“Embracing struggle” is something that Vangie Rodenbech has encapsulated with Shaping Special Hearts. When her son, Noah, was diagnosed with being significantly developmentally delayed at three years old, doctors told her he would never read or communicate.
As a way to cope, she began full-time children’s special needs ministry. Born a natural researcher and reader, she devot- ed time to rewriting teacher’s lesson plans so that Noah could learn and participate in the classroom. After years of single- handedly transforming education for her son, she began incorporating Standard special needs curriculums. In her attempt to provide these resources for other fami- lies, she launched Shaping Special Hearts, an online blog featuring radio sessions with ranging themes pertaining to special needs.
“It’s really allowed me to share my journey with Noah,” Vangie said. “I had trouble finding people to tell me ‘Well here’s what’s going to be okay’, so I start- ed blogging about it myself.”Her radio show, in collaboration with CM Connect, is aimed toward helping people get access to not just resources, but relationships. She interviews parents, ministers and therapists, among others, to form a sense of community with special needs families.She emphasizes that her situation, like other people’s, is based on perspec- tive. “It’s like anything else. It’s all in your perspective. This doesn’t have to be dev- astating.” When special needs children concentrate on something over and over again, it’s called autism, she says. How- ever, when a successful engineer concen- trates on a project, it’s called focus. This is the notion she emphasizes and wants to change. Vangie advises all parents to “grieve their idealized child” to make room for the one that they have and no longer fear “otherness”- but honor it. She finds holy in the commonplace, values everyday ex- periences, celebrates little victories. She promises that disabilities have made her a happier person. Noah will be thirteen in January. He is reading, communicating and attending regular education science classes. “He’s come so much further than they expected. And I think it’s because I was willing to honor where he was and willing to honor the way I would raise him differently.”
Shaping Special Hearts. Visit the blog, radio shows and connect with Vangie Rodenbech at www.vangierodenbech.com. See the Autism Gospel on the site for her vision on how to see the beauty in special needs.