2014 Military Special Needs Network Holiday Guide Winter 2014 - Page 4

Have You Found

Your Gratitude Attitude?

Therapy and doctor appointments, IEP meetings and communication notebooks, preparing for homecoming or deployment, working referrals or arguing for medical necessity - our lives are pretty full. Even the idea of squeezing one moment of volunteer work is enough to make us panic. And, yet, sometimes, it's just what the doctor ordered. Check out the amazing things that special needs families are doing around the country:

My husband and I both work full-time, and he even has a second, part-time job. It’s hard to find the time to volunteer regularly, but we try to find ways to give back to the community in meaningful ways. We have a Thanksgiving tradition we look forward to each year. We make sack lunches and, together with our 9-year-old son, we drive downtown where we walk around and hand them out to homeless people. Since my son is autistic, it’s sometimes hard for him to fully understand concepts outside his realm of experience. We’ve found this to be a great opportunity for him to see and understand what it means to have nothing, and to not take our good luck for granted. It’s important to us that he talks to the people we encounter and sees them simply as fellow human beings.

- Flannery, autism advocate and blogger at Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles

We always do shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and part of the reason I do them is to get my kids thinking about the less fortunate, what it would be like if everything they got fit in a single shoebox, etc. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/.../operation-christmas-child

- Mir, advocate and writer, as well as blogger at Want Not

I found Connecting for Kids at one of our family’s lowest moments -- my daughter had just received the dual diagnosis of autism and epilepsy and I was completely overwhelmed. Through the efforts of this organization's volunteers, I was able to find my sanity along with services for my daughter. Now that our lives are a bit more stable, I have the time to give back to the organization that lifted me up. I volunteer as the webmaster/social media person, serve as a parent mentor for newly diagnosed families, and lend my talents to various writing projects. Not only is it fulfilling to use my talents for something other than first grade homework, I’m also able to pay it forward by helping other parents to not feel so alone.

- Karla

Connecting for Kids is a Cleveland west side organization, dedicated to providing education and support to families with children

who struggle. Learn more at connectingforkids.org.

Organizing local sensory-friendly events:

A little over 6 years ago I was life flighted to a local military hospital where I gave birth to our youngest son. At 2 pounds, he spent time in the NICU andhad a slew of health problems. While there we were given some helpful information and then sent on our way (back to our military instillation). Upon our

first doctor visit at "home" I had to explain what Early Intervention was, and why my son needed it.

From that point on, I knew it was up to me to

4 2014 MSNN Holiday Guide / November, 2014