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Here’s what I’ve learned…

In a hospital there is a job entitled Patient Care Coordinator.  This person ensures that a medical facility is providing high quality care services. They work with administration, staff, and patients to reach health care goals and to keep the lines of communication open.  When your child requires the support of special education, as the parent, it often feels as if that job description is synonymous with yours.

While all members of your team are committed to helping your child you are in fact the biggest stakeholder at the table.  Sitting in this role can be incredibly overwhelming.  At the school based TEAM meeting the parent concerns drive many of the decisions made and are an integral aspect to the development of the students vision statement.  When in the doctors office discussing medication trials you are told “You can try mediation a, medication b or do nothing it’s really up to you.”   When signing your child up for an extra curricular activity you do your best to match their preferred interest with the coach and/or instructor that will ultimately “get him” and “stick with him” through the more challenging moments.

When things are going well you feel a sense of calm and reassurance that it is all going to be ok.  You’ve made the right decisions and can breathe easy.  However, during those more challenging moments the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  It feels as if you’re running through quicksand sinking a little deeper with each step but knowing you have to keep moving forward to get yourself and your child to solid ground again.  It is an incredibly scary, frustrating, isolating, and exhausting experience.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  Nothing lasts forever good or bad…As the ‘parent care coordinator’ your plan is to keep moving forward, asking questions, seeking support, and expressing your concerns.  If you stick to this plan the world won’t seem quite so heavy and the quicksand loses its strength to pull you down.

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Here’s what I’ve learned…

In a hospital there is a job entitled Patient Care Coordinator.  This person ensures that a medical facility is providing high quality care services. They work with administration, staff, and patients to reach health care goals and to keep the lines of communication open.  When your child requires the support of special education, as the parent, it often feels as if that job description is synonymous with yours.

While all members of your team are committed to helping your child you are in fact the biggest stakeholder at the table.  Sitting in this role can be incredibly overwhelming.  At the school based TEAM meeting the parent concerns drive many of the decisions made and are an integral aspect to the development of the students vision statement.  When in the doctors office discussing medication trials you are told “You can try mediation a, medication b or do nothing it’s really up to you.”   When signing your child up for an extra curricular activity you do your best to match their preferred interest with the coach and/or instructor that will ultimately “get him” and “stick with him” through the more challenging moments.

When things are going well you feel a sense of calm and reassurance that it is all going to be ok.  You’ve made the right decisions and can breathe easy.  However, during those more challenging moments the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  It feels as if you’re running through quicksand sinking a little deeper with each step but knowing you have to keep moving forward to get yourself and your child to solid ground again.  It is an incredibly scary, frustrating, isolating, and exhausting experience.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  Nothing lasts forever good or bad…As the ‘parent care coordinator’ your plan is to keep moving forward, asking questions, seeking support, and expressing your concerns.  If you stick to this plan the world won’t seem quite so heavy and the quicksand loses its strength to pull you down.

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Youth sports…what’s the point?

Youth sports is such an enigma to me.  As a child I believe you should live a lifestyle that fosters physical fitness.  Taking care of your body and being part of a team are life skills we all need to learn and experience young as they are the cornerstones of a healthy future later.   The research is clear physical activity keeps you healthy.  We ALL want to stay healthy but many of us struggle to stay physically active.  Watching my boys participate in youth sports I have formed my own little opinion as to why this chasm exists….I believe our experience with youth sports as a child shapes our sense of ourselves and our willingness to participate in physical fitness as an adult.

Signing your child up for various sports makes sense.  It provides an opportunity for your child to participate on a team, learn a sport, become physically active and make new friends.  However, with every good parenting decision comes a caveat.  Youth sports is also a place where you expose your child to competitive personalities.  These personalities tend to base their belief system on a hierarchy of best to worst.  They may say they believe winning isn’t everything but their actions show it sure does mean A LOT.

When your child excels at a chosen sport all seems to be positive and fun.  However, when they are new to the game, not as coordinated as their teammates and/or need a little more teaching of the game the experience can be less than positive.   This boggles my mind!   Don’t we all want our kids to grow to be healthy adults?  Isn’t the point of youth sports to LEARN how to play a game?  Few will grow to become Michael Jordan’s, Babe Ruth’s, or Bobby Orr’s but all will grow to be adults that should understand the value of taking care of their bodies.  If the tone of youth sports continues to be driven by competitive adults living vicariously through the children they coach the most valuable life lesson is lost!  Youth-Sports

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“He has the knowledge but lacks the motivation to show it…”

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“He has the knowledge but lacks the motivation to show it…” Was the final comment on the latest report card. These words have been running through my mind for weeks. One part of my brain understands what she’s saying while the other vehemently disagrees. Yes, I would agree he puts a lot of energy into avoiding a task when he knows he runs the risk of being wrong or perceives it as difficult. I agree he has the knowledge to do the work. I agree he requires a lot of prompts to stay on task in these situations. However, I disagree it is a lack of motivation!

I see him highly motivated….He’s motivated to not make a mistake. He’s motivated to avoid feeling embarrassed. He’s motivated to only take calculated risks. He’s motivated to protect his ego.

I’ve worked with kids with Learning Disabilities for over 20 years. The greatest lesson they’ve taught me is to NEVER underestimate them. If you can create a supportive honest environment that provides positive reinforcement as they face adversity they will push through their fears and achieve great things!! As adults we need to look at both sides of the motivation coin and recognize while they may not appear motivated to do what we’re asking of them don’t be fooled…THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY MOTIVATED!!

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Nothing better than finding that thing that makes him SPARKLE…

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Some kids have that competitive spirit and sports are their thing but for others competition doesn’t feel so good. We have been on a quest to find what makes him sparkle…that thing that he loves to do more than anything else and we FINALLY found it…volunteering at an animal shelter! It may sound crazy but it’s true!! He absolutely loves cleaning the cat room, filling the food bowls, fluffing the dog beds and socializing the animals more than anything else. There is nothing better than seeing that sparkle in his eyes as he talks about his “job”.

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At the end of the day he’s a ROCK STAR

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At the end of the day he’s a ROCK STAR!

Picture this…
You walk into a room where 8 educators are sitting around a conference room table. Each has a piece to a puzzle. That puzzle, when put together, is your child. Each professional has shared his/her puzzle piece with you 48 hours prior to your entry into the room in the form of a multi page report full of subjective and objective data (T-scores, standard scores, percentile ranks, scaled scores…oh my!). The goal of this quorum is three fold: 1) to help you understand how your child thinks, reasons, learns and demonstrates understanding. 2). to identify the presence of a disability and 3) to develop a plan on how best to provide specialized instruction to ensure your child has access to a free and appropriate public education.

With an incredibly lofty agenda the meeting proceeds. As each professional summarizes her piece to “the puzzle” your heart pounds and your palms sweat. You struggle to keep your emotions in check and focus every ounce of your being on comprehending the information being shared. You are desperate to hear “above average to superior range” because of course this is your baby they are talking about and in your eyes he’s a ‘ROCK STAR’. Some of the information they share confirms what you already know…”MY KID ROCKS”. However, some of the information makes your heart sink. In all honesty, it confirms what you already know; some things in life are going to be hard…REALLY hard. Knowing this through your own life experience is one thing. Hearing a room full of professionals confirm and describe in detail challenging situations your child will face pushes your parental fear factor quotient over the top.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the last 21 years sitting at that table, sometimes in the role of professional while other times as the parent…when your fear factor quotient has exceeded it’s limit it’s time to stop and take a slow deep cleansing breath. It’s time to remind yourself…WE ALL have strengths and weaknesses it is WHAT WE DO WITH THE TALENTS WE’VE BEEN GIVEN that matters most. When you reach your limit and all of the analyzing and discussions come to an end put all of those reports back in the manilla envelope they came in, hug your baby and remind yourself ‘he’s a little boy full of hopes and dreams…HE WILL BE OK!’ Choose to focus on his strengths and find what makes him “sparkle”…he is after all a ROCK STAR!!!

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Getting ready for the storm after the lull…

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Getting ready for the storm after the lull…

Two weeks of ‘I’m on vacation so I can do my own thing’ will soon come to an end. The excitement of the holidays are over and we will return to our daily school routine. The expectation is that we pick up where we left off and press on. Given our track record I suspect this ‘expectation’ may meet with some resistance. I imagine there may be a spike in the drama when it comes time to leave the house in the morning and homework time may be a tad uglier than it was in December. But here’s the good news each day we get through is one day closer to the beloved “summer vacation”!!

Here’s our reentry plan…Go to bed earlier, eat on somewhat of a schedule, and begin mixing in a few have to’s with the want to’s.

Here’s hoping for a smooth transition!

Happy New Year!

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