Six Special Momtreprenuers Who Are Working to Make a Difference in Our Community
Raising children is a tough enough job. Now, add a special needs child to the mix and it becomes an even greater task. We would like to shine a light on these six special momtreprenuers who have taken on the additional task of creating businesses that serve the special needs community. We applaud these special moms who are working to make a difference in our community.
[Momtrepreneur] is an amalgam of a female business owner and a “mom” who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.
Company: ABR Canada
Advanced Bio-mechanical Rehabilitation (ABR) is a home-based rehabilitation approach empowering the parents of children with special needs to attain a thriving and flourishing life.
Her family: I am the proud mother of Nicholas,18, who has severe Cerebral Palsy. Like many other parents, I started going from one therapy to another, desperately searching for the ‘miracle cure.’ I tried 17 different approaches within a 4 year period (both alternative and conventional therapies), until I met the inventor of Advanced Bio-mechanical Rehabilitation (ABR), Leonid Blyum.
Her start up: Thrilled by the progress I was achieving with my son, I gave up my journalism career and opened the ABR Center for the Americas, located in Montreal, Canada (www.abramericas.com). Today we offer this fantastic, innovative and research proven rehabilitation approach to more than 200 children with special needs from Montreal to Buenos Aires. We offer training sessions in Pennsylvania, Florida, California and Mexico with more satellite locations opening shortly. Initially, I started as a local Foundation in Nicolas’s name, but its popularity soon went beyond borders and its success has spread south across the United States, Mexico and South America! I feel so proud today to see so many children holding their head and torso better, gaining more flexibility, and being healthier and HAPPIER than ever before! The testimonials from ABR parents that see their child waking up to life is what nourishes me above all. Our principle, first and foremost, is to improve functional abilities in conjunction with better health and HAPPINESS. “Being before doing” is our motto. Being able to enjoy life like any other child; being well enough in one’s own body to interact joyfully with parents and siblings. No forceful approach, no exhausting stimulation…just gentle, non-invasive, yet extremely efficient mechanical stimulation to improve your child’s structure, metabolism and awareness.
A lady once told me, “It is so sad to think that he will never be able make anything of his life!’ I answered, “Even without the ability to speak or walk, Nicholas has accomplished more than many young men his age that already have a college degree! He opened a Rehabilitation Center that changes the lives of hundreds of children”!
Nicolas also has a big brother, Louis-Philippe, who lovingly carries him around since Nicolas is too heavy for me now. He plays the guitar to him, sings him songs and watches hockey games with him. Nicolas, in spite of the severity of his case, shares in every family activity. I always jokingly present him as the PRESIDENT of the ABR Center! Without him, none of this would have ever been possible!
Company: Missing Piece Awareness USA Missing Piece
Awareness, Inc., trains, certifies, supports and promotes businesses to be autism-aware and accepting so they can effectively serve ALL customers.
Her start up: I am a momtrepreneur working to create social change to directly impact the day-to-day lives, and development, of individuals with autism and their families. Along with my two partners, Dianne Porter and Kathleen Grieve, Missing Piece Awareness, Inc., (www.missingpieceusa.com) trains, certifies, supports and promotes businesses to be autism-aware and accepting so they can effectively serve ALL customers. We partner with mainstream businesses and determine what accommodations, modifications and supports are necessary to make their business fully accessible and welcoming to individuals with autism and other disabilities. Dianne Porter and Kathleen Grieve have worked with families who have children with autism for a combined total of 50 years as a BCBA and special educator in homes, schools and the community. I am also a mother to a wonderful son, Emerson, who has autism.
I was, initially, hesitant to bring him into the community and into businesses for fear of judgment, and more importantly, mistreatment, due to his behaviors. Dianne and Kathleen were acutely aware of this gap between a family’s need to have their needs met and understood, and a business’s ability to do so. They understood why parents like myself just found it easier to stay home sometimes.
We train employees to UNDERSTAND autism through a series of hands-on, interactive training sessions and provide them with techniques, tools, strategies and the knowledge to successfully anticipate and meet the needs of individuals and their family with autism. We create social stories, picture schedules and parent primers customized to EACH business to help children with a quicker acclimation to new places and a heightened understanding of what to expect and what is expected of THEM. Finally, we communicate directly with the special needs community to inform them about the business at events such as resource fairs and special needs expos and through outreach to families, agencies, schools, parent organizations and media.
We recognize the brilliance and hidden talents of our children, yet fear they will not be able to meet their full potential without being given the opportunity to fully participate in the community. All children deserve and require the freedom to be active in fully inclusive environments if they are to be able to maximize their potential as they get older and transition into the workforce. The next generation of adults need to be those who have grown up together (autistic individuals and non-autistic peers) and side by side.
Company: Oranda Teaching and Learning
Oranda works to nurture healthy and productive learning environments. With consulting and an online boutique of niche educational products, we feed teachers, schools and communities with ideas and resources to engage, connect and grow with each other and their children.
Her start up: I founded Oranda (www.oranda.org) after nearly 10 years of classroom teaching and more than 10 additional years of teaching “future teachers”. Throughout my career, I have visited thousands of classrooms where I experienced stressed-out teachers and students, disengaged students, and discouraged teachers. I was compelled to synthesize what I learned from my 20 plus years in education along with my interests in meeting the needs of diverse learners, mindfulness, active learning, neuroscience and occupational therapy. In 2010, I created recessitate as a resource for teachers and students to positively engage, connect and grow with each other. In one year, recessitate made its way into five continents. In 2015, the Focus 1-2-3 App arrived to bring the same great activities to ‘smart’ technology.
As a parent and educator, I am passionate about empowering others with strategies that support their well-being in mind, body and spirit. I have two school age children and am married to a fellow educator.
Why the name Oranda? The name was inspired by the proverb about teaching others to fish. The ‘oranda’ is a curious and common goldfish with a brainy-like mass on the top of its head. They thrive under the best conditions. Just like us!
Blogger: Building Up Baby
One Mama’s home therapy ideas for her sweet baby girl.
Her family: My husband, Patrick, and I are the very proud parents to four wonderful children: Gavin, 14; Mallory, 11; Claire, 3 and Hugh 1. Our Claire is my inspiration to push myself to “do hard things” every day.
Claire was born with an, as of yet, undiagnosed muscle disorder and cervical spine malformation. Shortly after her birth, I wrapped up my job as a Civil Engineer and my life began to revolve around her therapy. After a few years of regularly brainstorming creative ways to incorporate her therapy into our daily lives, I decided to chronicle my home therapy ideas in a blog. My goal is to capture some of what we do at home with Claire in order to inspire other caregivers of special needs kids to find ways to use day-to-day activities and materials to help increase strength as well as fine and gross motor skills. In addition to therapy ideas, I’m starting to share books, devices, toys, and specialized equipment that I’ve come across and personally used. I am not using my blog to make any income or promote any specific product or service. It is, simply, my dream to use my blog as a forum for parents to get and share therapy ideas.
Company: The Developmental Garden
Social Skills and Developmental Products Helping Children to Blossom
Her family: My husband, Chuck, and I have two beautiful children, Daniel (15) and Amy (9). We adopted both of our children, and they have been a true blessing in our lives. Daniel is a natural artist – he loves to draw, paint, create and LOVES to cook and hopes to be a chef! Amy is a natural athlete and excels in any sport she plays. She is a loving and nurturing young lady, and hopes to be either a veterinarian or a police officer!.
Her start up: Daniel has autism and we have learned so much more than we ever anticipated in our child-raising journey because of that! It has opened new doors, led to a move across the country, and the development of awesome social skills products!
My business partner is a developmental specialist, and was working with my son with her prototype social skills game. We decided to produce the board game, as well as the apps, to help children all over the world with their social and emotional skills!
The Give Me 5 games help children fit in with their peers in a way that does not feel forced, reenacting every day social situations to teach social cues, manners and proper responses to frustration, conflict and routine encounters.
This fun, non-competitive game covers 8 different types of social skills: awareness, nonverbal communication, verbal communication, emotional awareness, perspective taking, manners and understanding the big-picture. High 5s are given along the way to support the child’s positive social development and nurture their self-esteem.
The Give Me 5 Apps use video learning to analyze real-life social situations and facilitate social rule acquisition and deeper social understanding. Kids are active learners because they can personalize their profile, pick a virtual friend, try for bonus squares, and level up as they game their way to social success!
The goal of the Give Me 5 Board Game and Apps, and The Developmental Garden, is to help children achieve better social understanding for long-term success in life! It is available through amazon.com. The Give Me 5 Apps are available through itunes and googleplay.
Company: Go With The Flow Wellness
Personal Health & Lifestyle Coach; working with women who are caring for a child with special needs.
Launched : 1999
Her family: I’m blessed to be the mother of a beautiful, 15-year-old daughter with special needs. She was born a 32-week “preemie” with many medical challenges. Medical visits, procedures, therapies, and interventions are commonplace in our life. This became our “normal”. While living this “new normal” (the special needs world), my daughter has taught me more about hope, persistence, strength, and love than I could ever have thought possible.
Her start up: There’s a saying, “Everything happens for a reason”. So, I find myself thinking, “my daughter was sent to us for a reason, to teach us something, but darn if I know what it is.” The reason had better be a good! Today I have my answer ~ or at least one answer; this all was instrumental in deciding to receive training and become certified as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I told my daughter, “I was training to be a Health Coach because I want to help other moms be happy and healthy. I asked her to come up with a name for my practice and she said, “how about ‘go with the flow’ ”? Well, as soon asI heard that, it was a done deal (www.GoWithTheFlowWellness.com)!
We all face challenges in our life and the stress of being a caregiver, particularly for your child, can negatively affect your health, marriage, and relationships. You can let your circumstances control your life, or you can take control. To be in control there is only one thing to do … accept that life “is what it is” and decide to live your life to the fullest in spite of those challenges. In other words, I decided to … Go With The Flow.
Learn More About Entrepreneurship.
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2015 Magazine