Monday Madness – Future Education, Employment and Independent Living

Here it is Monday again, where does the time go? I feel like crawling back into bed, curling up and going back to sleep. The weight of responsibility had me exhausted last night. Just thinking about the lists of things to do was overwhelming. My heart is not as healthy as it once was. I hate to admit, I’ve neglected my health for a while now.

My wonderful hubby picked up the slack for me last night. He gave our son a bath and sent him off to bed. I love to complain about my messy disorganized hubby, but he is truly a dedicated father and a family man. He loves his children more than they could ever imagine. I’m sure they wish he was wealthy (and I do too) but someday they will all grow up and realize the wealth he has is more valuable than gold. It’s a wealth that moths and dust cannot corrupt. It’s a wealth of experience, strength and hope.

hope

As parents we strive to prepare our children for future education, employment and independent living. I admit hubby and I were both street kids with strong family ties. We both knew two separate lives – life on the wrong side of the tracks (unsupervised and  underprivileged) and family life. Neither of us were adequately prepared for future education, employment or independent living. We both lived on a whim. The whim of teenage independence, with no fear for the future, no thought of living past 20, and the incredible ignorance of youth.

So how do we, as parents, go down the unfamiliar path of preparing our children for adulthood? We are a low-income family attempting to provide what may well be impossible for us to provide – financial security, a home, and dreams of a bright and promising future. Dreams we have, but our children will need to have dreams of their own. How do we grow these dreams in their hearts? I believe it starts with expectations. We all knowingly or unknowingly set expectations for our children.

graduation

Psychology teaches your own attitudes are a very important part of your child’s self-esteem. I think it’s especially important to foster positive attitudes towards an absent parent. I know that may sound crazy, but in early childhood children tend to see themselves as a reflection of their parents. If we foster negative attitudes toward the other parent (present or absent) we may unintentionally harm the child’s self-esteem. If we see the other parent as a less capable individual, we may in turn see our child as less capable. The ability to rise to a challenge is an ability that I want to instill on my children!

dreams_come_true_by_BeeEpl

I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not sure how to teach children to believe in themselves but I’m learning…

I think the spirit of inclusion is key to finding a place we all belong in life. Last year my non-verbal son had a teacher who came up with creative ways to include him in the general education classroom. His confidence and his attention to tasks with his non-disabled peers increased exponentially. My son’s task was to take the pointer and point to the days of the week, the month and the year on the board. Active participation is the only way to involve a disabled child in the general curriculum.

This year the marks on his report card show that I wasn’t specific enough in the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) about my expectations for inclusion with his typically developing peers. For example, he was given the BE grade in home room (below grade level expectations) on being a responsible member of the school community and following classroom routines and procedures.

These are things he is completely capable of, yet the creative thinking and the planning required has left him with an insufficient education to meet these goals. One of the most frustrating aspects of being the parent of a child with autism or special needs is the failure of our educational system to build upon our child’s natural strengths.

strength

During spring break, we went to visit my mother. The break from routine often leaves my son over-stimulated and cranky. In an effort to give him some time away from the iPad, music, and television I decided to have him come with me to take care of the chickens. Inclusion is so simple and so often overlooked. The chickens were free ranging and it was getting chilly outside as the sun was heading to its resting place for the night. Imagine my son’s delight when he opened the door to the chicken coop and the chickens just walked right in! Such a simple task but yet the IDEA that he could help take care of the animals was born.

So I’ve gone over my son’s report card and his progress report for IEP goals and objectives. I’ve made some notes of topics I want to discuss like potty training at school, the need for a more in-depth communication plan to help him develop formal language, consistency, following through with recommendations, inclusion, and updating the emergency information and seizure plan.

I’ve taken the Parent Advocacy Training Course offered by the Listening and Spoken Language Knowledge Center. I have the resources I need. Now I’m off to prepare for the PPT (planning and placement team meeting) on Wednesday!

P.S. click the links for non-advertisement info on the topics mentioned in this post!


Image Sources:
Hope Rainbow Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
cap-graduation – CC BY-NC 2.0
dreams come true – CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
“Strength does not come from winning…” – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
 Creative Commons License Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept… by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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