Thriving, Learning & Housing

Apr 30, 2024

Yesterday’s New York Times featured an article on how the pandemic is impacting mothers.  Not surprisingly, all the women in the article are “stressed, burned out and unraveling.”  But it struck me while reading that the mom of the daughter with autism carries extra worries and concerns.  So many more.  And she started carrying them well before the arrival of Covid-19.

Parents of individuals with special needs don’t need to read newspaper articles about how heavy our load is.  While it’s nice to see our struggles validated by mainstream media, it’s important to recognize what the article lays bare:  “Who really has the energy to be angry — or even to advocate for change — when they’re just trying to get through the day?”

This is one of the many reasons why I started coaching parents of individuals with special needs, and why I created Another Normal. No matter how tired you are today, what stress you experience tonight, or what victory you celebrate tomorrow, this newsletter is designed to help lighten your load and brighten your day.  

Know that you are amazing — especially in a pandemic.  And thanks for being here.

Resilience is based on compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others.
― Sharon Salzberg

Expert advice.

In many households, stress from Covid-19 is contributing to weight gain among people of all ages.  Rather than fixating on the scale,  experts advise parents to focus on maintaining healthy habits for growing young people.  Pay attention to emotional and physical health and work to create an environment that encourages good nutrition.  (I’ll eat to that!)

Author and researcher Brene Brown recommends these strategies for dealing with the stresses brought on by changes to our status quo:  1) Name them. 2) Normalize them. 3) Adjust our expectations.  4) And build in time to rest and rebuild after experiencing them.  Easier to do some days than others, but clearly good advice for managing the myriad of challenges that come with raising a young person with special needs.  It’s advice that will serve us well beyond the pandemic, too.


Lastly, this podcast offers guidance on how to plan for your children’s future, specifically after they turn 18.  The non-profit group Parents Helping Parents offers a wealth of information on this topic and many others. Although based in California, their resources are applicable to other geographies, including virtual support groups for parents of adult children with disabilities. (Note: The Family Support Network offers similar services in Connecticut.) Please leave a comment about what’s available in your area so we can all learn more.

Good intentions.

I love profiling housing options across the U.S. for young adults with disabilities who yearn to live independently. They’re clearly in short supply, and my hope is that readers will find inspiration in what they see here or perhaps look at things from a different perspective, based on the experiences of families depicted. Whether it’s a full-blown campus community, pocket neighborhood, or individual residence that partners those with and without disabilities, each is an example of how creative thinking + parental and community persistence can result in meaningful progress.

Consider Champions Place in Atlanta, which doubles as a Google accessibility testing site:

And Ohio’s Bittersweet Farms, the first farm community for individuals with autism in the United States and one of very few farm programs that serve individuals with complex medical and behavioral needs:

Also check out this group neighborhood created by a mother outside Detroit for her adult son with autism.

Even Best Buddies Living is even getting in on the action in Washington, D.C.

Do you know of other intentional communities or creative housing solutions for adults with disabilities? Please leave a comment and let us know what else is out there and worthy of exploration.


Upcoming learning opportunities. 

February 10:  Gain guidance on how to protect your son or daughter from online abuse, for which they may be at increased risk due to increased screen time during the pandemic.   UK-based webinar details and registration available here.  

February 17:  Join me for a free webinar on sexuality and developmental disabilities, led by a seasoned educator from Elevatus Training.  Limited space remains.  Register here.

February 21:  Learn how to plan for collaborative, coordinated care of your child with special needs  in the event of your death or incapacitation.  Webinar sponsored by Mainstreet Connect.  Check here for more info. 

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

Contact Kris

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