It's Sucker Punch Season for Special Needs Families

Graduation and awards ceremonies give the Right Hook. Yearbook signings throw a left jab. Prom pictures deliver an upper cut.

Sucker punches are those moments we think we are fine, but BAM out of nowhere something hits a tender place we did not know existed.

Creative Ways to Pay for College

At the conclusion of our podcast series on secondary and post-secondary education for students with differing abilities, a big question lingered over our heads:

How can college certificate or degree programs be affordable?

One of the listeners had tremendous success finding financial avenues and has graciously passed along a treasure chest of information.

Autism Awareness, Pet Ferrets, and Peanut Butter

Apparently, it is Autism Awareness Day and, well, I was not aware until it started popping up everywhere. I suppose it's cool this day exists. I did my research and learned it is also national peanut butter and jelly day and also national ferret day. So, yea. I'm not quite sure what we are supposed to do with all of these days but it seems perhaps I can do my part on this national day to help you become more aware of this autism thing.

A Mom's Humbling Advocacy Lesson

"Imagine if someone saw potential in our children and raised the standards to such a level even we had to be convinced. Imagine if someone had so much experience and success that his/her confidence in our children’s ability made us believe in something bigger. Imagine if this someone would not back down until higher standards were not the end goal, but the starting line."

Free Download - Transitional Resource Guide

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At the age of 14 or 16, a document called the Individualized Transition Plan becomes a part of the IEP.

Are you prepared to partner with the schools in creating this document?

The below Resource Guide is a goldmine of over 30 website links in 12 categories filtered for the best information on the web to prepare for successful planning. 

For an overview of the Individualized Transition Plan, read LOMAH's 4 part series on the topic.

For a more in depth dive, download the free Transition Guide below.

I Don't Want Back-to-School Advice for My Special Needs Child

"Please, for the love of all things special needs parenting, do not give me a to do list right out of the gates as the school year begins. Unless it involves a nap or Bloody Mary at 10:00, I am not interested. 

Just give me a week to recover. I will be all over the to do lists in a few weeks. 
I promise."

The 13th Hour: A (horrible) Road Trip

"Around hour 10 into the drive, Miranda started into a screaming and thrashing fit. It was intense. Around hour 11, I started having horrible thoughts. Thoughts like if Miranda was not my daughter and I didn’t have to live with all she brought I would be just fine with that. Thoughts like I wished our family could just have all “normal” kids. Thoughts like had I known what I was signing up for I would not have had her.

Yes, those kinds of thoughts,"


Employment and Social Security Benefits

Maintaining public benefits to cover medical care, food, shelter, and clothing are incredibly important for an individual with special needs. Also important is to live a life of purpose and structure.

Some adults with special needs find purpose and structure through employment.

However, this can get tricky. It may be hard to know if a job will be suitable or even doable. If it is not, the individual can find him/herself unemployed and without benefits. Fortunately, there are a few safety nets to protect the special needs adult so s/he can experience the perks of employment. Likewise, the community and employers can experience the advantages of hiring an individual with disabilities.  

The best-known program to explore employment is Ticket to Work.

It’s a bit complicated and involves more math than we feel like doing so be sure to click on the links throughout this article when your brain is ready. 

In a nutshell, Ticket to Work is set up so an individual can ease into employment without the risk of losing benefits if the job and individual are not compatible. This easing in phase is called the trial period and during the trial period an adult with disabilities can earn up to $780/month. The trial period ends if payroll exceeds $780 nine times in a 5 year period. Once the trial period is over, the clock resets to a three-year period of time where the individual can immediately regain benefits if less than $1,090/month is made. See, we told you a lot of numbers were involved. There are also annual limits and the numbers change if under 22 so, yeah, more numbers.

Go to the Social Security Administration website for the full scoop. 

The below video from SSA gives a nice overview of how the program works for men named Ben:


The Ticket to Work program utilizes service providers.

The easiest way to understand service providers is to think of how insurance works. Insurance can only be used at the doctors who are signed up as “providers” for the insurance company. Using a doctor outside of the provider list means the insurance (typically) can not be used.  Adding to the confusion, just like doctors provide different services, so do Ticket to Work providers. Similar to the way you search for the right doctor to use as a medical provider, is how you should search for a Ticket to Work Provider.

There are four types of providers and each type offers something different. Therefore, the first step is establishing the greatest need so as to know who to assign the ticket to. 

Below is a list of the 4 categories of providers. Click those highlighted to be directed to more information on the ticket to work website.

  • Employment Networks (EN) - are public or private organizations who partner with the social security administration to assist with job placement free of charge. Not all EN’s provide the same services so look around prior to assigning the ticket. 
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (VR) - vary greatly from state to state and are typically for those in need of more significant services including education, training, and rehabilitation. 
  • Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) - offer counseling and assistance in navigating work and benefits. 
  • Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) - help with protecting rights, advocating for accommodations, and other legal barriers to employment.

The Choose Work website from the Social Security Administration is the bomb-diggity-bomb. It gives a thorough explanation of the pros and cons of the above provider types and even has a search portal to find one. The website is also where you can find webinars and tutorials. 

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An Oscar Winning Script

"As I was hopping between Theatre #1 and #2, I couldn’t help think about the differing abilities of the children presenting in Theatre #1 to those performing in Theatre #2. One set of abilities has the potential to advance the world with technology, and given their Silicon Valley roots, they probably will. 

The other set of abilities has the power to bring a room full of people to their feet while filling hearts with warmth and filling eyes with tears."

Praising God for Random Squirrels

"There are times my heart longs to deeply connect with God via prayer. The intentions are good but the follow through stinks.

As I can tell, two issues hinder carved out prayer time. Somehow they are complete opposites which probably indicates a wide range of issues. They are:

  1. Falling asleep - I’m talking about zoning out within 2 minutes. “God thank you for today and of sleep.” 
  2. Distraction - All it takes is the buzzer to go off in the laundry room or a squirrel jumping on the fence. “Squirrel!”  

Rarely do I make it to “amen” when doing one of those quietly sit here and pray kind of prayers."

Wounded by Prayer & Healed with Cake

Prayer has been like a wound I prefer to cover with a clean bandage.

Can I just keep prayer nice and neat? Can I just occasionally peak under the bandage to see if anything is changing? Can I just claim “Amen! Answered prayer!” when things are healing and “God has a plan!” when it’s still a mess? 

For about a decade, I kept prayers in a safe spot under the bandage. I had to. There was a deep wound from unanswered prayer...