Tag Archives: Special needs

Creating versus complaining…

24 Mar

A month or so ago I attended a behavior analysis conference for work. It was a 2 day event with presentations from various researchers, students, professors, scientists, and ABA providers. But my favorite presentation of the whole conference was one by Jodi and Jonathan Murphy of Geek Club Books. Jonathan is an adult with Aspergers who has a successful voice-over career and his mother, Jodi, created Geek Club Books as a way for Jonathan to share his stories. Their presentation focused on employment opportunities for adults with special needs.

What stood out to me about their presentation was their willingness to share their struggles without blaming their hardship on the rest of the world. There is a huge need for more employers to embrace special needs adults and provide well-paying opportunities to them. However, Jodi and Jonathan didn’t focus on the victimization of special needs adults. Rather, they focused on what to do about it. Jodi recognized a talent and a passion her son had and found a way to help make it a career for him.

So many people live with bitterness and resentment towards the world, claiming we “neuro-typicals” need to stop trying to help special needs people fit our mold and instead change our mold to fit them. While the ideals of accommodation and acceptance are perfectly reasonable and fair, I don’t find it realistic or appropriate to suggest a complete adaptation with blind tolerance. There are certain things that will never be acceptable, special needs or not. Aggression, indecent exposure, extremely disruptive or dangerous behavior…. just to name a few.

 

Instead of fighting so hard against “neuro-typicals” to demand complete and utter acceptance, without the intent to “change” people, why not collaborate on ways to make life easier and more pleasurable for those with special needs? The fact of the matter remains, to secure and maintain a job in this culture a person must have certain skills and must be able to refrain from certain behaviors. So I just can’t understand how someone helping a person gain those skills and reduce those behaviors (to help them get a job someday where they can earn a fair living and contribute their gifts to the world) is a bad thing.

And that’s what I loved about Jodi and Jonathan’s presentation. There was a clear recognition that although opportunities are limited, it is not beneficial to point the finger in anger, but rather to examine what can be done about it. Let’s focus on how we can strengthen skills, cultivate passions, and create opportunities, instead of just marinating on an “us” versus “them” mentality.

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Baseball Season

8 Mar

Dylan started baseball this weekend and had his first game yesterday. He’s playing on a special-needs league and his team is made up of children with various disabilities.

His team doesn’t play against another. Rather, they are divided in half and take turns being at-bat and in the outfield. Each child has a buddy. These buddies are typical children from other teams whose games are immediately following the special-needs game. They also have teenage volunteers and parent volunteers. His team has no practices; only games. There are no strikes, and no outs. Each child gets to bat until they hit the ball, and then they run all the bases.

This weekend Dylan played for the first time ever, and he did amazing. The cheering was so exciting for Dylan, even when the crowd wasn’t cheering for him. He loved dancing around in the outfield, watching his shadow, and pretending to run alongside the other players as they rounded the bases. He imitated a perfect ground-ball stance when it was modeled for him. And he grabbed and threw the ball when prompted.

For his second at-bat (ever, in his whole life), he stepped up to the plate… And whacked the ball. We all screamed! He smiled ear to ear, and in typical Dylan fashion, he let out a high pitch squeal and began running the bases (although never quite touching them).

Watch Dylan’s home-run here.

It was incredible. His first time playing baseball, and he hit the ball! Not from a tee…an actual coach-pitched ball! We were so proud of him. Not only for his incredible hit, or for running the bases. But, for engaging in a new social activity, following directions from strangers, taking turns, and attending to a task that isn’t in his usual repertoire of preferred activties. Playing on this team is good for him in so many ways, and I’m so grateful this league exists.

AngDylBaseball

Proud big sis with her little “Angel”.

BaseballDyl1

Cancer and Autism

13 Jan

Last week my mom underwent a double mastectomy with reconstruction to treat her breast cancer. Her diagnosis and treatment were obviously a huge blow to our family, and I knew it’d be vital to prepare Dylan for what this meant.

In the days preceeding her operation I looked online for social stories about surgery and recovery. All I found were stories to prepare kids for their own medical procedures, but none explaining what it would be like when Mommy went in for surgery.

So, I created this story for Dylan….

On Monday, January 6th Mommy is going to the hospital.

Mommy has cancer. That means her body feels sick.

pain

The doctors will get rid of the cancer and help her feel all better.

doctors

Mommy will spend the night at the hospital so that the doctors can check on her.

sleeping

Soon Mommy will get to come home!

house2

When Mommy comes home she will be very tired. She will need to take naps.

tired

Mommy will have bandages, so she will have to be very careful when she walks.

There will be new people at home to help pick me up from school.

drop off

These new people will help make dinner and clean up.

cooking

Soon Mommy will feel all better.

I will feel so happy when Mommy feels better. Mommy and Daddy will feel happy, too.

HappyDyl

He read through the story with me and really seemed to understand it. When he got to the bandage page he looked up and asked my mom to see her bandage. We told him it wasn’t there yet, but that soon it would be.

A few days after the surgery I went over to visit and Dylan had a preoccupation with the bandage again. “Can I see my bandage?” he would ask, over and over (incorrect pronoun, and all).  Then he would ask, “Can I see the boo-boo boobie?” so she would show him a piece of the drain tubes. I mean…how could I not chuckle at that?? So that’s how Dylan understands all this. He knows mommy had cancer and that she went to the hospital to fix it. And now, she is at home with her boo-boo boobies. 🙂

Prom Night

30 Apr

This story has been going around Facebook and I wanted to share it… (click to enlarge)

Prom

This picture has gone viral with thousands of “likes” and hundreds of thousands of “shares”. I think what people love about it is that it serves as a reminder that there are kind, loving people out there. There are people who want to bridge the social gaps between typical kids and their special needs peers. There are people who see beyond diagnoses and disabilities. There are people who love, unconditionally.

Good for that school for having a club to bring peers together. It’s clearly making an impact.

I only wish this dad would post a follow up letting us know how Jon felt about going to Prom 🙂

Sibling Resource- Part 1

17 Oct

I was googling some autism stuff over the weekend, as per usual, and I found this wonderful resource for siblings of people with autism.

Sibling Support Project strives to acknowledge, connect, and support siblings of those with special needs. They hold SibShops (workshops for siblings), they offer online groups tailored for each age sibling (child, teen, and adult), and educate parents on how siblings are affected.

Their mission is to “increase the peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs and to increase parents’ and providers’ understanding of sibling issues.”

Sibling Support Project realizes that a diagnosis doesn’t just affect one person, but rather the entire family.  They know that often times the siblings are the ones who will look out for a special needs person after parents pass away.  Sibling Support Project recognizes what an important role brothers and sisters have, and the believe, “the sibling relationship gives new meaning to ‘being there for the long haul.’ “

Please check them out here.

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