Bigger than Barclay

Amy Nielsen shares what inspired her to start the blog “Big Abilities” and explains her hope to help shift the mindset in families who have children with developmental disabilities to focusing on their child’s strengths in addition to their struggles.

Bigger Than BarclayWhat if all day, every day you were forced to focus on what you struggle with?  What if you had to spend hours and hours trying to get better at something you have no interest in?  What if the people around you were continuously talking about your weaknesses?  Unfortunately, this is the space where so many children with developmental disabilities live.

Hi!  My name is Amy.  I don’t have any fancy labels that come after my name, no MD, or JD or anything like that.  I could add “mom” or “wife” or “sister” or “daughter”, but nothing fancy.  My youngest son, Barclay, however, has quite a few fancy labels.  At around age 2, Barclay was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Six months later he received an additional diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Another six months later he received a third diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  That’s a lot of labels for a little guy who had barely turned 3.

Barclay is now in an intensive, full-time Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program where he is thriving and I continue to learn as much as I can about these disabilities.  But I’ve realized in as much as I want to help Barclay overcome his daily struggles, I have to also remember to focus on his strengths. Autism self-advocate, Temple Grandin, says rather than focus exclusively on trouble spots, educators and parents should encourage kids with disabilities to expand their strengths.

The more I learn the more I feel this tug. I feel this is bigger than Barclay.  I created this blog to bring you on this journey with me.  Weekly we will explore, share, and encourage each other to help our children with developmental disabilities excel in their areas of interest and strength while also helping them overcome their struggles.  I hope that we can begin a momentum in mind shift from what’s “wrong” with our child to what is “right”. Welcome to “Big Abilities!”

Brent, Amy and Barclay Nielsen

It is my goal to help Barclay burst through the ceiling of his disabilities, into the universe of his abilities. – Amy Nielsen


Author: bigabilities

Amy Nielsen lives in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of four children ranging in age from 3-30! She and her husband, Brent enjoy sports and traveling. Amy is a former teacher with 20 years experience, a freelance writer, and special needs advocate. Her mission is to help educate and empower families of children with disabilities to focus on their child's interests and strengths.

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