- the tasks were things that she had already shown a great deal of interest in
- the rewards were things that we knew she would enjoy and look forward to earning
- the choice was hers - to do the task or not, to save the stars or not, she had a great deal of control over the program.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
You could pick any story from the Bible, and find at the root that it teaches God is faithful. He is always true to His plan to bring us into fellowship with Him. First by creating us, then by withholding judgement until He could make a way to redeem, sanctify, and ultimately glorify us. Every moment of history points to His unending desire to know us and to have us know Him.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) says, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." This verse inspired the great hymn, "Great is thy Faithfulness" which I always find to be so encouraging.
Great is thy Faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not
As thou has been, thou forever wilt be.
Summer and Winter and Springtime and Harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars, in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To thy great faithfulness mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide.
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand besides.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness
Lord, unto me!
And what better time of year to consider just how faithful God has been to us. Considering how faithless we sometimes are, and yet he continues to pour out on us His great love, His ever new compassions, His own hand providing what we truly need. I hope each of us will be able to reflect on His faithfulness and at the same time understand that He wants to impart that character onto us, His children.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Some action steps to consider:
- If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area consider donating a coat to these students. Gently used or new coats are welcome. Donations can be delivered to George Miller Center, 2801 Robert Miller Drive, Richmond, CA by December 19. For more information call 510-374-3981 or send an e-mail to clam at arcofcc dot org.
- If you don't live nearby, look around for other programs that work with Special Needs students and want to encourage them to serve their community. Support a program that is already in place or help get one going.
- If you are a special needs parent, consider how you can encourage your own child to serve his or her community. A couple of years ago we went to an event where we helped make care packages for needy children. At that time the simple act of putting the package together and drawing a little picture for the recipient was about all my daughter could understand, but it was a start. She still tells me sometimes that she wants to give things to someone who doesn't have one of those (sometimes it's a sibling, though, so I'm not sure she understands the idea of charity :-). I'm sure this is an area we'll continue to work on, and the upcoming holiday season offers a great opportunity to do so.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The reason I bought the book is because I have always found it challenging to play with my daughter. That may sound kind of shocking to some people. She has always been very content to play on her own, so if I have projects to keep my busy (and usually I do) a lot of time can go by before I remember to check on her. It is an intentional act on my part to invade her space and enter into play with her. I had hoped that reading this book might make it easier to break down the walls. What reading the book (or part of it) did is confirm that the walls need to be broken down and it does take effort and it may not ever be "easy". My experience has taught me that consistently making that effort makes is easier to continue the effort and, gradually has meant that my daughter will make more of the effort from her side of the wall.
The other day she was so eager to "play" with me. She just wanted me to accompany her in picking some berries from a bush in our back yard and crushing them with one of her sandbox toys to make "applesauce". Recognizing this as a major step in our relationship - to have her invite me to join a pretend play activity with her - I knew I had to respond to that effort. The other projects were set aside...this was important!
So if you need some tools to start chipping down the walls, this book is for you!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Holidays/Family or Social gatherings in general:
1) It seems like the holidays often make a perfect storm for hurtful comments and the ensuing havoc on personal relationships. This article helped me think about some ways to respond and offers advice on what to say "instead" of hurtful (even if well-intentioned) comments.
2) One thing I'm thankful is around for my child today: Matteo's Dream playground, right here in our area. A while ago I blogged about a park like this up in Seattle. A friend of mine who helps organize Buddy Play invited us to attend an event at Matteo's Dream to make me aware of this special park just 20 minutes up the road for us. We went and of course my daughter loved it. She would live at a park if we'd let her, and one of her best buddies was there to boss around. One point that I hadn't considered before about a completely accessible playground is that parents or grandparents with physical challenges can more easily interact with their children, too. I saw a grandmother there with her motorized scooter and she was able to keep tabs on the child she was supervising.
3) One thing I'm thankful will be around for my child in the future: Capernaum, a ministry of Young Life that reaches out to special needs students. A friend of mine told me about this ministry some time ago, and this article jogged my memory. This story is specifically about a Capernaum group starting in Tempe, AZ. You can find out more about Capernaum at large here.
4) Some quotes and ideas about keeping the focus of Thanksgiving on gratitude, not turkey. I do not theologically agree with all of the sources of these quotes, or even with all of the quotes, but the goal of remembering that Thanksgiving should be about giving thanks is key.
Preparing for Christmas:
5) This year Advent begins on November 29 - the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I think Advent can be an excellent way to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ rather than the presents under the tree. This article gives some suggestions of ways to celebrate Advent with your child. I think they could be easily adapted to special needs children. I'm hoping to try one of the calendar ideas with my daughter. I'll let you know how it goes...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
My daughter has not yet accepted this truth as her own. This is one of the primary reasons that I started this blog. I have big questions about how to impart faith to her in view of her learning differences. She is immersed in a community of faith. We attend church each week. We are working on making Sunday School a place that will meaningfully communicate God's truth to her. At home we pray before meals and before bed. I have recently asked her to pray for specific friends or problems, and I try to point out miraculous things we encounter along the way (like the day we found important confidential papers that had fallen out of our stroller about six hours earlier). I hope for the day that she will ask more questions about who God is, why Jesus came, and what it can mean for her. Since she just recently started asking even concrete questions I sometimes wonder if I should just be initiating the conversation more, but if she isn't asking is she really ready? The debate just rages in my mind until I entrust even this significant piece of her future to the only One who already knows.
Still this child can teach me some important things about faithfulness. Regarding the conviction of the truth I can learn a lot. My daughter is among every other quality very truthful. I don't think the idea of falsehood has even entered the edges of her understanding yet. Even when it would serve her own interests (of which she is keenly aware) she tells the truth. When I hear one of her siblings crying and I suspect she has had something to do with that I can ask her, "Did you hit him?" and she will say "Yes, I hit him." and off to the time-out area we go. She is also pretty firmly fixed in what she thinks is right. There is very little gray in her universe. Items are liked or not liked, rules (though challenging to obey) are powerful, and friends are forever. While this steadfastness can lead to problems - e.g. in a sea of children insisting on playing with only one because "she's my friend' - it can also be inspirational to watch. Do I speak truth with so little self-consciousness? Do I hold fast to what I believe is right? With God's graceful provision I can!
Monday, November 9, 2009
My daughter just started Kindergarten, and although she is very verbal (non-stop sometimes) her conversation skills are not typical. Between pragmatic speech delays and social skill delays my idea of how her days at school were going was very vague. So talk to the teacher, you might suggest. Our Kindergarten classes have 20 students, which means 20 sets of parents who jockey for the teacher's attention. Because of my daughter's support programs at school, we only see the regular classroom teacher at drop-off, which halves our opportunity to ask questions. There's also a resource room teacher that we need to talk to. To complicate things even more, some of the information we need to know is whether or not there were any negative behaviors during the school day and how they were handled. We have learned (the hard way) that such issues should not be discussed when my daughter is present, even over the phone. In short it was very hard to know what was going on at school and how we could work with the teachers and other school staff to support our daughter.
One of our friends suggested using a "communication book" where we could write information for the teachers and they could write information for us. I spent a little bit of time researching things on the Internet and also picked up some ideas from an IEP (Individual Education Plan) workshop that I attended. None of them seemed to fit our exact situation. I wanted to meet the following criteria:
- Something that would be quick and easy for the school staff to do every day.
- Something that would give us information on both positive and negative behaviors.
- Some flexibility in case school staff needed to add important information.
- Something with a hint of how she was doing in terms of academic work.
Here's what I came up with:
I bought a cheap photo album with a cute girly cover. ($2) - the kind with plastic pages and clear pockets.
I made some slips of paper (some labeled with general classroom and some with resource room) that fit into the photo pockets. These say:
She earned __________ stars today.
She was put on timeout ___________ times because ____________.
She finished all most some of her work today.
To clarify - the stars and timeouts are defined pieces of her behavior support plan. The key is that I'm learning information on how well she did and if any problems came up.
I put in dividers for each day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday. On weekend days I write a brief note about things we did and any behavior issues that occurred at home and how we handled them. Each weekday I make sure the book gets into her backpack and at drop off I try to make sure I see her hand it to a teacher or aide. Each day the teacher or aide fills in the blanks or circles the choices as appropriate. If they choose to do so they can add their own thoughts at the bottom. When I pick my daughter up quite often she hands it directly to me and I flip to that day to see how many stars she earned. I beam at her and say, "WOW, X stars!, that's great sweetie!!". I also silently read about timeouts and can judge from her attitude at the moment about how I might need to proceed with the rest of our day, but I do NOT comment aloud on this piece. It is enough that I am aware of it. If I see any trends developing I will be able to contact the teachers for more information or to address my concerns.
This simple tool has made a huge difference in my confidence. I believe it has been key to keeping my daughter on track behaviorally. I appreciate the school staff's willingness to do this each day.
How do you find out about your child's day at school?
Friday, November 6, 2009
I found it.
This story is one that many of us can only hope will be played out in our children's future. You can find text, comments, and video that honors a boy with special needs for his faithful work as the manager of his middle school football team. I don't know how you remember middle school, but I recall it as a place where differences are unwelcome and ostracized. This school, this team does not fit that mold. Perhaps it is due to the strength and mentoring of the coach. Maybe it's the supportive mother. Maybe they are just good kids. No matter what it is you can see in the video how the boys of this team truly accept Matthew and enjoy being with him. I don't think it's magic...I think it is good character on the part of each person in the scenario.
It reminds me of another story I've seen on facebook several times now about a high school basketball team with a similar attitude. You can see that video here. Prepare to cry tears of joy...even if you've seen it before.
These kids, overcoming all obstacles to find a place of acceptance and happiness, are a reminder to all of us that the good is still out there and we need to find it and help it multiply.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The futility of that last point is obvious. Throughout the Bible we are told that God has an accurate view of who we are. Just two examples that come quickly to mind:
- Psalm 103:14 (NIV) - "...for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."
- Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) - "...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..."
I cannot win God's favor by any act of my own. Even my good stuff is like a well-used dust mop in His view, and because of my human frailty I will not always be able to do the good stuff. However, He still views me a a precious daughter not because of what I have done, but because He has made me good through the work of Jesus on the cross, and through the continuing work of His Holy Spirit in my life.
In John 16 Jesus tells His disciples that it is for their good that He is going away so that the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will come (verse 7). He goes on to explain that the Holy Spirit will teach us the standards of sin and righteousness, by telling us what God wants us to hear.
I am convinced that I cannot meet any measure of goodness on my own. I must learn to rely more on God's Spirit to show me the way to go, and rest in His assurance that He sees me as very good.
This post is part of the Moms' 30-minute Blog Challenge at Steady Mom. It is also the latest installment in a series on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23, see left) learned from our children and from the Bible. You can see previous posts in the series by going to my "blog schedule" page and looking through the Tuesday and Thursday posts.