Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Needed To Hug A Teacher Today

It has been four days since the news broke, and I still cannot wrap my heart and my mind around what happened.

26 dead.
6 teachers.
20 children.

Children, for God's sake!

Innocent souls with pure hearts and innocent minds.
Oblivious to the "bad guys" that roam this world.
In a building that we all assume is one of the safest places to send our most precious gifts
Taken too soon and given wings more magical than their little imaginations could dream of.

I am sad.
I am angry.
I am fearful.
I am speechless.
I am weak.
I am a Mom.

This could happen anywhere.
At anytime.
And it did.
And although it happened over 800 miles from my home....over a 12 hour car drive away...it feels as though it happened in my own neighborhood.

Oh, those sweet, sweet souls.
 
Today was the first day that I drove my children to school since this horrific event last Friday.
I was scared.
I wanted to keep my two most precious gifts in my life that God gave me in my house with me today.
But I knew I couldn't.
I knew they needed to maintain their own "normal lives" even though I was struggling with my own.
I can't keep them safe from every bad guy out there.
So we went to school.
 
As I approached the street of my son's school, the sinking feeling in my stomach got worse.
My hands were shaking as I held the steering wheel.
I was nauseous.
I was bouncing back and forth between hot flashes and cold sweats.
Naive to my feelings, my two children sat in the backseat and listened and sang along to Christmas carols.
I wish I was that naive to the world around me.
I sat in the carpool drop off line and waited for directions to pull forward.
I watched young, innocent children hold the hands of their teachers and skip into school.
My own son was wrestling with his back pack and couldn't wait to join in!
 
"Mom, we are having a jammie day at school today with popcorn!"
 
Yes, my son was wearing his Spiderman jammies to school today.
They were celebrating a class accomplishment today with PJs, popcorn and a movie.
 
I don't remember driving anymore until I realized that my car was stopped and my son was asking for help to get out of the car.
I was numb.
As I got out to walk him around the car to the waiting teacher, it happened.
 
I always kiss the top of my son's head and tell him to have a good day and that I will see him soon and we will play.
Did I do that?
I don't know.
All I remember is walking up to that teacher and hugging her.
 
And I cried.
Not just a misty-eyed cry.
I cried those big, huge, fat tears.
And the only words that I could whisper to her were "I needed to hug a teacher today."
And she hugged me.
She said something to me, but I don't know what it was.
 
(For all I know she was telling me to stop hugging her and that she was going to call security!)
But I doubt that.
 
And I am sure that I was holding up the carpool drop off line, but I don't care.
Because I needed to hug a teacher today.
And that sad, angry, fearful, speechless weak Mom that I was five minutes ago was now gone.
 
Because I needed to hug a teacher today.
 
 


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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HWT for iPad (original)

This is huge!
Thank you sooooooo much iTunes and HWT for updating this app so us original iPad users can use it, too!
And by the looks of it, he loves his app!

Friday, December 7, 2012

SpeechBox App for iPad Giveaway WINNER!




Thank you to all who participated in this giveaway!
And a special thank you to SpeechBox App for designing an app that will surely help our winner!

Now, the winner of a copy of the SpeechBox App for iPad is........

NICOLE KAPLAN KELLEY!

CONGRATS!

Nicole, you have 24 hours to contact me via email at apraxiamom@gmail.com to claim your prize!
(NOTE:  If I do not hear from Nicole within 24 hours of this posting, a new winner will be chosen.)

Again, for more information on the SpeechBox App, visit their website at www.speechbox.com or follow them on their Facebook or Twitter pages.
The app is also available for iPad and iPhone at the App Store!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SpeechBox App for iPad Review and Giveaway!

 
In the world of apraxia, speech therapy, special needs and special education, there has to be an easier way to get your child to participate in therapy, isn't there?
Special needs or not, child or adult, there are days that we just don't want to work.
I have those days quite often, as do my children.
But in a child with a speech and language disorder, you really can't afford to take a day off, can you?
So we don't.
But as I ran out of new ideas in the realm of speech therapy creativity, I stumbled across an amazing app:  Speech Box App by the Jonah Bonah Learning Company!
 
SpeechBox™ was designed and developed by a father of a three year old with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, who also happens to be an iPhone & iPad app developer. After using a variety of other apps to work with his child he realized there was a need for a simple, easy to use, and customizable app to practice words with his child.

Once I downloaded the app, I was amazed at the ease of use!
On the home screen, you will notice several boxes which are labeled with all of the speech sounds.
What caught my eye immediately was that they were alphabetized!



Many other apps out there divide speech sounds into their appropriate category:  bilabial sounds, fricative sounds, velar sounds, alveolar sounds, affricate sounds, glottal sounds, liquid sounds, and so on.
(Are you impressed that I whipped those out like that???)
But having the sounds in alphabetical order makes it easier for the parent or caregiver to go directing to the sound that they are concerned, allowing them to immediately work on that sound with the child!

BRILLIANT!

Also, when you choose the sounds that you want to work on, you also have the option (at the bottom of the screen) to select initial, medial or final sound.

iPhone-and-iPad-app-developer-Dad, you get a high-five for that one, too!
When you are done with the picture you can swipe to remove it from the box or pinch it to put it back in the box.
Very simple.
Very easy to navigate.

"SpeechBox™ is a iPad app designed to work with Children with Apraxia of Speech, Autism, Down’s Syndrome, and other Speech Language disorders. Parents, Educators, Speech Therapists, etc. can work with Children and practice speaking simple words in a beautiful interface with engaging colorful pictures.
Within moments of opening the app you can get started practicing. There are no complex menus to navigate through before being presented with the pictures. You simply tap on a box, and it displays it’s contents. Selecting a picture is as moving around the pictures and tapping on the one you wish to view. When you are done with the picture you can swipe to remove it from the box or pinch it to put it back in the box.
Not only can you work with the over 700 beautiful retina quality pictures, but you can add your own pictures using the iPad’s camera or photo library. Now you can add pictures of friends, family and other common objects the child can practice with."

It is a fun way to select pictures, too!
I let my children tap the photo and then swipe it away when they got it right!
Giggles and speech therapy should always go together!

Creating custom boxes was also a "plus" for me!
I could make one for school, one for home, and one for family!
How many other apps out there let you do that???
Not many at all....except this one!

You could also custom-record names of pictures.
Your child may respond to your voice (or your therapist's voice) in a different way than they would with the automated voice most apps come with!
If you choose not to custom record, this app allows you to choose between male or female voice, too.


And you can add/customize new pictures as well!
I have reviewed many apps and have tons and tons of apps on our iPad.
Simply put, this app is my all time favorite!!!
Hands down, I love it!
And I cannot thank iPhone-and-iPad-app-developer-Dad (who also has a child with a speech and language disorder) for designing an app like this!

So, on behalf of that awesome Dad (and Jonah Bonah Learning Company) they would like ONE READER to have a copy of this app as well!

 Here are a few ways that you can enter:
1.  Leave a comment on this blog post about the app.
2.  Leave a comment on SpeechBox App's facebook page and tell them that you heard about this app from me!  You must make sure that you "LIKE" their page as well!
3.  Leave a comment on my facebook page.
4.  Follow SpeechBox on Twitter.

***PLEASE NOTE:  if the selected winner already owns SpeechBox App, they will get a $20 iTunes gift card instead.***

The contest runs from Wednesday December 5, 2012 through Friday, December 7, 2012.
Winner will be announced on my Facebook page on Friday, December 7, 2012 after 12:00 noon CST. 
Winner to be chosen at random.
The more ways you enter, the better your chances to win!
 
For more information about SpeechBox App as well as the developer, visit their website here.  Or it is available in iTunes by clicking here!
 
Thank you, SpeechBox App, Jonah Bonah Learning Company, and all involved in this app!
 
GOOD LUCK!!!!
 
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Glad I Can Translate!

Today, I wanted my son to put his socks on.
Seeing that he is 5, he should do this independently.
And 98% of the time he does do it independently.
But then there's that 2% which comes into play once in a while.

Like today.

"Mom! My foot is broke!"

Now, I switched to RN mode STAT!
Wait.
Didn't hear him fall.
Didn't hear him jumping around.
I hardly think he broke his foot.
And he wasn't crying.
Check. Check. Check. Check.
I took that assessment as "all is well".

Then He walked up to me with a sock, inside out and twisted.

"Mom, my foot is broke".

Thank goodness I could translate that one!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dear Aetna,

I have one question.
I need one thing done.
I don't think I'm asking too much.
It's actually a win-win situation.
Wouldn't it be nice when the day comes when you won't have to deal with me anymore?
The day my kids won't need their therapy EOBs with a zero balance anymore?
The day you won't have to process those claims anymore?

I had a few phone conversations today.
I made my case.
I don't think "Melissa" is taking my request seriously.
It's my "Mom gut" telling me that.
And my "Mom-gut" is rarely wrong.

So the ball is in their court now.
And I wait, but I won't wait quietly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homework!

10 minutes of homework per grade level per day.
That's the rule they use in our school district.
That's 30 minutes of homework for my 3rd grader.
Everyday.
And she loves it.
We are so thankful that our little girl has her game face on each afternoon when it's homework time.
She works so hard.
She does so well.
Thank you, Supportive Education and mainstreaming!






Monday, November 26, 2012

On Why I Am So Thankful 2012

This year, I was given so many things to be thankful for!

My husband
....for his continued support.
....for helping me see the big picture and telling me that it was time to make a career change.
....for reminding me that family comes first and that we will do what we have to do to get through this transition.
....for a wonderful 11th Anniversary!

My daughter
....who ate her entire turkey dinner for the first time without issues and didn't need a modified meal.
....who decided on her own that she wanted to play the "What's your favorite....." Game with my inlaws around the dinner table and made everyone smile. .... who I didn't have to translate for during the entire dinner.
....who actually WANTED to help me put up our Christmas decorations.

My son
....who actually tasted cranberry sauce for the first time and didn't allow his sensory issues to get in the way.
....who didn't have a meltdown on Thursday, even though he didn't have a nap.

Thanksgiving was so good to me this year!



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Remember What Happened on the Last Election?

April 2011.
There was an election going on and I brought my daughter.
And I was crushed at the lack of compassion and professionalism by several of the Election Judges at the polling site.
How could they say such things?
To this day, I refuse to allow anyone to say such nasty, negative, evil things to me.

Remember this story..........................

At approximately 8:25am, I entered the building, my designated polling site.
I brought my 7 year old daughter with me as time was tight and she needed to be at school at 8:45am.
She quietly interacted with the two ladies at my designated polling table.
One lady's name was Judith, but I did not get the other name.
There was a man with a black White Sox sweatshirt standing behind them.

I was given my ballot and covering device and walked to a polling station.
My daughter was standing to my left.
As I filled out my ballot, my daughter was playing with the cord that attached the booths.
All of a sudden, Judith walked up to my daughter and said in a very stern voice "Um, do NOT play with this, OK?"
I looked up and grabbed my daughter towards me and informed Judith "She has special needs. She doesn't understand that what she may have been doing was wrong."
In a huff, Judith walked away.
I went to place my ballot in the machine and walked out with my daughter.

I was upset that someone would choose to discipline my child in public for something so minor.
I was even more upset that she chose to direct her discipline at my daughter instead of coming to me as the adult and parent.
I walked to my car and retrieved a business card which has information about my daughter's needs as well as a website which someone could go to if they had questions.
I walked back into the polling place and walked up to Judith and handed her my card quietly saying "The next time you think about scolding a child, speak to the parent, first."
Judith immediately retaliated with "I was not yelling at your child!".

I said once again, "The next time you think about scolding a child, speak to the parent first. She has special needs."

I turned and walked away.
At that moment, the man standing behind her (wearing a black White Sox sweatshirt) screamed in a loud bellowing voice:

"THEN MAYBE YOU NEED TO PUT A DAMN SIGN AROUND HER NECK!!!!"

I felt my heart rise to my throat.
I kept walking away.
I did not turn to the man.
I kept walking away.
I did not address the man or his comments.
I kept walking away.
I was shocked at what I just heard.
I kept walking away.

My eyes welled with tears as my daughter held my hand and skipped in the sunlight.
Luckily, she didn't understand what he said.
Luckily, she doesn't know how I feel right now.
Luckily, she doesn't realize what injustice just transpired and how she was affected.
But she saw my tears.
And she said "Hi, Mommy. Don't be sad. Let's go to school."
OK, kiddo. Let's go to school.

Along with this man and Judith, there was another woman at the table as well as other tables with other people around.

The room was very quiet.
Almost Church-like quiet.
The room was not empty.
There were other Election Judges and other random voters in the room.
People whisper when they come to vote.
I could hear the room echoing with his hurtful words as I walked outside.
I know other people heard him as well.

I did not stay long enough to see if anyone came to my or my daughter's defense.

I didn't have a response for that mean man....until now.

If I could, I would go to that man and ask him if he knows God.
Any God.
Because if he said yes, I would have to tell him that we must believe in completely different Gods.
But that I would say an extra prayer to MY God for him.
Because MY God is a good God and would not allow the devil to speak to a child like that.
About a child like that.

Sure, I made some phone calls.
I filed a complaint with the County Clerk.
God was truly lifting me up from such darkness and pain because he put two beautiful women on the phone with me.
Who both had children with special needs in their lives.

You see, He is always working little miracles like that...that God of mine.

Now, if someone could please tell me how to get my broken heart out of my throat........

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Friday, November 2, 2012

My meeting with the School Principal

On Thursday afternoon, I had a meeting the the girl's school Principal.

Eek.

Backtrack 24 hours when I got he phone all from that same Principal.
The good news: she prefaced it with "Don't worry. Everything is OK....".
But she continued it with wanting to meet with me to talk about her Report Card.

Dum da dum dum DUM!

Now let me tell you right now.....that sinking feeling in your stomach that you had in the 4th grade when you were called to the Principal's Office for chewing gum or fighting on the playground is the same sinking feeling.

It doesn't change one bit.
Nope.

The color drained from my cheeks and I thought for sure that my breakfast was going to come up in an instant.
Deep breath.
I'm a Mom now.
I can handle a meeting with a Principal!
It won't be the first and it surely won't be the last.
Get your act together, Mom!
Mom-up!
Are you a Mom or a mouse!?

Squeak.

Report Cards were being distributed on Friday.
She wanted to make sure that I was completely aware of how my daughter got the grades that she received.
She wanted to make sure there was no confusion.
I liked that.

Was her Report Card that bad?
What kind of grades will she be prepping me for?
Do we have to go back to the drawing board?
Do we need to write a new IEP because of this?
Dies she meet with all mainstreamed parents like this?

40 minutes later, the meeting was over and I walked out of her office.

What do you think was said?

Stay tuned......more info to come......

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Today's Top Ten

10.  The chill of October in Chicago!

9.  1st Quarter...coming to a close.

8.  Prepping for Parent-Teacher Conferences.

7.  Adding OT again?  Well, maybe...I think...I guess so.

6.  The amazing way my children handled a funeral.

5.  What are you going to be for Halloween?

4.  Yes, we are still happy with how things are going with gen ed/mainstreaming.  Just a little tweaking needs to be done.

3.  Making major family changes soon!

2.  I think I've been talked into writing a book with one of my buddies!  Yes we may do this!

1.  I LOVE my kids!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

He just LOVES Laurie Berkner!

My son is obsessed with Laurie Berkner.
Obsessed.
He wants all of her CDs on his little iPod Shuffle.
He sings like there is no tomorrow!
And we all know what a major role music plays in learning and development, too!
We use music and dancing as part of his speech therapy and it is really working for him.

Below is a link to one of his "solo" performances.
He didn't know that I was recording him....silly boy thought I was looking at photos on my camera.
My favorite part is around 0:41 seconds......I giggle everytime I hear that part!

And below is the real Laurie Berkner singing the "Bumble Bee Song (Buzz Buzz)":





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Monday, October 29, 2012

What Would YOUR "Billboard" Look Like?

In the short amount of time (years) that I have taken to this computer to share our journey with apraxia, special needs and special education, I have met a lot of people.
Most of them remind me of myself at various stages of the journey. 
Those in denial.
Those who are angry.
Those who have accepted and are working with what they have and making the best of it.
And then there's Jen.
An awesome Mom and even more awesome of a writer.
A gal after my own heart....whom I love with my whole heart.
And after you read what she wrote....what she experienced...what she dreams for her child, you will love her, too!
Thank you, Jen Jen, for speaking from your heart.
 
 
A Billboard
Successful. Accepted. Loved. Those are three terms I often use when people ask what I want for my son, Wil, in his lifetime. As parents, we all long for our children to be a part of something bigger in this life. To find a niche; a place in this world that they can call their own and be accepted. Wil has had to fight tooth and nail in his short sixteen years on the planet for things that can come easily for others, including his siblings. Speaking. Writing. Blowing his nose. Remembering names. Lifting a spoon full of apple sauce to his mouth without making contact with his cheek instead. Those are little things for some. Large hurdles crossed for others.
We labored for four years to find a diagnosis for our son. As a graduate with a degree in early childhood education, I knew what was going on with him developmentally at the age of two was off in many ways. It wasn’t until Wil was in first grade, that we took him to a doctor and a physical therapist, both possessing extensive clinical knowledge in Apraxia, that we had even heard of the word. The physical therapist asked Wil to write his name on a piece of paper. He grabbed the pencil with his right hand, yet used the pointer finger of his left to guide the pencil across the page. I will never forget Dale Turner, the best PT provider on the planet, turning to me and saying, “This poor little boy has Apraxia! Why didn’t any professionals see signs before?”
I had no answer for her.
Mostly because professionals in the school settings were quick to label him autistic, whereas those in private practice (doctors, therapists and clinicians) knew it wasn’t a matter of being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder Scale, but they just couldn’t put their finger on what it was with Wil. He was quirky. Quiet. Ran on the playground like Napoleon Dynamite. He was also the first one to comfort a sad classmate, hug his baby brother, and want to be a part of the activities of others. Mike, my husband, and I always felt like he was a little onion. So many layers to peel to get to the core of what was going on. And so now with that brief history of our personal journey behind us, I want to get to the heart of the matter of my blog post today. Thanks for sticking with me.
Apraxia is still misunderstood. After a recent conversation with a teacher in Wil’s building where she told me he is, “The face of autism,” and meant it with nothing but the best of intentions and love in her heart, I was caught off-guard. At first my voice dropped a few octaves as I corrected her, yet the spirit of the conversation embodied love and acceptance of all students with disabilities and this teacher meant no ill will in any way, shape or form. I realized then and there we as parents of apraxic children still have a lot of work to do.
Yes, I wish that I could walk into a case conference and not be the one to educate the staff every year on what Apraxia is. Yet, I am glad that I can and will always do it in the spirit of helping them, help my son. Yes, I wish that educators had more in-services provided to them to understand not only more about this diagnosis and its effects, but also for other diagnoses such as Hyperlexia, Auditory Processing Disorder, Ataxia and so, so many others. Yet, I realize that is not happening and I will gladly continue to be the one who passes on information to them as best I can in each building Wil passes through on the road to graduation.
What people do not know about my first born is vast. They have no idea how many tears he sheds a week knowing he’s different. He asks me for “smart pills” to fix what’s broken inside. He struggles with not being as book smart, popular or as athletic as his younger brother. He understands his repertoire of friends is slim; none that he spends time with outside of the school building. Wil’s confusion in life is sometimes misinterpreted is disrespect, or an unwillingness to pay attention. Those moments his tears fall lead to gushes sorrow from my soul.
There are many other things I’d like people to know about Wil too. He has gone from the preschooler who hid under tables in class, to delivering Sunday morning announcements before our church congregation, complete with a few jokes. He can cook a mean pot of mac & cheese better than his mom can. He is tender and loving towards his sister, and fights like crazy with his brother. He wakes himself up and gets going in the morning with a bigger smile than I can ever muster at 6:00AM. I never think twice about leaving him to babysit his little sister, Gracie. Wil plays piggyback, builds block towers, and reads bedtime stories to her in a superb fashion. Wil made the high school bowling team this year. He’s proud to be the owner of a bowling ball and old-man looking white shoes to wear on the lanes. Whether he hits the gutter or scores a strike, his smile spreads like wildfire and infects his teammates positively.

       If my son is going to be the face of something, anything, I want it to be that of a human being. If he is to be a billboard for others to see, let it be one that says we are all different on the outside, yet have feelings and souls that can bleed on the inside. If he is to be an example to other students, let it be that he is accepting of others and slow to judge his peers. And in his years on God’s earth, if Wil can be a representative of the population with special needs that teaches others to look beyond the disability and directly at ability, then I am one proud mother who knows she did one thing right.
Bless and be blessed,
Jen

 
Jen Tucker has never met a gluten free cupcake that she didn’t like. A former teacher and educator, she has worked with children in school, hospital, and enrichment settings. In her years at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, it was Jen’s job to bring the “hands on fun” into the visiting exhibitions in the galleries. Jen broke away from writing children’s books and thematic units in 2011 with her memoir, The Day I Wore my Panties Inside Out which was a semifinalist in the humor category in the 2011 Goodreads Book Awards. She is a monthly guest blogger at the website, Survival for Blondes where she marries humor with preparedness. Jen lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband, Mike, and their three children.
You can purchase Jen’s latest book, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt, here. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, her blog or on her website at Princess with a Pen.
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

How We Handled the "Death and Dying Talk"


Death and dying.
Not a typical dinner topic.
Fortunately, we have a relatively healthy family.
But recently, a family member got very ill, very quickly and out of the blue.
And not just any family member:  a Grandmother.
For 21 days, we didn't say anything to the kids about it.
 
But they knew something was amiss.
 
They picked up on the tears.
The frustrations.
The arguments.
The frequent "meetings" that Mom and Dad had to go to.
 
And while many of you may not agree with how we (as parents) handled the situation, we chose to handle it the way we knew would work best for our kids.
The last thing we wanted was to put them in a tailspin.
Death is not something that is easily understood.
Not by adults.
Not by "typical" children.
So how in the world would a child with special needs get it?
 
We chose to have our conversations out of the range of little ears.
Our "cry sessions" had to become private or when the kids were in school or in bed for the night.
We chose to tells them that "Mom had a meeting" or "Dad was still at work" when one of us went to the hospital to visit.
And it worked....kinda.
For 21 days.
And we found out that there were some behavior issues in school as well.
I am sure we caused it...seeing that we were choosing to withhold information from them.
Because I am sure they knew something was very wrong.
We informed the school of the death of their Grandmother and the schools were very supportive.
So supportive that one of the schools sent this home to help us:

 
 
Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss, by Laura Olivieri, illustrated by Kristin Elder. For younger children, this book describes the feelings a boy has after a death, in simple sentences that comfort without sugarcoating raw emotion. “I look at your picture and your blue shirt in the closet. But you are not here. I miss you.” The explorations of an afterlife don’t come to a pat conclusion or deny the sense of loss – “Maybe you are a raindrop that fell into a cool blue ocean. But I can’t touch you.” But the book ends with the child drawing pictures and remembering happy times: “I remember you. So you are right here.”

 
 
And it helped tremendously.
A simple book.
Simple photos.
Simple language.
We didn't read it to them page by page.
We let them read it and look at the pictures.
But it wasn't going to take the place of "the talk" that needed to happen.
 
We chose not to say anything the night before the funeral.
We know from past experiences that bad news or bad days lead to bad nights and no sleep with these two kids.
So on the morning of the funeral, we had the talk.
It was 6:30am and the little girl was up early sitting in the living room.
She randomly said "Nana is sick."
 
That stopped my husband and I in our tracks.
And now we had to tell her the truth.
The conversation lasted for less than one minute.
Less than a mere 60 seconds.
We planned on telling her the concrete truth in the simplest forms we knew.
We would only answer her "WH-" questions and would not elaborate unless she wanted to know more.
We weren't going to tell her that she passed away three days prior on my sweet little girl's birthday either.
That will be for a later date...years down the road.
 
We told her Nana wasn't sick anymore.
She looked at us blankly.
She asked if Nana was in the hospital.
We told her that Nana was with Jesus.
She looked at us blankly.
She asked if Nana was OK.
We told her that she was happy with Jesus.
 
And at that moment, she stopped, looked down at her little hands and then looked at us and said "OK."
 
OK.
OK?
That's all you have to say?
No questions?
No comments?
Where was the "Why?" "When?" and "Where?" questions?
Just OK.
 
At the Church, we gathered in the back, talking and hugging family and friends.
Kate stood next to me, and I was on guard to shelter her from any additional information that she didn't ask herself.
As I talked with one family member, she turned and looked at a marble etching of angels.
Then she turned to me, tugged on my shirt-sleeve and said "Nana is with those angels."
The adults stopped and looked at her, looked at each other, and smiled at the innocence of a child.
 
WOW.
OK.
She gets it, and she gets it in her own little way.
 
Rest in peace, Nana.


 

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Parents: Read Your IEP Fine Print

This doesn't happen all the time, but when it does you really want to rejoice!

We had our annual IEP for the little guy this morning.
Either I am becoming a pro at these and they are rattling me less and less or I am on autopilot here because it was more of a casual, social event rather than a Tums-chewing event.

Granted, it is much different than his sister's meetings.
Less issues.
Less minutes.
Less fighting for stuff and support.
Less of everything.

But nonetheless, it was a meeting and it went well.
Two experienced parents.
Two experienced school professionals.
Two nervous novice school professionals (with shaking hands, too!).
Minutes are not changing (as if I would let them?).
Services are staying the same (of course they are!).

However, there have been some State changes to the template IEP that I think you all need to be aware of.
In the State of Illinois, they now require the schools to identify what deficits "adversely effect" the child in the classroom.

Adversely.
Don't like that word.
And the statement that was on the bottom of page three of his IEP read as follows:


"his developmental delay and speech and language delay adversely impacts his level of engagement and rate of progress in the general education curriculum.  This results in delays in his development of positive social relationships, acquisition of new knowledge and skills, and his ability to take appropriate actions to meet his own needs."


HUH?

"Adversely impacts his level of engagement and rate of progress in gen ed?"
So wrong!
While  his social relationships are emerging and he is becoming comfortable with his peers, I would (and did!) argue that this was an inaccurate statement.

"This results in delays of positive social relationships, acquisition of new knowledge and skills and inability to meet his own needs?"
I was told over and over how many friends he has in school, who he gravitates to and who gravitates to him!
The graphs that were shown to me do not reflect this.
And while he does require cues and assistance in completing skills and tasks, he is a very functional, self-sufficient little boy
Wrong again.

This is not my son.
This is the State giving the schools a black vs white choice for assessments.
This is the State not allowing a subjective statement to be written.

So of course,  I got feisty about it.
And I asked for it to be removed from the IEP paperwork.
It is a legal document and I do not want an inaccurate statement following him like this in school.

So, it was rewritten and revised to look like this:

"his developmental delay and speech and language delay impact his communication, attention, social interaction and fine motor activities."
 
Much better!

My advice to you all:  read your paperwork line by line.
Note any discrepancy.
Your State may be assessing your child without knowing one thing about them.

And most of all.....I have NO REGRETS in terms of not sending him to Kindergarten this year!
Progress is proof!


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten

10.  A new swim coach!  The kids love her....although they still miss their other coach.

9.  Fall colors!

8.  Prepping for Halloween and a little lady's birthday coming up!

7.  Continued speech therapy progress!

6.  Consequences for bad behavior.

5.  Rocking her first-ever spelling test!

4.  Walking to school on cool, crisp fall mornings.

3.  Progress reports that make you smile!

2.  School pictures!

1.  I LOVE my kids!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Perseveration at its Finest

Perseveration.
per·sev·er·a·tion (pr-sv-rshn)
noun
a. Uncontrollable repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.
b. The tendency to continue or repeat an act or activity after the cessation of the original stimulus.
 
Oh. My. Gosh.
 
But who is to blame here?  Me.
 
Yesterday, I was thinking out loud (big mistake!) and I told the kids that we were going to the movies later this week to see "FInding Nemo" in 3D.
 
Key words:  LATER THIS WEEK!
 
My son must have missed that portion of the sentence because it has been non-stop all morning today and all evening yesterday
 
"Are we going to the movie?"
"We are going to the movie!"
"We are going to the movie now!"
"After my nap, we are going to the movie!"
"Dad, we are going to the movies!!!"
 
My responses have been the following:
"Yes, we are going on THURSDAY to the movie."
"Today is Tuesday.  We are going on Thursday."
"Tuesday, Wednesday, then Thursday."
 
Bless his heart.  He nods his head in agreement and goes about his business for about, oh, 30 seconds.
Then it starts all over.
Perseveration at its finest.
 
I've explained.
I've drawn a picture.
I've made a calendar.
 
"Are we gong to the movie now?"
 
*sigh*
 

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Monday, September 24, 2012

WH- Questions Made Easy

For those who have kiddos in speech, you know that WH-questions are a great way to help with many facets of the speech process.
Unfortunately, many children struggle with this.
Mine are no different.

Check out this great link!

There are apps on iTunes that go along with this as well, but you've got to search around for them.
Many are free, many are just a few dollars.
But those few dollars really go a long way when it comes to learning to master the WH-questions.

And here is a great article on the whole WH-question component and how important it is for speech and language therapy!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bully Prevention 101

This is something that should be done on the 1st day of school in every school.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Learning Body Science: Yep, There's an App for That!

 
At our Curriculum Night last night, we were told that October was going to be all about the body in Science class.
 
Check out what I found on iTunes today!

 ★ The most interesting and interactive anatomy app for kids on the iPad! ★
Learn the principles of human anatomy in a playful and engaging way ✓
Created by a team of medical doctors, educators and parents "This is my body - Anatomy for kids" features information about all important aspects of the human body – all within in a beautifully designed and illustrated app!



The main areas your child will discover and learn about:
✓ You are unique and yet we are all very similar to each other
✓ Growing - how fast do we grow and how long
✓ The skin - and how to protect it
✓ Senses - how do we see, hear, feel, taste and smell
✓ Digestive system - why are we hungry
✓ Respiratory system - your body needs oxygen constantly
✓ Circular system - your heart beats constantly
✓ Muscular system - exercise is good for you
✓ Nervous system - how are information transmitted
✓ Skeleton - how do bones look like and why do you need joints

This is my body - Anatomy for kids follows a playful yet working learning methodology that entertains children while learning.

NO READING REQUIRED:
To ensure that even younger kids can enjoy the app elements are represented visually using color and shapes so they can be recognized by pre-readers. Text information is spoken by a kid, so if your child can't read yet, they still can enjoy the app. For the older kids there is a "little smarty-pants" area where they can read more about a certain part of a segment.
 Click here to view in iTunes!

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