Two moms have teamed up to pass along their experience and knowledge of raising children with learning barriers.

Jessica Nielsen of Calgary and Julia Strange of Okotoks have written a workbook called 'Parent’s Survival Guide- Keeping Your Sh*t Together,' a tool for parents or family supporting children with diagnoses.

The two originally met in university, initially finding common ground as older students and later connecting over their experiences raising kids with diagnosed learning barriers.

Nielsen says advocating for a child either to get a diagnosis or for help with their diagnosis can be a daunting process.

"If you think your child needs support or if you need support, it can be such a long, grueling lonely process to sift through everything that's out there. Like Web M.D., you put in two symptoms and it comes up with 50 million hits and then the parent's like 'oh my god!' That's when anxiety comes in, and then depression, then there's anger. It kind of spirals when you're doing it alone and you don't know where to go."

The pair have found that there are some common questions and issues that come up early in the process for parents seeking help with their child's diagnosis, and the booklet covers much of that ground.

"At the beginning of the book, we have a list of common questions doctors will ask you. Every question on that sheet is something Jess or I have gone through many times, and these are things that follow them through their life. The more you can keep track, the better it is to be able to advocate for you kid," says Strange.

Nielsen says the book is to be used alongside help from professionals, with the importance of medical help is stressed at the very beginning of the book.

"We say right at the beginning, we disclaim that we're not medical people, we're not even playing medical people on TV, we are just moms who have been through it and who have helped other moms, and we wanted to be able to give them starting points."

The book is written in a very conversational and sometimes blunt manner, with some colourful language here and there.

Nielsen says it was a very intentional choice, as they didn't want to sugarcoat any of the processes parents will have to go through, and wanted to present this information in a relatable way.

"Sometimes when you start on a journey, you don't know where to start. It doesn't matter if it's been out there in the world for however many years, a lot of times you feel alone in the process of getting started. We want people to know you're not alone, there's some things you can start that might make your process and advocating for your child easier."

It's already available for purchase, and the pair have launched a GoFundMe page to further print and distribute the book.


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