Though not all of us are homesteading with special needs children, it's likely that many of us know someone who is. In this podcast, my good friend Rachel is sharing her tips on raising a special needs child on the homestead.
If you're a parent with a newly diagnosed child with special needs it can be hard to know exactly where to start. How to talk to family and friends about your child and how to express their needs.
I'm excited about this podcast because it's helped shed light on how I can come alongside those with special needs children and especially how to understand better the situations those who are walking through this are facing.
For more resources, check out the “In This Episode” section below.
If you're a member of the Pioneering Today Academy, and if you've been on any of the once-a-month live calls that I do inside the Academy, you've probably met Rachel.
About ten years ago, when her son was two years old, Rachel began noticing that he wasn't hitting the typical childhood “benchmarks.” It was at this time that she began working with specialists to come to his ultimate diagnosis of “special needs.”
Over the years Rachel has learned many tips and come alongside many parents walking through their own journey of raising special needs kids, and she has so much wisdom to share in today's episode.
In This Episode
Resources for those who have children with special needs:
- Birth to Three Program
- Parent to Parent
- The ARC
- Directory of Special Needs Organizations
- CDC explanation of “early intervention”
- Overview of “early intervention”
- Parent support
- Services for Children with disabilities
- 10 Helpful Organizations and Resources for Children with Special Needs
- Understanding the Differences Between and IEP and a 504 Plan
- Supplemental Security Income for Children
Here are some ways in which homesteading can benefit children with disabilities:
- Sensory stimulation: Homesteading offers a wealth of sensory experiences, such as feeling the texture of the soil, smelling the scent of fresh herbs, watching plants grow they helped plant, and listening to the sounds of nature. This can be especially beneficial for children with sensory processing disorders, as it can help them to develop their sensory awareness and regulation.
- Therapeutic benefits: Homesteading can be therapeutic for children with disabilities, providing them with a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and connection to nature. Tasks such as gardening and animal care can be both calming and rewarding, promoting physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.
- Learning opportunities: Homesteading provides a rich environment for learning, as children can develop a variety of skills and knowledge related to agriculture, cooking, sustainability, and traditional crafts. This can be especially valuable for children with learning disabilities, as it can help them to engage with the world in a more meaningful and practical way.
- Social connections: Homesteading can also provide opportunities for socialization, as children can interact with family members, neighbors, and other members of the homesteading community. This can help to build social skills, self-confidence, and a sense of belonging.
How to deal with emotions as a parent:
- Find local support groups
- Parent to Parent is a great place to start.
- Get on social media and search for a local support group.
- Know that it's perfectly acceptable to experience emotions over a child with special needs.
- Understand there is a process you will need to go through and allow for that process.
Advice for parents with special needs children:
- Get rid of expectations for your child. Your child is unique and their own person. No more comparing to charts or benchmarks.
- Embrace the child in front of you and let go of the idea of the child you had in mind.
- Learn how to fall in love with their passions.
- Don't rush your children or try to make them interested in what you want them to be interested in.
- Include them in everyday life (just because your child may not be interested in gardening, if it's part of what the family is doing, include them in a way that works for them).
- Do your best to be on the same page with your spouse or partner.
- Be open and honest with other people about the needs of your child.
- Learn as much as you can about your child's challenges/diagnosis and advocate for them. Always listen to your gut, you are their parent and know them better than anyone else does!
- Don’t be afraid to politely speak your mind and share your concerns with medical professionals, specialists, therapists, teachers and school administrators. Ask questions and get answers. Knowledge is power!
Also, if you're not sure if your child has special needs but your gut instinct is that there's something going on (or there's just something not right), be their advocate!
Push your doctors to get proper diagnoses. Push with the schools to get your child the resources they need to thrive. Your child doesn't know how to advocate for themselves, so you need to step in.
I'm also so glad for Rachel's involvement in planning for the Modern Homesteading Conference. Without her input, I would have never known that having a “sensory room” where people can go to find a quiet place away from the crowds is something that's important.
If you were on the fence about coming to next year's Modern Homesteading Conference because you have family with special needs, just know that we'll do our best to provide areas that accommodate them for the conference.
American Blossom Linens
American Blossom Sheets is an American-made company that sells organically grown cotton towels, sheets, blankets, pillows and more. Their products are heirloom quality and made from cotton grown in the USA.
I don't know about you, but it seems it's getting harder to find products that are made in the United States, as well as cotton that's 100% pure that holds up well to extended use.
One thing I love about my American Blossom Sheets is that they seem to get softer with each and every wash. They keep me warm in the winter and cool in the summer (I don't know how they do it!), but I just fall more in love with them with every night's sleep.
American Blossom Linens is a sponsor of today's podcast and blog post. They're offering a 20% discount on your entire order when you use coupon code “PioneeringToday20”.
Pioneering Today Academy
If you found this podcast helpful and would like a chance to have a one-on-one call with me or learn more gardening and homestead advice from us inside the Academy, you can click here and sign up for the Pioneering Today Academy waitlist.
The doors open twice a year and will be opening up again on March 22, 2023. If you're reading this during a time the doors are not open, sign up for the waitlist and you'll be notified the next time the doors open.
More Posts You May Enjoy:
- The Freedom to Learn: Homeschooling and Public Schooling for Homesteading Families
- Seventh-Year Land Sabbath & Bread Baking Tips (Live Coaching Call)
- Prioritizing Projects (Live Coaching Call)
- Troubleshooting Chicken Health & Best Herbs for Chickens (Live Coaching Call)
- New Gardening Techniques & Varieties to Grow
- Soil Remediation – How to Fix Tainted Soil
- Wood Chips for Garden Mulch (Beneficial or Not?)
- Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for a Healthier Garden
- How to Grow a Large-Scale Garden Without Acreage
Melissa: Hey pioneers. Welcome to episode number 381. Today's episode we are going to be talking about homesteading with special needs kids. We have done some episodes in the past, where we have talked about homesteading when you have young children, and that has been a really great episode, but there are quite a few of our members inside the Pioneering Today Academy, as well as a lot of listeners who have reached out to me and said, do you have any episodes on homesteading with special needs kids? And while you ... I do not have a child with special needs, and you might be listening and you don't either. However, we do have family members who do have special needs kids, and it's something that probably all of us know somebody, even if it's not directly in our immediate family, in our household, who does have special needs.
So I think this is a really helpful episode to listen to, to get a better understanding as well as to help come along and support those, both the children and the families when they are dealing with that and how homesteading can work in tandem with that. So I'm actually very excited to share this with you today because I do feel like it is going to help a lot of people. Now, many of you probably already know, Rachel, if you are a member of the academy or you have been on any of the free live trainings that I do usually once a month, you have probably ran into Rachel. She helps to moderate those as well as helps me with the email inbox. So there is a good chance, if you've had any form of communication with me, you probably have seen Rachel's name come up or had her help you.
So I'm very pleased to be able to have her on so that we can talk about this. Now, speaking of ways that we can help one another and be supportive, that brings me to our sponsor for today's podcast episode, and that is American Blossom Linens. American Blossom Linens is an American made company that sells organically grown cotton towels, sheets, blankets, pillows and more. These are air lube quality and not only are they made in the United States, but they also are made in the United States from cotton that is grown in the United States. I don't know about you, but it is oftentimes very hard to one, find products that are American made but two, to find 100% cotton sheets. It seems so much of the fabric that we come across these days is a blend. And oftentimes, it'll say cotton, but it's not 100% cotton, so it's got polyester thrown in there and other things like that.
A lot of the fabrics can also be treated with things like flame retardant, just a lot to make them softer. They can use different chemicals that I am not comfortable having against my skin, on our beds, and definitely not sleeping on. So I'm super excited to have American Blossom Linens sponsor the podcast and you can use the coupon code "pioneering today 20," that's "pioneering today 20," to get 20% off of your order. Well, Rachel, welcome to the Pioneering Today Podcast.
Rachel: Hi, it's nice to be here.
Melissa: This is an episode that I think is really needed and one that's probably not talked about as much as it should be. So I'm really grateful for you coming on because I know sometimes talking about these subjects can make people ... I don't know if uncomfortable is the right word, but I have to say for me, because I don't have a child with special needs, sometimes I'm unsure of if it should be talked about, especially because I don't have a child with special needs. So sometimes coming into a conversation with someone, it's not that you don't want to acknowledge it, but you're really not sure, at least for myself personally speaking, if it should be brought up or how I can help, how can I be supportive, what I should know about?
So I think it's really good that we're having this conversation, even if it's just to educate myself, but I'm sure that there's other listeners who have been on either side of this and it will be a welcome topic.
Rachel: Yes, I think it's ... for a parent, especially with a newly diagnosed child, it can be really tough to navigate. You don't know where to start. You don't know what to say to your family. You don't know what to say to your friends, you don't know how to explain it, and I think it is really important to talk about. Fortunately, we're at a time in our culture where people are much more open about these things and talk about them and share, and it's a much more accepting world now than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago.
Melissa: Yeah, I think that is a good thing. I think there is a lot of more conversations on the table now, even ... I'm going to sound so old because here I am, almost 42 and I look back to when I was a kid and the things that were talked about, at least in our family or in my realm compared to what is talked about now, and there's a lot more things that are discussed and open that aren't just kind of shoved under their rug.
Rachel: Yes, and I'm older than you. I'm 48, and in school it was always, "Oh, the kid that's different," where now, people really understand everybody is different. It's just they work differently. They're wired differently, they're not neurotypical, they're neurodiverse.
Melissa: Yeah. I like that terminology. So with kids with special needs, do you want to just share a little bit about your story with your son so that people kind of have that background and then, I really want to dive into how homesteading helps those kids and also, tips for parents or grandparents or family members or people who have friends with special needs kids, tips for them to use on their homestead with people who have different needs, to help them through everything.
Rachel: Sure, absolutely. So my son is now 12 and when he was born, everything was normal. I thought I was going to have this great perfect birth and of course, ended up with a C-section after 36 hours of labor. He was great and healthy and happy and everything, and right around just before he turned two, he wasn't hitting the benchmarks, as they refer to. I'm somewhat familiar because I have a younger brother who's now a computer engineer and wicked smart guy, but he had some learning disabilities when he was a kid, so I was kind of familiar with what to look for. We noticed that with our son. So we had him evaluated and they said, "Oh, he has sensory challenges and possibly autism." So we started doing some occupational and speech therapy when he was two and he was in a developmental preschool, which was wonderful through our school district.
Then, we tried kindergarten in the public school and for him with his sensory differences, because everything was just heightened so much compared to anybody that's neurotypical, it was just too much. He was a late talker. He really didn't talk until he was almost six and now, he doesn't shut up, which is wonderful. I prayed for years that he would talk and now there's days I'm like, "Oh, take a breath, child." When he started kindergarten, about four months in, he pretty much stopped talking because it was just way, way too much for him. That's when we decided that that didn't work. So we decided to homeschool and we've done that ever since. He did go to speech and occupational therapy until he was nine, actually when the pandemic hit, that kind of stopped everything.
We haven't gone back because he's doing really well now, but that's always a possibility in the future, and that's something for our families to think about too, that with any kid, their needs change.
Melissa: Yeah, so for somebody who is dealing with a new diagnosis or maybe even somebody who thinks that maybe that their child does have some special needs, what are some good resources or some good steps to take?
Rachel: The best thing I would say to start with is find out locally in your area, just look up Birth to Three program. Pretty much everywhere across the United States, they have a Birth to Three program and they will do an assessment. You can also look for a parent to parent. That's a great localized organization that's nationwide as well. They work with families, with kids and they can help you get a diagnosis. Those are two great places to start. Our son, he has sensory processing disorder and he's on the autism spectrum. Recently, as of last June, he started having seizures and so that's controlled with medication. So that's been a whole another thing. Honestly, the sensory differences and the autism were a cakewalk to deal with. The epilepsy, that's been a real monkey wrench, just trying to manage expectations of when it's going to happen.
Fortunately, with the medication he's on, it's controlled it. He's only had one since he's been on medication, but that definitely makes it tough.
Melissa: Yeah, and from the emotional standpoint as the parent, not only physically having to deal with stuff and learning stuff and finding aid and stuff, but do you have any tips for, especially the newly diagnosed? Because I'm assuming that you went through emotions. I mean, I know I would. So do you have any tips for dealing with that?
Rachel: Yes. It's very emotional and look for local support groups. We here in our county, I'm in Thurston County, Washington, we have parent to parent, that's the organization I talked about earlier. They have support groups, many different ones, for families who have kids on the spectrum, for families who have kids that have other challenges and they're really helpful. So looking for support groups locally and either parent to parent through a local hospital, through your school district, and then also get on social. On Facebook, even if you don't like Facebook, there are a lot of local support groups for families with special needs. Just do a search for your county and your state special needs and see what comes up. There's quite a few out there, surprisingly. Even if you can't meet in person, at least to have someone there virtually is great.
I actually am a helping parent for our local parent to parent, so when they receive an intake from someone that has a newly diagnosed child with autism or sensory processing disorder, they will connect us and I kind of mentor them in what to do to work through the newness of it all.
Melissa: So what are some of the things that you tell them to do as they work through the newness with it?
Rachel: The biggest thing is just get rid of all your expectations and we all ... when we're pregnant and before we have kids, we have all these dreams and ideas and what our children are going to be like and from what they're going to look like to how they're going to be and all these things and honestly, take all of that and throw it out the window, because all you will do is frustrate yourself and frustrate your child. They're exactly who they are, and they are not that person you had in your head. Just let it all go and honestly, with all the benchmarks and everything that OSPI, which is through your local ... your state or what is that, public instruction, offices for superintendent of public instruction. They put out the benchmarks for the states about what your kid should be doing at this age and this grade and you know what, honestly, throw it out the window.
It's kind of like when you raise animals. They're going to do everything in their own time and you can't rush it, and that's the same with your kid, is just let them be who they are and don't expect them to meet a timeline.
Melissa: Yeah. It's funny because ... funny is probably not the right word, but we're talking specifically about kids with special needs, but honestly, that has been something I'm still learning, as my son is 17 now, he's a senior in high school, my daughter is in eighth grade and I feel like that's a constant thing that even that is like, I have to remove my expectations of what I think, that they should ... I mean, within a degree, yes, there's certain things that they are going to do regardless if they want to or not as a parent, but overall, with their personality and where they're at and the life choices that they're making and all of that, is letting go of some of those expectations because they're my expectations. They're not what they've ever expressed interest in or they've ever shown within their personality in certain things.
And I have to say that's been one of ... probably one of the most challenging things with parenthood this far is the expectation part, so I'm glad that you brought that up.
Rachel: It is very difficult and just really kind of allowing them to develop into who they are going to be. Never in my life did I know I would know so much about trains and planes, but that is my child's passion. I was a kid that grew up as Melissa, a farm kid, 4-H kid, and I loved all of that. He loves his animals, but he has zero interest in 4-H, and I had dreams of being 4-H Mom and 4-H leader and if we do 4-H, it's either going to be rockets or trains mom. It's not going to be goats, it's not going to be horses, not even chickens and just letting them follow their path. Also, really being on board with your spouse, your partner, your family members, and reminding them to not put expectations on everything and "Oh, why are they different than what this book says?"
Book is a book. It doesn't tell you exactly how everyone is going to be at the same time. The other big thing I found with any kiddo, I think with anybody is more time you spend out in nature, the better. I know for our son, he would come home from school and just want to be outside and around the animals when he was in school because it was very calming. I even think about when I was a kid and I grew up and I came home after a half an hour bus ride because we lived in the ding weeds. If I had a bad day, the first place I went was a barn.
Melissa: Yeah, I remember ... Well actually, this wasn't even just as a kid. It was up ... I haven't had horses in 12 years, but I probably cried more into the main of my horse. I tell you what.
Melissa: Than anything and yeah, as a child, as a young adult, even as a young mom, it was actually Maddie, my daughter was six months old when I had to put my very last mirror down. Gosh. Yeah. Animals are extremely therapeutic.
Rachel: And that's one thing I'd say for anybody that does have a special need ... not even just special needs kids. Kids. Animals are incredibly therapeutic. My grandfather always told me he had cows and chickens and ducks and he always told me, animals are your best friends. They always listen and they rarely talk back. He was right, and they're always there for you. One thing I would say for any parents, with your kids, if you feel like something is different, if you're concerned, get an evaluation. Also, allow that child the time they need. Don't try and rush it. Don't try and make them something they're not. Let them be who they are and they may not be interested in homesteading. I mean, it is my passion. I grew up doing all of this.
And honestly, my child, he loves his animals, but he has no interest. He doesn't want to help. Mom can. He's kind of interested in the freeze dryer and how it works, but he won't eat the food with the sensory differences because he only likes a very few certain things, but it's my passion, not his and he comes out, he likes to be outside with me, and once in a while, he'll plant things and he doesn't really like to eat the food from the garden, but he likes to play with the flowers and do different things and just let them do what works for them. Just like with any child, when you're homesteading as you know, Melissa, when they're little, you just take them with you to do your chores. It's no different with a special needs kiddo. This is our farm. This is our family. You're a part of it. Come on, we're going to do this.
Melissa: Okay, I love that and yes, that has been something that's always been really interesting to me because Rachel and I have very similar backgrounds. We were both raised on farms, raised by parents who had a lot of similarities in a lot of ways. And people have asked me, I don't know if you've ever come across this too, Rachel is, well, how do you deal with your kids at butcher time? I'm like, well, there was never ... they just always knew. We were always very open about it. This is where our meat came from. When you're teaching what foods are, like hamburger. Well, hamburger comes from a cow. That's our cow in the field. There was never this great revealing moment or there was never traumatization around it. In fact, when Maddie was little, I don't want to say she was like three and we were butchering the chickens.
So at three, I wasn't really sure ... because chickens are a lot, I don't want to say traumatic when you're butchering them, but they-
Rachel: There's a lot of drama.
Melissa: There's a lot more drama with butchering a chicken, honestly, than there has been with ... we've only butchered pigs and cows and chickens. So between those three, the chickens are a little bit more dramatic and loud with a lot of process and flap it, yeah, all the things. So at three, I wasn't sure that I wanted her to be out there when we were actually cutting off the head, because that's how we do it. We don't just slip the neck, we completely remove the head and all of that. So as soon as we had done that part, and we were getting to the plucking part, because she wanted to be out there so bad. Same thing, she's always been with us for everything. So we let her come out for the plucking part. So, she got to help with the scalding and the ... I mean, of course, within reason, she's three and the scalding tank is actually much. It's not even boiling.
Anyways, moral of this story is she got mad after we let her come out with the first batch that she didn't get to stay out for the rest of it because she wanted to be there for the whole process. So I'm like, "Are you sure?" So she has always been fine," but what's also interesting is she's probably the most compassionate, which almost sounds like an oxymoron, but we'll have meat birds and there's always at least one meat bird in the flock that gets to be about two to three weeks old and something happens and you just know this thing is not going to make it until butcher time. She knows we're raising them to butcher because she helps. She actually helps teach at the workshops that we do. She leads people through how to do it now. She will go out and take one of those meat birds. She knows it's not going to make it, but she'll put it in its own little box and she changes its bedding every day and she brings its own food and water.
Then when it does die, because it does, we go out and bury it together. So I'm with you on always have the kids be a part of it, rather than you just do it. Even if they don't want to do it. In this instance, Maddie did want to be out helping with all of that, but I think it's really important, like you said, the kids just are a part of it and you let them do the things that they do want, encourage them with that. On that note though ... because I know when you came and visited here on the homestead multiple times, and Eli came with you and you were really good about telling me ahead of time what to expect, if he needed to wear headphones to help cut down on auditory noise and that type of thing. So I think you've kind of have a system now, knowing with what Eli needs when you go to places.
So can you talk about how you get comfortable with telling people, "Hey, this is what my child needs when he's at your place and how you've worked through that process?"
Rachel: Sure, absolutely and I agree, the whole butchering thing, I mean, I was raised too. It was just part of life. I remember ... I don't know, I was about four and my grandparents were on the farm next to us. My grandma would always, "Shut the curtains in the kitchen because she didn't want to see us ... us kids to see them shoot the cow." I remember I looked at her, I said, "Oh, ma. Why do you shut the curtains?" She said, "Oh, just come over here, let's wait." I said, "I want to see them shoot the cow." Then she would go, "Oh, okay." She was worried it was going to traumatize us, bless her heart and it was the same ... it's part of life, and I have to say with Eli, we've had a few really brutal raccoon attacks with our ducks and it's been really rough and you know how bloody and gory and awful that is.
It's he and I that find him the next morning even, because the raccoons have gotten into their pen no matter what we've done. He helps clean it up and he just says, "Come on mom, let's dig a hole." It's just is what it is, and he's sad. We use it since we homeschool, it's a teaching experience. He wants to see what the insides of the duck looks like. Why did the raccoon eat that part? Well, and we explain why and it's brutal. I'm trying not to dry heap because I'm so upset that my ducks have been killed by this raccoon, but he wants to know and he asks all kinds of questions. So you just use it all as a teaching experience.
Melissa: Yeah, and I have to say on the flip side, if I did have a child that was really bothered by the butchering part, I've not experienced that myself. If I did, we would have a conversation and I would not force them to watch and be a part, if they truly were having a really hard emotional response.
Rachel: Absolutely. Give them the choice. Give them the option. You can be here for it or not, or if there's just this portion you want to help with. Great.
Rachel: And doing it that way. So with Eli, when he was little, he loves airplanes and so we just call them pilot ears. They're just the Pell Tour, yellow sound suppressors, and because he loves the Blue Angels, they wear yellow headsets. So he thought it was really cool. He wore them everywhere for years and years. I mean to school, to train shows, everywhere we'd go so he could manage the noise coming in and he still carries them. We carry them in every one of our vehicles. My folks have them in their cars and he always has access to them and he very seldom uses them anymore. Allowing your child to manage it themselves is really, really big, when they're little and they don't know how you help them. When he was small, we were very aware of situations we'd go into that wouldn't bother us. We had to really think about how is that going to affect him?
We'd try it, and if it was too much ... he loves airshow, but if there's a jet car there, there's a certain frequency from that jet car that really bothers him. He would get upset and cry, so we'd say, "Okay, well let's not be here at the show. We'll go farther away and you can watch it from a farther distance," because that works for him. He still doesn't want to go into the shows. He doesn't want to go on the tarmac, he wants to watch it from outside. So, just giving them that leeway to decide what works best for them. When it comes to telling people, fortunately, I had him ... I turned 36, two weeks after I had him, so I was at an age of, "I don't care what you think, this is my life, this is my kid," but if you're at a point in life where you're uncomfortable saying things to people, you have to get comfortable for your kid's sake and just saying, sounds bother him, or this doesn't work or that doesn't work.
Really, the biggest thing I found is people that care about you. They are going to understand and they're going to listen and get ... 99% of folks are very compassionate and wonderful, and when we've been at your house, he never wants put on his sound suppressors and of course, wants to tour every room in your house, that is one of the things we still laugh about. I tell him when we go ... and that's one thing with kids on the spectrum is they don't really have the greatest boundaries and filters. They just think everything is open to them. No, you can't walk into everybody's bedroom, child. You can't. This is not where you live, but he's still ... he talks about all the time, he wants to know how all your animals are.
Anytime I'm up there and he's not, he wants updates, he needs to know, but just really letting folks know and sharing with them, this is what works. This is what doesn't work.
Melissa: Okay. Well, I am so glad that we got to have this conversation. Yes, that Eli was a kick in the pants and my gosh, the love that that boy has for my dog.
Rachel: Bobo, he loves his Bobo.
Melissa: He loves Bobo. It was just ... Yeah, it was so cute. I love how much he loves Bo. I always jokingly tell Clay, "If anything ever happens where we couldn't keep Bo anymore, I'm pretty sure Eli would take him on."
Rachel: He would. Anytime if he hears your voice and then, I'm watching one of your videos, "Is Bobo on the video, mom?" He doesn't want to watch Melissa. He needs to watch Bobo.
Melissa: He needs to watch Bo. Gosh. That's funny. Actually, I'm looking out the window, it said dog right now. Well, I'm really glad that you came on and that we had this conversation because one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on is we've had other members inside the Pioneering Today Academy and different folks within our homesteading community, that have had recent diagnosis, which kids with special needs. I know you've been able to step in and really offer some guidance and help. Two, as we have been planning the modern homesteading conference, which obviously is a large in-person event, me not having a child or anybody in my life with special needs, I didn't even consider this until you brought it up and you said, "Well, we really need to have somewhere that people can go if they need to have a quiet break or sensory overload where they can go and decompress for a little bit."
I love that you brought that up, but it also made me realize how fortunate I am on one hand that I don't have to think about that, but how that we should think about that and how that should be something when you're doing something large scale, that should be something that's available to folks. I just think that a lot of times people just don't know what they don't know. So I'm really glad that you came on so that we could raise awareness for other people so that everybody can just experience life how they need to.
Rachel: That's becoming more and more commonplace, having at events, and I even have to say, we went a few years ago to a Seahawks game and they actually have a sensory room for adults kids to go into that's quiet, the lights are dimmed. They also offer free earplugs. There's a lot of places that will offer sound suppressors, events, which is really nice to see, because it's not just kids that face these issues. There's a lot of undiagnosed adults that just always thought, what's wrong with me? I'm not like everybody else.
Melissa: Yeah, and this is the discussion that I don't think that we ... that I find interesting. Not that I have the answer on or anything like that, but do you think ... because you said your brother had some learning disabilities. Do you think we've gotten better at diagnosing and creating greater awareness so that people see it or do you think that you see more and more people have special needs and stuff happening more than we did say 40 years ago?
Rachel: I think it's both. I think we have much better ways to diagnose now and a lot more offerings. I look back when my brother was little and he's four years younger than me, so I have to do the math, he's 44. My mom had to fight tooth and nail to get that kid what he needed. You know my mom, she's ferocious. For me, there were a lot more opportunities for my son than my brother had it. As hard as my mom thought, there were things that just weren't there back then. So it's kind of twofold. There's a lot more opportunities for diagnosis and treatment. Also, I think we are seeing much, much higher numbers when it comes to disabilities, and that's a whole 'nother rabbit hole I will not go down, because I think so much of it comes from what we eat and put into our bodies.
I was a farm kid. I grew up eating healthy and all those things. My husband, not so much. He grew up eating junk and processed foods, and I think honestly, that affects our children. That may be why we're seeing some of this a lot more in ... as generations move on because for so many years, we have not been kind to our bodies and eating processed foods and been around all these ... because there's chemicals everywhere and we're exposed to all that. That's a rabbit hole I won't go down.
Melissa: I know, I hesitated to bring it up, but I'm like, "Okay, we can talk about it without getting too far into it, because there's so many nuances within that whole thing." Anyhow, I will leave it there.
Rachel: There are and there is for folks that are unsure what's happening with their child, they notice that something doesn't seem quite right. First, go talk to your practitioner, whoever you see, naturopath, doctor, ask them. Unfortunately, a lot of times they'll say, "Oh yeah, no big deal." Follow your gut instinct as a parent. If your gut says something's going on, keep pushing, keep asking. Look locally for school districts, parent to parent. Just look for resources and you really ... you have to advocate for your child. Nobody else is going to do it.
Melissa: Yeah, that's been my experience, just even with my own medical health and even with the kids, yeah, is pushing if you feel something is wrong. Yeah.
Rachel: And you have to do your own research and get out there and find it, and it is more work, but it's really worth it in the end.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on. I think this is going to help a lot of folks, at least make them not feel alone, and I appreciate you sharing.
Rachel: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Melissa: To grab any of the links or resources that we mentioned in today's episode, you can find those by going to melissaknorris.com/381, just the number 381 because this is episode number 381, and you will find the written blog post, as well as different resources and links that we have referenced and talk about in today's episode. If you would like to join the academy, we are opening the doors on March 22nd. Make sure that you get on the wait list. You'll have first option as soon as we open the doors, and you can do that at melissaknorris.com/pta. Thank you so much for joining us today, and don't forget to use that coupon code "Pioneering today 20" at American Blossom Linens.
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