I would like to take this time to introduce to you our Featured SpecialMom of the Month – Ali Foley Shenk.

  Ali is a work-at-home mom living in Richmond, VA, with her husband and our 3 boys – Cole (5), Dean (3.5), and Emmett (21 months).  She is an editor and writer, and volunteers for the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research.

Her son Dean, who will be 4 this year, was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome.  Prader-Willi syndrome is a congenital (present from birth) disease. It affects many parts of the body. People with this condition are obese, have reduced muscle tone and mental ability, and have sex glands that produce little or no hormones.

Ali is a great example of a SpecialMom, let me share with you her interview.

What is the most rewarding thing about being the mother of a special needs child? Unconditional love. I have unconditional love for all of my children, but more so than the others, Dean has unconditional love for me. He is so forgiving and loving to all he meets, in a way that I don’t think typical kids usually are.

Where Do You Blog?: http://www.divingintothewaves.com

Service/Products you provide: Copy editing, Proofreading, Writing, Guest Blogging

Why did you decide to start a business: I love editing and writing. I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with others. And the extra income doesn’t hurt!

What is the inspiration for your business: I love what I do! I started writing as an outlet and then my blog developed after Dean was born to reach other parents of kids with special needs. I love that editing gives me a window into all sorts of publications: court documents, dissertations, medical journals, and more!

What advice can you offer to other mothers of a child with a disability that is looking to start a business? Network. When you’ve been out of the workforce for a bit, it’s hard to get your nose back in there, especially if you’ve been in SpecialNeeds World for a while. Networking is the way to get back in there. I have gotten the majority of my editing jobs through posting on Facebook or people finding me on there. Who would have thought?! Not to mention it’s one of the easiest ways to go about searching for a job.

What motivates you? My desire to be a better mom. When I excel in what I can do as a professional, it gives me confidence that I can also be a “professional” mom. It reminds me that people esteem my opinions and my input for matters beyond, ‘should we play with blocks or trains?’ It helps me to know that I am contributing financially to our family, as my husband is a great provider and also a VERY involved partner in raising our children.

Do you have a specific book you want to suggest? (Be it business or in the special needs field) A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker, about having a daughter with Down syndrome.


Your story: (approximately 150 words)

If you’re like me, you make extensive efforts to predict what is going to happen next in your life. Which means, that since you’re not a successful psychic or, you know, God, you would be wrong almost all the time.

Having a child with PWS has made this abundantly clear. We can’t predict the future with any of our kids, but even more so for Dean, we don’t know what great things he can accomplish tomorrow.

Today, in a very calculated, slow voice, Dean pointed and said, “Ah wan bipab.” He was saying, “I want iPad.” He LOVES his iPad and will do a lot just to get to play with it. Including saying three “words” without prompting, no matter how unintelligible those words might have been to others around him. Usually he can’t even say *one* word without prompting.

The seemingly ordinary things can become extraordinary in the blink of an eye. Believe.

Thank you Ali for sharing your story.

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