Beautiful Childlife

Superboy courtesy

My heart work is with special needs children which I did for some 15+ years. Sometime in the early 70’s or late 60’s my younger brother and only sibling came home from Vietnam 100% disabled with a TBI, a spinal injury, and permanent PTSD. It gave me that heart to work not only with the children, but with people with all forms of challenges – physical, developmental, and emotional. I have done that for the rest of my life to this day.

I was a Regulatory Compliance Specialist at 64, working for a major pharmaceutical manufacturer of plasma derivative products. I had done quality assurance for some years in my own business. I was a certified quality manager/certified quality auditor, so I knew what to look for wherever I went and whatever type of business it was. This would be to my detriment when the company decided to to sell to a company in Spain to get out from under a FDA action against the company for fairly major quality issues. When the company in Spain decided to purchase the company I was working with, I got laid off along with 400 others.

At 64, on unemployment and with no prospects of a job because of that title, I founded a very tiny and penniless nonprofit to assist physically challenged fiber artists with getting exposure and sales for their work and to assist them with professional development. I did this successfully on the side, always as a volunteer with the other volunteers for some 10 years. Shortly after I founded the nonprofit, I remembered that I had a certificate that would allow me to work with special needs children. I became a substitute for two different school districts, and I absolutely loved all the work I did in school. Life was good in those times. I had just enough to live on very modestly; spirit does not need a lot of money.

Special Needs little girl courtesy of

These were truly some of the happiest days in my life. When I was not at work with the children, I was providing assistance for the physically challenged artists with two other people – my paraplegic best friend, Barbara Williamson, who lived in Paradise, CA, the secretary of the nonprofit, and her caregiver, Rob, the treasurer, whose job was easiest of all since we had no money in the treasury. I had figured out how we could do a lot with nothing and so we did that for more than 10 years until we both suffered worse physical and mental challenges that made it difficult to continue that work.

We did write a book on the subject to get good closure. Last November, Barb and her caregiver had to escape with their lives from the horrible fire in Paradise that destroyed their home, the entire town and all of her art. I will never regret any of that work because she now has skills and knowledge to help her rebuild her life from what she learned during those years.

Most of all for me, there were the children. Some of the children I worked with were not only developmentally challenged; they had such major challenges as MS and childhood arthritis. There is something so special and beautiful about these children. If I had been married then and had an adequate home and finances to do it, I would have adopted as many of them as I could. Raising special needs children is no easy task nor a romantic one. Not only do they provide challenges throughout the days and nights; most of the time they will be in the care of the parents one way or the other for the remainder of their lives.

Special needs children often require bathroom assistance into and through their teen and even adult lives, as well as things like “failure-to-thrive” children, who must be helped to eat enough to help keep them alive. This is not a psychological issue; it is one that they are born with. I have had children I had to give enriched milk or other liquids to through a tube in their stomachs, and others who had to have a bucket accompany them to their lunch so they could throw up in it after eating a little. And then there is the physically reactive child. Some of them are runners, and will run off the playground if they can (and not even because they are unhappy, etc. but just because it is part of their makeup, and they are not running to a specific place, but just needing to run). And there are those who can deliver a huge punch; I was punched in the face and had my glasses broken, was bitten, had my hair pulled, was kicked and painfully pinched and slapped, pretty much all without warning. Some of the children are very strong for their sizes. If a child’s routine is broken in any way, or the child is unable to express his/her needs, you can expect that the child will react, sometimes violently.

But we become good at dealing with these issues, and most of us who work with them can see the beauty of the children and the wonder of their lives through all of the challenges. Sometimes their own parents cannot cope with them, or the parents do things that are not beneficial for the child such as over/under or irregularly medicating them or putting them into group homes when they become overwhelmed. It is one of those great societal issues where it is difficult to place blame, for anyone who has to deal with these issues day AND night every single day of the week without a break is going to have a true challenge.

As caregivers for special needs children, we are all referred to as mandated reporters, and it is our duty and legal obligation to report any type of abuse of any child. I honestly can’t tell you how many of those reports I filled out over the years for things I personally witnessed. And I can’t tell you how many of them were “shelved.” The schools in California at least are financed by children being in school, not when they are out sick or parents refuse to bring them to a specific school because of the behaviors of teachers or aides or others. I am pretty certain that most people reading this will understand the implications of this policy.

There are a lot of really wonderful and dedicated teachers, aides and others who work with special needs children. But there are also a lot of horrible ones, and I am not certain that situation will ever change in reality. There IS training available for how to work with such children and young people, but not all of those who work with them get that training or learn from it if they do get it. Most of what we learn to deal with well is learned from real-time experience along the way, and if a person’s heart is not in it, it will at best be mediocre.

At home, as I noted, parents are often stressed to the breaking point and there is no one generally to spell them or for them to talk to regularly – even support groups are very far and few between. The first sad thing too is that some children are labeled special needs because perhaps they are slow to learn to read or write, etc. Once they get such labels, they will have them through their entire lives. For me, that ensures that even the children who might otherwise have done well will just give up and not try to much.

I have long since realized that children grow at different rates, just as some walk really early, learn to use the potty really early, etc., and some take a long time. It is just the nature of life in this world. My daughter was potty trained when she barely started to sit up, and that was her own doing. She would put her tiny hands together and clap any time she was successful in her efforts. She could read well and talk well at age two, and she could memorize her storybooks too. My two sons were very different from that – slow to learn to do everything and slow to read. It is normal for children to progress at different rates.


One of the things that happens from the stress and other issues parents face is that special needs children are more often abandoned, abused, and even murdered than regular children. They are also very highly bullied. The problem however, is that the tallies on these crimes are all thrown in together with those of children who are not special needs, so as a result, no one knows the true figures. But some people who have studied and worked with the children have long thought that the figures are higher and it makes total sense. And if a special needs child ends up being institutionalized because of abuse or abandonment, there is little chance that the child will ever do better in this life. And the people (if parents) who do these things to special needs children, at least in the past, often did not get severe jail sentences if any at all. There used to be a young man who likely had Asperger’s, a high functioning level of autism, who wrote posts regularly about these issues. These young people can be and often are highly intelligent, but are unable to deal with socializing and interacting with others.

Even the best of parents with special needs childrens do not know all they need to do about what happens when their children grow up. Not all parents with older special needs children know about estate planning for the children. There are three very specific and important reasons that this needs to be addressed.

First is the fact that these children will need special physical and mental/emotional services all their lives, even the most proficient of them. This will involve very careful financial planning to ensure that the parent can provide such services.

Secondly, a special estate plan is the only way to ensure that the child can be provided for without having them become ineligible for government and private benefit programs.

And finally, if the parent is no longer alive or available, without such planning, the child can end up in an institution, or worse, can become homeless and at the mercy of every transient out there. I have actually witnessed such cases, and I am pretty certain that no parent would wish this on any child of theirs.

The best way for parents to plan for a special needs child is to set up a Special Needs Trust. In this instance, the parents appoint Trustees to manage the Trust for the child’s benefit. This person needs to be trustworthy, and someone who is capable mentally and emotionally, as well as financially to direct and manage the child’s care through the remainder of his/her life.

I am retired from working with the special needs children now since I was diagnosed with severe PTSD from heavy-duty traumas followed by cancer (cancer-free following surgery in 2016), but I still tutor privately, often as a volunteer these days with special needs or ESL (not always Spanish either) children and adults. I completed a degree later in 2016 in Criminal Justice with a minor in law, but could not work as a mentor/advocate for juvenile delinquents because of my age and the PTSD. I always keep trying to do what I can and I have been happy for whatever I have been able to contribute to the lives of special needs children as well as others with special challenges. It is not going to change what they go through overall, but it does help them for a moment in time and I am not sure what more any of us can do.


24 thoughts on “Beautiful Childlife

    1. Thank you so kindly, and never think anything you do or say is inadequate, believe me. We are all eternally grateful not for ourselves so much, but for the children, who need to have a lot of advocates in this world. I appreciate you. Hugs, Anne

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly, Carol. I apologize for not writing you sooner. My Richard has been so severely ill and was in ER 3 days in a row and then this past Monday we were there all day, but not in ER and the GI doc gave him a shot in the stomach. He has been at level 10 pain the whole time. He has something called H. Pylori, a severe bacterial infection of the stomach that can cause ulcers and cancer, so right now we are just taking it day by day. He is apparently allergic to one of the medications they gave him, for for awhile, it looked like they were going to put him in surgery. I have been in overwhelm.

      Yes, I sure did love, and still do, those special needs children – all of them, even the worst ones to try to deal with.

      How have you been? I am way behind on my correspondence because of these things plus my own of having to get rid of 5 different doctors in the last month or so, but I have a new one now and he is part of a medical center, so I am glad of that. I am also getting new specialists, which should help a lot.

      Did you ever get to get your sour dough bread starter mastered? Have you been ill too? It is so good to hear from you again. We have lots of rain here now and not used to it, so we have two huge sinkholes in the road near us and lots of rain eroding the canyons around us.

      Be well my friend, and I do miss hearing from you. So glad to see you again! Hugs and blessings, Anne


      1. I am so sorry to hear abour Richard I wish him well and send healing thoughts and please don’t ever apologise for not keeping in touch…Life takes oover sometimes and throws us curve balls doesn’t it?… Sour dough we so far it is at the float to the top stage…Will it prove Oh No! I am not giving up….Take 3 trying to get it to prove is on the cards…Some things in this life are sent to try us….W

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We had hail stones the other night playing tunes on the roof…But when the heat comes so do the storms but at least we have lush green vegetation…Will e-mail you over the next few days …Take care both of you and stay well Hugs xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh good. Yes, I three a bag of semi starting to go bad onions on top of the soil in all the rain, and all of them took root from above ground and seem quite happy with their new homes with lots of green on top too! Whoo hooo!!! Anne You too


  2. It is extremely hard to parent special needs children, Anne. My own son suffers from PTSD and OCD. I love him very much but there are times when it is so overwhelming I can imagine how some people could break and abuse the child. I sympathize with those parents because it is so hard. You are a wonder to do it voluntarily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so understand this, and as I have noted, I too have PTSD. I am sure I try the patience of my significance other every day. It is such a difficult thing to work with. And I can relate to the overwhelm. Not only are the parents overwhelmed, but the child is definitely overwhelmed too. I so admire you for sticking with it. It helps me to heal in some crazy ways when otherwise I might have a difficult time. I hope perhaps your son will one day grow out of it, but it may seem as though we are recovering and then just one little thing can start it up all over again, even after years of seeming freedom. I pray for the best for your son, and I am glad you are such a wonderful and conscious person because that is definitely a blessing for him.

      A friend of mine has a son who has fairly regular breakdowns that I suspect are some kind of PTSD too. She too has that challenge that sometimes causes a lot of cursing (but she does not do that at all; rather she has the tics) and one hand is smaller than the other considerably, but she is an excellent artist. Her son is now an adult and working, and luckily for them, the parents are able to help him more. So these things are more and more widespread, and I don’t remember having so much of these challenges when I was much younger. It causes me to wonder what we are doing to our environment to cause all of these things.

      Bless you and your son and family, and I will definitely keep you in my prayers and thoughts.


  3. I do know for a fact that each ‘one moment in time’ add up to more than we think. You are correct in implying – it may not seem like much, but it does count.
    I admire your perseverance to continue advocating for individuals with special needs even as traditional opportunities seem to become less in mainstream society.
    take care


  4. Impressing account of your life and work with those children. Loved this post! There should be and I am sure there are many more people like you. Many thanks for sharing this experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly. Yes, thank heavens that despite all of the bad new we hear and that become part of our lives, there are people throughout the world who are trying to do good for others in all the ways they can as much as they can. Without them this world would be truly a mess. One of the teachers whose posts I love to read is Jennie of A Teacher’s Reflections (wordpress). Another is Charles French and that is the name of his site. He too is a teacher. In fact, it seems as though since I have been blogging, I have collected an amazing number of really inspirational and positive thinkers from all over the world. I still have a lot to learn about blogging technically, but little by little the barriers are coming down.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. God bless you, Anne. It’s amazing the directions God takes us. Imagine all the people who would be without your guidance had all of this not happened. I pray for you and hope your brother is doing well also.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, It is truly amazing for all of us. I think as I look back on my life and how I prayed to God to help me and my brother to stop our suffering abuse, at the time, it seemed that he did not hear us, but I have realized over the many years that God always has a plan, and it is in his own timing. Had I not had challenges, I could never have gained a sense of compassion and understanding for others who were suffering in some way or many ways. So today I am glad for what we have been given, as we have taken those things and turned them into healing not just for our own selves, but for others as well. I hope that I can always have the wonderful memories I have and more because it was all worth it. Challenges help to make our journey through life more meaningful and our walk with God also more in-depth, but only to the extent that we put them to work for us in a positive way. Thank you very kindly, Jacqui.


  6. Focusing on others helps us get through what seems insurmountable. If I hadn’t done that very early in life, I doubt I would still be here. I was an early reader and the next door neighbor a speech pathologist. She asked me to come read to two sisters she was working with. April had some basic speech issues and her sister, Lisa, had downs syndrome. I loved every minute of it and have spent my life trying to make the journey easier for those I come into contact with. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for doing so much to help others as I too have done most all of my life. The world sure needs us. I love the Down’s Syndrome children. They really have their adorable personalities and they can sure let you know what they like and don’t like. I love all the special needs children and will always help them whenever I have an opportunity. Thank you kindly once again for doing what you do. I hope that we can always help others in this way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Anne, there is nothing to thank me for. It was an early addiction and I would stand on my head for one of Lisa’s smiles. I feel that way today. It also saved me from a life that was more than I could deal with. We all handle things differently. Instead of striking out at others, I saw that they too were often hurting and perhaps I could help with their pain. In doing so it lessened my own. Thank you my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

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