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Posts Tagged ‘parents’

Making It Through The Rough Times

Posted on: March 18th, 2014 No Comments

Please welcome Lateefah Wielenga, PhD!  Dr. Wielenga, founder of The Counseling Kitchen, is a life, couples and business coach based in Long Beach, California.  Today, she writes about maintaining a strong “couplehood” in the face of family challenges.  Thank you, Dr. Wielenga!



Right now you may be experiencing one of the most difficult challenges of your life.  You thought everything was perfect, until you were presented with something you thought you were not prepared to handle.  You didn’t expect this.  Not this.  You never thought in your wildest dreams that your child would be born with a developmental disability.  I can imagine some of the thoughts that have possibly crossed your mind; the pain you and your spouse or significant other have endured; the questions and the uncertainties you are experiencing.  Although you have been forced to face a huge obstacle in your life – your relationship – if you shift the way you perceive the current circumstance, you can turn the obstacle into an adventure.  Think of this time in your life as a different kind of adventure.  Always ask yourself what it is you are supposed to be learning.  Be curious and eager to learn and know you are growing in this area of our life.  Be open to all of the possibilities and always communicate honestly with your spouse.  There are many things you cannot control in your life, but you can control your thoughts, your actions and how you treat yourself and others.  Looking at it this way is less threatening and keeps you in control of your personal power.  During any unusual experience you face, you never know what lies ahead.  Treat this adventure as you would any other.  Let this be the experience you and your partner choose to encounter together, as a cohesive unit.

When beginning this journey it is very important to first see your child’s disability as an external entity, something that lives outside of you and your family.  Viewing it this way will help you to remain focused on the necessary things that need to be dealt with, keeping you away from the three fears that are waiting to wreak havoc.  The three fears are disguised as Blame, Frustration and Anger.  There is no one to blame for a child having a disability.  When dealing with the unfamiliar, there is no place for frustration because we expect the unexpected.  And anger has no place in your lives at a time like this, as all of your energy is required to deal with the needs of your child and perhaps other family members.  Now is the time when you do not want to be divided because you are stronger for your child as a unit.  At times like these, it’s almost impossible not to tap into your spirituality, and when you do, you will probably begin to see this as a gift.

There will be times when you feel sad and get down on yourself.  When that happens, an effective way to shift your mood is to write a list of things you appreciate.  Favorably starting with what’s right in front of you, your spouse or significant other.  You are not in this alone and your partner is available to help you.  They know the sadness as well.  With the three fears out of the way, you and your partner can put your heads together and begin to deal with what is front of you.  The child with the disability is still your child and needs you just the same.  Your husband or your wife needs you now more than ever.  You both are experiencing a very challenging time.  Now is the time to be there for each other.  It is imperative that you make time for just the two of you at least one day a week.  You need quality time together as a couple.  A doctor’s appointment is not quality time.  Going to the Regional Center is not spending quality time together.  You are the same people you were before you were forced to take this adventure.  Now is a great time to communicate and cultivate that deep connection you’ve always had.


  • Going to a movie together
  • Having dinner out
  • Taking a nice long walk together
  • Remember what it is about your partner that you love and like.
  • Be thankful you are in this thing together
  • Watch the words you use when talking to and about your partner.
  • Try not to take things personally because “it” is never about you.
  • Don’t assume anything, always ask for clarification.
  • Do the best that you can each day.

Cultivating a stronger bond with your partner creates a better environment for your child to thrive.

Six tips to a successful relationship:

  • Listen to your partner
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt
  • Do not blame or judge
  • Surprise them when they least expect it
  • Be kind
  • Communicate-Communicate-Communicate

Lateefah Wielenga, PhD
The Counseling Kitchen
(562) 895-0516

5 Ways to be an A+ Grandparent to your Special Needs Grandchild

Posted on: January 2nd, 2014

Expecting a child is a family affair.  Parents, grandparents and siblings excitedly anticipate the new baby’s arrival all the while subconsciously projecting their respective inner visions of the perfect family addition onto a tiny, unsuspecting infant.  Ten fingers, ten toes, Dad’s ears, Grandma’s nose.  A science and math whiz?  A little league all star?  President??


May 8th Advocacy Day – We Went, We Met, We Advocated

Posted on: May 13th, 2013 No Comments

Bright and early on May 8th sixty of us representing The Children’s Center boarded the bus headed to Lansing.  Upon arrival, we divided into teams according to the issue for which we were advocating.  Our Blue Team, led by George Winn, TCC COO and Deborah Mathews, TCC CEO,  shared with legislators the importance of supporting the Governor’s recommendation to expand early childhood education funding by 2% on the state level to partially off set the decrease of over 5% in funding on the federal level.

TCC Advocates Arriving at the Capitol Building

The day was busy and intense as we met with Senator Pavlov’s, Representative Lund’s, Representative Roger’s, and Representative Franz’s respective staffs as well as Senator Coleman Young II.  We were received warmly by all and left each office with a great sense of having made a difference!

TCC Advocates in the Rotunda

Some of TCC’s advocates brought their children to see advocacy and government first hand.  Planting the seeds of advocacy in the next generation – yes, You Can Do It!

Young Advocates in front of the Governor’s Office

We also participated in the Walk a Mile in My Shoes Rally on the Capitol lawn.  The rally’s purpose was to celebrate May as Mental Health Awareness Month; educate legislators about mental health issues; strive to end the stigma of mental illness; promote parity between mental health and physical health insurance coverage; and, promote mental health wellness.

On the Capitol Lawn for the Rally

At the end of the day, sixty tired but satisfied TCC advocates boarded the bus for home already planning for next time.

Six Reasons Special Needs Kids Gotta Have Art

Posted on: February 11th, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words.  To a non-verbal, special needs child, the benefits of pictures and art go far beyond words:  

Art provides special needs kids the chance to creatively communicate thoughts and feelings when they don’t have the words to express them.  For example, Valentine’s Day is a great time for special needs children and their families to use art for loving self expression.


Helping Young Children Cope With Violent Tragedies: Newtown

Posted on: December 17th, 2012 No Comments


I’d like to welcome Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD and founder of Kidlutions: Solutions for Kids to Warner’s Club House.  Wendy specializes in helping children and families cope with the little and not so little issues in their lives – anger, divorce, grief and loss, moving, etc.  Today, she shares her recommendations for parents to best help young children understand the recent violence in Newtown, Connecticut.  Thank you, Wendy!

Tragedy Unfolds

Newtown, Connecticut.  A sleepy little town less than one hour away from where I was born.  I watched in horror, with the rest of the world, as the tragedy in this small town unfolded.  The trauma surrounding these events is a heavy burden to bear for the town of Newtown, and it will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark.  Traumatologists, counselors, clergy and other supports will converge upon Newtown, to assist in helping its people begin to cope and pick up the pieces.  It will be a long road to healing. On behalf of Kidlutions, I offer our condolences, thoughts and prayers.   Read more.


A Case for the Child Harness

Posted on: September 20th, 2012

Many years ago now, I spent my summers working at the Detroit Zoo.  Those that have visited it can tell you that it covers a lot of ground with elaborate gardens adorning the paths to the animal enclosures.   They can also tell you that it is easy to get turned around even with the map that they receive upon entering.  And, the larger the number of park visitors the more difficult the logistics are to manage. (more…)

Five Reasons to Teach Your Child American Sign Language

Posted on: September 8th, 2012 No Comments

Temper tantrums were common during our daughter’s transition from pre-verbal to verbal.  Her word acquisition did not keep pace with her quickly growing wants and desires.  Through the frustration and tears (sometimes hers, sometimes ours), we would remind her, “Use your words!”  Eventually, we developed a somewhat  effective way of communicating with each other using words and gestures.  The problem was that no one beyond our immediate family “spoke the language”.  How I wish that we had known about baby American Sign Language (ASL) back then!!

Although there are more than a few benefits to teaching your child ASL, here are my top five:

  1. It’s a real language.  In fact, it is the 4th most common language in the US!
  2. It will facilitate your pre-verbal or non-verbal child’s communication and, therefore, help them build connections with you and others.
  3. This additional tool in their communication-toolbox means less dependence on temper tantrums for self expression.
  4. Watching others sign stimulates visual attention and joint attention skills.
  5. Signing develops motor skills.

If you are looking for a resource, we were fortunate to meet Jennifer Cranston, M.Ed. at a recent gathering.  She is a nationally certified sign language interpreter with over a decade of experience in interpreting and deaf education.  She can be contacted at Jennifer.L.Cranston@gmail.com or (703) 725-8289.

More in future posts!

Let’s Go Shopping!

Coming Soon – Lollacups as seen on Shark Tank

Posted on: May 3rd, 2012 No Comments

We are excited to announce that Lollacups will soon be available in Warner’s Toy Box!  The Lollacup is an an excellent alternative to the traditional sippy cup.  The valve-free, weighted straw allows infants as young as 9 months old to easily drink from a straw even if the cup is tilted.

It is BPA-free, phalate-free and made in the USA.

We’ll post them as soon as they arrive!!


Differently-abled Children and Nature Deficit

Posted on: March 9th, 2012 No Comments

For parents of a differently-abled child, especially with a diagnosis such as autism, allowing our children to play outside can be stressful. In light of the risk of wandering, lack of communication, and hyperactivity or aggressive factors, parents sometimes feel that simply educating and entertaining our differently-abled children indoors is safer and better for everyone. This is simply not the case overall, however. Children need to be allowed to reap the emotional, mental and physical benefits of nature. Sedentary lifestyles for our children can promote obesity, encourage lethargy, discourage creativity and, in some cases, even potentially cause depression. (more…)

Advice for Parents

Posted on: January 31st, 2012 No Comments