Author: Diane Dokko Kim

Special Needs Parenting is Too Big to Do Alone

“Special-needs children are a blessing!” “God only gives special kids to special parents.” “Just let me know if you need anything.” Families affected by disability are in chronic need of supportive community to do life together. But friends and even family—all with the best of intentions—can sometimes express comments that land more hurtful than helpful. Or they withdraw, intimidated, shushed into silence for fear of getting it wrong. Because they don’t know what to say or do, intended blessings can result in inadvertent bruising. It seems there’s no way to win in supporting someone struggling under the weight of...

Read More

Raising Kids Who Embrace Those Who are Different

“Mommy, what’s wrong with that kid?” Your child just blurted out an earnest question. . . in front of someone who appears to have a disability or simply looks different, somehow. Yikes. As a mother to a child with autism, my son has often prompted such innocent expressions of childhood curiosity. And it’s always a toss-up, which parent feels more mortified. How could we do this better? With 1 out of 5 Americans living with a disability, it’s a statistical certainty your child or family will encounter one of ours at school, the playground, or at the mall. Much...

Read More

This Is My America (This Is Yours, Too)

My family is Korean-American, children of immigrants. We’re what the media would call “devout, evangelical Christians.” We have a son who is disabled, non-verbal with autism and ADHD. Especially living in the middle of hyper-excellent Silicon Valley, we’re well-acquainted with feeling like “an outsider.” This is my America, some of our friends, neighbors, and classmates of my children: Chase comes from a white, American Mormon family, originally from Utah. Last month at a play date at Chase’s house, the kids watched a movie that ended up having a bad word in it. Chase’s mom shut down the movie immediately, and texted...

Read More

Special Needs Parent Stealth Bomber

There are helicopter parents, then there are Special Needs parent stealth bombers. How this Asian Special Needs Tiger Mama Bear (I know. That’s a lot of mixed metaphors) nearly became a weapon of mass destruction and ravaged a playground when her cub got threatened. Why I didn’t intervene. It was a classic “Special Needs Mama Bear” moment. Jeremy had perched himself at the top of the playground slide. He was oblivious that he was blocking a queue of children from taking their turn. I hovered nearby, ready to intervene should the situation escalate. Sure enough, a gang of irate older...

Read More

“Who Me, a Special Needs Parent? I’m the Wrong Person for This Kid!”

By Diane Dokko Kim My mother often laments how I am such a LOUD girl. When we’re on the phone, she typically asks me to turn down my volume.  Or better yet, speak about a foot away from the mouthpiece. She’s perplexed how such a small person (I stand 4 feet 11 and 3/4 inches) could emit such a big, booming sound. Especially for an Asian daughter, it’s considered unbecoming and uncouth. Despite my mother’s admonishment, I find myself having to use this Loud Voice often. I’m often shouting across a playground, a mall, sometimes an entire city block. I do...

Read More