New book promotes students’ understanding of special needs

Kids today are empathic to their peers with special needs, says Stacy Glorioso, the author of the new book, Joshua’s Dragon, but those students really don’t understand what they face every day. That’s why she says Joshua’s Dragon and the related school program is meant to highlight kids’ victories and strengths in a fun way.

About the author of Joshua’s Dragon

  • Husband Tom; kids, Grant, 11, Genna, 9, and Griffin, 5. Family dog, Georgia
  • Lives in Plainfield

Joshua is a composite of the kids she treats in her private practice, including those with autism, sensory processing disorders and cerebral palsy.

“I always felt like (kids with special needs) were dragon slayers, constantly trying to keep their dragons, their challenges, their obstacles, at bay,” says Glorioso, a disabilities advocate and private pediatric occupational therapist.

“We have this theme that everybody has a dragon, nobody’s perfect, and we’re trying to teach kids it’s OK to be different and it’s OK to have dragons. If Joshua can deal with his dragon every single day, then we can, too,” she says.

She expects to reach 25,000 students with the message this school year.

As you are going into schools with the book, what’s your biggest takeaway?

Kids are showing empathy to Joshua. … They are feeling this empathy now that they may not have had because they have more understanding. But also, they are cheering him on for his courage and his bravery at the same time.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a mom so far?

I try to teach my kids—it’s hard in today’s society—that you don’t have to be perfect. I always tell them to set small goals, come up with a strategy and try to conquer their dragons. As for me, from my first child to my third, I’ve learned everything doesn’t have to be so planned out. You don’t have to worry about every little detail. I don’t worry so much about the little things and I try to enjoy more of the positive things.

The one room in house you wouldn’t want anyone dropping by to see:

My office. It’s a pigsty. I have so much stuff everywhere. I’m working two jobs, I have Joshua’s Dragon books piled up. I know where everything is. It’s the one place that I can be disorganized.

What is your dragon?

I cannot stand being the center of attention. It makes me incredibly nervous. I’ve had to overcome my dragon because I have something really important that I need to say. So it was a victory for me this year because I conquered my dragon.

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