My Struggle with Prejudice and Stigma 

If you have read any of my previous blogs I like any other parent raising children can go through a series of emotions daily. Some are bad days where I struggle with parenthood to the point I feel my emotions are boiling over, my neck and shoulders hurt, I over eat due to stress and I generally feel crap, but other days make me realise how amazing motherhood is. 
I have four girls aged between 13 and 7 and being able to watch them forge their own paths in life is an amazing privilege. We bring these tiny people into the world and are their family, teachers and support network. When they become older these little bundles trust and rely on you for everything still and you know that you will move heaven and earth to protect them. That feeling never goes away…..even now my own children are growing I still feel that sense of protectiveness and love I felt the day they were born. Even more so sometimes, I want to protect them from society and peoples cruel words, from prejudice and judgement.

   While I never thought I would raise disabled children as many parents don’t I have never hesitated in doing all that I can to make sure they get the best and I fight daily to ensure they are raised in a world that does not see them as different and unable but sees them for the amazing people they are and days like today when they learn something new makes me proud. 

All disabilities are different and need care in different ways but we parents become their carer’s and their advocates. In a world that is slowly changing to accept that people with disabilities deserve the same rights that we do I feel my children have more chance of showing the world what they have to offer. This is why I believe in writing and sharing my experiences like other parents out there so that hopefully my children can step in to a world where disabilities are considered but not made to hold those who have them back. 
Having children who have hearing loss is hard. I am forever feeling like I need to apologise for their loudness and their bluntness. My eldest has a mild loss and wears hearing aids and recently was bullied and told to stop staring at people. Yet when she explains why it becomes easier to understand when you are an adult but not when you are a child. You see she is not intentially being rude it’s just as she uses lip reading to help understand conversations around her, she looks at people’s faces and body language. If hearing loss was more talked about I feel that people would understand better. Another daughter with moderate hearing loss faces different issues, she struggles with high frequency words and again uses lip reading and body language to make sense of the world around her. Speech is such an important part of who we are and communication is everything. Not being able to communicate can become a very distressing and upsetting prospect. Relationships can become strained as there are barriers. 
Since the new born screening programme came in hearing loss is is picked up earlier and children can be given the care they need to help them but that doesn’t help others who do not know much about hearing loss. As a parent I tell people and are open with them that my children have a hearing loss. In previous years when my confidence was low this was extremely hard and I would frequently get embarrassed if people stared at us or stared at my children’s hearing aids. After confronting one person once about staring it became apparent that he was just fascinated as he had never seen young children with hearing loss and that he had always assumed it was an elderly person disability.
 After that I became more confident at being able to explain my children’s hearing aids as humans we are very nosy, intrested but most of the time prone to staring as we are afraid to ask. My children are no different and will stare at people in wheel chairs or people who are different from them which I teach them is wrong and that if they are intrested they should go and talk to them. My eldest has done this to a poor lady in a wheelchair. She wanted to know why and after speaking to the lady she assured me she wasn’t offended but rather happy that my daughter would take the time to talk to her. Don’t get me wrong I can’t speak for every disabled person out there but I know that now my children are getting older they would much prefer someone ask than stare. It’s how they learn and share awareness isn’t it?? 

Don’t get me wrong it’s not an easy task to teach any child right from wrong but teaching your child to accept k that has been started and we live in a world where everyone is accepted regardless of their disability.

The ADD diagnosis that another of my children has is the hardest disability as a parent to cope with. I find it extremely challenging as a parent as ADD and ADHD are still viewed by some as just a naughty child and how I must be a bad parent in some way spoiling my child or that it must be because I can’t cope. Having four children is also a no no in some people’s eyes. Thing is I can cope, it hasn’t broken me yet and the worse part is that some days it is not my child that causes me pain but the thoughts and actions of others. I feel I have to explain my child’s disability when meeting anyone new so they know straight away that there is a valid condition that makes my child act out. I feel shame and worry that old prejudices come to the forefront of a strangers mind and that they think I am being silly and I just have a naughty child, a bad apple amongst the four of them. I don’t!!!!!!
Having disabled children does make you open your eyes to the plight of others. I never dreamed I would have children who had disabilities. No one in my family has anything and even the children of my siblings do not have the hearing loss or ADD that my children have. The disabilities my children face are by no means life threatening or emotional as what other parents go through, but for us it can be our own tiny world of emotional turmoil. I still feel occasionally like a failure compared to my siblings. That I must have done something wrong to be the only one with children who are viewed as different. I feel shame when my children do something that is not perceived as normal but can be explained due to their diagnosis especially my daughter with ADD…….but I never fail to feel that love, protectiveness and proudness that I felt when they were younger and free of any labels. 

Everything thing that my children accomplish makes me feel such amazing warmth and awe and that as young as they are they will continue to forge a path through whatever comes and be amazing people ready to help anyone and pass on their strength and experiences to those that are around them.

Children are not born prejudice or judgemental, they are born inquisitive , looking for knowledge and accepting. It’s this that we need to encourage
To follow our story on Facebook search @Leannesihm
X Leanne X

Taking ADD and Anxiety on Holiday……..

As I sit here writing I almost want to keep the last week to myself. Going on holiday with children can be fun, stressful and tiring. Going on holiday with a child with ADD can make being at home seem like heaven. But we have had significantly more good moments this last week than bad. 

Even though I try not to when planning a holiday I have to weigh the pros and cons of how it will affect my daughter. Going abroad for us is not a possibility. Being so far from home would cause more upset than it’s worth and be a huge waste of money. So we holiday in Great Britain. 

For the past few years we have gone a little further every time. Right now we are on the bank of Loch Ness and what a magical place it is. The journey here was split with a two night stay at a site in Gretna green. This enable us to rest as well as help our daughter with anxiety. Travelling with her is the worse, even short car journeys so why did we decide to come to Scotland!! I hear you ask? Simple….we adapt so much of our lives to living with disabilities that sometimes I feel like I just want to wish them away and try and be ‘ normal’ I know there is no such thing as normal, it’s just sometimes I don’t want to not go somewhere or do something because of our daughters disabilities. It’s all part of my mantra for wanting them to experience what the world has to offer!!! To not be held back, and to not be defined by their disabilities, as a parent this is getting harder everyday. A few times this week I have thought what the hell am I doing! Am I gluten for punishment? 

Why do I have these stupid ideas?……….But for me it’s the magical memories holidays like this can make!!!

I have mad ideas for the memories they make

While planning this holiday there was also that fear of being beside a body of water and the hills and crags that surround us. What would happen if our daughter got impulsive and fell of somewhere😱, how would we cope mentally being on edge all of the time near water and up high? but again how much do you change what you do to suit the symptoms of ADD/ADHD?? For me my daughter is just as much at risk of jumping of Cromer pier than she is of tumbling down Foyers falls. It’s about keeping on the ball and reacting quickly to any meltdowns and anxiety attacks. It has been far from easy with a refusal to eat as much as she needs to, tantrums, swearing, hitting out I feel her behaviour has hit an all time low. It’s like she turned 10 at the beginning of July and since then we have been on a downward spiral. 

Surprisingly though I have felt more able to cope with it this week. Dad is here and while she is more attached to me he has made a huge impact on how much she has taken her anger out on me physically. She dosnt care how much it hurts to be hit, or pelted with a stick because she has to walk a little further up the hill. The arms crossed head down pose has been adopted quite a lot this week but do you know what? We made it a whole 7 days with 4 kids, a dog and husband 😂 we didn’t go home early (our usual trick). 

So all in all its amazing here! Where is here? 

Camping and caravan club Loch Ness shores Inverness-shire 

All set up

What a place!! I almost want to keep it secret so no one else comes here. We arrived on Monday and instantly I fell in love. Nestled right on the shore the site has amazing views and lots of space. Ideal for those with hyperactivity. Being nestled quite nicely in the surrounding nooks and crags Loch Ness shores is a stones throw away from amazing walks taking you up to Foyers falls, rope swings galore and beach side campfires where you can sit and Nessie watch. It’s amazingly dog friendly too so we could bring our Labrador poppy.

 The site itself has a quaint little shop with your essentials…including marshmallows for those beach side fires! They also have tables where you can sit and plan your day, read or play games. We haven’t this time around but next time we will definitely be renting some kayaks and actually get on the water or if that’s not your thing they also have some small motor boats just perfect for doing a little water side exploring. There’s a small airstream diner offering breakfast, lunch and dinner for those who would like a break from cooking…..the sausage and egg roll we had yesterday morning was divine. There is also a huge, clean and accessible amenities block with toilets, showers, washing machines and a tumble dryer. My daughter likes to come and help fill and empty the machines. I think this is more to do with the fact there is the hum from the machines and it’s a small room ideal for getting away from everything for 10 minutes.  While stood waiting a quiet sense of calm comes over you. There is also a play park for the children, mine have spent most evenings there before bed playing and making friends with other campers. 

On the shore of Loch Ness

Out and about Inverness is about 40 minutes by car and again with so much scenery to see our daughter coped quite well. Once there there’s so much to see and do. We went on a boat trip with dolphin spirit. Sadly the Dolphins were hiding this time but the girls enjoyed their time on board and there was activities for Louisa to do on board like colouring, animal spotting so she stayed entertained. We also went to a very quaint and quirky free titanic museum.  Inverness itself has all the shops you would find at home. We didn’t really explore all that much as our daughter didn’t feel comfortable walking round a strange town. Next time we will….

Culloden  battlefield was a interesting walk. We didn’t pay to go in the exhibition as it would have been for us personally a waste of money. Our daughter can’t seem to hold her attention and concentration and I felt it would have been a sensory overload this time around as it was also quite busy.  The battlefield itself was free to walk. Dogs on leads allowed which was perfect for us. We walked round and discovered the clan stones (Fraser for the outlander fans :). Louisa was a little worried as we were walking around and her anxiety was high but open space, fresh air, history and free….as a parent what more could you wish for.

With so much to see and do we have hardly had anytime for story massage which is not like us at all. Once the bedtime medicine has been given to Louisa all of the girls have been asleep within minutes. Must be the pure, fresh air and running and walking we have been doing, needless to say it won’t continue when we get home it never does ha ha instead we have been jotting down ideas for a Scottish holiday story massage. This is what we came up with….

Down on the shore of the loch

Taking a trip to the loch (walk)

Wonder if Nessie’s about (claw)

We walk we run we play (wave)

Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
The waves go up and down. (wave)

The birds fly round and round (circle)

The clouds go floating by (wave)

Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
We love to paddle and play (walk)

In this beautiful magical place (circle)

And roast our marshmallows (bounce)

Down on the shore of the loch (calm)

The Brown family 2016

Speaking of massage, mummies and daddies if you do come this way to the Highlands (and I highly recommend that you do) check out www.libraholistics.com The owner Lindsay is a lovely, friendly local therapist right on the campsites doorstep. Literally as you walk out of the site you are there 😊 Offering a range of treatments Lindsay offers tranquility and relaxation. The treatment room is relaxing and inviting and adds to the whole experience.  In keeping with my mantra of how we should all have some relaxation massage is a definite must for those of us caring for disabled children. I had a back,shoulder and neck massage. Sleeping in a caravan does have its drawbacks 😀 but after the massage I felt much calmer, relaxed and ready for the long trip home a couple of days later. 

Now the reality is that we are going home. Dad is going back to work and for 8.5 hours a day I am going to be on my own. It’s daunting!!!! In truth it brings an almost sick feeling to my stomach. How will I cope? How will I entertain the children? I am also trying to start the next step in my career as a holistic therapist, how will I cope juggling children, ADD and coursework?

Watch this space…… Take care all, enjoy your time with the children, make magical memories even on bad days and try to make time for yourselves I know I will and remember your not alone!!!!

X Leanne x