Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Judy Winter's New Website is Up & Running!

Great news, especially for everyone who's tired of looking at the outdated stuff on my old website (including me!). The new design went up this afternoon, and while we will still be tweaking technical issues and making some minor edits for a little while, what you see, is what you now get. There's lots to explore...

I hope you like it as much as I do! The talented design team has been working overtime on this one and it's a big improvement! Your constructive feedback is welcome! But please be patient while we fine tune!

Enjoy the new look and the new site!!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Monday, January 28, 2008

Minute Vacations February 2008

Judy's Minute Vacations for February 2008
Newport Beach, California

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

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pepsi, Super-Bowl Silence (gasp!) and Deaf Culture

The yearly Super Bowl ads always generate seasonal buzz and lots of noise, plus spirited water-cooler talk on Monday. This year promises to be no exception.

Except maybe for one. Thanks to those clever folks at PepsiCo (and their ad agency), one of this year's ads features 60 seconds of silence. Not a word, not a sound. Nada. Only American Sign Language (ASL).

When it comes to Super Bowl advertising, Pepsi rarely disappoints, but this time they've gone where few if any Super Bowl ads have gone before- to the topic of disability and the deaf culture, and they've done it with ground-breaking pizzaz.

That's right. A little disabliity awareness with your football, chips and beer- I mean Pepsi!

Right on!

If you haven't already seen the Pepsi Super Bowl ad featuring total silence and actors who are deaf, read on and link to the You Tube site below. Fact is, the special needs community is about to take a huge step forward in public awareness before the largest television audience in the world.


The ad already has tongues wagging, and that helps create awareness and discussion of ability, while challenging outdated thinking and stereotypes. That's progress.

-and people think those cute commercials are for pure entertainment.

Granted, Broussard, who plays Bob in the spot, isn't deaf (two other actors are), but he has a rare sensitivity and appreciation for this culture, and afterall, it was his idea. PepsiCo was just smart enough to run with the idea and deliver a welcome,ground-breaking, refreshing ad about something more than just selling a product.

Although I'm pretty sure PepsiCo hopes to sell product, too.

I raise my bottle of diet Pepsi to you PepsiCo for recognizing the insight and creative talent of your own employees, and for running with the idea during the super bowl of advertising gigs!

Pure genius!

Now, if only Josh Blue was performing at half time...

Check it out on You Tube, where you can also catch the behind-the-scenes production video, which does have sound! And if you like the ad, contact PepsiCo and tell them! Maybe this is only the beginning.
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Monday, January 21, 2008

Catching Jane Austen Fever!

For the past two weeks, I've been hooked on The Complete Jane Austen PBS series. This beautifully produced program brings to life the seven novels of the talented writer in a skillful blending of stunning scenery, gorgeous costumes, skilled period-piece performances, and romantic entanglements that satisfies the senses and nurtures intelligence.

It's the ultimate weekly chick flick, but it's on TV with no commercial interruptions!

If you haven't been watching, it's not too late to catch Jane fever. There are five more Sunday evenings left to help you escape winter's dreary hold and embrace the romance! (check your local PBS listings for air times). You can also purchase the DVD and experience all the sensory magic over and over again.

Check out the details at: -and don't forget to support your local PBS station!

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

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2008

Monday we pay national tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and rightly so.

But as the nation reflects upon Dr. King’s message on this recognized Day of Service, far too many people still view King's dream as one involving only race, allowing them to more easily dismiss the day's significance.

King's ideals serve as powerful examples to all, including to me in my work as a writer, author, speaker and advocate on special needs issues. This timely human rights discussion, one of great magnitude and importance, has been given greater power, understanding and voice because of Dr. King's work.

I parented a child with cerebral palsy, a wheelchair user, for nearly thirteen years. Harsh judgment of Eric’s human value because of disability required me to advocate for his basic rights every day until Eric’s death in 2003 at age twelve. Yet, I am an educated white woman living in the suburbs, complete with a white picket fence.

Dr. King’s words have proved powerful motivators in my difficult walk. ‘I have a dream’ has many times fueled my quest for better life opportunities for my son and others. Mine has been a heartfelt journey filled with both enormous blessings and stinging rejection, along with stellar examples about how spirited leadership impacts human rights from Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy, another hero of mine.

For more than fifteen years, my tough parenting journey and heartbreaking loss have challenged me to use my voice, talent, and experiences to become a nationally recognized voice on the subject of special needs parenting issues. My son’s life and mine have been infinitely richer because of the gutsy example of Dr. King.

When my son died, I channeled my intense grief into penning a special needs parenting book to help other families navigate the rocky parenting waters a bit easier. I helped establish the annual Eric ‘RicStar’ Winter Music Therapy Camp at Michigan State University, which honors my son’s remarkable gift for music. RicStar’s Camp serves individuals of all ages with a wide range of special needs. We nurture individual ability and serve as an example of successful inclusion in the many communities we serve.

Like Dr. King, I believe strongly that ‘what impacts one, impacts all.’ Only a fine line of circumstance separates us.

Fifty-four million Americans have disabilities; 200 million people worldwide have intellectual disabilities (formerly know as mental retardation). Today, many of these individuals are still undersocialized, undereducated and undervalued. Many face inexcusable struggles familiar to other minorities, making Dr. King’s fire, passion and example critical to my on-going work, and to that of others working for much-needed societal change.

Dr. King's message holds meaning for each one of our lives. Millions of people living with the tough daily realities of special needs understand Dr. King's dream all too well. More than one has taken his/her important place at the forefront of a human rights movement designed to grant millions of children and adults the right to live out their life dreams, too That includes the ground-breaking work of visionaries Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Tim Shriver, and Christopher and Dana Reeve.

Dr. King fought for justice and equality for all. Through my passionate special needs work, I’m proud and honored in 2014 to be living out Dr. King’s dream.

His powerful lessons live on.

The lessons belong to all.

For learn more about Dr. King's work and Monday's Day of Service, visit: or
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'm a Big Fan of...! -January 2008

You may have noticed that I've started more than one of my ramblings with the words,
'I'm a big fan of... !'

So, I'm making it an official monthly entry!

Here's my January 2008 gush.


This super-talented comedian shot to fame by winning Season 4 of NBC's hit show, 'Last Comic Standing.'

Josh Blue also happens to have CP, a reality he doesn't shy away from in his act. But it isn't all he delivers either. He helps fight stereotypes by addressing the white elephant in the room, not by tripping over or ignoring the beast.

When Josh first appeared on the show, I admit I found myself hoping he wouldn't be relegated to the sympathy vote by playing on any audience discomfort with disability.

But the confident young comedian quickly became a crowd favorite (and mine), for all the right reasons, providing a valuable, and hilarious example of ability before an international audience.

Josh Blue won 'Last Comic Standing' because he deserved to win, a reality the audience got, including me.

CP aside, the guy's just plain funny.

Check Josh out- and tell him that I sent you!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Don't Miss Oprah's Monday Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be sure to catch Oprah's Monday tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Dream Lives On- A Martin Luther King Day Special promises to deliver a powerful hour featuring a well-deserved tribute to this remarkable man who fought for the rights of all people. The program will explore the importance of King's legacy for us today.

King's work holds special meaning for those of us who care about the rights of those with special needs, a huge population that in 2008 is at the forefront of its own human rights movement. I'll be sharing my own perspective about all of this right here on Monday, too.

Let's hope we also see some of the great kids with special needs that O producers auditioned for their 'I Have a Dream, Today!' montage. Keep your eyes open! That inclusion would be huge.

How will you recognize this important day?
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Celebrating the 2008 Detroit Auto Show!

Another annual rite that says Spring isn't too far off is the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, a.k.a. the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

One of my fondest memories is attending this event with with my son during the last year of his life. Eric's wheelchair use granted our family early entry to the event, which allowed my son to enjoy the experience and cars up close before the overwhelming masses and die-hard fans descended.

We had a blast helping our budding-photographer son capture some amazing images, photos I now treasure.

Public admittance is: Saturday, January 19, 2008 to Sunday, January 27, 2008. Show hours are Saturday, January 19 to Saturday, January 26: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. No admittance after 9:00 p.m.

Check it out if you can. Word on the street, and in the media, is that it's worth all the automotive hype.

They don't call Detroit the Motor City for nothing!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Promises of Spring!

The days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger, and the birds are again warbling sweet early morning tunes!

Have you noticed?
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Wall Street Journal Infiniti Ad & Review of Breakthrough Parenting

In case you're interested, you can catch the profile of my work, and me, in the Infiniti ad appearing in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal on page A 3. Thanks, Infiniti, for recognizing the value of what I do and putting it before such a great audience!

Since the book's release I've been fortunate to continue to receive some terrific press coverage and reviews for my work. I just ran across a recent review in Durham Parent that I especially like, so I'm sharing the link here in case you'd like to check it out.

Editor Kevin Mackinnon gets my work better than most and his review reflects that, especially as he connects my work to that of five-time Ironman Champion triathlete Heather Gollnick, who also has a child with cerebral palsy.

I've often said (and written) that special needs parenting is much like running a marathon without the necessary training.

Mackinnon is a well-known former professional triathlete, a coach/trainer and frequent contibuter to the Canadian Broadcasting Company who is covering the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii this month.

His Nov. 17th, 2007 review of my book appears at

Here's the link:

More great awareness for the cause of special needs!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Tuesday, January 08, 2008



When people ask us how we're doing on the roughest days, we often fake a funky grin and respond with that all-too-familiar four-letter word, 'FINE.'

You're fine, you say? Sure you are:

...You just got back from a midnight run to ER with a kid who's been running a 104 temp and who's still vomiting non stop on your one clean shirt. FINE!

...You've been up all night with a screaming toddler, while struggling to stay out of bed with the nasty flu bug because you have to meet your child's on-going, never-ending health-care needs. FINE!

..You're preparing for another nerve-wracking IEPT meeting with your less-than-friendly neighborhood school district in the morning and you aren't the least bit prepared. FINE!

...Your family is eating crusty, leftover mac/cheese for the fourth night in a row and there's no sign of clean laundry (or uncurdled milk) anywhere within 100 miles of your house. FINE!

...Your insurance company just denied your claim for the medication needed to improve your child's health, behavior and well being (and yours!). FINE!

...You don't remember when you last took a hot shower, styled your hair, brushed your teeth or changed your underwear ('cause the laundry hasn't been done!). FINE!


But are you?

If you insist on pretending you don't need support from others when you clearly do, then FINE, but don't be surprised if you burn out. When you choose to remain silent about your true needs because you don't want to bother others with overwhelming life demands, you and your family pay a high price.

When it comes to parenting, especially for a child with special needs, it's okay and healthy to ask for help.

So here's an effective tactic I've learned through trial and error (there's lots more tips in my book!). The next time someone asks how you're doing, try answering honestly and tell them what you need. (i.e.: childcare for some time away, a hot meal one night a week, help with all the laundry, a cleaning lady who will scrub the toilets for you, a litle time shipwrecked on a tropical island with no cell phone, time to cry in private, and how about a brand-new-stinkin life!).

The world won't end because you utter these bold words.

True, you might scare a few people away with your new-found freedom to spout freely, and some of the questionable requests will go unanswered (complete with those have-you-completely-lost-it? stares). But then again, you might just get some of your most pressing needs met, including the need for clean underwear.

...and wouldn't that be just fine?

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

Friday, January 04, 2008

Minute Vacations January 2008

Judy's Minute Vacations for January 2008
Lahaina, Maui

I know how hard it can be for parents of children with special needs to find time to get away from their demands and refuel. I also know there are times when you'd like to run away from home, for good! To help keep you from abandoning your kids, I'm starting monthly Minute Vacations on my blog. I hope some of my travel photos will allow you to escape, refuel, and daydream, if only for a short while.

It's amazing what even a little time away can do for your mental health!

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

Motivational Autism Statistic

I'm a big fan of early intervention for most children with special needs. But in case you've been on the fence about seeking out an early diagnosis for a child with autism, here's an important stat that may motivate you to act sooner rather than later. (2008 is all about 'New Beginnings', right?).

According to the Austism Society of America, 'the cost of lifelong care for someone with autism can be reduced by two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention'.

That's one solid vote for taking action now.

You can learn more about this terrific resource at
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations