Hey friends! I am super excited to be publishing today’s Podcast Interview! I have been following Littlest Warrior for awhile now and just love what Michelle is doing! She is helping spread awareness for Rare Diseases, Down Syndrome, and more with her rad shirts, and new Podcast: Advocate Like a Mother!
I recently reached out to Michelle and Ashley and they eagerly agreed to answer some questions pertaining to their Podcast and lives. I hope you enjoy!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?
My name is Michelle. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Eric, for 23 years. We have 3 teenage girls – Daphne, 19, Gretta, 16 and Rox, 13. Nine years later we had Eli who will be turning 5 next month. Eli has Down Syndrome and a heart defect. He opened my eyes to the world of advocacy and he is the greatest gift.
I own Littlest Warrior Apparel and I’m the host of the Advocate Like a Mother podcast.
How did you two meet?
Ashley and I met through Instagram. She had bought a Littlest Warrior tee for Ryder – a Williams Syndrome Warrior tee – and she posted a super cute photo of him wearing it. We finally met in person when a TV show was filming an episode all about Littlest Warrior and I invited Ashley and her kids to come to the filming.
What is the story behind Advocate Like A Mother Podcast?
When I first trademarked Advocate Like a Mother, I just envisioned it as a t-shirt, but after it took off and so many people responded so positively to it, I started to think that this is much more than just a saying on a tee. When the idea of a podcast occurred to me I knew I wanted the podcast to be universal in the special needs community. Our desire is to inspire, educate and encourage parents to find their voice and be the best advocate for their child. The main message I want to get across is anyone can be an advocate for their child. I knew that I didn’t want to be the only host, so I asked Ashley to be my co-host.
-Michelle, Advocate Like a Mother
Our desire is to inspire, educate and encourage parents to find their voice and be the best advocate for their child.
Can you share with my readers what is the most difficult part of being a mother of a child with a disability.
I think the most difficult part for me was in the beginning. There were so many new things to learn, so many specialists to see, so many surgeries to watch him go through, so many ignorant comments from family and strangers alike. After his open heart surgery at 6 months it’s been pretty uphill and a fun ride.
What is most rewarding about being a mother of a child with a disability?
There are so many rewards to being Eli’s mom, but I would have to say the best reward is gaining so much love. Love from him, learning how much I love others with special needs, and the love & community I’ve received from other parents on this journey. My eyes and heart has been opened to beautiful, amazing things.
What is Williams Syndrome?
Ashley’s son Ryder has Williams Syndrome. According to williamssyndrome.org, Williams Syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone. It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning challenges.
What is your advice to parents newly diagnosed?
I would tell them that their child is a gift. They will open your eyes to so many new and wonderful things. They will make you a better person. And when you are ready to start fighting for them, you need to realize you are their advocate, their voice. The best way to start is by understanding what your child needs and then finding out how to access it. Do they need physical therapy? Then ask your pediatrician where to start. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use your voice and never stop fighting for them. You will know what’s best for them.
What do you like to do when you are not advocating and working on your podcast?
I love photography and as a family we love to road trip. We’ve traveled to so many fun places and we love doing day trips to interesting places too. We also love Disneyland and use our annual passes as often as we can.
Where can my readers find your podcasts?
We are on Apple podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify and Google Play!
You can find these rad ladies at the following accounts below:
Podcast website: advocatelikeamother.org
Littlest Warrior Apparel: littlestwarrior.com
Personal IG: @meeshellsullivan
Personal IG: @_ashleymontano
Podcast IG: @advocatelikeamother
Littlest Warrior IG: @littlest_warrior