The sleepless nights. The messy house. The stained couches and carpets. While some may cry at these realities, they are also joyful signs of children in the house. Parenting is without a doubt, a beautiful yet at times challenging role without a manual, that many people take on. The reward: priceless. One of our graduates, a proud mother of three, Andrea Morris, decided to learn about disabilities and empower herself and her family. We spoke to her to find out how her Diploma in Special Needs has helped her raise her sons and the impact it’s had on her family.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am 45 years old. I am a wife, my husband recently retired from the military, I am a mother of six sons and my three young sons are special needs. I am a full-time student who’s earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I wear many hats within my family.

I am the head production manager for a local uprising filming company. I have a custom design online t-shirt business. I created phrases that bring awareness to autism, cerebral palsy, and special needs. My website is called My Rockin’ Autism Fashion. Just recently I was inducted into the Kappa Beta Honor Society for Business and the Alpha Sigma Lambda.

Please introduce your sons to the Alison community. 

My first son’s name is Alphonso he’s 8. My second son’s name is JaKobe he’s 7 and his twin brother’s name is Jacob. Jacob is non-verbal and has intellectual disabilities, autism, and ADHD. JaKobe has been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, left-sided hemiplegic cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, and Alphonso has autism and ADHD.

How did you discover Alison? 

A very close girlfriend informed me about Alison. She knew I had ended my career because of the extensive care of my three young special needs sons, and she also knew I love to learn, and it started from there.

Life with special needs children

How did you strike/find a balance between being a busy mom and studying? 

I always stayed within our routine. If I change anything, it would be chaotic. I learned to be disciplined and listened to them as well, which was very important.

What do you think is a common stumbling block for parents with children who have special needs? 

Accepting their child or children’s diagnosis.

Your sons are of different ages. Was the course content translatable for every age? 

Yes, it was. The course was also helpful in providing different strategies to use due to my son’s different ages and conditions.

What do your children enjoy most now when it comes to learning? 

My two sons’ strengths are reading, they have challenges in other learning areas. My other son has intellectual learning disabilities.

When did you realise your children may have special needs when it comes to learning? 

One of my son’s, who is non-verbal I recognized immediately. My other two sons I started to recognise myself when they weren’t comprehending their learning materials.

Diploma in Special Needs course

What made you decide to enrol for the Diploma in Special Needs course? 

To gain more knowledge and understanding. And to help my children and other friends and family who are going through similar situations.

What learning challenges were you experiencing before you came across Alison’s Diploma in Special Needs course? 

When my sons were diagnosed with autism and other health conditions, I had some knowledge of their condition because I had a career in early childhood education. The challenge I faced was now I’m going through this on a personal level.

What did you find most interesting or surprising in the course? 

Discovering that there are various ways to assist students with learning disabilities and the Rigidity of Thought and Repetitive Patterns of Behavior in children with Autism.

What did you enjoy most/enjoy the least in the course content and material?

There was never a dull moment throughout this course. Even the videos were beneficial and encouraging.

What, if any, challenges did you experience in learning/the material? 

Fortunately, I didn’t experience any challenges because I already had knowledge about Special Needs.

What educational background did you come into the course with that helped you?

Early Childhood Education 101.

The impact of the Diploma in Special Needs

How has learning in the home improved since you completed the course? 

I have been more aware of my son’s triggers, the way that they process things, and their social interaction with others.

What key takeaways did you get from the course? 

Managing meltdowns, meltdown warning signs, and developing social interaction skills.

What needs did the Diploma in Special Needs course meet for you and your family? 

By helping me understand the Individual Education Plan (IEP) regarding my three sons and having a vivid understanding of learning disabilities.

Who do you think will benefit from taking this course? 

Parents who are having challenges with meeting the needs of their special need child or children and educators who may not have a vivid understanding of what special needs students need in the classroom for support.

What motivated you to press on with the course and complete it? 

I have a love for learning and being that I have hands-on experience with not just one child with special needs but three. They all have unique conditions, and this journey is a life I wanted to educate myself to be a strong advocate for my three sons.

Final thoughts

What advice would you give to moms who have special needs, children? 

Educate yourself. Understand your position when it comes to your child or children’s IEPs. Be a strong advocate for your children and be their voice.

What motto/words do you live by? 

I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready.

Life comes with its fair share of challenges but if you have a positive attitude and outlook like Andrea, you can rise to the challenge. If, however, you are feeling overwhelmed by the challenges and various needs requiring your attention and need help, our mental checkup assessment can help. The short assessment will help you understand and enhance your personal levels of positivity and confidence in your daily life. 

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