Thank you so much for stopping by DifferentDream.com. The website began in 2009 as a gathering place for parents of children with special needs and disabilities. Over the years, Different Dream has expanded to include those caring for loved ones of all ages: Dads and moms in the hospital with seriously or terminally ill kids, parents whose children live with mental disabilities or chronic illnesses, those supervising adult children with special needs, wives and husbands caring for spouses with disabilities, as well as for adult children caring for elderly parents.

If you’re a caregiver, Different Dream offers resources to equip you to be a confident advocate and encouragement when you need a boost. You’re invited to engage in the caregiving conversation by leaving comments about resources or advice you’d like to share with others. Special needs bloggers can contribute to the Tuesday link share. Those interested in becoming guest bloggers can contact Jolene via email about Different Dream’s submission guidelines.


Through the years, more and more readers who are also writers have contacted Different Dream about the publishing process. In response, we’ve created a book coaching department called Literary Midwives. It offers services for fiction and non-fiction writers. You can soon learn more about those services at the Literary Midwives page.

Blog posts and advertisements seen on this site may contain affiliate links to products that I recommend, which means that at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase from these links, I will receive a small commission that helps to support my family and this website. You are under no obligation or requirement to make a purchase.

About Jolene Philo

I grew up as a caregiver. My father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 29 in 1959. I was 2 at the time and can’t remember seeing my father walking. Dad lived in our home until 1983, when Mom made the difficult decision to move him to a nursing home. He lived there until 1997 when he died at age 67, the youngest resident of the nursing home and the one who’d lived there the longest.

A year before Dad moved to the nursing home, my husband and I welcomed our first child, Allen, into the world. A few hours after his delivery, doctors discovered he had a life-threatening birth defect, and he was immediately flown to the University of Nebraska in Omaha for surgery. 2 days later, we finally arrived at the neonatal intensive care unit where he was recovering. 700 miles from home, without friends or family, we felt utterly and completely alone.

Allen survived and is an adult now, but our experiences created a deep desire within me to reach out to parents of critically or chronically ill children. So after 25 years as an elementary teacher who welcomed kids with special needs into her classroom, I left teaching in 2003 to begin writing and speaking. My first book, A Different Dream for My Child: Meditations for Parents of Critically or Chronically Ill Children, was released in 2009 by Discovery House Publishers (DHP). Since then I’ve published 4 more books for the special needs community. The most recent is Does My Child Have PTSD? What to Do When Your Child Is Hurting from the Inside Out, which came out in October of 2015. Check out my books page to view the rest.

My agent is currently pitching my most recent project, a mystery novel, to several publishers. I am hard at work on the second mystery in what I hope will be a series and on a book about stress, trauma, and secondary PTSD in parents of kids with special needs. I’ll be posting updates about the book progress on the Different Dream blog, so stop by to keep up to date.

You are not alone,







  1. March 17, 2017    

    I admire you for your tenacity&courage also honesty………God Bless You

  2. Norma Letham Norma Letham
    March 18, 2017    

    Loved your message on ODB web page for March 18th 2017.Researched you and lots came up online that was of interest to me. We have a son who lives with severe learning difficulties and associated health problems. We enjoy him. Now at the age of 31 we are looking to give him a future home apart from us alongside peer group members. We want to see him settle well on this new more independent stage in his life. We don’t find it easy as we love him so much. He needs lots of care and one or two to one support with daily life and activities. Your message on ODB led me into learning more about you and I found understanding and comfort that is helpful during this family transition time. Thank you so much. I have subscribed to your blog so I can be connected with you.

  3. March 18, 2017    

    Norma, I’m so happy to hear the ODB devo encouraged you. You are so wise to start moving your son to more independence at this time. The transition will be much easier for him with you there to help him make it. Jolene

  4. March 18, 2017    

    Thank you, Amelia!

  5. Wendy Locke Wendy Locke
    March 18, 2017    

    I just read your message on ODB. I, too have a son who was born with a life-threatening defect. He wasn’t diagnosed so went into cardiac arrest at home when he was six days old. He miraculously survived the surgery and the ordeal. The doctors told me he was neurologically intact but he never developed into the young man his personality hinted at. He is now 35 and lives in a group home. Of course nothing in my life left me so alone to try to cope and advocate for him. I found the Lord when I reached the end of my own strength. I hope that the community you have started (or rather God has) will minister to those carrying this tremendous burden. Thank you so much.

  6. March 18, 2017    

    Like Norma I read and was encouraged by your ODB devotional. Though I have no human kids (my two cats are “my boys”) praying for others and especially children is something very near to my heart.
    I also happen to be a published crime novelist so I enthusiastically welcome you to the mystery fold!

  7. Barbara Hodges Barbara Hodges
    March 18, 2017    

    Jolene, I. too, just read your devotional in Our Daily Bread and wanted to learn more. Thank you for sharing your story

    March 19, 2017    

    I recently read your devotional in ODB I love it.
    Thank you Jolene

    March 19, 2017    

    Saya baru saja membaca tulisan anda pada ODB March 18, 2017. Terima kasih untuk tulisan anda yang menguatkan iman saya.

  10. Mary Balcerzak Mary Balcerzak
    July 25, 2017    

    oh please JOLENE… first may GOD continue to bless you with all you do, the dedication and hard work… I have a dear friend that needs HELP to place her mom in the best place, mom is seriously depressed with many treatments that are not effective, the adult daughter has a husband and children and is not willing to take mom home, I am in RI, and have heard of a program in RI, called DREAM ???? cannot recall, but it is a housing for this type of person that needs loving care and can be placed with a family to share their home, do you have any knowledge of this type of living, can you help in any way, can you give us any suggestions, thank you so much for your KIND WORK

  11. July 26, 2017    

    Mary, I will respond to you through your email address. Jolene

  12. July 29, 2017    

    Hi Jolene,
    Thank you for sharing the beautiful story of your son Allen, and your husband’s prayer in ODB. I was so touched, I felt compelled to find out how Allen is doing. Hard to believe it happened over 30 years ago-the raw emotion and the intense pain you all experienced that day are palatable. I could feel your sorrow as though it were only yesterday. Blessings to you and your family, and thank you for all you do for parents and others who are caretakers of persons with special needs.

  13. July 31, 2017    

    Hi Ingrid, thank you so much for your lovely comment. Allen is doing very well. He’s an adult, on his own, and working hard. Thanks for asking! Jolene

  14. Lydia Ramires Lydia Ramires
    August 16, 2017    

    I’ve been sitting here trying too find a current blog that addresses parents with disabled adults children…My son was born mentally disabled, unable to speak, etc… he is 38 now and just went thru brain cancer, surgery, chemo etc….Praise God he’s well today….I’m a sold out to Jesus christian, 63 yrs old married and blessed…..but so tired…..ive struggled with depression and anxiety all my life and just push through…..but so tired…i want to do all i can for Nathan.. and i have…but I’m so tired….i have questions sometimes about my personal interests,,, or dreams,, i pretend they don’t exist so i don’t long for them…after all I’m so tired…Since the cancer treatments are over i do have time to exercise which helps a lot…and I am able to talk to people when I’m out doing that…i also keep up with my doctor checkups…Having said all this I feel like I’ve been through a war… which it was both spiritual and physically…. and I can’t seem to catch my breath..i startle easily and I feel like the other shoe will drop any minute….I pray continuously but as soon as I wake it starts again…ive considered going on meds but that scares me….i know others have harder situations its just that its been 38 years and we are getting older….I pray, “Come Lord Jesus” often….Looking forward to reading more on your blog….God bless.

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  1. Jolene Philo: “All Children Can Learn, Given Enough Time” « Diving for Pearls on May 23, 2011 at 7:35 am

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