Tag - disability

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Introducing Your Child With Special Needs To New Classmates
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When Your Child’s Speech Delay Gets Worse
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Teaching Your Child With A Disability To Ice Skate
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When People Stare At My Child Who Has Special Needs
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Separated Siblings: She Waves Goodbye As He Leaves For High School
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When Your Child With A Disability Is Told, “You Can’t Play With Us!”
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Pets Are Family
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When Your Child Chokes
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Planning For Your Special Needs Child’s Future
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A Unique Teacher Imparts Real Life Lessons

Introducing Your Child With Special Needs To New Classmates

This school year we decided to introduce our daughter, who has special needs, to new classmates by way of a “Get To Know” Avery video.  It’s normal for kids to be curious about differences. Some kids approach Avery, respectfully. They can see there’s something different about her, but they treat her kindly anyway. Some kids shy away from her. Some ignore her or deliberately shut her out. And sometimes, but thankfully not as often, some kids make fun of her behind her back.  When we talk about Avery’s struggle with speech and explain why it’s difficult for her to form certain sounds, kids understand her challenges better and it makes them more comfortable around her. Also, when they know why she sometimes gets stuck in a repetitive verbal loop, repeating the same thing over and over, they’re less likely to feel frustrated with her because they know it’s not on purpose. She’s trying her best.  When kids are given Avery’s back story, and know that it’s okay to ask questions about Avery, the staring and stand-offish behaviour almost always stops. In fact, when kids understand her challenges, they treat Avery as just one of the gang. Actually, they are quite protective of her. […]

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When Your Child’s Speech Delay Gets Worse

We started learning American Sign Language as soon as we found out about our daughter’s genetic disorder—one that is almost always associated with severe speech issues. We relied on a variety of ASL resources, but a favourite (and the most fun) was a PBS show called Signing Time. A friend gave us the DVD set which we watched a hundred times. It’s no longer on television, but you can find it on You Tube.  As Avery started verbally saying words, and eventually longer more complicated sentences, sign language went to the wayside. She was talking with actual, understandable words and it was the sweetest sound.  Two years Avery was formally diagnosed with a profound speech delay. We weren’t surprised, but we were hopeful that with maturity and hard work, her speech would improve. And it did. For a little while.  Since then, her speech has declined even more. Especially in the past few months. I tend to panic when I don’t know why things are happening. And for no apparent reason.  The ideas are there—she knows what she wants to say and she wants to say it, but she struggles to get the words out. Like, really struggles. It’s hard to watch.[…]

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Teaching Your Child With A Disability To Ice Skate

I love my daughter. I enjoy skating. But I don’t love or enjoy skating WITH my daughter. In fact, I’d rather do anything else. However, she’s desperate to learn. I don’t understand her fascination, but I suspect she saw it on a television show and has taken a fancy to it. So we’re trying. And boy is it ever trying. People have said, “It’s not like skating is a vital lifeskill like swimming or something. So why bother?” I know. Skating isn’t an essential skill, but the heart wants what the heart wants… (so even if the heart’s mother can’t stand being cold, whaddayagonnado?) When I saw that Erin Oak Kids was offering a Family Skate program at a rink near us, I signed us up. Us. As in I have to be on the ice with her the whole time. Though there are some wonderful therapists and enthusiastic volunteers on the ice to help, this isn’t lessons. This is a designated block of time, a freezing cold ice block of time if I may, for families with kids with disabilities to have “fun” learning to skate. So. Much. Fun.  Do you hear the negativity here? I do. And I[…]

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When People Stare At My Child Who Has Special Needs

  When strangers stare at my daughter I feel embarrassed, angry, defensive, indignant. I feel all the feelings in no particular order.  Sometimes I make direct eye contact with the starer. Sometimes I call them on it. Sometimes I don’t.  It’s emotional for us when people turn to look at our kids. And when their stares linger, it’s hard to handle.    But I try to remind myself that different draws attention. It’s human nature to be curious. People aren’t generally cruel. They’re just trying to figure it out.  So last week when my son’s gaze fell upon a girl with Down Syndrome and his glance lasted a few seconds too long, and was perceived as a stare, I understand why her mother glared at him.  He looked upset after swim practice. Not only were his eyes stinging from the chlorine, he was feeling the sting of guilt because he’d upset the mother of a girl in his class.  He explained that when he got out of the pool he noticed a girl about Avery’s age standing on the pool deck waiting for her sister. He spotted a school crest on her shirt and he was trying to get a better[…]

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Separated Siblings: She Waves Goodbye As He Leaves For High School

My daughter packed her backpack weeks ago in giddy anticipation of returning to school. She asked me to paint her nails and “do her hair pretty.” She couldn’t be more excited to start grade six.  My son was in denial that summer was ending right up until the end. He gave little thought to his first day of high school outfit. He wasn’t even planning on brushing his hair until I “suggested” it. I pleaded with him to let me take him shopping, but he refused. “Mum, I’ve got enough clothes. I’m fine.” Kind of hard to take him seriously when he’s arguing his point in mismatched socks and pants that are miles too short.  But he’s in high school now. He’s a big boy. In short pants. His pants, his choice I guess. (Mind you, I went to the mall today and bought him a few new things against his will. I can’t have the kid looking like he’s been stuffed into shrunken kahkis all year.) High school… no longer at our local elementary. He’s moved on and this is the first time his little sister will be at school without him.  At first she didn’t make the connection. “What?[…]

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When Your Child With A Disability Is Told, “You Can’t Play With Us!”

  My daughter loves playing at the park at the end of our street. She’d stay for hours if she could. But since she’s a child with a disability, she can’t go to the park by herself like her peers do—they can come and go as they please, but my kiddo has to drag her mother along. “Drag” makes me sound like an unwilling companion, but I’m usually content to supervise. Though some days, admittedly it’s inconvenient. And boring. After a few pumps on the swing and perhaps an (awkward) chin-up or two on the monkey bars, my thoughts quickly turn to, “I need to start dinner” or “I have to return that phone call by 5pm” or “I have to pee” or “I wish I brought more coffee” or “I really, really have to pee.”  But she’s a kid who needs fresh air, and climbing and swinging, and companionship, and your basic childhood fun, so I park myself at the park.  Yesterday was a beautiful spring afternoon so I was happy to spend some time warming the park bench.  Within a few minutes of arriving, the play structure filled with kids from Avery’s school. They quickly organized a game of[…]

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Pets Are Family

  People say we’re nuts for having so many pets. Three isn’t “so many” if you ask me, but I’m not one to split hairs—even the ones stuck to my black pants. Is life easier without a small herd of animals to take care of? Sure. Is it as rewarding? Not for us. When our daughter was about two and a half and still not walking, one of her physical therapists suggested we find something highly motivating to her to get Avery up off the floor and walking. Avery has always been obsessed with dogs. THIS would be her motivation. My sister-in-law has her own veterinary practice and she found the perfect dog for us—a mutt, part chihuahua, part terrier and part teeny-tiny wolf. He was about three years old, housebroken, quiet, not too big, and a RESCUE DOG in need of a loving home. We would be that home.   Within three months of adopting Roger, our girl was walking; then running after her canine companion. A few years later we adopted a second dog, Maya. We even hosted a dog wedding. No seriously, you can witness the Bow Wow Vows here. It can take people a lifetime to[…]

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When Your Child Chokes

  Not all parents of children who have a disability of some kind obsess. Admittedly, I do. I struggle to tame the worries that invade my thoughts and I tend to hover over my daughter. (Think helicopter blades whirling furiously over head, bubble wrap dispenser on the ready.) My child has global development delays, speech and gross motor issues, and seizures. Despite her diagnosis she has made incredible progress. For a child who doctors said may never walk or talk, she is doing both — in your face, science. Our girl is no longer a baby. She is active and bold and curious. To deny her independence and the chance to explore would be cruel, so I hold my breath and let her go. Up the stairs by herself; higher on the swings; in the pool, close by, but liberated from her water wings. As it is for any child, loosening their reins allows them to reach further. So despite my racing heart, I’m trying to give her space to grow. My other child, Avery’s big brother, laughs when I remind him to chew his food. To him, grapes are juicy mouthfuls. To me they are ominous orbs of imminent choking. I’m not completely insane though — I stopped cutting[…]

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Planning For Your Special Needs Child’s Future

I’m a compulsive planner which means I need like to know what’s going to happen next; and if I can control what that is, even better. FYI — I know what we’re having for dinner every night for the next two months. When it comes to my children, I have to remind myself to stop obsessively looking forward. However, there are some things that really must be arranged in advance when you have a child with a disability.  Though I hope to be around for a long time to care for my family, even I, the master of control, can’t control that. So as unpleasant as it seems, we recently updated our wills and named our children’s guardians and Powers of Attorney.   We also created a document listing all accounts, assets, debts, passwords, and any other crucial information family members would need in the case of, you know, our demise.   We set up an RESP for our son. He’ll need it to help with law and medical school. After that, he’s on his own. I’m sure his astronaut salary and Pulitzer prize money will be enough to get by on. (What? I tend to dream big.)  So with those details in place, I can relax and just enjoy my kids,[…]

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A Unique Teacher Imparts Real Life Lessons

I started watching this video through “teacher” eyes; interested in what makes this particular educator unique. I didn’t expect to be so incredibly moved by his experience as a parent.  I wonder if his parenting a child who has a disABILITY makes him a more compassionate and intuitive teacher? I can’t see how it wouldn’t. It’s clear he has been able to incorporate his personal struggles and strengths into his teaching. He generously shares his positive attitude and can-do outlook with the world and his students are benefitting.  Sometimes even the most seemingly ordinary people live the most extraordinary lives. And they are often the people who teach us the most important lessons about life.  Watch this. It’s truly wonderful. 

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