Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sol Yoga "Ohm-mazing Kids" Yoga

I have been looking for a way to include Max into my yoga practice and this seems like a great introduction. If you're in the Frederick area and you have a child on the spectrum or just with special needs check out Sol Yoga

Saturday, 11/22/14, 12 noon - 12:45 pm, at the Frederick Location in the Little SOLs room.

Designed for children on the autism spectrum and a parent/guardian, this adult-child series will incorporate exercises and use of yoga props that help with grounding and healthy breathing. By learning and practicing these exercises along with and for their child, parents may become empowered with extra tools they can use to help their child manage difficult behaviors and experiences encountered in daily life and build confidence in themselves, their child, and the relationship shared by both. Series will be taught by a licensed Occupational Therapist, who is certified in sensory integration and is a Child Light Yoga ® Instructor. $2

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

White Cane Day Poster Contest - 2nd Place

The Maryland School for the Blind hosted a poster contest this year for White Cane Day on October 15th, 2014 and today was the celebration... : ) It was a great afternoon!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tactile Discriminaton

This week in a Facebook group for parents with children that have ONH a mother was concerned about how to make her child a dual reader. Since Max is totally blind I really don't have to fight the system to get him to learn braille because without a doubt he will need it be literate. Anyway, this mother's concern got me thinking and I want to share what Max is learning in school and how I model that at home.

The first major step in Max's braille learning was getting him to understand differences in shapes. One teacher in school put together a box of different shaped prisms and she would ask him for whatever shape and he would need to find it. Eventually, this led to Max having to recognize the face of the shapes in foam stickers stuck on braille paper. They would be smaller stickers (not much larger than his fingertip) and there would be a row of about 8 or 10 stickers in a non-discriminatory pattern times 4 rows. He would have to use his left hand to hold the paper, and his right hand to recognize the shapes.

At home, we don't have prisms for him to search through but we do have a game called "3D Feel & Find" that I ordered off of Amazon. While Max wasn't able to recognize all the shapes in the bag, he was able to recognize enough that helped encourage and reinforce some of what he was doing in school. Once he started to "read" the lines of shapes on the braille paper, I made my own sheets at home that we would read through a few times a week.

Eventually this evolved into Max using a brailler to create lines of full cells, reading the lines of full cells before moving on to letters.

Make your own tactile discrimination reading sheets:
mini foam stickers
braille paper

When starting off pick maybe 3 or 4 shapes to work with and make 4 rows of whatever pattern--be creative! Then introduce it to your child. When I work with Max at home, he sits at his toddler table so he understands we concentrating on the task. At first he was really fussy when I started to mimic school but eventually he learned "first we work, then we play." Max has since advanced to reading/understanding the difference between letters in a similar fashion but that's another post.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Marshmallows & Kip Moore

Since we have successfully tackled the solid food hurdle, Max has been going for the potty trained hurdle. Yesterday was one of his most successful days using the potty. He didn't have school and daycare was able to get him to use the potty 3 times! He did have a meltdown at one point because he sat on the potty a 4th time but didn't go and still wanted a reward...I guess such is life for everyone sometimes, we want a treat just for the effort without the success. Anyway, once we got home he went once more on the potty and was rewarded.

Want to know what his rewards are???? They are his choice rewards--marshmallows and Kip Moore songs. Both, maybe aren't the most appropriate (especially some of Kip Moore's song lyrics) but they encourage Max. Besides, I think Max mostly enjoys the guitar in Kip's music. We recently took him to a concert and the little guy was screaming and crying during the break between Charlie Worsham and Kip Moore because he thought it was over and he didn't want it to be over.

Anyway, this weekend we are going to try one of those intensive potty training weekends...wish us luck!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sleeping through Noise

Lately Max has been having trouble sleeping through the heater when it turns on or off throughout the night. I tried getting a white noise machine but even with volume control Max didn't want it on. I'm not sure how to keep him from waking up because of the noise. I know quite a few families with blind children thatuse melatonin to help with sleep but Max is on a consistent schedule of 12 hours a night, it's just now he is being startled awake. What has helped you or your kids throughout the night? Is this a blind thing or an every child thing? So far it hasn't been a major problem but I definitely want to nip it in the bud. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Handicap Accessibility

If you have a child that deals with blindness or visual impairment and you're on Facebook, are you a part of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)? There are some great stories, and resources that are shared but sometimes parents ask some great questions.

Last week, a mother asked if she should get a handicap parking tag for her blind child. Simple question, quickly asked. This question lit up the Facebook page with two types of responses: those in support of getting a tag, and those absolutely against the idea.

As people shared their opinions and I read the responses I was shocked at how quickly people started to state that being blind does not qualify someone for handicap parking, and using those spaces is abuse. I'm not here to argue for or against their points, I just want a place to recognize a couple of things I believe.

Blindness is a physical disability. Max is blind in a sighted world. I have purposefully pursued public education for him under the impression it will help him and his peers develop their understanding of his blindness together. That doesn't mean that I don't modify Max's world to make it more adaptable and a better experience. We have braille books, we use audio description whenever possible, he walks with a cane (always); it's countless the things we modify or do to help bring Max into a sighted world. I don't have a handicap parking tag for Max but I have considered getting one and still am considering getting one. Furthermore, when we go out to a restaurant I request a braille menu and when we go out to concerts I request handicap seating and specify it's for a blind white-cane traveler--why handicap seating at venue? Because...

I request handicap seating because it allows me to give Max the independence I see other parents giving his peers. Max tends to cling to the adult around him, getting them to do whatever he wants. He's really good a manipulating us and then rewarding us in hugs and kisses (if you know him, you know what I'm talking about--haha)! When I see other parents out in public whose 2 year old is running ahead of them I think to myself, "I want that to be me and Max." I want to chase after him as he just goes to explore the world around. So, when we go out to a concert I request the handicap seating so he can have another opportunity to be independent without being presented with too many challenges because in that setting sensory processing will be a MAJOR challenge. Along a similar line, that's why I want to get a handicap parking tag. My 8 year old nephew will walk through a parking lot on his own. I trust him and he trusts himself, but it didn't happen overnight. There were many lessons that went into him developing that independence. For a period of time, I think a handicap parking tag can provide me with opportunities to teach Max about parking lots without it becoming an overwhelming lesson. Do I think it's something that I will use every time--no! Do I think that it's abuse and puts someone else out--no! Is it abuse of a legal system--heck no! Will I continue to request handicap seating at concerts--no way, when he is independent and his behavior is less affected by sensory processing I think that we will forgo handicap seating, but right now it's helpful in encouraging Max to be himself and independent.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Little Message from School

Max attends school from 9-3:30. In the morning he attends a special needs Pre-K program and in the afternoon he walks to another school and attends a typical Pre-K program. This message was sent from his TVI that assists during the afternoon Pre-K. Children don't see blindness and I love it. It's great to hear about Max making friends in all sorts of settings, but especially at school. And, getting Max involved in the typical setting now will help him and his peers develop their understanding of blindness together.