Category - Stories

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Dear Greta, We Are Listening
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When Your Child’s First Pet Dies
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Rage Weeding
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Feeling My Age
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Digital Tools To Help ALL Students Achieve Success: IncludEd Part 2
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IncludEd: All Learners Welcome
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How To Choose A Baby Name
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Why I Broke My “No Juice For You” Rule
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The 411 on Shingles
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How Amazon Alexa Helps With Speech Development

Dear Greta, We Are Listening

Dear Greta, You have been criticized for speaking the truth that nobody wants to hear. You have been disregarded and disrespected. You have been ridiculed for being different. As a mother of a child with differences, and as a person sharing this world with you, I am outraged.  Instead of applauding your passion and wisdom, the adults you turned to for help, mocked you. The President of the United States callously belittled you on Twitter. Shame on him and people like him with their narrow-minded spite.  Please ignore the ignorant haters. Don’t give up. I hear you. My family hears you. We are listening to your every fact, warning, and call to action.  People point out your differences as though they are a flaw or cause for shame. You view “Asperger’s not as a disease, but as a gift.” Your gift helps you see the world in a unique way—not through rose-coloured glasses, but with crystal clear clarity.  Your neurotypical diversity and empathy have set you on this course as a crusader. Though your classmates were concerned when they watched films about pollution and starving polar bears, after class they were able to put those images aside. You couldn’t do that. You don’t work[…]

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When Your Child’s First Pet Dies

There are many life changing things about including a pet in your family. When you have a child with disabilities, pets can make a marked difference to their quality of life. Pets are more work in a “get off the couch and walk these ding dongs and change that litter and fill that food bowl…” sort of way, but I can’t imagine life without an animal by my side or under the covers. (Even though they should be in their crate. I know, I know…) The only true downside to pets, aside from mild annoyances like the occasional whining to go out for a pee at 5am, or fur on your favourite black yoga pants, is the ultimate downside which is of course the death of your best fur friend.  That’s the part that almost makes me never want to love an animal again. We become attached and they become family. Watching them go is hard. If you’re a pet person, you understand this completely.  Some losses are harder than others. When our guinea pig Ernie died from a seizure we were sad, but we’d had him less than a year and our connection wasn’t as deep as it was with other[…]

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Rage Weeding

We all have opinions. We also have the right to share those opinions—respectfully and thoughtfully. But isn’t it interesting that some people who have no idea what they’re talking about… let’s say about special needs or epilepsy or PTSD (since they have zero experience in these areas), still feel obliged to offer their advice, judgement, and criticism anyway? And when I say it’s “interesting” I’m being nice. When we share online (and I won’t stop sharing stories about my life, our daughter, or my family because I believe it’s important and often helpful… the medical stuff and the struggles and triumphs I mean, not so much the cat pics and ridiculous puns) we open ourselves up to negativity. But, it doesn’t mean we have to respond to it, or believe it, or accept it. Unless you’re walking the walk (whatever unique walk it might be) maybe take a minute before you make assumptions according to your inexperienced experience. We all have the right to feel the way we feel. You declaring otherwise, isn’t going to change that. Sometimes our fears or parenting methods stem from experiences you can’t possibly understand unless you’ve been there. On a positive note—the anger I felt about this[…]

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Feeling My Age

I often hear other Generation Xers say things like, “I feel like a twenty year old in a forty-five year old body.” Or, “I feel like a kid inside.” I’ve said that. I’ve felt that. But not today. For whatever reason, I actually feel years older than my age.  Growing old is obviously a good thing, considering the alternative. I get that. But feeling old is an entirely different beast. A decrepit, dilapidated, creaking and croaking old bitch of a beast.  Maybe it’s seasonal allergies? It’s most definitely perimenopause… aka hormone-she-hell related. I’m also getting over a bug. Whatever the cause, I’m feeling tired, unfocused, unmotivated, and weak.  I’m a wilted shrivelled up flower. Which I’m probably allergic too ironically.  Here are a few things making me feel older than I am.  1. Reading glasses. I can’t read a thing without them now. I’m a slave to my specs, but I can never find the things when I need them. It’s been suggested I get a “granny chain” to suspend my readers from my neck.  2. Granny Chains, orthotics, iron pills, magnifying mirrors, sleep aids, root concealer spray, sensible shoes… I could keep going but just writing this list of devices and supplements has[…]

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Digital Tools To Help ALL Students Achieve Success: IncludEd Part 2

Recently someone tagged me on Twitter, attacking me for my lies relating to the current state of our school system. I was shocked, but then I laughed uproariously when I realized this outraged woman had confused me, Lisa Thornbury, with the Ontario Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson. As I respectfully corrected her mistake, several tweeps suggested I take the other Lisa T’s place. Well thank you, but I don’t certainly have the stomach or the thick skin required for politics. However, if I did assume the role of Minister of Education there are a number of things I would do. And undo. The list is lengthy, but I’d start by making education an actual priority and begin on the front lines by offering teachers much needed support. Have you ever volunteered in a classroom? Ever go on to field trip or do homework with your child? If so, you know that teaching is not for the faint of heart. But, it’s our goal as a society to equip students with the skills needed to become functional adults. So it’s a no-brainer that we need to support teachers in every way possible so they can teach.  So what do we do?[…]

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IncludEd: All Learners Welcome

I was a teacher for ten years before my daughter was born. When she was diagnosed with a disability during my maternity leave, I retired from my job in education to stay home to care for her. I love telling people I’m a retired teacher. It’s fun to watch them try to work it out wondering, “How old IS she exactly?” For educators, diversity demands they provide inclusive, accessible learning environments that inspire confidence and encourage independence. As a former teacher, and now the parent of a child in the school system supported a special education resource team, I know how difficult it can be to ensure that every child is successful. These are difficult times in education. With larger class sizes and less support for children in need, teachers have more on their plates than ever before. We should be giving teachers every available tool to make their job as educators more effective. Logically, everyone benefits from this— teachers, students and their families, and society in general. Schools were established to help children grow into empowered adults. When we give teachers the proper tools, this becomes attainable. By providing accessible technologies, teachers can help students with disabilities unlock their[…]

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How To Choose A Baby Name

One of my daughter’s favourite Education Assistants at school is expecting a baby. This has resulted in great excitement at home and a lot of questions from my daughter. Like, “When are you having another baby, mum?” (Um, when pigs fly.) And, “When can I have a baby?” This one always breaks my heart a little. And, “Is Mrs. R’s baby going to be a boy or a girl?” (We now know the baby is a boy!!) And, “What will we name him?” Notice how she’s inserted herself into the process?  We won’t know the baby’s name until he’s born because they’re keeping it a surprise. Smart move.  When my husband and I were expecting our first baby we had a name reveal party—just for a few close family members including the grandparents and godparents. It was mostly an excuse for a festive get-together. Pregnant women will go to great lengths to have food made for them. We did this later into the pregnancy when we were confident this one was “for real.” Those who have miscarried know what I’m talking about. Somewhere around dessert we shared the boy and girl name options for our soon to be first born. We kept it[…]

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Why I Broke My “No Juice For You” Rule

As a new mom-to-be, I swore my kids would never drink juice or pop or even know the taste of sugar. I absolutely believed that as I rubbed my pregnant belly and made all kinds of rigid proclamations about my future parenting. I also vowed that my babies would be exclusively breastfed until they could talk. But, thanks to birthing two tongue-tied infants, that didn’t quite go as planned. I made loads of rules, including the one stating there would be absolutely no television until school age. Ha! I really wish I could find the photo my husband took of our infant son—bottle propped up by a pillow and tipped toward his mouth, totally fixated on a Baby Einstein DVD while I rocked his bouncy chair with my foot from the couch. You learn quickly as a new parent that plans change. The most successful and relaxed parents are cool to roll with it and they don’t beat themselves up about it. I really did try to limit the amount of sugar in our house, including fruit juice.  But then my daughter started taking anti-seizure medication three times a day and they were horrible. They tasted like chalk dipped in[…]

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The 411 on Shingles

If you think you’re too young to get shingles—think again.  When I took my son to our doctor about a lingering cough, I thought since I was there I’d asked her about seven red weird welts on my hip. I thought they could be spider bites. (Thank you to my brother for putting that horrific thought into my head.) I also wondered if I could be allergic to my new jeans — specifically the dark wash that was dying my skin blue. My husband helpfully suggested the hives could be from “tight pants and all the rubbing.” He paid handsomely for that comment.  I assumed that when I lifted my shirt to expose the rash on my lateral muffin-top the doctor would say, “That? Oh it’s nothing. Just dry skin. Be on your way you adorable little hypochondriac.”  Imagine my surprise when she told me I had SHINGLES! “Are you kidding me?” I gasped. “What am I, eighty?!” Turns out my indignation was misplaced. Apparently the shingles virus is not elderly exclusive. Upon announcing my affliction on Facebook, as one does, I was surprised to learn many of my young-ish peers have also suffered from this painful ailment. One friend told me when she experienced shingles in[…]

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How Amazon Alexa Helps With Speech Development

When our daughter was a baby we were told she would likely be non-verbal. We used ASL with her from an early age. Slowly she gained sounds, then words, and then short simple sentences. She is still profoundly speech delayed, but is developing new words and phrases every day.  Speech therapy, activities and games that promote language development, and simply chatting with her every day casually modelling speech, have helped tremendously.  Smart technology is the latest helpful tool. Before I go into how much we’re loving our new family member, Alexa, let me start by admitting that I’m fundamentally against Google Home and Amazon Echo and all these smarty pant eavesdroppers. In fact, I’m so turned off by the invasion of privacy that I made my husband return the Google Home unit he bought me for Christmas. I made quite the stink about it, ranting about how they’re always listening and how wrong and insidious the whole thing is.  Flash forward to the week we spent at my brother’s house over New Years. They have an Alexa Echo and I fell for her, madly. This digital gal knows pretty much everything about anything. She can make life not only easier, but[…]

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