One of my missions is to teach parents special education laws and how to advocate for their children. Parents of special needs children need help squashing the fight for an appropriate education for their children. These parents have a hard enough time making sure their children get everything they need. They have doctor visits and therapies, in which most have at least one parent that cannot get a full time job because they are constantly on the road for their kid. Then your child with special needs starts school. You would assume that parents could trust the education system to provide an adequate education for their children. They are paid by the government to make SURE they follow the laws and provide their education to the maximum extent. Yet, most of the kids do not get the proper supports. Our children (especially those that cannot speak) are seen as unteachable and sometimes a burden. Parents need to know their rights, their children’s rights and how the laws protect our children. School districts need to quit trying to cut corners when it comes to our kids. We NEED to be able to trust them.
Who I Was Before
Successful Professional eCommerce Entrepreneur
I owned a large eCommerce business in Louisiana. I am self-taught, didn’t go to college and designed my way up the internet search engines. I learned how to design websites and use well-known computer programs by reading Dummy books. Let’s just say I was very determined to not depend on others for money.
My biggest competitor was the online giant Amazon, before Amazon was a company eater. I was one of the first companies to introduce turkey fryers to the US and offer information about how to use them. My portfolio includes news spreads in USA Today, Bon Appetite Magazine and other national magazines. My company was featured on several national shows including the Tony Danza Show. I was the woman version of “Hank Hill” and knew a propane burner inside and out.
Then, after being told over and over I could not conceive, in 2012 I found out I was pregnant. They considered my pregnancy high risk. The doctors insisted doing one test after the other. These tests included the MaterniT21 test. Weeks later via phone we received a positive diagnosis of Down syndrome. I went from “hot mess express” to being unable to function because I was so scared and ANGRY. How dare God do this to me? Have I not been through enough?
Who am I now? I’m a mother who was once a workaholic introvert turned into fierce, outspoken advocate for kids with special needs.
My picture of children with Down syndrome was what I saw when I was in school. These children were completely segregated and unable to function in a social setting. My pictures and thoughts about Down syndrome was something that I never thought would be in my future. My child would be completely dependent on me for the rest of MY life.
After the initial shock, there was a strange calm that came over me. It was calm mixed with love and a sense of urgency. Something told me that I would love this baby and she would teach me more about life than most people would learn in a lifetime. To make sure our baby had a fighting chance, my husband and I moved up to Michigan with his family. This meant better doctors and education for our baby. This also meant closing down the brick and mortar store I just opened and losing half of my wholesalers. Sometimes you’ve got to make big choices and I chose her
Who I Am Now
Fierce Mother and Special Needs Advocate
The day Tessa was born emotional tears rolled down my face. I was so happy, yet so scared. My life as a whole has been full of chaos and unknowns. This path, having a child with special needs, was the biggest road of unknown that I have ever traveled. She was beautiful and sweet. Right then I secretly promised her that I would be her biggest advocate. Little did I know that she would be the best teacher I’ve ever had.
Have you ever thought that your life was on this path and then all the sudden so many things were pointing you in the completely opposite direction? That is exactly what has happened to me. Who knew that I would become an advocate and LOVE many children with special needs so much that it hurts. Who knew that when I look at a child, I see THE child and not the disability? Who knew that my eyes would open and put their needs before my own? Not me.
Who am I now? I’m a mother who was once a workaholic introvert turned into fierce, outspoken advocate for kids with special needs. My goals include setting up programs and supports for our kids to help them have the best chance possible at a future.
Some people say that I was successful before Tessa was born. My opinion of past self is “hot mess express”. Having money isn’t everything. So let’s just say I was successful and empty. ~ Misty Kluck
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Although advocating for children with special needs is one of the hardest roads I’ve ever walked in my life, the joy and fulfillment in my life is well worth it.