Hi, Ellen. Welcome to Writers4Higher!
1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
Life is messy, unpredictable and full of mistakes. However, like the puzzle pieces on the autism flag, our happenings usually fit together. I met my husband during my senior year at college. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education. He was finishing up his Master’s degree in the same field. We had no idea our union of knowledge would be tested years later when we adopted our daughter, Grace. Before Grace was two, she displayed behaviors we hadn’t seen with our boys. One day, she became angry, piled books on her floor, ripped off her diaper and wet all over the beloved stories. Other times, she screamed for hours. An enigma because Grace was extremely loving. Her behaviors intensified as her body grew. Raging hormones was an understatement. Impulsivity produced shoplifting behaviors. When her psychiatrist gave a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, my head pounded as if someone had hit me with a baseball bat. This was a life sentence for our beautiful, creative, fifth grader. Classmates put her into solitary confinement by bullying her. My husband and I were helpless to explain why no one wanted to attend her birthday parties. Our stress increased when Grace tried to commit suicide at high school. Good can come from bad because that led to her duel diagnosis of autism. She hadn’t seen suicide as permanent.
I never thought about being an author. It was overwhelming frustration that led me to a keyboard. My fingers struck the keys, releasing feelings of loss, confusion, helplessness, loneliness and anger at God. If my child had cancer, I could yell it from the rooftop. People would have presented us with casseroles and offered prayers. They would have brought their children over to visit. “Mentally disabled," “bipolar disorder,” and “autism,” scares people. Bewildered parents try to hide their special needs child under a blanket of secrecy. It might work if those pesky, odd behaviors didn’t pop out in public places. Glory to God for holding us in his hand. He chose my husband and I, our sons, and extended family to make a great team. Grace has grown into a successful young woman.
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
I’ve written two books about our life with Grace. THE BIPOLAR EXPRESS STOPS AT AUTISM STATION: One Christian Woman’s Life Journey In The Company Of A Child With Bipolar Disorder And Asperger’s Syndrome chronicles her adoption and life through her freshman year at high school. The Bipolar Express Stops At Autism Station is the sequel. Readers see Grace's idiosyncrasies of autism, her fight to control her range of emotions, and our struggle to get her a free and appropriate education. Our daughter is on the right track so I’m working on a children’s series. This series will be lighter on my heart but just as challenging. Writing fiction is a huge leap of faith.
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
My daughter is my hero. She has allowed me to make her private life public in the hopes of inspiring others. It’s our family's desire to let parents of special needs kids know they are not alone. We hope to educate the public about mental disabilities. People shouldn’t be so quick to judge the parenting of a child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. He or she might not be spoiled but is having a meltdown due to sensory overload.
There are many fantastic teachers, schools, and school districts, however, parents need to understand their child’s educational rights. To effectively work with teachers and administrators, parents should familiarize themselves with their county's procedural safeguards, understand the laws pertaining to a 504 Plan and the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA).
It’s difficult to work on a relationship with your spouse when a battle rages inside your child’s brain. My husband and I began ballroom dancing. Working as partners on a dance floor has helped us be partners in life. It’s provided exercise, stress relief and new friends. I became a yogi a year ago. Yoga helps me to remember to breathe deeply and stay in the moment. When I’m tied up in knots, I tie knots with knitting needles. I’ve knitted a few scarves and hats and have become a Knitwit. Scrapbooking brings happy memories to the forefront.
I try to remember the instruction given while flying on an airplane and apply it to everyday life; put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. Prayer continues to sustain me.
You Are Not Alone,
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Southern Fiction author and blogmaster