, and what exactly it would look like. As it turns out, this was both a blessing and a curse for my parenting career. When I was pregnant

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What Is Autism? This Is How Experts Parents Define It

What Is Autism? This Is How Experts (Parents) Define It

Our son is five years old. He has autism spectrum disorder. The Mayo Clinic defines autism as “a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. This is why many with autism find comfort communicating online, even though that sometimes comes with its own dangers. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term ‘spectrum’ in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.” When I read this, it drove home the fact that even a professional look at autism does not fully encompass everything that I have come to know about it. The definition can become even more blurred when

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5 Ways You Can Help Special Needs Families

5 Ways You Can Help Special Needs Families

Are you looking for a way to care for a special needs family in your life? Congratulations. Because you already have the desire to assist that family, you have all the qualifications needed to relieve the unseen burdens that go along with caregiving. It really doesn’t require a lot of time or money. Parents to children with special needs do not need much from you to help them thrive. But they do need help. Even if they are not asking for it, these families carry an unseen mental load that can often be alleviated by a caring friend. Here are 5 ways that you can step in and care for special needs families: 1. Call Oftentimes special needs parents are so caught

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This Grit and Grace Life Podcast

Hardship Hit This Singer’s Life and She Chose to Fight! with Cameron James Pt. 2 – 049

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Android | Email | TuneIn | RSS | MoreCameron James’ moving story of hardship and hope continues in this second installment. She first joined us on episode 048 when she shared her heartbreaking and inspiring journey of learning about her daughter’s ultra-rare disease. In part 2, she discusses the next season. As life became manageable and her daughter made progress (which seemed so unlikely when first diagnosed), she once again found herself in an all-out war with her husband in the crosshairs. This war led to her standing in Washington, D.C., passionately pleading with politicians and lobbying for a change. Listen to her open up to Darlene and Julie about

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This Grit and Grace Life Podcast

Hardship Hit This Singer’s Life and She Chose to Fight! with Cameron James Pt. 1 – 048

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Android | Email | TuneIn | RSS | MoreHave you ever experienced hardships that felt insurmountable? Have you been tested on every side, not even sure you would survive? Our guest has been there. A few times. Singer/songwriter and mom of two, Cameron James, shares her moving story that began the day she discovered her daughter had an extremely rare disease. In this episode, she recounts her journey from devastation to hope and belief that miracles can still happen even in the midst of fear. James has learned to keep fighting, even with odds stacked against her. This episode is only part 1 of her heart wrenching story. Listen to

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The-Purpose-and-Power-of-Every-Day

You May Not Understand Why This Is Happening, But You Will

As a mom, there have been many times when I had no clue what I was doing. So often, I have thrown up my hands, looked up to the heavens, and asked, “What are You doing?” I’d like to say I always turn my eyes to God when things get rough, but that’s not the case. When I transitioned from working mom to stay-at-home mom, I was constantly forgetting to do this. It was during this transition that my faith grew; where I realized that I may not always understand His plan at this moment, but eventually, I may. We tend to have many plans of our own, “But it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Prior to becoming a

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Why-i-decided-to-pick-up-my-son-for-the-last-time

Why I Decided to Pick up My Son for the Last Time

“…There is a last time for everything. There will come a time when you will feed your baby for the very last time. They will fall asleep on you after a long day And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child. One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down, 
 And never pick them up that way again…”  —Author Unknown Every mom hears of how their child’s youth will slip through their fingers in no time. They are often told of how they are to cherish every moment with their babes because those days will soon be but a memory. A wrinkle in time. A Different Child Because I am a mother

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How-to-Participate-in-the-Tim-Tebow-Foundation's-Night-to-Shine

How to Participate in the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine

You no doubt know that there are many, many worthy causes to which you could donate your money and your time. Throughout your community and across the world are charities that are seriously making a difference in the lives of people who are poor, orphaned, abused, abandoned, hungry, thirsty, or sick. You may choose to donate to organizations that care for endangered animals, build homes, tutor school children, or revitalize neighborhoods that are torn apart by violence or decay. There is no shortage of causes, and frankly the need can at times be overwhelming! When considering donating to various causes, you must find one that resonates with who you are…one that moves your heart and fuels your passion. I’ve found that donating

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