Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Interview with a special needs kids mom - Jenn Brockman

I am beginning a series of interviews with parent's of special needs kids. Lets start with me. I'll conduct my own interview so all of you can get to know me and my special needs kids! Q: What is your name & how many children do you have? A: Jenn Brockman - 2 girls, 7 and 11 Q: You have a special needs child. What is her/his name and what is the special need or diagnosis for that child? A: Actually, both my girls have issues, but don't we all? Nove, the 7 year old has Autism and possibly sensory integration disorder and oppositional defiance disorder too. Kat, my 11 year old, has ADHD. The doc said he'd never seen another kid in his practice rate so high overall on the Connor's scale. (2 of her teachers and we/parents filled out the rating form) Q: What are some of the issues you deal with on a daily basis from your child? (behavioral, physical symptoms or issues) A: Nove is stubborn, non communicative at times - she won't use words - often grunts, points, growls, when words would be used by anyone else. She plays with hot wheels, but play isn't a good word here. She actually just lines them up in different patterns. She is only about 75% potty trained. We still use pull ups on a regular basis. She spins, and spins and spins. There are so many other things, that it would take up a whole page all by itself. Kat, interrupts, can't get from one room to another without being distracted from her mission, talks loudly and often (all the time!). She wiggles and fidgets and moves all the time. Can't get organized, because she starts on one thing and gets distracted. Q: How old was your child when they were diagnosed? If no diagnosis yet, please skip and answer next question. A: Both girls were diagnosed within the last year thanks to family therapy. Q: Was it easy or difficult (to get) diagnosis? A: Well, we've been in therapy for a year and a half and we are just now getting to diagnosis. We tried to get the school to help with Kat for the last 3 years, but they kept brushing our concerns aside until her grades failed this year. Q: How did you feel upon getting the diagnosis? A: It was a relief to get Nove's diagnosis. I had questioned my sanity daily because of her behaviors, but I knew she was not ordinary. For Kat, I felt relief for her. Her self confidence had failed so badly that she beat herself up both literally and figuratively daily. Q: Do you care for the child by yourself, or do you have a support system in place? Please tell the readers about your situation. (who provides care and in what way, for what reason) A: Right now, the support system consists of my Mom when she feels well, their Dad on weekends (we are divorced), our family therapist and the school. My mom has been a tremendous help since Kat was born, but she gets migraines and has had a bad bout for several months now, so I feel like I'm a single mom trying to deal with these two unruly children all by myself. Q: What obstacles (if any) did you face along the way & how did you overcome them? A: The main obstacle was the school. Last year we had a run in with a substitute teacher who claimed that Nove wet her pants on purpose when she was angry. Her home room teacher this year, while communicating and working well with her, may believe that Nove has bi polar disorder and so I'm not entirely sure how she is reacting to Nove. However, there have been some great bright spots along the way. The pre K teacher was the one who initially helped us determine that there was, indeed, something going on with Nove and was so very patient and kind to her and to us. This year's new special education teacher seems to be much more level headed than the previous one and is communicating well with us ( I think). Q: Did you ever feel like it was a losing battle? A: Daily! Nove doesn't get up easily in the morning. She hits, she gets frustrated easily and gives up quick, which frustrated me even more. I feel doomed to be her caretaker for the rest of my life which is not something I signed up for so it feels at times like a life sentence. Q: What quality/qualities (i.e., tenacity, discipline, time management) do you think are necessary for a mom of a special needs child. Q: Which ones do you think it brings out in parents of special needs children? A: Yep, all those listed. Patience, (which I have little of), empathy, compassion and strength. Q: What one thing (book, website, coach, therapist, drug, tool, blog, service, etc) was VERY INSTRUMENTAL or inspirational to you? A: Can't pick just one! George, our family therapist. His humor has helped me get through many frustrations. I take things too seriously more often than not and he has shown me that I don't have to. Temple Grandin is inspiring. She is an adult with autism. Had it before autism was freely diagnosed and actually works and does presentations in the grown up real world. Q: What resources do you still/currently use to help you in your care for your child? A: Therapy. Even though there isn't much to help Nove with in our family therapy, it keeps me sane. Keeps me from giving up and giving in to her and to the social expectancy. Twitter. I've found many other parents of special needs kids there and have been able to share and get comfort. Q: What do you do to keep sane? (scrapbooking, running, reading, baths) A: I used to be a dancer. (belly danc) but the car accident ended that, so now, I read the forums and run my business. The weekends are probably the best for me. I get to spend a couple days with out the girls and with my boyfriend at his house watching crappy TV reality shows and just not giving a crap about the rest of the world. It took me a while to learn how to do that though. Q: I met you through a business networking connection. What business are you in? A: I'm in direct sales, beauty and fashion. Q: What is the name of your company and when did you start it? A: I own 2, along with special needs kids talk radio. My baby is Painted Laydies Mineral Makeup which I created from the ground up. I formulate, create, market, and everything else. The second is Mama Bags where I sell fun and unique handbags and accessories. Q: What was the inspiration behind your company/business? A: Well, Painted Laydies began out of a need for products that didn't make my skin go crazy. I had a background in beauty and art so the color theory and creation part of making the products was easy and a lot of fun. I hoped and still do, that it will actually provide a way to make a living and still be able to care for my kids without worrying about losing a job because I have to go rescue one of them from school. Q: What is your favorite quote/movie/song? A:The Pricess Bride - "as you wish" Some commercial - "what the french, toast?" Q: What advice would you give to other moms of special needs kids? A: Reach out to communities and other parents. The best support comes from someone who can identify with what you are going through. I thought I was alone in what I dealt with in regard to my kids. The fact is, there are millions of us! Q: How can my readers connect with you? (Website, Twitter, blog, etc.) A: I'm always looking for new stories and people to connect with on My other businesses can be found here; Twitter name is Jenn Brockman


  1. Welcome, Jenn, and thanks for telling us more about you. Would love to hear your stories about your children!


  2. Nice to meet you! Happened on this site by accident, while looking for some info for my sister and her special needs son (autism). She's exhausted too much of the time to do much (she also has young twins, AND and baby daughter!), so I look for help for her and then pass it on. But I have something to pass on to you, too -- a great book on autism and nutrition, and how diet helps children heal. IT's called "Nourishing Hope for Autism," by Julie Matthews. My sister can't say enough about this book! She says Evan was a new kid after they put the autism diet to work. (The author is an autism nutrition and diet expert and has lots of expertise in the field.)

  3. Hi Jen,

    I am a student and I need to interview a parent of a special needs child. I was wondering if you could expand on some of these ideas and answer the following questions. I really appreciate all of the hard work you do advocating for your children. I am trying to enter the education field myself.
    1. what impact does the child's disability have on the family, and how does the family cope with the impact?
    2. What strategies have you found helpful in living with the child's disability?
    3. How often do you communicate with the school personnel and who usually initiates communication?
    4. What is the school staff's view of you and your children?
    5. What sources of support do you rely on? Would any additional support be helpful?
    6. What one thing could school staff do to help facilitate a more positive relationship with the family?
    I know that you addressed some of these questions above but any additional comments you have would be greatly appreciated. Hope your girls are doing well. Thank you!

  4. The easiest way to get in touch with Jenn is to click her blog link at the bottom of her post. This isn't her blog, it's a community blog, so everyone here is a special needs parent! Since you don't leave contact info, I am not sure if you will get this..but I leave it anyway.
    Thanks for commenting!

    Tina Cruz

  5. Hi,

    I enjoyed, and related to your story. I am a single mom to a son with multiple neuro issues, PDD-NOS included. Some days I just feel like i am in a black hole, and it's all going to come caving in. I have my dad for babysitting-when he's feeling well enough. My son LOVES him, and me, but pretty much hates everyone else. Getting a sitter is nearly impossible (at a rate I can afford). My son is 9 now, and I got a FT job at the end of 2008-first one since he came home, and I've been hanging by a thread there. Too many days off to go get him at school, to stay home with him when he is flipping out, time off for meetings with the school, etc...I keep asking myself how other women do it; that i can't be the only single mom with a child with issues. I think what kills me the most is the financial aspect. If i had the money, I could get my son all the therapies he needs. It kills me that I have to pick and choose. And that I have to fight the school on an ongoing basis, so they will educate him. Would love for him to attend a private school for kids with LDs, but can't afford it. And also can't afford to take the school to court so they'll do it. It sickens me on a daily basis and yes, I get very MAD at it all. Oh well, I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone and I'll enjoy reading your blog


add your voice to the conversation!
(spam will be cheerfully and swiftly deleted)