Valley mom creates app that links moms with kids with disabilities
While parenting is never easy, it can present even greater challenges when your child has a disability.
That’s why one Valley mom created D.A.M.E.S.: Differently Abled Mother Empowerment Society.
D.A.M.E.S. is an online community and app specifically designed to connect mothers of children with disabilities with each other and mental health resources.
Michele Thorne is the mastermind behind D.A.M.E.S. She has two children, a 6-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter, who both have autism.
Thorne said the first two years after her son was born were difficult.
“It was really hard and I really fell into a lot of depression,” Thorne said. “Finding yoga, finding meditation, doing those things, finding community is really what pulled me out of it. And got me to reinvest in myself.”
She said this is what inspired her to create the app.
Thorne said it took about a year to film all the work out videos and yoga tutorials to put on the app, which launched in January.
“It really helps me,” she said. “It’s kind of my self-care, that giving back component to other people and making a difference.”
A difference that has already reached several other mothers, like Rebecca Reese.
Reese has a teenage daughter who suffers from chronic migraines and fibromyalgia – a disease that causes chronic pain.
Reese said having a child with chronic pain can be isolating. While she has a blog of her own as a way to cope, she said D.A.M.E.S reminds her she’s not alone.
“It’s just been a big help knowing there are other mothers out there that are in the same boat as I am,” she said.
Reese is a big reason why the app isn’t just for autism moms. She became the example of how the community could include all mothers of children with disabilities.
“[D.A.M.E.S.] is also a platform to bring together other mothers that have differently-abled children to know that we’re all in this together,” she said. “It’s a way to talk to each other and be a part of each other going through this journey with help and support.”
However, for some moms this app couldn’t have come soon enough. Gayle Noble’s 35-year-old son is on the autism spectrum and she paved her own way.
“I’m all about thriving instead of just surviving,” she said.
Noble said she knew one other mother with a child with autism at the time.
“We were like the life line for each other because there was no Internet, there was no Facebook groups. There were things for kids with Autism but there was really nothing for parents,” she said. “At times it did feel lonely.”
This inspired her to write three different books about being a parent of a differently-abled child but D.A.M.E.S. gave her a community.
Now, the mothers are all becoming role models and leaders within this community.
“I’m very excited to be part of something new and what I considered to be innovated,” Noble said. “I’m not sure there’s anything quite like this out there.”
For Thorne, the sky’s the limit for D.A.M.E.S.
“I want this to be a platform for any mother who has any special needs child,” she said.
While D.A.M.E.S. is growing, Thorne said one of the hardest things for moms is to admit they need help.
If you or a mother you know could benefit from being a part of D.A.M.E.S., you can head to damesusa.com and sponsor someone’s membership.