Mom + Friends: Eileen Lamb, Founder of The Autism Cafe and Mama To Two Beautiful Boys With Special Needs.
Your Kids names and ages? Charlie, 4, and Jude, almost 2 (born July 4th 🇺🇸).
How do your children inspire you?
This is a difficult question to answer without sounding too cliché. Honestly, there are days when I'm completely overwhelmed by Charlie's inability to communicate and Jude's explosive personality. When that happens, I start thinking about all the great things they do.
Charlie's an inspiration because of his strength. He works so hard every day in therapy and he does it with a smile on his face most of the time. And Jude is so sweet. You can tell he has a big heart and he will be a great little brother. For instance, he guides Charlie by holding his hand when we're outside and he covers Charlie's ears and gives him a hug when things get overwhelming. He's learning by watching us and it's pretty amazing.
What is an activity your whole family loves to do together? We love to go grocery shopping... haha. We also love driving in the countryside and finding new outdoor places to explore and play at around sunset, our favorite time of day. We usually take one big road trip a year. It's fun!
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your special needs child?
I wish people knew that autism isn't contagious and not all autistic children want to be left alone. Charlie's starting to want to interact with his peers. Right now, he tries to get people's attention by pulling their hair. Of course, it's not right but if you guide him and talk to him and redirect him, he'll be happy. Also, autism doesn't have a look. I don't like when people say "he doesn't look autistic".
For Jude, I wish people understood the struggles of having a sensory processing disorder. It's not just "not liking the texture of one food" or being sensitive to noise. It's a combination of a lot of things that together form the disorder and can make simple things overwhelming.
How do you survive a tough day of parenting?
Remembering that everything is temporary. "This too shall pass". Focusing on the positive always helps. We celebrate every milestone, no matter how small they may seem. The day my youngest started clapping, the day Charlie said the sound "buh" for bubbles... we celebrated! Oh and beer, I alway like a good beer on a tough day!
The one thing in your play space your child can't live without?
Right now Charlie is completely in love with his elephant rocker that sings the ABCs. Jude loves his barn and farm animals. They both love books. Charlie is obsessed with fine print. The smaller the writing, the better he likes it.
What's the one thing you can't leave the house without when you are out with your kids?
iPad. Charlie uses an app called Proloquo to communicate with us.
Your child's favorite toy?
Definitely that elephant rocker, and his books.
Your child's favorite app?
The YouTube Kids app, and more specifically the channel KidsTV123. If you don't know it, I highly recommend checking it out. The songs are great, I don't even mind when they get stuck in my head.
Clothing item your child feels most comfortable in?
Cotton, soft fabrics.
3 Moms you follow on social media (Instagram/A blog/Twitter, etc.) that inspire you and why ?
@raisingmywild - She's a single mom and went through a lot, yet she still does an amazing job with her son.
@faustisland - She taught me pretty much everything I know about blogging.
@babyblues - She knows the struggle of raising an autistic child. She wasn't lucky enough to have access to all the therapy they needed so she did it all by herself. Her son is 10 now.
What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy?
Shelves to organize my kids' closet. I like things to be neat and organized. They have beautiful clothes so it makes me happy to know they're well organized and taken care of.
What advice would you give to a (new) special needs mom?
Take it one day at a time and try not to compare your child to other kids. I know it's hard but it will just hurt you. Focus on what your child can do instead of what he cannot do. Charlie has the language skills of an 8-month-old. He's behind cognitively too. On paper, we have a 1-year-old trapped in the body of a 4-year-old so we focus on what makes him unique, work hard, and we stay optimistic about the future.
What quote do you live by?
"If you judge a fish by its inability to climb a tree, it will live it's whole life believing it's stupid." -Albert Einstein