What do you think the biggest issue is facing parents of children with special needs?
That question’s the topic of my upcoming book! As a parent of multiple children with special needs, I’d read everything I could get my hands on to get help to raise them well. But rarely do those resources address our own grief, hurt and emotional struggles as the parents. So I feel like our greatest need is to have permission and tools to grieve, overcome resentment, and get our joy back. We can’t change what our families deal with, but we can change how WE deal with it!
What are the recognizable signs of unmanageable stress?
If you mean for the parents, I’d say it’s a pervasive sense of overwhelm, a feeling of being lost in the shuffle of life with their high-needs kids, often a decrease in self-care (weight gain, sleep problems, hygiene changes, isolation). It also can be irritability and letting things go that they once enjoyed because they don’t directly benefit their child’s situation. That’s what I work on first as a life coach – discovering and building on each parent’s personal strengths and talents so they don’t feel as overwhelmed and they get their energy and joy back.
Can you say a little bit about your journey as a parent thus far?
I’m a wife and mom of four. Two were adopted from foster care and have mood disorders, ADHD, and developmental delays. One has medical issues on top of that. As a former teacher in the public schools, I used to love working with kids like that. When I moved home to be with my own kids, not so much! It almost sucked the life, joy and hope right out of me as we slogged through years of misdiagnoses, behavior challenges, being isolated from friends and our church, and disconnecting from the hobbies I once enjoyed.
I’m not a passive person, so I decided to figure out how to thrive in our family because just surviving wasn’t going to cut it! Around the same time – 7 years ago – other parents I knew began to ask me to come speak to groups they attended because we were, all things considered, seeing a lot of success with our kids. From that, I became a parenting and life coach for those facing significant daily challenges, to help more women and families like mine get their joy back. I’ve been doing it ever since, and honestly, it’s what gets me up on the mornings that my kids are melting down and meds need adjusting. There is nothing like being able to see the life-fire ignite in another mom like me so they can enjoy their family and life again!
What made you change your focus of delivery in helping others?
From teaching to speaking? That happened when I chose to stay home with my newly adopted oldest two girls. I loved teaching, but didn’t want to be out of the house every day. Speaking twice a month was a great balance.
From speaking to coaching/speaking? Increasingly parents would come up and talk with me after a presentation to see if I’d meet with them to discuss their unique challenges. So I investigated counseling and coaching as a career to be able to do that. Counseling had never truly helped me or my kids because it remained pain-based and history-focused. Coaching is more proactive and vision/future-based, so I went that route to be able to bring hope and practical help to families I work with.
What types of services do you offer?
One-on-one coaching – working with individuals on a biweekly basis by phone or Skype. We do assessments to discover a client’s unique strengths, then look at what’s working and what’s not in their life right now and set goals to build more of what’s working into their life and decrease what drains them.
Speaking – for workshops or larger groups, on topics of breaking the bitterness cycle, finding freedom (from negative habits, patterns or consistent struggles), pursuing vision and dreams as parents, and effective behavior management strategies for spirited kids.
What is your unique professional background?
- Bachelor’s in Biochemistry from UCSD
- Research Assistant studying effects of stress on the nervous system at UCSD School of Medicine
- Teaching Credential in Biology and Physical Science
- Taught middle and high school science in San Diego Unified Schools – worked with special needs kids extensively due to science class environment being a good place to mainstream kids with IEP’s and 504’s.
- AVID Coordinator at my last teaching site, where I supported at-risk kids academically, socially and behaviorally.
- Speaker for Mothers of Preschoolers groups throughout San Diego County – most popular topics over the last 7 years: Raising Resilient Kids (parenting and thriving through stress in families) and Raising a Tough Nut (strategies to overcome tough behaviors in spirited kids without going nuts as parents).
- Certified Life Coach (through the American Association of Christian Counselors)
- Member of the International Association for Coaches and International Christian Coaches Association
How can someone reach you?
Email me for information – LaurieWallin@gmail.com
Check out my Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/LivingPowerLifeCoaching
Visit my site for articles to get unstuck in life – http://lauriewallin.com
Connect on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/mylivingpower – @MyLivingPower
This time of year is hard on many of us. The stressors we already have are exaggerated by winter breaks, family holiday ‘requirements’, celebrating the holidays in ways that differ so much from what we originally thought they’d be…reflection bringing us to evaluate where we are and where we need to go. And sometimes, we need a little help getting there.
Thank you Laurie for taking the time to reach out to Special Happens readers.