We are delighted to launch Kim Hix' blog tour on The Muffin! Her book, No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid, won the Reader Views 2007 Annual Literary Award for Best Children's Book for ages 6 and under.
No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid is a lovely book written about Zack, a young boy who struggles with ever changing moods. He tries to understand why he gets sad, upset, discouraged and angry in response to what most would consider insignificant events. Zack often feels different, left out, and isolated due to his moods. He poses thought provoking questions to his audience that can spur some meaningful conversation.
This book will touch the heart of anyone who has a special child in their life who struggles with any degree of emotional, behavorial, or psychiatric disorder.
The character in the book is based on Kim's son Zack. Kim wrote the book for kids like him, who struggle with feelings of being different. It is her hope that this story will offer some measure of comfort and belonging to the children who read it.
Find out more about Kim by visiting her website: Intense Kids, Great Kids. And remember to comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Kim's book, No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid.
WOW! columnist Chynna Laird, a mother of a special needs child herself, chats with Kim about her important book for parents and kids.
CHYNNA: Kim welcome to The Muffin! We're thrilled to have you make a stop here for a chat while you're out on your blog tour. Let's get right to it: Can you tell us a bit about your professional and educational background and how, or if, that helped prepare you for the events to come with your son, Zack?
KIM: I have a BS in Psychology from Lander University, and my first "real job" out of college was as a mental health counselor at a psychiatric hospital in Greenville S.C. I have always believed there was some divine intervention that led me into this field along with the fact that my mom has been a psychiatric nurse her entire life. It was so interesting as a kid growing up and hearing fascinating stories of her patients. I am the kind of person who could sit and watch people for hours.
CHYNNA: That's fantastic. I'll bet it certainly made you more "in tuned" with other people, especially with your son, Zack. When did you first realize that Zack struggled with something more than "spiritedness" or "moodiness"? Can you give us an idea of what some days can be like for Zack?
KIM: I knew almost from birth, a few weeks into his life, that something was wrong. He was a very unhappy baby, never satisfied, very difficult to sooth or calm. He would scream and cry for hours and rarely slept. As a toddler most days were just a roller coaster emotions. I use to keep a log of his moods and behaviors and he would have as many as 6 mood shifts a day. I read every parenting book I could find and tried all the techniques, even went to several seminars by well know doctors and therapists to try and find out what I could possibly do to help him, help us. Nothing worked.
If anything made him upset or frustrated, he would continue trying to do it, all the while getting more and more upset, unable to stop himself until he was in a full blown rage. We found out later that was "mission mode." For him, his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) drove him to complete a task, making him feel unable to stop until, in his mind, it was perfect.
CHYNNA: I can relate to how difficult it must have been for you, Kim. There’s nothing worse for a parent to know their child struggles with something but feel like there’s nowhere to turn for answers. What was the journey of assessment and treatment like for him and for the rest of the family?
KIM: I started taking him to doctors around 18 months to try and figure out what was wrong and heard many times "he's just high strung, tempermental, testing your limits etc.."it was so frustrating because I knew it was much more. He would literally change appearance during his rages, it was clear something else was taking over and he was not himself. Then once the episode was over he would be normal again, it is still so unbelievable to see. Finally around the age of 4 my mom witnessed a rage that went on for 3 hours, and we tried everything to calm him, nothing worked. After about 3 hours he just fell a sleep and she said she could see what I have been trying to tell everyone for so long and that something was really wrong.
After months of more consultations we finally got in with a great psychiatrist that specializes in childhood mental illnesses and behavioral disorders. He diagnosed Zack with Bipolar/NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) at first, and anxiety. That later turned into what he is currently diagnosed with, OCD/Tourettes/ADHD (Attention Deficet Hyperactivity Disorder) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neurolopsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strepp (PANDAS).
In between he has seen specialists in therapy, neurofeedback, nutrition, and spiritual healing. We tried it all. [Neurologists also believe there was a slight bit of oxygen deprivation at birth, and that a early strep infection triggered the OCD at a very young age (PANDAS), Zack has also sustained 3 head traumas during sporting events.]
CHYNNA: Oh my goodness, Kim. You and Zack have certainly gone through a lot. It should never take so long to get help, should it? Now, let's talk about your wonderful book, No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid! I loved how the book speaks to readers through his eyes and in his voice. I feel this style gives much clearer insight of what it must really be like to be in Zack's shoes. Was that intentional so he could finally "speak to" other people?
KIM: Yes. I wanted the reader, the child, to feel like Zack was there having a conversation with them, and asking them questions to think about.
CHYNNA: That's brilliant! And telling a story in that voice works. I can tell you when I read it to my daughter, Jaimie, she completely empathized and related to Zack's story (mostly because she’s gone through a lot of the same things!) Kim, how did the book come to be? Was it difficult, emotionally, to write?
KIM: The book was easy actually. It came to mind after one of his episodes, then him feeling so terrible about himself and posing his usual questions to me: "Why does this happen to me?" "Why am I like this?" "Why did God make me this way?" "No other kids have these problems, they are perfect."
The book was to be a gift to Zack--for him to have to read later--as a reminder of what he has been through and how much he is loved and valued.
CHYNNA: What a beautiful and loving way to help your son understand his struggles and to help him explain it to others. You know, our stories with our children are very similar, Kim: Trying to get people to listen to our pleas that something was truly wrong; fighting to get them the help they desperately needed; even trying to bring about a little understanding instead of judgment. It can be heartbreaking. How have you coped through all of that, Kim? Where do you get your strength?
KIM: Well, only parents of children like ours can truly understand what this is like, how frustrating it is to know who your child really is and for others to judge only the negative and poor behavior they may see. We, as parents, get accused of poor parenting when in fact we are most likely much better parents that those who have the "perfect" kids, because we have had to dig deeper, search more, have more patience, be more creative, and be stronger!!!
Somehow I keep a positive attitude, believing Zack will get better as he grows and knowing that no matter how difficult the day may be, how unstable he may be and how chaotic our lives may be, that we have many blessings and that things could be much worse. He really is self-sufficient and independent. His disability can not be seen by the naked eye--it is tucked deep inside his brain. But it is nevertheless a debilitating disability.
Millions of kids and adults suffer with the same challenges as Zack does and the same stigma. Zack is a sweet, huge hearted, funny, charming 13 year old with many challenges. I try to remind myself of all he is rather than what he is not.
CHYNNA: That's very powerful, Kim. Tell us what the primary message you want people to get from your book? What do you want to leave your readers with?
KIM: I hope the children and adults that read our story will take the message to heart, realize that no matter if you are different for any reason that you are still a valuable individual worthy of love and compassion; of friendship; understanding and joy of life; and that you have gifts unique only to you that make you special. Also the importance of acceptance of others and not to judge.
CHYNNA: Very significant and wise advice that I've often given myself! How is Zack today? How does he feel about the book? Does he use it help teach others about his struggles? Zack is almost 14 now and doing well.
KIM: Thanks to a clinical research trial I came across with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) he is more stable than he has been in many years. He has been part a a clinical trial for a medication for pediatric patients with OCD who have been resistant to tradition meds for OCD for variety of reasons.
We get flown to Maryland monthly, sometimes twice a month, he is tested and given his medicine and it has helped him tremendously, this has been a huge blessing. We finally found the proper placement in school for him that has been great for him, (he is in a learning disabled class for kids with neurological disabilities) he made honor roll for the first time since elementary school and is making friends. He enjoys giving his book to teachers and signing his autograph. He does hope that other kids will realize, through his story, that they are not struggling alone.
CHYNNA: Zack sounds like a strong young man. And what a hoot it must be for him to get to sign autographs! That's awesome! Final question, Kim: Do you have any final pearls of wisdom you'd like to leave us with?
KIM: I would just say to always trust your instinct as a parent. If you think something is wrong with your child, do not give up even if a "professional" tells you there isn't. Never give up. Try to accept your child as he/she is. Fight for what you believe is best for your child. Faith, love, hope.
If you'd like to learn more about Zack, Kim and their journey, please visit their website at http://www.freewebs.com/forgreatkids/. By clicking on any of the links in the interview, you can learn more about PANDAS, OCD and other disorders. Knowledge sparks understanding and that's all parents, like Kim, want for their children.
Want to join Kim on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.
Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!
February 9, 2009 Monday
Kim will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Kim's book!
February 10, 2009 Tuesday
Kim visits Rebekah Crain's blog, Ready Set Read Reviews, to chat about special needs children, and shares a story from the heart. Be sure to visit this wonderful blog!
February 11, 2009 Wednesday
Kim visits Anne-Marie Nichols popular blog, My Readable Feast, to chat about teaching tolerance about special needs kids. An important topic, not to miss!
February 12, 2009 Thursday
Kim visits Writer Inspired for an exclusive interview! Mary Jo's interviews are fantastic, so be sure to stop by.
February 16, 2009 Monday
Kim visits Raising Socially Anxious Children and shares her insight on raising a special needs child. This is an important blog dedicated to supporting families who are raising children with anxiety and mood disorders.
February 17, 2009 Tuesday
Kim visits Educating for Wholeness, a blog that shares stories and offerings encouraging social and emotional well-being, to talk about teaching tolerance and understanding differences.
February 18, 2009 Wednesday
Kim visits Allyn Evans' blog, The Alert Parent, and shares her thoughts on an important decision she had to make: should she tell the story accurately, wondering if it would somehow cause embarrassment for her son when others realized the depth of his emotional disabilities? Find out what the decision making process was like and how by sharing Zack's story, Kim is helping other kids.
February 23, 2009 Monday
Kim visits The Daily Blonde and shares her advice on raising a special needs child. This should be a very interesting post, since both the blog owner, Cheryl Phillips, and Kim have a son named Zack/Zach who is diagnosed with ADHD. These two moms will be dishing an up front and honest conversation. Not to miss!
February 24, 2009 Tuesday
Kim will be stopping by Deena's Bookshelf for a book review written by Deena and a guest post by Kim. Stay tuned!
February 25, 2009 Wednesday
Kim will be stopping by Margo L. Dill's fabulous blog, Read These Books and Use Them, for an exclusive author interview! Margo's interviews are fantastic, so be sure to visit.
February 26, 2009 Thursday
Kim will be visiting Joyce Anthony's blog for an interview and book review! Be sure to stop by and chat.
March 2, 2009 Monday
Kim will be visiting Just One More Book for an exclusive podcast! Kim is interviewed for 10-20 minutes, so be sure to grab a cup of coffee and listen!
We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and important author blog tour.
If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Kim Hix' blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Kim's book No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid.