Ep 24 - Jamilah Bashir, Educator & IEP Coach

Jamilah Bashir, an educator and IEP coach from Philadelphia, speaks about her book, Because of H.E.R., inspired by the experience of growing up with a sister with an intellectual disability. We also discuss IEPs, advice for parents, education styles, and how funding affects the services provided in a community - leading to a discussion on the importance of voting and contacting your representatives. Jamilah offers great advice, knowledge and refreshing honesty.

Ep 23 - For Freya

Tomorrow Freya is turning 7. What a journey we have been on! As I have been thinking on and having conversations about what we put out into the world about our children, without their consent really, I have chosen this episode to speak to Freya. The grown up Freya, the Freya who may one day listen to these episodes and wonder why I would be so open with our lives. This is an episode of intention, explanation and the deep love and appreciation I have for Freya and our life together.

Ep 22 - Jackie, An Educator on Dyslexia

Mrs. Jackie Marie Beyer is an educator and fellow podcaster who hosts the Authentic Teacher Podcast. She came on to talk mostly about dyslexia – the signs that a child is struggling with reading, how to help them through these struggles, and the importance of focusing on their strengths.  Whether or not you have a child with dyslexia, Jackie offers some great advise, practices and resources for any child learning to read.  She calls on her experience as an educator and the information she gathered at a training she participated in this past summer.  If you have a young reader in your life, this episode will certainly be beneficial to you.r

Ep 20 - Amanda, An Autism Journey

I had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with Amanda, a woman whose words and perspective are inspirational, and full of grace and love.   She brought me to tears a number of times during this conversation, speaking on the heartache but also the path to acceptance – so get some tissues. Not only is Amanda raising a son with autism, but she has spent many years in the world of special needs through her studies and trainings and jobs she has had in the past. She came with not only a deep understanding, but also such a beautiful perspective on her son and the journey they are on.

Ep 19 - Acceptance

I introduce a past blog post about a moment from Freya's younger years...a moment of realization that I could let go of certain stressful expectations for the loving acceptance of what is.  Towards the end I offer tips on how to begin journal writing for processing and healing and then provide an introductory writing prompt.

Ep 18 - Responsibilities

We all feel it at some time or another, like we are failing along this journey.  But we should remember that we are also growing and learning and offering our children what we can.  Sometimes the responsibilities of raising a child with special needs can seem overwhelming, and that's ok.  Hopefully, we can all find solace and support in sharing our journey with others.

Ep 17 - Angela, SLP

In this world where interactions between your child and other people can be questionable and stressful, it is such a blessing to have therapists and teachers like Angela, someone who genuinely loves and cares for the kids and adults that she works with. I have learned so much about not only my daughter’s speech, but also about navigating the world of special needs and being an influential advocate for my daughter.  I hope that you all enjoy this conversation and find wisdom, knowledge and inspiration in her story.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, rate and review and share with your friends.  And stay til the end to hear some beautiful poetry written by Angela, a beautiful soul. 

Ep 16 - Behavior (part 1 of many)

I am coming to realize a deep part of my work for this time – to better understand Freya, how her brain functions and perceives things, so that I can ease any anxiety, promote positive behavior and help her navigate situations with other children so she can play and interact with them in positive ways. This episode is the first of many explorations on the topic of brain function and behavior.  I hope it will be beneficial to other parents and children, not only PWS families. 

Ep 15 - Natalie Roberts Mazzeo

You are in the doctor’s office holding your 5-month-old baby, listening to a small string of diagnosis that you have never heard of but somehow relate to your daughter never walking, or talking, or having the fine motor skills for sign language.  

Would you break?

I spoke with, Natalie, a very lovely, strong, and inspiring mother who lived this moment, and willingly shares how she put the pieces back together.  She not only tends to her own Radical Acceptance of life in the world of special needs, but helps other parents find acceptance and hope and self-care while on their journey. This interview is about her story, and her daughter Chiara.  It is full of beautiful, graceful, poetic moments that really drew me in.  Along with this she talks about her ReIgnite Program and The Miracle Project

Find out more at miraclemama.com.au

Ep 14 - Caitlyn, Neo-Natal Diabetes

In this episode Caitlyn shares her story, from the traumatic introduction to neo-natal diabetes, to the challenges, frustrations and heart ache of intellectual and developmental delays.  We talk about siblings, unknown futures and how she herself finds comfort in this situation.  And at the end, Caitlyn even drops some important information for anyone out there who may have been diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 6 months.

Ep 13 - The Grandmas

Since this is the last episode of the month, I thought I would end it with the Grandmas….Freya’s Grandmas. Not only have they known Freya since she was born, but they also both have other experiences with children with special needs.  I will admit there is a little bit of doting in this episode, which I think is to be expected from grandparents.  But they also speak openly about their other experiences, and offer their advice to grandparents of children with special needs.  

Ep 12 - Courtney, a sibling

I had the pleasure of speaking with Courtney, an older sister to Max – an adult with PWS. As an adult Courtney has moved into the role of counselor, dealing with trauma and eating disorders.  In out time together she spoke about growing up with a brother with special needs – how it was just a part of their life, learning to adapt, the moment she became his champion, their relationship as adults and how he has been an inspiration to her in her life.  

Ep 11 - Emily, PWS Mom

I spoke with Emily Felt, a mother to 6 year-old Olivia with PWS.  She talks about how Olivia’s birth and diagnosis affected her, the grief that came from it, and how one session with a therapist helped shift her outlook dramatically.  We discuss the frustrations we have with doctor’s feeling like they need to harp on the negative aspects, what needs to be fixed or treated, without the balance of positives – what is working, what is going well. Emily is also in the process of creating something that I personally am very excited about: Food Gratitude: A Positive Psychology Inspired Toolkit for Families of Kids with PWS.  This is to help families with PWS kids to create positive, anxiety-free experiences with food, how to find create a healthier relationship with food and meal time, and a more…but I’ll let Emily tell you more about it.

Ep 10 - Foundation for Prader-Willi Research

Without research and the knowledge gained from this research, most of our kids and adults with Prader-Willi Syndrome would face more difficulties in their lives.  Thankfully, with the continued effort of the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research, there are new treatments and understandings of the challenges with PWS.  This episode is an interview with Susan Hedstrom, the Executive Director of FPWR and fellow PWS mom.  She speaks on the who, what, how and why of FPWR.  

Ep 9 - Gen, PWS

May is Prader-Willi Awareness Month!  This episode is the start of a month long dive into the world of PWS and the ways in which families, doctors and organizations are fighting for the lives of our children.  I spoke with Gen, the mother of a young girl with PWS.  We share battle stories, tips for success and a few good laughs.  This is a conversation between two mamas who have found themselves on similar paths and are trying to figure out which way to hold the map.  This conversation is not just for PWS parents and caretakers, but for anyone trying to understand how to navigate the waters of having a child with special needs.

Ep 8 - Laura the Midwife

Laura is a dear friend and local midwife.  She was with me through Freya's pregnancy and post-cesarean care.  We talk about ways to emotionally process having an unexpected cesarean and the importance of having a chance to bond with your baby before a diagnosis is given, if medically safe that is.  Laura tells us of her AskMidwife707 podcast that will be coming out in May, a place for women to share birth stories and information for those interested or invested in midwifery care.  She closes the interview with some advice for care providers on the issue of when to tell parents about their new baby's diagnosis. For those of you listening on iTunes, I tagged on the past episode as iTunes still says it is temporarily unavailable.   We'll try it this way and see if iTunes will play it.

Ep7 - Take 'em as they come

I began this episode going back to the  beginning,  trying to fill in some of our story around Freya's infant feeding issues.  What came out after was the unexpected and confusing grief I experienced watching my friends' babies grow and do things my daughter could not.  Sometimes we are so good at masking and covering strong emotions that we forget they are there, only to have them rise up when we go back and tell our story.  

Ep5 - In the Trenches with Jessy

            Welcome back.  Now we hear someone else’s story, a family on the emotional journey of adoption and the eventual diagnosis of a chromosome disorder so rare it does not have a name.  My friend Jessy, whose daughter’s diagnosis is a string of letters and numbers, has no knowledge of anyone else with this disorder.  So if anyone listening knows of this disorder, or anyone with it, you can email me at walkingwithfreya@gmail.com and I will gratefully pass you along to her. 

            I really enjoyed sitting with Jessy, hearing her story and connecting with her in this way.  But you might want to grab some tissues.  This is a very real, very honest talk about the challenges of raising a child with special needs.  But in the end we get some sage advice from someone who lives, as she says, in the trenches.