Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Judy Winter's Fav Quote of the Month- November 2007


"The world is meant to be savored. It is filled with exquisite delights."
-julia cameron

Most appropriate given the seasonal bounty of blessings.

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Monday, October 29, 2007

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Today Released Ground-Breaking Reports on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

In yet another giant move forward in the push for identifying and treating autism, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) today released the findings of two ground-breaking reports on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The first report is designed to help pediatricians (and families) identify and manage ASD much earlier in a child's life. The second report addresses the management and education of children with ASD and stresses the critical importance of accessing early intervention services and programs.

To read the details of these important findings, visit the following AAP link:

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Saturday, October 27, 2007

National Make a Difference Day!

Today is National Make-a-Difference Day!

This popular and important yearly event held on the fourth Saturday of October is designed to get us outside of ourselves and into addressing community needs. It's a great idea and many worthy organizations and individuals benefit from the creative actions of this day.

But I also believe strongly that one person can take part in this day's mission without taking on a big event or looking beyond his/her own backyard. Given the limited time and energy, not to mention the challenges facing so many families of children with special needs, why not honor this day by taking action that makes a difference in your own home?

Start by celebrating what is cool about your kids.

Spend time with all your children, and focus on what is right with them and with your life. Watch a movie together, look at photo albums and share your fondest family moments. Give your kids the opportunity to talk about what family means to them, and don't censor their words. Instead, encourage them to speak openly about the most challenging times they have faced. Ask them what positive lessons they have learned from these moments.

Make sure you share lots of hugs and kisses. Say 'I love you often!'. Let the dirty laundry and messy bedrooms and special needs advocacy slide for another day and instead, use the time for fun. Make pizzas and cookies together, or rake leaves and pile into them. Continue the family magic with steaming hot chocolate and marshmallows or popcorn and other favorite snacks. Include all of your children in the activities wherever possible. Sing silly songs and read favorite stories. Have a slumber party complete with flannel pjs' and slippers before the fireplace!

Laugh often!

A few hours spent honoring all that is good about your children, and your life, will go a long way toward making a difference in your challenging parenting world in the week to come- while adding needed smiles to everyone's face (great for stress release and good health!).

Having fun is something that too often gets buried under the tough realities of special needs parenting demands. Today, your challenge is to put fun back into your life and into the lives of your children. These are the moments that they will remember most fondly, and so will you.

Simplistic, perhaps, but what have you got to lose by trying to take a break from all the serious stuff to have a little fun for a change?

Afterall, charity really does begin at home...

You can find out more about National Make-a-Difference Day at:

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Need: Raising the Bar of Expectations

WGN-Chicago Interview Rescheduled

My interview with Steve Cochran of WGN-Chicago (wgnradio.com) has been rescheduled to Monday, Oct. 29th at 7:38 p.m. ET. Hope you can listen in as we discuss the important role played by siblings in families facing special needs

Sibs are my heroes!

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Casting Call for Baby with Down Syndrome for Lifetime Movie!

This is an exciting possibility for a family of a baby with Down syndrome to find their little darling cast in a major tv movie for the Lifetime Channel!!

This request also shows how far we have come when a major tv producer is looking to both cover this subject and cast a person with a disability, not just an actor playing a role. Please help me spread the word on this cool request from my good friend Gail Williamson, ex. dir of the Down Syndrome Assoc of Los Angeles! She has been the key voice/advocate in helping actors with special needs find employment, and in educating the industry about the value and importance of doing so.

Gail Williamson rocks- and so does this opportunity.
Just don't go turning into a nightmare stage mom or dad, okay?

From: Gail:

Please help me out and forward this email to anyone you know anywhere in the US and Canada that might have contact with a brand new Caucasian baby girl who has Down syndrome.

The book “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” is being made into a film for the Lifetime Channel. It is shooting in Nova Scotia in November. They are looking for a baby girl born in October 2007 to appear in the film as the new born Phoebe. They only found one baby with DS born in Nova Scotia in 2007 and she is 6 months old. In Canada it is a law to screen every expectant mother for DS not just a guideline, scary isn’t it?

I need to hear from any parent of a newborn who might want the opportunity for their little one to work in Nova Scotia in November 2007. I would also consider older babies weighing under 8 lbs. I know from my son Blair being a preemie he didn’t hit 8 lbs until he was about 4 months old.

I have an agent that would negotiate all the details making sure to get appropriate pay and travel for the family. Please have anyone interested contact me at the DSALA office at 818-242-7871 or they can reach me by email at gail@dsala.org.

Thank you for helping me with this search, and watch for the film on Lifetime next spring.

Gail Williamson
Executive Director
Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, Inc.
315 Arden Avenue, Suite 25
Glendale, CA 91304
818-242-7871 voice
818-242-7819 fax

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Catch Judy Winter on the Steve Cochran Show WGN-AM Chicago

You can catch my interview about the valuable role of the siblings of brothers and sisters with special needs on the Steve Cochran Show on WGN-AM Chicago on Tuesday, October 23rd at 5:38 p.m. ET.

I love Steve Cochran, Chicago's deep-dish pizza, and those remarkable special needs sibs!

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Blog Action Day!

I can't believe that I actually missed Blog Action Day, which was yesterday, October 15th! Better late than never!

The day was designed to encourage mass blogging on one critical topic- the environment. With 15,000 blogs and 12 million readers, that's a great way to distribute good press to a deserving topic that impacts us all!

In honor of that day, here's my entry:

Congratulations to Al Gore Jr. and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) on being jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize!

Per Nobelprize.org: The award is given "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

I admit I sleep better knowing that Al Gore is relentless in his efforts to save our planet, while sharing simple ways that we can all contribute to needed solutions. Go Green!

Well deserved, Mr. Vice President!

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Judy Winter's Fav Quote of the Month-October 2007

Those of you familiar with my website, know that until recently, I've shared my favorite monthly quotes with you there. I'm now continuing that practice right here on my blog. I hope the insightful wisdom shared by others inspires you as much as it does me.

Feel free to send along your favorites and I'll try to include them. The words we run through our brains each day are mighty powerful. Choose wisely!


"What we need is more people who believe in the impossible."
-theodore roethke


Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Introducing the Question: DO YOU EVER WONDER WHY?...

I'm introducing a new monthly comment on my blog. I'll try to do my best to update it more frequently if the muse proves willing, awake, active and I'm not out-of-town doing a book signing or media interview!

Consider these musings my simple attempt to add a bit of humor to help balance out all the dicey, not-so-funny world news circulating around out there.

(Note: as a journalist, it's important that I remain ever observant of what's happening around me, or so I've been told. It's supposed to make me a better writer. I like to think that it does. Plus, I'm really nosy- both a curse and a blessing).

I'm calling this new rambling: DO YOU EVER WONDER WHY?... simple words easily understood by the masses, followed by examples of exceptional life moments that either deserve an answer or defy any possible sane explanation. You decide which take works for you each time, then comment freely, including around the water cooler, or while you're getting dinner on the table. You can even e-mail me your own ramblings to include here! But please, keep them clean.

Some people think it's okay to invade your privacy (and their own!) by having cell-phone conversations in public bathroom stalls?!?!?!

Does anyone really want to hear what's going on in there, and are people offended when I chime in 'cause I think they're talking to me?

Just asking...

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Updating My Website

Heads up to all those visitors to my website who have noticed that a few things on my site need updating! You're right on! Fact is, I'm in the process of a new website redesign with my creative team, so I've been holding back on additions/deletions until then. In the meantime,I'll try to keep you up to date and current (including fav resources, news, media, etc) here on my blog, which is much easier and much less expensive to update! Stayed tuned for new great changes to come! I promise they'll be worth the wait (hear that promise dear creative team? No pressure there)!

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations


Monday, October 08, 2007

The Sandwich Kid- A Great New Film about Siblings in Special Needs Families

I am honored to be featured in the just-released film 'The Sandwich Kid,' about the lives of siblings of kids with special needs. This timely and powerful film is produced by Keri Bowers and her son Jace (normalfilms.com), whose older brother Taylor has autism. Taylor is a talented filmaker whose first film with his mom entitled 'Normal People Scare Me,' has already won rave reviews.

You can see a ten-minute promo of 'The Sandwich Kid' by visiting You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bMg-dGzVeU. The film is available for purchase (as is 'Normal People Scare Me') at www.normalfilms.com.

Please pass this info on to everyone you know! The film isn't just for those facing special needs, it is a great tool to help build greater awareness of and sensitivity for the special needs population, while giving my heroes- the sibs in special needs families- a well-deserved voice. We are all richer because of the efforts of this talented filmaker family.

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Jenny McCarthy & Autism

I promised to blog about my take on Jenny McCarthy's recent media appearances to discuss her book and her son's autism, from which she now declares him recovered. I've waited a while to comment on this because I wanted to catch more than one interview before forming an opinion. Plus, I needed to let the dust and my thoughts, settle first.

In a nutshell, here's my take.

Through her celebrity status, Jenny McCarthy brings tremendous awareness to this topic. God bless her for that!

Her celebrity allows helps her open doors to major media that most parents/authors/advocates only dream of. But I am concerned by the renewed focus on 'curing' children with special needs and/or 'recovery' and how such terminology may be interpreted by others.

I am not alone in my concern. In spirited conversations I have had with people since Jenny's appearance on Oprah and Larry King Live (among others), I've heard such concern repeated often.

This e-mail came to me from Lisa, a mom of a child with special needs:

"I want to comment about Jenny McCarthy on Oprah. In my opinion, she focused too much on curing the child. She did qualify her statements by saying that the treatments may not work for everyone. But I still thought the focus could have been more on how she adjusted to the diagnosis and maybe given more emphasis to good educational programs and giving attention to the many foundations set up to help children with special needs. I wish Oprah would have a show with mothers of all types of special needs. This way everyone will have someone that he or she can relate to."-- Lisa G, M.S.,CCC-SLP

Well said, Lisa.

We should also remember that Jenny McCarthy's son is still very young, and while I am thrilled for both of them at his apparent progress (as well as for the hope she's providing millions of other families), I can't help but wonder what future challenges this child and mom may still face, especially during the challenging school years.

Is he really as saved from this diagnosis as she now believes? And if not, then what?

I also find it interesting that high functioning Asperger's syndrome has not even been addressed in any of the author's lengthy interviews (partly because the interviewers are probably not fulled versed on their subject matter either). My belief is that the interviews Jenny has given have been far too limiting given the complexity of the topic.

Still, one can clearly hear the loud sigh of relief from millions of frightened parents hoping beyond hope that Ms. McCarthy is the new autism Messiah who's right on with her story of courage and hope and yes, recovery.

Are these families being well served? Or is it far too early, and misleading, to call Jenny's son 'cured,' even recovered, and is it important that we do so? Or are we again in danger of perpetuating stereotypes that there is something wrong with these children and because they have a disability they need fixing? Could we better spend valuable media time and discussion talking about how to best address having a child who struggles in any way in all its richness and complexity?

One thing these discussions make clear, the research for a cause(s) and potential cures for autism must continue. Families are struggling and they need and deserve both answers and support.

Which brings me to my own hope that the millions of families whose attention Ms. McCarthy has now commanded will not forgo other important early intervention programs and services and limit themselves soley to what are still unproven treatments for autism. Such a decision could cost some children valuable time and developmental gains they cannot get back later. Early intervention is critical to these children, as it is for many children with a wide range of special needs. I know without a doubt that it made the difference in my own son's life.

I believe a more valuable approach to addressing autism would be a discussion that opens up the possibility of new treatment and causes, in conjunction with the use of proven programs/services.

Jenny McCarthy's emotion and deep love for her son have clearly played a key role in his developmental success, something which drives home my belief in the power of a parent's love to move developmental mountains! Kudos to her for her example.

But I also believe she must become better educated about the definition of autism itself (a definition she struggled with when asked on Larry King Live), as well as challenges facing the disability community, if she is to continue to speak effectively to the topic given the sacred platform to which she has now committed herself as a spokesperson and advocate.

Self education goes with the media blitz & advocacy territory that comes with being an effective spokesperson for any important social cause. Those of us who have been doing this work for years understand the demand well. Unfortunately, with it's focus increasingly on celebrity guests, the media often loses sight of this.

I've been writing, speaking and advocating on special needs topics for nearly twenty years. It's a complex discussion not given to easy answers or simplistic solutions, especially as it involves autism. Ms. McCarthy has helped open the door to valuable discussion. My hope now is that the media will look past her celebrity and expand this discussion to include the voices of parents who have walked this road as long-term advocates and spokespersons.

Perhaps then we will be able to share with other not only the hopeful emotion and love that this mom in particular speaks to well, but also the needed facts and resources about a wide range of disabilty. The challenges facing these families are often universal, but too rarely discussed when we focus soley on one disabilty. There is power in numbers...and disabilty numbers are huge.

Jenny has been given an amazing opportunity to inform and educate the public. She must be prepared to do justice to that role, or risk having her valuable story and experiences easily dismissed as little more than an emotional mother who is not facing the reality of her son's diagnosis (an argument most parents have heard against their hopeful declarations at one time or another!). I admit that too often I found her answers a combination of clear relief at her son's progress, a mother's mountain-moving passion, and well, Jenny McCarthy being Jenny McCarthy on camera.

I wish this loving mom and her son the very best in the future, and hope Jenny continues to bring awareness to a difficult and frustrating diagnosis. I also hope that her son continues to thrive while serving as an inspiring example of what is possible for other children. I applaud this gutsy, famous mom for what she is doing with her talent and celebrity, and for fearlessly addressing special needs- no easy feat when you live in La La Land, where human perfection too often determines human value.

(One footnote: I am impressed with Holly Robinson Peete and look forward to hearing more from her).

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations