“And we said no.” – Why we need to start saying yes.

And you thought that Ruby Bridges had a fight…. How come I never heard of this before now?

Riddle from the Middle

BrightSide and I were driving home from a family vacation last week.  We stopped for sandwiches close to home, and it was during this last leg of the trip that we stumbled onto a story on NPR.

The ride from Subway to our house is only about 10 minutes, but I was absolutely riveted by this story.  I found myself shushing the kids in the backseat.

I’m listening.  I need to hear this, I said.

Though what I was hearing made me cry.

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* Raise your voice!

If you’re a parent of a special needs kid, read this post. Jill shares the importance of being your child’s advocate. Not a task for the faint of heart, but take courage from her advice (except, keep your manners, please!).

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Hi friends. The advice that I’m about to give you goes out to all of you, and is directed at no one in particular.It’s important to listen even if you’re not affected directly… mainly because it’s good advice.

Thank you.

Okay, so when I’m not blogging, I’m an administrator on a family friendly website called ADHD Kids Care Support. What my job entails, is accepting new members, monitoring posts/conversations between members, and answering questions that members post. But the part that I like the most about being an administrator, is getting to know our members. A weeks ago, I had a conversation with one member in particular. She’s new to the group and has a child with a few different disabilities.

She messaged us seeking advice. Her questions were very vague at first, so I had to pry a bit further in order to help her as best as I…

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* My favorite place….

OK, I have to admit that when I went to Cee’s Share Your World post, I thought the photographed sign said, “Welcome to Cadbury!”  Alas, it was Canby, which I think my brain turned into the word “candy,” hence Cadbury was a logical choice.  Cee has the most excellent photography site and I enjoy her Monday blogging challenge.  Here we go:

  1.  I felt good this week after I cooked these delicious spinach-quinoa cakes, draped in cheese, tomato slices, and half an avocado.  Yum.
  2. My favorite part of our town is our house.  I love our sunroom and watching the birdlings gorge themselves.
  3. My favorite place in the whole world could be Cadbury Town, and it used to be Alaska.  Now I love warm (not hot) deserted beaches, where I can walk for hours, sing and dance, and pray.
  4. For what am I grateful last week?  Downloading Scrabble and beating the computer (sometimes). What am I most looking forward to this week?  Beating the computer over and over again.  I have noticed that it is programed to win (duh) but it is not as aggressive as me.  So there you have it.

In the spirit of photography, here is a wigwam I made with a student as we studied the Woodland Indians.  Do you see that clever deerskin hanging in the doorway?  And the opening for smoke?  What about those skewers that “support” the bark home?  Well, the kiddo and I were thrilled.  Almost as good as Cadbury’s chocolate.wigwam

* Executive function: organization

What IS executive function (EF)?  It is a set of mental skills and processes that we use to navigate life.  These include organization, working memory, self-monitoring, flexibility, and others.

Last year I started consulting with a high schooler, Maria, to address her EF weaknesses in organization.  Maria would forget to copy homework assignments.  Or she would complete homework but forget to turn it in  Her binder was a disastrous compilation of all things paper.  She had many 0’s and Incompletes which dragged down her grades.  Here’s summary of a system that has been highly effective for her, tapping into her desire for success at school.

First, each subject has its own binder.  Her school only requires a single binder, which creates far too much leeway for chaos.  Within each binder are the tools of the trade (pencils, pens, etc.) along with 5 dividers: binder 3

The cover of each binder has a plastic see-through section which provides Maria with an automatic reminder as she goes into class.  Black is her color.binder cover 2

And as she prepares to leave class, the binder cover now reminds her to copy homework assignments.binder cover 1

The most important section is “assignments,”  which covers every day of the school year.  Here’s a sample page:

binder 4

Now she sees her future and past!  It is easier for her to get parental support of larger projects because these can be scheduled in manageable chunks.  Maria is also happy to see holidays ahead!

Other steps to success with this system:  We role-played entering the room and flipping the cover sheet for each subject.  We also practiced filing materials correctly.  She needs access to a hole punch so there aren’t any loose sheets.  Her math binder includes graph paper along with extra notebook paper.  Maria is a smart kid but her EF organization is really weak.  This effort levels the playing field for her.

* The bleeding edge

Lizzi is blogging Ten Things of Thankful in her current state of despair, still pushing on because she wants to make a difference, she wants to do all things well.  As always, I appreciate her willingness to share her struggles openly.  Lizzi hopes to change conditions for Jenny, one of many homeless in her area, so if you want to donate, click on that link to Lizzi’s current post.  All these journeys of all the people in the world, intimately known to the One who created us.  The One who saves us.  What comfort in suffering.

My own Ten Things of Thankful could only be written by an affluent woman who doesn’t trek hours each day, with gallons of dirty water on her head.  I am not trapped in the sex slave trade, I am not trapped in a body that can’t move of its own volition, I am not in an abusive relationship, and I am not starving in a refugee camp or in one of countless homes across this country where there’s not enough food.

With those disclaimers in mind, how could I possibly find even more for which I’m grateful?  More to the point, how could I possibly complain?  Complaints have come easily this past week.  Let me begin by saying that it’s all Microsoft’s fault.  It’s oh-so-true that if you upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll be on the “bleeding edge” of technology.  Literally.  When I first upgraded a week ago, I was thrilled with the renewed speed of Black Beauty (my champion computer).  There were new games on which I could fritter away time, and it looks quite lovely.  Then, unbeknownst to me, at 7:04 AM and 7:05 AM on August 27, Windows 10 (W10) upgraded itself.  Have you ever seen 2001: A Space Odyssey?  Remember Hal?  Well, W10 doesn’t bother to explain what she is doing.  Cortana, the evil twin of Siri, assures you that your documents can be found.  Just click on the link she gives you.  And all your photos?  EVERY BIT OF WORK YOU HAVE DONE IN THE LAST 20 YEARS?  Poof!  Gone!

passwordAnd then Microsoft has the nerve to tell me that I must prove who I am.  Only I don’t have my password document anymore and I can’t remember that password.  I am locked out of my home while it is being burgled!   Death to W10!

OK, so I have Memeo PREMIUM backup running and asked it to restore my files.  All 80,000 of them.  It spent 24 hours spinning its wheels.  Eventually I restored Windows 8.1, after multiple warnings that I might lose a few apps.  By then, I was losing my hair anyway, so what were a few apps?  Um, like no accessible internet browser?  No files?  And bits and pieces of both Windows, fighting to the death (of me!).  Even as we speak, I am downloading Google Chrome for the third time.  The first two times, Chrome did not know who I was!  Chrome and I were best buddies!  Do you know how many bookmarks and passwords I have saved on Chrome?  But I do have all my files and it looks like Chrome’s memory has returned.  Still, I am shocked to discover that these programs don’t love me.  They don’t even serve me.  After all we’ve done together!!  Bottom line: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PC UNATTENDED.  Or buy a Mac.

Day #350 – Calming the Chaos

yellingMore wisdom from Tucker’s mom.  She addresses the issue of “God gives special kids to special parents” and reflects on the impact of yelling at kids and others.  I’m with her.  Don’t yell at anyone.  We are all special.  Click here for her post: Day #350 – Calming the Chaos

* The old me

cubI’m not talking about myself here.  I know how old I am.  But this young mom shares her encouragement after some years with Wild Willie.  He has autism and is growing into Winsome WIllie, after hard times for mom and dad.  Click here to read more and ask for help with your own wild one: The old me.

* Math anxiety

math anxietyA parent shared a link to this article on math anxiety: Square Root of Kids’ Math Anxiety: Their Parents’ Help.  The article summarizes a recent study of second graders which suggests they “catch” math anxiety from their math-anxious parents when helped with homework.  The more these math-anxious parents helped their kids, the farther the students slipped in math performance.  The study was conducted in three midwestern states, using 438 students from 29 public and private schools.  The article concludes with a brief survey for parents to determine their own levels of math anxiety.

The math-anxious parent who shared this research obviously felt worse than ever.  I do wonder to what extent the correlations are muddied by hereditary math disabilities and anxiety.  And isn’t cognitive empathy helpful?  “I overcame this and so can you?”   I have heard from MANY parents of non-special kids that the math homework of today is mystifying and downright impossible.  Still, I think we all know that perceptions can influence behavior, hence the emphasis upon female role models for STEM careers.  It makes sense that math-anxious parents could communicate such anxiety.  Researchers have noted that effective elementary math instruction hinges upon teachers who know what they are doing.  In fact, in a recent MOOC-Ed class on learning differences, several high school teachers commented on math-avoidant elementary teachers.  One remarked that elementary teachers emphasize reading and writing to the exclusion of adequate math instruction.  Since middle and high school math teachers specialize in that subject, I think we can assume (and hope) they aren’t math-anxious.  Elementary teachers, I suggest you try that survey mentioned above!

Your thoughts?

* Tales from the sick room

What a rough time it’s been for the past few weeks!  I appreciate your patience with me and many thanks to Suzi Speaks for sending get-well wishers to my site!

woman-160651_640How appropriate that I have read my way through many of the Bess Crawford books during this health lapse (the image above is from Pixabay, not the books). Bess is a British nurse during WWI, which has inspired my belated Ten Things of Thankful (hi Lizzi!).  Here we go:

  1. I do not have shrapnel wounds or the Spanish flu.
  2. I do have antibiotics.
  3. My feet are not gangrenous.
  4. My widower has been a better nurse than Bess.
  5. My dearest widower has been feeding both me and the birdlings.
  6. My dearest, dearest widower has been tolerant as I play computer games and ask for cups of tea.
  7. My dearest, dearest, dearest, dearest widower still loves me enough to make a pit stop on the freeway every 15 minutes.   Or perhaps I should say, OFF the freeway, in case you are worrying.
  8. My shell shock comes from shopping for school supplies, not a battlefield.  Similar, but don’t ask.
  9. Unlike Bess, I am not surrounded by murder victims.  Well….
  10. Unlike Bess, I do not have to iron everything I wear.  On the other hand, she has unlimited wealth and status.  Of course, I am a teacher, so I measure those things differently.  Convenient, huh?

I got a great tip from Exceptional Delaware:  Have posts scheduled for when you are dead or dying.  No, he didn’t say it like that, but how macabre to read my posts only to discover that I’m in heaven!  Actually, you would never know.  My dearest widower could not access this blog, since I was locked out myself (GRRRR), and he is no tech hero.  Can you tell I have spent too much time reading crime novels?

I shall return to things reasonable and educational ASAP.10thankful-banner