Disability awareness and being sensitive to the needs of children and adults with disabilities is not something we’re all born with. Some of us have children, siblings, parents, friends or other loved ones with disabilities and our experience has taught us about acceptance of individuals with different abilities. Without these experiences, children, teens and young adults may have difficulty with understanding what it’s like to have a disability and why it’s important for everyone to be caring, understanding and accepting.
The holiday season is once again upon us and with it comes thoughts of togetherness, celebrations, and gatherings to look forward to. Thanksgiving festivities are among the first to kick-off traditional gatherings, shopping rituals, and preparing classic meal favorites. However, this time of year may look a little different for special needs families as they experience different types of challenges. Children and adults with disabilities may have sensory issues, socialization or communication challenges, and other issues that make holiday gatherings something they might prefer to avoid. Parents of children and adults with disabilities may experience anxiety, worry, or possibly isolation. Here are some ideas that may help with having a fun and memorable gathering without anxiety or dreading the event happenings.
There are many ideas and approaches on how to create an inclusive society. Even finding a single outline that clearly highlights the core principles of inclusive settings can be challenging. Since there are many different views and definitions, the outcomes for inclusive settings vary and are often skewed. Like many special needs moms, I want the world to be more accepting, understanding, and of course, welcome my son and others like him as a valued and equal member of our society. But, what does that world look like?
Your Spring Cleaning tasks could mean Goodwill Career Creations!
It is spring cleaning season! It's the time of year that gets us doing chores that aren't part of our normal cleaning routines. If you're anything like me, it's time to clean the china cabinet, get the oven back to its original shine, and start going through our closets and drawers to fish out all the clothes that we've outgrown or just stopped wearing over six months ago! But what if we could do our spring cleaning and donate to a good cause at the same time?
Recently, I wrote a post about how the Americans with Disabilities Act has made many life-changing improvements that have successfully increased the participation of individuals with disabilities in their communities. However, there is still much work that needs to be done.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Historic Civil Rights Acts of Triumph with Worldwide Influence
Every year, we celebrate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The historic law was enacted in 1990, and our country is in a better place because of it – and other nations have taken notice. ADA prohibits the discrimination against people with disabilities. This includes employment, transportation, communication, public accommodations, activities, and government services. It states that “individuals with disabilities must have access to all public activities and places, just as anyone without disabilities.”
All family gatherings are special. The fall season is upon us and brings with it the Thanksgiving holiday. Families come together to celebrate and be thankful for having one another in each other’s lives. Special needs families prepare to celebrate the season’s festivities. Although our experience is a little different, we are grateful for many things.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but Efforts for Strengthening Inclusion and Acceptance Must Be Ongoing
Bullying has been around for far too long to be a passing fad. It’s an infectious direction that tends to spread quickly if the climate allows for it. It’s the end of October, and this is the month for which parents, students, educators, and members of our community work together to raise awareness about bullying and how to prevent it. However, our combined efforts shouldn’t begin and end in the month October, we must all work hard on bullying prevention throughout the year – every year.
Halloween is a fun holiday favorite for many kids, but for kids with sensory issues and special needs, it could be a night filled with discomfort, anxiety and fear. I learned over the years with Richie that it was okay to get him to try new things on Halloween, but I would never push him to go beyond his comfort level. My son has autism and with it comes many sensory related issues. This includes changes in routines, fear of sounds, uncomfortable clothing and more. I found these tips to work well with us, hopefully they’ll work for you too!
The word is out! This year, ABLE United started a program that allows individuals with disabilities and their families to plan for the future by saving money and building assets without losing their benefits. You might remember my previous post highlighting the launch of this beneficial program and how you and your family can start saving like we did!
Many of us have been anxiously waiting for the premier of the pilot episode for “Speechless.” The show debuted last night and I have to write that it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was on-point! Speechless is about an American family of five that includes a teen with special needs. The story line is centered around their incredibly, resilient and humorous ability to cope with the many challenges faced by special needs families today. As parents of children with disabilities, we can all relate to Minnie Driver’s character, “Maya,” who is a relentless and fierce mother who will stop at nothing to protect her son JJ (played by Micah Fowler).
The LATISM (Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media) movement has served as an instrumental vehicle for the advancement of Latinos across the nation in education, health, business, technology, and advocacy.
My Journey to Improving My Son's Challenging Behavior with Positive Behavior Support: Part 6 - Putting the PBS Plan in Place
Putting the Positive Behavior Support Plan in Place
It is very exciting times. We now have a plan of action for preventing, solving, replacing, and managing Richie’s challenging behaviors. What’s even more exciting is that we were also going to teach Richie new skills – skills that had never occurred to us until we started the positive behavior support process.
"My Journey to Improve My Son's Challenging Behavior with Positive Behavior Support: Part 5 - Developing a Positive Behavior Support Plan"
Developing a Positive Behavior Support Plan
In this process, we have taken the important steps needed for the development of a positive behavior support plan. So far in the Positive Behavior Support blog series, we have:
My Journey to Improve My Son's Challenging Behavior Through Positive Behavior Support: Part 3 - Gathering Information and Data Collection.
Gathering Information and Data Collection
In order for us to learn about how we can improve Richie’s challenging behavior, we need to start gathering information and collecting data. This is the most important part of the positive behavior support process, because it’s going to help us to decide on what goals to set, how to avoid certain behaviors from happening, what strategies to use when behaviors happen, what new skills we want to teach, and how we can manage behaviors. This is a crucial part of developing the PBS plan.
Some time ago, I wrote a workshop about the history of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It captured many of the events that led to how special education laws came to pass. It was a journey that unveiled intricate pieces of our disability history. It was also a very emotional experience for me, since I learned a great deal of what it might have been like for Richie had we been around in the early eighteen hundreds.
My family and I have gone to many sensory friendly films over the past ten years. Many times, my son Richie would be bored of the movie and either play with his iPod, or want to leave the theater all together. This is important to mention, because my family and I are big Star Wars fans, and for me to have to leave in the middle of it – as the great Yoda might have stated – been a disappointment so great, would have, Hmmmmmmm.
The holiday season reminds us to be grateful for the things we have, and cherish the ones we love. It’s the time of year that makes us want to express our love with gifts that are thoughtful and represent how much we care. For children and adults with autism, gift giving can be difficult. It’s always during the holiday season that I am often approached by family and friends about what to buy my thirteen year-old son, Richie. I don’t mind the inquiry really, it makes sense, as Richie’s preferences and interests change just like anyone else. Please note that I don’t always know what to buy Richie either! The truth is, there is no true guide to the perfect gift for a child or adult with autism. I have to pay attention to the things that interest him and sometimes, it is truly just a guessing game. Some gifts are hits and some, not so much (especially for children and adults who have difficulty with communicating their desires or who aren't speaking yet). It happens to many of us, so please don’t feel bad if your gift doesn’t make the all-time favorites list.
You’re planning to celebrate Thanksgiving, but parents of children with special needs know better than anyone that celebrations like these require a little extra planning for those unexpected, or shall I write – expected tantrums! Let’s focus on preparing for, and avoiding those challenging behaviors. Let’s try to replace them with new traditions and fun activities.
For many years, I had to deal with the stares, the snide remarks, the cruel comments, and the unbelievable acts of ignorance towards my sweet son– alone. It was awful. I remember having to be on the defensive all the time, asking people to excuse my son’s behavior, or apologizing for his confusing or seemingly frightening movements. It was so important to me that Richie was involved in community activities, and that he was accepted and always included in family activities. Still, it was challenging, because I could always count on the insensitivity and cruelty from many people, which was always ripe and plentiful.
Author: Christine Goulbourne