Growing Up Special

Parents of Special Needs and Adopted Children Seeking Excellence

Archive for the ‘encouragement’ Category

Mar
05

Fashion Eyeglasses Charm Even The Most Self Conscious

By Rainy on March 5th, 2011

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Fashion Eyeglasses Accessories Add Charm

Let’s be honest, most children who are told that they must wear glasses will often not be thrilled with the idea of having to wear eyeglasses.  For many children, it is the idea that others will make fun of them or, cause them to be viewed as being different from other children their own age.  Being bullied because you are visually impaired and have to wear glasses can cause a child to refuse to wear them, out of fear of being made fun of.

No one want to be made to feel self conscious about themselves, especially at certain ages when it is most important to fit in with their peers.  We’ve come along way since the days of having  a choice between wearing heavy black plastic frames or  wire frames that were basically your only choices.

Still, everyone likes to look their best and there are many fashion frames from which someone can choose to fit the shape of their face and their sense of style.   On the other hand, if you are looking to change things up so that you don’t get bored with a certain look once you’ve purchased your eyeglass frames; there wasn’t much you could do except buy multiple sets of glasses…until now.

Ros Guerrero is the owner of a company that has solved this problem.  She invented eyeglass charms that add a bit of decorator style to your eye wear frames.  Some of these charms are classic styles that are a great way to dress up your lenses for a night out…others are kind of funky colorful and fun charms.  There are charms for adults, for girls and for boys too.  I like the fact that there are charms that a child can choose from in their area of interest of art or sports.

There are also seasonal charms, pets/animals, colorful flowers, or charms that create awareness of issues such as breast cancer.  Ros has created a variety of charms for you to choose from.   These make great gifts too for just about any occasion!  They are easy to attach and the fun is in the conversations that take place when others notice the charms attached to the glasses.  It is a wonderful way to break the ice for children who may have trouble initiating conversations with others.

The really neat thing about Ros’ company is that her daughter Gem was her inspiration.   One day, Ros designed and attached her first set of charms to Gem’s glasses and sent her to school.  Gem received so many compliments, in her special needs class, that the idea of  “Ficklets” was born.    Getting noticed wearing glasses, for a child, is not always a positive experience.   Ficklets charms can positively influence how a child perceives wearing their eye wear.  After all, if a child won’t wear their glasses how can they possibly help their eyesight?  Much of a person’s education is learned visually.   If a persons vision is impaired in any way, it is only logical that getting them to commit to wearing their glasses is important, right?

Ros & Gem~*~ The Designer & The Inspiration

As you know, children aren’t the only ones who wear glasses.  What’s really great about eye wear today is the fact that there are so many choices.  Still, it is the same for adults…who wants to wear the same old- same old look, day after day.  There are classic charms for female adults as well.  The added touch of these charms can dress up your look at work or, for a night out making you feel stylish and attractive.  Everyone is at their best when they feel confident and assured about their appearance.  Changing your look can be costly.   It’s a lot more affordable to change up the look of your present glasses by purchasing Ficklets than it is to go out and purchase an extra set of frames.

Do you know someone who refuses to wear their glasses because they are self conscious about the way they look?  Have you ever known someone whose life was changed because their vision was improved by wearing glasses?  If so, then you understand the importance that Ficklets can play when it comes to self esteem and wearing prescription glasses.  Are you thinking of someone in your life who would appreciate a pair of Ficklets?  If so…what are you waiting for?  Thanks Ros & Gem for helping us to see things more beautiful in life.

Feb
16

Special Needs Finding A Place Of Love & Acceptance (part 1)

By Rainy on February 16th, 2011

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This is a guest post by my friend Connie Baum…it is a personal post regarding her families journey.  Thank you Connie…this is part one of a two part post.

~~~~~**~~~~

Is it Synchronicity?

Any parent of children with special needs knows the management of their care can be challenging from the inside out.

If those needs are apparent at a child’s birth, there is shock and a tsunami wave of emotion ranging from fear and anger to guilt and sorrow. There is loneliness, worry, and confusion, too.

When those abate-or diminish-there is the day to day routine which can be punctuated with medical appointments and crises; sleep deprivation and difficult decisions.

When special needs children reach adulthood, it most likely means their parents have reached Social Security status. What about the perpetuity of the care of precious, special offspring?

Let me share with you a story:

Our little fellow had an assortment of birth defects that meant his birth parents were unable to care for him. He was shuttled from hospital to hospital until he was three years old, at which time he became available for foster care.

As this little boy was enduring surgeries to correct his anomalies our own family was mourning the loss of four babies who, for various reasons, did not survive their births. Because we wanted to round out our family to 4, we applied to the State to be foster parents.

Little Guy Foster arrived at our home on a blistering June day, accompanied by a social worker and her aide. Guy wriggled a lot and it was a full time job to make sure he stayed inside the car!

SIDEBAR: This was in the era prior to child car seats and seat belts! END SIDEBAR.

Guy had been described to us as a blue eyed charmer who was in need of an emergency placement. We later learned that the woman who planned to foster him for the long term had a family emergency of her own and was unable to accept this placement. We also found out that our home was the THIRD home in 21 days; the FOURTH in a month!

There was magic in the moment. He reached his little arms out to all of us and directed his greeting to me: “HI, MOM!” We all fell in love with one another that day.

Life with Guy was never dull. There were endless rounds of medical appointments and clinics; there were his strange behaviors and made-up language; we marveled at his will to do what all our kids were doing, despite the physical challenges and intellectual differences.

Along the way, Guy Foster was named Foster Child of the Year. He got to hug “his” Governor on TV the same day he ate lunch with him!

When he graduated high school and walked unassisted across the stage to accept his Special Ed diploma from the Governor of our state, another of “his” Governors, he got a standing O and it was quite the moment.

Along his journey from his arrival to our home and high school graduation he had endured many surgeries, three episodes of long term coma, in addition to many other ailments. He was a trooper who could laugh at himself. AND HE MADE US LAUGH, TOO!

Our nest began to empty but Guy stayed at home with Mom. There was Adult Day Care and he was a people person who knew everyone in our neighborhood.

When Mom remarried it created a blended family. Guy’s new step daddy had a special needs son, too. He lived in a Group Home and attended a workshop. Guy remained in the home we had shared and continued to attend Adult Day Care. We checked on him often to make sure he was eating well and managing successfully. When we found him unconscious, in need of an emergency shunt revision to correct spinal fluid, the decision was made to put him into a Group Home so he would never be alone.

He lived with his step brother and one other housemate. They all bonded and have remained close friends.

Guy’s health began to deteriorate, however. A surgery from which he did not recover well left him with memory issues, confusion, and lethargy. It was an exceedingly painful decision, but it needed to be made: To continue reading read part 2 here: http://www.growingupspecial.com/special-needs-finding-a-place-of-love-acceptance-part-2/

Dec
01

Never Underestimate A Special Needs Person’s Abilities

By Rainy on December 1st, 2010

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If you take the time to watch this video; you will understand the title of this blog post. Often, if we will just remove the limitations that others put on our special needs loved ones abilities; we will see them bloom and grow. How much of the world is kept from a special needs person because someone else thinks that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be capable of more. I love this video because it is a reminder that we all need room to spread out our wings just to see where we can go! Encourage them to explore their skills and talents; or, to pursue their interests … and never underestimate a special needs persons ability to achieve.

Nov
17

Special Kids Encourage One Another

By Rainy on November 17th, 2009

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     I don’t know if you, the reader, are familiar with special needs kids or not; but if you are, you probably already know about the special friendship connection and support that some special individuals give to one another.  I know of a very special young lady who is doing her part to touch the lives of others with her poems, her words, and her website.   She is beautiful and caring; her name is Jackie. 

      Jackie is sharing her gifts with others here on her site: http://iamspecialneeds.com/ .   Jackie “met” a new friend named Michael on video; and, she  said to her mother…he is special like me!  I love that they accept one another for who they are.   Jackie and Michael have shared videos with one another, lending each other positive support and encouragement.   The whole world needs more people like Jackie and Michael.  

       In a world that is quick to look for negative things and point them out to each other…it is wonderful to find two individuals who have words of encouragement and love for each other.  Here is a link to Michael’s video which tells Jackie how he appreciates her new blog.   http://bit.ly/R432F

        If you would be so kind as to visit Jackie’s website and let her know how her site touches you…I know she would feel joyful to hear your comments.   Also, if you would watch Michael’s video and leave a comment I am equally sure it would make his day to hear your thoughts on his generous spirit of good will towards his new friend Jackie! 

        We need to teach everyone to love more, to criticize one another less…and we would all be our best selves now wouldn’t we?

     

Aug
01

Sign Language To Communicate And Strengthen Relationships

By Rainy on August 1st, 2009

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I’ve had the recent pleasure of “meeting” an extra-ordinary person with a calling on her life to teach communication skills through sign language to families.  Louise Sattler is a very interesting person who has had a variety of experiences in different settings, including the educational field where she was a licensed school psychologist, which has enabled her to work with children and their families to develop strong and effective communication skills.

I met Louise through an online contest, believe it or not.  It was run on Twitter.  I happen to have won a poetry contest; and the prize, that I chose, was a DVD that made by Louise Sattler.   Louise has a site called:  http://www.signingfamilies.com/ . There you will find all kinds of information about Louise and what she does; but, I didn’t know all of that, when I won the DVD.

I chose that DVD because of the title and what I could potentially use it for.  The title is, “Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Sign Language”.   I work with children in several capacities and I liked the idea of learning some sign language just in case I needed to know it in the future.  I was so excited when i got the DVD because, just watching it I could see the passion and the commitment that Louise had for teaching sign language to children and their families.

Bravery came over me and I approached Louise about doing an interview with me so that I could blog about what she does through her workshops, her speaking engagements and through her DVD’s.   Louise agreed to do that and I thought that I would share the news of what she does because it helps so many people.  By teaching sign language as a way of communicating it allows families to be more effective in advocating for their special needs loved ones.

http://www.signingfamilies.com/ caters to those who live and work with individuals with special education needs.  Signing isn’t just for the deaf communities…people who struggle with many issues of disability can benefit from communicating through sign language.   So if you work in education, in health- care, daycare, foster care, adoption, or you have a business or a family member who is impacted…this is a great way to brush up your communication skills so that you can strengthen your ability to communicate effectively in your relationships.

If you would like to contact Louise Sattler about her programs & her work she can be reached at Louise@SigningFamilies.com; or, you can contact her to do a workshop, give an interview or a presentation by calling her business line at:               410-715-9647       .    Louise is also on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Louiseasl . She is very down to earth and she also teaches in Spanish-she is bi-lingual.  Ask her about her programs….tell her that Writewhereyouare sent you and you will get a discount.  :)   You can purchase her DVD’s at her site:  http://www.SigningFamilies.com/  or here on Amazon. com: http://bit.ly/913i5/

Ps.

  You can always stop by and see me also at:  http://www.writewhereyouareblog.com/ .

Jul
18

Recruiting People With Multiple Disabilities For The Military

By Rainy on July 18th, 2009

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          The young man’s name is Joshua Fry and he has been diagnosed as Autistic.  He was living in a group home at the time of his enlistment; in fact, it is alleged that a Marine recruiter picked him up from the home and took him to the recruitment center to enlist.  The background of the story, as I understand it, is that this young man was born to parents who allegedly abused drugs.  He was diagnosed as being Autistic, as a young child.   Joshua was allegedly abused as a child and he had learning disabilities.   He struggled in school and had allegedly developed a relationship with a military recruiter.  Joshua got himself into trouble allegedly for stealing and having a weapon; and, he was sent away to a treatment facility for counseling. 

           In the meantime, Joshua’s grandmother had custody of him and allegedly told the Marine recruiter to take Joshua’s name off of the call list as he was “not Marine material”.   It would have been easy enough to check that out by following up with the school administrators.  Those words should have been the end of any active pursuit of Joshua, as a person to be considered as a Marine recruit.

        For a recruiter to continue to persue an individual like Joshua; it should be considered a crime.  Many special needs people would love to be in the military; however, the nature of the job requires quick thinking, reliable decision making every time, the ability to use good judgement, and, to exhibit character traits that would be of an elevated level compared to the average individual.   Some individuals able-bodied or not, no matter how how they try, are not going to be able to perform at those levels and meet those responsibilities.  It is important that those in the military be able to do so because lives depend on it!

            For many people with multiple special needs…being able to make fast, quality decisions regarding the safety and well-being of themselves, as well as others, is difficult; even under normal circumstances, but if you add into the mix, the stress and chaos of a war situation, it could be a dangerous combination.  It is heartbreaking to have someone want to serve who just may not be qualified to do so because of a physical, emotional, or developmental disability.   But encouraging that same individual to go ahead and sign up should be criminal…it is not in the best interest of that individual, the military personel who work alongside of them, or the families who love and support them, to the best of their abilities.

         It is being alleged that when Joshua got out of the facility and entered the group home; he had re-established a relationship  with the recruiter.  If it is true that the grandmother had spoken to those at the recruiting station and told them of the problems with Joshua…that should have been the end of any attempts to recruit him.   If that recruiter had the knowledge of the problems that Joshua struggled with; he should not have allowed Joshua to sign up. 

            Joshua’s grandmother had the courts approval to be his legal conservator.  Basically, meaning that he was not able to sign most legal documents because he wasn’t able to completely understand the legal consequences in doing so.   He had a low IQ, he was diagnosed as Autistic, bi-polar, asthmatic, he had learning disabilities and he had also been treated in an in-patient environment.  For all of those reasons and more…he should never have been a candidate for service in the Marine Corps. 

         Once he got to boot camp, he found himself in over his head.  He got in trouble for stealing food, for disrespecting authority, and, he was not following orders.  He told those in positions of authority that he didn’t want to be a Marine and told them of his history.  They agreed he shouldn’t be there after talking to his grandmother; but, instead of sending him home he was allowed to graduate boot camp.  Months later, he was found to have pornographic photos on his cell phone…disciplined and instructed to not do it again.   He failed and again was found to be in possession…this time with child pornography.    What he did is wrong definately, does he understand that?  That is the question…does he know what he did is wrong; and, is he capable of understanding that his actions have legal consequences?

           He was arrested and is being held on a variety of charges that he probably does not understand and is incapable of avoiding committing over and over again in the same military environment that he should never have been allowed to enter in the first place.   For heaven’s sake, this is an individual that was living in a supervised setting because of issues relating to the impulsive behaviors associated with his disabilities that didn’t allow him to live independently.  How in the world is he expected to fulfill his commitment to the military?  What will happen to Joshua and others like him?  What kind of legal discipline will he be forced to accept?  Will he be dismissed from service and returned to a supervised group home setting or will he be in the prison system?  

          While some disabilities allow individuals to perform many tasks related to military life…there is no guarantee that those are the only situations in which they will be needed to perform in.  We have to be very careful about making decisions regarding allowing those with disabilities into the military.  Their very lives could depend on it. 

           Recruiters are expected to persuade prospects to sign on the dotted line and become a member of our military service.  However, people with documented low IQ’s, learning disabilities or medical or emotional issues that would prevent them from performing their duties in a safe and timely manner should not be “encouraged to join up”.  This feels a little like it is taking advantage of someone’s lack of understanding.  It is an unfair advantage to have knowledge that they could be put into situations that are not within their capabilities of handling appropriately; and, still encourage them to join the service.

          We are in a time of war, men and women are needed to serve.  However, it is wrong to recruit people who are at a disadvantage intellectually, physically or emotionally.  This issue is going to become more of a problem because of some changes being made to the educational requirements across our nation.  Many special education students are caught between a rock and a hard place with the raising of educational requirements to graduate.  Many of them will no longer be allowed to get a diploma…they will be getting a certificate of completion instead.  Some of them will have to go to high school for 5-6 years, as the additional requirements are phased in.  This is already resulting in many students either dropping out of high school or choosing to get a GED.   Many more will try to seek a position with the military because of the lack of jobs available for special needs persons.  Just because someone is disabled or has special needs doesn’t mean that they are not patriotic; it doesn’t mean that they don’t want the respect that being in the military can give them.  Many would love an opportunity to be a hero for their country by serving.  This makes them vulnerable to outside influences when it comes to signing up.

         It is important that the Marine Corps does what is right in this situation for Joshua and others like him.   He was out of his element here; and, it should have been stopped by those in a position to do so before he ever signed on the dotted line and spent one day in boot camp.   Many eyes will be watching.  Parents, agencies, friends and educators…please be aware that your special needs students are vulnerable to the desire to serve their country.  It is admirable, but they are also vulnerable to recruiters who need to put people into the service and are more than willing to talk to your students in a way that makes them even more determined to serve; whether they are fully capable of doing the job safely, or not.

       What are your thoughts on these issues?

Dec
23

When Love Isn’t Enough

By Rainy on December 23rd, 2008

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        When you first become a parent you think that love will conquer all things that get in your way while you parent your child.  However, there are somethings that can’t be conquered.  You can’t undiagnose a child who has been labeled special needs; and you can’t be the biological parent of a child that you didn’t give birth to.   As a parent, your greatest tool is love…but love isn’t enough to make bad situations go away.

          However, you can find ways to improve aspects of the quality of your children’s lives; and yours, as the parent of a special needs child or the parent of an adopted child. No matter what the situation, or what the diagnosis is…it doesn’t change the fact that you love your child.

       Disppointment is a real life shadow when experiencing obstacles raising children with challenges.  It can’t be avoided.  But love isn’t enough to change limitations imposed by a specific diagnosis…but, love is enough to find ways to still enable as much independence as possible.  When love isn’t enough to fill up the empty spots left by the void of a biological parent in their lives…it is enough to show compassion and empathy to help them understand that the empty spots don’t have to lead to destructive behaviors. 

         The truth be told; special needs children and adopted children need a strong advocate in life, in school, and in medical settings.   No one knows your child better than you, the parent, and no one will fight harder for them; to get the things that they need, when they need it.  Parents are on the front lines of battle for their child. 

         When love isn’t enough to magically make everything perfect and ok…it is enough to give you the courage and strength to face the challenges before you and your child; and to find ways to be successful and achieve the milestones in life, that you know your child will benefit from.  Love is enough to provide acceptance and encouragement to be growing as a person to be the best person that they can be.

Sep
02

Is There A Need For Support For Families Of Adopted And Or Special Needs Children?

By Rainy on September 2nd, 2008

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        My husband and I are the proud parents of six adopted children.  We have 3 girls and 3 boys.  Each person has their own gifts and blessings.   Some of those children are special needs children; and some are not.  We have children with special needs issues ranging from bi-polarism, to ADHD, to learning disabilities, to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, some have behavior related issues.  One is homeschooled, one is in special education classes, one should have been, and some have benefitted from regular educational services. Some are adults living their own lives very successfully.  Others struggle in some areas of  day- to- day activities.  A couple have to be supervised or encouraged every waking moment of the day to help keep them focussed on being the best person that they can be.  :)    They are all loved, supported and have brought much to our family. 

        Each person has their abilities and their challenges.  None of them did anything to deserve the life they were born into; they had no control over the very beginning of their life.  Yet, each of them must strive to have a loving, healthy, productive and happy life.  It is possible.  Some adaptations may be required for some of my children to have an independent life; but, it is possible.   Since it IS possible, we will do whatever we can do to help make that happen.

          Adoption is a complex thing.  It serves many purposes and yet…it has an ability to wound, to heal, to lift up, to destroy, to save lives, and to shuffle lives.  There are always imprints of a life that was supposed to be; melded into the life that is gifted and aborbed into another family.  There are moments of: celebration, sadness,  regrets, and purposeful choices; adoption is a wonderfully, painful mixture of the emotional buffet of life!  It is a parent’s responsibility to seek excellence for the quality of life for their children.

        Our family is special and unique; I bet your family is too!  We have had many successes as a family; as well as, some twists and turns that were unexpected.   The dream of a new parent doesn’t usually include the expectation that things could turn out differently from the dream of a picture perfect family.  A birth family or an adopted family does not get to choose from an ‘ala carte menu, of challenges it may or may not face.   As most parents would say, we live and breath for our children; and yet, we are not ashamed to say at times…we wonder…did we do the right thing?  Our children didn’t get a choice in life in which family they would grow up in.  There are shades of grey for each person…balancing the pros and cons of adoption.

         Whether a child is brought into a family by birthing it into the family, or by adoption…the child is received with awe, with excitement, and with hope for a beautiful future.  There are unexpected situations at times regarding health issues, behavioral issues, attachment issues, emotional issues and even loyalty issues.  Those things and more can affect the foundation of a family.

         Many families are jolted to learn that their child has special needs or that their adopted child has issues that will affect them and their family for years to come.  It is a difficult time for parents and other siblings to struggle to learn about the issues facing the family…because…none of us go it alone. 

          Family is a support system all unto itself…but, sometimes the issues can seem overwhelming.  That is the time that families need to reach beyond their boundaries that are self imposed, because many do not understand what we face as families with challenges.  Don’t let that stop you from reaching out.  You just might be surprised by the impact that you could have on another…or vice versa.

          Really, for many people going through the shattered reality that their family is not following the dream of perfect completion…there is a sense of isolation and a perceived lack of understanding from others who have not walked in the same pair of shoes.

          So, is there a need for support and information for families who have experiences that can mirror each other?  Is there a wealth of understanding that is untapped because we have not had the opportunity to join forces and absorb techniques and encouragement from one another?  I think there is.  I have heard so many comments that would break your heart.  Families that are under so much strain that they threaten to break and disintegrate under the pressure.  If one person or family can benefit from sharing and encouraging each other here; then, the blog will have served it purpose.

         Do you know someone who has things to share?  Do you know someone who could benefit from a little support or information?  Do you know someone who is facing a future with a special needs child and is struggling?  Do you know someone with rose colored glasses that is thinking about adoption; but, isn’t willing to accept anything less than perfection?  Bring them to a place that will enlighten them, encourage them, and embrace them!  Families should be celebrated and enjoyed…not everyone is blessed with people to share their love with.

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