+

Dena Blizzard is a mom who usually likes to share videos about the most hilarious aspects of parenting. But this video was different.

On her Facebook page "One Funny Mother,” Blizzard posts videos and stories that highlight the funny side of raising children. You may remember her from last year's viral video where she filmed herself in Target defending teacher school supply lists.

But her recent Facebook Live video shares another side of motherhood — the one where we cry by ourselves in a CVS parking lot.


“This is the other side,” she said, “when things aren’t really that funny.”

And though people aren't laughing with her this time, they're loving her for it. Thousands of parents have commented on the video in support and solidarity.

Blizzard had just left an IEP meeting for her eighth grade daughter who struggles with anxiety and ADD.

(For those unfamiliar with special education terminology, an IEP — Individual Education Program — spells out the supports and services kids need to make progress and succeed in school. It's a legal document collaboratively created between parents, teachers, administrators, and others in the education system and is reviewed periodically.)

Blizzard met with her daughter’s IEP team, which includes teachers and a caseworker, to talk about a way to help her daughter with testing: She does all her homework, but keeps failing written tests. Blizzard wanted to discuss the possibility of testing her daughter verbally, or figuring out some alternative way for her to show what she knows.

As evidenced by Blizzard crying the CVS parking lot, it didn’t go well. But she wasn’t just crying over this one meeting.

“This isn’t just today,” she said. “This is years ..."

Never stop advocating for your kids....but sometimes it’s just hard. #iep #anxietykid

Posted by

One Funny Mother, Dena Blizzard on Monday, April 16, 2018

Having kids with specific challenges and needs is hard. Constantly having to advocate for them can be exhausting.  

“I’m tired,” says Blizzard. “And I’m at CVS again and I always cry at CVS. And I can’t believe I’m the only person who cries in the CVS parking lot after a bad IEP meeting.”

And she's right: Blizzard is definitely not the only parent to cry over feeling helpless about her children’s challenges. My daughter also struggles with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve lost it in the car when I'm alone multiple times.

Parenting is tough regardless, but when you add mental, emotional, or physical challenges to the mix, it can become overwhelming at times.

Image via somecards.com.

Blizzard's IEP meeting went sour because her daughter’s caseworker refused to make changes to the IEP at this point in the school year, stating that it would be the high school’s job to change it next year. Blizzard argued that with months left in the school year, it didn’t make sense not to make changes that might help her daughter now and help move her to a good place before she heads to high school.

The caseworker insisted that she not change her IEP. “My head exploded,” said Blizzard. “Why wouldn’t we try everything?”

The thing is, educators' hands are often tied, no matter how much they want to help a child learn in ways that work for them.

Blizzard gushed about her daughter’s teachers and made it clear they are not the problem. They want to help and even said that they’d be willing to test her daughter verbally, but there’s not a good way for them to track or pass along that kind of assessment.

“This whole process has made me look at our education system in such a different way,” she said. “I see so many teachers trying to help me but not having the resources or the leniency to do it.”

And that’s becoming more and more common as we learn more about the various ways kids learn.

Source unknown.

“We’re all trying find the best way to help this one kid who is different than everyone else,” Blizzard said. “There are more kids that are different than everybody else — the norm is becoming so small — so why are we making every kid be tested the same way? And if my daughter can tell you what she understands, why is that not enough?”

“We have spent the better part of six years trying to figure out her beautiful brain,” she added. “And I don’t think I’ve ever been more clear as to what she needs.”

Blizzard knows her daughter, she knows how her brain works, and she knows she struggles with written tests. Her verbal ability is her greatest asset, and it’s frustrating that she can’t use it to show what she knows.

Blizzard’s video resonates because so many parents are living a similar struggle. And it’s refreshing to see the full truth of parenting — the hilarious and the hard.

We don’t always see the dark side of parenting, especially on social media. I give Blizzard a lot of credit for opening up publicly about her struggles — and for describing feelings and experiences many parents know all too well.

“Good luck to all of you fighting the same fight," Blizzard said toward the end of her video. "You are not alone. It feels very alone when you’re sitting in the parking lot, but you are not.”

[rebelmouse-image 19346903 dam="1" original_size="200x200" caption="Meme via Scary Mommy Special Needs." expand=1]Meme via Scary Mommy Special Needs.

Parents, just remember: We're all on this beautiful, bumpy ride together.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

True

Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

John Cena sets new world record with 650 wishes granted with the Make-A-Wish Foundation

He’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I'll drop everything."

The multitalented, mega famous John Cena might hold many titles, but this might be the coolest one yet—and it has nothing to do with wrestling.

The actor and WWE performer just broke the Guinness World Records for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As of July 19, Guinness World Records reports, Cena has granted a whopping 650 wishes. The highest amount any other celebrity granted was 200.

The 16-time world champion first became a wish-granter back in 2002. Since then, he’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I just drop everything. I don't care what I'm doing," he said in a WWE produced video after granting his 500th wish. “I can't say enough how cool it is to see the kids so happy, and their families so happy, I truly want to show them that it's their day.”
Keep ReadingShow less
via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

Keep ReadingShow less