special needs

Summer Camp for our Special Children

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All over the country children are bubbling with excitement, for they know summer break is days away or for some has already started.  Many parents are bubbling to; I’m just not sure all of it is excitement as much as a tad bit of stress. For the next 2 months we’re in charge of making an itinerary to keep our children busy and happy for the several hours a day that they were in school.

Summer camps are a great resource for parents. A lot of camps have 8 hour schedules, which allow the children to be somewhere safe where they can interact with other children and learn some cool stuff at the same time. This of course allows for the parents to keep up their work schedule and/or other interests they’re committed to.

The Park Districts in most cities have “Special Recreation” for special needs individuals ranging from the ages of 7- 19. In addition the prices are drastically lower than other camps. However, don’t let that be the determining factor.  We know our children better than anyone so definitely choose the camp that’s a good fit for your child. I highly recommend visiting the park with your child prior to signing them up. Good vibes makes for good experiences for both the parent and child.

I look forward to sharing and reading your summer camp stories very soon.

Big Hug

Bernadette

Why so few Options?

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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.

Politics and Autism

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The upcoming Presidential Election has once again brought the fierce exchange of insult slinging between the two candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Like many Americans, I’ve been following the Presidential Debates and watched the latest of the two which aired on Sunday, October 9th. There was the typical talk of politics and how each of the candidates felt they could do a better job than the other… but then it happened… I heard a little piece that was targeted specifically at me. Hillary Clinton stated that she has worked to make sure special needs children are give the proper resources in schools to lead meaningful lives. My brain immediately hit the refresh button for my body as I immediately became more attentive and focused on what the two candidates were saying.

Hillary Clinton was right to make note of the efforts that she has made to insure that our children have education equality and are given the same opportunities as other children to become productive members of society. NEWS FLASH everyone, WE MATTER. Every single day we take care of our special needs loved ones and our efforts are not in vain. We are preparing great people to do great things, so it is befitting that a Presidential Candidate boast about what she is doing and plans to do for us because WE MATTER. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic; I welcome your comments.

Keep This in Mind

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Things can be tough sometimes as parents/caregivers of children with autism. However, despite the challenges that we face with our kids we must stay planted in the belief that our love, support, advocacy and tireless efforts are worth it to give them great childhoods and bright futures. Remember…our loved ones are touched by autism not held by it.

IEP: Not a Gift but a Right

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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.

And the Winner is..

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We did it! Christian and I started back to school shopping today. We started the trek to school supply supremacy at Walmart, where there was aisles and aisles of options. The first stop was the back pack section. It took Christian all of 4 seconds to choose a Super Mario Brothers back pack, which turned out to be the on school supply he was excited to get. Everything else I had to knag him into selecting. You know… which folder do you want, which lunch bag do you like the best? However, I am still stamping part 1 of the 4G back to school shopping a success! Part 2 will be shopping for clothes and shoes. Let the good times roll!