Feb 24

25 Things Parents of Children with Special Needs Want Their Kids’ Teachers to Know.

school_etlA year or so ago I gave a presentation for people who are training to become special education teachers and to prepare, I asked the parents on the Easy to Love Facebook page what advice they’d give these future teachers. The advice they gave was spot-on – not just for people training to work with   kids specifically designated “exceptional,” but for ALL teachers, since most of our kids are mainstreamed.

Here’s the advice. It’s wonderful. Pass it around. Link to it. Print it out. Share.
  1. Children with “invisible” special needs, like ADHD, PDD, SPD, PBD, FASD, OCD, Anxiety,  ODD, Autism, Asperger’s, and many others manifest their disabilities behaviorally. It is EASY to blame the parents for these behavioral problems. It is ACCURATE to see these behaviors as a result of their brain dysfunction.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate! We can’t help if we don’t know what’s going on.
  3. On the flip side, if we over-communicate, cut us some slack. We are not helicopter moms, we are experts in our own children’s special needs. They, and we, are often misinterpreted and we’ve found that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Let us squeak! It’s not nosiness. It’s not pestering. Really, most days, we would much rather say “It’s your school, you handle it, don’t call me”– but we want our kids to be successful. Which means being their best advocates. Which means we call or email as much as is necessary. Continue reading
Sep 18

Shocking the carpool moms…

scribbleThis morning was rough.

J, my 11-year old with FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) has recently started school after being homeschooled for 2 1/2 years, and while it’s probably our best option out there it is not perfect. He’d be the first to tell you that. I’d be a close second.

We are now in week 4. Weeks 1 + 2 were blissful, week 3 was rough, and now, finishing up the first month it looks like rough is here to stay.

He got up at 4 this morning, then 5, then 7. “You are a f*cking bitch!” he yelled me at 4 a.m. when told to get back in bed.

At 5, “You don’t care about me, you asshole!” He pulled a framed picture off the stairway wall and hurled it at my husband, who was explaining he had to wait until 6 to come downstairs.

At 7: “I hate that fucking school. It is so fucking boring! Get me the fucking salt!” He threw the kitchen chair to the floor. Continue reading

Apr 22

Testing Daze

testThought I might share some experiences with FCAT testing. I am the reading coach at my elementary school and I hate the formalized testing that we put the kids through. Even with modifications, it is a torturous time for kids. It is difficult for us adults, so I can imagine how they feel. Today I was the test administrator for a class of fifth grade students. They all know the importance of these tests and their behavior and demeanor reflected it during the testing time. They were focused.

To add some more difficulty to the stressful time, it was the first time that the kids have taken the test online, a fact that made me as nervous as they were. I was afraid I might mess up the whole computer system.

Continue reading

Mar 27

25 Things Parents of Children with Special Needs Want Their Kids’ Teachers to Know.

A couple of months ago I gave a presentation for people who are training to become special education teachers and to prepare, I asked the parents on the Easy to Love Facebook page what advice they’d give these future teachers. The advice they gave was spot-on – not just for people training to work with   kids specifically designated “exceptional,” but for ALL teachers, since most of our kids are mainstreamed.

Here’s the advice. It’s wonderful. Pass it around. Link to it. Print it out. Share.
  1. school suppliesChildren with “invisible” special needs, like ADHD, PDD, SPD, PBD, FASD, OCD, Anxiety,  ODD, Autism, Asperger’s, and many others manifest their disabilities behaviorally. It is EASY to blame the parents for these behavioral problems. It is ACCURATE to see these behaviors as a result of their brain dysfunction.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate! We can’t help if we don’t know what’s going on.
  3. On the flip side, if we over-communicate, cut us some slack. We are not helicopter moms, we are experts in our own children’s special needs. They, and we, are often misinterpreted and we’ve found that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Let us squeak! It’s not nosiness. It’s not pestering. Really, most days, we would much rather say “It’s your school, you handle it, don’t call me”– but we want our kids to be successful. Which means being their best advocates. Which means we call or email as much as is necessary. Continue reading
Feb 22

Guest post: A Letter to the Future Teacher of My Exceptional Child

 

always_believe

Dear Teacher,

My son will be entering kindergarten this fall. Two years ago, I used to envision myself dropping him off for his first day of school with a tremendous sigh of relief. I would bring him to your classroom, where he would run off and be engaged in any number of different activities, and I would then head over to the Boo Hoo Breakfast, where all the other parents would lament over where the time had gone and I would pretend to be nostalgic but inside just feel relief. This was the fantasy I indulged in until a year ago. I figured I was like a mother giraffe that kicks its calf onto its legs until it staggers into survival. Now I know that when I leave him with you, there will be no great relief. Every day that I send him into the tribe is a day I worry about how he is doing, what he is doing and how you are doing with him. When my phone rings or my inbox has an e-mail, my immediate thought will be, “It’s about him.” Continue reading

Jan 07

Reader post: Lockdown

Melissa is the thirty-something mom to 9 adopted, Easy-to-Love children all between the ages of 11 and 4. One of her children is in public school and the rest are all homeschooled while she work on her Master’s in mental health counseling. Life can get a little crazy sometimes, but it is always interesting!

school lockdownTwo days before Christmas break, my 8-year-old easy-to-love son put the local elementary school and high school on total lockdown. This was only six days after the horrible school shooting in Newtown, CT, one day before the December 21, 2012 “End of the World” was supposed to happen, and on the same day that (unknown to us) students in various towns around our state took guns to school and put other school systems in other cities on lockdown. To say that the local police and sheriff’s departments were edgy, and that the school administration were nervous would, I’m sure, be an understatement.

My son has been diagnosed as ODD, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. One counselor suspects FASD as well and another says that’s “hooey,” but regardless of this Ds, my son certainly has some issues with impulse control alone with his other challenges in life. He’s an amazingly talented kid who is very bright, can be very sweet and loving, but also has a stubborn, defiant streak a mile wide that we have been working on since he was placed in our home four years ago through foster care. Continue reading

Nov 26

Sometimes My Child Needs A Different Mother

I’m frustrated and sad because I don’t know how to help you with this. I don’t like to see you in pain, but I don’t know what to do.”

Have you ever wondered if your child would do better in life if they had a different mother? Perhaps we all have. I have often had the thought that I am too soft to be good enough as a mother, that I have too much empathy that has gotten in the way of me giving my three children what they need. But having this thought as it applies to my oldest two children has been occasional and minor, where as this thought has, at times, been overwhelming when it comes to mothering my youngest daughter, Sarah.

Sarah is now in the seventh grade, her second year of middle school, the hardest year of middle school for most girls, and almost every school day over the past three months has been a challenge. My girl has had major mood issues her whole life, anxiety that manifests as angry outbursts, and ADHD. She has had many interventions over the years, but the most effective, it seems, has been riding horses. With horses she is able to relax, to be accepted, to learn about communication, among many other things. But medication has also been necessary and something she fights every day. Continue reading

Nov 23

Driver’s Education

Test taking is difficult for Marie, but there can be no modifications on a state driving test.  Nor should there be.  It just wouldn’t seem right—even for special needs students.  Marie is on her own.

I was all excited about Marie learning to drive.  Yes!  One less person to chauffeur around.  Who knows?  Eventually, she could help me chauffeur her siblings to sports practices, dance lessons, or music events.  I was psyched!

I’d ask Marie daily how Driver’s Ed was going—to the exclusion of her other courses.  She’d answer as she always does, “Fine.”  But I was in my dream world.  My first daughter is going to drive, I repeatedly told myself.  In fact, I bragged to my entire family.  My dad even bought Marie a bumper sticker:

“If you don’t like my driving, stay off the sidewalk!”

I laughed.  I praised her.  My first daughter won’t be bugging me to take her places anymore.  She, in fact, will be able to help me take others.  I was in Heaven.

And then I woke up.  Class test grades filtered in for this 23-day course, and reality clouded my days.  Marie wasn’t going to pass the state test unless I studied nonstop with her.  And even then we are never sure.  My excitement about having assistance with chauffeuring children started to fade.

I hammered away at the notes, reading to Marie, having her actually look at the terms to be able to recognize them when she saw them on a test.  Each night we would both end a session of studying with tears.

This is NOT the way to study with a special needs child.  No matter what YOU want, some things are not to be.  Marie failed the test by 4 points, which is pretty good for her.  I told her we could study again and she could retake the written test in the summer.  She didn’t look interested.  At all.  My husband tried to get me to see.  At this time, Marie is not interested in driving.  I realized he was correct.  And then I cried myself to sleep.

 

Nov 19

25 Things Special Needs Parents Want Their Children’s Teachers to Know

I’m giving a presentation today for people who are training to become special education teachers and to prepare, I asked the parents on the Easy to Love Facebook page what advice they’d give these future teachers. The advice they gave was spot-on – not just for people training to work with   kids specifically designated “exceptional,” but for ALL teachers, since most of our kids are mainstreamed.
Here’s the advice. It’s wonderful. Pass it around. Link to it. Print it out. Share.
  1. Children with “invisible” special needs, like ADHD, PDD, SPD, PBD, FASD, OCD, Anxiety,  ODD, Autism, Asperger’s, and many others manifest their disabilities behaviorally. It is EASY to blame the parents for these behavioral problems. It is ACCURATE to see these behaviors as a result of their brain dysfunction.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate! We can’t help if we don’t know what’s going on.
  3. On the flip side, if we over-communicate, cut us some slack. We are not helicopter moms, we are experts in our own children’s special needs. They, and we, are often misinterpreted and we’ve found that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Let us squeak! It’s not nosiness. It’s not pestering. Really, most days, we would much rather say “It’s your school, you handle it, don’t call me”– but we want our kids to be successful. Which means being their best advocates. Which means we call or email as much as is necessary. Continue reading
Nov 14

Wiggle seat giveaway!

Picture is from Amazon. Giveaway discs are blue and green, pre-owned (but barely used).

A million years ago (actually, 2 1/2) when J was in school I bought him these wiggle seat discs to use in school to try to help him stay seated. For kids with sensory issues or fidget or movement needs, seats like this can help give kids the proprioceptive input they crave.

They helped him, kind of. They also served as something to throw, something the teacher had to confiscate, and something to poke his pencil into when he was bored.

In other words, they didn’t work for HIM, but they may work for YOU!

Given our failure and my desire to get rid of stuff we don’t need (not to mention stuff that can be used as a giant, puffy frisbee) I am giving away 2 Isokinetics 14″ balance exercise discs with the textured surface. One is blue and one is green and YES they are used, but barely. I got rid of the one he popped with a pencil, and the other 2 have been sitting my my attic for the last 2 years.

Here’s how you win:

  1. Join our forum: http://www.easytolovebut.com/mybb/
  2. Post your introduction.
  3. Come back here and post your username.
  4. Done! Winners will be chosen at the end of the month.