This Little Miggy Stayed Home: 200 Interviews || Successes + What I've learned

Monday, March 26, 2018

200 Interviews || Successes + What I've learned

Last Friday was a milestone for this little blog. Last Friday's special needs spotlight was my 200th interview. Just so we're all on the same page, that's a lot of interviews.

While I've never wanted to be known solely for my work on disability awareness--in fact my all time most popular posts are usually craft and DIY oriented---I can't deny that the spotlight series is by far my most popular series and it is one of the main reasons people come here. And, without a doubt it is also the part of my blog that I am the most proud of.

I wanted to share a bit about some of the unexpected successes that have come about because of the spotlight, as well as what I've learned. As you know, the spotlight isn't sponsored--which means I have never been paid for doing any of the spotlights and it's worth noting, that the participants have never been paid either. It has been a labor of love. However, that's not to say I haven't received compensation. Every email or message that someone sends telling me how much the series has meant to them is my compensation.

I have been contacted by 2 different people to let me know that because of the special needs spotlight they were able to find their child's or in one case, nephew's diagnosis. The first was a girl I featured who was undiagnosed at the time of her spotlight. Through a comment left by a reader (who happened to be an OT or PT) they had a diagnosis confirmed by a geneticist months later. The other woman reached out via Instagram to tell me that due to one of the spotlights on severe food allergies they were finally able to figure out what her nephew had been suffering from and get him the help he needed.

Additionally I have been contacted by teachers and parents letting me know that they use the my blog as a teaching resources for their classes and their kids.

Once recent email from an old college friend looked like this:
"I wanted to tell you that I shared your blog with my first grade ICT class in East Village Manhattan as a part of our Black Lives Matter Week of Action discussion and my class was filled with awe and questions.

We went through the Special Needs Encounter article and they had so many things they wanted to share. 

One student asked if I could email the site to their grown-ups so they can look at it at home.

THANK YOU for taking the time to create this space and highlight others. They've asked if we can see the special needs spotlight each Friday, so we'll probably have to add that to our routine :)"

Here is another email from a teacher last year:
"I’m a third-grade teacher in Virginia. I’ve been following your blog for years. I love your writing, your family, and your special needs spotlight. I teach a general education class. Our classroom is right next door to Mrs. Kossoy’s class. She teaches students with intellectual disabilities. Each year, students from her class join us for morning meeting and sometimes other times during the day. Also, this school year, I have a boy in my class with hearing aids. Generally, the kids at my school are friendly, warm, and open, but this year, I decided to do a lesson on acceptance. I showed them pictures of your blog. I showed them Lamp when she was a baby and a few pictures along the way. You should have heard them gasp and cheer as little Lamp stacked blocks and slid down the slide. They were so happy for her. Then, I showed them the adorable back-to-school picture. We discussed your family and how she had grown up, to this point, with encouraging words and kindness. We talked about how happy and excited she looked in her back-to-school picture. I then asked them, “What do you think could happen at school that would change her mood, or could make her sad?” The kids said, “Teasing” or “not including” and other things like that. I then went through your advice about how to handle interacting with people that may seem different than you. The students were so serious and alert.

It was no surprise to me that when we created our classroom rules a few days later, the first one was, “Include everyone.” Since then, I’ve seen nothing but kindness to our friends next door, and for the most-part, to one another.

I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration. Keep doing what you’re doing."

I've also been contacted by occupational and physical therapists as well as physicians asking if they can share my blog--specifically the spotlight-- with their families. My answer is always Yes! Of course. It's a public blog, so please feel free to share with any and everyone. Often these are new special needs families who may need a little encouragement to know that everything is going to be OK, or even families who may want to connect with other families in a similar situation. Which is another benefit of the spotlight, as I have also had parents contact me asking if I could connect them with someone featured on the blog because their child had similar condition. 

And maybe best of all, I've been contacted by people who have no direct connection to the disability community, who write to just say thanks for teaching them how to interact, for opening their eyes and for teaching them about a group of people they have previously not thought that much about before.

I don't share these stories because I want credit for anything--I understand that the blog was simply one piece of the puzzle for these families who found a diagnosis. I share these stories to illustrate the idea sometimes our contributions are going to be big and bold and exciting! But other times our contributions will be small, almost unrecognizable. But by showing up with a small offering, week after week and year after year it becomes something big. (Sound familiar moms and dads?)

And there were many times I thought about quitting the spotlight series over the years. It's a lot of work and I wasn't always sure it was making a difference. But every time I would consider quitting the spotlight I would receive an email from someone telling me what a difference the spotlight had made in their life. Mim, the mom who sent me the email about her daughter receiving her diagnosis, was one such email. And it wasn't just the emails, it was often accompanied by a prompting, or a little nudge from the Universe, that said keep going. So I kept going. And I stopped worrying if the series was going to make a big difference and instead I just hoped that by continuing I was going to help one family or one person out there who might come across this blog and need the information that would be shared here. And that became enough.

That's one reason these emails mean the world to me. The spotlight being used for educational purposes, especially for teaching young children is why I do this work. Helping other families step into the brand new territory of special needs parenting with maybe a little less apprehension is why I do this work. Connecting individuals with similar special needs so they can have someone who understands what they're going through is why I do this work. And educating, educating and educating is why I do this work. 

And I don't just mean educating others. The spotlight has been profoundly educational for me. I promise you I would not have the passion about disability rights and activism I do if it weren't for the spotlight. Being a special needs mom is educational on it's own, definitely. But reading other people's stories, hearing other people's experiences week after week and year after year is where the education and that passion have come from. I hate to admit it, but when I started the spotlight series I thought I was already "in the know." I wanted to spread awareness to all of you who had no idea what this life was like. It wouldn't take long to realize that I knew nothing. I still don't know a lot, but I know more than I did. Here are some of the things I have learned. 

I've learned to be supportive of schools with strict food policies for kids with severe food allergies. This invisible condition may not seem likc such a big deal, but unlike most conditions I feature it is deadly. I used to roll my eyes at nut-free zones whether at school or on a plane (it's happened.) Never again. I will be the loudest and most supportive advocate for these families.  

And I have met manymany, manymany amazing warrior mama's who I am so happy to be associated with. It is an honor.  

Thank you for your years of support and encouragement for the Special Needs Spotlight. Because of you--your participation and your encouragement--I been propelled to do this week after week and year after year. And like so many things in life, it's the accumulation of doing this small thing over an extended period of time that has made it so significant to me and so many others. And it is also without a doubt one of the stepping stones that led to my children's book that will be published in 2019


  1. Thank you - so much - for remembering Celia with us. (I found her when I clicked the third "many" ;) As I fumble along with her three younger brothers, trying to figure out what I'm doing, I read your weekly spotlights and am - every single time - reminded to do it all with more heart and less hurry. I have not even a faint fathoming what these other families are up against, but their stories resonate with me, and I am amazed and inspired. Thank you for making time to collect and share them - each spotlight reveals, with stinging clarity, what is truly important... Speaking of strong work, I am looking forward to the book!!

    1. Thank you Jenni. Your lovely Celia often reminds me of what is important as well. I'm so glad it continues to be a series you enjoy. Best to you and your family.

  2. I also am in awe of the families and individuals that you feature, and treasure the education I am getting while I enjoy reading about them!!!!!

  3. I got diagnosed in part because of this blog! It made me realize some things I dealt with weren't normal, so I brought them up at my next appointment. Two months later, I had a diagnosis of vEDS that makes sense of my entire life.

    1. What? Really? Thank for your sharing that is amazing! I'm so glad you were able to get a diagnosis and hopefully with that, help, treatment or clarity. XO

  4. You are doing amazing and important work, to be sure.

  5. CONGRATULATIONS!! I have learned from every.single.spotlight. Keep on keepin'on, Ms. Miggy!!! We love you!!!

  6. I love the spotlights and look forward to them every week. My daughter Lydia was featured in 2014, but I'd been reading for years before that. As someone who doesn't have daily contact with differently abled people, I appreciate your blog because it helps me to know how to best support them. I've never been awkward, but I haven't always known what to say for fear of hurt feelings and I feel a lot more comfortable now, and I have made some great friends with incredible hearts because of that. So thank you! And thank you for starting the dialogue about how our society and mentality needs to change.