Hope and Guidance to Parents of Children with Special Needs: Interview with Camilla Downs

Hope and Guidance to Parents of Children with Special Needs: Interview with Camilla Downs

Since her book’s publication, Camilla Downs has undergone her own professional transformation with a career change from social media consultant to special needs parent coach and mentor, offering hope and guidance to others parenting kids with special needs. Congratulations Camilla on all your achievements! Thank you so much for introducing your book, D iz for Different: One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance in a guest post you can find here. I am looking forward to learning more about Camilla Downs and her next book in this post for our Author Interview Series.

Lorna: So happy that our readers will get to know more about your books and all that you do now for families with children with special needs. First, tell us about your family and what motivated you to write D iz for Different: One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance.

>> Camilla Downs >> Thank you Lorna. I’m happy to be able to share about myself and my family. I am a single mom to two children. Thomas is 7 years old and Lillian is 11 years old. We call ourselves Team TLC to correspond with the first initial of each of our names. Thomas is in the first grade and is a high spirited and wise young man full of tons of energy. He wants to invent things and loves reading books. Lillian is in the fourth grade and considers herself a fairy princess. She loves reading, the weather, collecting rocks and wants to help people when she grows up. Lillian has a chromosome abnormality of 18p-. She’s missing a piece of the short arm of her #18 chromosome. This genetic difference affects about 1 in 50,000 people. The main way it manifests for Lillian is that she is speech impaired. She has all the words in her mind she simply cannot articulate in a way that can be understood by others. Lillian also has balance and depth perception challenges and issues with her proprioceptive system.

I was motivated to write the book from my own growth as Mom to Lillian and Thomas and I wanted to inspire and enrich the lives of others who are raising children who are different and pretty much anyone who has struggled with acceptance of differences throughout their life.

D iz for Different: book for parents of children with special needsLorna: When asked what is your book, D iz for Different: One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance about? What do you answer?

>> Camilla Downs >> In general this is a self-help book for anyone looking to reach acceptance of themselves, those needing to dig down deep for the courage within themselves, or someone looking for guidance on finding the gift in a situation or event. Specifically, this is a book for parents of children with special needs to reassure them that they are not alone and to encourage and inspire them. Each chapter is a letter of the alphabet and each chapter concludes with a Tip for the Journey.

Lorna: Your book offers your personal experiences in facing and overcoming life’s trials with grit and humor, along with providing practical “Tips for the Journey” throughout the book. Others parenting kids with special needs will be able to relate to your journey. Many parents find communicating with their children’s teachers difficult. What practical tips can you give other parents to make the school years easier for all concerned?

>> Camilla Downs >> I feel the most important aspect of the school years are that our child and the teacher (and one to one aide) are a right fit for one another. This will go such a long way in ease of communication, sharing ideas with each other, and smoothing the way for a successful experience for everyone involved. Next, is to have clear and open communication with the teacher and other team members. Share as much information about your child as possible with the teacher and team. Keep a “My Child Journal” which includes pictures, milestones, likes, dislikes, hobbies, anything that will help the teacher and team get to “know” your child as you know him or her. Volunteer in the classroom or school if you can. Get to know the office staff, lunch staff and classmates. There will absolutely be ups and downs throughout the school years. The key to being able to go with the flow is to have a delicate balance between being your child’s advocate, being their parent, and making time to just be YOU!

Lorna: You wrote, “Feelings of isolation and overwhelm keep special needs parents stuck, especially when coupled with deeply ingrained erroneous thought habits. Special needs parents can unknowingly isolate themselves and begin viewing their lives in a negative way.” What solutions do you suggest to parents to find support they and their family need?

>> Camilla Downs >> Locating and joining a regional or national support group for your child’s diagnosis is extremely helpful and useful. Establishing a Circle of Support made of family, friends, support groups, doctors, teachers, agencies and other caregivers is critical for the primary caregiver’s well-being and for the well-being of the family. It is crucial that the primary caregiver allow time for respite. He or she must take time for themselves, to refill their cup, so as to be able to serve to their family from what overflows.

Camilla Downs TLC helping Parents of Children with Special Needs Lorna: You and your children call yourselves the Team TLC and you share your journey on the Team TLC website. Please tell us about the Team and what folks will find on your site.

>> Camilla Downs >> I feel that I am meant to share myself, my family and our journey with others. Our Team TLC website is somewhat of an online diary. It includes pictures, quote photography, and Thomas and Lillian quotes. It also includes links to each of our individual websites. All three of us have our own website and blog. Lillian just started writing book reviews on her website and in the near future will be selling greeting cards. Thomas is still fine tuning his niche.

Lorna: I hear you are already working on your second book. What can you tell us about this one?

>> Camilla Downs >> It’s still in the very initial stages. However, I can tell you it is about HappYness and will overlap with our upcoming HappyNessAdventures.com website.

Additionally, I am available for freelance writing projects. Currently, I am a guest blogger on our local children’s hospital blog and am open to similar projects in print or online. Here’s my latest post, 8 Tips to Smooth the Special Needs Parenting Journey on Scribbles.

Different iz Good . . . Spread the WordLorna: I read, “Camilla is founder of the Turning Views Foundation. As founder of the Turning Views Foundation she created its slogan, “Different iz Good . . . Spread the Word.” Tell us about this foundation.

>> Camilla Downs >> Simply put, The Foundation is about acceptance. Acceptance of oneself and acceptance of those in our society who are different. The whole concept of someone being labeled as “different” is really a paradox, because we are ALL different. Some of us have accepted and embraced our differences and some of us try to conform. We have a blog with parent contributors, siblings, and affected individuals. Additionally, we create inspiring quote photography.

Lorna: Thank you so much for the guest post and now this interview. Please tell us how to follow you and where to buy your books.

>> Camilla Downs >> Thank you Lorna. It has been a pleasure “meeting” you and now being connected online with you. The book can be purchased from my website if you would like an autographed book. It is also on Amazon.com  which you can navigate to from my website. In addition, there are over 20 reviews on Amazon for the book.

Camilla downs Difference iz GoodFollow Camilla Downs:

See also guest post: D iz for Different: One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance by Camilla Downs

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.