Saturday, April 11, 2009

Are You Aware? IX

One of the things we are working hard on here is moving Joey into inclusion settings. That means slowly moving him out o the more protecting settings of self-contained special education- where all the children have IEPs- and into the general population. One of the bigger hurdles is the parents of non-disabled peers. there is a general belief that their kids are better than my kid, because their kid isn't disabled- as if the benefits of inclusion go only one way. Joey's strengths and talents be damned.

Today I bring you a video about inclusion and the attitude of being inclusive. If you've ever wondered about the benefits of inclusion for your non-disabled peer- remember the attitude of acceptance that it implies. Your kid may need to be thinking about it when they hit those hard middle school and high school years.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bring It On! Birthday Celebrations!

Happy Birthday to my little Buddha Buddy!!!

We took the boys out to dinner, just for fun. Joey of course got Mac and Cheese. I also took one of his presents with us, a huge box of crayons! He really liked getting something at the restaurant. Having it be a huge box of crayons was extra bonus. The boys had a really good time, and did a good job staying in their chairs and eating their food. I was very proud of them!

Then it was time to go home and open more presents! Mrs. H sent this awesome Wubsy toy for the bath, and Joey ran right up at bedtime to take his bath and try it out. When you put soap on it, and squeeze it, it makes suds. (It works.) He was also very pleased to get his own clock for his room (part of the stay-in-bed campaign, but he hasn't really figured that out yet), a bubble machine, a ball-dart game, and an electric Uno game.

What was super-cool was that he figured out:
1. he was getting presents
2. they were for him
3. he actually liked opening them, and did it with some speed.

He would open one, look at it for a minute, ask for batteries to be added when appropriate, and then moved on to the next gift. It was incredible. He really wanted to fixate on the clock, but his hands went out and picked up the next package and got going. This is an amazing advancement over Christmas, when he opened one package, saw it was the car he wanted, and for him, Christmas was done. The rest were just chores, requiring the entire day to plow through, more or less.

Then we had cake! Another amazing feat- Joey blew out all the candles, all by himself! Yes, it took three puffs. Who cares? He was excited, he was happy, he blew hem out without any help from Mommy or Daddy. Totally, totally awesome. My baby is getting all growed up!

Joey put on a whistling concert while I cut the cake (that's right- the child whistles... without his front teeth. No, I haven't a clue how he does it. He's just proud and pleased as punch to be doing it.) Then we all had the cake he asked for- one with sprinkles inside and outside, and chocolate frosting. Yum! (We took the blueberry muffin-cupcakes with blue frosting in to school, they were yummy, too.)

Happy birthday, little buddy! May there be many, many more!


I let the boys pick their birthday theme. For past couple of years, things have been pretty predictable. Andy wants dinosaurs. Joey likes Cars. So this year when I asked brightly, "Joey, what do you want for your birthday?" I was a little broadsided by the answer:

Pinky Dinky Doo.

In case you were wondering, Pinky Dinky Doo is not widely merchandized. You can't just run out to the party store and pick up some Pinky Dinky Doo plates and paper and call it a day.So we've been working on this for a few days, and finally came up with a plan. I printed out coloring sheets, colored them, and stuck them onto a plain white paper tablecloth. I've also put up some sheets as decor. I might do more if I have some energy tomorrow; I'd like to stick up some birthday Fluffy Buns and that sort of thing. Grandma is working on the cake, I can hardly wait to see it!

Happy Birthday, Joey. We love you.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Are you Aware? VIII

Navigating the world of special education can be a real challenge. Often we discover we not only need to be teachers, therapists, ad doctors, now we also need to be lawyers, just to protect the rights our children have under law. The shocking ignorance of the law in school administrators and other folks who are supposed to be providing services to our kids creates an atmosphere of stress for all concerned. (We won't even discuss the school personnel who seem to be deliberately attempting to circumvent the law). Folks who don't have to fight for every facet of their child's education and well-being have little idea of what special needs families go through just to get their children basic education!

We can't control administrators. All we can do is educate ourselves, and do our best to be positive, effective advocates for our children. KNow your rights, know the rights of your kids. For a great place to start, check out Wrightslaw.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: The Blue Bunny Claims Another Victim

Are You Aware? VII

In the new campaign to "end the R-word" I've gotten a lot of comments to the effect of "Joey isn't retarded, what do you care?"

Just for a moment, let's put aside the fact that we are all human beings, a huge thing to put aside.

One of the organizations that does a great deal here for autism and services, especially adult services, is the ARC. For those who are unaware, and it take a bit of initial digging to discover, this organization's name stands for Association of Retarded Citizens. Originally set up to support people with mental retardation, it has became apparent that many of these citizens were actually autistic, yet still require advocates and supports. The ARC has stepped up to the plate to include many intellectual and cognitive disabilities; autism, with its outward signs of communication and social challenges, is included.

Please check out the ARC and what it does in your area.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Finding a Good Book

Since Joey has begun reading, we were hoping to see him take an actual interest in reading. After all, reading gives us a whole new avenue to get information to him, and he does really well with it. We have bought a plethora of books of all types, a huge range of topics, anything to try to catch his attention. I could open a library, and I don't see that as a bad thing. I figure once his interest gets caught, he might start devouring them like Cookie Monster in a bakery.

But that didn't really happen. We encouraged him to read books, let him pick out the books, but it always seemed a chore. He did have a Blues Clues book he liked to read, but only at bedtime, and it was far below his reading level. We had another bright spot when he brought him Mouse's First Fall from the library, and read it to me. Joy of joys! But when he got his own copy, it was returned to the shelf- and again, it was far below his level. I figured the real excitement for him was the success; he could read these books all alone.

Lately, he has shown interest in Do Unto Otters, a book about manners, and would read that to himself at bedtime. However, he preferred certain pages to the whole book, mostly the one with the word "Snotter." Oh dear.

Then I bought a Pinky Dinky Doo book (Back to School). It is closer to his reading level, though still a little below. He's been loving watching Pinky Dinky Doo, so I thought it might catch his eye.

He's been carrying it around as if it were Bus. He reads it on the couch. He reads it in the car. He reads it in bed.

Folks, I think we have found a winner. And may there be many more to follow.

Are You Aware? VI

Here's one off the beaten path: what about communication? One of the greatest hurdles for kids with ASD is effective and functional communication skills. Finding alternatives to speaking can be a great thing, especially to lower frustration and increase communication. Keep in mind that the goal is often not perfect speech or even language, but communication.

We found sign language to be a great support for Joey. He was better able to process both receptive and expressive language with the signs as visual and kinetic cues. Although he doesn't do a lot of signing himself, often using signs (especially in chaotic environments) really helps keep Joey focused and communicating!

Want a quick, painless way to pick up some functional signs? We recommend Signing Time!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Are You Aware? V

I was referred to this post by a great parent, Niksmom. When I talk about "Are You Aware?" I want to remind folks that there is a difference between knowing something and understanding something. Awareness needs to mean an increase in understanding, not just knowing.

And this article by kristen is exactly what we mean.