Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Scrapping Special Needs

Special Needs people are not as rare as they used to be. The incidence of Autism is rising, for one. People have accidents and issues that change them forever. Chances are you have a SN someone in your life. I've heard a lot of people in the scrapbooking community ask for more convesation about scrapping Special Needs kids. I'm going to take it a step further and include adults as well.

My son has Asperger's Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning Autism. My husband has a host of neurological issues after having corrective surgery for his Chiari Malformation. Our daily life includes a complex set of challenges. Sometimes the kits that scream happy-happy get a little depressing to work with, especially when my husband can't remember the special moment we shared last week, for example, or my son is re-enacting the entirety of World War 2 at 10pm in his bedroom because he has sleep issues. Yet, those are also great reason to document the memories.

My approach to scrapping these difficult topics is to find the silver lining in them. With my husband, it's really about capturing who he is as a dad, as a husband and as person. What do I want to make sure to remember, what do I want his kids to know about him?


In "The Day Life Got Real" I give a general overview of this life altering event. Despite all the challenges, despite the uncertainty, the core of who my husband is and how he fits into our family has not changed.


In "Random Reasons I Love You", I really told the story of what kind of husband I have. While it's from my perspective, it really characterizes who he is as a person, not just a husband.

Page 11

For this page, I documented a fight we had that was caused by a communication fail. Communication can be extremely frustrating for my husband at times, especially when I'm not thoughtful or patient being nice in the least. (no worries, total happy ending)

These three examples focus not on the challenge itself, but on coping or forgetting to cope with the challenges we face daily. An -ism, disease, problem, or challenge does not define a person. I scrap from the point of view that our challenges are what they are. We still have a live to live. I, for one, prefer a life lived fully in a way that works for me. It may not be the kinda life belongs on Pinterest, but it makes me happy. I've grown to cherish messy and imperfect.

This leads me to scrapping Autism. I don't do many Autism themed pages because I don't have Autism with a kid, I have a kid with Autism. As difficult as it can be to cope with, it is also hilarious funny to be an mom of a different kinda kid. My scrapping of my son reflects that view, the positive one, for the most part.


Most kids would have conquered the firepole on the playground before age 10. Most kids don't have crippling anxiety. This was a huge milestone for my kid. I want him to remember the braveness, not the anxiety. I want him to know what he's conquered. He will need that reminder one day (as we all will several times during our lifetime).


In "Birthday Over" my son was perseverating on his presents. That means he could not think about anything else until he performed the act of using his new things. That's really what this page is about... and the delicate balance between expectation and reality even on special occasions.  


I created the above page to document a small victory. Autistic meltdowns are seriously intense and often are caused because my kiddo can't cope with his intense negative feelings. We are continually working on ways to cope with the bad stuff and how to express yourself appropriately. Here I documented the fruit of that labor. This page always makes me a little misty eyed because it reminds me how far my kiddo has come in the past year.


In "Bazinga" I relay a conversation overheard by husband of my kiddo and his friend. I love the way my son's mind works and seeing the world from his point of view. I really like creating pages that focus on how he sees the world, I like to capture the things he says and does that make us smile. Just because he has Autism doesn't mean he isn't devoid of feelings, perceptions, and personality.

Being an mom and wife with special needs family is an incredibly humbling experience. You really learn what grace is, you learn to let go of the idea that life is supposed to be a certain way and you begin to understand the value of the mess. You learn to breath and grow in the space provided the same way a sapling in the forest contorts its branches towards the sunlight.

Simply put, the way I scrap special needs is the same way I scrap my life because it IS my life. I find the sunlight then put it on a page so that we can always remember. Sometimes the light is brighter than others, but it's always there.

Here are some noteworthy links on scrapping Special Needs:

Paperclipping Roundtable episode 151- Facts and Feelings:  sharing ideas about scrapbooking children with special needs

The Digi Show episode 30- (not necessarily special needs related, but worth the listen) Everybody has stuff: Ideas for deciding when to share or when to leave it alone; how to scrapbook the hard times and what can be learned from documenting the difficult situations we face.

Jana always impresses me with her authentic, heartfelt approach to scrapping about her son with Autism. One of my favorite pages by Jana is aptly titled Autism

This list is entirely too short. If you have any good links, feel free to share them in the comments!! 

If you are an parent of a child with high-functioning ASD and need a place to vent, share, learn, laugh, connect and grow, with no judgement ask me about a special (completely secret and private) Facebook group you can join. 

**credits for the layouts in this post are on available on their associated flickr pages.** 

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