Dwarfism: Raising a Little Person

Audrey Curwin is the mother of two adult children, Jillian and Benjamin. Audrey was the Assistant Prosecutor in Gloucester County, New Jersey, supervising the domestic violence and sexual assault unit until her retirement in 2006. She was married for 23 years to Michael Curwin, and together, they were the only husband and wife team of first assistant prosecutors in New Jersey.

Audrey does not shy away from calling out what she considers unacceptable attitudes and common preconceptions. She delves into her experience of raising her eldest child, Jillian, who was born with achondroplasia, which is a form of dwarfism. Audrey, her late husband, Michael and their son, Ben were all born average height. Jillian’s diagnosis brought with it a lot of unknowns and fears, and opened a window into the world of labels, accessibility, advocacy, alternate perspectives, and unique challenges. Michael and Audrey were always deeply committed to the idea that Jillian should not be defined by her stature, disability, or diagnosis, but by who she was as a human being

Today, Jillian is a strong, witty, intelligent, fashionable, creative advocate. She is host of the podcast, “Always Looking Up.” In this episode, we will hear from Audrey how words matter, the many ways that the entertainment industry has marginalized little people, and how people diagnosed with dwarfism are often left out of the accessibility formula.

Carole’s Wisdom Shared: Movement and Aging

In this 14th episode of Wisdom Shared, Dr. Carole Blueweiss shares her own wisdom in an interview by Kathy Cocks for her podcast, Knowledge for Caregivers. In the episode, Carole brings her expertise as a Doctor of Physical Therapy to offer thoughts on movement, exercise, and wellness for older patients discharged from the hospital who are being cared for by family or home health aides. Carole also shares about life with her mother who has experienced challenges as she ages. As her daughter, Carole says that she has witnessed many changes , “and yet she inspires me every day.” Dr. Blueweiss reframes growing older as a blessing, despite the unpredictable challenges that often arise. And she believes that there is more we can control as we age than we are led to believe. In this episode, learn why we owe it to ourselves to become more aware of the changing bodies every day and we learn from Kathy, in her amazing podcast, Knowledge for Caretakers, how encouragement and support can go a long way to helping our loved ones as they age with compassion and dignity.

Anorexia: A Father’s Perspective

Dr. Blueweiss speaks with Nafiz Cekirge, a father in central New Jersey who speaks candidly about the impact that anorexia has had on his oldest daughter and on the family. There are a lot of unknowns to do with eating disorders and Nafiz helps us to understand the complexity of anorexia and the importance of listening to your instincts if you suspect your child is struggling.

Jewel and her Tribe

Ivana Gadient is a poet, activist, and mother of three grown daughters: Makena, Raven, and Jewel. She is an Anat Baniel NeuroMovement®(ABM) practitioner who lives in Hawaii. In this episode, Dr. Carole Blueweiss is joined by Ivana and her eldest daughter Makena. Together, they share about life in Maui with Julianna, now 20 years old, who was born 3 months early, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and lives a full life with her mother despite her challenges. Jewel’s ABM Practitioner, Verena Kurz, is also a guest. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and was originally from Austria. She is also trained as an occupational therapist.

The Gadient Girls, as they call themselves, are dreamers, writers, fighters, and lovers. Ivana homeschooled her daughters in Maui, HI. They spend summers together in the sun, talking about books with dragons, playing dolls, and baking good food. All of them are involved in the disability community in some way, all are artists, and all believe in inclusion and community support. Jewel would like to remind listeners of the furry Gadient Girl, Luna Psyche, who is a Maine Coon cat adored by all.

Anniversary Reflection Wisdom Shared

In this Anniversary Mini-Episode, Dr. Carole Blueweiss reflects on her first year of producing her podcast, Wisdom Shared. Thanks for being with us on this ride. Thank you to all guests, and listeners and to those of you who have helped to make it possible .

Type 1 Diabetes:Art & Science

JoAnne Robb is a psychotherapist from Oakland, California, who councils adults and parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes. She is a mother of three. Her oldest and youngest have diabetes and her middle child does not, although as you’ll learn through our conversation, he is still very much impacted by the disease. In this episode, JoAnne shares first-hand knowledge and personal stories. We learn why managing Type 1 Diabetes is as much an art as a science; why children and teenagers have their own dynamics, how technology can be a double-edged sword when it comes to managing the disorder, and how support is available if you know where to look.

JoAnne explains why Type 1 is a family disease and the importance of finding support and community. She speaks of the advantages and disadvantages of different insulin delivery systems, the role food plays, the intense financial implications of managing Diabetes, and much more.

Labels Schmabels: A Mom’s Take On Her Daughter’s Humanity

Ariana Speyer is an experienced editor, writer, and copywriter turned Anat Baniel Method NeuroMovement® (ABMN®) practitioner. She lives in New York City with her husband Pat and their nine-year old daughter, Calliope. In this episode, Ariana shares about life with Calliope, who has a rare genetic syndrome called Sturge Weber Syndrome, and how ABMN® has made a difference in their health and well-being. Ariana underscores that people are more multidimensional than their diagnosis, and reminds us how isolating it can be to live outside of society’s so-called norms. When you break it all down, we’re all seeking to belong and to be part of a welcoming community. Learn more about Ariana and her work at arianaspeyer.com.

The Gift Of Adversity: A Father’s CFS, His Daughter’s Dravet Syndrome

In this episode, I had the privilege of speaking with Simon Ratcliffe—a former advertising executive, husband, father, and podcaster who lives in the UK with his wife and their three children. His podcast, “Turning the Tables,” offers candid and inspiring stories from people who have turned adversity into advantage. It was born out of Simon’s own life experiences, including a severely debilitating bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and his desire to help listeners find new purpose and fulfillment in life.

Simon shares about life as a successful businessman and about parenting his 20-year old daughter Francesca who was diagnosed at age three with Dravet syndrome. Since then, Francesca has taught him so much—from how greeting people with warmth opens the heart, to how unconventional approaches can lead to amazing outcomes. And his own bout and recovery from Chronic Fatigue has given him tremendous insight into—and compassion for—the experience of adversity and the possibility for transformation that it unlocks.

I ran into some adversity myself when I had to rely on the backup audio when putting together this episode. Sometimes wisdom can be found amidst the messy reality. That’s certainly true for this episode, because this story was meant to be told.

Hidden Rituals: Living with OCD

In Episode 8 of Wisdom Shared, I sit down with my friend, Rosemary Bushey, and her 15-year-old daughter Lauren who was diagnosed with a mental illness in 2018. Signs and symptoms appeared much earlier but Rosemary and her husband assumed it was typical teenage defiance. It was only after witnessing a decline in grades, unusual behaviors and what they refer to as The Crisis that led to Lauren’s hospitalization, that they finally received a diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A staunch advocate for her daughter and removing the stigma around mental illness, Rosemary is currently getting her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In this episode, she shares some of the behaviors and activities Lauren engaged in, how the family responded, her guilt over not recognizing the patterns sooner, and how she and other parents can advocate for their children and take care of themselves. Lauren speaks openly about what it’s like to be diagnosed with OCD, and she offers up her wisdom to other kids and parents and emphasizes how important it is to talk about what’s going on and not to be ashamed.

I am Free Now

Beril Tokcan was a designer in Italy before moving back to Turkey to raise her family. Sooner than expected, she gave birth to twins, Emre and Denise. They spent the first five weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit while Beril, a single mother, traveled back and forth from her home multiple times a day to be with them.

And when at 13 months Emre was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and she told by two doctors that he would never walk or talk, Beril decided to take matters into her own hands. The one method she intuitively felt would allow Emre to reach his potential, The Anat Baniel Method of Neuromovement, was not available in Turkey so she traveled to Canada. After seeing profound changes in her son, she decided to become a certified ABMN practitioner.

Once Beril was certified, she returned to Turkey and opened up a clinic in Istanbul. Practitioners come from all over the world to work in her clinic, helping families from all over Turkey.

Beril is one of the most determined, passionate, honest, and articulate women I have ever met.She describes how she guided Emre’s teachers to give her son agency. She insisted that Emre learn to stand up for himself when bullied; to follow his passions; and to believe in himself. He recently earned his brown belt in judo.

Beril wrote a book (soon to be published in the United States) called “I Am Free Now,” something Emre said while in Barnes and Noble after receiving an ABMN lesson.