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Book details
  • SubGenre:Parenting / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:255
  • eBook ISBN:9781620959596

The Apple Tree

Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane

by Linda Petersen

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The birth of Linda Petersen's multi-disabled brother, and her unconventional home life, shaped her total acceptance of individuals with disabilities. Her first son was born blind, and the four subsequent children whom she adopted had a variety of disabilities, including profound deafness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality disorder), severe sensory integration deficit and Asperger's Syndrome. This book explores the heartwarming, heartbreaking and humorous adventures of these children in their quest to become successful young adults. Ms. Petersen's parenting suggestions and view on parenting children with disabilities are priceless!
The six-week-old infant boy, with gorgeous blue sparkling eyes and blonde hair does not make eye contact with his mother who is trying to nurse him because he cannot see. The five-month-old infant girl from Guatemala with happy brown eyes smiles easily, but cannot hear the voice of her mother. The six-year-old boy with dark skin and gorgeous black curls hides behind a large, fake plant rather than join his family at the table for Christmas dinner. The Hispanic boy’s joyful smile at his mother turns to a smoldering stare, holding the darkness within him. The seven-year-old girl with beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair, does not love her mother, and tells her so every chance she gets. She tells her in American Sign Language. Are these snapshots of five troubled families? No, these are the children of my family. My name is Linda Petersen. My husband RAYMOND and I have five children with five different disabilities. Our first son Francis was born blind and we later found that I carried the same gene that had left my brother blind, deaf and multiply disabled. So we adopted our second child, Dinora. Declared healthy, she turned out to be malnourished and deaf and suffering from attention deficit, post traumatic stress and anxiety disorders. Still we coped. I worked part time and drove my pair to numerous medical and school appointments, while Raymond pitched in admirably on housework and cooking. But when Francis and Dinora became teenagers and my schedule eased, I ached to do more. Raising children was great fun and I had the time, emotions and ability to give. Raymond adored children, so our only dilemma was how to add to our family. Since we lacked the money to adopt again, we became foster parents and requested only infants. Caring for and watching babies grow and develop has been an awesome and humbling experience. Although most were returned to their parents or adopted by relatives, we wound up adopting three of these children ourselves. Each, it turned out, had serious disabilities as well. As they grew, horror stories emerged from their family backgrounds: beatings, sexual abuse, severe neglect, cocaine addiction, and neurological damage. Our family is a walking dictionary of medical conditions and psychological syndromes, some so severe that you would never expect that child to live a normal life. Yet our children have survived and thrived. I hope in this book to share with others the approach that has worked for us. Acceptance and humor ease life’s burdens. Patience and understanding trump even the greatest disability.
About the author
Linda Petersen has a BA in Social Work, an MA in Rehabilitation Counseling and advanced graduate work in Educational Psychology. She has worked in the field of rehabilitation for the past thirty-five years, and is currently the Director of a Rehabilitation program for children with disabilities. She has presented at workshops statewide, regionally and nationally, and has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Helen Keller Award from the Lions Club. Ms. Petersen is also the volunteer Executive Director of an integrated educational/recreational/social group for adults with disabilities. This is where the motto "There is ABILITY in Dis-ABILITY" was developed, and this is the mantra of Ms. Petersen's life. As the sister of an individual who was born deaf, blind and severely developmentally delayed, she learned acceptance at an early age. Raised in a non-traditional household, she learned to develop an appreciation for life that has served her well in the challenging job of raising five children with disabilities, a biological son who is blind, and four adopted children who have a variety of disabilities, including Dissociative Identity Disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, profound deafness, Asperger's syndrome, blindness and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ms. Petersen's total acceptance of disabilities and her good humor have enabled her to be a successful, lively, happy parent of successful, happy children.