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 Advocate for Children of All Abilities

How to Advocate for Children with All Abilities with an Interview from Heather Avis

Life is such a precious gift and every day I like to be reminded of the positives that we can experience every day. We just need to take the time to reflect and seek out positives in each situation. These past weeks I was so thankful that I came across a book that I feel I was meant to read. I actually listen to my books through my Audible app and I love it! When listening to the book The Lucky Few: Finding God’s Best in the Most Unlikely Places, I was moved by Heather’s experiences and loved how open she was with sharing her life with all of us. She writes with such honesty and talks about how God influenced her journey. She talks about how she felt that she had the plan of becoming a mom with biological children, but how we can never know what the future with hold for us, but we can learn from these experiences and learn to love the process and end result. I love how Heather has been such a huge advocate for children of special needs.
Heather is an amazing advocator for children of all abilities. I love how she talks how every child has unique abilities and we need to cherish every child’s unique and amazing abilities and personalties. Every child is a gift from God. Heather has an amazing website and you can follow her HERE.
After finishing Heather’s book I decided I needed to reach out to her and let her know how much positive influence she had on me while listening to her story. I wanted to share this amazing story with others as well. I wanted to understand her perspective on the questions below to help our family, but our followers as well. Below are the questions I asked Heather and her direct response back to me.

4 Questions with an Exclusive Interview with Heather Avis

 

1. Why did you decide to share your personal story with the world through this book?

The honest answer, become someone asked if I’d like to! Beyond that I recognize I could have said no, but I knew there was a time in my life I needed to hear a story like the one God was playing out in my life and so it has been an honor to get to share my story with the world.

 2. What advice would you give to families with children with special needs?

Every family’s situation is so different and there are so many details with each family it is difficult to give “blanket” advice. Because I am raising children with Down syndrome, I have a better understanding about Down syndrome than I do other different abilities. When I talk with families who have a child with Down syndrome my biggest piece of advice is to find the fine and blurry line between allowing your child with Down syndrome to be exactly who God created him/her to be, and pushing your child to be their best (via OT, PT, Oral Motor Therapy, ST, etc.). So often I meet families who are feeling immense amounts of pressure to make their baby/child more like typical babies/children. I believe that should never be the goal. Our kids with Down syndrome have so much to offer the world just as they are. So as we pursue all the therapy and tutoring etc, we need to make sure we are doing it so our child can be the best version of themselves, not “less Down syndrome.” 

3. What are some of your favorite activities to do as a family?

This past year we’ve had annual passes to Disneyland and we LOVE to go to Disneyland. We go at least a couple times a month, it’s a blast. We also love to go to the beach or the park. Our weekly family movie nights are a favorite with the kids. We order take out food and get to eat dinner while watching a movie. None of us are homebodies so we love a good adventure.

 

4. What are some ways that we can be better advocators for our children (or if we don’t have children with special needs how can we advocate for this population)?

We need to insist that the people around us see our kids as “perfect” just as they are. We need to be insisting that our schools and churches and communities etc. create the spaces our kids need to be the best versions of themselves. This can be hard work depending on what part of the country you live in. For us, we work closely with our IEP team helping them see the worth of our kids. I make sure to develop good relationships with the other kids and parents at the schools, setting up playdates, etc. We put our kids in local dance classes and gymnastics classes. We go into every situation assuming our child is competent and expect those around them to assume the same. If you do not have a loved one with different abilities I think it’s important to be intentional in developing relationships with the people in your community who are different than you. If your child does not have anyone in their classroom who is differently abled go to your district and administration and let them know this is unacceptable. Recognize how much we have to learn from people with different abilities and how our world is better off is we are doing life side by side.

 

Heather, thank you so much for opening up and sharing your story of your life experiences! You are such an inspiration and I hope to have the ability to touch others lives in a way that you are able to reach out to others in your book. I would highly recommend this book if you are a family that is going through some struggles or some hard decisions, especially if you are dealing with infertility or thinking about adoption in your family. Heather is a wonderful person to look up to and I cannot say enough great things about her book and the person that she is!

Here is the link to purchase the book: The Lucky Few: Finding God’s Best in the Most Unlikely Places

Please let me know if you have read this book or if you are going to read it in the comments below!

Are you someone needing to find support and encouragement with other special needs families? Read about the 24 Amazing Online Support Groups and Blogs for Special Needs Families where you can get FREE access to these groups and blogs!

 

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