Communication — 5 Minutes for Special Needs



I had a meeting today with various members of our support team at school. I was trying to understand more about what is going on with the child’s writing, and basically learned nothing. “She’s doing fine. Yes, we acknowledge the struggle that writing, and indeed any expression of language is for her, but she’s meeting benchmarks, or close enough, so…”

So basically she hasn’t fallen far enough behind to warrant further…whatever the next step would be. We have to wait until she’s flailing. Flailing is bad for this child…(well for any child, but this one tends to respond with physical aggression)…Why is this so hard to understand and avoid?

I feel like I’m just constantly pushing, pushing, pushing for them to do more, to understand more, to listen more. I feel this even though I don’t think I’m the squeakiest wheel out there. Overall I’m amazed at how well the child has been doing since being forcibly transferred to this school. Maybe they think I should leave well enough alone? Should I just be satisfied?

I think like every other parent I just want her to have the best shot possible at fulfilling her true potential. The challenge is that to help her reach that potential she’s going to need a little more support and skilled teaching. Is it too much to ask?



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A few years ago, I fell in love with Signing Time. Jack was struggling to do much more than scream and I was increasingly frustrated. In a last ditch effort, I bought some DVDs and prayed that he would communicate with me. Slowly, he began to sign (things like more and done) and I felt like maybe I could communicate with him.

That’s when I decided that I was going to stalk Rachel Coleman (co-Founder and general all-around awesome human being). I followed her on Twitter and began to join the weekly Signing Time chat (sadly, they’re no longer doing it–because it was SUPER fun!).

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The Social Pendulum

There was a time when I feared my daughter would not even catch it when someone was being mean to her. Because of her receptive, expressive, and pragmatic language delays she is ripe for the type of bullying where the true bully convinces an intermediary to do their dirty work for them. She doesn’t catch the facial expressions and tone of voice that go with teasing. It would be pretty easy to imagine a scenario where she’s getting picked on and doesn’t even quite realize it, or at least doesn’t understand it enough to know how to handle it. The latter is recipe for disaster since when she doesn’t know how to handle things she pretty much explodes.

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Truth or Dare

We’ve hit another strange milestone. I think the child has learned how to lie. Not that she does it well, mind you. Previously she has been honest to a fault:

Why is your brother crying?

Because I hit him…

Ah. Whether I liked the answer or not, at least I knew it was true.

There is a part of me that knows this new skill is a “good” sign. It means she is learning that other people have different thoughts, different ideas, different knowledge. It’s a developmental stage, but not one I’ve been overly eager to get to. Two recent conversations illustrate her new skill.

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It’s Not a Race

I think we are about to hit an interesting phase of our family. The younger apparently neurotypical siblings are about to reach certain developmental milestones before their big sister does.

 Little boy has just about mastered his daytime toilet learning. One of our first signs that he was physically ready for this achievement was that his diaper was staying dry overnight. Just about every night his pull-up is dry, and when this box is used up one way or another, I don’t plan to buy more. Big sister still needs pull-ups at night, and there’s no getting around it. Those underjam alternatives for bigger kids would be wholly inadequate to the task.

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New year to begin…

I know what your thinking…NEW SCHOOL YEAR?   How many days till school starts???  I have a friend that started counting the minute summer started.  I enjoy our homeschooling time together.  I love the beginning of a new year…the goals for the year, the dreams of what you want to work on, the reality of what will really happen.  The fresh Sharpened pencils, crayons (even though we have 12 boxes already), the paper, the books, the construction paper…the excitement…the adventures. 

This past school year offically closed today.  My son had his evaluation that we have to turn into our school system with our next notification letter for the upcoming school year. 

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Conversational Carousel

The other day I took the child to a nearby amusement park. We enjoyed our mommy-daughter outing with one of her friends and her mom. One of the rides we most enjoyed was the 100 year old carousel. It was truly beautiful. The horses had hair tails instead of painted ones, and there were even brass rings to grab!

Then a couple of days ago we watched Mary Poppins for the first time. To refresh your memory, Mary, Burt (the chimney sweep), Michael and Jane jump into a chalk picture and visit a country fair. At the fair they ride on a carousel.

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Playin’ Hooky From Summer School

Four weeks into Summer school — aka: Extended School Year (ESY) — and I’ve only brought The Boys in for 2 1/2 days.  Bad Mama? OR, Bad Mama!

Our contained class experience this past year included My Boys’ adopting some negative behaviors from a few of their peers with special needs.  As such, I’ve been working this Summer to extinguish that unwanted behavior!  Our contained class experience this past year excluded significant academic gains as the class was very focused on socialization… something My Boys already excel in.   Again, I’ve been working to advance their academic skills at home this Summer. 

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Strange Milestones We Have Met

picture by JamesMalone via Flickr

Something strange has happened to my perception of childhood milestones. Perhaps because it took my daughter a little longer to meet many of them, I’ve sort of made up my own list along the way. It’s not that I’ve given up watching for the standard markers, it’s more that I appreciate events that other parents don’t give a second glance. Things like:

Learning to say no. Okay most parents recognize this one, but they aren’t necessarily happy about it. After months of echolalia – repeating the ends of questions instead of answering them appropriately – I was gleeful the first time I got “no” for an answer.

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Dealing With Anxiety in Our Kids

It’s the same every summer. We leave the routine of school and it throws my girls WAY off. We’ve got anxiety and stress-related behavior challenges coming out our ears in our house. So I thought it would be a good time to repost this short vlog I shared at the start of the school year. In it, I share a tool we’ve used often and that helps us get through the high anxiety transition times with our kids. Hope it’s helpful to you too!

Help! Dealing with Anxiety in Kids

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