3 Reasons I Don’t Mind When Young Children Point and Stare at My Child With Special Needs

3 Reasons I Don’t Mind When Young Children Point and Stare at My Child With Special Needs

I might be making several generations of special needs parents angry by saying this, but it’s true. I don’t mind when young children point and stare at my child with special needs. In fact, I like it! I’m such a rebel, I know. ‘Don’t point’ and ‘don’t stare’ are pretty basic social recommendations for people of all ages. But let me explain my deviant way of thinking by sharing two examples from the happiest place on earth…you guessed it. Disneyland! Example one. I was waiting with Chloe for the rest of our party to get off a ride that Chloe wasn’t able to go on. We were sitting on a bench and a very cute family was sitting next to us. The mom was passing out snacks and planning their next stop when one of her sons, probably 4 or 5 years old, kept looking at Chloe and/or her wheelchair. His mom noticed and told him it was not nice to stare. Then slowly but surely, he wiggled his way closer and, pointing at Chloe’s pink wheelchair, asked me, “Why is she sitting in that?” I smiled a big grin, excited to talk about how we all have differences and planned to encourage him to chat with Chloe because, well, she loves making friends! Before I got a single word out, his mom went in to panic mode. I’m sure she was thinking, ‘Oh no. He was staring, now he’s pointing and asking questions. He is breaking social protocol. What an embarrassment!’ She grabbed him and angrily told him how it is not nice to point, stare, and annoy strangers....
I Am

I Am

Music is one of the main ways I deal with the ups and downs of life – it always has been and I imagine it always will be. Playing the piano has always been an outlet for me and I always feel emotionally recharged when I’m done. I soak up lyrics like my life depends on it. So when I faced the life changing experience of special needs motherhood, I found some of my greatest comfort through playing and listening to music and finding lyrics that helped me through my journey. Chloe, probably by default, also loves music. Before we had her seizures under control, one of the only things that stopped her from screaming would be laying right by the piano while I played it. A neurologist once told me the different vibrations are probably what did it. Needless to say, I did a lot of piano playing in those early months! We also got her involved with music therapy that we still use to this day. Many different songs have helped and inspired me (and continue to do so) through a lot of different rough times. Music to me is like breathing. I don’t get tired of breathing and I don’t get tired of music. ~Ray Charles When a song comes together with awesome music and lyrics that touch on a subject close to my heart, it immediately becomes a favorite. That’s what happened with this song, I Am by Vinyl Hearts. Inclusion has conceptually been important to me since I can remember. The older Chloe gets, however, and especially the more she recognizes her differences and feels sad...
Who’s In Charge Around Here?

Who’s In Charge Around Here?

I get it. They are sick, struggling, or can’t verbally tell you what they’re feeling…. so you let it slide. Over and over again, you let it slide, your special needs child’s behavior. I’m sure for special needs children or not, parents do this all the time, but I’d guess that with special needs children, you have a list of excuses a mile long of why you should just let it go. I sure did it and sometimes still do. It got so bad at one point, that I asked her doctor for help. He referred us, for this and other reasons, to a neuropsychologist. A multi-day evaluation resulted in this understanding: Chloe knows what is going on, is aware of our emotions, behavior, and how her emotions and behavior have an impact on our emotions and behavior. That was good news, right? Well, sort of. It meant, plain and simply, that Chloe had us wrapped around her tiny, little special needs finger. The specialist recommended we read and immediately implement the concepts taught in 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan, PhD. I’d be lying if I said I got right on that. I had a hard time believing a book could magically fix all our frustrations in how to handle Chloe. And I certainly did not like the idea of disciplining my angelic and “can do no wrong” child. However, living through a few more months of feeling completely out of control in my home and all social situations, I realized I needed to at least give it a whirl. Reading the book, for me,...
Life is Better With Friends

Life is Better With Friends

Keep in mind, I am not a child psychologist or social scientist. I am, however, the mother of a little girl with special needs and I care a whole lot about her being included in social situations and having genuine friends. I have encountered some positive experiences with other children reaching out and including Chloe and watching her enjoy those relationships and experiences has been a delight! Abby is a little girl in our previous neighborhood who, when riding bikes or walking past our house, liked to stop and see Chloe. During these short visits, we found out Abby was learning to read and we told her how Chloe loves us to read to her. Abby’s mom suggested Abby come read to Chloe once a week. So that’s what Abby did. Both girls loved it! We all looked forward to our weekly book readings. Abby’s mom would help her pick out different books at the library about things Chloe liked — princesses, animals, cars…. we let Abby borrow books of Chloe’s so Abby could learn to read them as well. A real friendship developed and Chloe always looked forward to her visits from Abby! Abby invited Chloe to her princess birthday party. I was so nervous for Chloe to go, thinking she might get left out or have sensory issues, but neither happened. The other girls were so sweet making sure Chloe got included getting her makeup done and nails painted. When they played with the parachute and danced, they made sure there was room for Chloe’s Cinderella “carriage.” This was one of Chloe’s favorite parties ever! At the princess party, Chloe met...
Do You Have a Runner?

Do You Have a Runner?

A lot of children with Autism and Down Syndrome (among other diagnosis) love to run, run away, far… fast… and they don’t have the ability to process consequences or danger. They are focused on the instant gratification in spite of negative consequences. Unfortunately, what this means is that a lot of parents avoid taking their children to crowded places like the circus and zoo, for fear they might bolt. Eloping they call it… there is an actual term because it is an actual, pretty serious challenge for special needs parents! I shared a recent story about a friend of mine, it was a scary situation! What can you do ahead of time if this is a problem you face frequently? Temporary Tattoos – There are a few options for temporary tattoos. Some have you write the number in a location on the tattoo with a marker once it’s been placed but others are fully customizable. I found several vendors, even Etsy, by searching “Temporary tattoos with phone number”. They are very reasonably priced, we are talking as low as 45 for $20,with the phone numebrs! This is a great option for crowded places. Teach older children to show the tattoo to others, no words required. Harnesses and Leashes – There are a number of somewhat fun and stylish kid backpacks on the market that function as harnesses. Not only will many children like the style of the pack, but they also provide some weight and sensory input. You can also put some of the tiny things to keep tiny hands busy inside! Check online for “Toddler safety harnesses and...
A Budding Chef On Your Hands?

A Budding Chef On Your Hands?

Igot a notice the other day that there is a new cook book out specifically for special needs children and adults. Do you know an older special needs child or adult who can read and is interested in all things cooking related? You need to see this! What a great tool to grow a life skill!  Building confidence in the kitchen starts early and lasts a lifetime. The cookbook is called “Special Day Cooking” What is different in this cookbook? The fonts used in the book are a little bit bigger and easier to read so individuals can focus on the current task. Directions are more specific and provide the tiny details that are assumed by typical cooks. Things like “don’t fill past the rim” and “do this over a bowl so you don’t spill”. Type of instructions. Each recipe includes a step to put the ingredients and cooking tools away and to clean up their work space. The recipes are progressive. They start out easy and as their develop cooking skills and become familiar with the process they get more complicated. Safety! No knives are required other than an occasional plastic knife. The only cooking equipment required is a microwave, toaster and blender. The author, Beverly Worth Palomba has experience teaching the developmentally challenged community, having worked with special needs individuals for over a decade. Prior to writing this book, she developed a cooking program in a high school environment where all of the recipes have been tried and tested. If this is something that sounds like it would be interesting to a potential special needs chef in your life,...