Parents, family members, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, they all have a role to play in the life of a special needs child. Shannon created Life With A Side Of Spectrum to share her family's story and help other families navigate their child's needs, IEP's and educational services. Her goal is to help other special families not feel alone and find joy in the journey.
5 words that describe your "job":
Wife, Mom of Four, Autism Advocate, Published Photographer, Fitness Enthusiast
Your children's names and ages:
Hannah 11, Gavin 9, Haleigh 6 and Ava 5
How do your children inspire you?
They inspire me to be kind, slow down and enjoy the moment. Time passes so quickly and they help me to keep life into perspective. My child with Autism has inspired me to slow down, take time to understand people more and judge less. Disabilities are not all visible and this has opened doors for me to teach other this as well. I’ve always enjoyed writing and sharing on our blog and now I feel there’s more of a purpose to help others with our story.
What is an activity your whole family loves to do together?
We love to hike and travel especially to the beach. It’s our favorite place to be together. We spend our days' boogie boarding and exploring new places.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your special needs child?
That he is more than Autism. He is extremely caring, loving and loves to play and connect with others. If they would just take the time to BE with him, give him time to respond, process and communicate in his way, they would see how amazing he is. They would learn that having Autism actually isn’t a scary thing, it’s just a different way of seeing the world around us.
How do you survive a tough day of parenting?
I love to read. My favorite thing to do is take a hot bath with a good book at the end of a hard day.
What is the one thing in your play space Gavin can't live without?
My children all love playing on the Nintendo switch, they especially love to dance.
What's the one thing you would drive back to get if you forgot it when out with your kid(s)?
If my child needed a specific medication for ADHD and we forgot it, I would be willing to go home and get it. Also, an iPad or their Nintendo Switch if we were going to be leaving town, or gone all day. Otherwise, we just get creative and deal without!
Gavin's favorite toy?
Lego and Playdoh
Gavin's favorite app?
Plants vs Zombies and Youtube Kids
3 Moms you follow on social media who inspire you and why ?
Kate, from Finding Coopers Voice, she inspires me to post and share our story despite the lack of support and education around us.
Sam Fawns, theausomepirate, I love her drive to advocate and teach about Autism, her story inspires me to post and share our journey
Carlie Wood, Carlieestylez, love her positive attitude and inspiring posts on motherhood
What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy?
My husband and I bought Apple watches which I was excited about for our fitness
What advice would you give to a (new) special needs mom ?
Find a friend that has been in your shoes, find support online or in your community. It’s so important to keep talking about your experience so you don’t feel alone in the journey. Our experiences can make us feel isolated but when you talk about it and how it all makes you feel it will make you feel better. Take one day at a time, it will be ok, you can do hard things.
What quote do you live by?
Sometimes the things we cannot change end up changing us.
Follow Shannon and her family's journey on Life With A Side of Spectrum.