Call Thelma Miles Supermom and she’ll chuckle, “That sounds a lot better than Wolverine/Helicopter Mom!” Thelma nurtures her brood of four—Isaac (6), Jacob (5), and twins Genesis and Isaiah (4)— realizing that each one has unique needs and challenges. “As a parent, everyone knows that with your first child, you’re careful and cautious, but by the second child, you realize that a little dirt strengthens their immune system,” she smiles. “Because my kids are special needs, I perceive how they see the world, so I become really protective of my children.”
As a new mom, Thelma was unfamiliar with milestones. “I just wanted to enjoy Isaac, but my mom told me what to watch for.” She noticed Isaac had a speech delay, so Thelma sought help from the medical community. “I knew that the sooner we could get intervention services, the better.”
By the time her next child, Jacob, was born, Thelma and her husband were more familiar with child development. “When Jacob was one, we noticed he didn’t laugh or talk much, but always had a smile on his face and would follow us around the room with those little eyes.” By eighteen months, Jacob was diagnosed with autism and intellectual impairment. Soon after, Isaac was diagnosed with apraxia of speech. “It was very shocking and heartbreaking, but I know that a diagnosis is not a death sentence,” Thelma reiterates. “I had to become an expert so that I could know how to help my children establish a new norm.”
A hopeful, new reality
Having two children with special needs, Thelma actively works to establish a healthy environment for them to thrive. “I strongly believe that the world you create will be the world that your child experiences.” Even though it has been difficult, Thelma and her husband focus on learning and growing together as a family, one day at a time.
Thelma found help every step of the way. The Help Me Grow program offers support for parents who have concerns about their child’s early development. She also found support through Harbor Behavioral Health and Mercy/Sylvania Physicians. “Having special needs children is to be taken very seriously, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s just going to be a new world.”
Creating a balanced life
The reality of raising four children with a hectic schedule can keep anyone on their toes. “Organization and communication are keys to creating a balanced life,” Thelma says. “During the week our children are in school, so my husband and I make appointments, work out, and spend time together.”
Every day, Thelma strives to accomplish three simple tasks, such as doing laundry, answering emails, and making business calls. She also endeavors to complete three major tasks every week, such as deep cleaning the kitchen, going on a date with her husband, and organizing a coupon book. Spending time outside is a top priority, for stress relief and to take a break from her many responsibilities. “My household is pretty simple…we pick and choose our battles.”
“I love being on the party side of life…in an innocent way,” Thelma laughs. “Whenever we go to Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s Playhouse, my kids have a hard time with the noise and the lighting. It’s heartbreaking because we want them to enjoy parties like typical children would, but they don’t have the developmental or intellectual capacity.” So instead of taking her little ones to the party, Thelma brings the party to them.
“My son is into Spider Man, so we had someone dress up in character and it really worked well,” Thelma says. “Family members fell in love with it and told my husband and me to consider throwing parties as a business.” With a background in special needs education and social work, Thelma is uniquely qualified to work with all types of children. Eventually, she hopes Party Crashers will become a family affair. “It’s a great outlet if the business continues to do well, my son can help run it.”
Thelma has lovingly taken her life experience into the world, not only through Party Crashers, but in her community as well. She stresses the significance of early intervention and encourages families to be educated and aware. “I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but it’s important to ask parents about their child’s development so they can get help.”
“The most rewarding aspect of being a parent is being able to experience the love and responsibly it takes to support a child,” Thelma says. “I found a much deeper appreciation for my parents, for society, the world, everything. As a parent, my eyes are more open to the idea of it takes a village. I will always be that person in the background who is looking out for a child’s well-being.”