Mother finds joy in raising children with special needs

Melissa Treolo

For Leia Holley, being a good mother means always putting your children first.

Through her two sons, however, Holley has also learned that it’s equally important to take care of yourself.

“It’s taken me a long time to not let myself just deteriorate physically and emotionally and get drained and not want to sleep (for) a week,” Holley said.

Holley’s statement reveals the struggles she has undergone as the mother of 18-year-old JP, who has visual dyslexia, and 17-year-old Sean, who suffers from severe autism.

Although there have been some tough times, Holley says bringing up her children in a supportive community has been wildly rewarding.

Holley and her family moved to Bonner Springs 11 years ago from Fort Riley, where her husband was stationed, thinking a small community where the brothers could attend school together would benefit them both. The move, she said, paid off in spades.

When Sean was in eighth grade, Holley said, she began getting pressure from the special education cooperative in Kansas City, Kan., to send Sean there instead of a traditional high school.

“They were trying to push us that way, (but) with the support of the community, with the school and everybody here, it didn’t happen,” Holley said.

JP has largely overcome his dyslexia and was eventually able to read at a gifted level. He is now a freshman at Kansas State University and “loving every minute of it,” Holley said. Though Sean has significant disabilities in the areas of communication, cognition and behavior, he is completing his junior year at Bonner Springs High School.

“You watch the community grow around him, whether it’s at school or outside the school, and the compassion. … It’s like he’s their brother,” Holley said. “Sean is pretty much leading the way in Bonner because he’s the first kid with significant disabilities … to be still at the high school.”

When Sean received an autism diagnosis at age 2, Holley said, his doctor told Holley to place the boy in an institution. The doctor, Holley said, was not the first one she “told off.”

“My family, when I grew up, it’s taking care of family; it’s family first,” she said. “And you don’t put someone away just because they learn different. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been full of some amazing adventures too.”

One of those adventures includes one that Holley has had all to herself, landing her “dream job” 10 years ago at Families Together Inc., an organization that supports families who have children with disabilities. Using her own example, Holley gives presentations on issues related to special education.

“My biggest thing is I get to share our stories, funny stories or stories of success, because it can be very depressing when you think you’re alone,” Holley said.

Full article here at The Lawrence Journal-World

Related Articles

Video: Clark finds local program through Easter Seals to help his autism

Clark Kipp is 4 and half years old. He goes to school, interacts with his teachers and classmates but just a f ..

read more

Two new gene mutations linked to autism

Researchers have discovered two new genes that may be involved with autism, the brain disorder marked by diffi ..

read more

Promise for new drug for Fragile X

An experimental drug succeeded in a small clinical trial in bringing about what the researchers called substan ..

read more

Our Support Community

Join our free support community and connect with thousands of other families and individuals touched by ASD. Find out what’s working for others, coping strategies, and life guides from others living what you’re going through now. Click here to join for free!

Resources in Your Area

Looking for autism resources nearby? Check our listings for professionals and services that might help.

Post your services | Help out in general


9th World Rett Syndrome Congress
Surfers Paradise, QLD - Australia
Sep-30-2020 - 09:00 am
The Rett Syndrome Association of Australia (RSAA)email rettaust@bigpond.comwishes to draw attention to the fact that it is staging the 9th World Rett Syndrome Congress i ..
Go to Event site

view all events