Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The First of Many Transitions

There are only two more days of school left, and I am sad.  I bet that's not something you hear often from parents of children with special needs.  But for this family, and especially for Ashley, it is so true.

Although the elementary and middle school years were very rough for Ashley, high school has been wonderful.  I've written many times about what a positive experience high school has been due to a teacher that 'gets it', a staff that truly cares about educating ALL children, and people who see the whole child, not just the disability.

Ashley thrives in the consistency and routine provided by the school.  She is comfortable there, and that means she can soak up all the education which she is being provided.  The growth she has experienced in high school has been phenomenal.  But summer is a different story.

Ashley does participate in ESY services during the summer.  But, the services only last for 5 weeks, and then only for a small portion of the day/week.  There is no time to build the routine Ashley needs to feel comfortable.  The staff is different - the peers are different - the bus drivers are different - the schedule is different - and the  location is different.  All that different does not spell success for Ashley.

Also, in the past, when Ashley was not in summer school, she was home with an aide, or counselor, as the agency I use refers to the people they hire.  If they truly were counselors, and if they truly did the things that were written in our agreement with the agency, summer would probably be a better experience.  But the only things previous counselors have helped Ashley with over the summer is perfecting her laziness skills.

So, this year I am trying something different.  Ashley will be attending a day support program along with summer school.  Although there will be a lot of different there also, I'm hoping that over the entire summer, Ashley can build some relationships with staff and peers, and can get comfortable in the setting.  If so, the day support program will be where she transitions to once she can no longer attend school (3 more years).  And just to have an extra pair of eyes on Ashley at the day support program, I have contracted with Ashley's current vision teacher to provide a couple of hours of tutoring each week.

I am very nervous about next Monday and her first day at the day support program.  But, I need to try very hard to not left Ashley feel that nervousness.  I know that I have as difficult a time with change, perhaps even more difficult, as Ashley does.  We would both be very grateful if you would keep us, and most especially Ashley, in your thoughts and prayers as the summer progresses...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Room With A View

The birds in my neighborhood are in quite an amorous mood this Spring.  They have built double the number of nests as in previous years, and because of that, they are running out of birdhouses!  We have seven houses and there is no more room at the inn.  So what's a momma bird to do?  This....

Friday, May 30, 2014

More Than Functional Skills - Part 2

In part 1 of this discussion, I asked the question:

Do you believe that nurturing creativity from a very young age might serve as a foundation for a future life goal, perhaps even employment?

This...this is why I asked that question...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

More Than Functional Skills

I believe that one of the most important things about our child's development and education is left out in most special education programs - fostering their creativity.  So much time is spent on functional and life skills and almost no time is spent on encouraging our children with disabilities to dream, create, and invent.

Sure, when they are small, classrooms often include markers, paper, glue and glitter, but in my experience with my children with disabilities, the little ones receive a lot of *help* so their creations look good, or at least look the way the staff thinks we want to see our children's artwork.  I saved almost none of the art projects that came home looking decidely different than I knew my children would have done.

Then by the time middle school and high school roll around, art class is viewed as an *extra*, something to fill an hour or so if there are not life skills classes to be found.  When my children were offered art class in these school years, they were pretty much situated at a table and handed markers and paper.  Even though they were more than capable of following an art lesson, they were usually labeled as incapable and the staff was able to pat themselves on the back for *including* the children.

But I refuse to accept that.  Reaching into the creative parts of our brains, I believe, helps the other parts to grow.  Once our children with disabilities are allowed to explore their creativity, they learn to explore other aspects of their lives, and ultimately build upon their self-advocacy skills.

Ashley, for example, has participated several times in her school's PTA Reflections contest.  Did her work look like or sound like that of non-disabled students of the same age?  Not usually, but what she did create was beautiful in its own way, the same of which could be said for her.  She learned to try, to feel, to test, to combine things in a way her mind deemed *right*.  She learned to relax through the therapy art can provide, and she learned to define what beautiful meant to her.

But those lessons came at home, not in the classroom.

What about you and your children?  What things have they experienced that drive their creativity?  What things have you done to encourage their exploration?  Do you feel it is important to nurture their creative side even if it means less time might be spent on learning to do laundry or cook or make the bed?  Do you believe that nurturing creativity from a very young age might serve as a foundation for a future life goal, perhaps even employment?

Is creativity an important quality in any person, even people with severe disabilities?  I believe it is, but I'm very interested in your opinion....

Everyone Needs A Geek

So what do you do when your cable TV service goes out on the night when the finale of the show you have been watching and obsessed about all season?  Well, if you are lucky like me, you call your resident geek (Chip) who with his special powers connects some cable on the TV to the metal star sitting on your dresser using only packing tape, turns the start just so, and voila!, the only channel that comes through is the one you needed!!