Posts filed under: Special Needs Parents

April is autism awareness month and with a prevalence of 1 in 68 children, you’ve probably heard of autism. It’s difficult to explain what autism is as it affects each person differently. My sons have the same diagnosis but are on opposite ends of the autism spectrum. Life is difficult for both the person with autism and their families as there are many challenges to deal with every day. Challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication as well as comorbid conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, sleep issues, gastrointestinal issues and sensory processing disorder. I don’t have it all figured out. I just do my best to know my kids and focus on what I can do to help them. What I didn’t expect is that they would teach me some of the most valuable life lessons in the process.

Focus on solutions, not problems

Autism families face challenges every day. Between the obsessions, the meltdowns, the lack of communication and the worry of what the child’s future will be, it’s easy to feel defeated. Like in any situation, if we chose to focus on all the problems, it will feel insurmountable. To focus solely on finding solutions helps to feel empowered. For example, my son can’t speak so we teach him to sign, he can’t write so we’re teaching him to type. I admit that I have to remind myself often, but my kids make me believe that there is a solution to every issue and that anything is possible when you focus on the positive.

See the wonder in everyday life

My son was born premature and the fact that we almost lost him to medical complications definitely gave me perspective on what’s important. However, in our busy routines, it’s so easy to forget to appreciate the little things in life.  Kids with autism see things others may not notice. They also have a fascination with things such as twinkling lights or bubbles. My son will stare into a flower and it’s as if he sees every tiny detail. Some might see it as a weakness but to me, it’s a strength. Being able to look at things differently and see details that might have gone unnoticed is a choice that we can make to be more mindful and grateful for the little things.

Don’t be afraid to be different

Whether it’s working from home or any other uncommon choice, do what is right for you. For kids with autism, anything that is the norm usually doesn’t apply. My kids taught me a  “whatever works for results” attitude when dealing with their sleep, feeding and sensory issues. Sometimes we need to get creative to come up with a solution that works, no matter how unconventional or unpopular. For example, no matter how much I wanted my son to fit in, public school was not a good environment for him to learn. Homeschooling is not a conventional choice but all that matters is that it is giving us the results we need. He is calmer, happier and more willing to learn than he has ever been.

Releasing preconceived notions will open your eyes

Everyone has a story that we’re not aware of and situations are not always what they appear. Autism is an invisible condition so people can’t tell just by looking at a child that they have autism. If you see a grown child having a meltdown in a store, you’ll  think that the child is a spoiled brat or that his parents have no authority. What you might not be aware of is that sensory processing disorder makes the child hypersensitive to lights, smells and the noises until it sensory overload causes them to have a meltdown. It’s these preconceived notions and judgment that cause so many autism families to isolate themselves. We can see things through a different set of eyes when we’re not limited by preconceived notions.

Learn to dance in the rain

We all go through difficult situations and some things in life are difficult to accept. If you wait for it to get better before moving forward, you’ll miss out. Getting a diagnosis for not only one but both of my children was heartbreaking but behind that label of autism is still my little boys that I love. All they want is to be loved and accepted as they are. My children will always have autism and although I have my moments, I try to remember that life happens with or without me. Don’t let whatever is not perfect in your life stop you from living it and enjoying it because life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

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  • Special Moms Magazine

I am very happy to share that I have been chosen as a contributor for Special Moms Magazine! This free digital magazine was designed to celebrate the contributions of women, mom entrepreneurs who are making an impact in the special needs community. In each issue, you will find great resources and inspiring stories!

My first article for the magazine is Turn Your Staycation Into a Simulated Vacation. Since my sons were born, we have only taken staycations so I have a few tips to share on how to simulate a vacation even when you are not traveling. Just in time to help you plan your spring break. Register below to get your free copy right in your inbox!

Special Moms Magazine


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Special Moms Magazine!

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  • The Caregiver's Notebook

The Caregiver's NotebookAn organizational tool and support to help you care for others

The Caregiver’s notebook is not your regular planner. It is an essential tool for caregivers. Are you are caring for a child with special needs, an elderly parent or a typical newborn? If so, The Caregiver’s Notebook can help you stay organized. I am so impressed by how many organizational tools are included. Not only does it hold all the important documents and information that you need to have with you at all times. It will also give you inspiration and spiritual comfort.

I appreciate that it includes a three-year calendar and that it fits in a diaper bag or a large purse. Another benefit is that each section contains instructions for use, forms for recording pertinent information and extra pages for notes. You will also find pockets in the back for insurance cards, legal documents and test results.

The journey of helping a loved one can be challenging. Throughout The Caregiver’s Notebook there are scripture verses and thoughtful devotionals to inspire and comfort you. There is also a bible reading plan and prayer guides.

Being organized can help relieve stress. What a blessing in a caregiver’s life! It also makes a very thoughtful gift!

You can buy The Caregiver’s Notebook on Amazon

About the author, Jolene Philo The Caregiver's Notebook

Jolene Philo is daughter of a disabled father, and she parented a child with special needs. She’s a former educator with 25 years of public school experience. Her books related to special needs include the Different Dream series and The Caregiver’s Notebook. Her blog,, offers practical resources and spiritual encouragement for caregivers. She also a guest blogger for Not Alone at and Friendship Circle of Michigan at Jolene speaks frequently at special needs and foster care conferences around the country and conducts special needs ministry training workshops for churches. She and her husband Hiram live in Boone. They are parents of two married children and grandparents to one adorable toddler, with two more babies on the way. You can connect with Jolene on Facebook (@A Different Dream for My Child), (Twitter( @jolenephilo),
Pinterest (JolenePhilo), LinkedIn ( Jolene Philo), and at her websites, and

Jolene is also the author of A Different Dream for my Child



Although this post was generously sponsored by Jolene Philo, the opinions and language are my own.
Please see my full disclosure.

Enter to win a copy of The Caregiver’s Notebook

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Chantale is the mother of two handsome boys with autism. Although she is homeschooling them, she is constantly learning from her children. She shares activities that are adapted for special needs on

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  • Dare2Give, I dare you!

Dare2Give LogoWhether it’s big or small, and whether it involves time, skills, or money, Canadians are making Canada better by giving. Did you know one of the main reasons we give is just because someone asked? This is the concept behind Dare2Give, the latest in the My Giving Moment Campaign, inspired by the Governor General.

Dare2Give is asking giving Canadians to dare others to give or volunteer with them. Imagine how much good can come from daring another person to give with us! By daring family, friend and colleagues, you are contributing to make Canada a better place.

Start by searching through what I call the good deeds list on Pick a few from your area of interest and then click whether you are going to do it or you’ve done it, or challenge a friend to do it!


How often have you asked yourself how you can make a difference? I love that there is a full list of ideas of little things that can make a big difference! And you are multiplying the giving effect by daring other to do it with you!

Dare someone to give today!

Here is my first good deed. As I have mentioned before, my son Cookie was born premature. He was in critical condition at the Montreal Children’s Hospital in the NICU for weeks. My son is alive today because of this hospital. For obvious reasons, the Montreal Children’s Hospital foundation is a cause near and dear to my heart.Prematuresmile of sadness

I have proudly checked the box, “I’ve done this”! I will also challenge three people close to my heart to do the same. They were there for me when I was going through the worse time of my life watching my baby fight for his life. So to my mother, my sister and my best friend … I dare you to give! #dareyou

Discover what you have to give!

Here are some ideas:

Volunteer to help developmentally challenged kids. See what develops.

Next time you’re asked if you want to add a dollar to your bill for a company’s favourite charity, do it.

Let’s be honest: you don’t need all the clothes you have. Somebody else does.

Instead of throwing out an old gadget, donate it. That’s what we call tech savvy.

Fill a christmas hamper with necessities, toys and food certificates for a needy family or youth.

Enter your dares before December 14th for a chance to win for your charity including the grand prize of a television commercial!

Click here to join me in entering your dares on the My Giving Moment website or see below!


Although this post has been generously sponsored by Rideau Hall Foundation,
the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect Rideau Hall Foundation.
Please see my full disclosure.

Chantale is the mother of two handsome boys with autism. Although she is homeschooling them, she is constantly learning from her children. She shares activities that are adapted for special needs on

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  • Special Needs Parents Support
Special Needs Support Group

Click on this banner to send your request to join the group

It’s so important for special needs parents to find support. That’s why I decided to start the Special Needs Parents Support group on Facebook. For many years now, my family and I have isolated ourselves. As a special needs family with two children with autism we feel very different. But we don’t have to be alone and neither do you! If you feel the need to speak to other parents who understand and support each other, please feel free to send me an invitation to join the group. We only have two rules, be kind and offer encouragement.

Special Needs Parents Support

Changing our lives to fit our children’s needs is our choice but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. We hardly go out, we do most things separately, we decline most offers to parties and events. We acknowledge that we have fallen into bad habits because of the rough times we went through. Things such as Cookie‘s meltdowns, fear of leaving the house and incomprehension have all gotten better. However we are so used to avoiding and preventing certain situations that we are having difficulty changing.

Since we are exhausted and our energy tank is on empty, we have decided to make our focus on us. It felt very weird to me to make that decision. However I know that we are not at our best and therefore cannot be the best parents. Refocusing on caring for ourselves, regenerating our energy and reaching out to others will make us better people and in turn better parents.

It’s so easy to say to someone else, take care of yourself, you need to be well for your kids. Doing it for ourselves is so much harder. Some things get in the way of taking care of ourselves. Let’s face it, most of our children have sleep issues, food aversions, sensory issues, meltdowns. All of which can affect the way we care for ourselves. Special needs parents suffer from sleep deprivation, stress and plain old not caring about ourselves because we have so much on our plate.

Recharging and reaching out is a small step towards feeling better and not feeling so alone. I had an epiphany while writing this post: 25 Ways for Special Needs Parents to Recharge and Reach Out. In the world of special needs parents not caring for themselves, I hit rock bottom. I am determined to change that and I hope you will join me!

For more inspiring posts on self-care and special needs parent support, please visit Beautiful in his time from the 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. All the bloggers featured in this series have joined the support group and we look forward to chatting with you all there!


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Chantale is the mother of two handsome boys with autism. Although she is homeschooling them, she is constantly learning from her children. She shares activities that are adapted for special needs on

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