Book Review: Tales of Special Needs Abroad


The Cultural Detective team is proud to share with you a guest blog post by Kathi Silva, author of an extraordinary new book entitled, Extraordinary Experiences: Tales of Special Needs Abroad, 249 pages.

Experiencing another culture is meant to be fun, adventurous, and mind-opening. But what happens when you mix the joys of living or traveling abroad with the struggles of having a physical, intellectual, medical, or other special need?

In 2015, our family prepared for our sixth international move, knowing that images and realities do not always agree. We moved to the tiny South American country of Uruguay expecting to be limited with ways to support our twins on the autism spectrum, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that in Uruguay’s harmonious culture with its emphasis on social relationships, our twins were embraced, understood, and even admired. At that point in their development, they didn’t need structured speech and occupational therapy as in years past, but they did need positive interactions with people. For example, rather than working with a certified occupational therapist, we found Sebastián — an amazing Uruguayan personal trainer who had my twins running wacky obstacle courses, tossing weighted balls and playing agility games on the beach.  The twins loved these training sessions, and Sebastián became a mentor and a big part of why we loved Uruguay. I realized that just because a country doesn’t have top-notch services, it doesn’t mean it won’t be a good fit for my children.

And from there, the idea for a book came to me. I wondered if others had the same sense of curiosity as I did as to whether countries and cultures, regardless of how “developed” or not they are, can be receptive to expats with special needs. I hoped to find common denominators – clues – to help me determine if a country we were considering would not only provide the services my special-needs children require, but would have the right formula in other ways to make it a successful move for us. Would the culture be patient, tolerant and kind to my quirky kids? Would I find the resources I needed to meet my children’s physical, emotional, and social needs? Would the medical professionals share my values and goals for my children? Would the expat community surrounding me be supportive?

It took over three years and many hours of work to bring such a special collection of stories together into book form. Now I know I’m not alone in wanting to share the news that the world provides us with more open doors than closed ones. While there’s no way to guarantee our overseas adventures will always be good, there are things we can do and ways we can approach our experiences living or traveling overseas with special needs.

Extraordinary Experiences: Tales of Special Needs Abroad is not a how-to manual, but a book of real-life experiences in which you will find inspiration, guidance and insights from ordinary people who have made extraordinary adjustments to their experiences far from home.  I believe that every reader can gain something within these pages, whether it be the insight they’re looking for, the sense that there is a tribe of like-minded people who believe a disability doesn’t have to hold them back, or just some good, heartfelt stories from a distinctive population of expats.

The book is available through Amazon in paperback or Kindle format and all proceeds go to the non-profit organization Tales from a Small Planet.

Kathi Silva grew up in Texas with a fascination for other cultures. In addition to advocating for inclusion and quality of life issues for her children and others with special needs, she works as a freelance editor while completing her master’s degree in education. She is proud of the small seeds of kindness and light she and her family have planted wherever they go, and is grateful that her children have taught her how truly beautiful diversity can be. She has lived most of her adult life overseas in Ecuador, France, South Africa, Venezuela, Serbia, Uruguay, and Uganda.  

A Question of Trust

Doi Suthep Temple, Horizontal Image (500x332)A small US American software company has been contracted to design some specialized broadcast technology software for a radio station in Thailand. This is the first time the company has received a contract in Southeast Asia and their company executive, Tom Bennett, is looking forward to doing business in the region.

The initial meetings and negotiations with the radio station management have been successful, and Tom Bennett senses that he has built up a good rapport with Khun Chai, the radio station manager. Khun Chai himself is delighted with Tom Bennett’s interest in Thailand and the local Thai community, and he is particularly impressed with Tom’s liking for spicy Thai food. Khun Chai is already contemplating the possibility of doing business with the American company again in the future.

The price is settled, the contract is signed and a deposit is paid…

Are you are a business leader, coach, consultant, speaker or teacher?  Do you want to become culturally competent and self-confident in the global arena?  Does the above story sound similar to projects in which you, your colleagues or clients engage? Despite this auspicious start, all does not end well, as you’ll discover in our upcoming webinar: Cross-cultural Coaching: A Creative and Transformative Process. In that webinar we will introduce you to a powerful and transformative coaching process with Cultural Detective Online!

The coaching process combined with Cultural Detective Online provides you with a comprehensive learning experience that is stimulating, supportive and transformative! In addition to exploring key cultural concepts and culture-specific information, the collaborative and creative coaching environment helps you develop new perspectives and skills for bridging the gap between your personal cultural “sense” and the cultural “sense” of your colleagues and clients.

Our facilitator will be Jan O’Brien, IAC-MCC, who will show us how she coaches expatriate executives towards cross-cultural success. Jan is President of Culture-Conscious International, a coaching and consulting company based in Houston, Texas. She is a US/UK dual national and has lived and worked extensively overseas, in particular in the US and the South East Asia region. Jan is a Certified Cultural Detective facilitator and a Master Certified Coach with the International Association of Coaching (IAC). She has worked with clients from many language and cultural backgrounds and has personally experienced the benefits and challenges of living and working in the global arena.

Register now, as only a few seats remain.

Meeting time is Tuesday 23 July, 2013 at 10 am Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México time. Meeting place is online. Please consult a world clock to verify your local time. 
  • Los Angeles: 8 am
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  • New York & Santiago de Chile: 12 noon
  • Buenos Aires or Rio: 1 pm
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  • Delhi: 9:30 pm