Tuesday, February 19, 2008

About the Editors

Yantra Bertelli studies Latin American History at the University of Washington. She is a parent to Caleb, an autistic and deaf thirteen year old punk and has three other children to challenge her during those rare times that Caleb sleeps. Yantra was one of the founding publishers of Rag Magazine, was a moderator for Hip Mama website, and was published in Breeder: Real Life Stories From the New Generation of Mothers and The Essential Hipmama: Writing From the Cutting Edge of Parenting, among other places. Yantra has presented on Queer Parenting, Gender in the Schools, and Educating vs. Unschooling at Mama Conferences in Portland and Minneapolis.

Jennifer Silverman is the mama of a 10 year old non-verbal son who is profoundly autistic, very oedipal, and often charming. Jennifer has most recently been published in Off Our Backs and Hip Mama, but has written for a variety of parenting publications and newspapers. She is one of the founding members of the now defunct m*a*m*a, a nyc collective of radical mothers. With m*a*m*a, she spoke about her experience raising her son while being an activist at conferences in Washington DC, Minneapolis, Providence and New York.

Sarah Talbot studies Education Leadership at Seattle University and gave birth to Caleb, who she is raising with Yantra Bertelli. Sarah has experienced the Special Education system as a parent, a teacher, and an administrator, and brings a depth of perspective about systemic issues. Sarah has been published in Breeder: Stories From a New Generation of Mothers, and Best Books For High School Students, among numerous alternative periodical publications. Sarah has lobbied with the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition and regularly drinks coffee in cafes with her son, which many interpret as performance art.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

About this project:

There’s a saying that children need to be seen, heard and believed. For “special needs” kids (and their parents), this should read “seen, heard, respected, and believed.”

As parents of differently-abled/special needs children we are often put on pedestals. People wonder in awe about how we cope, or tell us platitudes about how we have landed in a different but wonderful country, and we need to dream new dreams for our special angel children. But when we’re our in public, our ‘special angel children’ are most often stared at and treated like second class citizens. Our children are inconvenient, awkward, and difficult and it’s true that coping challenges us. But those who wonder how we do it are really just highlighting for themselves (and us) that they will never have to know. The truth is that our kids aren’t angels, they’re real people with big challenges. And their challenges make our lives as parents incredibly complicated, messy, and sometimes heartbreaking, no matter how much we love them. As parents who are already marginalized by politics, sexual orientation, gender, race/ethnicity, parenting philosophy, our own disabilities, economic status, blue hair and piercings, or something else that makes us unlike the CNN-camera friendly special-needs family America knows and adores, it can be harder to find support among other parents or be taken seriously by the teachers, therapists, and other professionals we often have to rely on to get the services our kids need.

My Baby Rides the Short Bus will be an antidote to the saccharine laced anthologies that exist for special needs parents. It will give punk, alternative, and marginalized parents a place to write about their realities. Readers who have special needs kids themselves will feel like they’ve found honest voices and community, while others will have a better understanding, and hopefully respect, for us and our struggle.

Call for Submissions

Call for submissions: My Baby Rides the Short Bus – an upcoming anthology to be published by PM Press (Winter, 2009)

We are seeking submissions from a diverse group of parents raising special needs kids who feel marginalized by their subculture status (economics, lifestyle, orientation, religion/atheism) and underrepresented in print.

Got tips on how to stay sane during the IEP process when you don’t believe in the system to begin with? Felt you had to hide you radical political books while the Early Intervention Folks come over? Found yourself stuck in a mainstream world of special needs parenting that you don’t fit into?

Submit your stories to a upcoming anthology that features writing from parents in the know about what it's like to raise "special needs" kids -- with no sugar coating or the 'you will dream new dreams' kind of crap we're subjected to by mainstream media. Unfortunately we can’t pay, but all contributors will receive two copies of the book.

Topics we would like to see covered include (but are not limited to):
Experiences with helpful or clueless doctors
· How not to leave your politics at the door and still work the system
· Care providers and how they help us (when they show up)
Community support or lack thereof
· The asinine things people say you
· Challenging people’s assumptions
Keeping yourself sane while caring for your kid’s needs
· The politics of inclusion
· Fighting city hall/demanding more access & services
· Kids with special needs growing older
Alternatives to group homes and institutions
· Politics behind professional care-giving
Alterative treatments: the good, the bad, or the rip-off
*Also, we’re seeking suggestions for good resources/services state-by-state or on the national level. Please send those to the email listed below.

Send 2,000 to 5,000 word submissions by May 15th 2008 or questions to: shortbusbook@yahoo.com Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and paginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address, and a short bio on the last page.

Editors: Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman and Sarah Talbot, who are parents of “special needs” kids.