If have not heard of yet you soon will. With an active online radio show, Tweetchats and website The Coffee Klatch is a fast growing support network for parents raising a child with special needs. We asked founder Marriane Russo a few questions about the Coffee Klatch.
Are you a parent of a child with special needs?
Yes, I am the mom to an incredible now young woman who struggled with PANDAS Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder as well as endocrine disease and anxiety disorder. Her illness was very early onset, starting at the age of four and through many years of unravelling and investigating I acquired an education I never wanted. Being a special needs parent changes you and it is the journey and the road to acceptance that I share with others.
What is the Coffee Klatch?
The Coffee Klatch started on a whim and Twitter is where it all began.I met my incredible team of moderators and thousands of special needs parents through Twitter. It is where we created a morning chat for parents both newly diagnosed and those who have navigated the muddy waters to meet and share.
It became very apparent to me, very quickly, that many of these parents were getting misinformation or were not aware of accommodations and the importance of early interventions. They were struggling, overwhelmed, isolated and feeling defeated.
As the Twitter chats evolved we realized what parents needed was more than just support and discussion. Parents also needed the best cutting edge research, information and resources available and that is how Coffee Klatch Talk Radio and Twitter Tweetchats was born.
We now provide interviews with the most respected and renowned experts in the world. We feature experts on all children’s disabilities both physical and emotional. We also spotlight International children’s foundations to share their incredible dedication and bring parents support. Our goal is to provide you, the parent, with crucial information to allow you to make the most informed educated decisions for your child.
I want to give parents what I so dearly needed and did not have when I started on my journey, the empowerment of confidence and hope. It is my hope to bring you the tools to not only accept and understand your child’s diagnosis, but to educate parents on special education law, digging out of the trenches and the true meaning of advocacy
Which of your guests was your personal favorite?
Wow that is a tough one, honestly, there are so many. It is always an honor to interview Dr. Temple Grandin and she has made four appearances on the show. Interviewing Dr Ross Greene author of The Explosive Child, Dr Thomas Armstrong author of Neurodiversity, Dr Russell Barkley the foremost authority in the world on ADHD, Dr Demitri Papolos author of The Bipolar Child and Director of research for the Juvenile Bipolar Foundation was an amazing experience. I have also had the pleasure of interviewing some fun celebrities like Jackson Rathbone, Judges Alex Ferrer and Glenda Hatchett as well as Mike Royce the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond and Men of a Certain Age. There are just too many incredible guests to narrow it down.
Which of your guests drew the biggest audience?
Dr Temple Grandin, Dr Russell Barkley, Dr Papolos and Dr Allen Frances the chair of the DSMV task force were among the highest ranking but many others are right up there in the listener count.
If you had one piece of advice for a family with a child that has been diagnosed with a special need what would it be?
To start I would tell parents that accepting the diagnosis is one thing, accepting the life it will bring is something completely different and much more important. Don’t get hung up on labels and don’t treat a disorder treat the whole child. Don’t forget to see that incredible kid behind the label.
Look for their gifts and their interests and foster them,construct a lifestyle to suit your child’s disorder to lead them to the road of independence, find the courage to stand up to conformity to get your child a differentiated education and give yourself a break, special needs parenting is hard, forgive yourself your mistakes, have a good cry you deserve it, then pick your self up, brush yourself off and get going, you have a lot of work to do.
Any plans on a special needs TV show?
I am considering some offers but it is in the very early stage.
Give us a prediction of what the top special needs stories of 2012 will be
Unfortunately I am without my crystal ball or my secret decoder ring but I think we will see important findings for both juvenile bipolar disorder as well as autism.
ADHD is getting a much more specific and categorized definition which is fantastic, I think much of that will be coming out this year as well. The work Dr Papolos is doing is incredible and bringing a new understanding to bipolar in children.
I foresee a lot of controversy to build upon the release of the DSMV and its additions causing confusion for both parents and practitioners. I hope that we will be hearing about a new trend in diagnosing and treating children based on symptoms and dimensions (subgroups) and not based on narrowed criteria.
Labels are for designer clothing not our kids. I think we are going to see a shift in the way parents and school districts collaborate due to better understanding and availability to special education law resources. As I say as I end each show, you are your child’s best advocate, if not you then who, become an informed educated parent. The internet has given special needs parents a gift that is unimaginable, the gift of education, communication and invaluable resources.