Growing Up Special

Parents of Special Needs and Adopted Children Seeking Excellence

Nov
30

Be Pepared To Meet The Needs Of Special Needs Family Members

By Rainy on November 30th, 2009

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Today’s post is a guest post by Connie Baum.  She is the author of : http://thehealthyandwealthyyou.com/blog/.   Connie knows of what she speaks regarding caring for loved ones with special needs.  Please read…this comes from her heart.

Toastmasters International stresses to their membership the importance of preparing each speech.  It is important to think each project through, outline it carefully, craft it, and rehearse the presentation to perfection.

 Preparing for our beloved special needs family members is even more critical; the quality of their very lives depends upon how carefully their family members have collectively thought out plans, outlined the needs, and decided together what would be the ideal scenario for the life of that special person in the family.

 Everyone in town knew Marvin.  He was a cheery, personable fellow with special needs and he lived with his parents until his elderly father passed away.  For a decade or so Marvin told everyone he was the man of the house now and was taking care of Mother.  When Mother died unexpectedly, Marvin was left alone, morose, and with no plan in place.

 It was patently obvious Marvin had been well cared for and dearly loved.  Close family members were seriously interested to help Marvin get on with his life after mourning his loss; but, they were unable to care for Marvin in their homes on a long term basis.  When his mother was gone, he was lost and alone.  After much confusion and a flurry of activity by family members and social service workers who intervened on Marvin’s behalf, Marvin was able to find a place to live with an agency well suited to meet his physical and social needs.  They even found work for him in their sheltered workshop!  Best of all, he could take a bus to his home church every Sunday morning!  His value and worth was recognized and all his needs were being met.

Things for Marvin worked out swimmingly.  Families who plan together for every eventuality, including burial and internment, can rest assured the needs of their special family member, whose needs are unique, will be properly met.  It does take some open and frank discussion, contact with trusted attorneys and/or social workers to create a workable plan for the future for the “Marvins” of the world. 

 Implementing these plans can often be painful for family and clients alike.  It can be reminiscent of the loss of death.  It is the demise of the familiar, the comfortable.  Conversely, it is entrance into a bright new world with exciting new opportunities, fresh new relationships and networks, as well as discovery of untapped skills and talents!  There are transitions that are smooth sailing; other times the move into the new world is fraught with difficulty and adjustment comes more slowly.

 Toastmasters members plan for successful speeches; loving families plan for successful lives-particularly where the lives of precious special needs people are their prime consideration.

 Connie Baum

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?

     

Nov
02

Fear Of Down’s Syndrome Increases Abortion Numbers

By Rainy on November 2nd, 2009

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        I read an article that says that with prenatal genetic testing, performed before the 24th week of gestation that indicates a fetus will potentially be born with Down’s Syndrome, means that 90 percent of such parents have/or will choose to abort that pregnancy.  

        This means that less children are being born with Down’s Syndrome, it is a disorder that can affect the bodily functions of the person affected, they can have thyroid disorders, mental retardation, heart defects, reflux, ear infections, sleep apnea and some obvious facial cues such as a round face with small chin, and eyes that are almond shaped with an upward slant at the outer corners, they may have shorter limbs than the average person along with poor muscle tone.  Many people are fearful that they can not handle raising a special needs child who is affected by Down’s Syndrome because of ignorance of the disorder. 

           I wonder if by doing these prenatal genetic tests, parents are unprepared for the outcome of information.  Finding out that your unborn child has a disease/disorder/illness is only the first step.  What happens after that information is presented to the parents?   This information has to be dealt with in some means or fashion.  Sometimes there are procedures that can be performed on the unborn child to improve it’s health and well being; other times there is nothing to be done.  This is when some people decide to choose abortion as opposed to raising a child with special needs.   You can learn more about this disorder here:  http://www.ndss.org/ or here: http://www.nads.org/pages_new/resources/down_orgs.html

             Abortion is a forever decision…there is no do over.   What happens when one half of the parents wants to choose life and one wants to abort?  Or one wants to risk surgery or medical intervention and the other parent disagrees?  These issues can cause unbelievable stress and frustration…not to mention spiritual unrest when faced with a life and death decision regarding their child when it goes against their religious beliefs.   Time is often the catalyst for a hasty decision.  There were examples in the news story that talked about women/couples that made the decision for abortion…only to have future interaction with an individual with Down’s Syndrome, only to say later that if they knew more about the condition maybe they would not have chosen abortion. 

          Every life has value…fear is such a strong emotion that I think it can cause people to make a decision about abortion that they may live to regret.  If a person or couple truly feels that they are ill equipped to raise a child with Down’s Syndrom than I personally believe they should bring the child into the world and allow it to be adopted.   There is no shortage of people who wish to adopt and to parent a child…many people feel a calling to parent special needs children.   There are some people who consider the child born with Down’s Syndrome to be a “gift”; or to be endowed with an extra-ordinary ability to love unconditionally.   We should all be born with such a condition which causes us to love unconditionally!

Oct
05

Autism On The Rise

By Rainy on October 5th, 2009

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         A huge area of concern for parents around the globe is  reports declaring that Autism diagnosis numbers are on the rise…some in fact, are saying that the numbers are doubling.  I read a recent article here: http://bit.ly/I5rII  .  This increase in numbers is frightening for those who are of childbearing years.  Baby boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed as being autistic as baby girls are; is that for real?   What is causing our children to be born with this condition?  Is it the environment, diets, or genetic disposition?  Is this an epidemic, or are our fears and faulty diagnoses at the core of the problem? 

         Frankly, if your child is one who is affected by an Autism diagnosis or label…it really doesn’t matter.  The fact is that your child is facing some serious issues both socially, emotionally, and physically.  What is desperately needed is some answers; and the only way to get those answers is through research.  Funding is a big part of the research solution.  Learn more about Autism and it’s research issues here:  http://www.autism.com/ .  If we all work together…we can improve the lives of families around the world who struggle with the effects of Autism.

Sep
05

Communication Through Sign Language Opens Doors And Bridges Gaps

By Rainy on September 5th, 2009

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 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?

Click on Image to listen to Interview

Click on Image to listen to Interview

        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

Aug
18

Special Needs Families: Are You On A Trip To Holland?

By Rainy on August 18th, 2009

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                                                           Are you on a “trip to Holland”?

         The poem written by Emily Perl Kingsley was cut out and pasted on refrigerator from February of 1992 until we moved to a new home in 1995.  It was titled, “ Welcome to Holland”.  In essence, it was a snapshot of what it is like to being unprepared when you give birth to a child who has challenges, such as medical or cognitive disabilities.

         There is one section of the poem that I read over and over again, “After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”     “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”   But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.”

My husband and I wanted to go to Italy and ended up in Holland on February 7, 1992.  I should have known that our trip to second time parenthood would be bumpy as we were told that our second born was to be a girl.   “Two girls, so nice”, my OB-GYN told me.  Guess what, we had the first boy born in 28 years in my family when he arrived via emergency c-section.  Not breathing right.  Sugar too low, heartbeat too high.  I could already feel the “plane veer” off course.

       Days later we were allowed to go home only to notice that our little “fella” was turning the color of a Sunkist orange.  Not good.  Not good at all.  Rushed back to the hospital to be told it was simple “jaundice”.  Nope, nothing in the child’s life would be simple, I found out. Days go on and before the first actual tulip bloomed that year we were in intensive care with our young guy.  Jaundice ended up to be a “liver problem” – not yet determined, but possibly very serious and could lead to severe retardation.  Respiratory syncytial virus/ RSV nearly claimed his life.  Reflux choked him every third breath.  Our nightmare continued.  You know you have a very sick baby when you can’t find room in the isolated PICU suite because of the number of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists working with your child to keep him alive.  You also know your baby is very ill when the nurses come and ask you questions such as, ‘Is there anyone we can call for you?”  Does God have a hotline, I wonder? 

      For any new parent who has a baby you know this is the worst part of the scenario- waiting.   You wait to see if the tests are positive for illnesses that are unimaginable.  You wait to see if the insurance will cover the rare and complicated blood work, machines that are helping your child stay alive or special therapy sessions ordered.  You wait to see if you will ever have a “normal” life again for yourself, your family, your work, etc.  Will your child walk, talk, eat normally, have friends, etc.? You begin truly begin to hate Holland. 

      Then, little by little, the wait can end.  Test results come back.   Therapies begin.  Hospitalizations end and you go home.  But, for many of us, this is when you start a new journey in to the realm of Special Education.  Here is the most ironic part of this story and the reason I am writing it for this blog.  I am a special educator.  I am a full fledge, certified School Psychologist that is trained with helping parents and children with special needs.  All my training flies out the window as my mind is trying to process the months of evaluations, reports and recommendations from specialists.   Ironic indeed.  I have now changed teams!  Instead of being the intervention specialist I now am the one calling our local school district asking for help from the Early Intervention Team!   And I am so grateful when they appear at my door. But, I still have problems with paperwork and understanding all the information.  How can this be?  I do this job everyday and I am still wading through it because my head is so full of grief and confusion.  The team helps me. Everyday gets a little better. Clarity arrives with every meeting or visit from a team member. Family members come on board to help.  We get it griethrough it. 

     Now fast- forward, our son improves with therapy as he starts to talk, walk (actually run) and become quite sociable.  He has more hospital visits but he is deemed fairly healthy.  His liver has a benign disorder and we are told that he shouldn’t go without food or enter in to the military.  We can live with those two stipulations to have a benign liver disorder vs. the alternatives.

 I also become a much better psychologist.  Often I go to our refrigerator and I read Welcome to Holland.  As I do, I imagine my own fears, but also the see the faces and hear the sad, confused and sometimes hopeful voices of countless parents and children I have worked with in the past. I am a better person because I stopped in Holland than Italy.

    As for the little “fella”, he is applying to colleges now. He has had his challenges, but nothing we couldn’t handle without the help of school and healthcare professionals.

     And guess where he suggested we go on summer vacation this year?  Holland.  Well, I’ll be!

Hello Readers:  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Louise Sattler.  Louise is an expert in working with children…as she said…she is a certified School Psychologist.  She also heads up a great business known as Signing Families.  She has a website that you can access here:  http://www.signingfamilies.com.  Louise is available to do workshops and she does speaking engagements as well.  Teaching sign language helps build relationships and opens doors of communication for those with special needs.  Louise and Signing Families has a wonderful DVD which teaches beginning sign language for babies, toddlers and pre-school age children; it has over 100 signs to use. 

      I can say that she is a very engaging woman who is open and willing to share her expertise and her experiences when it comes to educating and helping families succeed in opening doors of communication for their special loved ones.  Thank you Louise for sharing your personal perspective of living successfully with challenges in parenting children with special needs!

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
24

The Care and Feeding of Guy Foster—Part TWO

By Rainy on July 24th, 2009

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Guy began to leave his bed for longer periods of time.  His appetite improved.  He became strong enough to participate in a sheltered workshop program.  Then he went to his workshop eagerly and more often.

 

The most amazing wonder of all was that after ten years, Guy Foster LEFT the nursing home to live in a Group Home setting, where he earns spending money from his job in a recycling center.  He has a network of people with whom he exchanges letters and jokes; he has a standing invitation to drum with a group of Indian friends. He even enjoys regular visitors to his apartment and phone chats.  He is proudly learning normal life skills.

 

At this writing, Guy Foster is 42 years young and full of vim, vinegar and vitality.  He encourages others every day with his greeting cards, his empathy and his love.  He also believes the world’s entire population should be drinking “his kind” of water!

 

What I would like to impart to anyone whose eyes have fallen on this page is this: Feed every family member organic whole foods when you can; pure, filtered water and lots of it.  Get adequate amounts of sleep and rest and balance that with movement, exercise.  Supplement everyone’s diets with whole foods supplements and add in green super foods and highly mineralized juices.  Not just fruit juices, but the supplemental juice products used by the ounce.  Use as much fresh, raw food as you possibly can because we all need the phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, enzymes and vitamin/mineral content that is so plentiful in fresh foods.  I’d also encourage anyone to boldly immerse yourselves in the study of body work-Reiki, Ortho-bionomy, massage therapy- whatever strikes your fancy.  Investigate the wonders of energy medicine.  Learn all you can about herbs, homeopathic remedies, Macrobiotic foods, Ayurvedic methods, and whatever else resonates with you.  Find a good chiropractor who understands that the body heals from the inside, not the other way around.  Any health practitioner worth his salt will teach you a variety of complementary ways of working with bodies that may not be “perfect” according to someone’s standard.  One more thing:  Make the kinds of memories that cause you to laugh so hard your face and belly hurt!

 

Families who avoid artificial sweeteners, MSG, soda pop, processed, packaged and micro waved food products as well as fluoride-laden dental products will notice a huge improvement in the quality of their lives.  These changes will be remarkable where issues are noted involving the nervous system, digestion, and elimination.

 

As soon as the physical body gets its needs met, the mental needs fall into line, along with the emotional and spiritual.  When those requirements are satisfied, fewer behavior issues are problematic, sleep is more refreshing, cheer is the order of the day and peace can reign in the busiest household!

 

Connie Baum

http://motherconniesez.blogspot.com

 

      Thank you Connie for sharing with us the experiences that you have had and the knowledge that you dont have to accept life as status quo…you can seek therapies that enrich the lives of our special needs loved ones.

 

 

Jul
24

The Care and Feeding of Guy Foster—Part One

By Rainy on July 24th, 2009

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The Care and Feeding of Guy Foster—Part One

 

The care and feeding of any family of kids is an important undertaking.  Every growing body needs lots of whole foods; good pure water; adequate exercise and sleep.   Every body requires large amounts of hugs and laughter to mature properly.  That’s what people have in common with one another.

 

I have had a lifelong interest in food, nutrition and all things pertaining to health so it was natural for me to gravitate toward healthy choices as I prepared meals for my growing family.

 

When we welcomed a certain charming three year old with multiple health issues into our family, it became all the more imperative to pay attention to what we all ate and drank and how we managed the care of our health.

 

The new kid on our block, Guy Foster, had four caretakers in three months before his arrival.  Prior to that, he had lived in two hospitals and he endured multiple orthopedic, exploratory, corrective and brain surgical procedures.  To be honest, Guy was an adorable, busy blob of humanity whose needs were monumental.

 

The most pressing issue was a shunt that keeps spinal fluid from collecting in his skull.  There were many other challenges, too, but the most persistent was the dreadful odor that surrounded Guy’s body.  No amount of scrubbing, no brand of soap, and no sort of deodorant offered any relief.  It was a major concern.

 

Guy’s health had its ups and downs.  When Guy was 29 he underwent a surgery that had a bad outcome.  That’s when it was decided he should live in a nursing home.   Only those who have gone through that process can appreciate the pain of that time in our lives.

 

During Guy’s tenure in the nursing home we discovered a new kind of water.  It had more minerals and oxygen so we thought it would be good to get Guy to drink that.  He even had a spray bottle for topical use. 

 

We also acquired a magnetic mattress and pillow, along with a Far Infra Red comforter for the hospital bed on which he languished most of his days AND nights.  We slipped magnetic insoles into his shoes, much to the chagrin of his orthotics and prosthetics specialists. They just did not fathom the concept. 

 

The dietary people were unhappy, too.  They did not appreciate or value the purpose behind the juice or “green stuff”-barley grass-we provided to accompany Guy’s meals and the nursing staff complained bitterly, loudly, and often that the whole foods supplements we brought for Guy had not been sanctioned nor labeled by the pharmacy department.

 

As time passed, we opted not to use any medications in Guy’s treatment.  The medical staff at the nursing home became ENRAGED over that decision but as Guy’s legal guardian I had the right to make that choice.  It was in Guy’s best interest, after all.

 

Over time, the toxicity of the medications eventually left Guy’s battered body, leaving him more alert, more active.  The many surgical scars that covered much of his body had faded into oblivion.  Best of all, even his breath was sweet!  He was no longer plagued by the issue of odor!

 

Connie Baum

http://motherconniesez.blogspot.com

 

       Thank You Connie for your guest blog post!

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?

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