Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our Incentive Program: Bath and Body Works

Sticker charts.
Positive praise.
We've done them all.
Some days, they all work.
Some days, none of them work.
And just when we think we have found the best predictor to positive outcomes, life throws us a curve ball and we have to go back to the drawing board (or chalk board, dry erase board, Word Excel Spreadsheet.....whatever we happen to be using that day).

But thanks to Bath and Body Works, we now have an amazing incentive program that seems to remain consistent and gives us constant positive behavior.

Two words: hand sanitizers.

Finish your homework without complaining:  get a new hand sanitizer.
Don't argue with your brother all day:  get a new hand sanitizer.
Work hard in speech therapy and not give Miss M a hard time:  get a hand sanitizer.
Uh-oh!  Bad behavior today?  Lose privileges with sanitizers!
(This has only happened a couple of times and I swear you would think that the world was coming to an end!)

But for a mere $1.00 each, these little smelly gems are my Godsend!

This is her current stash.
Note how she made a smiley face!
And here she is.....with her smiley face and all THIRTY-THREE sanitizers that she has earned in the last couple of months.

Yes, 33.

So not only do we have good behavior, we have clean hands, too!

And with names like "Bee Nice" and "I Like Cake" they are definitely something right up my little girl's alley!

Here she is this morning, posing with her arsenal of good behavior rewards:

I'm not sure exactly how many different scents there are.
I get a tad lost in that sweet smelling store while my daughter dances around picking and choosing the next addition to her little bottle family.
I don't know if the current scents may be retired.
I don't know if there is a new line coming out soon.

So Dear Bath and Body Works, if you are reading this blog post and understand what I am going through and appreciate how I am using your product with my daughter and really appreciate how I am promoting your business right now.....THANK YOU for helping me.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Manilow Says It Best: I AM YOUR CHILD

I am your child
Wherever you go
You take me too
Whatever I know
I learned from you

Whatever I do
You taught me to do
I am your child
And I am your chance

Whatever will come
Will come from me
Tomorrow is won
By winning me

Whatever I am
You taught me to be
I am your hope
I am your chance
I am your child

Whatever I am
You taught me to be
I am your hope
I am your chance
I am your child

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Starting A New School?

I love what the Victoria Chart Company has done for kids!

And I love how they have a reward chart that will help with the transition to a new school!

As you know, the little girl is transitioning to our local school in the fall and a chart like this would give her the visuals that she relies on so heavily for transitions, preparation and anticipation.
Plus, she eats up the rewards that she gets!
The chart can be personalized to your own preferences as well....making your child feel as though the chart was made just for them!

Behavior charts and reward charts are effective ways to get children to do what they should be doing without having to battle with them.
And making a big deal about their successes, no matter how little they may be, is the first step in seeing positive changes!
That is why I love what the Victoria Chart Company has developed!

If you are interested in this product, this is what you will receive:
  • A large reward chart and to help encourage positive behavior, achievement and development in children from 4 years.
  • Ideal for the development stage of children of elementary school age.
  • Parents can customize the charts to the individual need of the child.
  • Re-usable stickers: 10 activities, 6 blank to customize to your need, 324 reward stickers.
  • Includes detailed instructions on how to get the best results from your chart, sticky mounting pads for the wall and a dry erase marker.
 If you go to Amazon.com right now or just click on this link, you can be sure to get your reward chart before the school year starts!

And as always, you can view more of the The Victoria Chart Company's products here and follow them on their Facebook page and Twitter page as well!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten

10.  To OT or not to OT.  That is the question lately.

9.  A boy with a teeny tiny concussion.  Not cool.

8.  Continued GREAT progress with speech!

7.  Does the boy have a lazy wandering eye now?  You have got to be kidding me!  (NOTE:  our Optho said he had a greater than 50% chance of having the same eye issue as his sister.)

6.  Will the boy need glasses in 2 weeks?  We will soon find out!

5.  This is the last week of ESY.  What a great session!

4.  Have I bought any school supplies yet?  Nope.

3.  My daughter told me that she wants to "swim like they do on TV".  Reach for the stars, baby!

2.  Sibling rivalry.

1.  I LOVE my kids!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

PrAACtical Supports for Behavior

Face it.
As parents with a child with a special need or not, we have all gone through this at one point or another:

We are at the park enjoying our time with our kids.
We lose track of time.
We panic and begin to hurry our kids off of the swings and monkey bars with one hand as we attempt to gather water bottles and sandals and books with the other hand.
We patiently try to scoot the kids into the car when all of a sudden.......EPIC MELTDOWN.

We didn't think about it at the time, but we didn't transition our kids in an effective manner to prevent the tears in the backseat.
Or the tantrum.
Or the kicking of your backseat as you drive home.
Or the fighting and slapping that is going on in the backseat between siblings.

It's OK.
It happens to all of us!

The same goes for school or therapy.
Teachers and therapists don't do it intentionally.
Sometimes it just happens.
That is why I will be sharing this with our teachers in the coming school year.
To prevent those tears.
To prevent that meltdown.
To use as a reference.
Not just for my child, but for any child in any situation....special needs or not.

For more articles related to this specific reference site, click here!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Speech Guy: NOT (Just Another Speech-Language Pathology Blog)

I love the Internet.
Love it.
I am amazed at the number of new hits that I get when I google something.
I eat up the information and store it on my computer, in my head, on my phone, you name it.
I add more and more links to my "favorites" on my desk top computer and have now figured out how to make files of those favorites.
Oh, and I must alphabetize them....for ease of reference and because I am like that.

But most of all I love reading other blogs.
Parents with children with apraxia and other speech-language disorders, ASHA, and SLP blogs.
And speaking of SLP blogs, here is a great one!

This SLP is a man...kind of a rare gem in the world of SLPs.
Currently, around 4.5 percent of speech-language pathologists are men. (ASHA)
My brother is an SLP.
And one of our therapists for my daughter was a male.
There's just something about a male SLP that is so different than females (beyond the obvious).
Maybe it's the father-figure appeal?
Maybe it's an authority figure of sorts?
Maybe they are more stern and business-like in their approach which gets kids to respond differently than to their female counterparts?
(Note:  my daughter rarely tried to pull a fast one on our male SLP.)

I don't know what it is, but whatever it is.....it works!
And it must be working for Jeremy (also known as the Arizona Speech Guy).
You can easily tell what kind of guy he is and his philosophy of his role as an SLP by reading his bio:

"I am a speech-language pathologist and I work at UPWARD for children and families in Phoenix, Az. I concentrate mostly on autism, aac, artic/phonlogy, iPad in therapy, and dabble in some feeding."
Anyone who uses the word "dabble" in a bio must have a great relationship with kids with special needs.
I read that as "I love my job.  We will act silly while we get our work done.  We will have fun!"

AZSpeechGuy's blog covers topics such as IPads and apps, Speech Buddies, app reviews (with photos!), language, and so on.

You can also follow him on Twitter!
Maybe he needs a Facebook page, ya think?

(Hint hint, Jeremy!)
I think he would have a lot of fans over there!

Thanks for all that you do for our kiddos, Jeremy!
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Who Is Stressed Out Right Now?

Feeling stressed lately?
I guess it’s all how you look at and handle stress, right?
Someone sent me this interesting note…..

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water
Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'

She fooled them all.

"How heavy is this glass of water?", she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.
When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced.
So, as early in the evening (or later afternoon) as you can, put all your burdens down.
Don't carry them through the day.
Pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment.
Pick them up later after you've rested.
Life is short.
Enjoy it and the now 'supposed' stress that you've conquered!"
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Friday, July 13, 2012

2012-2013: The Year of Inclusion

Sounds like a pretty good movie title, doesn't it?
I love the graphic.
To the point.
Makes a point.
We all want our children to be those cute little red, yellow and blue polka dots in the inner circle depicted on top, don't we!

And as you all know, we are mainstreaming the girl into gen ed this coming school year.
Of course, she will have Supportive Ed along with it.
I'm not delusional.
I know that she needs help and can't wing it in gen ed all alone.

But it's nice to know that she will be in the top circle that you see up there.
And I already know how our new school "plans" to do things.
It's comforting to know that we have a good plan in place.
I, however, will be on top of this and make sure that the best laid plans set forth back in the Spring are in fact part of her day.

What is the best way to tell if your school is inclusinve as well?
Click here for a top ten list and see if your school is doing this as well!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

The "What Day Is It???" Top Ten

I (we) have been sooooo busy lately. 
I really don't know what day it is sometimes!

10.  Well into week #4 of ESY and the kids are loving school!

9.  That /ch/ and /sh/ sound that Andrew has been struggling with?  Getting better!

8.  My daughter's ongoing obsession with those little 1 oz bottles of scented hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works.  She needs an intervention already!

7.  To continue to work or to be a SAHM?  Will we ever decide which way would work out better?

6.  Decreased hearing in the girl's left ear.  Headed to the doc today.

5.  A successful July 4th fireworks celebration!

4.  Planning the boy's birthday party.  Already?

3.  Enjoying the summer!

2.  Swim lessons that are REALLY paying off big time!

1.  I LOVE my kids!

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Dear 60 Minutes and Mr. Safer.......

(This is the exact letter that I sent to 60 Minutes this morning in response to their segment which aired on Sunday, July 8, 2012 about withholding a child from Kindergarten.)

Dear 60 Minutes and Mr. Safer:

On Sunday July 8, 2012 I watched your segment by Mr Safer on "Redshirting" in regards to holding children back from Kindergarten until they are the age of 6 and was HORRIBLY DISAPPOINTED.  Over the years, 60 Minutes has developed and maintained a great reputation for giving a fair and unbiased story.  This story in particular was extremely biased towards the typical developing child and the parents who want to give them the upper hand academically and athletically. 
What about the child with a special need? 
I, for one, have decided to hold my son back from Kindergarten this year and have him repeat preschool.  He was born in mid-August. The age cut-off for my particular school district is September 1st.
Starting at the age of 14 months, he suffered from chronic ear infections which in turn affected his hearing which affected his speech.  Although we had PE tubes placed in both ears and began speech therapy, the problem remained.  On top of that, he also has a neurological condition known as CAS:  Childhood Apraxia of Speech as well as a lisp and occasional stutter.  While mild, this condition has impacted his social/emotional skills greatly.  It wasn't until the last 4 months that he has become comfortable within his preschool classroom setting to attempt verbal communication with his peers. 
For months, we were counseled by his current academic team with the pros and cons of withholding and/or sending him on to Kindergarten.  This was not a decision that was made lightly.  In the end, they supported our decision to withhold him from Kindergarten for the 2012-2013 academic year. 
Our decision was not made to make our son the biggest boy or the tallest boy in his class. 
Our decision was not made to make him more popular or to get his driver's license first. 
Our decision was made to give our son the BEST academic, social and emotional chance for success. 
Our goal for our son is to give him a fair chance in school:  To be able to keep up with his peers… To be able to verbally communicate with his peers and teachers without fear. 
Why did you have to focus on sports as one of the main reason for withholding a child from Kindergarten?  Do we really want our children to idolize sports figures and ultimately be like one of them?  If that is the case for some parents, that is sad.  Sports figures today lack the morals and integrity with which we want our children to grow up with and maintain. 
Why didn't you interview a parent (like myself) who is choosing to hold their child back based on a disability?  Why didn't you interview an Early Childhood Education teacher and ask him/her their opinion on children with a speech, language, or other special need being pushed into a Kindergarten program compared to a child who is held back to work on and perfect his/her skills prior to entering a Kindergarten program? 
Sadly, this blatant omission makes your segment biased.  I would hope in the future that all stories are viewed from multiple perspectives and not just what others perceive as the "normal" or "standard" perspective. 
 Thank you for your time.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Sports and The Special Needs Child

One fish.
Two fish.

Yes, these are my two fish in a backyard kiddie pool.
And they are loving this hot summer weather we have been having for the last couple of weeks.
And they have been showing me that all of their hard work and determination is paying off...BIG TIME!
In a matter of 9 months, my daughter has essentially mastered three of the four swim strokes.
I know that the butterfly will be the hardest because of the motor planning that is required of the stroke.
She can do the arm motion.
She can do the leg motion.
She just struggles pairing them at this time.

And the boy?
Seven months ago he cried when we put him in the pool for swim lessons.
Cried and cried and cried.
Forget about teaching him the back stroke!
Now?  He thinks he can swim, but he sinks.
But that's OK.
He is comfortable in the pool now and likes to get his face wet!

And what amazes me the most about the two of these kids of mine who are so sensory and so easily distractable is the calm that takes over when they are in the pool.
And the focus.
And the sense of pride that they emit when they are successful in the pool.
I had come to the conclusion that team sports wasn't going to be something that I pushed on them.
My girl likes to watch the other kids in sports and the boy likes to kick his own soccer ball and shoot his own basketball.
But swimming is a team and an individual sport because they can compete against themselves as they compete against others.
There's no physical contact, no team drills, no plays to memorize.
Just one kid, one lane, and water.

And what did Debbie Phelps, Mom of 8 time Olympic Gold Medal winner Michael Phelps, do about her child with special needs?
He was diagnosed with ADHD you know.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

It's July!

Half way through the year!
Half way through ESY!
I hope you are all enjoying the summer season so far!

Thank you for being strong parents and strong role models for your children.

And once again, thank you to Terri Mauro for allowing me to share this month's calendar with you!

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