<![CDATA[Tiny Seeds For A Bright Future - Blog]]>Fri, 26 Feb 2016 01:52:25 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Special Ed Law: Why Districts Fall Short - by Katherine Goodsell M.Ed]]>Fri, 13 Mar 2015 15:09:02 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/special-ed-law-why-districts-fall-short-by-katherine-goodsell-medPicture
Just recently, I was given this scenario from the Doctorate program from which I am attempting to earned a specialization in Special Education.  Let’s imagine, if you can, that You are the Director of Special Education and a family has just moved into the school district. In this scenario, the parent has asked for his child to be tested for possible special education services due to reading difficulties. The elementary school principal has told a parent that his child does not need to be referred for testing since the school is utilizing the Responsiveness to Intervention Model (RTI). The parent, as reported by the special education teacher, is very upset. The student has had difficulties with reading for a number of years. This is the third time a parent has requested services and both the principal and reading interventionist have refused to allow the special educator to start the referral process.

As a parent of children on the autism spectrum and as a professional working with children and parents of children with special needs, it is an interesting a pertinent scenario to explore. Not only for the sake of understanding you and your child’s rights under the law, but to better understand the foundation of the education system and where it seems to fall short. 

The following will be discussed: the legal issues that are involved when assessments are requested and denied; the support that should be provided to the special education teacher; and what training should be provide to the principal.

Legal Issues

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) policy ensures that children with disabilities, have access to the general education curriculum equivalent to their peers without disabilities. IDEA mandates a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for all students with disabilities in the least restrictive and most integrative environment possible.  Implications from the afore mentioned scenario lends to legal discrepancies that should be of concern to any educator. The fact that the child has been struggling in literacy for years deems a necessity to intervene. According to a publication submitted by the Center for Literacy & Disability Studies; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the lack of literacy is a lack of “entry points that are aligned with the general curriculum” (Erickson, Hanser, Hatch, & Sanders, 2009), and literacy limitations do not in any way provide a child with the least restrictive environment possible. The Special Education Director and the principal of the above school should address these legal issues immediately.

First, the scenario states that the parent has requested an evaluation of his child, due to literacy concerns. It is also stated that this is not the first time a parent had been denied this request. As indicated by the passage 20 U.S.C 1414 of the IDEA Act regarding Evaluations, Eligibility Determinations, Individualized Education Programs, and Educational Placements, a state educational agency, other state agency, or local educational agency shall conduct a full and individual initial evaluation in accordance with the parameters of the IDEA Act (Farrall, M. L., Ph.D., Darr Wright, P., MA MSW., & Wright, Peter W.D. Esq. 2014).. Further more, a request for initial evaluation can be initiated by either a parent of a child, or a state educational agency, other State agency, or local educational agency, after which the evaluations will be implemented with 60 days of parental consent (Wright, Peter W.D. Esq.  et al. 2014).Which in this case, the moment when the parent requested an evaluation, it is assumed consent but a signed document is necessary and imperative. If you are the parent in similar circumstances, document all attempts in writing that you have initiated a request for evaluation.

The principal of the school and the literacy interventionist both indicated that because the school utilizes the Response to Intervention strategies, there is no need for an evaluation. A Memorandum, written to State Directors of Special Education from The United States Department of Education (2011), mandates that a “Response to Intervention (RTI) process cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation for eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (OSERS, 2011). This memorandum came in response to a new awareness that, in some instances, local education agencies (LEAs) may have been using Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies to delay or deny a timely initial evaluation for children suspected of having a disability (OSERS, 2011). According to this memorandum, states and LEAs have an obligation under the IDEA Act to ensure that evaluations of children suspected of having a disability are not delayed or denied because of implementation of an RTI strategy.  (OSERS, 2011).

Special Education Support

As the Special Education Director, you may definitely see a need to educate the principal in the laws of special education and how to properly support the special education department of her school in regards to evaluations and eligibility determinations. There are special education law trainings provide by the Department of Education of every state for educational agencies, teachers and advocates. In addition to state funded trainings, many other education agencies endorse conferences and trainings to instruct educators about legal compliance for special education laws.

One such agency is LRP’s National Institute on Legal Issues of Educating Individuals with Disabilities. LRP conducts conferences designed to help educators keep their special education programs in compliance with federal requirements. The nation’s leading special education experts show attendees how to turn legal mandates into best practices, so staff can ensure that students receive appropriate services. As the Special Education Director, wouldn’t you want to make sure that all of the schools in the district were adequately trained? 

The Principal

An article written by Cooner, D., Tochterman, S., and Garrison-Wade, D., (2006), Preparing Principals for Leadership in Special Education Educational leadership, conveys thateducational leadership is ranked as the number one key variable associated with effective schools.” (Cooner, D. et al 2006). 

Today’s principals are dealing with children with physical, emotional/behavioral, and developmental disorders as well as those with significant health care needs. Many children have multiple disabilities (Cooner, D. et al 2006). According to the U.S. Department of Education: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS, 2012), over 6 million of our nation’s children are enrolled in special education programs. Principals are overwhelmed by the challenge to provide strong leadership to teachers in the instruction of students with disabilities. With increasing enrollment of students in special education and the increase of these children participating in the general education arena, the role of the principal has drastically changed. Particularly in light of identifying and providing required special education services. Although the responsibility of the principal has increased, almost no state requires any training in special education for an individual to become licensed as a principal (Bateman & Bateman, 2001). 

The scenario described above, may in fact just be a lack of special education preparation.

Providing training and resources to the Administrative staff is a good place to start but, I would suggest that more school districts assess the attitude of the school principals in the hiring process or yearly evaluations. “Principals that value diversity in the student population will provide opportunities for all teachers and students to learn valuable skills essential to living and working within a diverse world” (Cooner, D. et al 2006). In contrast, principals’ negative attitudes based upon the belief that special needs students require a disproportionate amount of time and resources or that these students should be educated in more segregated environments, hamper the administration of special education in school buildings (Cooner, D. et al 2006). Beliefs influence perception and guide behavior, and given that the leadership role of a principal affects special education services, training programs for principals must address their beliefs (Cooner, D. et al 2006). Subsequently, effective principals model positive attitudes toward acceptance of all children, visit special education classrooms, spend time with students with special needs, tour the building daily, and become involved with the concerns of all students and programs (Cooner, D. et al 2006).

Special Education Teacher

As far as supporting the special education teacher, it is imperative to make sure that the sped teacher is aware and knowledgeable about the referral process and for administration to provide the necessary resources for the teacher to learn about compliance and how to advocate for his students. Each state’s department of education provides training on writing measurable goals and objectives into IEPs based on their states standards. They also supply resources on IEPs for children with disabilities and for learning to connect curriculum to the state standards. All teachers should be trained in this. Administration should be expected to support the teaching staff with these resources and all other necessary steps in the process for compliance. 

The IEP process is designed to ensure that children with disabilities get the best education possible. There are now many technological resources that assist with the IEP process and it’s required documentation. There are no excuses for school districts not to be in compliance with the law.

References

Baio, EdS, J. (2014, March 28). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/ mmwrhtml/ss6302a1.htm?s_cid=ss6302a1_w 

Bateman, D., & Bateman, C. F. (2001). A principal’s guide to special education. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.




Cooner, D., Tochterman, S., and Garrison-Wade, D., (2006). Preparing Principals for Leadership in Special Education: Applying ISLLC Standards. Journal of Principal Preparation and Development, v6 2004-2005 Retrieved From: https://www.principals.org/portals/0/ content/49135.pdf




Erickson, K. Ph.D., Hanser, G. Ph.D., Hatch, P. Ph.D., Sanders, E. M.S./CCC-SLP. (2009) The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies. Research-Based Practices for Creating Access to the General Curriculum in Reading and Literacy for Students with Significant Intellectual Disabilities. Retrieved From: http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2009/ Research_Based_Practices_Reading_2009.pdf




Farrall, M. L., Ph.D., Darr Wright, P., MA MSW., & Wright, Peter W.D. Esq. (2014).   Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments. ISBN: 978-1-892320-16-2, 456 pages




Ferreri, S., Bolt, S., & Michigan State University, Education,Policy Center. (2011). Educating Michigan's students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD): An initial exploration of programming."the ASD michigan project". special report. ().Education Policy Center, Michigan State University. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED525238&site=eds-live

U.S. Department of Education, Memorandum from The Office of  Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Jan. 21, 2011. Questions and Answers on RTI and Coordinated Early Intervention Services (CEIS). Retrieved From:

https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/ guid/idea/memosdcltrs/osep11-07rtimemo.pdf




U.S. Department of Education. (2012). Thirty-fourth annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from www.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/osep/2012/index.html


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<![CDATA[Autism & Vaccines: It’s a Matter of Trust By Katherine Goodsell M.Ed]]>Fri, 13 Feb 2015 16:05:03 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/autism-vaccines-its-a-matter-of-trust-by-katherine-goodsell-medPicture
Autism & Vaccines: It’s a Matter of Trust

By Katherine Goodsell M.Ed

There is a lot of heated debate going on right now between, what some are calling, Vaxxers and Anti-Vaxxers. These two opposing views both have very valid reasons behind their argument.  The basic picture is simple: Despite over-whelming scientific consensus that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines do not cause autism (Shwed and Bearman 2010), many people believe otherwise. Many “Vaxxers” have expressed the opinion that “Anti-Vaxxers” are deluded and irresponsible in their decision to not vaccinate their children. I, on the other hand, am in a very precarious position. My husband is a true Anti-Vaxxer whereas I believe that there is Oh, So Much More To The Story than vaccines that leads to the symptoms of Autism, but I can understand both sides to the story.

The whole thing with this debate has a enormous amount to do with how much the public can trust Big Brother. (Oh yes, she did say that!) Big Brother is watching and controlling the masses. Those few who are wary over how much say so the government has over our choices. Now, Big Brother is really just the modern day ‘Boogie Man’ but there are valid reasons why it is so difficult for many to just take the word of any organization under government endorsement. The CDC has been under question for years, the FDA has consistently been under scrutiny over poor decisions that have put our health in jeopardy, and so has science in general. Now remember, I’m not one to try to persuade anybody to one belief or the other, I’m just here to explain why some parents have made a conscious decision to not vaccinate. If we address the why instead of persecuting the parent, than we can perhaps make a change with the way things are being done. Because when it all comes down to it, we all just want what is right for the well-being of our children.

I’m not going to go into all the science of vaccines and how there are just as many research studies that say vaccines are detrimental to our children. If that is what you are looking for, there is an article here describing all that.  Autism-Vaccine Link: Evidence Doesn't Dispel Doubts

The “Vaxxers” and the general public expect the “Anti-Vaxxers” to trust the consensus that vaccinations do not cause Autism, because scientific research says that it does not cause autism. At the same time, these scientist can’t tell us what does cause autism. In fact ever other week, there is a NEW cause of autism coming from what appears to be a highly scientific study from the BLAH BLAH INSTITUTE OF BLAH BLAH. The ordinary lay person cannot discern which scientific collective is a legitimate resource and which is not. In fact, most government officials cannot discern what is legitimate and what is not. We all just blindly follow, and from history, the general public follows whoever has the money enough to persuade us to follow them. Like I tell my husband, (who has in his mind researched this thing from top to bottom) anyone can prove their point of view and find many people and articles on the internet that will share that particular point of view. The tricky part is determining which sources are valid. Even then, there can always be a chance that the study is skewed in the direction that the researcher or corporation wants us to conclude.

The History of Scientific Mistrust in the USA

“Well, someone may say, why would we question the voice of CDC or the FDA or any of the organizations that were created to protect us?” Let’s see…

These are the same people that endorsed smoking IN THE 50S AND 60S, who said DDT was good for us, in fact there were times when entire neighborhoods were sprayed with DDT. Read more at  The Society Pages. Science told pregnant women experiencing morning sickness to take thalidomide only to find later that many of their children were born with serious birth defects as a result. These same also said mercury was not a problem for humans in small quantities but later realized that mercury can accumulate in organisms, especially in wildlife, and be passed on to future generations. Wasn’t it also science that associated Autism with the Refrigerator Mom Theory and also refused to tell African-American men with syphilis that there was a treatment? 

Anit-Vaxxers acknowledge what many others are content to ignore when they look out at science. Anti-Vaxxers believe research results have been the basis of a vast conspiracy that interlocks government agencies with big phrama, whose reckless pursuit of profit leads them to leave the lives of children and our future in ruins. How many times have we seen on the television a barrage of advertisements trying to convince us that this DRUG or THAT is going to change our lives? That we absolutely cannot go on without this DRUG. Than, two months later, we suddenly see all the advertisements from the bad effects of that same drug. We see lawyers on TV, trying to make a buck from ‘our’ mis-fortune. From our listening and believing that THAT particular drug passed the inspections of the FDA.  If it passed FDA, it must be safe, right? 

What most don’t realize is that what exist here in the world of big phrama is a term they call “acceptable losses”. We, the citizens and our kids are “acceptable losses”.  It is built into Big Phrama's budget that there is so much money put away for those of us that suffer from the drugs they are pushing. They get the studies and see that a percentage of people will develop side affects from the drug, BUT they will profit from those that don’t. Then they pay doctors to prescribe those drugs. Okay, so they maybe don’t pay them per say but I’m sure they ‘greatly’ encourage them with perks.

The conspiracy Theory runs rampant here in the United States and there is so many reasons why. How can we trust? Our trust has been tried and blemished over and over. I’m wondering how anyone still has trust. A co-worker of mine, who worked in an organization (with me) that served individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, once said to me on the topic…“Why NOT vaccinate? Your kids are already damaged. What else do you have to lose?” 

I almost flipped because at that point, we (my husband and I) had made so many strides with the children. They were making so much progress in school, starting to talk and do things independently. It was THAT statement that made me think, “Geesh! If I go against my husband’s beliefs and trust that the vaccines are ok and they ‘damage’ my kids again, how would I ever forgive myself?”

The problem at hand here is not whether one group of people’s mistrust is jeopardizing the health of our nation’s children, it’s why the nation is making it hard for US to trust them. People are so easily inclined to treat symptoms but never even inclined to address the cause of the symptoms. In this cause, what is causing parents to not trust the consensus with the well-being of their children?







References:

Social Psychology Quarterly Vol. 73, No. 2, 112–115 Ó American Sociological Association 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0190272510371672 Retrieved From: http://spq.sagepub.com

Despres, S. (2015). Politico Magazine: Vaccines Aren’t Partisan 

Retrieved From: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/vaccines-bipartisan-support-114915.html#ixzz3Qy7fzUwT

TedTalks (2011) The Darkside of data. by Ben Goldacre Battling bad science. Retrieved From: http://www.ted.com/playlists/130/the_dark_side_of_data


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<![CDATA[Autism: A History of Blame by Katherine Goodsell M.Ed]]>Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:01:04 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/autism-a-history-of-blame-by-katherine-goodsell-medPicture
There was a new study recently posted on DisabilityScoop titled, Parent-Led Intervention May Lower Kids’ Autism Risk . Researchers again are dusting off the premise that Autism can be ‘cured’ by ways of changing the parental nurturing interaction early in life. Although I read the study and it wasn’t as insulting as in comparison to some earlier theories, I still felt it was resting on the feet of some very destructive autism fallacies of the past. I know this is a little different than what I usually write here, but after some research into the subject this really struck me as interesting and I thought I’d share some Autism History. It may answer the question as to why, we as mothers, either inherently have guilt about our kids or why people are determined to inflict this on us.

It is not surprising that this stigma originated with Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is based on the concept of the unconscious mind, and it focuses on emotional disturbance. Freud believed that the cause of psychological disorders were the result of some early childhood experience of trauma, rather than organic factors in the brain or nervous system.  Freud's work put particular emphasis on the first few years of life because he theorized that early childhood experiences were the root of unhealthy developments in the human mind. In my opinion and that of many others, Freud placed a lot of blame on mother issues and unhealthy sexual deviances and complexes

The legacy of psychoanalysis can be clearly traced in the early history of autism diagnosis and particularly the phenomenon of mother blame. Armed with their understanding of psychoanalytic theory, medical experts in the late 1940s to 1970s “searched for emotional causes for autistic symptoms” and “identified the root of these symptoms to be the figure most dominant in children's early lives; their mothers” (POV, 2002).

According to the documentary aired on Point of View: Refrigerator Mothers: History of Autism Blame. (2002, July), an early expert on autism, Leo Kanner, made the assumption about autism that were based on fallacies. He claimed that although an autistic child’s  “inability to relate to others was probably innate” (POV, 2002), he attributed parenting characteristics to be key factors. Kanner believed that parents who were highly educated, especially in the case of their mothers; who were white and middle or upper class; were more likely to raise autistic children. He is credited with “coining the term refrigerator mother to describe the mothering of autistic children as if from a refrigerator that didn't defrost” (POV, 2002).

He based this fallacy on what was a general likelihood that families of higher social economic status would seek out professional help for their autistic children. Families of lower socio economic status did not as easily have access to professional help. Kanner's entire criteria is based on the observance of “a small sampling of children from educated families typically from the academic community” (POV, 2002). The limited size and selectiveness of his study determine that Kanner’s assumptions were invalid. (POV, 2002).

Also cited as an early autism specialist was Bruno Bettelheim, “a renowned University of Chicago professor and child-development specialist from the late 1940s to the early 1970s” (POV, 2002). Bettelheim modeled his theory after Kanner's earlier work.  Bettelheim avowed that “autism was an emotional disorder that developed in some children because of psychological harm brought upon them by their mothers” (POV, 2002). Bettelheim  supported his assumptions based on his own implausible case studies and his experience as a prisoner during WWII. His comparison of the lives of “autistic children to those of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and the mothers of autistic children to Nazi guards” (POV, 2002), would be the most hurtful in the history of Autism blame.

Then in the early 60s Bernard Rimland, a parent of an autistic child and a research psychologist, came along and was the first person to challenge the psychiatric orthodoxy about the cause of autism. Through his own methodical research Rimland came to believe that the "refrigerator mother" theory was founded on nothing more than circumstantial and anecdotal evidence. In his book Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implications for a Neural Theory of Behavior, published in 1964, Rimland questioned the theory that autism was the result of unloving parent-child relationships and presented the first solid argument that autism is a biological condition. 

Despite the publication of his book, Rimland didn't have the kind of media access and celebrity enjoyed by Bruno Bettelheim, so his work and theories went largely unnoticed by the general public. However, a growing number of parents of autistic children, many of whom had suffered under the mother-blame myth for years, began to hear about Rimland's work. In 1969, along with a small group of parents, Rimland founded the National Society for Autistic Children, now the Autism Society of America (ASA). Originally run out of the homes of volunteer parents, NSAC broke ground as a public voice for parents of autistic children who rejected the "refrigerator mother" myth. Rimland is also the founder and director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, which serves as a data-collection center and information resource for parents of autistic children worldwide.

Richard Pollak, a journalist and author who grew up under the shadow of autism and mother blame in his own family was another voice for autism advocacy. His younger brother Stephen attended Bettelheim's Orthogenic School in the late 1940s until he died in a freak accident. Years later, after a personal encounter with Bettelheim, Pollak discovered the damage that the "refrigerator mother" theory had caused in his own family and he was motivated to learn more about Bettelheim. Pollak spent years painstakingly researching the life of Bruno Bettelheim and ultimately published the biography The Creation of Dr. B. in 1997. In the book, Pollak investigates Bettelheim's public persona, turning up evidence that Bettelheim had misconstrued his own life story, exaggerated and even invented his credentials and expertise on autism. Pollak discovered that Bettelheim abused the children under his care, terrorized parents, and popularized the destructive "refrigerator mother" theory without adequate proof.

These kind of assumptions are so very hurtful to parents of children on the spectrum. Generally, new mothers often feel inadequate at the arrival of a new child and subsequently when one is holding a child that clearly doesn’t want to be held, due to sensory issues, a mothers tends to feel rejected from doing the very thing that makes her a mother, nurture her baby.  

I, myself, felt rejected from the very moment my daughter was born. It took a lot of effort on our part to teach her to let us physically hold and love her. It was all too overwhelming for her at first but now, she is cuddly and accepts our loving. In the case of Autism, everyone seems to be looking for someone or something to blame. I don’t blame anyone. My daughter is who she is. My son is who he is and completely different than my daughter. There is no blame, nor should there be. There is only acceptance.

References:

Point of View: Refrigerator Mothers: History of Autism Blame. (2002, July)Retreived From: http://www.pbs.org/pov/refrigeratormothers/fridge.php


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<![CDATA[Tis the Season to be Simple]]>Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:54:36 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/tis-the-season-to-be-simplePicture
Tis the Season to be Simple

By Katherine Goodsell M.Ed  

 My family, from back since when I was a kid, often didn't have money for presents. Sometimes we would hand make presents, bake goods or make coupons for favors like “I will make your bed for a week” or “Do your chores.” One Christmas we didn't even know if we would have electricity....much less a tree. A nearby tree lot donated a tree to us, they even dropped it off at our house, after my little brother went over and gave them a sad faced orphan look. Many christmases were just like this.

One Christmas Eve, we sat in the dark and just told old stories about our family origins and more recent memories. Each of us also wrapped up that something special belonging that we wanted our loved one to have. To this day, it is still the best Christmas I can remember as a child.

Today with my own children, I find it is better to just keep it simple. Both of my children have a hard time with sensory overload. They really don’t need all the chaos and pomp and circumstance, it’s all too over stimulating anyway.

I find that ASD parents, every year, seem to struggle with this concept. Parents in general try to recreate their childhood memories for their own children but in an ASD parents case, maybe it’s best that we just let the kids direct their own Holiday experience. It’s not that my husband and I don’t give it all a good college try. When we do, it takes more planning than a formal wedding for it to be a success. Sometimes I feel that we as parents stress ourselves out trying too hard to make our kids have that special holiday when all they really want to do is simple every day things. Paint a picture with them; tell them a story about your childhood memories; help them make a present for Dad or brother. These are the memories they will cherish the most. There is no law that says we HAVE TO make our kids visit the Department Store Santa. You know your child better than anyone. You know what they can handle and what will be a challenge. If it is going to cause un-due stress into your’s and your child’s life, be creative and think of an alternative. I wonder. Why hasn’t someone created a website where your child can visit Santa by Skype or video chat. Wouldn’t that be something? And it makes more sense that the REAL Santa is too busy up at the North Pole to spend all his days at the Mall, right? Christmas has become way too commercialized anyway. Why don’t we blaze the trail for a more Simple Christmas?  I believe we would all be the better for the shift in our thinking.




Have a Happy and Stressless Holiday!


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<![CDATA[Moving on…When Childhood Friends Out  Grow each other. ]]>Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:11:02 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/moving-onwhen-childhood-friends-out-grow-each-otherPicture
Moving on…When Childhood Friends Out  Grow each other. By Katherine Goodsell M.ED







I don’t know if telling this story will date me, but I guess it doesn’t matter that I grew up in the sixties. I remember as a child, that song/story of Puff the Magic Dragon. The special friendship he and Christopher Robbins had together, but then the boy grows up and Puff hangs his head and cries.  (Or was the Tom Dooley and Winnie the Pooh? LOL) Anyway, my kids have been best of friends since the beginning of time and long before that. They have a sort of love for each other that I pray every day never ends. They even have a secret language and I often hear them babbling away together and cracking each other up with their private jokes.  My son looks at his sister and her funny little ways and I can see it in his eyes that she brightens his day and he her’s. 

In just the last couple of years, this has been a growing concern for me. They are getting to an age where most siblings just can’t tolerate the sight of each other. Luckily that hasn’t been the case in my home, but I see something else occurring. My daughter has been developing in a more sophisticated way than my son. Her speech has been greatly improved; her social skills are growing in leaps and bounds and she is succeeding in general ed classes. I am sad to say that in some ways, she is leaving her brother behind.

Her teacher called me the other day and we had talked about taking her off the gluten free diet so that we could open up new opportunities for her to socialize amongst her peers. She enjoys being with other little girls of course and this diet has created a barrier. The diet is mostly for her brother and it is just more convenient if we are all eating the same way than to have different menus. I agreed that she needed this opportunity to flourish. At the same time, I am feeling kind of sad for my son. She really is his only friend and he has no interest in making new friends. I worry about if he is feeling left behind. It’s not easy to tell with him because he can’t express himself the way she can.

So, how does a mother make that decision? I would like to think that I am doing what’s right for both kids. I would not want to have to choose the well being of one over the other in any way shape of form, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. 

My husband and I often wondered if our daughter’s delays were, in part, due to the lack of interaction with NT kids of her age. She grew up right along side her brother with no other children around. It gets rather isolating being the sibling of a child who can’t cope with social situations. Sometimes we feel guilty because we haven’t made a bigger effort to provide social opportunities for our daughter but our thinking is that it is very difficult to take one child out without the other, so we opted to stay home for the sake of Jesse. Now the time has come that we need to think of what is best for Carmen. I think that as parents, we need to give ourselves more credit. We do what we can, when we can and we have to let Carmen move on from her brother. Maybe this will encourage Jesse to grow and seek friendships outside of his sister. I can only hope they can maintain that childhood magic they have now, over time. Or at least get it back when they grow older.


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<![CDATA[Those Kind of Days - By Katherine Goodsell M.ED]]>Thu, 09 Oct 2014 23:27:30 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/those-kind-of-days-by-katherine-goodsell-med
Some days I wake up and feel truly blessed. I mean it. When I look back on the early days, I remember being so very overwhelmed. These days, those kind of days, are few and far between. If I could tell my younger self a few golden words of wisdom, I would tell her. “You Got This!”

At the time, it felt insurmountable. It felt like a bad joke that these littles were placed into my care. Like there were so many other factors that made my life difficult, why would God want to put them into our lives. Well…I guess it was so I could grow. A seed grows better with a little manure. 

I remember times when my kids would have meltdown in the middle of the market. They still do, but nothing like they used to. People would stop and stare, judging my ability to be a parent. At the same time I was questioning that same very thing. Imagine two littles at Walmart. One in the basket. The other darting off one direction or another. My son, for no apparent reason, begins to have a meltdown. As I am trying, no pleading with him to calm down. My daughter decides to entertain herself in the basket, by reaching for the bananas. She begins to peel each one while throwing the peelings at passing shoppers. Some of the shopper would laugh. Some became infuriated, but most just felt embarrassed for me and that was worse of all.

I talk with parents all the time now and I can really understand where they are coming from. Many can’t or won’t make a decision about their child without asking for opinions, for fear of making a mistake. You see, I had to let that go. It was making me completely and totally crazy and impotent. I finally had to take the stance that if God didn’t want me to make a mistake and totally mess up these kids, he wouldn’t have put them in my care. LOL 

Well what I mean to say is, I have to just do my best with what I know and when I know better, I do better. I educated myself and I paid a LOT of attention to my kids and what they are capable of doing. I became their voice and they told me, in no uncertain way, what they needed to be the best that they can be.  Even if your child cannot speak, they CAN convey to you what they need. You just need to be aware and educate yourself, always.

Today, we have a different set of problems. Head banging, low speech, digestive issues, sensory processing disorder, binge eating, paper shredding & other destructive behaviors and my daughter’s meltdowns( Although instead of being two hours in duration, they are significantly shorter).  I still feel overwhelmed at times. I still feel like I’m going crazy. On many occasions, I have imagined jumping in my car and driving away from it all, changing my name and living on the beach. Just kidding…a little ;) and then…

And then something like this happens. My kids, after horsing around in their room for two hours passed their bedtime while I am struggling to stay awake. (Did I mention my kids wander away so I can’t take eyes off for fear they will escape), I suddenly realize that the noise is gearing down. It’s actually getting quiet and I can hear the gentle sounds of pre-snoring beginning. Then my son whispers. “Good Night, Carmen. I Love You.” and she whispers back. “I Love You too, Good night Jesse.” and I just want to weep with love and pride. What kind of kids I have. How many NT kids tell their siblings at 9 & 10 years old, I Love YOU? They are special in so many different ways, but that doesn’t mean less, just incredibly different.

I am a truly blessed Momma.

Katherine Goodsell M.ED

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<![CDATA[The Puzzling Piece IPAD Challenge]]>Sun, 05 Oct 2014 11:22:36 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/the-puzzling-piece-ipad-challenge
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<![CDATA[Who Wants "Normal" Kids Anyway?]]>Sun, 28 Sep 2014 18:44:20 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/who-wants-normal-kids-anywayPicture
We went on an extended road trip yesterday with kids. hmmm? Not bad. Better than I expected and better than it has been in the past BUT kids on the spectrum are not really spur of the moment, go with the flow type of kids. They need to know what is coming next and THAT is something my husband and I are not really good at. The kids both kept saying something really "normal" for 9/10 year olds. "Are we THERE YET?" and “Can we go home now?” Strange how I have never imagined I would want them to be LESS "normal" for once.

My husband and I often refer to our days together “before Kids” or BC. We spent a lot of time being vagabonds, traveling and exploring. He is a photographer and I am a writer. So we would sit for hours, he taking pictures and me writing or reading. We also moved to a wonderfully scenic area of the country and have often attempted to continue this way of life, with kids in tow. But it just hasn’t worked out in this way.

I remember one time, around the time the kids were first diagnosed. We visited the very beautiful city of Moab, Colorado. We planned to take them hiking around The Arches, go to lunch, and then maybe stop at the park before we headed back home. Hiking went well, not too many issues for the most part. When we went into the Mexican restaurant, my son wouldn’t sit at the table they seated us at because of the parrot statues near the table and the Sun plaque on the wall; my daughter spilled her drink and had a meltdown; and both kids had accidents in their pants. We both sighed and said, “Okay, let’s try the park.” 

Being new to Autism, I didn’t realize that if a kid doesn’t want to do something that most kids want to do, why force it? I had a whole park full of parents looking at us while I dragged my kids into a fabulous interactive and inclusive park. They had special swings and musical instruments to bang on and things to climb on. It was a REALLY COOL PARK!! But my kids didn’t want to be there. That completely perplexed me! I shouted in my head. “Why am I such a horrible parent when all I want is for my kids to enjoy this totally awesome and cool park?!?” I literally dragged my daughter over to the play area while Dad was trying to kept my son from bolting away.

I have learned a lot since then. I guess my lesson from that day is that sometime you have to just relax and let the kid direct the “play” Stop trying to push them into the kind of activities that “normal” kids are suppose to do. Who wants to be normal anyway? ASD parents are way too hard on themselves and have too many expectations about the things that the kids are supposed to do. Relax and let them be who they are. That’s my advice, at least. 

I don’t even notice anymore how un- “normal” my kids are. I like them that way. 

— Kate


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<![CDATA[Isolation: A Parent’s Closest Companion on the Journey Through Autism.      By Katherine Goodsell M.ED]]>Wed, 03 Sep 2014 19:03:16 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/isolation-a-parents-closest-companion-on-the-journey-through-autism-by-katherine-goodsell-medWe started off this summer with very high hopes and a fresh outlook on life. My friend of over 12 years was moving out to Colorado from California to help us with starting our self-sustaining farm. For the past 8 years or so, we have been dreaming of getting this started and well, we have been either too busy supporting the family financially or busy with taking care of the kid’s needs. To do both of these we needed to be living (at the least) 100 miles away from our property. So when my friend said she would come out, live on the property and get the work started, I thought this was an ideal opportunity and funny enough, a chance for a life less isolated.

Things often don’t go as smoothly as you would expect, however.

It proved too much for her and her family to live on a piece of land (in the middle of nowhere) that had been all but forgotten for the last 5 years and she decided to stay in my home with her two grown kids and five large dogs. Now, I was foolishly ok with this. I mean, how much chaos could this cause in my home? The home in which I live with my two Autistic children and my husband. Oh did I mention we live in a two bedroom home? 

Let’s just say, this was doomed from the beginning. 

I think that even if my kids were neuro-typical, it was only a matter of time before there would be some sort of explosion after which everyone would kiss and make up. The only difference is that I am an ASD Mom. You seriously don’t mess with ASD Moms, especially a seasoned ASD Mom. 

My kids were diagnosed at age three and are now ten and nine. I have many battle wounds and other various bits of shrap metal under my skin. I’ve had family members and other NT mom’s try to tell me how to better parent my kids. I’ve had doctors, people shopping at the market and bus drivers suggest to me that if my kids can’t behave in public like “normal” kids, I should keep them at home. I’ve had every decision I’ve ever made scrutinized by every kind of person imaginable. 

All I can say is … I AM DONE!

I am done trying to justify why I choose what I choose. I am at that point that I have imagined ever other possible alternative to all of our issues and have made my choices accordingly. Yes, my stress is still there and yes I sometimes take an easy way out of a most likely challenging situation and in doing so, I always feel doubt that I’ve made the right decision, but these are mine to make. No one else’s. I know better than anyone where our breaking point is located.

So when my choices were scrutinized and seemingly attacked on the day in question, I had no problem letting go of this friendship. I didn’t even have the energy to fight to keep this relationship. This was just one battle not worth fighting as far as I was concerned and my family came first, not my own need to be understood. 

They say that parents of special needs kids possess a lot of the same symptoms as those with PTSD. I can really understand why. When a veteran comes home from battle, he often feels like no one really truly understands what he is going through, and that’s how parent’s of Children with Autism feel too. Sufferers of PTSD feel Isolated from their friends and family because they know that no matter what they say or do, those people cannot imagine what they are living through. Their friends and families cannot conceive in the fact that what their loved one has experienced, has changed them forever.

So now I ask this community a favor. I know some of you have your own networks and blogs. If y'all would indulge me and share this post on your own pages, I'd be very appreciative. I would like to do an informal survey as to just how prominent the feeling of isolation is to Parents of children with ASD or Aspergers. 

So the questions are: 

1).  Do you feel isolated from friends and family and/or have you lost touch with the same since the dx? 

2).  Do you avoid answering questions from family and friends because you feel they won’t understand your point of view?

3).  Do you go out into the community and if and when you do, do you take kids or take turns with your spouse? Do you even have the option of taking turns with your spouse? (In some cases the spouse’s lack of cooperation is contributing to your stress and isolation)

4).  When was the last time you spent quality time with your spouse OUT ALONE? 

5).  When was the last time you spent time alone? (either out in the community or at home)

In some cases, one of the contributing factors to the parent’s symptoms of PTSD is the feeling of being held hostage by ASD and the challenges that it brings to the family dynamics. Now don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying you are suffering at the hands of your children or spouse, but by the emotional challenges that come with ASD.

So, you may ask, how do we remedy this for ourselves? 

It has been my experience, and I only recently discovered this myself, that finding a support system that truly “Gets It” is the best medicine. Some of you already know that there is a slew of bloggers and followers that commiserate together as a community online. Others prefer meeting ASD parents in person, so join or start their own meet-up groups or community support groups. Whatever is your cup of tea, I suggest you go ahead and jump right in. The water is more than accepting.

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<![CDATA[WWYD? Autistic Child Defended in Cafe]]>Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:58:43 GMThttp://www.tinyseedsforabrightfuture.com/blog/wwyd-autistic-child-defended-in-cafeI think this is very cool because I have been in the situation where there was embarrassment. I am wondering, however, what the diner's would do if the one doing the criticizing were a parent or an unforgiving grandparent, dining with the family. What are your thoughts?
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