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

Dec 17, 2020

Episode 68: Living An Extraordinary Life With Guest Jodi Samuels

In this episode, we discuss living an extraordinary life and experiencing crises of faith. Guest Jodi Samuels’ youngest daughter Caila was born with Downs Syndrome. Although she had had testing ahead of time, it was never suggestive of Downs Syndrome, so the diagnosis came as a surprise. Jodi immediately jumped into activism. Once Caila was 2 years old, Jodi decided to place her in school at the same place her older symptoms were attending. However, her family was emphatically told Caila was not allowed to attend there. Jodi began to have community forums and reach out to the media, which led her to find her public voice.

She wanted to make sure that others received a positive message about special needs. She remained positive and proactive. Jodi took the approach of treating Caila as if she is neurotypical and Jodi has high expectations for her daughter. A lot of friends and family are accepting and accommodating of Caila. Jodi wanted to have her daughter in an inclusion classroom. However, most schools blindly said no. There was a lot of discrimination, even within the religious community. In sharing her experience, she found that a lot of parents went through similar experiences. Jodi has gone out of her way to live an extraordinary life even while raising a child with special needs.

She felt she had to choose between victim and victor, and chose to be the victor and live an extraordinary life. She defines this as living the life you want to and choose to live. She discourages living in complacency and mediocrity. The first step to thriving through a crisis is to believe that we can cope. Next, we need support. It is important to talk about what we are going through. Then put on a positive attitude and start taking steps. Being a supermom is having work, community, and family. She recommends making a to-do list and prioritizing things that have to get done. She also recommends scheduling in office time, home time, personal time, and family time. Delegating is really important, and don’t forget that we are allowed to say no. She also recommends coffee/caffeine and wine. Balance is key.

Throughout adulthood and parenting, Jodi has experienced a crisis of faith, especially when her daughter was not allowed to attend Jewish day schools. Her husband says “don’t judge Judaism by the Jews, judge it by the Torah.” She found her faith when she found more accepting communities. Finding role models that she respected was helpful.

Guest Links:





Chutzpah, Wisdom, and Wine: The Journey of an Unstoppable Woman 

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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