Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day. This shouldn’t mean much other than the line at the local Post Office was longer than usual. I arrived mid-afternoon only to find a minimum of a ten minute wait. Two elementary school aged brothers stood in front of me, standing patiently until it was their turn. Once they made it to the front of the line the older one simply announced to the clerk, ” I’ll have two one-cent stamps please. One for myself and then my brother wants one, too.”
Slowly he placed a single penny on to the counter. His brother followed suit and then chimed in confidently stating, “I’d like a receipt, too, please!”
Today the ” value” of a US one-cent stamp was priceless.
This has been a really strange news cycle week. We started the week with Hurricane Issac wreaking havoc in the gulf (and still is) to stories on ABC NEWS program 20/20about a father, Tommy Jordan, who decided to discipline his daughter and her “potty mouth” by destroying her computer one gunshot at a time! In between we had the news of Hunter Spanjer, a three year old child who was asked not to use his given American Sign Language name sign in his preschool program because it resembled a “gun” motion. (See video and links to responses from public organizations below). We also witnessed Clint Eastwood talking to the Invisible President during the Republican National Convention. The ONLY thing that seemed to make sense this week was the event that was the most random- a hurricane! The rest just seemed to make me want to shake my head. So, let’s dissect them, briefly.
Hurricane Issac- Glad to see that some lessons were learned from Hurricane Katrina. However, I still have a hard time fathoming why people ignore mandatory evacuations and then end up putting First Responders in harms way when they need to be rescued.
Dad shoots up daughter’s computer. I can fully understand when a parent becomes so frustrated that they act a bit “out of the box” in order to made an impression upon their child/ teen. (I am NOT talking corporal punishment here, let’s be clear)
I thought about this all night and kept coming to the same conclusion… How did it come to this? Where were all the other conversations of when this child started using “peppered language”? I guess the thing that upset me the most was that there were soooo many guns in his home. Which led me to worry about gun laws in our country. In the wake of the Aurora shootings and so many others, I just couldn’t help thinking that we must find a “happy medium” when it comes to guns and still keep our families safe!
The result of watching the video last night. No sleep and this blog.
Hunter’s Name Sign. Ok, this video (see below) really hit a nerve with me. As a Psychologist who has worked with deaf preschool children for eons, I cannot believe this story! Young Hunter is about to enter a preschool program. His name in American Sign Language alphabet is with the letter H (see below). He uses an adaptive form of his name sign that is wiggling the letter H. The staff at his preschool (Grand Island) determined that this resembled him using a weapon and forbid him from using his own sign language name. HE IS THREE YEARS OLD and DEAF!
“The administration obviously has no clue what the ADA is about, nor a Least Restrictive Environment.”
“As if he doesn’t have enough obstacles…’
Clint Eastwood talks to an Invisible Chair – I really am speechless when it comes to this news story. It just makes me want to cringe. But, instead I have now made a decision to not listen, read or view any negative political rhetoric. Enough said.
So, did this week’s news stories make your head spin, too?
H20- Water. A very common element in our world. Often to be admired from a sandy shore, used to quench a thirst or to bathe. However, for children with Autism- water represents a much different element. It is soothing. Calming. Therapeutic. Quiet. And, sometimes dangerous.
Children on the spectrum have for years been offered water therapy to help with sensory integration, enhance communication skills and improve socialization. There is no doubt that water therapy is often essential with helping children with Autism and I have seen for myself the outstanding benefits. Yet , because water is often familiar and a preferred environment for these children, it also can pose some significant concerns.
Note that it has been reported that over 90% of children with Autism wander which is why if a child is missing in your neighborhood or school- check local pools and other waterways- quickly! Annually, children with Autism who have fled a scene due to curiosity or fear are sadly found on the bottom of pools. For some states, such as Florida, promotions for water safety courses for children with special needs have been implemented. What a wonderful idea! BRAVO!
First Responders who attend my presentations often are surprised to learn how a child with Autism may flee. Many are unaware that during an emergency situation or even something as commonplace as a child pulling a fire alarm by accident, that they need to be extra mindful of keeping tabs on children with special needs. Often EMS learn for the first time about the threat water poses to children who have heightened sensory awareness. They often are unaware that Autistic children may use water/pools as a way to seek calm and quiet from the chaos that ensues during school evacuations or other emergencies.
I have found a several interesting references and articles. Here are just a few:
If you read my blog then you may recall that Hubby and I recently moved from metro DC to the south shores of Los Angeles. When last reported the move was going smoothly. However, now that we are moved in and almost all settled, I feel compelled to write a blog as “words of warning” to others. So, here I go… the names of the actual moving company have been changed so no one gets all “legal” on me.
We contracted MOVING BUSINESS XYZ in order to pack and move our belongings and ship our two cars. My first warning that something would go wrong was when the “assigned person” to our move kept changing. Not once, not twice but at least three times.
Since I am a bit “anal retentive” I decided to pack my sentimental, mostly non-breakable items myself. That meant silly tzackos were placed in tons of bubble wrap in Rubbermaid containers. I left the china and truly valuable breakables (like wedding and baby gifts) to the “official packers”. WRONG MOVE as after we moved in and started to unpack it became abundantly clear that we were in for a major list of damages. My Tupperware was keenly packed with tons of paper while my good crystal- not treated as well and SMASHED. A baby gift to our daughter from my parents arrived in two pieces. Only one word could describe the carnage – heartache.
So, in order to help others I am writing a list of what I wish I had known…
1- GET SEPARATE MOVING INSURANCE. For some reason we missed this step. I guess we thought homeowners insurance would do the trick, but no such luck. According to our nice attorney that we consulted via Legal Shield we were told that unfortunaltely for consumers, the law sides with MOVING BUSINESS XYZ. They only have to pay 60 cents per pound. Thousands of dollars of damage resulted in much less of a claim for us.
2- PHOTOGRAPH EACH PACKAGE as it is packed. Video what you can of all your goods while the packing is occurring. This is how we remembered what didn’t show up- like tools from our garage. Also, this is how we knew that a new BLUERAY player was gone and a VCR was placed in its’ box instead.
3- Take all your documents with you to stop any chance of identity theft.
4. Get the names of all your packers, movers and “handlers” – that way if something is wrong- such as credit card charges that you didn’t authorize, you may have a better chance at knowing who is to blame.
I don’t often write negative blogs, as I feel that many people do just that with absolutely no value. But, I hope that you see this more as an educational missive.
Thanks for reading and below is a photo of a local spot near our new home. I guess the aggravation may have been worth it , after all-
Our June newsletter has just been sent out and it is FULL of cool links to ASL videos, interviews, promotions and much more! Find out about my video for the New Ricki Lake Show that got the producers eyes! All of this and much more by clicking –> SIGNING FAMILIES NEWSLETTER
Through the years I have worked with families who have been put to a great parenting test – raising a child with difficult health needs. Whether it is a child with a disease that is most often treatable, such as asthma to the disabling and terminal diseases, such as Tay-Sachs, the worry, fear and fatigue of dealing with medical jargon and doctors is daunting. As a Psychologist, I never seemed to have at my finger tips a good reference to help parents that they could digest in the quiet of their own home. That is why I was pleased to receive and view ParentingChildren with Special Medical Needs: Love and Logic Tools for Raising Resilient Kids. This two DVD series by Foster Cline, MD, Lisa Green and Charles Fay, PhD – is full of practical tips and solid information for parents who find themselves with a chronically ill child.
There are no bells and whistles with this DVD. You won’t see a fancy video montages nor will you see a glossed over approach to the topics presented. Some sections are heart wrenching, such as hearing a parent talk about learning to love again after the death of their child. Others parts include very timely issues – such as when a child is bullied because of their disease.
This video will help to provide parents with resources and some “food for thought”. Also, there is complimentary information available at the end of the video.
I plan on donating this video to a local library in order to make it available to any parent who is searching for any and all information to help negotiate the difficulties of parenting a child with special medical needs.
April 2nd is now recognized as WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY. Last week statistics hit the news that cited that one of every 88 children born in the United States will be diagnosed with Autism prior to their eighth birthday. Seriously, this fact took my breath away. I clearly recall the first time I ever heard the word, AUTISM. It was back in the 1970’s and not many people knew what it meant. Fewer had ever seen or worked with a child with Autism. Talking with phrases “On the Spectrum” or “Having mild autism- Asperger’s- was never heard.
Years later I now not only understand what Autism means but have worked in the trenches with children with Autism for over two decades. Many of them have secondary disorders, such as Deaf AND Autistic. I also have acquired a very deep and heartfelt respect for the parents who give to their children unconditionally and would sell their souls to find ways to make their child’s lives easier. In addition, I cannot give enough Kudos to the educators, therapists and other professionals who work tirelessly to help children “on the spectrum”.
Since my work is “all about education”, I am listing some of my most favorite resources. Not all are dedicated solely to Autism, but if you click on them perhaps you will find information, assistance or some value to the company or organization listed. My apologies in advance for forgetting to mention sites that may have slipped my mind. I will be sure to add to the list as the days go on. AND.. PLEASE feel free to add to the list in the comments section below of your favorite Autism related materials/ websites/ resources, too.
As always, thank you for reading!
SPIRIT of AUTISM –Founded by a momof a child with Autism and who is a paramedic, Debi Taylor developed the AUTISM TIPS CARD to be used by First Responders in the field. The goal- keeping children with Autism SAFE and ALIVE. (Signing Families offers this card at every workshop now)
AUTISM SPEAKS- This is what many consider as the “FACE” of Autism organizations. Their website is full of great information. Although for some it may be very overhwhelming.
EDUCATION.com – This website is packed full of information about Autism and much, much more. From A-Z you can receive information and assistance. I am proud to be a member of Education.com as one of their JustAsk contributors!
THE AUTISM NEWS / ZAC BROWSER and more – this is a set of websites constructed by a dad and his teen son with Autism. Filled with no nonsenese information, as well as games that are helpful for kids on the spectrum.
KABONGO– Interactive methods to teach reading skills. Great for kids who relate virtually. I love this site and you will, too!
KIBOOMUand LISTEN TO ME PLEASE – Music can be a great force to help children learn who have language and social-emotional challenges. These websites are great! Kiboomu offers apps as well. Listen to me Please has corresponding reading materials, such as their award winning books. Both sites are exceptional and worth more than a glance.
AMAILIA STARR , author of RAISING BRANDON. So much is written about children who have Autism. However, not much is scribed about adults with Autism. Here is a book that will tug at your heart strings and give you hope at the same time. I know Amalia personally and am proud to list her here!
AUTISM at LONG BEACH Soon I will be making the greater Long Beach, California area my home. I am over the top excited to be working in conjunction with this amazing group of parents, professionals and kids! There model of cooperative education to benefit the children and support parents is exceptional. Check them out! (Bravo to Jane Tipton for creating this group)
KYLES TREEHOUSE For parents, by parents. This website is full of amazing resources, especially for those searching for information about treatments and accommodations. Love this site! (Note- Jen Westphal went to great lengths to make a resource page that is outstanding. Please peruse it for loads more resources. )
Today I have the privilege to interview four up and coming talent who are represented by THE LINICOMN AGENCY. Not newbies. Not seasoned. These up and coming actors are savvy, smart, full of acting chops and raring to go! Listen to their stories and perhaps consider them for your next casting. (Connect via TheLinicomnAgency.com)
Next week I will finally get to meet and greet my friend and colleague from 411 VOICES – Wendy Young.This dynamo founded one of the premiere mental health sites for families-KIDLUTIONS.This week I snatched from Kidlutions.com blog this article Wendy wrote about our joint presentation at the Michigan Associaiton for the Education of Young Children’s 2012 Conference,
Thanks to Wendy for a great article!
Also, feel free to check out SIGNING FAMILIES for our I WANT, I FEEL CHART to help children express their feelings with sign language
Calming the Angry Child
If you happen to be in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area for the Michigan Associaiton for the Education of Young Children’s 2012 Conference, I hope you will drop by and see Louise Sattler, of Signing Families, and me. We will be presenting an engaging workshop about calming the angry child. Louise is one of my BFFs on twitter/facebook and 411 Voices, and we finally get to meet each other for this one-time only training! Laugh and learn in this unprecedented event!
It will be a workshop event unlike any other you have been part of!