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Thriving in the Midst of Chaos: Parenting With Special Needs Kids

Jun 25, 2020

Episode 41: Benefits of Inclusion in The Community With Guest Genia Stephen


In this episode, we discuss what it was like growing up in a with a great community that had a positive vision for people with disabilities and their families and how that helped our guest when her son was born with significant disabilities. Guest Genia Stephen's younger sister was born with a disability, so Genia was exposed to differences at a young age. Her mom, although never exposed to individuals with disabilities in the past, was a huge advocate and supporter of her daughter. Her mother took to the yellow pages to search for treatments for her daughter, and was very lucky that those who she chose were on the cutting edge of their professions and worked hard to make sure that inclusion was a huge focus for children. Genia's mom and the leaders at her daughter's preschool were working very hard to increase inclusion in schools.

Later in life, Genia gave birth to a son who has an intellectual disability. Due to her prior experiences and her health care background, she found that she was more prepared to raise her son with disabilities than she otherwise would have been. She found it was helpful to already have connections with people who understood disabilities and were supportive. She found that in close to 40 years, very little has changed in the disability world. She met numerous people who hadn't ever had a positive experience with someone with a disability. Having grown up with her sister, she knew ways to maximize the good life for her son, such as inclusion in school and in the community. She knew from the beginning that her son would be in an inclusive classroom in school. She was very preemptive about schooling for her son and interviewed schools to make sure they would be inclusive. She made sure that when he was very young, her son went to school as often as he could (although it was for a minimal about of time), which prepared him for when he started Kindergarten. Another plus was that his classmates and teachers already knew him.
Genia noted that there is lots of evidence that the self-contained classrooms do not work and may be negative experiences for the children. Being in a self-contained classroom may also reduce your child's chance of being hired for a job after high school. Role-modeling in inclusive classrooms, however, has been shown to be very effective. She made sure her son engaged in the community and is on several community sports teams. She made sure she found out what her son's interests were, what the social roles were for children of that age, and found where those activities were happening that her son wanted to engage in. She made sure that he was included in these activities, but also that the accommodations were reasonable, so he was able to maximally participate without minimizing the activity to him or others.

Her website came about because she wanted to meet parents where they were early in their journey and to provide them the opportunity to be introduced to a disability-inclusive community and have the opportunities for thinking and learning that she had growing up, since not every community has in-person opportunities to learn. She offers paid courses and memberships to help with the "how-to" over time and offers free monthly expert presentations by world thought-leaders.


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Show Music:
Intro Outro: Intro Outro 2 by Mattias Lahoud under CC-BY 3.0 License (
Theme Song: 90s rock style by monkeyman535 under CC-BY 3.0 License (
Self Care Song: Green and Orange No Water by Duncan Alex under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple

Disclaimer: Our show is not designed to provide listeners with specific or personal legal, medical, or professional services or advice. Parents of children with health issues should always consult their health care provider for medical advice, medication, or treatment.

Copyright 2020 Jessica and Lewis Temple