Mom To Mom with Trish Robinson

Mom to Mom family pic Sept 22

RRP: What blessings have come as a result of parenting a child with special needs?

TR: Having a child with special needs is challenging but has many joys. We are part of a community with other families we would not have known, and the milestones are extra exciting when our children meet them.

RRP: Your son Joseph is three years old. How are you navigating through the toddler years?

TR: There are days I am just exhausted at the end of the day. Since Joseph has developmental delays, we hit the toddler stage a little later. He has only been walking since January and is starting to show his personality, and I am still learning how to navigate his tantrums and meltdowns. Communication is our biggest hurdle because sometimes it is hard to figure out what Joseph is saying.

RRP: How did your experience inspire you to become a travel agent specializing in travel for families with special needs?

TR: We love to travel, especially cruising. I was determined to figure out how to travel with Joseph. During my research, 89% of families with special kids or accessibility needs do not travel. When I stayed home during 2020, I began to study and learn what resources are available, what cruise lines are best, what resorts offer the best accommodations, tips for airline travel, equipment rentals, and many other things. I can help other families like ours.

RRP: You also have two daughters who are 26 and 23. How has the transition been becoming a new mom again?

TR: It has been the biggest life-changing trial for me thus far! I went through a grieving process and still have a sense of loss some days.

Not only were my life plans changing, but I had to realize we would probably never be empty nesters again. I realized I couldn’t just pick up and go, have my time, and I lost some friendships. With 20 years between my children, I had to relearn many things. For example, going into Buy Buy BABY in Birmingham was so overwhelming that we just made the loop around the store and walked out.

RRP: What have your children taught you?

TR: Early motherhood taught me what unconditional love was and what it meant to have another person dependent on you for all your needs. My daughters taught me that you can’t discipline every child the same. With Joseph, I have learned how to advocate for my child.

RRP: If we see a special needs mom having a hard time with her child, is there any way we can offer to help without sounding condescending?

TR: That is a great question! Asking something like, “I noticed you have your hands full. Is there any way I can help you?” Or, “I noticed you are having a very challenging moment. How can I help?” Most often, we parents do not have any help, and we are definitely not used to people offering assistance, so don’t be surprised if we get teary-eyed or deny.

RRP: What should we tell our kids if they ask (loudly) about a potentially special needs kid?

TR: “Yes, they are different, but that is what makes our world better. He/she may need a little extra help with some things, but you can be a helper. Let’s say hi, so you can make a new friend!”

The phrase I hear kids say most often is “What’s wrong with him/her?” I would suggest parents respond with something like, “There’s nothing wrong with him/her, but what is it you’re noticing?” And then answering your child’s questions.

“Like, why is he/she chewing on that – because it keeps them from chewing on things that may hurt them. Or why is he/she making that noise – because that is how he/she communicates – some people say their words differently.”

RRP: What do you enjoy doing during your “me” time?

TR: I feared losing that after having Joseph and have gotten better at taking time for myself. I enjoy reading and watching sports on TV, especially the NHL Detroit Redwings. Occasionally, I will take a few hours for shopping and a pedicure.

RRP: What would you like people to know and understand about kids/families with special needs?

TR: I believe parents and children want to be welcomed and included. We may not be able to do many things, but feeling included and extending an invitation matters. Although a child may be different it doesn’t make him or her less.

Trish has been married to her husband, Steve, for almost 29 years, and they have two daughters (26 and 23) and a three-year-old son, Joseph.


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