Michelle Fecteau a Detroit mom who works outside the home as the Executive Director of the AAUP-AFT, Local 6075 which represents the full-time faculty and academic staff at Wayne State University. She was also elected to the Michigan State Board of Education and serves as Board Secretary.

All kids are special, but there are some kids who may have differences that make them extra-special.

As a mom who has parented 18 kids over the past 29 years, through birth, adoption, and fostercare, I know this well. My kids include Samme, my oldest, who is significantly affected by autism, and others with intellectual and emotional disabilities, as well as hearing loss. Finding programs to meet their needs has been especially challenging. These challenges can become monumental when there are behaviors that require special understanding and skills.

When my son Samme was younger, his behaviors were quite unusual and sometimes disruptive (like wanting to pull fire alarms because they were labeled with the word, “PULL” in bold letters). Finding someone to provide childcare was incredibly frustrating and heart-breaking. Doors would close, with a false reassurance that I would find the services our family needed somewhere else, just not there. I sometimes considered filing a law suit, but with the demands of caring for kids with disabilities as well as working, it was something my husband and I never did, particularly because of the years of effort and the financial burden it required.

What I did find helpful was joining parent support groups where a wealth of great information was shared and where my family felt accepted. I even started a “special parents” group in my neighborhood and discovered there were many other parents dealing with the same issues. Just knowing I was not alone was incredibly powerful.

I was able to find some excellent resources that provide information on programing and services in our community. I encourage parents with special kids to check out some of these.

MOTH STORYTELLERS: If you have 5 minutes and need a good (and funny) story, click here to hear Michelle’s husband talk about their son Samme!


ARC of Michigan
Provides resources and advocacy on public policy benefiting people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Local chapters exist throughout the state.

Autism Alliance of Michigan /Navigator
MiNavigator provides online resources and a free call center staffed with specialists in the area of autism to guide families through issues, birth to lifespan, related to diagnosis, treatment, support, education, and/or healthcare for individuals with autism and their families.

Michigan Alliance for Families
Provides parent support and training around Special Education

Michigan Protection and Advocacy
A non-profit based in Lansing Michigan which provides legal assistance with questions related to people with disabilities

Special Olympics of Michigan

State of Michigan Disability Resources