Today we’d like to introduce you to Gayle Fisher and teams.
Gayle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Sometimes, the typical children in special needs families don’t get all the time, attention and goodies they deserve. Not on purpose, but because the focus & resources of the family might be focused on their special needs children. What if some of these neuro-typical siblings felt isolated?
So, we serve these typical siblings of all ages within special-needs families with monthly community social meetups (since March 2013) and scholarships. (Sometimes, money is short also.) We are excited that this summer we awarded our first college scholarship ($500) to a typical sibling. In the past, we have done smaller sports scholarships. The idea to start Special Needs Sibs came in late 2012, when a networking group asked me to help with community outreach. I was teaching the workshops by then and had a neuro-typical sibling at home myself.
Has it been a smooth road?
Yes, on purpose. We keep things simple, because special needs families can often find themselves struggling with scarce resources. Time, attention, money & transportation, for example. We have lots of lovely little friendships, as these kids have bonded together. They realize their family isn’t the only one with such challenges. And our parents have made friendships, shared stories and have been able to relax together. You wouldn’t believe some of the hilarious and yet non-judgmental conversations we have together.
We keep our operating costs down and we use community partners who are amazingly generous. We are a zero-budget 501.c.3, with a small board of directors. This March, we celebrated our 5th birthday with a fishing party at one of our local parks. We always throw the fish back in. Some of our kids (and parents) have never fished or played with worms before. You should come along next time!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Special Needs Sibs – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as an organization and what sets you apart from others.
Over the years, our learning projects have expanded with workshops, blogs (English and recently Español), eBooks, workplace training, lunch-and-learns, and other collaborative projects to help improve the world of learning differences. Oh, we love to create resources that don’t yet exist, because somebody needs something.
As for me personally, I am a mom of two very-different kiddos. My younger son John almost died from an anaphylactic reaction to fire ants when he was 21 months old. Nothing has been the same since. Before I could blink, we were living in the spectrum, and I was learning all I could about immune systems. Finding resources for my kids has led me to amazing people. I love to share all this in workshops, covering childhood learning, behavioral interventions and sensory integration to workplace readiness, platform building, and intrinsic motivation.
We love to collaborate and help others build their own platforms. And we leave a wide trail of bread crumbs for others to find and follow. I am an extroverted educator and dysfunctional single parent, so vulnerable sharing has been easy.
GettingSorted.com is our main website. We love doing learning projects with others, which includes advisory councils, conferences, small groups and resource fairs. As we learn what to do (“interventions”), it really helps us with our fears and gives us back our joys as parents and caregivers.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I have lived in the Houston area most of my adult life. I love our diversity, and I love not worrying much about ice and snow.
The least? Traffic, I guess. My first summer working in Houston was Hurricane Caroline (I won’t say the year). I remember walking home (and eventually hitch-hiking) on the Southwest Freeway from downtown to the Galleria area. No one was on the roads. Weirdest feeling.
- We do ask the kids to bring $2 they earn at home, to feel like it’s their club. Other than that little gimmick, events are free to our families.
- We are doing workplace readiness coaching for young people who need extra supports (org) at a very reasonable rate. The eBooks I write at IfWeLearnDifferently.comcost $5.99 or less (the blog and all the social media are free). The college charges $25/academic year for all the non-credit classes at Lone Star College-Montgomery’s Academy of Lifelong Learning where I am a pro-bono adjunct.
- Website: SpecialNeedsSibs.org
- Phone: 713.594.9750
- Email: Gayle.Fisher@usa.net
- Facebook:Special Needs Sibs
Gayle Y. Fisher, M.Ed., Ed.Tech.