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August 27, 2013

Never Underestimate Their Abilities

This is just a quick note since I haven't had time to blog lately. I have been on twitter so stay in touch with me there.

For all the parents out there who are just getting a special needs diagnosis or who are completely overwhelmed, I have one line of advice that will get you through the tough times.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR CHILD'S ABILITIES

That applies to us as special needs parents and everyone we come in contact with. Be it schools, relatives, or the public in general.

I have a high school senior who could not speak at age six and barely spoke when she was 10. Now she's speaking to college soccer coaches AND impressing them enough on the field to get potential offers for college.

I also have a 6th grader who nearly failed the 5th grade. This year he's going around bragging about how he tested out of 6th grade math. If you ask him what grade he's in, he'll say I'm in 6th this year, BUT I'M in 7th GRADE MATH!

Nuf Said!

Nianya

April 2, 2013

World Autism Day




FROM ADVERSITY TO DREAMS



This day takes on new meaning each year in our house. Last night I thought this site had been hacked because it was forwarding to a political ad site. Turns out there was malicious script that was somehow connected to an Autism article I wrote about or link to.

Never a dull moment for us.

Taz a/k/a The Tazmanian Devil went to school with welts. He says they are from playing with insulation. . . more like playing with poison ivy. Of course the school called a short while later to say that he can't keep his cortisone cream with him. We'll see how that goes today.

On the upside, Jessie had her big Wax Museum project today at school and I was blessed with a day off to go and photograph the kids. For a girl who could not speak until she was 6 years old and barely spoke in public until a couple of years ago, it was an absolute joy to watch her dress up and give a speak about MIA HAMM, who as Jessie said, is largely considered to be the greatest female soccer play in history.

Jessie's report was aptly titled: MIA HAMM - FROM ADVERSITY TO THE WORLD CUP. Mia Hamm, who was born with a partially clubbed foot, is definitely an inspiration for a girl who was always very awkward and could not speak. At 17, Jessie has been playing competition soccer for years and is looking forward to playing in college, hopefully on a soccer scholarship.

Which brings me back to Taz. He has struggled this year in 5th grade, but he excels when given a project that draws on his creativity. He created a diorama last night of the Tabernacle from ancient history for his bible class. He did the work all by himself and it's really quite impressive. Although he struggles greatly with reading and writing he can express himself beautifully through his art.

Our whole family struggles with adversity but we can accomplish anything if we dare to dream!


September 5, 2012

Special Needs Advice from a Seasoned Traveler in Negotiating Educational Storms


No matter how old your special needs child is, eventually he or she will attend school and issues with teachers/administrators will arise.

Depending on the school your child attends, you may face issues throughout the year or just transitional issues with each new class/teacher. If your child is in public school you'll likely go through the IEP process.

Having a written plan is great, but you still have to make sure it's implemented.

If your child is in private school, you'll need to work with the administration and teachers to set up an educational plan.

Georgians also have the option of using the SB10 special needs scholarship to help fund private school tuition; however, once you elect the scholarship you give up your rights to the written IEP.

That said, you can still find a school that will work with your child within the guidelines written in your IEP.

Regardless of your situation, as a parent, you are your child's best advocate. That means:


  1. Always Be Prepared: Keep written notes and documents at close hand.
  2. Be Proactive: Set up private meetings with teachers at the beginning of each year.
  3. Communicate Constantly: with teachers, preferably via email so you have all the info in writing.
  4. Know Your Child's Best Needs: What works best for your child before you go into meetings, such flexibility in schedules, modification of work, asking for a particular teacher, extra tutoring etc...
  5. Have an Alternate Plan: If your current educational plan isn't working then figure out what changes your child needs to succeed.
  6. Never Panic: Work through the crisis in your head and on paper before you go into meetings.
As the parent of two SNKs, I've been through dozens of these meetings in more types of schools than I care to imagine: Montessori, Public, Charter & Private. Every year, both of my kids face crises that always have to be dealt with immediately.

I learned a long time ago to keep written records of everything, and I learned what works best for each of my children. You never know when you'll have to face a SUDDEN STORM: change in doctors or medication which effects your child's school performance, a sudden change in teachers that just doesn't work, an illness that throws a complete wrench in your child's routine or an annual transition to a new classroom/school that just doesn't work out.

This year our son, moved to middle school at his private school. He went from 1 teacher/1 classroom to 3 teachers/3 classrooms. Can you spell HURRICANE? And we saw it coming, but still weren't prepared.

One month later it was fast turning into a Category 5.

Today I went into a teacher meeting with a worse case scenario--the possibility of having to move the child back to his teacher/classroom from last year who would continue teaching him his current curriculum without changing classes.

I thought that was going to be the end result and was prepared for it. Instead I found that the teachers were all willing to work with our child through a series of modifications.

In other words, we modified his plan, rather than scraping it and going with a new one. We're going to ride out this storm head on, but we're battening down all the hatches!

At the same time we let the teachers know that we are 100% on board with enforcing the new plan on our end. If they send home written homework assignments we will see that they are finished correctly, and turn back in. We will work on our child's organization skills (zero) with his teachers' help.

Long story short, no education plan will work unless every player--teachers, administrators, students and parents--is completely on board and willing to work together to ride out the rough seas.

We are all in the Educational Boat together!

Nianya

July 4, 2012

Chuck E Cheese goes Electric. . .but until they change their policy on food allergies I won't bite. . .

It’s advertised as the place where a kid, no matter what their age, can be a kid, but nobody told the bosses at Chuck E. Cheese that age is just a number.
ap new chuck e cheese ll 120704 vblog Chuck E. Cheese Ditches Retro Rodent for Rockstar
CEC Entertainment Inc/AP Photo
The parent company of the kid-friendly pizza chain has just given the pink slip to its long-time rodent mascot, trading in the baseball hat and glove-wearing older version for a younger, hipper electric-guitar-playing mouse.
Texas-based CEC Entertainment plans to formally introduce the new mascot in a national ad campaign set to launch Thursday, but teased what’s to come on the chain’sFacebook page with a shadowed mouse holding a guitar next to the text, “You’ve Never Seen Chuck Rock Like This Before.”It’s advertised as the place where a kid, no matter what their age, can be a kid, but nobody told the bosses at Chuck E. Cheese that age is just a number.
ed mouse holding a guitar next to the text, “You’ve Never Seen Chuck Rock 












Chuck E. Cheese Ditches Retro Rodent for Rockstar - ABC News

Regular blog followers may remember Taz's 5th birthday when we went to the local Chuck E. Cheese for his party and were informed that he could not eat his special #GFCF food there. . .the manager made him eat his dinner in the car during his own birthday party.

We even contacted corporate afterwards to complain because they have no problem with folks bringing in Cakes and Cupcakes. We were informed that the restaurants do not allow any outside food except Cakes and Cupcakes. Until they change this policy we won't be back no matter how well "Chuck Rocks."

June 26, 2012

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled?

This article is a perfect example of why American Parents are generally failing when it comes to raising their children. The same can be said about our special needs children. Any child can be taught to regularly do chores, set the table, take out the garbage, pick up their clothes etc...

Just make it part of their routine. My special needs kids have chores. Do yours?

June 25, 2012

Starting ADHD Medication at younger age May Improve Test Scores


Both my kids started before 4th Grade and Taz actually started in pre-K. He was one of the rare recommendations for starting at such an early age because of behavior and complete inability to stay still for even a few minutes.

Just remember that your kids need to be evaluated regularly for correct dosage as they grow and advance in school and it's a good idea to discuss newer options each year with your doctor, since medications change and no one size fits all.

Starting ADHD Medication By Fourth Grade May Improve Test Scores, Study Finds - ABC News

Photo: "You say jump, I say how high" ©nianya-photography