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The Special Needs Mom Podcast
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The Special Needs Mom Podcast

Author: Kara Ryska

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Think of this podcast as your very own support group--except it's actually helpful and fun. You will leave with the hope that you can have a super happy life even when your life circumstances are super hard. You are a mom to a child with extraordinary needs. Your story is unique; it’s hard to find a place where you belong or where people get what your life is like. You find yourself managing all their needs, parenting your other children, staying married to your husband, and maintaining your career. All this has you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and dizzy---not knowing who to turn to or what to do next. This podcast will be your lifeline, you’ll be inspired and encouraged as we connect to other mom’s journeys. We’ll get practical and look at what it takes to stop being a victim of your own life.
33 Episodes
033: Hello listeners. This week I am speaking Michelle Wenger. She is a special needs mom and a fellow coach! We had no problem ping-ponging this conversation and even got a little off track at times because we both feel so passionate about the same ideals. If there’s a big takeaway Michelle wants special needs mom to grasp it’s this- everyone should work towards more self-awareness. She explains that this is the basis for controlling your thoughts, owning your emotions and cultivating a mindset to grow yourself. She also wants special needs moms to know they can do hard things, they do every day.  But they also don’t have to do it alone!Connect with Michelle:IG: with Kara:IG: Coaching Program: Schedule a ConsultFull Show Notes
032: Hello and welcome back. This week I’m giving you a very real-life look into our Spring Break family trip. I’ll be the first to admit we probably didn’t plan the best vacation based on our special needs son. We always seem to work it out but this trip definitely had its struggles too. I hope this brings you some humor and also a perspective on how we have to face life differently sometimes, even if we are resistant. Connect with Kara:IG: to Peace Consult: Link HereGroup Coaching Program: Schedule a Consult
031 Welcome back to the podcast! This week I have Robyn Cortese sharing her amazing perspective. She’s an Air Force veteran, Navy wife, Clinical Pharmacist and mom to two boys. Her youngest son has a very rare genetic disorder that they’re still learning about every day. Robyn is different from a lot of our guests because she is pretty new to the special needs mom world, but uses her past training and experiences to bring a fresh and encouraging light to our world. Being a military veteran has given her so many tools towards building resiliency in the face of their son’s unfamiliar diagnosis.  Robyn shares 10 tips on how to increase your own capacity for resiliency. Connect with Robyn:IG: Connect with Kara:IG: to Peace Consult: Link HereGroup Coaching Program: Schedule a ConsultFull Show Notes
Welcome back listeners. This week it's me talking about the unwritten rule of reciprocity. Wikipedia says this rule of reciprocity requires that we repay in kind what another has done for us. However, we shouldn’t find ourselves trapped in this obligation to repay the gift or service another bestowed upon us. I’m having a real conversation about this and shaking up the norm! Connect with Kara:IG: to Peace Consult: Link HereGroup Coaching Program: Schedule a ConsultFull Show Notes
029: This week was such a packed conversation with Joya Van Der Laan. Two of her three children have special needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Intermittent Explosive Disoder (IED).  We quickly got into a deep conversation centered around guilt/grief, faith, and alternative medicine. Joya initially describes her feelings of guilt and grief that have riddled her motherhood journey. She goes on to say, its okay to feel how you feel, especially when we aren’t expecting the struggles that are thrown our way. Having a special needs child has really deepened the valleys and heightened the peaks we experience in life. We talk about loving a child unconditionally, a child who is not how you expected. How loving a that can be difficult to love it so hard! Joya describes herself as a Granola, natural mom.  She says she’s always trying to find more natural ways to come to the roots of her children’s struggles.  This is her mission as a functional medicine specialist, to help others beyond her own children. She focuses on integrative and alternative therapies, many you can start at home to come to more conclusions about your children’s struggles, Joya and her husband now release videos to help overwhelmed parents, a series called Your Autism Game Plan. There is so much more from Joya and so many insights.  I hope you enjoyed this episode as much and we did. Connect with Joya:IG: (You Autism Game Plan)FB: Website - Connect with Kara:IG: to Peace Consult: Link HereInterested in the NEW Group Coaching Program: Schedule a ConsultMentioned in the Episode: The Place We Find Ourselves Podcast and MoreFull Show Notes
028: Hello, this week I am here to talk to you about a very relevant topic in my life - feeling overwhelmed!It is really easy in today’s current reality to feel overwhelmed.  I have started actively trying to get to the root of my overwhelming emotions and I hope you do the same. These feeling won’t just go away and life isn’t getting any simpler.  I want you to dive in deeper.Find a quiet, safe place. Get away from your children, if you can. Sit or lay down; shut your eyes. Start at your head and work your way down your entire body, slowly. Scan each part and observe feelings of tightness, heaviness, etc. Settle in where you feel the most energy and really try to describe how you’re feeling. Allow these feelings and sit with them. Do you feel better,  different? Can you break your cycle of feeling overwhelmed?Connect with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereInterested in the NEW Group Coaching Program: Schedule a ConsultFull Show Notes
027 Hello listeners. This week I am talking to Ginger McGee. She’s an author and mom to two boys, one who lives daily with Tourette’s and OCD.  I’m in the middle of reading her autobiography about her life and struggles surrounding her older son. It has been such a resonating story and we had a lot to discuss in this episode.Ginger says becoming a mom to a child that has special needs brings something out of her she didn’t know she even had.  She has poured her heart and soul into this book she has written about her experiences. It started  as a book about her son and turned into such a treasure for other moms to relate to her experiences. Ginger is vulnerable and says there were some tough moments that she’s not sure how she made the choices she needed to and she often still feels guilt over certain moments. Her son is now 23, and she says she still struggles to help and protect him.  She wants her readers (and our listeners) to know that its okay to feel the hard feelings like anger and resentment. How you act on these feelings is the choice you have to make. Connect with Ginger:IG: with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereInterested in the NEW Group Coaching Program: Schedule a ConsultFull Show Notes
026: Hello listeners! It’s me this week talking about that uncomfortable moment when people don’t believe (or rather understand) what is happening in the homes and lives of special needs families!  I’ve had this happen to me recently and it’s just one of those things I will always encounter.  The human brain is made to made predictions and go off of the knowledge it has. And a lot of people just don’t have the knowledge base of the crazy things we go through as parents with special needs children! It’s not that they think we’re lying, but they just don’t have examples or personal experiences to relate to.  On this note, I’m starting a new group-style coaching option and I’m so excited! People are meant to be with other people and throughout this last year, so much separation has occurred. I want to bring together moms of special needs children and not only help build bonds but provide life-changing coaching. Click Here to Learn More Connect with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link Here
This week, I am speaking with Jessica Patay. I have actually had the privilege to meet Jessica in person and I am so excited to share our conversation with you this week. Jessica is a mom to three, one having the rare Prader-Willi syndrome. She is very passionate about helping other special needs moms feel connected, supported, and inspired! We discuss our son's similar struggles and how they change with age. We also dive into sibling relationships surrounding the difficulties of having a special needs child in the family. Jessica shares with me how she’s had dreams of helping women and specifically special needs moms on a bigger scale. I am happy to say she has started a non-profit organization that provides respite, community, and mentoring to special needs moms of any kind, We Are Brave Together. She also started her own podcast, of the same name. Check out her organization and I hope you enjoyed this episode! Come back next week.Connect with Jessica:IG: with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFull Show Notes
Self Loved

Self Loved


Click here to schedule a Pathway to Peace ConsultationHello listeners! This week, I’m talking about a topic that I feel very passionate about, self love.Often people (especially in the Christian faith) look down on self love because it’s considered conceited and we’re putting God below ourselves. I’m taking this idea of self love to be more practical in ways like regulating our emotions and maintaining a good relationship with your body. Connect with Kara:IG: Website:
023: Welcome back to the podcast! This week, I am happy to have Christina Leitner on the show with me. She’s a mom to two, hosts a YouTube channel and major advocate for mental health! Christina is a few years into her journey as a special needs mom. She does have an actual diagnosis for her daughter, although it is rare. She explains how she tries hard not to dwell on what should have been but is looking forward to the future with her children. Quickly into our conversation, Christina shares a little about her mental health and how happy she is currently.  She says she had postpartum after second child, before her first was even diagnosed.  This really affected her mental health. She has implemented therapy and medication and will shout to the world how beneficial this has been. Christina is a stay at home mom. She tells me about her YouTube channel and how’s it’s been a great outlet for her. She uses her channel to make videos that share awareness and insights into what she wishes she had known. We also touch on sibling relationships and our fears for our children’s futures. Above all, Christina takes a huge stand about advocating for ones mental health. She tells anyone to reach out if they need to talk to someone, she’d love to help! Connect with Christina:IG: with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFREE group coaching call. Full Show Notes
022: This week I found myself thinking about a year ago, when I almost lost Levi. My husband and I were hours away, for a wedding. We received the scariest phone call and that drive back home was so long! What was going to happen to our boy?-Scariest Day-Familiar and TraumaticConnect with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link Here New Group Coaching: Learn MoreFull Show Notes
021: Hello! I’m talking with Andrea Jones this week and her journey with her daughters PANDAS diagnosis. She’s a listener of the podcast and wanted to share her story and insights with other moms.  She loves the network that social media and podcast have created and even her daughter encouraged her to share their story for others to benefit from!Andrea and I discuss how important a parent’s insight and intuition is when it comes to our children and especially special needs children.  We have to be their best advocates, even if it means we question the doctors and nurses. Andrea was a pediatric nurse prior to having children and she was highly aware of her child’s behavior changes.  She used this acquired knowledge, along with her gut feelings, to fight for her daughter's diagnosis. Two years later, she confirmed it was PANDAS.  Andrea shares how her younger daughter is now the age that her older daughter was starting to show symptoms and be diagnosed.  She says it’s such a great feeling to see it with her, but it’s also really hard and hurts.  She wants moms to know it is okay to feel both emotions, together. You can sit in gratitude and grief! Andrea has an awesome insight about our failures as moms. She says we need to look deeper and look at our good intentions, even if we missed the mark. We can use these opportunities to show our kids, we’re humans. We all make mistakes and we can model apologizing and our inner emotions.  Andrea also talks about how she can care for herself when these crazy moments happen with her child(ren).  She says she has to stop and think about what SHE needs right now, and not about the things she can’t control.  Andrea loves using essential oils to help her body and emotions come back to normal. Connect with Andrea:IG: with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFull Show Notes
Learn about the Special Education Conference with Ashley BarlowSign up for the Pathway to Peace Process ConsultationHello listeners, it’s Episode 20!  This week I’m here talking about failure resistance. At first you make think, DUH, of course I am resisting failure. That’s not exactly the full idea I’m discussing this week. Failure resistance is working or showing up in a way that avoids failure --as the primary driver.  It is making any other goal or objective come in second place by default. I’m defining failure as not achieving the expected or desired outcome.Often, this is our way of avoiding failure in the form of unpleasant feelings. I’ve come to realize that feelings cannot actually injure me, and I’ve discussed in past episodes how important it is to feel your wide range of emotions. You’d never want to limit yourself.  In real life, this looks like making small goals, procrastinating, being hard on yourself or others when expectations aren’t met or not even considering failure as an option. I challenge you to pause and take a deeper look at yourself and your emotions.  Give a name to the feelings, explore why there are some feelings you’re avoiding and finally make steps and move forward. Go forth without the fear of failure!Full Show NotesConnect with Kara:IG: Website:
019 Hey guys, I’m back this week with another guest episode. I’m talking with Robin MacMillan. She was such a joy and I’m glad I helped share her story. Robin has two older children and her son Robbie who is 17. She didn’t think anything was different about her son when he was a baby, but was urged by a home nurse to have him checked out. Turns out, he was only the second recorded case of complete deletion of chromosome 9.  He also suffers from a couple other prognosis, including a seizure disorder. He was nonverbal for a long time. The biggest take away from Robin is her view on his diagnosis. There was no name and no actual picture of what his life would be like, she says they’d push until they came up against resistance with him and then would try another thing. It made her feel powerful not having his life and diagnosis put him in some predetermined “box”.Robin also talks about how it is hard to find support and care for mothers. She works closely with fellow moms and runs gatherings/support groups. She is currently starting her own podcast to share about her journey for other parents and families to relate to. Connect with Robin:IG: with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFull Show Notes 
Happy New Year! In this episode I give you a task or challenge, if you will, to say goodbye to 2020 in a strong and healthy way. Connect with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFull Show Notes
I’m feeling extra vulnerable this week.  I have been struggling with the holidays on my plate, on top of everything else. I don’t want to miss out on the fun, so I’m sharing how to shift my perspective to enjoy this time of the year. Connect with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFull Show Notes
016 Hey all you listeners! This week I am talking with Donna Sandoval. We ended up having a lot in common with the struggles we face surrounding our special needs child. Donna shares about the transformations she’s gone through from becoming a special needs mom to her weight loss journey and finally coming to the place to be a light for others (and herself!)Donna talks about how easy it is for anyone to focus on the highlight reels of other parents on social media. It’s an easy trap to fall into and she wanted to change that. She started sharing as a form of therapy and says if she can help even one person, it’s worth it. Donna shares her weight loss journey.  She says she needed to change NOW, and mentions the importance of self-love and accountability. It was more for her than her weight, her mentality was in such a bad place it was affecting every part of her life. She now knows the value of harnessing those negative thoughts in productive ones. Connect with Donna:IG: with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFull Show Notes
015  What if you are the best parent in the world and you've given it all and your child STILL doesn't how act you thought they would.It can start to spin you into feeling more and more out of control and stuck. In this episode, I unpack a lot more insight around this and give you some thought to consider.And to my very special podcast listeners, I am offering a completely complimentary session I am where I will teach you the Path to Peace Process. Once you get it, it's the 5 mins process that will change your life forever. All you need to do is click here, fill out the form and we'll make a date.Connect with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFULL SHOW NOTES
014  This week I’m sharing my conversation with Melanie Oates. Melanie as a mother of two special needs children, a single working mother and a founder of a nonprofit organization, Here For a Reason. We touch on topics like self-care, daily balance, divorce and her nonprofit. Melanie is a working mom and often has unpredictable days because of her children’s unique needs and abilities. She says that it often helps to go into the day understanding that she needs to have a balance in her mindset for the day. She shares that she’s has mental struggles in the past and she knows she needs a clear headspace to make sure that she can successfully maneuver her work and her children in distance-learning. When I brought up the topic of taking care of herself, we realized sometimes she does stop short. Melanie describes that she has an inner dialogue that some days “she’s done enough for herself” and doesn’t want to keep pushing. The more we talked we realized she was doing this more for other people and not for herself. I love having these moments of realization with other moms!Melanie explained how she met so many roadblocks while trying to get care and financial relief with her own children and how difficult it can be. All of the extra things add up quickly and the process is so difficult. She founded the nonprofit, HFAR, to help lighten the load for other families who are on a similar journey. Melanie also opens up about her divorce. She describes life as a new mom, in college, married, and trying to figure out the needs of her children.  On her way, she says how much social media has become to her. She describes it like one huge family. It’s a place for her to share freely and build important connections with other parents. I definitely encourage you to follow her on Instagram or reach out if you want to talk more about anything.Get the Self Care Guide (It's FREE)!Connect with Melanie:IG: with Kara:IG: Website: to Peace Consult: Link HereFULL SHOW NOTES
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