Faith, Love and Respect for ALL

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Prayers and Love Nationwide

The past week was filled with immense tragedy for the Autistic community. Three children, Mikaela Lynch (age 9) in California, Owen Black (age 7) in Florida, and Drew Howell (age 2) in Ohio, died due to wandering and subsequent drowning. As their devastated families try to come to terms with their tremendous loss, there have been many ignorant people who dare to cast blame on them, and it is sickening. My heart is heavy with sadness for the loss of three young lives; and it is filled with outrage for those who carelessly judge what they cannot know and do not understand. Today I am joining hundreds of other bloggers to support these families by showering them with prayers and love via cyberspace.

 

Rest In Peace Sweet Angels * Mikaela Lynch * Owen Black *  Drew Howell

As a parent of an Autistic child, who is a wanderer, I know the terror you feel when you realize your child has slipped away. We have had several close calls with Beth in the past 2 years. I have learned the hard way that I cannot control people, places, or things; therefore, I do the best I can and pray that it is enough to keep her and Anne safe. Although, I have stopped blaming myself for past events, I relive each one of our close calls every time I hear of other families who were not as fortunate. I grieve for all the wonderful parents who have seen their worst nightmare come to life. In the blink of an eye, any of us could lose our child due to wandering/elopement and the dangers they face while out of our care.

For the Lynch, Black, and Howell families that is exactly what happened, in less than 30 seconds, their lives were forever changed in the most tragic of ways. They are NOT bad parents; they are NOT inattentive parents! They are humans, who did all that was in their power to keep their children safe. They LOVE their children, and probably blame themselves for the horrible accident that took them from this world, even though they are NOT to blame in anyway. They lost their Autistic Angels under the worst of circumstances, and are grieving their loss in ways that most us will never know or fully understand.

 

 

Please keep this in mind when you share and comment on posts regarding them and their Angels. Please attempt to put yourself in their place, and imagine how you would feel, then decide what you want to share. A general rule of thumb I use is the acronym THINK (T – Is it Thoughtful? H – Is it Honest? I – Is it Intelligent? N – Is it Necessary? K – Is it Kind?). If I can answer Yes to all those questions, then I hit submit/share; if the answer to just one is No, then I must step away and pray for guidance before I put my thoughts out in cyberspace. I am pleading with you to stop the spreading of cruel misinformation and judgment, instead help spread love and support for families in crisis. Please keep the Lynch, Black, and Howell families in your prayers today and in the future months. May Angels surround them in love and light as they grieve; and bring them hope that tomorrow it will hurt a little less.

 

 

If you would like to read some of the other wonderful posts that are part of An Outpouring of Love for the Mikaela Lynch Family, please visit the ever growing list of  amazing, informative  and touching blog posts.

If you would like more information about wandering/elopement and how to help keep the Autistic children in your community a little safer, please visit theNational Autism Association and the AWAARE Collaboration.

 

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Graduation 2013

On May 17, 2013 my husband will graduate college with an Associates of Applied Science degree and an Associates of Art degree, both in Criminal Justice. He started his College journey a month before his 18th birthday, and he will be 31years old when he graduates. It has been a long road for him, laden with countless obstacles and many scenic routes. He has been discouraged, felt like a failure, and assumed he could not do it; however, he yearned to finish college and obtain a degree. Eventually he found his courage, began to feel successful, and determined that he could do it; and now he is graduating with not one, but two degrees.

The last few semesters have not been easy; honestly, they were more difficult than we ever imagined. Being a father of 2 young children (one with Special Needs), working 40+ hours a week to support our family, and going to school proved to be quite the challenge. However if there is one thing I know about my husband, it is that he ALWAYS rises to a challenge and finds a way to CONQUER it.

On Friday evening I will watch him graduate; while taking lots of pictures to show our girls what an AMAZING man their daddy is. I am so very PROUD of him and all that he has accomplished. He is showing our girls that when you have a dream, you should pursue it until you have achieved your goal. He is teaching our girls that it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to fulfill your dreams; what matters is that you do it with integrity, and in a manner of which you can be proud. He is proving to our girls that ANYTHING is POSSIBLE, with determination and hard-work; which is truly one the GREATEST gifts a parent can give a child.

CONGRATULATIONS to my Husband, who overcame his doubts and fears, and is obtaining his degrees in 2013.  This is a GREAT year for you, and a major building block in the foundation of our life. You are an AMAZING inspiration, and a source of tremendous PRIDE to many! Our girls are truly BLESSED to have such a wonderful, hard-working father who embraces dreams and turns them into reality. Our family will achieve many EXTRAORDINARY things in life, because you will always be there to help us make our dreams come true. Thank You for all that you are, and all that you do! I LOVE YOU!

Graduation 2013

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Support Hair-twirlers Unite to Bring Equality to Nevada

We are extremely blessed to be part of an all-inclusive school district, which treats Beth and all its Special Needs students like every other student in the district. Sadly, we are in the minority. Most parents have to fight to have their children receive the education they deserve, please support this family in their efforts to change the way Autistic children are treated in Nevada.

Hair-twirlers Unite

April is Autism Awareness Month, and today, April 2nd, is Autism Awareness Day. You might be aware already that my 5-year-old, Gage, was diagnosed as autistic at age 2.5. He wasn’t talking, wasn’t gesturing, wasn’t great at eye contact, and would sit in his room and look at books for hours. I googled “toddler not talking” and started to get worried when all kinds of autism links came up. Our pediatrician blew us off when we told him these things. “Wait until he is 3,” he said. “He is a late bloomer.” But I was afraid he was wrong. I called Gage in to early intervention when he was 26 months old to get him evaluated. A 4 month waiting list later, it turned out I wasn’t just a paranoid mom. I was right. It hurt to find out. All that Gordon and I knew about autism was Rainman, and…

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Autism Proud is Spreading the Word

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Today is the day, Spread The Word to End the Word’s Annual Day of Awareness. Although I will correct people throughout the year, this is the one BIG day to take a unified stand to tell the rest of the world that the R-word is NOT okay to use.

Since I was a child I have heard people use that word as a punch line to a joke, or to insinuate that someone they were dealing with was stupid and/or lazy. It is HORRIBLE to use that word, and I simply will not tolerate its use in my home, or in the presence of my family.  If I see people on FaceBook using it in any way, they are removed from my friends list on my personal page, and/or banned from the blog’s fan page.

When I was in seventh grade, the Lord put my feet on a path that would warm my heart and forever change the way I reacted to language. I was blessed to be allowed to help out in the Special Ed classes, because at that time there was no inclusion. I spent my study hall, gym and lunch hours with these amazing individuals. Thoughtlessly, I used to refer to them as “kids” but in truth most were my senior by many years. It was an amazing experience, and it made me a better person, to learn from such wonderful people. It was not always fun, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but then what in life, worth having and/or doing is? I remember once being hit by a desk, because one of the girls was having a “violent outburst” I also remember moving faster the next time it happened. Eventually, there were times I could even help to calm her before she got too upset. We were all learning together, and that is what school, and life,  is all about.

When I moved into high-school, I was thankful to be allowed to continue seeing my friends on a daily basis in all the same activities as junior-high.  My favorite part of the week was taking my one friend with MS out of her wheelchair and working out her muscles in the pool with one of the teachers and her aide. Tracy always had the BEST smile and laugh. When I coached Special Olympics my friend Juan won his race, Spiderman gave him his medal, he screeched with joy, and I cried at his triumph. When Prom time approached, I attended prom with my friends at their co-op’s recreational center. The happiness and fun I experienced with my friends at their prom, was infinitely better than my own prom. It was a different atmosphere and I will forever be grateful for the invitation and all the fun I shared with my friends.

In my adult life I continued to support the Special Needs community, and even volunteer or work in it, when possible. It is a different world that is filled with love, laughter, and friendship that I have yet to see equaled anywhere. The extraordinary individuals that comprise the Special Needs community are truly the most beautiful rainbows that have ever graced the earth.

As a parent I find my family joining this amazing community, with our Autistic daughter blazing the trail ahead of us. All the respect and love I felt for 25 years as a person blessed to have friends in the Special Needs community, cannot come close to the love and pride I feel for Beth, and all her extraordinary friends.

Sadly, being an adult or child who is  different opens these exceptional individuals up to criticism and cruelty from the outside world. When I meet someone who does not understand how hurtful their words are, I explain that they are disrespecting my child and all the other amazing individuals in the world who live with Differing Abilities. Some don’t get it and some don’t care, but when I see the proverbial light go on and someone pauses to consider the ramifications of that word, then I can smile. One Day at a time, One Person at a time, we can change the world, and eliminate the R-Word from the world’s vocabulary. Another way that I choose to attempt to shed light on the disrespect the R-word conveys, is to NOT spend my money on music, videos, movies, books, etc… that use it in a derogatory manner. There have been several movies banned from this house for their use of the R-word, and for making fun of Special Needs individuals. I will not have that kind of Hate Speech in my home. What will you do to Spread the Word to End to Word?

We will not always be able to protect our loved ones from the ugliness that exists in the thoughtless words and/or actions of others, but today we can take a stand. Today we can pledge, or renew our pledge, to Spread the Word to End the Word at http://r-word.org/

MY pledge:  I will make every effort to educate people when it comes to the damage inflicted by use of the R-Word.  I will fight for acceptance and respect for ALL people regardless of differing abilities. I will teach my children to NEVER use the R-word and to be kind when speaking about and to people.  I will Spread the Word to end the Word, the only way I know how, by Thinking BEFORE I Speak, and by practicing what I preach.

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Happy Holidays, Maybe…

We all know the Andy Williams song:
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap- happiest season of all”

The song paints a beautiful picture of holiday celebrations with loved ones, and all the joy they should hold. However, as I grow older, I can’t help but wonder, is it all just fairytale or perhaps an illusion? Personally, as a parent, the holidays are extremely stressful because there is always the desire to see and do it all, that must be balanced with what our children can actually tolerate. When you have a child with special needs, the holiday season becomes even more difficult to navigate, because of the chaos that comes with changed routines and sensory overload.

For most families, I think the song goes a little more like this:
“It’s the most stressful time of the year
With the kids crying and struggling,
And everyone telling them “Be a good kid”
It’s the most stressful time of the year
It’s the har-hardest season of all
With those holiday gatherings and loud crazy meetings
When people don’t understand at all
It’s the har-hardest season of all”

I used to love the holidays and look forward to the hustle and bustle, with all the gatherings and celebrations; honestly, the louder the party the more successful and fun it was for me. I waited with anticipation to visit with family and friends until the wee hours of the morning, just enjoying each other and the holiday. However now I have my children to think about, and my idea of the perfect holiday causes at least one of them distress and pain. If as their mother I am struggling to reach a compromise and grieve our old way of life, I can only imagine how hard it is for everyone else in our life.

We are blessed with so many people that love us and want to spend the holidays with us. Our family and friends look forward to seeing our children and enjoying all their craziness. Most of Beth’s sensory issues usually make for an au-some day of rough-housing, filled with delightful screams and giggles, with Anne right there alongside her big sister, ready for the fun. However, when there are too many of the people she loves in one place, and the noise level is much more than normal, her sensory system goes into overload and she becomes a confused, sad mess. If we work really hard, we can minimize the meltdowns and behaviors, and to most it appears she is simply being a bratty child. I suppose we concentrate so hard on keeping her regulated that most people have no idea how bad these excitable, loud gatherings truly affect Beth. Although, sometimes I wish they could see the real picture, I also cannot let her suffer in an effort to educate people. Thankfully, there are brave, wonderful people who have already showed the world what it is like, and I can share their wisdom and examples.

I have found 3 amazing clips, created by people with ASD or SPD, on YouTube that simulate sensory overload. Every person who loves an autistic child, a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, or other special needs that affect the nervous system NEED to watch these, and read their descriptions:

 The Autism Experience

Sensory Overload Simulation

 Aspie Blog – Sensory Overload Through My Eyes

Please remember the basic meaning of the holiday season is to enjoy our loved ones and celebrate the blessings in our life. We all must compromise during the holidays to create a loving gathering filled with happiness and joy. For us the most important part of any celebration is our children, for they are our greatest blessings. Perhaps the adults will not get everything they feel they want in the beginning. However, if the children are happy, their joy will fill the house with such wonder, perhaps everyone will be surprised at how the different (not less) approach brought about a new tradition that left everyone filled with hope, love and joy.  I pray you all find you own, unique way of celebrating this holiday season, which will fill your children and families with beautiful, lasting memories.

If you are struggling, as we are, to create a sensory friendly holiday season for your family, please read these two fabulous blog posts. Although I am still not sure what our plan is, these extraordinary people helped me see things in a more positive and hopeful light.

Sensory Friendly Christmas by Lost and Tired

A Secret to Help Your ASD Child Minimize Meltdowns During the Holidays by Connie at Parent Coaching for Autism

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Round-Up Day

Today was what our school district calls “Bus Round-Up Day.” Since we started school in the middle of the year last year, we missed all the fun beginning of school activities. I was pretty excited to see what it was all about. So I went to school with Beth, for 1.5hours today; I even got to ride on the bus and everything.

Beth was tired and grumpy this morning but as soon as Daddy told her she was going to school, she perked right up and was running around saying: “Where’s the pack?” She was so excited when she saw the bus coming, and was all smiles for her bus driver. We got on the bus and Beth seemed less than thrilled that I was in “her” place. After a few minutes she warmed up to the idea and was telling me about things she saw out the window. When we got to school she followed Ms. M’s directions briefly, and then ran past everyone to her classroom. At this point I pretty much ceased to exist. She said a brief Hi (of sorts) to her teacher as she hung up her backpack, then raced into the classroom to explore. There was only one other student that came today, but that was okay with her, since they were visiting the “Blended” class on/off throughout the morning.

I was able to speak to her teacher and the classroom aide about current issues Beth is experiencing. Fortunately they were her staff during ESY, so they were familiar with her and aware of some of the current struggles. I went over what we feel are Our strengths, and Our areas that need improvement. The new Speech Pathologist came in to introduce herself and chat a bit. She even asked about our private therapists and how to contact them, I was impressed. The teacher then shared with us some changes in the ECE program this year; basically they are attempting to restructure this class into more of a transition class for children, so they can move to “Blended” classrooms with as much ease as possible. They are also coordinating more with the Kindergarten teachers to make sure they are properly preparing the kids to be successful in that environment, when the time comes.

Since we had declined placement in the “Blended” classroom for this school year, Ms. B was apprehensive that we would not be happy with the changes to the curriculum. I must admit that I am a bit leery, because I suspect some the kids from the “Blended” program that were in Beth’s ESY class were not being nice to her. I am not sure if it was bullying or just kids being kids, but there was a drastic change in her demeanor and we are still working on some major aggression issues. As scary as change can be in Our world, I also think that it necessary to progress; so we will keep an open mind and also keep a close eye on behavior issues as the school year goes forward. This new structure has the potential to be a growth experience for Beth and will help her deal with a larger classroom. We feel that it will also help us to achieve our goal of her being in a General Education classroom for Kindergarten in the 2014-2015 school year.

The majority of the week, Beth will be in her classroom with her other 3 – 4 peers, teacher, aide, and various therapists (they do their supportive services in the classroom). Then twice a week they will spend half of their morning with the “Blended” class, so they can adjust to the larger (16-20 kids) class size and interact on a consistent basis with more of their “typical” peers. The students will also be journaling on a daily basis, where they will draw a picture of their day, and staff will write in a description for them. Since many of the students, including Beth,  cannot tell their parents how their day was, they hope this will help open more lines of communication between school and home and encourage the kids to “talk” more about their day at school with their caregivers.

In pure Casablanca style, I must say: “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” We will provide Ms. B with a list of items we are working on at home, and they will attempt to work them into her day at school to assist in strengthening her skills in those areas. In turn, they will keep us informed regarding what they are working on in school, so we can also concentrate on those areas at home. I am very excited and hopeful for the coming school year. I feel that if we build the proper working relationship and maintain consistent, honest communication it will be an Au-Some year for everyone. Wishing every family and their amazing children a successful 2012-2013 school year, may Our children all shine like the unique, bright stars they are!

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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