Episode 3 – Special

Hosts Dr Lisa Interligi and Kristine Christopoulos welcome Melanie Dimmitt -broadcaster, journalist and editor Melanie is a mum of two and author of her book ‘Special ‘ in which shares the raw experience of coming to terms with her son Arlo’s cerebral palsy diagnosis. Melanie also works for HireUp as an advocate and produces a magazine The Blend Lifestyle for the tube feeding community.

Speaker 1: Welcome to Loop Me In, the podcast community for parents and carers on raising children with disabilities. Join presenters Dr. Lisa Interligi and Christine Christopoulos and their guests in sharing experiences, information, and support ideas to help children with disabilities flourish. Loop Me In is brought to you weekly on platforms like Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher, to name a few. You can learn more. Connect to the Loop Me In community and listen to more episodes on our website, loop-me-in.com.au.

Chris: Our next guest is writer, editor, author, and broadcaster, and not to mention, a mother of two beautiful children, Arlo and Odette. Today we talk to her about her book titled, Special. Arlo, Melanie’s son, has cerebral palsy, and in her book she writes about his journey facing the diagnosis. Welcome, Melanie.

Melanie: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a real treat to be on your podcast. Thank you.

Chris: I just finished your book and I just found it so relatable to the journey that we had 22 years ago and I must commend you on it. It was really, really interesting to read.

Melanie: Thank you so much. We were chatting before and I was saying it really, I love that you can get something out of it still, even 22 years into this gig, where Arlo’s almost seven now and I actually struggle. I can’t look at Special because it’s from such a raw pain place for me, but I love that it’s helping parents who are right at that icky tricky spot right at the start, and that parents like yourself even can still get something out of it and relate to it.

Lisa: Did you journal, Melanie, through the process or …

Melanie: I did, and thank goodness, because I could pull on some of those entries to use throughout the book because you do lose it. I find if you don’t write in that really pain moment, you lose it. And it’s tricky because as a writer, you’re not meant to write from your wounds. You’re meant to write from your scars when you’ve sorted things out a bit, and Special was a bit of both. There are journal entries in there. I think it starts with a journal entry and I’m really grateful that I did do that because it was very useful material to draw from.

Chris: I think you probably have to, don’t you, because when something like that happens, you want to forget and you do forget and then you look back and think, “Oh, God, it really was like that.” I can imagine for yourself, you’ve probably popped that book away now and not wanting to …

Melanie: I can’t look at it. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons for that. I’m in such a different place now, obviously, with my family. I now work a lot in advocacy. I work for a disability organization called Hireup, and so now I’m aware of, I guess, how to be a better advocate. I was only just starting out then and there’s language in there that doesn’t sit well with me and there’s things in there I’ve said that I would never say now, that I’ve had to learn to just leave it, let it be, and let it help the people who it will speak to, which are the people who are right at the start of this journey.

Lisa: We’re the same, though. I think that you do evolve, thank God you do like yes, in every aspect of life, don’t you, including in this sector where things move, things that you say when you’re starting out, you certainly don’t think or would do or say now. That’s just part of learning and being a human, isn’t it?

Melanie: Exactly, and having to learn to forgive the fool that I was back then. You only know what you know and when you know more, you do better. I think that’s a quote from someone who I’m completely ripping off now. My mental health means I can’t look at it now because every time I look at it, I’m like, “No,” but I’m so happy it’s out in the world in the form that it is and that it is helping people.

Chris: What made you write it?

Melanie: Utter desperation. When we got Arlo’s diagnosis, I was so scared, I was so sad, and the way that I process things is by writing and by talking to people. I knew that it would be helpful for me to speak to other parents who were also raising kids with disability, but I did not want to sign up to the support groups. I didn’t want to enter that space because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to identify as a parent to a child with disability because at the time I thought that was the worst thing in the world. I couldn’t even say the word disability in relation to my son.

Like I said, so much has changed, but that’s just being honest about where I was at, and I thought, “Well, a sneaky way to talk to parents is to say I’m writing a book and do what I know how to do.” I’ve been working in magazines for years. I’m a writer. I can interview people, so that’s what I did. At the start, I don’t actually think I thought there was really going to be a book that eventuated, it was more just a mental health exercise to help myself out, but as I was chatting to parents living all over the world, raising kids with all different kinds of disabilities, similar themes were coming up, similar coping strategies, similar feelings, and I was like, “Wow, there’s actually something here,” and those similar things were forming chapter headings and sections in my head.

Then I started putting post-its on my kitchen wall with ideas and from those post-its, Special started taking form. Then right after Odie, my daughter was born, I pitched it to a publisher, a few publishers, and amazingly, Ventura picked it up, so I got a book deal and then suddenly had to write the whole thing. It happened pretty quickly, but like I say, I think that’s a good thing because had it dragged on, I would’ve lost the need to write it. I had to write this book to help myself. It was a very selfish pursuit, but like I said, I am glad it’s helping other people, but at the start it was certainly just to help me.

Chris: I think like you might say in the book, there weren’t many books out there for families like us and the books are just pretty much a bit that poem that you have in the book, Going to Holland, which I have that piece of paper with that poem. Someone gave that to me when Matthew was two and I’ve kept it and showed my girls as they got older. The book’s even more helpful than that poem because you just talk about even being in the pediatrician office and finding out that Arlo had cerebral palsy and going, “Oh my God, what does that even mean?” That’s how I felt and I’m sure there’s families out

there at the moment that get a diagnosis of autism or intellectual disability and go, “What does that even mean?” Go home and try and Google it.

Melanie: Yeah. Look, I didn’t even want to know what that meant. I was so scared. You say there weren’t many books out there and there were lots of memoirs and there are some really good memoirs, like Kelly Hampton’s Loom is amazing. That really helped me, but I didn’t want a memoir. I didn’t want a whole story. I just wanted all the useful stuff where people felt better, where people shared how they felt better, so I didn’t feel that that book existed yet. I shared our D-day, our diagnosis day, which it was actually a pretty good one. We received that information in a really gentle way, whereas as you would have read of some of the other parents in Special, had terrible D-Days, where they were told, one of them was told, “Your child will never be a thinking person.” Why on earth would you need to deliver that information? How could you possibly know, for a start, and how is that helpful for a parent to hear at that point?

We received our diagnosis in a beautiful way where the pediatrician said, “Cerebral palsy is a really broad thing. We need to wait and see. Just love and support your child as you would have anyway,” and it was left so open and the pediatrician would have known, no doubt, that Arlo was going to be the quite profound level of cerebral palsy. My son, now he uses a wheelchair. He’s non-speaking. He needs really significant support, that he’s a really bright, beautiful, happy kid. And as we were chatting about earlier, if I’d been told, “Your child will need a wheelchair,” at that six month point, I would’ve died. I would not have been able to handle that information. And once we got to that point where he did need a wheelchair, we were like, “Yes, give me.” Bring it on. We were so ready for it and wanting it and we love it. I just think at the start, why are doctors delivering pieces of information that they can’t possibly know to be true? It’s not helpful for parents.

Lisa: Louie had a neurologist, as he had cranial reconstructive surgery a couple of times, and his neurologist said to me, “Mother, your son has autism. The best thing I can do for you is to write your application for a carer’s payment.”

Melanie: Oh, wow. One less thing they can do for you.

Lisa: And all he was worried about was that Louie was, because he was just before two or just two, and he was playing with his blocks and they were falling on the floor. That was what really was interesting him more than the fact that I had this son with a problem that I had knew nothing about. It’s horrendous and I look back at it and I’m really cross with him and because I think at that stage you’re very vulnerable, too, and you are in a position of low power. I look at myself as I know myself and I wouldn’t accept that sort of behavior from anybody in a normal circumstance, but because I had this child who had been so sick, I felt very vulnerable, too. And I think that that’s often the case, isn’t it, that these diagnoses or this behavior on behalf of some of the medical profession, they get away with it because somebody doesn’t arc up and say, “Actually, that’s not acceptable.”

Melanie: Well, we don’t know. We’re so new to the space and the danger is you soak in every single word that medical professional says, which is why it’s so important that we educate. I’m doing some work with this beautiful organization called 21 Gifts, where we’re writing something called a hope guide, which will be sent into hospitals to help medical professionals in the art of delivering a diagnosis and how to do it while leaving lots of room for hope and only delivering information that is helpful, which will be great for parents. I know that medical professionals are begging for this kind of information as well because can you imagine how awful it is, having to deliver this news? They want to be better at doing it, so hopefully we’ll see change in this space and parents will not be being told that their child will not be a thinking person or things like that right on that day when, like you say, we are so vulnerable and we are just taking everything in and remembering it and letting it color our whole experience of this.

Lisa: I think that’s a real need for education, isn’t there, for GPs. We’ve had a couple of guests on, haven’t we, Chris, that have talked about the impact of just even going to see the doctor, let alone what happens in that transaction or the services provided to people with disabilities, and that there’s just a lack of awareness and training and there just needs to be more of it, really.

Melanie: Yeah, a hundred percent. You get your good ones. You do get amazing ones who do it well, but more often than not, you don’t, so there is so much education that needs to be done, but we’re finding, in my experience of educating in that area, the doctors and specialists are really open to it. They really, really want to learn how to do better, which is great.

Lisa: For sure.

Chris: I think the nice part of your diagnosis day was when the pediatrician, something that really stood out to me, was the pediatrician said to you, “You’ll be fine in your own home, but it’ll be when you go out that it will be difficult.” And it really stuck with me because I find that all the time, that it is fine in your own little bubble at home because it’s your normal family, but yet, when you go out into the world every day, you’ll always come across something that makes you go, “Oh, yeah. I do have a child with a disability because look at the way he is acting and look at that person looking at him.”

Melanie: Yeah, a hundred percent. You’ll come across a crappy attitude or a step or a big crack in the pavement when you’re trying to go for a walk. A hundred percent, it’s the outside world, it’s society that we need to work on to make sure that there aren’t these barriers, attitude at all or otherwise, that do remind you, “Oh, yes, my child does have challenges,” because we don’t need that, but again, I’m hopeful and the work I’m doing now in advocacy, I see that change is happening. Thank goodness for the NDIS. I think there’s so much potential there and we’ve had a really great experience with it. It’s really helped to support our family, so I’m hopeful for the future.

Chris: And tell us about, the chapter on denial and fear, I found really interesting. It’s the denial of, what does this mean for my child? It’s not the child that I expected to have. The families you spoke to, what stood out to you the most in those chapters?

Melanie: Yeah, it’s interesting. I clung to denial really hard for a very long time. This could not be happening to my son because in my head, disability equaled not a happy life. Again, I was an idiot. I’ve learned a lot since then, but back then, that’s how I felt and it was just completely unacceptable to me that this would be happening to my son and my family. And I just remember saying to my editor at the magazine I was working at the time, “I’ve decided this is going to be fine. I’ve just decided that this is going to be a hundred percent fine,” and she was really kind. She was like, “Oh, that’s a brave decision. It sounds good,” whereas other families, I found, were more accepting. I think I was probably quite late to the party. Writing the book helped me a lot and that’s another reason I’m really glad that I did it because God knows how long I would’ve summed away in denial otherwise.

I found other better parents than me were more accepting, way more proactive at the start, did lots of research, were quick to connect with other parents in those support groups, on social media. I was really reluctant to do that for quite some time. I think with cerebral palsy as well, you can stay in denial a bit longer because it is so broad. You can tell yourself, “All right, he’s going to have it in one finger and that’s it,” whereas I’ve got other friends who have children with down syndrome, genetic conditions that were diagnosed when the mom was still pregnant and I think they had to come on board a lot more quickly because there’s no denying a down syndrome diagnosis, whereas I can’t tell you the amount of times I Googled cerebral palsy misdiagnosis, trying to convince myself that, “No, they were surely wrong.”

Yes, I stayed in it for ages and I say, “Oh, I shouldn’t have,” but it was a really nice place to stay and I guess it meant … I still went to mother’s group. I still got a lot of the so-called normal experience of early parenthood because I could. Arlo was a beautiful, smiling, engaged baby from day dot. As the months rolled on, he didn’t meet a single motor milestone, so it got to the point where we could no longer deny that I had a lovely fuzzy couple of months in denial being a new mom.

Chris: And you don’t want to take that away now, do you?

Melanie: No.

Chris: Yeah,

Melanie: No. I feel really grateful that I had that and we did have that space for hope. I feel super grateful for that.

Chris: And I think the fear, you talk a lot about the fear being just a waste of time and just living in hope is a great thing to do because we don’t know with our kids. Any diagnosis, it doesn’t mean you get a list, these are all the things he’s not going to do or he’s going to do, so it’s nice to have a bit of hope and hope that, hey, maybe one day he will be able to do A, B, C, like the other kids.

Melanie: Totally. And I think there’s a part in the book, the chapter in the book on hope, and the beautiful thing about hope is that it changes as you evolve. At the start, I was very much

hoping Arlo would be walking and talking because I couldn’t fathom a future in which he didn’t. And then once I learned that those things are not important at all, my beautiful little boy, his body wasn’t meant to walk, and we are working on the talking, but he’s found so many other ways of communicating now, so my hope for him now has changed. I just hope he has a beautiful, long, happy life, which looks to be happening. We’re certainly on track for that. Hope is great, in that it’s this wonderful changing thing, that if you keep with you throughout this journey, is so helpful and such a wonderful companion to have throughout.

Lisa: Well, it keeps you motivated to try.

Melanie: Absolutely. Yeah.

Lisa: Otherwise everybody would just give up and say-

Melanie: What’s the point?

Lisa: What’s the point, yeah. And what have you learned about yourself through this process with Arlo?

Melanie: Oh, that I can be confrontational if I need to be. I’m such a people pleaser. I hate confrontation, but I tell you what. If anyone says wheelchair bound to me now, they hear about it, wheelchair user. He’s made me so brave. I stand up for him when he’s not getting the support that he needs, so I’ve learned that about myself.

I also think Arlo’s made me a much better mother than I would have been. I was very much a, “I’m going to return to my work. Kids are going to be in daycare. That’s that.” And yeah, they both went to daycare, but I certainly needed to be a lot more involved and hands on and there’s another part. You reminded me a lot of Special, actually, and it’s nice. I’m remembering nice bits from it that I like.

There was a moment when I was in Coles with Arlo when he was a baby and he was meant to be in daycare and I was meant to be working, but that wasn’t happening. And I had him with me and I was at the checkout and I was feeling a bit low because I could see other mothers with kids sitting easily in trolleys without support and buying age-appropriate food for their kids, whereas Arlo was still very much months behind. And there was this lovely older woman in front of me who said, “Oh, what a beautiful baby,” and I was like, “Oh, thanks.” And she was like, “Do you get to spend much time with him?” And I was like, “Yeah, every day. Every day,” and that, I’m going to cry, but that wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t have been so involved and I wouldn’t have had this beautiful time with him, had we not been schlepping to daily appointments and doing all the early intervention and stuff.

I guess I learned that I’ve got that in me. I can be a maternal and a hands-on mother, which has been wonderful, and I think it’s made me better with Arlo’s sister, Odie, as well. Yeah. I guess those would be the things. I know that I can be confrontational and stand up for my family when I need to and that I can be a mothery mother as well.

Chris: And talking about his sister Odette, I think your chapter on siblings was great, too, because we do forget about them sometimes, don’t we? We focus on the child with the disability. I’ll never forget going into Children’s Hospital and talking to people there and all they kept saying to me was, “Focus on the other two. Focus on the other two,” because you’re automatically going to be there for the child with the disability because you have to be, but really, and it’s the biggest thing my husband and I have tried to do in our lives with our other two girls. How have you brought up Odie that you think is different to what you would’ve-

Melanie: Look, we try really hard to keep them the same as much as we can. They’ve both got pretty much identical bedrooms. Arlo’s bed is hoisted up a bit and his equipment’s in there and stuff. We try and do the same things with them, so we’ve very much tried to keep things level there. In saying that, Arlo, of course, needs us more. He always will, so we need to support him more. We need to be more hands on with him and Odie is starting to notice that. She’s almost five now, and she’ll say, “Oh, can you play with me?” And I’ll be like, “Oh, I just have to change Arlo’s nappy and do this,” and she’s like, “Oh, but you always spend time with Ar,” so she’s starting to notice it. We’re trying to make that okay by spending lots of one-on-one time with Odie as well, doing special things with her, taking her out for special shopping trips, and making sure that she gets time one-on-one with each of us, Ro, my partner, and me. We’re super conscious of it, I think, like you guys are as well, which helps, and it will be hard.

I mean, she gets jealous of Arlo’s kit. He’s this great new chair that goes up and down and she’s so jealous and she’s always trying to climb on his equipment and things. I’m just like, “It’s not a toy. You can’t play on it.” I think despite the fact there will be challenges and there are moments where I feel bad because Arlo is getting more attention, the good stuff that Odie is getting out of growing up with a brother with disability, I think, will far outweigh that.

I wish I grew up around kids with disability because had that happened when we got Arlo’s diagnosis, I think I would’ve had a very different reaction and I wouldn’t have thought it was the end of the world because it’s not. And if you see that, if you’re around people with disability, if they’re included across every aspect of life, you’re not going to think it’s a bad thing because you’ll see that it’s not, so I love that she’s just got that perspective baked in. I see that in Arlo’s got so many friends in all his schools that he’s been in, his daycare, his preschool, and I see that his friends and those kids just being awesome and not seeing his differences as an issue and finding different ways to play and communicate. I think the good that’s coming out of Odie’s relationship with Arlo will hopefully far outweigh any of the challenges and tricky bits that she’ll have with it.

Lisa: Yeah. I think definitely our kids are very empathetic and caring and we did a podcast with Marlina, Chris’s oldest daughter, and my son, who’s older than Louie. One of the things that I learned through that, because we don’t have that direct conversation, necessarily. We’ll get the same response from them, but we had Heidi, who has a brother with a disability, talk to them. And Remy said that he, because our attention, we were very busy trying to cope with Louie at that stage, he learned not to create a scene.

If I had any advice for you, because you’ve got younger children than we have, is get her to make a scene.

Melanie: Oh, no. Really?

Lisa: [inaudible 00:23:05] feel like you can’t be yourself because people’s attention is on somebody else, so you’ve got to manage stress as a young age for the whole family, effectively. That was something that we’ve found all these insights that we didn’t know, but by that stage, our kids are older, so …

Melanie: I know. I have so much to learn from you guys, especially when it comes to … I mean, Odie’s still having tantrum, so she’s very much making scenes, but I sense that she probably will step back and be quiet and maybe not tell me things, not bring problems to me, because she knows that we’ve already got a lot going on with Arlo, so that is great advice to … What do you do? Do you say, “Do you have anything to tell me or do you want to talk about anything?” How do you bring that out of your kids?

Lisa: Oh, no, because this was only done a 12 months ago. Our kids are in their early to mid-20 now, so they’re adults and they have a different perspective. It’s just more as children, Remy didn’t have parties because he didn’t want to create additional workload or fuss, so just making sure that they can make fuss, they can drag attention, they’re given attention is really important, I think.

Melanie: Yeah, definitely.

Chris: I think the advice I can give you is we’ve always seen a psychologist. We have a family one and I drag my daughters there and they were … At 13, my oldest daughter is like, “Why would I want to speak to anyone? I love Matthew. It’s fine,” but the minute she got in there and it stood out to me the most, she was 13, she was about to start a new school, new friends, because starting primary school she came with her kinder friends and they all knew Matthew, so it was nothing new. And she said to the psychologist, “I’m starting a new school. I’ve got to meet new people and I’m actually really scared to tell mom and dad that, how do I tell them about Matthew? He’s just my brother, but I don’t know these girls. I don’t know how they’re going to act,” and she had strategies for that and there’s always something that comes up.

Even a few years ago, they both went in there and they both admitted that they were scared about the future and what happens when mom and dad, they think we’re old now, what happens when mom and dad aren’t around? Do they want us to have Matthew live with us? And you brought it up in your book where a mom, I think her name was Elisa, and she had a little girl and the brother was in hospital and the little girl actually said, “Gee, he’s a lot of work,” and she was so scared that she said that, but that’s okay to say that because we think it, too, sometimes. And I think it’s important to really talk to them all the time. There’s always something that will come up for them, but they’re just too scared to say it out loud.

Melanie: I love the idea of Odie seeing a psychologist. Both my partner and I see our own separate therapists. I love the idea of her having that outlet because it’s hard, especially when you’re an advocate for your child, which we all automatically are, when you hear the other one say something like, “Oh, it’s really hard, isn’t it?” I spring into, “No, it’s not,” instantly. I have to retrain myself to be open to, “Of course, yes, and please tell me how you’re feeling,” but I think if she has that external support, that would be so helpful for her. I think that’s amazing advice.

Chris: Yeah. Things like your book, and I guess you talk a lot about community and how you’ve made a lot of friends in the community, and that’s what Lisa and I are trying to do with our podcast, because that’s another area. It’s just so nice to have a community of people that you can work with and even your kids can talk to other siblings. It’s sure your community is building very strongly, now that Arlo and Odie are going into school.

Melanie: A hundred percent. And we were worried because we’ve moved to Southern Highlands from Sydney a couple of years ago, so we lost the network that we had. We didn’t lose, but everything went to telehealth, and now we just see those friends occasionally, but man, small town. Tell you what. The community vibe here is amazing. Both kids have heaps of friends. The school has been awesome. Arlo started in mainstream, just our local public school, this year with one-on-one support. They’ve been fantastic. It’s been such a wonderful surprise. I just thought, “Oh my gosh, we’re moving to the sticks. There’s going to be no other families with disability.” I was so wrong. There’s a huge disability community, of course there is. You can afford to buy a bigger, flatter house that’s more accessible, where you can park your massive car without having to worry about in Sydney. I don’t know how I would’ve ever wrangled now Kia Carnival in the streets of [inaudible 00:28:04], so it’s just worked out really well.

Like you say, community is everything and that was the best thing that came out of Special for me, was that talking to all these parents. Every single interview I did, I didn’t know these people, but the second we got on the phone or the Skype, this was back pre-Zoom, on the Skype call or had the coffee, I just felt like I had made a friend almost instantly, and that was amazing. Just people that get it, people that you don’t have to censor yourself, people that you don’t have to have pity eyes from, that was everything. Once I started talking to people, I was like, “Wow, this is it. This is what we actually need. This is the antidote to the obsessions that come with our child’s disability.” It’s other families, other parents, and certainly the kids and the sibs as well. We’re now friends with families that are also disability families out in our neck of the woods and having them over and just seeing this awesome array of people, groups of people together, it’s so cool. Like I say, community is everything. It’s the most important thing for us, I think.

Lisa: That’s how we’ve got through, haven’t we? And we’ve got this network of sharing info because sometimes it’s really hard. There’s not a handbook or people don’t make it easy to find information and that’s how we’ve learned about what’s available, who’s good, who’s not good, how do you get services. What do you do if you’re placed with this situation? And we’ve got parents with boys and parents with girls and sharing the gender related issues as well as some of the disability issues, so it’s been fantastic.

Melanie: Yeah. You’ll learn more from the family community than you will from any doctor, is what you find. And certainly, we entered the tube feeding space about a year and a half ago now when Arlo went from eating puree in his mouth to suddenly overnight, no by mouth, G-tube in. And we had terrible start to that because he went straight onto a synthetic formula that didn’t work for him. We were told that was the only option for the time being from medical professionals. And then luckily I was tapped into the Facebook community and parents just jumped on me and said, “Just stop. Just blend up what he was eating before a little bit more and put that through.” And we’re now in blended phase, which worked beautifully for Arlo, but that experience inspired the magazine that I now publish annually, The Blend, which is a lifestyle magazine for the tube feeding community, because I’m like, “Gosh, people just need a better introduction to this space. They need to know that this community is here and they need to see how beautiful it is.”

I got a designer, I used to work at a magazine, to design it for me, and it is the Vogue Living for tube feeding. It’s gorgeous. And why not? Why shouldn’t we have beautiful resources? Why do we get some ugly pamphlet, if we’re lucky, or stuff that has children’s handwriting in rainbow scrawled all over it when it’s meant to be for parents?

Lisa: That’s right.

Melanie: No, we should have beautiful resources to show us how rich and beautiful this experience can actually be.

Lisa: That’s right.

Chris: Yeah. I think that was the nicest thing I loved about your book, how positive it was. Like we said before, my son is so much older and I’ve been through all this, I still got so much out of it and I just hope everyone out there reads it because it’s a really positive community book. I think I’ll go back and read little chapters here and there and I’m so grateful that you had some time to spend with us today.

Melanie: Thank you so much for having me. Like I said, the second I chat with parents like you, I feel like instant friends. We all get each other. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this for, and that’s the beauty of our community, so thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Lisa: Melanie, where can people buy the book?

Melanie: Where you like to buy your book. It’s available Booktopia, if you like to buy local. It’s on Amazon, so you can get it anywhere in the world. There’s an audiobook as well. If you’re tube feeding, please have a look at The Blend Magazine. It’s free to read and download online. And if you need, sorry, this is a total self plug, but if you need help with navigating the NDIS, I’ve got the NDIS Know-How podcast, too, so lots of resources that hopefully people will find helpful.

Chris: I’m sure we’ll definitely have you back

Melanie: Yes, and please come on my podcast as well.

Chris: We’d love to. Thank you.

Melanie: Thanks so much, guys.

Lisa: Bye.

Melanie: Bye.

Speaker 1: Thanks for being part of the Loop Me In in Community today and joining our conversation on raising children with disabilities. Join us for the next episode on some of your favorite platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. If you would like to support us, please recommend the Loop Me In podcast to your network of parents, carers, and providers. If you would like us to cover a topic or invite a guest to chat, please email us at contact@loop-me-in.com.au or go to our website at loop-me-in.com.au. If you’ve got any feedback, please let us know so we can improve and cover issues you want. And of course, if anything in the podcast today has raised concerns for you, you can contact Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline 13 11 14.

Related Posts

Season 1

Episode 5 – Skills for Life

Hosts Dr Lisa Interligi and Kristine Christopoulos welcome guest Nicola Millar, Occupational Therapist, to talk about helping young people with disabilities develop skills for life.

Season 1

Episode 1 – Fun and Independence

Hosts Dr Lisa Interligi and Kristine Christopoulos talk with Dean Cohen, CEO Flying Fox, about the importance of developing independence skills and having fun! Flying Fox provides camp experiences for young people with disabilities.

Season 4

Episode 6 – Dad Talking Dads

Rob Hale host of podcast Dad-Ability joins Dr Lisa Interligi and Kristine Christopoulos to explore experiences of dads of children with all types of disabilities. Rob shares about his personal emotional journey with raising his son Leo, and how this brought him to a breaking point. Rob has used this to connect and support other fathers. This is a special conversation not to be missed.

Season 4

Episode 5 – Talking ADHD

Hosts Dr Lisa Interligi and Kristine Christopoulos chat with Professor Mark Bellgrove about ADHD – what it is, how the condition is diagnosed, gender differences and heritability. Mark is Director of Research at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, and a Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at Monash University.

Season 4

Episode 4 – Golf Glue

Darrell Dalton, ex nurse for acquired brain injury and senior PGA member, turned running the largest golf program for people with intellectual disabilities.
Not-for-profit Golf Programs Australia Inc is also an affiliate of the Special Olympics program. Darrell is joined by partner Michelle to chat about how the program works, the health and social benefits of playing golf.

Season 4

Episode 2 – Sev’s Amazing Journey

Sevastine Katsakis joins co-hosts Dr Lisa Interligi and Kristine Christopoulos to chat about her amazing journey from being a patient at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital to joining forces with her childhood therapists to improve mental health and wellbeing of children and young adults with cerebral palsy at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s CP-Achieve.