Why so few Options?

The recent events involving the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union(CTU) put some things on my mind as I was left feeling extremely vulnerable within the last 72 hours. The City of Chicago and the CTU announced that they had come to an agreement at 11:55pm last night; 5 minutes before the deadline to avoid a strike. In the event of a strike Chicago Public School teachers would not have gone to work which means students would not have been able to go to school.

This is bothersome on so many levels because for one, Education is one thing that is key to having a prosperous future and therefore should not be looked upon as an option. Secondly, everyone in this country has the right to an education, so having a lapse in what we are owed seems like an infraction upon or rights. However, being faced with the possible scenario of a strike left me wondering where my child would go while I was at work? I found a short list of places that would open their doors to children that attended Chicago Public Schools and, were not able to stay at home due to parent work obligations, but on that list it was only one organization that was properly staffed to work with Special Needs children. The Chicago Park District has a Special Recreation program and staff that work with Special Needs children on a regular basis. However, though I was relieved to know that my son would have a safe place to go; it left me wondering why my options are so few.The parents of the children that are not special needs had several options as to where they could take their children while I only had one.

I am going to make it a point to talk to aldermen and any other necessary city officials to get more resources for special needs families. We should have multiple options as to where we can take our children when they are not in school. Autism, Down Syndrome and other disabilities are not new therefore resources for people touched by them should not be scarce. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic.

HE gave me a Sign!

Today started kind off rocky. I went to bed earlier last night but woke up more tired than ever. We missed the school bus so I drove Christian to school, which I love doing, but we left 10 minutes later than I planned so then we had to rush. Traffic plus running late equals not the way I wanted to start the day.

I’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now, so I drove to work with a  really defeated mindset. However, the day turned around with a lot of small nudges in areas that meant a lot to me…areas that only God knows I had grown weary in. It’s such an amazing feeling when HE takes the time to remind you that HE hasn’t forgotten about your concerns.

Decisions Are All They’re Cracked Up To Be

Today after I picked Christian up from school we stopped at a gas station we recently discovered. This particular gas station has two restaurants inside, so before getting gas we decided to look at the menu. We’re both big fans of Mexican food so it was almost a no brainer to order tacos to go. However, before I ordered I asked Christian if he wanted tacos. After all he can talk and a little over a year ago started to give his input as to what we ate. After asking him what he wanted to eat I discovered he wanted pizza instead.

It’s such a natural reaction as a parent to make all of the decisions because we have to run our households. However, I was reminded today that as our kids grow, it’s important to let them share their opinions and make decisions. Life is full of decisions and because being able to make good ones is so important practicing make them, no matter how small they are, can only help in the long run. I guess as a parent I grew a little today.

IEP: Not a Gift but a Right

As the new school year is well under way, parents from all over the world are talking to their child’s teacher about the best way to teach their children. While this can be a quite a process don’t look over the fact that your child has a right to a quality education. Parents of special needs children have the legal right to what is called an IEP in the U.S., U.K and Canada  and an ORS(Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) in New Zealand.

IEP stands for Individual Education Program and is done annually as your child progresses from year to year. This is a wonderful tool parents can use to sit down with teachers and school administrators to discuss education goals for their child. For instance, if your child requires speech therapy you can implement a goal where your child learns to speak in full sentences or if  your child is learning to write you can implement a goal that they be taught to write their name. Sitting down with the IEP team, which by the way you are a part of , also gives you the chance to explain your child’s behavior. I know a lot of parents deal with meltdowns with children that are autistic and this is a constant concern for them. At an IEP meeting you can explain to the teachers and other staff that work with your child the most effective way to calm your child. You can tell them when a meltdown is most likely to happen and signs to look for. Having this kind of input gives you, the parent, lots of control and a sense of comfort because you know what your child is working on.

Remember this is your legal right and not a gift from the school. For more information on the IEP process in the United States visit the U.S. Department of Education website. Other countries should refer to their Department of Education website. Our children can and will have bright futures with a quality education plan set in place, so lets make sure they have one.

Shaking in my Sandles

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Well these are the last few hours of the big countdown. For the past few weeks we’ve been preparing for this point and now it’s finally here; tomorrow is the first day of the school year. Christian couldn’t be happier; he’s asked to wear his backpack everyday for the last 2 weeks. Tonight it sits on the edge of the couch waiting for him to pick it up in the morning. We sharpened pencils last night and got everything put away.

There is one rather sizeable surprise….I’ve got the first day of school jitters. I haven’t the slightest idea why. He’s been at this school for awhile and we know his teachers, so I don’t know what this feeling is all about. I think it’s all the anticipation. We’re looking forward to seeing his teachers and meeting his new classmates. Hello 2014/15 school year!

The Lunch bag Model

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The back to school shopping adventure is already showing it’s rewards! Christian’s so excited about his new back pack and lunch bag that he’s already asking to go to school. Today he put his new lunch bag on the handle of his scooter and road around with it while we ran our errands. It’s always nice to see that they’re excited about things that are outside of there normal focus zone, which for Christian is DVDs. Hooray for growth!