Strict Supervison of Disabled Child Averts Tragedy


How many times have you stubbed your toe attempting to navigate your way to the bathroom at night?

“Darn it, where are the keys? Wonderful…now I need a locksmith!”

Locked yourself out of the car or house more than once?

Have you ever walked into that sliding glass door you thought was open while rushing to the deck or patio…with a plate of BBQ, several glasses of drinks or other knick-knacks in hand?

It’s so easy to screw up like that isn’t it?!

Most of the time, such mistakes are harmless and easily corrected. However, each time you repeat a mistake increases your chance for a mishap…a true safety issue.

Worse yet, what if you injured yourself or someone else in the process? Sobering thought, indeed.

We used to have a trampoline in the back yard for the kids. It was great for sensory stimulation but Jonathan got very tired of having to climb off the sides and get back on.  Kimberly, our oldest daughter told us that Jonny had cut a hole in the bottom of the trampoline so he could crawl through more easily.

Many times Jonathan and other kids with special needs would do things that could cause serious harm to themselves or others because they just couldn’t see the big picture.

Sometimes our kids just don’t think through the ramifications of their actions. Can you imagine what would have happened if he would have been jumping and accidentally fell through the hole!

As a Mom, it sent shivers down my spine to think anyone could have been hurt.

After replacing several trampolines we quickly found safer ways for Jonathan to further his sensory stimulation.

Similar to not turning on the lights before stumbling to the bathroom at night or ensuring the keys are in hand before locking the car door, we all have been caught at one time or another not seeing the forest for the trees.

Although we may look back and laugh at past shenanigans or oversight, safety is priority number one…especially with special needs loved ones around.

What have you done to keep a special needs loved one safe?

How did a disabled person you know miss the “forest for the trees”?

What ideas do you have for being proactive when safety is concerned around special needs persons?

Forward your special story via this link:

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. The following is highly recommended to help you learn tips, strategies, and tools that are effective in supervising special needs individuals.

Download this video presentation that will help you cope:


Stories From the Heart: Cartwheels

Jesus Rios came into our lives when we were in the 7th grade. At the time, my friends and I were eating lunch on our usual table and spot in the lunch area. Jesus came down to eat lunch with us with a huge smile on his face saying, “I’m Jesus, Jesus Rios.”

We welcomed him with open arms into our lunch area, but we were a little surprised. We had never had anyone named Jesus, or anyone with Down Syndrome, come to eat lunch with us. I’m not sure if we had ever even talked to anyone with special needs before.

Jesus soon became just like any other person in our group. He loved to smile, make jokes, and tease just like anyone else would. Jesus loved to show off for all of us girls. He loved to have us all sit around while he put on a show doing cartwheels and dancing.

Jesus gave each of us a name of our own because he could never remember our names. My friend Jazmon became “Crazy Hair.” Our whole group was nicknamed “Pretty Girls” or “His Girlfriends.” The only person Jesus could ever remember by name was Gracie. She was always the heart and soul of the group and it wasn’t surprising that he only remembered her.

Jesus used to blame anything that went wrong on her. Gracie was always the patient one and didn’t mind to help him figure out a problem that was never her fault. I recall one time when he lost his pictures. He marched right up to Gracie and started yelling and pointing his finger at her and saying that she stole his pictures. Gracie very calmly took Jesus to find his pictures that mysteriously showed up at the bottom of his backpack.

My friend Malia and I invited Jesus to our double birthday party. Jesus was so excited, he could hardly contain himself. Everyday up to the party, he would tell everyone that Rebecca invited him to a party and that they weren’t invited. (Yes, he finally learned my name).

When his dad dropped him off for the party he stayed for awhile to give us instructions on what Jesus could and couldn’t eat. We would find Jesus sneaking all the candy he wasn’t supposed to eat anyways. Malia brought him outside and taught him how to hula dance. He probably had it down better than the rest of us. A few girls at the party put on a play with Jesus. Jesus really didn’t get what they were doing so he just ran around the yard doing cartwheels and dancing to his own beat. Jesus was the life of the party.

Jesus joined our group to the 8th grade dance. He looked very handsome with his bow tie and suspenders. He danced each of the slow songs with a different girl from our group. Jesus made each dance, party, and lunchtime more memorable than any I have ever had. Our times together were not always fun and dandy. We constantly had to defend Jesus and get him out of fights.

A certain group of boys never seemed to get off his back. None of us noticed that they constantly picked on him until they did right in front of us. (Not a smart move on their part) We defended poor Jesus until each of us had lost our voice and gotten into trouble for yelling. We were all angry until we looked at Jesus’ smiling face showing us that he appreciated everything we had just done.

From that day forward, no one dared to mess with Jesus. Jesus taught our whole group how to love and respect others even if they are a bit different. We would have never guessed that Jesus could be so much fun and just as crazy as the rest of us. He was a great person to talk to, and some of most meaningful conversations at that age were with Jesus.

We all reached high school together seeing each other briefly in the halls. But just like many wonderful friendships, our group fell apart. When I see Jesus in one of his classrooms, he always comes right out and says proudly, “This is my girlfriend.” And I proudly say back, “Yes I am!”
Thank you Jesus, you changed all of us for the better.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Family is First on the Scene Covering the Disability Corner

Support is nice to have. Support from family is critical.

Life is strange sometimes. You can’t always get what you want. Many times, however, you are blessed with what really matters.

During the first presentation that I ever gave, my two oldest kids gave me “good luck gifts.” They made them all on their own.  At the time, they were only 13 and 12 years old.

My oldest daughter, Kim, offered me some advice.

She told me not to tell any funny stories about her, mention sex, or sing!

My oldest son, Matt, drew this picture of how he hopes my presentation will go. It said: “…dear mom, good luck with all of your speeches and that they turn out…Love ya….Matt.”

At the bottom it said, “Awesome, yeah, she’s good, wow!…she’s great…she’s my Mom…she has six kids, she doesn’t look like it!”  Don’t you just love kids, especially when they’re saying that kind of stuff.

Though I didn’t promise I wouldn’t sing, or mention sex, I certainly invited my audience into my life to share stories, videos and my family with them…and YOU!

No matter how that presentation would have turned out I know I’m a blessed Mom….proud of my family.

They stood by me when it counted, for a wonderful cause.

No, I didn’t get a perfect family.

I was blessed with what I needed and what ultimately matters…a close family that has and will get through anything together.

What trials has your family faced?

What particular struggles were involved how did your families support make a difference?

Please share your story by leaving a comment below.

Hearing from you energizes my continued dedication.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Need tips, strategies, and tools to help you and your family fight the good fight?

To download a video presentation that will help you along on your quest click here:

Syncing Circadian Rhythm with Sleeping Schedule of Special Needs Persons

What do special needs children, circadian rhythm and bed sheets have in common?

That is the million dollar question to be discussed.

As a loving Mother of two special needs children I am grateful that currently, only my son Alex exhibits extreme sleep issues. Still, it is a challenge.

Living in Canada can play havoc with ones biological circadian rhythm where the sun goes down around 4:00 pm in the winter and midnight in the summertime. This makes it difficult to establish a bedtime routine (pattern) that so many special needs children require.

Although not diagnosed with SPD (sensory processing disorder), to this day, Alex won’t sleep with sheets on his bed. He continually removes them as if they were an itchy wool sweater or some other irritant. He stays awake really late and falling asleep has always been a chore for him.

We have tried many biomedical interventions through the years and found that simple coping strategies like listening to calming tapes and music seem to help. Of course, exercise during the day also wears him out sufficiently to assist dozing off.

Due to time and patience required, we have not tried “light box” therapy…yet. Instead, we taught Alex to avoid sugar hours before bedtime and to observe “quiet time” prior to bed.

So, although we wish there was a light switch for the sun or a bed sheet that Alex would accept, we’ve enacted simple but effective steps (more exercise, less sugar, “quiet time” and soothing music) that have made bedtime less stressful for both Alex and the whole family.

Have you found proactive ways to promote peace and quiet at your household during bedtime with special needs children?

What have you found that’s most effective to lull a special needs child to sleep?   Be bold and share your story. Leave your comments below.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. More tips, strategies, and tools to help you and your special needs child get your “Z’s”.

To download a video presentation for sleeping tips click below:


Stories From the Heart: It Was My Understanding

It seemed like my little sister was always happy. She only cried when Mother or I wouldn’t let it be her way. It was cute and made me happy inside. But my sister Vada wasn’t like my other sister’s. Due to complication’s at birth she was mentally handicapped.  I didn’t understand when I was younger. It didn’t seem to compute with me that my 2 year old little sister was handicapped. Over the years I did understand though, even if it wasn’t easy.

I was jealous often of her. My Mom was always telling me “Your sister has special needs Hun, you know that.” Yes of course I knew that, but didn’t want to accept it, and everything that it meant. I wanted attention too. I got wonderful grades and did great things and here this girl who could barely speak properly, didn’t seem to understand barely anything, and she was the star of the show. It didn’t seem fair.  I was so childish. Now when I think back about how I felt I’m asking myself, “Why was I so horrible?”

Vada would always be looked at differently. People would always treat her specially because she was special. I think I tried excluding her mainly when I was pushed on to take care of her. Mom and my Step-father needed my help with her, so I was stuck with Vada. I cooked for her, played with her, got her dressed, and put her on the bus to school. She was always with me, and I was with her.

Then one summer day I finally understood her. Her and I were playing outside with my friends. She couldn’t keep up with us, and everyone was getting aggravated that I had brought her along.

“Why did you bring that retard for?” they asked me. For the first time I was angry someone had said that. I look at Vada sadly and then back to them with a scowl. “She’s not a retard! She’s my sister and my best friend, and you will never understand her the way I do!”

That night when I put her to sleep, Vada smiled at me and asked, “Jewel love me?” I nodded and inside wanted to cry. “Of course, I will always love you, and always have.” Vada was my angel, my little sister who meant the world to me.

Now Vada and I are still close. Many times she annoys me, as little sisters often do, when I’m with my friends, or my guy, but I always take time to spend with her and let her know I love her.

I guess it just took a while for me to understand that just because she was different, didn’t make her wrong. Vada wasn’t a mistake, or something not meant to be: she was my sister. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Life’s Highway of Disability Includes Bumps and Detours

A journey of many miles starts with a single step.

Most often there are many stops along a curving path. Rarely is the journey a perfectly paved or straight road.

Often times, some of the road signs are missing or not what you expected to see.

Have you ever got stuck in the “Exit Only” lane when your initial plans were to continue barreling down the highway?

Worse yet, did that unintended exit lane turn you in a completely different direction, with no other available exits in sight allowing you to get back on track?

As a Mother, I am often asked to describe the experience of raising children with disabilities. In trying to help people who have not shared that unique experience and to aid in their understanding, I compare it to the world of travel.

When you are going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans.

You plan to visit the:

-Michelangelo David
-Gondolas in Venice

Of course, you also learn some handy phrases in Italian.

It’s all very exciting.

However, despite preparing for Italy, a change in the flight plan dumps you in Holland.

“Holland?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland?  I signed up for Italy.  I’m supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy!”

So you’re now in Holland…and you’re told you must stay there too.

What would be your attitude at that point? A bit angry, miffed, confused and lost perhaps?

The important thing is that they haven’t left you in a horrible, disgusting or filthy place.

It’s just a different place.

Now you have more work to do, you must go out and buy new guidebooks and learn a whole new language. Positively speaking, you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

Sure, it’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But, after you’ve been there for a while, catch your breath, look around and get the lay of the land you begin to notice that Holland has:


Everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

The pain of plans fallen through will never completely go away because the loss of that dream is significant.

But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

Continually remind yourself, that no matter what your “Holland” is in this life, it’s just a different place. Soak in what it has to offer and be grateful.

Open your eyes, look around and smell the roses…frequently.

Remember, a first step starts the journey of many miles.  Forge your path and discover what it has to offer.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

Share your adventure with me, what it was and what you learned. Leave you comment below.

Where have your “travels” taken you? I look forward to hearing your story.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Here is something I would like to recommend that will give you the tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with the unexpected. Download a video here:


Silent Seizure Symptoms of the Disabled

Has anyone ever snapped their fingers, yelled at you or otherwise had to get your attention in a blatantly conspicuous manner?

Were you surprised at their frustration when you finally “came to”?

Most likely, you were jolted back to reality as a result of their desperate attempt to get your undivided attention.

You most likely yelled out “What is all the fuss about, I didn’t even hear you!”

Sound familiar?

It’s a classic case of gazing off into “space”…commonly known as daydreaming.

Now, try to imagine your initial amusement turns to urgent concern when, try as you might, nothing you do gets the attention of your child.  Their eyes are open, yet they don’t respond.

A Mother’s nightmare come true…a terrifying experience to say the least.

Here is my “seizure” story:

One day my girlfriend and I took our kids to West Edmonton Mall water park to go swimming.

Alex, my youngest (6 months old at that time), was in his little seat and Nancy (my girlfriend) noticed that he was staring at the lights in the mall.  We tried to distract him by waving our hands in front of his face but he continued to gaze into space as if we weren’t even there.

We determined he must be having some sort of seizure.

We rushed him to the hospital.

Having never actually witnessed anyone having a seizure, Alex’s event manifested itself opposite of what we’ve seen on TV or in movies. He was not shaking at all or otherwise displaying any outward signs…besides the blank stare.

It was later determined that Alex’s seizure was caused by his high temperature. Another seizure occurred about a year later. No others have been detected…at least that we could see.

Unbelievable as it seems, people have mild seizures that are not even detectable.

Have you ever experienced a seizure or witnessed one occurring to someone else?

How did you first become aware of the symptoms?

What was your first reaction?

What did you do to aid the situation?

Given each seizure can be unique, please share your story by leaving a comment below.

Thank you for participating!

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Seizures can be scary for the uninitiated. There are more tips, strategies, and tools to help you understand the nature of “silent” seizures.

To download a video presentation related to seizures, click below:


Stories From the Heart: My Momma’s Hair

My husband, James, and I have been foster parents for the past four years. The touching moments happen often in the course of caring for neglected or abused children. Sometimes it just breaks my heart to see not only the physical suffering of these children but the silent, mental suffering no sees unless they spend time with each child. Currently we have two children in our care, David, age 4, and his sister, Susan, age 3.

Every time these two little ones return from a parental visit they are sad and tend to act out for a day or two. At the breakfast table after such a visit David appeared to be sad or maybe not feeling well. His head was down and his favorite breakfast of biscuits and gravy sat before him untouched. One hand covered his forehead and eyes so that we couldn’t determine whether he was actually sick or upset.

James, noticed and asked, “Say, Buddy, aren’t you hungry this morning?” David remained hidden and silent for a moment. Then in the broken language of his youth and speech impairment, he replied so softly it was difficult to decipher. “Hair.” Puzzled, my husband asked him, “Is there a hair on your food? Just brush it away, Buddy, and eat up!” “Face,” was David’s reply. James and I exchanged puzzled glances. After a while you get to know the intricate workings of a child’s mind.

From an inner intuition I suddenly knew exactly what he was saying…the reason he was sad and unable to eat. “David, did your mother hold you on her lap yesterday and give you lots of hugs and kisses?” I asked. He dropped the hand from his lowered head, looked up at me with pools of unshed tears filling his eyes, lower lip quivering and said, “Momma’s hair. On my face…” As he spoke his small little hand brushed the side of his face ever so gently.

My heart nearly broke. Barely holding back tears of my own it was all I could do to speak as I opened my arms. “Come here, precious, and let me hold you for a minute.” The sobs were released at last as he jumped from his chair and ran around the table and into my arms. I engulfed him in a fierce hug as I lifted him onto my lap. For long moments I simply rocked him and whispered in his ear, “You are so special…we love you…God loves you too…so special…” Until the tears were spent.

But the pain of this child will never completely go away. We can love him and try to reassure him that he matters…that he is special…but what he really needs and craves so badly is not ours to give. All he wants is to be with his mother. Oh that she could know what she is doing to her precious son and daughter. Would she try harder to get her act together and gain back custody of her children?

Every child deserves a mother. This is my wish and daily prayer…not only for this particular little boy…but for all the special children who remember the simple touch of a mother’s hair on his cheek.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Soup for the Soul Stirs Up Mother’s Dedication to Autistic Children

There is a season for everything.

My continuing “season” of Motherhood has been nonstop learning since the birth of my two special needs Sons…who I adore.

Over the years I’ve spoken with and helped many parents that have their hands full with just one special needs family member.

One key point I’ve discovered through direct experience is this: Knowledge is power.

Power to learn, power to love, power to persevere and the power to educate.

I’ve needed that knowledge to empower me to handle the trials that come with two special needs family members.

There is also a season to be bold.

Being a bold Mother allowed me to leverage the power of education to make positive changes.

I chose to make changes that not only made me dig deep to help my own family but yours as well.  Over 15 years ago when I wrote Little Rainman: Autism–Through the Eyes of a Child. Soon after I pushed forward with, and other collaborations such as Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs in 2007. If “Soup for the Soul” sounds familiar then you must know of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, creators of the infamous series.

Just two of many reviews such as these on make every moment of struggle and sacrifice worth their weight in gold:

“The stories in this book really touch my heart and allow me to understand children with special needs.”

“It’s just real people, telling their story.”

Soul searching my role in the realm of special needs individuals has surely helped me realize that obstacles are meant to be engaged head on.

What bold changes have come about in your life concerning special needs individuals?

What inspiration do you need to make a positive change for someone stricken with developmental disability?

Be bold and share your story by leaving your comment below.

Your voice will be heard.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. I would like to recommend tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with special needs individuals.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of special needs individuals, click this link:


Dinosaurs and Autism Lead to Unique Moment at Library

It was an embarrassing moment.

Their glaring eyes felt like piercing holes through me.

Nonetheless, it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

It all started when my son Jonathan, in the back of the room, was frantically waving his hand in the air trying to get Mrs. Spalding’s attention.

All the little kiddies and their Moms were sitting on the library floor listening to a new author, Mrs. Spalding, read a children’s story that she had just completed about dinosaurs.

They were all behaving so nicely sitting with their legs crossed in perfect form.  This was the day we took the fourth grade class to the library and it was quite eventful.

When Mrs. Spalding was talking about the book she asked the kids in the class questions. Having spotted Jonathan and his exuberance, she called on him.  This was the moment when out of his mouth came the truthful but embarrassing words…

“Mrs. Spalding well, um, this is boring.”

I’m sure the other parents were wondering, what kind of a Mother does this child have.

Of course Jonathan, being very truthful, just said it the way he felt it. This is very typical of kids with autism.

Like I said, sometimes I think this is their biggest blessing. Yet at the same time it can be a curse because people just don’t understand autism.

I took the opportunity as a way to teach Jonathan how to apologize to people for things that might hurt their feelings. I also explained to Mrs. Spalding a bit about autism and how there was nothing meant to hurt her feelings.

It all worked out well in the end even though some of the parents probably still thought I was in need of parenting skills.

How have you dealt with an embarrassing moment surrounding a special needs person?

What did you do to smooth over the situation?

Please share your story with me by leaving your comment below.

Thank you for your input. I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Here is something I would like to recommend that will give you the tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with embarrassing situations with special needs individuals.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of and how to handle embarrassing situations, click this link:


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