Summer Sensations!

Summer is a season of sensory delights!  Whether it is feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin, hearing the laughter of children playing outdoors, enjoying a flavourful ice cream treat, breathing in the scent of flowers in full bloom, or gazing up at clear blue skies – summer is simply fantastic!

Read on for ideas on how families of children, youth, and adults with a disability can utilize their five senses to make the most of the summer season.

Sensory activities are those that stimulate the five senses (touch, smell, sight, taste, sound, as well as the vestibular and proprioceptive systems – balance/body awareness).  While summer fun can certainly fill up our senses, it can also be overwhelming for those who experience sensory challenges.

Here are a few ideas that may help families balance the need for familiar routines while still allowing room for summer adventures and sensory experiences.  Sensory activities may also help promote language, develop fine and gross motor skills, provide opportunities for social interaction, and enhance self-regulation.

SIGHT:
  • Create a social story about summer holidays
  • Create a summer daily visual picture schedule
  • Try giving your summer a theme: a daily theme (Movement Mondays, Wet & Wild Wednesdays, Free Play Fridays, etc.) and/or a weekly theme (Bugs, Dinosaurs, Adventures, etc.)
  • Play a game of “I Spy”, organize a scavenger hunt, have fun with some yard games (ring toss, ladder golf, beach ball, bowling, mini golf, etc.), set up a movie morning
SOUND:
  • Try a music therapy activity
  • Have a dance party to your favourite music
  • Visit a place with a waterfall, a lake, or some wild birds/animals
  • Go to the zoo and see how many animal sounds you can hear
TASTE:
  • Cook meals together, or have a taste test challenge
  • Have a picnic on the lawn
  • Make popsicles or smoothies
  • Pick and eat some berries at a U-Pick farm
SMELL:
  • Bake cookies
  • Pitch a tent in the backyard – have a campfire (if it is safe to do so)
  • Set up a cool aide or lemonade stand, with different flavours
  • Go on a ‘scentsational’ neighbourhood walk – smell the flowers
TOUCH:
  • Set up sensory stations using buckets (rice, shaving cream, paint, sand, water, etc. – see link below for more ideas)
  • Run through a sprinkler, set up a plastic pool, wash the car
  • Freeze objects in containers (ice cube, or larger plastic containers)
  • Make a creation out of recycled objects and/or objects from nature
MOVEMENT:
  • Exercise together
  • Go swimming or to a splash park
  • Participate in a service project together
  • Explore a new trail or park playground

For more detailed and creative suggestions on sensory activities for children and adults, check out the following links:

Sensory Activities for Adults with Disabilities

Sensory Activities for Children with Disabilities

The staff at Children’s Link wishes everyone a SENSATIONAL SUMMER!
Have fun, stay safe, and smile often 😊

Sandra Cicman, M.Ed.
Resource Links Director
Children’s Link Society

Grow Through What You Go Through

With the longest daylight hours of the year, isn’t June a wonderful month?

The warmth and light brightens our days and promotes feelings of optimism. Watching buds and blooms emerge, reminds us of the possibilities that exist for growth and development.

This month, our theme is GROW!

At Children’s Link we love to encourage people to ‘grow through what you go through.  The challenges that living with disability creates, can also be a source of growth, strength, identity, and purpose, if one chooses to use them in such ways.

Research has revealed a lot about resilience. It is now known that we can learn and develop resilience even, and maybe especially, when we are experiencing difficult situations in life. In fact, if we have supportive relationships in our lives, as a protective factor, and we choose to embrace our struggles as opportunities to grow, we can not only survive – but we can flourish!

Connie Jakab, a Calgary-based mom of two children (one of whom has autism and mental health challenges), mental health worker, entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed optimist knows a thing or two about flourishing.  In fact, she is a Certified Flourishing Coach.  If you’d like to hear some of her personal story, CLICK HERE to listen to her interview on our Children’s Link podcast.  If you’d like free access to a short and impactful introduction to creating a flourishing life and an overview of the Flourishing Framework, CLICK HERE.

Nick Vujicic is someone who learned early in life how to be resilient.  Nick was born without arms or legs and worked hard to overcome his challenges, to grow as a person, and to achieve the goals he had for his life – despite his disabilities and challenges.  If you are in need of a lift, watch this inspiring 4-minute video clip: The Most Inspirational Video You Will Ever See – Nick Vujicic’s Story – YouTube

When some families discover they have a child with a disability, they see this as a crisis-causing stressor and become overwhelmed and distressed, even in the long term.  However, other families are able to frame the challenges as opportunities to come together and end up finding hope, joy, and meaning in life.

Maybe you have heard the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain”?  One way that families can learn to thrive, is to creatively redefine a sense of family identity, that incorporates the child with special needs.  CLICK HERE to read an article titled, “How to Find Your Purpose as a Special Needs Family” and discover some specific ways to develop an inclusive family identity and grow in your levels of resiliency.

Growing through what one goes through is never an easy process.  Even in the awesome month of June, things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows.  However, each day holds an opportunity to be grateful for something, to appreciate the good, to do something meaningful, to learn something new, and to grow in grace and love for those around us.

Keep going and keep growing!
Sandra Cicman, M.Ed.
Resource Links Director
Children’s Link Society

Connections Can ENERGIZE!

Image of 4 shadows (yellow-green, orange-purple, pink-purple, and blue) of people jumping and cheering.

 

Spring is often a season of renewed energy.  People emerge from behind closed doors and begin to reconnect with one another outside in the neighbourhood, at outdoor events and markets, on bike paths, patio decks, and in parks.  It’s a wonderful thing!

Connection is energy between people.  Relationships with others bring joy and meaning into our lives.  Whether we consider ourselves an introvert or an extrovert by nature, we all thrive when we are well connected.

You may have heard people talk about the importance of building “natural supports”.  Research has identified that it is most beneficial for families and individuals living with disability to have a combination of both formal (paid) and informal (unpaid, natural) supports in their lives.  But sometimes it is difficult to build a network when you are simply trying to survive day to day, overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for a child or youth with a disability.

Maybe it would help to see the process of expanding your social connections like creating a patchwork quilt.  A variety of pieces can be added, one at a time.  Sometimes a piece might not fit very well, other times a piece might get faded or torn and need to be replaced.  Your quilt might grow to be very large, or it may stay small and cozy.  Regardless, each piece will add a special quality and different beauty to your blanket of connections.

 

Picture is a close up of a pathwork quilt.

 

Here are some simple ways you can begin building your ‘natural supports quilt’:
  • Identify your current supports.

    Ask yourself: Who listens to me when I need someone to talk to?  Who do I call when I need help or advice?  Who energizes me when we spend time together? Is there someone who drains my energy, or a relationship that I need to let go of?  Who shares a similar interest or has a common bond with me?
    Just thinking about making connections and being open to possibilities is a great way to start.

  • Try to strengthen a relationship with an acquaintance.

    Is there someone you see in passing in the neighbourhood, someone you have met through a mutual friend, or someone you’ve talked to at a support group with whom you feel you could build a stronger connection?
    Start to be intentional about making connections with others.

  • Join a group.

    A great way to build social supports is to connect with others who share similar interests.  Take a forward step!  Hire a respite worker and give yourself the gift of joining a small group, faith-based group, parent support group, or interesting class.

    If you can’t get out in community in-person, there are now many support groups for parents of children with disabilities that meet online.  This can be a great way to make initial connections.  It’s also a valuable way to meet people who can identify and empathize with your situation, challenges, and joys.

    CLICK HERE
    for a current list of parent support groups that you can explore.
    You can also search the Children’s Link Community Resource database on our website, using the following link: https://childrenslink.ca/community-support/.

  • Give social support to others.

    Studies reveal that it may be more important for us to give than to receive.
    So reach out, help someone else in need as you are able, volunteer for a cause you believe in, or just bless someone with an encouraging or appreciative message.  Be there for others.  It’s a great way to add friends to your network who will also be there for you, when you need assistance.

    This month, try ENERGIZING as you connect with someone new or build upon a previous connection with someone special.

    An easy way to accomplish this would be to join us (in-person or online) as Children’s Link celebrates 25 Years of service to families, agencies, and communities on May 25th.  We are truly Better Together! CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.

Image is of the Children's Link 25th Anniversary Celebration Flyer

Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Sandra Cicman and The Children’s Link Team

NURTURE Your Relationships

Welcome to Spring!

Thankfully, spring is a season that breathes new life into the world around us.
It increases our motivation to nurture and care for things, so they will flourish.
Although it may be too soon to begin planting our gardens and flowers just yet, we can always work on cultivating growth in our relationships with others.
This month let’s NURTURE one another and see what begins to bloom!

Read on, to discover how the simplest acts of care can transform the lives of our children and make us feel good in the process.  Also, included, are some tips on how you can nurture the potential of your child with a disability as well as links to resources on nurturing yourself and your relationships with others!

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Nurture has been defined as “the care and attention given to someone or something that is growing and developing” (Oxford Dictionary).  All of us need to be nurtured and to nurture others.  Nurture is mutual care.  When nurturing takes place, everyone involved is giving and receiving at the same time.  This is the beauty of the interdependence of human relationships.

As parents of children with special needs, we tend to do a lot of nurturing.  Sometimes, it feels like we just give and give and give.  When we care for the significant needs of a child with a disability, our efforts can often seem one-directional.  Over time, this can lead to feelings of resentment and depletion.

However, if we recognize that it is possible for one to be nurtured while in the process of nurturing another, this may transform our caregiving experience.  If we allow it, even the most demanding of nurturing tasks can also bless and fill us, if we remain open to receiving what our child is offering us in return.

Although our children with disabilities are often vulnerable, dependent, and in need of support, there is a special gift to be found in their state of helplessness. This gift has the power to nourish us as we interact with them.  The present is their presence – which is often full of unconditional acceptance, gratitude, and love.  Be mindful of this the next time you care for your child and see if it makes a difference for you.

Of course, it bears mentioning that to nurture others, we must have received and continue to receive nurture ourselves.

Some questions and resources for caregivers to explore this month:

Who nurtures YOU in your life?
If you don’t have an answer to this question and feel the need to build some natural supports, then consider calling Children’s Link or clicking on the following links.  One of our family support workers can provide you with information on our Conversation Cafe groups, our Community Events Calendar, or our Community Resources Page.  You can use the keywords “Support Groups for Parents Raising a Child with Special Needs” to search for a group where you can make some meaningful connections.

Which of your adult relationships could use a bit more nurturing?
At times, parents may choose to focus most of their energy and attention on their children, neglecting other relationships in their lives.  However, it is critical that we nurture supportive adult relationships that can strengthen us as caregivers and as people.  Who do you want to spend more time with this month…?

What would you like to nurture in your own life?
Amidst raising a child with a disability, sometimes we lose sight of ourselves.  Things we used to enjoy doing, hobbies we used to pursue, friendships that used to be active, may fall by the wayside during the busyness of life.  Is there something that you would like to nurture in your own life this month?
CLICK HERE to view an infographic titled, “Discover the Possibilities for Nurturing Yourself” from THINKitTHROUGHparenting.com and then pick one thing you’d like to make a focus in this season.

How can I nurture the potential of my child with a disability?
A primary relationship in your life is the one you have with your child.
Nurture is recognizing what kind of development your child needs to thrive and creating the conditions and opportunities that make this possible.  It is an acknowledgment and a response to the unique needs of an individual.
CLICK HERE to read an article titled, “How to Nurture the Potential of Children with Special Needs” and CLICK HERE to download 50 Positive and Encouraging Messages for Your Child.

Enjoy nurturing one another with compassion and kindness,

Sandra Cicman, M.Ed.
Supporting Links Director
The Children’s Link Society

Let’s Move Forward Together!

 

Do you feel it?  With lessened restrictions and the spring season just around the corner, there seems to be a new energy in the air these days!  Makes a person want to MOVE!  Read on to find out more about ways to be active as a family living with disability – and receive a special invitation to an online exercise class with the Children’s Link community and an organization called SPIRIT Club!

The connections we make while being active with others not only provide motivation in the moment but can also help us form natural supports that encourage us to meet our health and wellness goals.

When we make exercise one of our family activities, fitness time can also become family time!  We can encourage good habits, bond with one another, and promote physical and mental wellness.

 

CLICK HERE to take a peek at a remarkable six-minute video, featuring Rick and Dick Hoyt.  They are the most inspirational father-son team to race in the Iron Man competition and completed over 1000 races together.  Their story is guaranteed to encourage you to get moving along with your child and family!

Although research suggests that individuals with disabilities tend to be less active overall than other community members, while some barriers certainly exist, there are actually no shortage of options when it comes to finding accessible recreational opportunities.  Here at Children’s Link, we’d love to help you get connected and explore possibilities!

To this end, Children’s Link will be hosting an online Recreation and Summer Camp Fair on Thursday, March 17 from 6:30 PM to 9 PMCLICK HERE to register. Join us and explore the various recreational and summer camp options for children, youth, and adults with disabilities in Calgary and area.

You can also visit our website at www.childrenslink.ca, click on Community Resources, and search for information using the keyword, “recreation”.  Our friendly Family Support Workers are available to help you navigate the website and discover options, throughout Alberta, that may be suitable for your family!  Simply call our office at (877) 835-1105 or send us an email at info@childrenslink.ca.

Here are a few resources you may wish to download as a start:

Getting and staying active should be all about finding what’s fun, exploring what activities make you feel good, and social inclusivity.  This month, we like to invite you to get moving in community, along with Children’s Link and SPIRIT Club!

Join us online on Wednesday, March 30th from 6:30 – 7:30 pm, for a FUN & FITNESS Event as we participate together in a fitness class, suitable for all!  Expert fitness leaders from SPIRIT Club will lead us in scalable exercises that can be modified to accommodate limitations or progressions to increase the challenge.  The mission of SPIRIT Club is to offer a universal design for fitness that empowers people of all abilities to exercise successfully in a socially integrated setting.  Everyone is welcome, from all across Alberta – it’s sure to be a fun time!  CLICK HERE for a link to register.  For more information about SPIRIT Club, please visit their website at www.spirit-club.com.

 

Looking forward to being active with you later this month!

Just keep moving,

Sandra Cicman
Learning & Connections Coordinator
The Children’s Link Society

Creating Caring Communities

One of the greatest gifts in this life, is the opportunity to care for one another.
In a world that often emphasizes huge accomplishments, it is easy to feel that our care for those around us is insignificant.  But that is not the case.

Those ‘little’ things we do for our children with special needs, our neighbours, the professionals with whom we interact, or the grocery clerk at the store down the street – they matter!  True caring often takes place in private moments – a smile, a hug, a note of encouragement, a homemade meal, cleaning up a mess (for the tenth time in a day). Quietly and humbly, one small action at a time, caring communities are created.

One thing that having a child with special needs teaches you, is how to become a more caring individual.  But parents of children with disabilities often forget, that to provide quality care for others, we must also care for ourselves.

February is a great month to talk about love and CARE.
For more information and links to resources on the topic of self-care for the caregiver, continue reading…

If you can’t remember the last time you did something to care for yourself, be encouraged!  Self-care does not have to be time consuming, nor does it need to be expensive.  It is not a luxury or simply a reward; it is an ongoing necessity!  It can be as easy as taking some deep breaths, recording 5 things you are grateful for, or taking a moment to identify something beautiful you can see/hear/smell/taste/feel – right where you are at!

CLICK HERE for a link to a collection of printable resources from Caregiver’s Alberta, intended to help you on your caregiving journey.

Are you in need of some respite, so you can focus on yourself for a bit?
Caring family support workers, with lived experience, are available to help you locate resources on our website that will suit your needs. Just give us a call at (877) 835-1105 or CLICK HERE to search the Community Resources section of the Children’s Link website, using the keyword, respite.

If you are need of some general self-care ideas, here is a link to an article that might help you out Positive Steps to Wellbeing, as well as a short 2-minute video to inspire you to practice self care Nourish Your Inner World on the Journey with Your Special Child.

Establishing regular self-care routines can be difficult, but it is always worth the effort.  Just start with one small way you wish to care for yourself today, and you’ll have a self-care rhythm going in no time at all!  Then you will have the energy, motivation, and compassion you need to continue caring for yourself, your loved ones, and the people in your community.  We are all worth the effort!

With care and compassion,

Sandra Cicman, M.Ed.
The Children’s Link Society

It’s Time to RENEW and Reconnect!

The beginning of a new year is a great time to RENEW and reconnect!
And, although the ways we choose to engage with one another may be different during a pandemic, it is still important that we seek community.  For it is with others where we can explore ideas, embrace opportunities, learn new things, find support, and experience renewal!  How do you plan to RENEW this January? 


Children’s Link staff are passionate about connecting families, agencies, and community members, with the goal of fostering healthier, more accessible and inclusive communities across Alberta.  Visit our website, give us a call, or register to attend one of our Conversation Café sessions, and let us help LINK you up!

www.childrenslink.ca or 1-877-835-1105 

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How do you plan to RENEW this January? 

Many people start off a new year by outlining a list of personal resolutions.  Parents of children with special needs are no different – but their goals may need to be tailored a bit, in order to be suitable. 

Here are some New Year’s Resolutions to consider if you are the parent of a child with a disability: 

For more ideas, CLICK HERE to download an article titled:
10 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Children with Special Needs (there are some really good suggestions outlined…) 

And, just in case you are one of many of us who set resolutions and then have trouble following through – don’t be discouraged!  CLICK HERE for a link to an encouraging 2-minute video by the Healthy Monday Campaigns called Monday Reset Resolutions: They also have free online resources to help you RENEW and live healthier, each Monday of the year!  Check out their website at: www.mondaycampaigns.org. 

Another great way to RENEW is to laugh, play, and move more often!
All you need is a chair, a table/desk, and a timer to discover how you and your children can spend time connecting and stretching muscles in your bodies.  As you engage in ‘working out’ you will also get to practice the idea of growth.  When we work through hard challenges and stick with it, it may ‘stretch’ us – but is also transforming us by renewing our minds and strengthening our mindset.
CLICK HERE and have fun playing the Reset and Renew Game!
 

Lastly, if it’s complicated or expensive, most of us won’t do it. 

So, CLICK HERE for a link to an article with some great suggestions on no cost ways to RENEW your spirit and avoid burnout in the coming year:  

Wishing you a new year full of renewal, each and every morning! 

 

Sandra Cicman, M.Ed. 

Education Lead 

Children’s Link Society 

Celebrate the Season and stay ‘SANE’!

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, or simply just appreciate the winter wonderland here in Alberta, the holiday season is upon us!’

For many special needs families, the holidays have become more about survival instead of celebration. The winter ‘break’ from school and day programming can often cause disruption. Shopping, travel, visitors, and holiday activities frequently result in sensory overload and meltdowns.

However, when facing the holidays, it is important to remember that we do have a choice.

We can choose SIMPLICITY rather than over-scheduling. We can choose PEACE over chaos. We can choose JOY over just survival.

 

If you desire to CELEBRATE the holidays this year, here are a few tips that may help keep you ‘SANE’ while still enjoying the spirit of the season:
S – Schedule, Say “NO”, Sleep
  • Create a specific, yet flexible, visual, family holiday routine – be sure to build in time for breaks/rest for everyone! Keep it simple.
  • Give yourself permission to say, “No”. Remember that every time you say “Yes” to something, you are saying, “No” to something else.
  • Don’t skimp on sleep during the holiday season. Try to keep wake up and wind down times consistent for all.
A – Allow yourself to ‘let go’, Ask for help, Avoid stressing the details
  • Learn to ‘let go’ of high expectations and be ok with adjusting traditions to suit your family’s needs. The best memories are made when you least expect it 😊
  • Ask for help when you need it – it takes a village!
  • Avoid stressing about details – instead, keep the big picture in mind. The holidays are supposed to be about fun for all (in whatever form that needs to take)!
N – Notice blessings, Note sensory overload, Nothing beats presence
  • When things get crazy, sometimes it helps to take a step back and appreciate the small blessings.
  • Note the signs of sensory overload – whether it be for your child, or for yourself! Use relaxation, breathing, and calm down techniques along with your child – as they work for people of all ages and stages.
  • Understand that your presence is more powerful than any other present or gift you could give! Spend time during the holidays face-to-face with your kids – electronics and social media off.
E – Eat healthy, Exercise (and play), and Enjoy!
  • Have a few holiday treats but try to maintain your healthy eating patterns, avoiding food that triggers behavioural issues or physical discomfort.
  • We all know that exercise and fresh air reduce stress. Try to have fun outdoors, at a pool or playground, or at a community location of your choice during the holidays.
  • Trust your instincts. You know what your family can handle and what will make an enjoyable season for everyone. Time is a precious gift, so ENJOY the moments you have with your family this holiday season!

Despite your best efforts, you may still end up dealing with a few holiday meltdowns – maybe it’s your child – maybe it’s YOU! Here are some great resources to help everyone ‘calm down’, if needed (Courtesy of Dyan Robson, from her website, “And Next Comes L” at https://www.andnextcomesl.com/).

 

CLICK HERE for 100 Calm Down Strategies Cheat Sheet

CLICK HERE for Calm Down Cards

CLICK HERE for What to Put in a Calm Down Box

CLICK HERE for Calm Down Tools for Older Kids

 

And – if all else fails – watch/listen to this hilarious Christmas video/song, “DOMINICK the DONKEY” and you and your kids will be calm and laughing in no time! CLICK HERE to enjoy.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On!

Give yourself the gifts that keep on giving this holiday season: be kind to yourself, practice self-care, and choose simplicity, peace, and joy!

May the holiday season find your homes full of laughter, your hearts full of love, and your lives full of joy!

The Children’s Link Team

Sandra Cicman, M.Ed.
Education Lead
The Children’s Link Society

Breathe, Just Breathe!

Congratulations!  You’ve made it through all the busyness and chaos of the fall season, and likely have a few weeks before things start to ramp up again, prior to Christmas. 😊 Now is your chance!  BREATHE, JUST BREATHE! 

Breathing – which is something you are doing right now, likely without even thinking about it, is a proven stress reliever!  And, if you breathe just a little bit deeper, you may feel more relaxed, ease emotional distress, relieve pain, detoxify your body, improve immunity, increase energy, lower blood pressure, improve digestion and promote feelings of calm and happiness! 

There are some simple breathing techniques that can be used by both parents and children with special needs to promote wellness and help regulate emotions. 

Studies have shown that just the simple act of stopping to notice our breath can ease distress.  Using simple breathing techniques, we can learn to quickly relax our bodies and minds.  These strategies apply to both adults and children and can be particularly effective for children with disabilities. 

CLICK HERE for a link to an article with video clips demonstrating several useful and fun breathing techniques: 

7 Best Breathing Exercises for Children with Disabilities 

Something as easy as breathing in slowly through the nose and exhaling gently through the mouth, can be of great benefit.  As can breathing down to the abdomen or stomach area, rather than just ‘chest breathing’.

Are you up for some practice?  Using a free version of the popular Calm App may be a great place to start.  CLICK HERE to explore.

Or, CLICK HERE to check out a video called: Deep Breathing with Shapes for Kids and use this guide: Coping Skills for Kids – Deep Breathing Shapes for Kids to guide you and your child as you breathe together!

During November, Children’s Link is delighted to be welcoming Laurie Moser, as a guest presenter during our daytime Conversation Café and our Grandparent Conversation Café. Laurie has loads of experience teaching and helping people to feel better through breathing and movement.  She has generously offered her time and talent to guide us in breathing a little deeper this month.  We’re always BETTER TOGETHER! 😊

To register for any of these events, please visit our website at www.childrenslink.ca, call our office at 403-230-9158, or email mikaela.johnson@childrenslink.ca. 

In closing, I’d like to invite you to take a DEEP BREATH and watch this little video clip featuring our friends Dory and Nemo. Let it encourage you to “just keeping swimming” and just keep breathing this month.

CLICK HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hkn-LSh7es 

P.S.  While breathing is super important – also remember this: 

With gratitude for each breath I take, 

Sandra Cicman, M.Ed.
Education Lead
The Children’s Link Society

Gratitude Brings Us Together!

There is a beautiful quote that states:


 

As we enter the month of October and prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, let us be especially grateful for all that we have, including the unexpected blessings we have received in our lives– like our children with disabilities!   

At the Children’s Link Society, we appreciate that it can often be difficult for parents to find gratitude for something they didn’t sign up for in the first place.  The special needs journey is not immediately embraced by many – but it is possible for us to learn to love it and even be grateful for it!

Developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is one of the simplest ways to improve our overall levels of satisfaction in life.  But thankfulness is not only an emotional experience – it is also a practical tool. Practicing gratitude can help us sleep better, lower stress, develop positive relationships, and generally lead healthier lives. 

By default, it’s common for parents of children with special needs to focus on the challenges we face each day.  However, it is also possible to develop a practice of appreciating the positives and acknowledging the small beauties in the present moment.
 

CLICK HERE to have a laugh while reading an article by Terri Mauro, titled:
20 Things a Parent of a Child with Special Needs Can Be Thankful For 

 

The blessings of having a child with special needs are many.  Over the years, my son has helped me develop many positive qualities I wouldn’t have otherwise possessed, and he has shaped me into a better human being.  What positive ways have you grown from parenting your child with a disability? 

Please – don’t feel bad if you can’t come up with any positives yet (or at this moment).  If you are in a place where you are struggling to identify the joys of being a parent of a child with special needs – that’s OK.  Just as dealing with loss and grieving is a process, so is learning to find little things to be thankful for each day. 

You are not alone!  The staff at Children’s Link is here to listen, support, and connect you with others who can empathize, walk alongside you, and provide you with HOPE as you move forward. 

We will be offering a full-day workshop on Thursday, November 18/21 called Different Dreams Retreat. This is a chance for moms of children with special needs – at any stage or age – to share, learn and relax with one another.  For more information CLICK HERE to view the flyer and to register for this opportunity to process, grieve, and celebrate together. 

In closing, I’d like to share a video of gratitude with you, for your role as a parent of a child with special needs.  We celebrate you today and we THANK you for all you do to make the lives of your children, your families, and our communities richer. We are truly, “Better Together”! 

 

CLICK HERE to view this short video: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqsHHRDBlEM 

 

If you are looking for a fun gratitude activity for your family – and a wonderful Thanksgiving decoration as well, CLICK HERE. You can either use this in a paper format or find a beautiful vase and some tree branches and create a 3-D Gratitude Tree, decorated with paper leaves (upon which everyone in the family can record the things they are most grateful for). 

Gratitude Tree Printable

 

 

Wishing you an abundant life and a heart full of gratitude this month and always, 

Sandra Cicman