First of all, I love this cover! How beautiful is this? Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Amy Jo Wilde, author of White Bees. www.amyjowilde.com
Karla- When did you feel confident enough to tell your story and why then?
Amy -Up until five years ago it was hard for me to even say I that I had a cleft lip and palate. The truth is, I had a very strong impression that I needed to tell my story. Not for personal therapy (that didn’t ever happen!), but for the light in the story that may touch someone, if only my children. Recently my little five-year-old, Maggie, said to me, “Mamma, why haven’t you given me my own book of White Bees?” Then she went to my stack of books, brought me a copy and a pen, and said, “Sign it.” Now each night we read a little of my story and I explain to her the importance of loving all your flaws, inside and out. I tell her that challenges build character. Love builds friendship. And voice builds personality.
Karla- How often did you attend speech therapy sessions and overall, how do you feel this therapy helped you?
Amy- When I was in elementary school I traveled to Utah State University twice a week to work with the graduate students in the Speech and Language Pathology department. This was critical in my speech development. My parents were so supportive of the investment in time and training, often involving the entire family. The therapy helped me in three ways: 1) I felt important and loved during every session. 2) Articulation of sounds, tongue placement on palate and teeth, and repetitive training paid off as I started to express the thoughts I had in my head 3) It gave me my voice!
Karla- Do you have any funny memories of working with speech therapists and what would that be?
Amy- Not directly, but my sister Jeannie taught me how to say the “T” sound by teaching me to spit. My mom was SO thrilled that I was making the right sound, just like I had learned in speech therapy, that she let out a triumphant shout! I will always remember how happy my mom was that night, all pouring out into ONE AWESOME MOMENT!
Karla- What you describe as happening in school, were forms of bullying and emotional neglect on the parts of students and teachers. What message do you think you would like to get across to everyone who works with children who are “different” for whatever reason?
Amy- Getting called out of class for speech therapy was humiliating for me. I would have loved the option to miss recess for my therapy, or go a few minutes before class started. The option to go when there was a natural break with classwork would have been ideal as well. Empowering the child with a choice, and involving them in the process leads to a partnership between student and teacher.
Karla- I love that you are out on a speaking circuit, sharing your experiences. Tell us how we can be in touch with you for more information about your availability.
Amy- Thanks for asking! I do a select number of speaking events each year. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
White Bees was an easy read, and often a heart-wrenching journey into the mind of a bright, happy child that just wanted to fit in and not be judged for her facial differences. As we can see, Amy Jo has bloomed into the beauty she always was. For a chance to win a free copy of her book, leave your email address in the side bar and I’ll draw a name on May 13th!