Tag Archives: parenting

A Refreshing IDEA in Special Education – Support the Cogswell Macy Act!

Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act (H.R. 3535)
Named for the first deaf student to be formally educated in the U.S.A. and for Helen Keller’s beloved teacher, respectively, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act will strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to improve results for deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind children, including those with additional disabilities.

On September 17, 2015, a comprehensive Bill to reform the education of deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deafblind students was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sponsored by Congressmen Matt Cartwright (D) and David McKinley (R), H.R. 3535, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, the bill will amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to address the unique needs of these populations. This is truly a historic event.

The Act includes 3 sections. Title I addresses issues specific to the education of children who are deaf/hard of hearing, Title II addresses issues specific to the education of children who are blind/visually impaired, and Title III addresses issues specific to the education of children who are deafblind. Click Cogswell/Macy Act to read the full text of the Bill. TITLE III begins on page 40 of the Act and includes wording which:

Designates intervener services in the “related services” listing
Reflects the need for the recognition of and training for teachers of the deafblind
Adapts the federal definition of deafblindness
Requires each state to specifically address deafblind issues in the development of its state plan.

The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy bill now needs to gain the sponsorship of many more House members, and it needs to be introduced in the Senate. Please take a few moments to contact your Congressional members to ask them to sponsor this bill either by phone or email. You can find your state Senators by clicking here, and your Members of Congress by clicking here.

http://intervener.org/cogswell-macy-act/

What the Cogswell Macy Act Means To Our Family

To put it simply, the Cogswell Macy Act means hope! It means hope for families of children with hearing loss, vision loss, and deafblindness!

‘‘(E) SERVING CHILDREN WITH DEAF-BLINDNESS—When a State classifies children by disability, the State, in complying with subsection (a), identifies, locates and evaluates children with concomitant vision and hearing losses who are, or may be, classified in a disability category other than deaf-blindness, meaning concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that adversely affect a child’s educational performance (and including children who are deaf-blind with additional disabilities), and provides (without prejudice to such classification) special education and related services to such children, including such services determined appropriate based on proper evaluation as would be provided to children  classified in the State as having deaf-blindness.’’

The reason I began my journey in advocacy is because Stephen’s hearing fluctuated from one test to the next. It seems he had shifted between the world of the deaf and the world of the hearing. The audiologists didn’t know what to make of the improvement.  They had previously reported to us that his hearing loss was permanent. Sensorineural hearing loss is typically permanent. As parents, the lack of answers we received, late diagnosis, and delayed early intervention as a result of lengthy referral process, were a source of unending frustration.

It was as if Stephen was just expected to be “all better now.” From our experiences parenting Stephen the idea was just ludicrous. Stephen had suffered the developmental impact of a catastrophic childhood seizure disorder. He started having uncontrolled seizures at 5 months old. It was a serious and sometimes fatal condition known as Infantile Spasms (see our story.)  We knew instinctively that our son still needed help to access the world around him.  It’s been nearly 7 years since the improvement in Stephen’s hearing.  Stephen remains non-verbal with limited language and communication skills.

If the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act existed when Stephen transitioned from Birth-To-Three into the local public school, the developmental impact of early loss would have been considered. Stephen would have been entitled to services as a deafblind child. Despite the fact that he had been classified under “developmental delay” and then “autism” and finally “multiple physical handicaps” before receiving the correct IEP disability classification as “deaf-blind.”

We would have received the services we so desperately needed for Stephen’s language and communication development and school readiness. Stephen would have had the services of an intervener, who could help address issues specific to combined vision and hearing loss.  His behavior would not have been so misunderstood and so often blamed on autism.  He might not be struggling with basic communication at the end of 4th grade and his future in 5th grade might not be so uncertain…

 

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Vacation

20140702-150234.jpg

We’re having a good time on vacation. Stephen lost his front tooth. I think he ate it. I noticed blood on his pillow and when I asked him he wouldn’t open his mouth. It seemed like he was crunching on something. He swallowed and then slowly opened his mouth. Missing tooth – nowhere we could find it. I guess he didn’t want the tooth fairy to get it 😉

One Word Photo Challenge: White

One Word Photo Challenge White

This post is in response to: One Word Photo Challenge: White | Jennifer Nichole Wells.  For more weekly photo challenges click here: One Word Photo Challenge | Jennifer Nichole Wells.


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Love Support Educate Advocate Accept by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

How To Motivate Me (part 3) It’s Doable

I’ve struggled these last few weeks. In my mind I know that I’ve accomplished so much, yet it feels as though it’s never enough. It’s hard to stay optimistic when it’s sink or swim and you feel as though you’re drowning…

The weight of hopelessness hangs heavy in the city air.  Everywhere I look people have no sense fo pride in their surroundings. No respect for themselves or others. They drown it out with drugs, alcohol and loud music all night long. My son runs around holding his ears and whining. He pulls me toward the door. He just wants to get out, and so do I.

Like prisoners we long for freedom. In our dreams we escape to a better place. A place we can thrive in security, knowing we have a home and a place we belong. We know that everything in this life is temporary and that better things await.

my seedlings (last year's)
my seedlings

Hardship, Perseverance, Character, Hope…

Faith.

Sadly, I feel as though the world has no place for us. Why don’t they understand? They seek a cure, but we don’t need one. They see disability were we see possibility. They think education is expensive, we know ignorance is even more expensive.

Is communication and literacy too much to ask from our community? I know special education costs money. My community pays for a certain quality of education for non-disabled children; but my community struggles with the negative perception that children with severe disabilities are a burden and not worthy of the cost.  Who are we to question who is and isn’t worthy of life?

hope

I have hopes and dreams like everyone else. Don’t stifle my hope. Believe in me. Know that I can do this. I’ll never give up. I’ll never stop trying. Everyday I amaze you. I accomplish more than you ever thought I could.

We may not all have the same abilities, but we have unique abilities. Everyday we learn and we grow.

I admit I’ve done my share of tilting windmills, struggling against seemingly futile causes. By its very nature, the victory is in the struggle. Who can win a battle, when he retreats in fear of loosing?

Imagine a world without disabilities, a world without special needs children. What kind of world would it be? A world of Stepford children and Stepford wives, with unnatural perfection – zombies, robots, lifeless and unhuman. Brainwashed into submission, they believe in man’s ability to create perfection. They’ve focused their energy on perfecting others, and neglected bettering themselves.

I see a world of possibility. Miracles happen everyday. I have a special child who brings out the best in me. He touches so many lives with his infectious laughter. He communicates joy without speaking a word.

So as parents, we struggle on believing that communication and literacy is possible and that we are capable of teaching him. We must always believe that the task is doable and that we are capable! We must guard our thoughts. The world has successfully educated deaf and blind children for hundreds of years.

For all of history, the worlds greatest thinkers have believed in possibility.

 For more on motivation watch this inspiring video by Dan Ariely : http://on.ted.com/Ariely

Image Sources:
Seedlings by Liana Seneca, all rights reserved
Hope Rainbow Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs – CC BY-NC-ND 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.


How To Motivate Me (part 2) Progress Not Perfection

It’s always easy to get motivated when I see progress. Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing – is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing…

Continue reading How To Motivate Me (part 2) Progress Not Perfection

How to Motivate Me (Part 1)

I look around and all I see are things that I need to do. Clutter everywhere, dishes to do, laundry to hang, dinner to prep or more greasy take-out and yet another stomach ache? It’s overwhelming and I’m not feeling motivated at all! So today I’m on a quest to find what motivates us…

Continue reading How to Motivate Me (Part 1)

learning how we learn

When educating a child with autism or special needs it’s important to take a look at how we learn. But wait a minute, if this works, won’t it work for me too? Of course it will! Let’s take a look at the science behind how we learn new skills. Every time we learn a new skill the brain forms new connections.

Continue reading learning how we learn

PPT meeting prayer for parents

May my child’s love of learning grow.
May his teachers always know –
How to reach him,
How to teach him,
the way he learns best.

May I get a good night’s rest,
give me strength to do my best,
stay calm and strong –

To help him along,
to future education, employment and independent living…
Continue reading PPT meeting prayer for parents

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.

Continue reading Monday Madness – Future Education, Employment and Independent Living

We Made it to the Top!

enjoying the view

We made it to the top, taking breaks along the way and taking turns carrying the little guy. His low muscle tone and leg braces made it a work-out for everyone. It was a steep rocky hike, maybe a mile to the top of the mountain. The view is beautiful. Kids big and small love it!

we made it

family fun

This post is in response to: On Top | The Daily Post.

view from the top

my boys
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Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept… by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.