Parent profile

. January 17, 2013.

When Barbara Holdcroft’s daughter, Katie, was born in 1980, there was little information  available for parents of disabled children. So when Katie was 28, Holdcroft wrote a book, I’m Katie’s Mom: Pointers for Professionals and Parents of the Disabled, filled with stories and resources for other parents of disabled children. Holdcroft’s advice and life experience can teach all parents lessons on how to raise a child.
The book started as a series of short stories about Katie’s life, even though she is non-verbal, told from Katie’s point of view. It was Katie’s brother Kent who suggested that Holdcroft turn the stories into a book that included things that his mom wished other people had told her. Each chapter starts with Holdcroft’s experiences with topics such as vacations, public exposure, pets, school, parenting and independence, and ends with a story related to Katie.
“Not a day goes by that you don’t have to deal with something,” says Holdcroft. “But never give up a lifestyle, a career, a vacation or anything else because it‘s too difficult. The rewards are fabulous.”
Embracing challenges
Holdcroft has always fought for Katie to be challenged at school and in sports. She and her husband sued Anthony Wayne schools to get Katie enrolled in and bussed to a county-funded program at Maumee High School, and she petitioned the Special Olympics to correct an error that allowed a swimmer to compete in a race she didn’t qualify for, which affected scores for other competitors. She hates the mentality that since disabled children and young adults don’t know or don’t care about such injustices, that it’s good enough. The point of education and competition is to teach children independence and accountability, and all children should have the opportunity to learn those lessons firsthand.
“You have to raise the bar. You have to have expectations,” Holdcroft explains. “Otherwise, how do you know what they can do?”
Along with the struggles come fun things like adaptive programs for sports. Holdcroft speaks highly of the Special Olympics, both in terms of the benefits for the athletes, and also for the spectators. She thinks it’s good to see the range of abilities of people who are disabled. She also appreciates the summer camps, trips and events that Katie participates in through Sunshine, Inc. of Northwest Ohio. It’s important for disabled people to participate and be a part of the community because they have value and worth as people.
Holdcroft, a professor at Terra Community College and adjunct professor at Lourdes University, brings her message to parent groups and other organizations as a speaker. “There is a place in the world for everybody. The trick is to find your niche,” said Holdcroft. “And that’s not any different for people
with disabilities.”