Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Oldie but Goodie from Erma Bombeck

Please forgive some of the language used in this article. It was written many years ago and some of the words used are no longer used today to describe special needs children. That said, I think it's a beautiful tribute to the mothers of special needs children. My mother carried this article in her wallet for many, many years and seeing it again brings tears to my eyes. If you haven't read it before I hope you enjoy it. If you have read it before chances are it will be just as powerful to you now.
A Well Chosen Mother Has Special Qualities By Erma Bombeck Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger. "Armstrong, Beth, son, patron saint, Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, patron saint, Cecelia. Rudledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint...Give her Gerard. He is used to profanity." Finally He passes a name to an angel and says, "Give her a handicapped child." The angel is curious, "Why this one, God? She is so happy." "Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel." "But has she patience?" asks the angel. "I do not want her to have too much patience, or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she will handle it. I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see the child I am going to give her has his own world. She has to make it live in her world, and that is not going to be easy," said God. "But Lord, I do not even think she believes in You." God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?" God nods, "If she cannot separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She does not realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word.' She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says 'Mama' for the first time she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations. I will permit her to see clearly all the things I see - ignorance, cruelty, prejudice; and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side." "And what about her patron saint?" asked the angel, his pen poised in mid-air. God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Toddler meltdowns getting out of control?

by Jennifer Allen at MyTime Calendars, http://www.mytimecalendars.com/ Are your toddler's tantrums getting out of control?
Have you been on a date with your child recently? If not, then this could be part of the problem. With my own toddlers, I have found that their behavior is at its worst when they feel they are not being heard or when they are not a big enough part of my world.
We remedy this by having a “mommy date day” or a “daddy date day” where we orchestrate a few hours to be one on one with that child. The “dates” don’t have to be elaborate…sometime it’s just spending an hour or two playing barbies or building train sets. But it is one on one time with that child doing something they requested to do with you. It is important to let them pick the activity (of course, you may have to gently guide them to low budget ideas!). For that time, they are the center of your world and they know it! That two hours of personal individual time spent provides a refill of a childs emotional cup that can last weeks! It can be equally rewarding for moms and dads as well. This is when you have the humbling epiphany of what a huge part of your child’s world you really are. It also allows you as the parent to reconnect with your child on their terms. They can talk with you without fear of being interrupted by their siblings or by a phone call or by any number of things that steal away our attention throughout the day. If you want to build that trust with your child and mutual respect that will last into their adulthood, it has to start with each of you making each other a priority. And there is not better time to do that than when they are still young enough to want it! I would warn you of making the “date” a reward for bad behavior. The trick is to make these “dates” a regular part of your monthly schedule with your children. Allow them to look forward to their “dates”. For this reason, it is also important to never cancel a scheduled date day…even if you have to shorten the time, don’t cancel it outright. These dates are promises to your child. When you have to say no to your little one’s pleas to come play because of any number of responsibilities that fall upon us on a daily basis, your scheduled date days can take the sting out of the disappointment for your little one because they will know that their individual time is coming and that Mom and Dad keep their promises! Try this out for a month and let us know how your experiment goes. If it is anything like ours has been, you will happily make these “date days” a regular part of your monthly routine for each of your kids.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

3 Steps to Choosing a Toy Your Baby Will Love

How do I pick a toy? How do I know which ones he'll like? We hear these question quite often so here are some simple guidelines to help you choose a toy your child will be interested in for a good long time.
The best way to determine what will be the best toy is to consider your child's current interests and abilities.
Just the other day I was reading a post from a Mom who said she thinks her 9 month old daughter is bored with playing with the toys she has. She wanted some advice as to what toys would be good for her daughter.
In her post she mentioned several activities that her daughter likes: pulling herself up on chairs and furniture, crawling, grabbing for things, and finding things she can hold. Voila! What other information do you need? None!
Here's what I suggested:
1. When shopping for baby toys make sure you're choosing toys that are truly intended for babies. How do you know? Check the label and make sure the manufacturer's recommended age is in line with the child you're making the purchase for.
2. A child of 9 months has lots of capabilities and wants to explore like crazy. My first choice would be a pull toy. Pull toys have a string attached to them so that the baby can reach out and grab the string and pull it toward them. This may sound simple, but to a baby of this age it is monumental. They are learning to control and manipulate their world. The most popular pull toys include blocks in a wagon and animal pull alongs.
3. A 9 month old child also enjoys grabbing objects. A great toy choice would be a soft plush ball. These often have a rattle, bell, or chime inside for further interest. Baby will have fun grabbing it, rolling it (maybe even accidentally)

To recap, when choosing a toy for your child keep 3 things in mind:

1. Check the age recommendation by the manufacturer 2. Consider what your child already likes to do and look for a toy that mimics that behavior 3. Choose a toy that not only does the thing your child likes but offers even more! For example, a soft ball WITH a bell or rattle in it, a pull toy that's ALSO a set of blocks or a peek a boo toy that ALSO makes sounds (like a jack in the box!).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers

I recently took my twin toddlers for their checkup at the pediatrician and was given this short quiz to take about their behavior. I looked into this further and found out that it was an autism screening test called M-CHAT. I thought you might be interested in seeing the quiz and how the scoring is done. M-CHAT: Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers Please fill out the following about how your child usually is. Please try to answer every question. If the behavior is rare (e.g., you've seen it once or twice), please answer as if the child does not do it. 1. Does your child enjoy being swung, bounced on your knee, etc.? Yes No 2. Does your child take an interest in other children? Yes No 3. Does your child like climbing on things, such as up stairs? Yes No 4. Does your child enjoy playing peek-a-boo/hide-and-seek? Yes No 5. Does your child ever pretend, for example, to talk on the phone or take care of a doll or Yes No pretend other things? 6. Does your child ever use his/her index finger to point, to ask for something? Yes No 7. Does your child ever use his/her index finger to point, to indicate interest in something? Yes No 8. Can your child play properly with small toys (e.g. cars or blocks) without just mouthing, fiddling, or dropping them? Yes No 9. Does your child ever bring objects over to you (parent) to show you something? Yes No 10. Does your child look you in the eye for more than a second or two? Yes No 11. Does your child ever seem oversensitive to noise? (e.g., plugging ears) Yes No 12. Does your child smile in response to your face or your smile? Yes No 13. Does your child imitate you? (e.g., you make a face-will your child imitate it?) Yes No 14. Does your child respond to his/her name when you call? Yes No 15. If you point at a toy across the room, does your child look at it? Yes No 16. Does your child walk? Yes No 17. Does your child look at things you are looking at? Yes No 18. Does your child make unusual finger movements near his/her face? Yes No 19. Does your child try to attract your attention to his/her own activity? Yes No 20. Have you ever wondered if your child is deaf? Yes No 21. Does your child understand what people say? Yes No 22. Does your child sometimes stare at nothing or wander with no purpose? Yes No 23. Does your child look at your face to check your reaction when faced with something unfamiliar? Yes No © 1999 Diana Robins, Deborah Fein, & Marianne Barton ------------------------------------------------------------------- SCORING: M-CHAT Scoring Instructions A child fails the checklist when 2 or more critical items are failed OR when any three items are failed. Yes/no answers convert to pass/fail responses. Below are listed the failed responses for each item on the M-CHAT. Bold capitalized items are CRITICAL items.

Note from Gummy Lump: These are the FAILED answers below. You are looking for matches to these which would indicate that your child MAY have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Not all children who fail the checklist will meet criteria for a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. However, children who fail the checklist should be evaluated in more depth bythe physician or referred for a developmental evaluation with a specialist.

1. No 6. No 11. Yes 16. No 21. No 2. NO 7. NO 12. No 17. No 22. Yes 3. No 8. No 13. NO 18. Yes 23. No 4. No 9. NO 14. NO 19. No 5. No 10. No 15. NO 20. Yes

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Five Keys to Help Children Thrive Through Divorce

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT No one plans to get divorced. But more than one million children in the U.S. will experience its effects this year alone. Divorce has become a reality in our culture and innocent children are coping with the consequences every day. The good news is that divorce need not wound and scar your children if you put their emotional and psychological needs first when making crucial decisions. It’s misguided parents – angry, resentful, hurt and mistrusting – who unintentionally set their children up for painful outcomes. These parents don’t understand that every decision they make regarding their divorce will affect the well-being of their children in countless ways. The emotional scars are not only harder to see, they’re also much harder to erase. Here are five keys to helping your children move through and thrive after divorce. 1) Remind them this is not their fault. Children tend to blame themselves for divorce, no matter how bad Mom and Dad’s relationship has been. The younger the child, the more likely this is so. Sit down together and talk to your children, emphasizing that they are in no way at fault. You can say something like: “Mom and Dad don’t agree about certain key issues and that has created conflict. Even when some of the issues are about you, it does not mean you are to blame. You are an innocent child who we both love. Sadly, Mom and Dad disagree about certain important issues -- but not about our love for you. You are not in any way at fault.” 2) Focus on change -- not on blame. Divorce is all about change within the family structure. Often those changes can be beneficial and create a more peaceful environment for your children. Never burden them with adult information and judgments. Focus instead on the fact that change is an inevitable part of life and not necessarily bad. Let your children see that everything in life keeps changing. “You grow bigger every year. Seasons change, clothing styles change, your school classes change. Sometimes it takes a while to get used to changes, like when you get a new teacher or try a new sport. In time you may come to like these new changes. Let’s give it a try.” 3) Respect your child’s other parent. When you belittle, put down or in any way disrespect your ex – regardless how justified it may feel – it hurts your children in deep and long-lasting ways. Children innately love both their parents and feel a connection to them. When you insult their other parent it creates confusion, guilt, sadness, insecurity and low self-esteem in your children. Instead, remind them that Mom and Dad will always be their parents and will always love them. No one will replace Mom or Dad either. “We will both always love you and be there for you, no matter where we live or how things should change.” Then strive to do the right thing on their behalf. 4) Let your children continue to be children. While it may sometimes be tempting, never confide adult content to your children. They are not psychologically prepared to handle the emotional complexity. Save venting for trusted friends, a divorce counselor or support group. Also never ask your children to spy, act as messengers between both parents or provide inappropriate details about the other parent’s home life. Again, this pressure’s them in many ways – none of which are positive. It is not their place to assume adult responsibilities or help you to find evidence against your ex. 5) Make decisions through the eyes of your child. Before making any decisions regarding divorce issues, think about the consequences for your children. Ask yourself, what will they say to me about this when they are grown adults? Will they thank me for the way I handled the divorce – or be angry and resentful about my attitude and behavior? The choices you make will affect your children for years and decades to come. For their sake, take the high road and be a role model they will want to emulate. * * * * Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! Her innovative approach guides parents in creating a personal family storybook, using fill-in-the-blank templates, family history and photos, as an effective way to break the news with optimum results. For more information, free articles, free ezine and other valuable resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com/. © Rosalind Sedacca 2009 All rights reserved.
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