This is the second part of a guest blog post by my friend Connie Baum where she shares a very personal journey that her family has taken as a family with not one but two special needs sons. To read part one click here: http://www.growingupspecial.com/special-needs-finding-a-place-of-love-acceptance-part-1/
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: Guy needed to be placed in a nursing facility for 24 hour care. At the time of his arrival, the staff estimated he might linger for six months. He was weak, thin, depressed, in great pain, and was very confused. He was 29 years young.
It was about this time in his life that his Services Coordinator, who had been a faithful partner in so many transitions in Guy’s life, transferred to a different office. He would be served by a new coordinator. I will always remember the young dark haired beauty who arrived, curls bouncing, carrying in the stack of folders pertinent to Guy’s case. We loved HER at first sight, too! She was a mighty advocate for as long as she worked with Guy.
Over a decade, Guy’s health had significantly improved. Because of what Mom had learned about water, supplements, sleep systems, energy medicine and a plethora of information he was able to participate in another workshop setting. It was with great joy that he became able to live in a Group Home. He would miss his friends at the Nursing Home but a Group Home would mean more opportunity for learning and a more upbeat existence.
Things with the agency sponsoring the group home began to unravel at the same time we parents needed to simplify our lives. We consulted our beloved services coordinators-past and present-for answers to our dilemma.
As we were debating our course of action we learned of a brand new agency with a fresh vision and hopeful philosophy. Could we trust this new agency? Would they let us down?
After a VERY rough start to the beginning of a chapter in life that put those step brothers back under the same roof, we have met the people who will be caring for both guys.
These people WANT our boys. They have a home that is laid out so as to accommodate them. They have children and relatives who will embrace them. They seem to be well qualified and well trained for the job they have accepted. This amazing couple, and their family, came to the agency at THE PERFECT TIME. I am persuaded it is a ‘God thing’!
Nothing in life is certain. But we are feeling mighty elated! We have no control over things like our kids’ lives, so we must TRUST that Divine Providence is at work.
Special needs have become special blessings on so many levels!
This morning we are marveling at the synchronicity of how our boys are enjoying a quality of life we dared to hope might be possible. If it is not synchronicity; if not a God thing, then, pray tell, what IS it?
If you would like to learn more about Connie you can check out her Health And Wealthy site
Last night my family attending an open house for an area wide school program for high school special needs student. This is a program that my kids have attended over the last 4-5 years. It is run by two teachers and works with kids from our counties local school. Here the student make wood projects such as birdhouses and picnic tables. These are fantastic products. The kids work hard. The teachers work hard. One of the teachers works the saws. The students 16 or under must use the cordless drills and over 16 get to use corded drills. They have many orders, especially for the picnic tables. However, as like any program funding is always an issue.
Until recently the students only had half of the building that houses this program. Now they have the full use of the building and the students also perform a great service to the community by sorting and recycling the cities trash. Here again, updates have been taking place. They sort the plastics according to their number which differentiates one plastic from another. Then there is “junk” plastic that doesn’t get used and must be thrown away. This is something that is not only helpful to the community it is helpful to the planet. Basically, it performs a community service project for a large group of people.
The new update or addition to the program is a glass crusher which recycles glass from the garbage. Whoo Hoo this is fun to watch. It is a big machine that has pipes that goes to the ceiling and ventilates any dust out of the large work space. This machine crushes and deposits the glass into big bins. When you feel the glass there aren’t any sharp edges. The program is looking to different ways to help this program fund itself. Some of the uses for the crushed glass are as material used for sand blasting as there are different degrees of the end product or “grit”. Some of the glass is powder fine and some of it is the size of small glass beads. Then there are some coarser pieces. These bins sparkle with the crushed glass. They are even using the end product for landscaping. It is pretty to see…some of the glass is as fine as powdery sand on the beach…others sparkle along sidewalks and such.
The colors are fantastic. They range from a clear color, to a light seafoam green to brown….there is some blue but for some reason there are not as many blue glass bottles and such made nowdays. The prettiest to me was the bins where the colors were mixed together. I imagined the crush glass to be used in art projects and in floral arrangements at the bottom of the vases. Maybe used in making decorative patio blocks or cement pads. In fact, I am thinking next summer of making a patio area around our firepit with cement and adding in the crushed glass in the surface to add a bit of style and color.
The sad part of the program to me is that there is so little funding. The kids work with regular tools…these are not designed for commercial or heavy duty use; which is the workout that those tools get. It is costly to keep replacing these tools. What would be fantastic would be to have a tool company supply them with commercial grade tools. Noone really knows of what this programs needs are in the community. These kind of programs don’t get the attention that they deserve or need. I wish I was independently wealthy and could fund the areas that they need financial help with. The student could be learning skills that they could use in the future to help them earn a living once they are too old for the program. That is IMPORTANT for their personal success.
How could this program find ways to fund itself with these assets? That is the question. In the front of the “shop” they could set up a retail area….if only they could come up with some ideas. Do you have any ideas? Do you support your schools programs for your communities special needs students?
Today I did an interview with Louise Sattler who is the creative owner/operator of http://www.signingfamilies.com. Louise is an expert trainer at workshops and classes that teach American Sign Language to help people communicate with one another. She is also a certified school psychologist who has an awareness of the importance of the need for families and community leaders to learn sign language. Sign Language opens doors and bridges gaps for people who are hearing impaired, or who may have developmental delays or special needs. Communication is something that many people take for granted.
Put yourself in the position of a person who is hearing impaired, or a person who lives with special needs; and, consider some environments they they may experience differently than you; such as a trip to the hospital or emergency room. How different would the experience be for you if you were the one who had difficulty making your needs known to the health care professionals. Or say you are an elderly person who is experiencing hearing loss…how are you going to communicate with other residents or say the staff? How about shopping or getting educational services at college or in elementary school? How about ordering a meal in a restaurant? Do you see how the quality of life can be improved for people impacted in this way? Can you see how sign language could open doors for people if others in the community took the opportunity to learn it from someone like Louise or through her DVD’s?
If you are interested in learning more about Louise and her educational services please listen to the interview here: http://www.rapidcashmarketing.com/lorrainesinterview/signingfamilies.htm
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/.
You can always stop by and see me also at: http://www.writewhereyouareblog.com/ .
I have been reading a book called, Love You To Pieces. It is a collection of written pieces on raising special needs children; some pieces are true and some are fiction. It is a book rooted in real life challenges facing parents of special needs children. It is not a Hallmark moment kind of book filled with false illusions of perfection.
Every family that faces issues in raising special needs children finds themselves learning how to do it in a way that is workable for their particular family. No one can go to a doctor or a website and find a perfect way of coping that is workable for each and every person in that situation. There is often no right way to do it. Many times in raising our children we have to learn as we go. Sometimes what worked the day before no longer works and we must adjust our technique.
This book showcases the emotional and the practical side of parenting challenged children. It is real and gut wrenching and truthful. The physical difficulties that parents face as their special needs child grows and their abilities do not. The doctor appointments that reveal multiple challenges that were unexpected. The public perceptions that both hinder and inspire progress. Siblings that are supportive and friends and relatives that are not. Relationships that support each other and relationships that flounder under the strain. Moments of denial and acceptance. Judgements and advice by people who have no real idea of what it takes to raise a special needs child successfully. Parenting is a strange mixture of courage and fear…searching for answers that we are sometimes unwilling to accept. These are issues that we all find ourselves in when parenting special needs children.
Often times, parents of special needs children feel isolated. It is a fine balance of looking for opportunities to socialize and educate our children in environments that will impose no further harm or damage upon our children. This book is a validation of so many issues, that we face, that it is somewhat comforting to know that we are not alone in our struggles. It is a book worth reading. It was written by Suzanne Kamata who is a fiction writer for an online magazine, Literary Mama. The publisher is Beacon Press; their website is: www.beacon.org and the book was copyrighted in 2008
Here is an article with some resource links that you may find interesting!