Big sister, little brother…..he has Down syndrome and autism!

Big sister, little brother

 

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She was the apple of her parents’ eyes for a long time until her brother came along.

Growing up with working parents, Joanne became a bookworm and would just soak in books instead of playing by herself while waiting for her mom to wake up after a restful sleep from night duty.

Due to her love for reading, school became a means for her to excel.

Being an only child back then with no constant playmates, she longed for a brother or a sister.

And then, Nathan came along.

Since then, her brother has become her playmate and source of joy for the longest time.

Now that Joanne is finished with university and far from home, she always looks forward to returning home on vacations, even during short breaks, because she knows that they can be the ” big sister, little brother ” team and they could bond to the max during  that time.

Tell us about yourself.

” My name is Joanne and I have one special brother named Nathan.

Currently, I am a student and see my brother only when I go home for holidays. In my free time, I enjoy reading and watching YouTube videos.

I hope to become a Pediatrician and maybe specialize in Genetics so I can work with kids like my brother, who has both autism and Down syndrome.”

How old were you when Nathan was born and how did you know that he was special?

” Nathan was born when I was 11 years old. I knew that he had Down syndrome before he was born and my parents knew that there was a big chance of him being born with Downs due to both my mom’s age and her sister having Down syndrome, as well.

However, it wasn’t apparent that he had autism until he was around 2 years old. This was around the time when he lost all the words he knew and started developing stimming behaviors. For example, he loved rocking in a recliner we had and would flap his hands. “
Describe Nathan and tell us about his development.

Little brother has Down syndrome” Sometimes Nathan is very loving and other times he can be aggressive. It just depends on the day and how outside factors are affecting him.

I would ask him for a kiss or a hug and would happily oblige, but other times, he would pull my hair.

He tends to misbehave the most when he gets asked to do something he doesn’t want to do at all. For example, if he gets asked to hand someone the remote for the television, he might get upset and would literally stomp upstairs.

However, even things like this we appreciate and are proud of because it shows his growth in personality. He used to not react at all.

Something we are very proud of is that Nate is a very neat person. He takes off his shoes and socks after coming home from school and places them where the shoes belong.

If he sees a cellphone on the table and he knows who it belongs to, he will make sure to hand that to the specific person.

Even if the pillows, the remote, or the house phone are out of place, he will make sure to put them where they belong.

This started a couple of years ago but he has been generally neat overall. “

How did you and your family react to the news that he was special?

” My family and I were very accepting of the fact that Nathan had Down syndrome. Again, my mom’s sister had Downs and I had visited her in the Philippines when I was younger. It was no surprise when Nathan was born.

In fact, I think it made us love him even more. “

Do you have any fears about Nathan’s future?

” Something that I feel scared of regarding Nate’s future is that people might not be as accepting of him once he is older.

Right now, at 12 years old, he can get away with almost anything because he is young enough and is cute. Once he is older, he will be expected to understand more, to be capable of more.

But what if he’s not? “

Does your family have specific plans for his future?

” Right now, there are no specific plans for Nathan’s future. We are just trying to help him grow and learn, then we will proceed from there.”

How did you and your family cope with the struggles on caring for him as he was growing up?

” My family had the normal struggles faced when taking care of a child, they just happened a lot later and for longer periods of time due to Nathan being slower mentally and physically.

But other than that, yes there were specific challenges related to him being him. He had to have a lot of therapies to get his abilities to where they are now and that takes time, money and sacrifices.

However, Nathan is easy to relate to. It’s easy to relate to the feeling of not being able to do something that others find simple and then feeling so frustrated. I believe everyone has been there at some point.

Even the difficulty of being able to communicate with others is relatable.

That’s an issue I’ve encountered. I can’t speak Filipino and I am not able to communicate with my grandmother. But just like Nathan, I can get what I want to say across.”

What therapies or supports did Nathan have until now?

” I know that he had occupational, physical, and speech therapy throughout his life. He used to get one-on-one with these when he was a baby.

I remember they used the blue exercise ball and would lay him on his tummy on it. I don’t know why though, maybe to learn how to crawl?

Currently, he is attending a special school for 4 hours every day where  they have music therapy as part of the program. “

Share with us how Nathan makes your family happy.

Big sister, little brother

 

” Nathan makes us happy with his interactions with the world around him.

He’s funny without realizing it. It just comes naturally, I guess.

I remember when my grandfather lived with us for a bit, Nathan would copy the way he walked with his hands behind his back.

Even when he says “No way,” to us we are happy because that’s
him communicating with us.

But my favorite is when he decides to show me his love out of nowhere. Sometimes he’ll pull me closer for a hug or a kiss or even just give me a smile. 

He’s able to convey how much he loves me with that smile.”

What activities do you enjoy most with your brother?

” Nathan and I enjoy going to the park together. He loves to go on the swings and feel the wind on his face.

We also enjoy watching YouTube videos together, he likes to watch them over my shoulder.

But our two favorite activities are taking naps and taking snaps. “

You said Nathan is non-verbal, so how do you know if he needs something?

” We share that sibling connection. Out of everyone in our family, I understand him the most.

Most times I just know what he is trying to say or I can anticipate what he needs before he is even able to ask for it.

Generally, since he doesn’t talk, he will grab someone’s hand and gesture it in the direction of what he wants. For example, if he finishes his dinner but wants more, he will grab my dad’s hand and drag it towards what he likes to eat more of.”

What advice can you give to siblings and parents  on how to take care of a special sibling or child.

” I know it’s hard at times but don’t forget that a lot of people out there are willing to help you: your family, your friends, even your local community.

Do your research into what events you can get your child into.

Don’t be afraid to talk to others at these events so that you can learn from their experiences and from their mistakes.”

Lastly, do you have any experiences with Nathan that’s worth sharing?

“Once we went to an aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. There were some penguins there and I guess that they’re very playful.

 Nate was really young then. Maybe 4 years old? He was definitely in his stroller. He was looking to the side, watching some penguins on a little cliff.

One swam up from the opposite side and surprised him and he was so startled, he went, “AH!” It’s a fond memory that my whole family shares.”

 

Thank you, Joanne for sharing to everyone your wonderful and inspiring experiences and stories about your brother, Nathan.

I can definitely relate because your aunt who had Down syndrome is my sister, Pangga, whom this website is dedicated.

Truly Nathan and the other members of our extended family who are special bring us immense joy in our day to day life.

I am sure, as well as your parents know,  that Nathan is in good hands and you will take good care of him when we are not around anymore.

We are so proud and happy of your dedication to your brother.

 

How does your special child connect with his siblings? What are the activities that they enjoy together? Please share your experiences with us.

 

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Special needs homeschool….can my child learn?

As parents, we want our kids to learn the best that they can. We always seek for them the best schools, under the best teachers if we have choices.

We assist our children as much as we can with their homework and projects. We see to it that they hand in their assignments on time and they review their lessons way ahead of their scheduled examinations.

When they do good in school, we are the proudest of their achievements. We even buy something for them to celebrate their success.

The same goes for our children with special needs. As parents of our special kids, we always want for them to achieve the best that they can be.

It doesn’t matter if our special child is not able to talk at the age appropriate for him, as long as gradually he is able to communicate, that’s all that matters.

 

Special needs homeschool

We may have fears of our special child being bullied in school, or questions whether he will be able to adapt easily to his new teacher and new classmates plus the new surroundings.

So, at the back of our minds, we have this question:

A special needs home school…. can my child learn from me?

Is homeschooling the better option?

This is the question that most parents with special needs child will have to address.

Let us look at the pros and cons of homeschooling.

Benefits of a special needs home school

As parents, we always hope for the best outcome or learning potential for our special kid.

If you have the time and the resources to home school your child, it could be your best option for him.

These are some positive aspects for letting your child attend home school.

  • Specific needs will be addressed. You as the parent who is there for your child 24/7 truly understands what your special child needs, for example you will know what your child is struggling, maybe reading or verbalizing his needs.

 

  • “We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”
  • One-on-one attention will boost your child’s confidence more than ever and he will learn faster.

 

  • Avoiding many obstacles in a traditional classroom. Communication will be the biggest struggle in school, but with you around in the home school, he can always be open to verbalize his needs or put forward his concerns non- verbally if need be. Bullying would be an issue that can be avoided there as well.

 

  • Flexible time and schedule. A structured time and schedule is good, but there will be times that your child would need to move his schedule or you may need to do it yourself for whatever reason.

 

  • Observing up close your child’s progress and struggles. As the parent-teacher, you will see first-hand your child’s development or what area he needs to focus on.
  • Understanding your child’s inadequacies and coping mechanisms. Only a parent can accept unconditionally his child’s shortcomings.
  • Pacing of teaching can be adjusted depending on your child’s improvement. You don’t have to report to a principal or superior about why your child is still unable to read or identify colors at a certain time and explain why.
  • Comfortable surroundings for your child will let him learn more effectively. You can both be in your jammies and sitting in your bed reading together. He doesn’t need to go out in extreme cold if the weather is not so good.

Drawbacks of homeschooling

Of course attending a traditional school for your child would be the best option if need be, but it is not always possible, or you think making him attend home school is the best because you believe you can offer him the best education there is.

There are negative feedback of course, and would include the following:

  • Social skills will not be optimized. Since he is alone at home with you, he will not develop the best friendships and good communication skills.
  • Your child will test the limits of your patience. There might be a time that you might feel so frustrated if he learns so slow or forgets what he has learned and you feel that homeschooling in not fit for your special child.
  • You might feel inadequate for your child as a mentor having no teaching experiences in school, more so with a special kid.
  • Tantrums or meltdowns might happen many times that are hard to control and as a parent, may discourage you to stop the lessons for the day.
  • In the early stages or even before starting homeschooling especially if a special child has been previously enrolled in a public school, some school officials harass the parents and don’t allow the special child to dis-enroll because of fear of losing funding.
  • Special needs children may lose government-funded special child services such as speech therapy when home schooled.

How to improve your child’s skills as a home schooler

As the teacher for your special child, you can always plan on improving how you handle him. You don’t need to suggest to his teacher in the regular school what you think is the best way to offer him lessons.

  • Let your special child attend group activities like your church’s Sunday school or your neighborhood’s annual picnic to broaden his horizon and meet other kids.
  • Enroll him in extracurricular activities like piano lessons where he can interact with another teacher or other students if they will have recitals or concerts.
  • Let him stick to a routine as much as possible, like the same schedule each day for school, play, and homework. This will develop in him discipline and good study habits.
  • Daily habit of reading if he can, or reading to him if still not able on his own.
  • Encourage him to ask questions, thus enabling him to learn through exploration and discovery.
  • Give rewards for his achievements. There is no better way to encourage him to achieve more if he sees that you appreciate his efforts.

  • Encourage him to repeat works or projects that are not acceptable at first or second try. Let him feel that mistakes are okey as long as he tries again to correct them.
  • Discuss with him why he did not get good results or scores with certain exams or projects and encourage him to give suggestions on how he can overcome these.
  • Balance learning with fun. Introduce play as much as possible or activities that your child enjoys in your daily lessons.
  • Connect with other parent-teachers ( join home school groups ) so you could compare ways on how to optimize teaching to your child and he can meet new friends as well.
  • Be patient with your child’s progress and just be content of what he can achieve daily. Don’t expect too much.
  • Display his works at home such as in the fridge or a dedicated corner or show to family so he knows that you are proud of his achievements.

Legalities and requirements of homeschooling

While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in the US and all provinces in Canada, there are different requirements of each state or province where you live.

Call the authorities or agencies in your place just to be sure that they will not go after you and you will be out of trouble.

Some places require home school parents to meet basic educational qualifications, like a high school diploma or GED or a teaching certificate, but most states in the US do not have this requirement.

For Canadian homeschooling, please visit your province’s Department of Education websites for specific requirements. Some provinces may require you to report to them periodically for your child’s achievements. Or you need to tell them before you start home schooling.

I have mentioned only US and Canada here as examples, but if you live somewhere else, this could also apply to you.

Parents excel in giving education to their special needs children

A year-long research was conducted by Dr Steven Duvall in eight elementary and two junior high students with learning disabilities, where five students were home schooled and five attended public schools.

He did this by seating-in on teaching sessions and observed every twenty seconds how the students used academically engaged time during instructional periods. He then encoded data in his laptop which were double-checked by a second observer.

Likewise, Dr Duvall measured the students’ scores in standardized achievement tests in reading, math and written language.

Look at the amazing results!

  • The home schooled special kids showed academic engagement two and a half times more than those enrolled in public schools.
  • The home schooled kids spent only 40.7 % of their time with no academic responses against 74.9 % for the kids in public schools.
  • The teachers and kids in home schools were sitting side -by-side or face-to-face 43% of the time compared to only 6% of the time for public schools. This gave more advantage for the home schooled kids.
  • The home schooled kids showed an average of six months improvement in reading compared to only half a month gain for special kids enrolled in public schools.
  • The home schooled kids showed an average of eight months improvement in written language skills compared to only 2.5 months in kids enrolled in public schools.

Dr. Duvall summarized, “These results clearly indicate that parents, even though they are not certified teachers, can create instructional environments at home that assist students with learning disabilities to improve their academic skills. This study clearly shows that homeschooling is beneficial for special-needs students.”

It is  a very positive and encouraging study, so my dear parents, take the opportunity to home school your kids if you can!

What parents say about homeschooling or home education:

Here are two parents who found homeschooling effective for their children with special needs.

JOYCE has this to say:

” My son was thrown out of a private mainstream nursery at the age of 4. What followed was his diagnosis of autism and my decision to home educate. I am lazy and chicken, decided I would rather provide him what he needs socially and educationally myself than spend my days beating my head against the doors of authorities to convince them to provide it. And all that otherwise frustrated time is instead spent enjoying my happy, unique
son.The result so far –

My husband and my family are now convinced that we made the right choice. My son is happy and excited about learning. It’s not all roses, he does balk at writing but he excels at chemistry (sorry for the brag).

They have come to see that it works. He can race ahead at what he loves and get extra time for things he struggles with, all in a nonjudgmental environment.

It is so far beyond what I could hope to find for him in a school. His joy in learning is worth all the effort.”

MARSHA IDDINGS shares her feelings about homeschooling her son Matthew:

“The most important fact that I discovered while developing Matt’s home school program is this: You, the parent, will always be your child’s greatest advocate. No other professional knows, cares, or loves your child with the depth that you do. This, more than any other factor, is important in creating a successful learning environment for the challenged child.”

Home schooling could be the best option for your child with special needs

There you go, considering the many benefits of homeschooling plus the positive results of the study done by Dr. Duvall and the awesome and positive experiences of some parents, let you be inspired to start to home school your special kid and erase your worries that you cannot  be the best teacher for your special child, but of course, he can definitely learn from you.

REMEMBER:

You as the parent who is there for your child 24/7 is the only one who knows your special child’s strengths and weaknesses to the core.

You are the only one who can offer him unconditional love and full support.

Your child feels secure with you at home, where it is the safest environment for him.

So, my dear parents, if you have the time and resources, go and home-school your special child!

You can be the best teacher for him. Ever.

 

Do you have plans of homeschooling your special child?

Or are you already homeschooling your child with special needs?

We would love to hear from you.

The indoor play area for kids with special needs – exciting updates!

The indoor play area for kids with special needs

 

I’m way beyond ecstatic to share with all of you the latest updates on our project: the mini-therapy area or the indoor play area for kids with special needs who are enrolled in the Special Education program ( RECS-SPED ) at the Romblon East Central School  in Romblon, Philippines.

This mini-therapy area is dedicated only to these kids. It is at the back of their resource room and only these kids will have access to it, plus their teachers and maybe the parents or caregivers.

We started from a dream and a vacant lot!

Construction started in December 2017, almost 13 months ago.

This was how the vacant lot looked before- just an idle space waiting for something to blossom.

The vacant lot started our dream to build the indoor play area for our special kids

Please read here for more information on how we started the project.

Fundraising Activities

We only had big goals then, but no finances.

So, we brainstormed ideas on how we could raise funds.

Two major fundraising were done locally in Romblon, Philippines to help out with the expenses plus a much bigger and still ongoing fundraising at Go fund me, which we started during my birthday 2 years ago in October 2017.

Click the image below to view the page.

Go fund me page for indoor play area

The very first local fundraising was done last year on January 2018 with the Bingo Social,” where teachers, parents and the community enjoyed playing the bingo and hoped that their cards will fill with stones with the called numbers and follow the pattern that was announced each time.

Bingo social to raise funds for the indoor play area

Fundraising for indoor play area for special kids

Bingo board used for fundraising for indoor play area for special kids

There was tremendous financial support from the townspeople including the teachers, parents, and the whole community, as well with cash donations in response to the solicitation letters that we distributed.

Our most recent fundraising was last month- the Christmas show where the special kids showcased their talents in dancing, singing, modeling and acting. We had also silent auction and door prizes for this event. Solicitation letters were sent out as well to the community, and again, with overwhelming response.

Click here to read the full post about the Christmas show.

Starting the project

Building started in December 2017 after we got substantial amount from the Go fund Me page.

Starting to build indoor play area

Starting the construction of the indoor play area

Starting the construction of the indoor play area for the special kids

Workers prepared the vacant lot and eventually got busy constructing the flooring of the indoor play area.

We really got excited and very hopeful that finally we are living our dreams and somehow we will have something to offer our children with special needs to enhance their social and motor skills.

Indeed, if we strive to do something and don’t hesitate to ask for help, nothing is impossible!

And the workers did really good in their tasks and worked fast.

All the while, the SPED teachers were there to supervise and observe the ongoing project while continuing their jobs to teach the students with their academic needs.

After a few weeks, look at what they have accomplished!

Stairs of the indoor play area for special kidsThe future sensory path for the indoor play area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point of the project, we got more excited and hopeful that it will be done soon.

The flooring was done, so what’s next?

The website-panggataikaw.com

Unfortunately for several months, the project stopped for lots of reasons- from the teachers being busy with school activities and seminars or conferences, to summer vacation, to not being able to find suitable and dependable workers, to name a few.

But our excitement was still there.

During this quiet time with the project, I started to build this website, panggataikaw.com, to raise more awareness that special kids are part of our community and need our love and support.

I also wanted to reach out globally for more donors.

If you are one of those with generous hearts, please donate through our Go fund Me page here.

Continuing the project

As of last month, the work was again actively ongoing.

Posts were put in place in preparation for the roofing.

Funds that we collected in the ” Bingo Social ” and the extra from the “Go fund Me ” page were all put into use.

Foundation for the roof of the indoor play area

Building the post for roofing foundation for indoor play areabuilding the roofing for indoor play area

The roofing for the indoor play area for the special kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the workers were busy at the back of the resource room, the SPED teachers were all hands preparing for the ” Christmas show,” the latest fundraising done last month on December 15, 2018.

The latest update

Can you imagine that in just a little more than two weeks, these roof foundation were put in place?

We are so happy that our efforts and your donations are all taking shape!

The mini-therapy area is almost done!

See our big smiles?

We are all excited to continue what we have started and we feel that soon, we will be seeing our special kids play and romp in this mini-playground slowly being built just for them.

Again, our big thanks to all the donors and supporters, from the local fundraising and to the Go fund Me page.

Our project looks almost done with all your help, but we still need more donations.

Please consider sharing your blessings through our Go fund Me page.

Future plans

Once we’re done with the roofing, we will start improving the walls and finish the sensory path so it will look like this one:

 

Then we will start buying play equipment like these.

Swing for the indoor play area

Trampoline for the indoor play area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you believe we can now vividly hear the laughter and the squeal of the kids?

We imagine our children with Down Syndrome develop their best motor skills!

And the children with physical deformities and those struggling with social and communication skills will get to bond with their classmates and eventually show improvement in their gross motor and social skills.

And they will always look forward to being in school everyday because during recess and after school, they can play and share giggles and bouts of laughter with their friends and classmates.

We still need your support

And of course, your support is still much appreciated.

I have always felt that generosity is all around us.

We are always ready to support worthwhile endeavors. Our hearts are always open to share our blessings.

I’m sure we have all experienced pure joy when we give.

And blessings come back a hundred fold.

If we have stable jobs, complete family, good health, happy relationships, giving to people in need is so easy to do.

It’s our way of thanking GOD for all these graces-SHARING because our BLESSINGS are bountiful.

Our children with special needs at the Romblon East Central School in Romblon, Philippines say THANK YOU for pouring and sharing your blessings to them!

May your tribe increase!

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The Christmas show-our special kids in action!

We just did the Christmas show, starring the special kids at the Romblon East Central School.

The Christmas show staring the special kids

 

This was not a regular program; it was a fundraising event to raise money so we can complete the mini-therapy area that we started a year ago.

And it was a big success!

Click here to read how we started the project for our children with special needs.

I know, you will ask, how is it possible to put up a show and train children with special needs to perform on stage? It was really a challenge for the teachers, but they did it!

And to think that they only practiced for 2 weeks!

There were challenges along the way, like asking permission from the school head to do the show, to looking for a venue, to conceptualizing the format of the show, etc.

Plans were put in place only 2 weeks before the event, which coincided with the last day of classes before the Christmas break and the day of the Christmas party.

We were tempted to put it on hold for later, but then finally decided to push through because our project still needed lots of funds to be completed.

This also coincided with my visit to my parents in our hometown, so this is really the best time to push this, because it’s always good to work with the teachers personally.

We actually had another fruitful fundraising only in January of this year, and I was also visiting then. It is mentioned close to the end of the above post if you click the link.

These activities made my vacation busier, but more productive and fulfilling. I am so thankful that I have family and friends who are so supportive of this project and helped me to make our plans easier to accomplish.

Of course, with the big push of the 3 very responsible SPED teachers, how could this event be not a big success?

Talents in singing and dancing

Children who had talents in singing were tapped to do solo and duets ( one of them with a parent ) and surely, they were a hit!

By the way, kids who started with the Special Education program, but moved up to the regular classrooms, were also invited to perform.

It is amazing to watch these kids show off their talents and see their confidence in doing their thing. All because they were started early on with special education and were guided and supported to be the best that they are now.

Fashion Modelling

Another amazing number in the program was letting the children with special needs show off their party attire by walking the ramp or modelling.

Most were happy to oblige and confident to walk, but some needed their teacher’s “push ” to walk on the stage. It was so heartwarming to see them do this.

You couldn’t imagine that these kids have developmental disability or physical deformities to start with.

Look how they did their thing!

A special child modelling her party attire

Our special kid with Down Syndrome showcasing her modelling talent

The Nativity

The highlight of the show was the pantomime of the birth of Jesus.

You could feel the pride of the kids doing their part in the drama. There was Joseph and Mary knocking on the doors looking for the place to give birth to our Saviour.

Later on, with the baby Jesus in their midst, the three kings paid homage, as well as the shepherds with their sheep.

 

The birth of baby Jesus

As the play progressed, you would notice the teachers popping in and out of the stage to guide the kids, some of whom seemed not to know where to place themselves or what to do while in the stage.

As an audience who is familiar with the Christmas story, and guided by the kids’ costumes, you will just realize what their parts are and what they need to do.

Such patience and efforts from the teachers!

Those are our Special Education teachers, dedicated to their pupils with special needs.

Did you see the 2 teachers going in and out of the stage to place the kids where they should be?

Chorus

The final part of the show, was the chorus of all the participants and the teachers, who sang the Christmas song popularized by the artists in the local television channel.

Again, you could feel the Christmas spirit in the air and the excitement that the holiday brings.

For the parents, I saw in their faces that they were so elated of the accomplishments of their children.

And of course teachers Bing, Law, and Nots, I know deep inside they were so thankful that the program was a big hit and their efforts were not wasted.

Kudos to all three of you, I’m so proud of what you have accomplished!

Next time, we have to put up the show in a bigger venue.

A big thanks to our teachers and parents for putting up this beautiful Christmas show !

Silent Auction and Door Prizes

To give more excitement to audience participation, Pangga ta Ikaw donors and friends prepared gift items as prizes for this.

Tickets were sold at the entrance and the venue.

This was really a big hit. People anticipated that their ticket numbers will be called for each gift item. Silent Auction was done to add excitement to the program Silent auction items

Prizes for silent auction

 

It didn’t matter if the gifts were big or small, everyone were excited that their numbers will be picked.

These prizes were donated by members and supporters of Pangga ta Ikaw. These gift items were regular daily needs of everyone.

Congratulations to all the winners! Here are some of them with their big smiles.

Silent Auction winner Silent Auction winner

 

 

Some did not only win once but twice or even three times. It was their lucky day indeed!

Generous donors

Days before the Christmas presentation, the SPED teachers and the regular teachers with the help of the parents of the special kids distributed solicitation letters to potential donors with the aim of collecting funds to complete the mini-therapy area.

Included was this awesome invitation to the Christmas show.

The Christmas show starring the special kids

 

There was overwhelming support in response to the letters. The school community and the whole townsfolk felt our need and responded favorably to our appeal.

BIG THANKS to all the donors and supporters!

For sure and we hope that with your big help, our project, the mini-therapy area will be finished soon!

The project

Here’s a glimpse of how our mini-therapy area looks now.

The mini-therapy area is almost done!
With the full support of SPED teachers Bing, Law, and Nots, the mini-therapy area is almost done!

We think it’s almost done, but it still needs a great amount of money.

Nevertheless, I believe, we’re almost there and again, my heart bursts with joy with all your help.

Watch out for the next article about the progress of this project.

Donations

We still accept donations to finish the project and for purchase of future equipment. Please give your donations in cash or in kind to any one of our three teachers or you can visit our Go fund Me page.

Go fund me page for donations

 

Please click here to donate.

Big Thank You

Again, much appreciation to everyone who have given their financial support and to the future donors.

The Christmas show held on December 15, 2018, at the Romblon East Central School – SPED Romblon, Romblon Philippines was indeed a great success, of course with lots of support from the teachers and the principal, Mr. Joseph Menorca and the donors from the community.

GOD will always give back a lot more for your generosity.

How to help autistic children – become an autism tutor!

How to help autistic childrenI wanted to be an autism tutor.

When I was a new immigrant a decade ago, I thought it was awesome to be teaching kids with autism. I believed I could do it because I had clinical experience with kids.

I knew it did not pay much, but being with kids again would let me use my medical skills on how to help autistic children.

I tried to apply once, somebody called and asked me if I was willing to relocate. Little did I know that the job as an autism tutor that I applied with is a few miles away from where we lived and would make it impossible for me to commute daily.

Of course, I couldn’t move to another place, having arrived only a few weeks back.

I just accepted that it’s not meant for me.

So, I worked at a call centre just to earn something while I prepared to do exams to hopefully get a license to practice my profession in a foreign land.

Until one day, I was out of job again. Thinking of applying as an autism tutor for the second time, I did a first aid course hoping that I could be hired easily if I had this requirement.

Still, no luck!

With perseverance in looking for a healthcare-related job, I landed employment in Clinical Research.

This is where I met Rachel. We now work in the same department.

I know she recently graduated from a Psychology course and I learned that she used to work as an autism tutor.

One day, I introduced her to my website and while reading one of the posts, she exclaimed, ” This is also what I did! “

I got excited and encouraged her to share her experiences tutoring children with autism and she gladly accepted my request.

Here goes Rachel’s story.

 

Be an autism tutor and help children with autism spectrum disorder be the best that they can be.

How many years did you work as an autism tutor?

I worked as an Autism tutor for a year and a bit, approximately from May 2017 to August 2018. This is when I switched to my new job as a Research Coordinator.”

What motivated or inspired you to become an autism tutor?

While I was completing my undergraduate degree in honors psychology, I had an opportunity to volunteer with a school division, tutoring a young man who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and Tourette syndrome.

Through this experience I found a passion for working with individuals with disability. Following this, I started doing respite for an adult with autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy, and decided I wanted to focus my undergraduate research in this area.

I met with a professor whose PhD is in the area of Applied Behavioral Analysis and we settled on thesis research looking at the results of a short-run early intervention program on skill acquisition in children diagnosed with autism.

The organization that I completed my research out of ended up being where I got my job as an autism tutor after I finished my degree. “

Can you describe your job? How old were the kids with autism whom you cared for?

” My job involved one-on-one program delivery for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

I worked with both families and children teaching a variety of individualized skill sets and goals in all facets of the child’s life. It heavily involved creatively finding new and interesting ways to deliver the needed programming within a variety of settings (e.g., daycare, pre-school and homes).

This also involved organizing and recording both data and notes on the progress of the child.

I had three clients during my time as an autism tutor; the age range was 3-5 years old.

I worked under both a senior tutor and an autism consultant; every child had a team of one or two tutors, one senior tutor and one consultant.

The consultant was responsible for providing and creating the programs for the children and the senior tutor was responsible for professional development of the tutor and assisting in program delivery where needed.”

Can you explain more on what you did as an autism tutor? What was your typical day like?

” Typically, I would have two clients over a year. I would spend one full day with one client, then the next day with the other client.

I shared my clients with another tutor so we would alternate days.

I would arrive at the client’s home early in the morning and look over the previous tutor’s notes from the day before. From there I would set up all my stimuli for the programs and skills I would be working on that day. An example of this would be setting up sorting stimuli for a program that requires the child to sort different colors of objects into piles.

The programs were all based on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) principles and theory which focuses on positive reinforcement strategies. ABA focuses on the principles of learning in order to alter behaviours and improve skills.

Throughout the day I would run the programs provided by the autism consultant in between breaks of play and fun!

It was very important to keep things fun for the child and make the programs not feel like work, but like play as much as possible.

The child was able to work for play activities (e.g., playing in the backyard on the bike) or edibles (e.g., skittles).

We would take a lunch break as you would if you were in school and then at the end of the day I would write notes in our communication book for the tutor who was coming in the next day.

Sometimes my days involved attending preschool or daycare with the child and helping them work on their social skills. While I was in the home, the parents were there so we were able to collaboratively work as a team with the parents, senior tutor and autism consultant. “

 Did you have any struggles or challenges in your job?

” Overall, my experience as an autism tutor was extremely rewarding.

However, working one-on-one with a child who struggled behaviourally could be very exhausting and I experienced some days where I felt extremely burnt out.

A significant challenge would be the independent and isolated aspect of the job. If the child had a particularly hard day, it was only me who was in the home and I had to be the one to figure out how to handle it and make the day more positive for the child.

Mostly, I enjoyed every day I spent with my clients and they had a very positive influence in my life and taught me so much.”

How did you handle a very difficult child?

” Every child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is so different.

Difficult or challenging behaviours manifest in a variety of ways. For the most part, if a child had any difficult behaviours the consultant would have a behaviour plan in place which had consistent steps on how to handle this behaviour.

Having a team consisting of the parents, senior tutor and consultant made for a very supportive environment and we would figure out how to handle challenging behaviour together in the most positive way for the child. ” 

 

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Weighted vests to calm anxiety
Weighted vests to help your kids relax and calm his nerves. Click the image to see the price.

How did you involve the parents in teaching their kids? 

” I believe I discussed this question a little bit above. However, yes the parents were heavily involved in teaching the kids. In fact, they had their own programs that were sometimes similar, or different, to the programs the tutors were running.

Parents worked privately with the senior tutor and consultant in order to learn how to deliver programs and were expected to work on these in their spare time with the child.

As well, the parents were able to speak with me before sessions, as well as after, with any concerns or questions they had about the progress of their child.

It was a very collaborative environment. In this type of early intervention it is so important that parents and tutors are all on the same page and keeping consistent expectations for the child.

If everyone is consistent with programs and expectations, the child will learn so much more! ” 

 

We have an advertising relationship with the stores or affiliate sites we link in this post. We get a commission when you click and buy products or services with them. Your fees are not affected at all.
Sensory bracelets to help focus
Sensory bracelets help autism kids focus
Massge pillow to calm your autistic child
Vibrating massage pillow to calm your autistic child

How did you feel at the end of a workday? 

” I usually felt pretty tired at the end of the day, but at the same time I left work feeling fulfilled and happy.

My clients made me laugh and smile every day!

Some days were harder than others but these just meant I had to
change what I was doing as a tutor in order to help the child have a
more positive day next time! “

What made you happy or fulfilled on a certain day ?

” So much! 

The most fulfilling thing was when you were working with a child on a certain skill for a long time and then it finally clicks and they learn that skill!

An example would be one of my clients struggled with verbal skills, in particular greeting others when getting to school. We worked on saying “Hello” and making eye contact for months and then one day when I walked in to the house they looked up at me and said “Hello, Rachel!”.

This was so rewarding because they had struggled with this skill for so long, and the child was so excited when they finally mastered it. “

What is your best advice on those who plan to pursue a career as an autism tutor?

” My advice would be to make sure you are okay with independent work.

One-on-one program delivery with a child, who is not always verbally able to communicate with you can be very isolating.

But if you are passionate about a career in helping people then it is an amazing and rewarding job. “

 

          

Autism book to help parents Kids with autism are special and unique!

Click the image to buy a book of your choice.

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

How did you de-stress after a difficult day?

” After a particularly stressful day, I would try my best to go home and not think about it.

What helped would be taking time for self-care, whether that is having a bath, going to a yoga class, or spending time with friends and family.

When you are doing a job that involves being very attentive to others’ needs it is important that you are able to disconnect and take time to focus on your own needs as well!

Balance is everything. “


How have you made a difference in the life of an autistic child?

” Within this job, there were many moments where I took time to reflect on the positive impact I was having on my client’s lives.

Typically, a child goes through a year of the program and then begins Kindergarten.

Probably the most rewarding moment is before kindergarten when as a team, we reflect on the child’s gained skills and how much they have learnt.

Doing this helps you realize all the things you taught the child and how much of an influence you had on preparing them to have success in Kindergarten and their later school years! “


What is the best lesson that you learned from a child with autism?

” This is a hard question because I have learnt so many!

My clients taught me just as much as I taught them.

The things I felt or thought before I started working as an autism tutor were only strengthened from this job.

If anything, I learnt the importance of appreciating every person’s individual differences and how everyone is special in their own way.

We have to accept people for who they are and celebrate these differences!

Like I mentioned above, every child with autism is so different, and this is what makes them special.

We have to focus on the balance between helping people live their lives to the fullest, and also not forcing them to conform to society’s expectations, we have to remember to celebrate what makes them special and unique!

 

Becoming an autism tutor is very rewarding

 

Rachel, from your stories, I know that doing this job made you a better person now. More open to everyone’s differences and more patient with people’s shortcomings and inadequacies.

I may have been unlucky to do this job and not experience the feeling of fulfillment after a day’s physically tiring job, but the encounters that you shared, made me realize that being an autism tutor is one of those professions where money may not be great, but the rewards to yourself is so great having contributed to a special child’s well-being and preparing him to become the best version of himself.

Given the chance, I would still want to experience working as an autism tutor.

 

Have you recently engaged with an autism tutor? Or do you know anyone working as one? Try to give them a big hug for the awesome job that they are doing.

 

If you are a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder and he is taken cared of by an autism tutor, please share with us how your child is being helped and how he is developing and trying to evolve to be the best that he can be.

 

 

 

 

Best Christmas gifts for kids with special needs- what to give and get the biggest hug!

Christmas is just around the corner.

I remember when I was a kid, I would always wait expectantly for Christmas day because this was the time when  I would go to my godparents’ house, hug them  and ask their blessing, then  I would get a full plastic bag of goodies in return.

Life was simpler then and we lived in a very small town where neighbors chat with each other outside their homes and practically we knew everyone in the neighborhood or maybe even the whole town.

My mom knew how to sew so I and my sister would happily wear our Christmas dresses which looked alike. We felt like we were twin dolls lol!

Best Christmas gifts for kids with special needs

When I was in university, I would start buying simple gifts for my younger siblings as early as October. We would open our gifts on Christmas day after lunch before heading to my aunt’s place for the party, where the kids got more gifts. Chocolates or other treats were favorites, more than clothes or money

How about you? Have you started your Christmas shopping this year?

I sure have.

So what are you planning to buy or add more if you have purchased some already?

I did some research and compiled this list for the best Christmas gifts for kids with special needs and for sure when they get these, they will jump with joy and you will get the biggest hug ever.

Don’t forget to click the images to see the price of the toys that you want to buy.

Here we go!

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Educational toys

More than enjoying playing with toys, our kids with special needs, especially if they are non-verbal, would squeak with delight the first time that they open a toy and find it talking or emitting sounds or giving out beautiful lights.

Like this baby hammer toy that triggers light and sound when pounded.

Baby hammer toy that will amuse your kid with the sound when pounded

Or this interactive toy school bus with flashing lights and sounds.

Toy train with flashing lights and sounds

Be sure to buy also toys that are educational, so their creative minds will be enhanced, as well, communication skills will be developed.

This dinosaur wooden puzzle will teach your child the alphabet, as well develop his fine motor skills and imagination.

Dinosaur wooden puzzle for fine motor skills and learning the alphabet

The theraputty will enhance your special kids’ fine motor skills and creativity.

Theraputty to enhance fine motor skills and creativity

Christmas is the best time of the year

Books

I love giving books as gifts to my nephews and nieces. I believe that books are the best gifts if you want the kids to enjoy reading as they grow up.

Reading to your special child is a very good bonding time as well, next to playing with them.

Before going to sleep, when you lie side by side in bed, reading to them their favorite book not only will allow them to develop communication skills, but their imagination as well.

Even if they are non-verbal, I’m sure they are able to understand in their own little way what you are reading to them especially if you make your reading more enjoyable by acting out the story, like voicing out animals’ sounds for example.

First word books or alphabet books like these are very educational and be sure to buy books showing beautiful pictures, as well to catch the interest of your kid.

ABC book to improve ypur kid's vocabulary and enhance communication skills         First 100 words to add to your kid's vocabulary     First 100 animals will delight your kids and learn about animals around them

 

 

 

Story books, likewise would be one of the best gifts. Choose books that impart moral values about love of God and family. Likewise the values of respect, sharing , and empathy.

These story books will surely give delight to your little ones.

Bedtime stories to enhance your kids' imagination

 

 

For older kids, these story books would be a hit.

Love You Forever is my most favorite kids’ book. It tells  a story of a mother’s love from birth to forever. It really touches a mom’s heart. It’s so beautiful! I will keep this book forever. I don’t mind reading it again and again.

Love you forever is a beautiful story of a mother's love

 

 

Photobooks

Collect their most beautiful photos from a recent holiday or his most memorable birthday and present to your special child in a beautiful photobook.

Even looking at photos from since they were a baby until now will make them have a wide smile and they will enjoy turning the pages as they recognize themselves in the photobook.

It is also a special album for the whole family to store your memories. Click the image below to see the price.

Photobooks to file your special kids memorable events
We have an advertising relationship with the stores or businesses we link in this post. We'll earn a commission when you shop through our links with no added cost to you. You are able to help special children, as well in Romblon, Philippines.

Musical instruments

It is proven that music therapy has lots of benefits for our children with special needs.

Let your special kid be jolly everyday by giving him something that he can play not only to let him enjoy but to improve his focus and communication skills.

Let music flow in your homes everyday. Even just one musical instrument that he loves and plays a lot will improve everyone’s mood around the house.

If your special girl loves to sing, this karaoke set is the best gift. You will enjoy hearing the angelic voice of your daughter even though her lyrics have some funny twists.

Karaoke set to develop the singing talent of your special girlThis drum set for small kids ( 15 months up )  will enhance their motor skills and help them focus and engage.

Drum set to hone musical skills and develop fine motor skills These harmonica are so easy to play, your special child just needs to blow through it and voila, there will be beautiful music that he can create. And he will enjoy doing it again and again.

This xylophone comes with two sheets of music ( Twinkle twinkle little star and Mary had a little lamb ) which an older kid can easily follow.

 

Writing and coloring  materials

Discover the creative imagination of your special kid by giving him materials that  he can use to draw, doodle, and create something that he can be proud of.

Give him lots of crayons and colored pencils with paper and just let your special child practice to grip the writing materials and encourage him to just draw those lines and circles and let him use all the colors for him to enjoy and develop his writing skills and creativity.

Show his works of art and put them in your fridge or the wall in his room.

Appreciate his works at all times!

For older kids who know how to properly grip crayons or colored pencils, this coloring book is a nice gift.

Coloring books to develop creativity and the love for art

These doodle pads are the right sizes for those small hands. They are also easy to bring during travel.

Doodle pads to develop kid's imagination and practice writing skillsThese large crayons with 16 colors to choose from will delight your special child and inspire him to doodle or  draw all the time.Crayons to inspire your special child to make works of artMommies, you will love these washable crayons because they’re easy to clean up even if your kids draw on your walls. How’s that?

Washable crayons for easy clean up

Shoes and Clothes

What is Christmas for kids without new shoes and clothes?

They usually want to show off their beautiful outfits when they go to church or go to their godparents and grandparents asking for their presents.

Shop here for new dresses and clothes.

Awesome clothes for Christmas!

Gymboree clothes to show off on Christmas

These girls’ sandals will fit nicely on their feet and will hold on even though they have mobility issues. I bet they can’t  wait for summer to use them. Might use them at home, lol!

 

 

 

This flashing sneaker will be a hit with your special child paired with an awesome shirt.

Flashing sneakers to amuse your special kidThese squeaky shoes for your little girl will amuse her as she walks.

Squeaky shoes for your baby toddler's cute feet Awesome shirts will make your kids’ Christmas more enjoyable! Check them out. The boys’ shirts  come in three colors- red, blue, and black.

Awesome shirts for boys

Harry potter’s girl’s shirt in burgundy.

Harry Potter girl's shirt Bags and backpacks

Some beautiful bags or backpacks to bring around at doctor or therapist visits to put your special kids’ toys and other essentials would be a nice gift idea as well.

Think of how the designs will give them joy.

This Lego Ninjago backpack set will be greatly appreciated by your little boy. I bet he will carry it around even if he’s just going to the park.

Lego Ninjago backpack to bring everywhere Your little girl will love carrying this unicorn kids’ backpack anywhere she goes. It comes with a lunch bag as well, which is very useful when going out to doctor’s visits or to school.

Unicorn girls backpack

This weighted huggy bear back pack will surely give comfort to your special one, being so huggable and soft. Click the image to see the price.

Huggy bear weighted backpack

Huggable toys

Toys that will calm their anxieties are those that they can hug, like this weighted teddy bear and the Plush Pickle. They will enjoy carrying them and showing to their playmates, as well.

 

 

When we think of gifts for Christmas, the kids are always the most excited.

They would even trade chocolates or toys with money. They usually love getting presents that give them enjoyment. Opening those boxes or bags give them lots of perk!

They even wake up really early on Christmas day to start opening their presents once their parents allow them.

Christmas gifts come in different sizes

As parents, we are also excited shopping for them, even small items for their Christmas stockings.

Their belief that Santa Claus is there to give them presents as long as they’re nice gives them more enthusiasm during the holidays.

Even our children with special needs feel the excitement, so start buying those memorable gifts for them.

Happy shopping!

Let us all enjoy Christmas with our families!

 

 

Do you recall the time when your special kid jumped with joy when he opened a Christmas present from you?

When is your most memorable Christmas with your little one? Did you have a gift that until now is still precious to him?

Behavior therapy for Autism-from a registered therapist to your home

I luckily met another friend at Wealthy Affiliate who happily shares her experiences taking care of autistic and other special kids. She loves kids, that’s for sure.

Some people, including me, even considers her an angel for doing her job really well and with passion.

Meet Taylor, who offers behavior therapy for autism and other special kids, serving clients at the comfort of their homes.

You will surely love her just like how her clients and their families do.

 

Autistic kids benefit a lot when helped by a behavioral therapist

As a Registered Behavioral Therapist ( RBT ), please describe what you do.

“I have been an RBT for just over a year now. I work with children from as young as 3 to as old as 21, but the typical ages I see are between 3 and 15.

Most kids have an autism diagnosis, but some have Down syndrome or other types of intellectual disabilities. Almost all of these kids except the very young ones, attend special schools in the morning, or home-schooled, so I see them in the afternoon.

On a typical day, I start my session out by hanging out with my client to give them a bit of transition time. Then, I assist with things like daily living skills (e.g., getting dressed, brushing teeth, doing homework), skill acquisition (learning numbers, letters, colors, etc).


Each client has what we call a behavioral service plan that tells me the types of things I do with them.

Each child has goals that they are working towards, so I help them achieve those goals and take data on their progress.”

What motivated you to become an RBT?

“My inspiration to work with special needs kids came when I was a senior in college.

I was taking a class called Culture and Child Development and we did a unit on autism. I was immediately fascinated and drawn to the subject.”

What is your typical day like?

” On a typical day, I have anywhere from one to three sessions for 2 hours usually.

As a direct care provider working in homes, I have a small caseload. What I do during each session depends on the age and skill level of the child.

For my younger clients, I do a lot of playing to work on cooperation, turn-taking, and waiting. I also work on skill acquisition, compliance with demands, and behavior reduction.

What that all means is, I work on having the child do what is asked of them without acting out.

Often, what I ask of them is something they are not sure how to do, so I will teach them how to do what is asked while working on reducing the amount of refusal they put up.

For older, higher functioning children, I work on functional life skills because they have acquired their basic skills. So, I teach them how to do some basic chores and things that their parents need them to do.”

Do you have any struggles or big challenges on being an RBT?

When you work with the special needs population, you often see challenging behaviors like aggression or high intensity tantrums, and even meltdowns.

This requires me to be quick on my toes, in order to block any attempted aggression, while trying to redirect the child to something more functional.

For meltdowns, in which the child has no control, being a sensory over stimulation, it is important to pinpoint what is causing it and eliminate it. If you cannot figure it out, or it cannot be eliminated, it is important to bring the child to a quiet place with less stimulation to help them calm down.

I have never given up on a child but I have had to leave cases because of time conflicts and things like that, but we work really hard to deal with even the most extreme behaviors. They’re often the ones who need us the most, so we never turn away a child for having a behavior that’s too much. ”

 

Mushy Smushy Bean Bag Chairs for relaxation and sensory playSensaSoft™ Chair and Stool for relaxation and calming

How do you handle a very difficult child?

” Each child is different, so you need to figure out what works with them.

Some kids have a really hard time complying with demands, so I will only give very small, very quick demands. For example, I will stop a child from playing to have them tell me what 2 letters are and then they can return to playing.

This builds up a tolerance for demands without overwhelming them.

I also use a lot of timers to signal transitions.

Transitions are incredibly difficult for children in general, but more so for special needs children. So, when I need them to come tell me what those 2 letters are, I set a timer and tell them how long they have until they need to do their work. I give them a warning for each minute left.

Using a visual schedule is often very helpful. It takes away the air of mystery about what comes next. By using timers and visuals, the child knows what is coming and when they can expect it. “

How do you involve the parents in caring for their kids?

” With in-home work, the parents are very much involved.

A huge part of what I do is called parent training. I am there to help the parent build skills just as much as I am there to help the child.

My job is to make life easier for everyone, so I teach the parents how to do what I do so that it can be continued even when I’m not there.

Consistency is key. If the behavioral interventions that I work on are used by the parents as well, the child is much more likely to pick them up quickly and maintain them over time.”

How do you feel at the end of a work day?

” That depends entirely on how my sessions for the day went.

Some days,  I feel on top of the world because one of my clients finally was able to do something we’ve been working on for days or weeks.

Other days I get in my car and cry because a session was so difficult.

There are those days that, no matter what you do, the child is having a tantrum, throwing things at you, trying to hit you, and refuses to do anything you say, even if it’s something fun.

Those are the hard days, but the days that I get to see the progress and see that what I’m doing is working and is helping far outweigh the bad days, so I’m always ready to do it again the next day.

What makes you happy or fulfilled on a certain day?

” What makes me happiest is seeing a child make progress.

I have one client that has a speech delay, so she doesn’t say too much. We play a game called Zingo, which is like bingo but with pictures. Each day, I have her do her best to tell me what each picture is.

One day, she got the piece with an owl on it. All by herself she happily exclaimed, “owl!” it was one of the best moments of my career.

Seeing a child learn and grow makes every hard day fade into the distance.”

Make Photo Books For every occasion
Create a photobook of your child’s special occasions. Click the image to view the price.

Any advice on those who plan to pursue a career as a Registered Behavioral Therapist? 

Take every bad day with a grain of salt and forgive.

One of the hardest parts of my job is to turn around after a tantrum where you were hit and kicked and suddenly the child starts playing again, but you have to. He doesn’t mean to act out, they simply don’t know another way to express their anger or frustration.

It’s my job to teach them those skills, so with every tantrum, I know there is still work to be done.

I would also say, don’t give up. Things can get difficult at times and you will have really bad days, but always hold onto the good days, the days when you’ve helped change a life for the better. There’s no better feeling than that.”

How do you de-stress after a difficult day?

I have a lot of different things that I like to do.

I often come home and play with my cat and dog and watch some TV. On the days when I have a bit more energy, I love to build Lego (playing is great for the mind! ) .

On weekends, I try to get out of the house as much as possible and move around as much as I can.”

There’s a point in our career that we realize we have made a difference in someone’s life, in your case a special child’s life. Please share with our readers.

I mentioned before about my client saying “owl” on her own for the first time, but something a bit more special was when she was first able to get my attention by speaking. It is a bit difficult for her to say my full name, so we decided that she would just call me T.

For the first few months she didn’t really show an interest getting my attention by calling my name, but the other day, as soon as I got out of my car she said, as clear as day, “look! T is here!” I wanted to cry, I was so happy.

For the rest of the session, anytime she wanted my attention she said, “T look!” I had been working for weeks to get her to use people’s names to get their attention and on that day it finally stuck.

She was using my name and her sister’s name, and she was also getting her mom’s attention by saying “mom look.”

Seeing the behavioral and verbal progress was just incredible. “

What is the best lesson that you learned from a special child/ children.

I have learned to be more relaxed and to forgive more easily.

Things don’t always go our way and while my kids do struggle with that and sometimes throw tantrums, they often bounce back and keep going.

I have also seen how quickly they are to forgive me when I don’t allow them to do something that they want. I can’t always give them what they want, when they want it, which can make them very upset, but a few minutes later, it’s like nothing happened.

They do a very good job of letting go and moving on, which is something we all need to be better at.

There’s no sense in holding onto things we can’t change.

Let go, move on, and keep being happy. “

Did I miss anything? Do you have something more important to share ?

” People always praise me and tell me what an angel I am for working with these kids. I don’t see it that way. I don’t think I’m special for doing what I do.

I do what I do because I love the kids and I love seeing them progress.

Not everyone can do what I do, but the same goes for any job. I’m not built for an office job. I couldn’t do it. I admire those people.

What I do is necessary, but I don’t think I’m any sort of special for doing it.

The kids are the ones to be admired. They’re the ones doing the hard work. “

 

The behavior technician helps kids and parents to make life easier.

 

WOW! What a very inspiring story of a very dedicated behavioral therapist. I can truly feel how Taylor loves her job and her kids. Her patience and forgiving nature is something so remarkable. She is like a mom and a teacher in a package.

BTW, Taylor is also a blogger, who writes about how to help children as well as adults cope with stress and frustration. Check out her awesome articles at https://brainbreather.com. You will enjoy reading them and will learn a lot.

 

Is your special needs child being taken cared of by a behavioral therapist? How is he coping? If not, do you consider looking for someone to help your child develop better skills to make his life as well as yours, easier?

 

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Raising a child with Down syndrome – our baby is our happy pill

I’m excited to introduce another extraordinary mom who cares for her child with special needs.

Her name is Emerald, a full time elementary school teacher for the last 12 years, who juggles her time between work and taking care of her family of 5. She is happily married to Jonathan, with whom she bore three kids- 18 year old Amber, 11 year old Jozsa, and Hailey, her special child.

Emerald did not want another baby after her second, but even though her pregnancy was unplanned, when she gave birth and found out that her baby was special, her motherly instinct brought her to act and soon she learned that raising a child with Down syndrome has its big struggles but soon discovered and realized that ” our baby is our happy pill,” and having her in their lives brought more meaning and joy to their family.

 

Caring for a Down syndrome child briings joy and fulfillment

 

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How old were you when you had your special child and how did you know that she was special?

” I was 36 years old when I gave birth to Hailey. She was like an accident/ unplanned pregnancy, I stopped taking pills because I had heart palpitations and I got pregnant! I had mixed feelings then, I was not ready for another child.

When Hailey was born, the attending physician already suspected that she was special because of her facial features.

We confirmed that she has Down syndrome when the result of her karyotype test came out on her third month.”

How did you and your family react to the news that she was special?

“The moment she was born, the doctor told us of her suspicion.

The rest of the day, I kept staring at her, afraid of what might happen.

My husband, who was away at that time, never learned of her condition because I was thinking it might affect his work. I waited for 3 months for him to finish his contract and that was the time when we brought Hailey to the city to confirm her condition.

Her two other sisters couldn’t really tell that time that she has Down syndrome because for us, she just looked normal.”

Describe your special child, including her health concerns and developmental milestones.

” At 2 years and 4 months, Hailey is our “happy pill. ” She always has a smile for everyone plus a big hug to offer.

Generally speaking her development is late, compared to kids her age. She started walking at 1 year and 8 months. Because she has poor muscle tone, her physical activities are limited. Despite this, she enjoys dancing, sometimes even without music while looking at herself in the mirror.

She is able to run as well, but we have to guide her because she just runs in any direction without thinking of her safety.

Hailey started eating solids when she was 6 months old, and at present she has a big appetite especially for pasta dishes.

She had a hole in her heart and she had a series of 2-D echocardiograms for monitoring until it closed at 1 year of age.

Hailey also has concerns with her thyroid hormones, thus she is being seen by an endocrinologist regularly.

She talks one word sentences like ” hello,” and able to point to food or cry if she is hungry.

Hailey used to have frequent cough and colds when she was less than a year old, but never had any serious illnesses. “

Your Down syndrome kids deserves the best clothes from Gymboree

Awesome clothes for your special child

Do you have struggles in taking care of your special child? How do you manage?

” Being a working mom, it has always been a struggle to care for
Hailey.

We have to hire nannies, but they give me stress because they
cannot offer the same care and love that I can and believe that Hailey needs.

Being sickly when she was younger, we were scared of what might happen to Hailey.

Her developmental delays were also a big factor in our struggles.

With the strength that God gives us, we manage to care for Hailey despite the challenges. “

Is Hailey attending therapies at present?

” No, Hailey has not undergone any therapy. It was always our desire to let her have therapies, but because we live in the province, with no available therapist, we’re just happy how she is developing on her own.

She loves watching musical programs on the television and dances with the music.

Because I’m a teacher, I try to make her learn by letting her scribble with crayons as much as she can and read to her every day, especially with picture books. “

Keep memories in a photobook

Share with us how she makes you and your family happy.

” Hailey is such an angel, she offers us unending expressions of love.
She kisses us and hugs almost everyone.

Her milestones give us the biggest delight. They make us appreciate the simple things in life.

When we are feeling gloomy, just looking at her smile brings back the sunshine in our day.”

Do you have any fears about her future? What do you hope that Hailey will achieve or will become someday?

I hope and pray that her older sisters will never get tired of to care for her and provide for her needs when I and my husband are gone.

As she grows up, I just wish that we can give her learning opportunities for her to fully develop her highest potential. I plan to enroll her in the Special Education program here in our town. I’m excited for her to start school, thus as early as now, I have actually talked to the teacher already.

If she cannot finish college I hope she will be given opportunities where she can be productive and independent, thus will be happy and fulfilled of the things that she can do.”

Any advice to parents especially moms on how to take care of a special child?

” My biggest advice is to give your child with special needs your never ending love. That’s all they need.

Accept their incapabilities and treat them as normal, though of course caring in a special way. Surely they will give back in ways that they know.

For new moms having a child with special needs – cheer up, he’s a blessing from God, a gift wrapped in a more colorful packaging.”

Children with special needs are gifts from God

Parenting a special child has its shares of struggles, but if these are considered challenges that you parents can overcome, then focusing on the growth and development of your child and being joyful of his milestones is no feat at all.

Like Emerald and her family  who has embraced Hailey and her slow development, every milestone reached even though delayed deserves appreciation and only then will our special child feel that she is loved unconditionally and nobody can take that away from her.

 

Are you a parent of a child with Down syndrome or any child with special needs? How is your experience in raising him or her? Please share your story with us.

 

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Is music therapeutic? Know the benefits for your child with special needs.

With or without musical talent, your special child can benefit from music therapy.

I should know.

Pangga, my sister with Down syndrome who passed away a few years back, loved to sing. She had a good voice. She could follow the notes and the rhythm to the beat. 

Because Pangga never learned how to read, she memorized the songs’ lyrics just by listening over the radio, hearing other people sing or watching television. There were of course funny twists to the lyrics.

I would say, she taught herself to be jolly by singing. Music definitely was therapeutic for her.  Even at late nights when she couldn’t sleep ( she slept all day, that’s why ) she would belt out a song to the annoyance of whoever is awakened by her rendition. Funny eh?

Music therapy helps the special child focus and engage.

You, as parents of children with special needs,  know very well that
your kids struggle with focusing and learning to express themselves
clearly.

At the back of your mind, you may have this question, ” Is music therapeutic for my special child? ” Will it help him overcome his inadequacies?

What is music therapy? 

Music therapy is a creative arts therapy – it involves a process used by music therapists to help clients improve their physical and mental health.

Furthermore, music therapy encompasses the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to help and improve not only the mental and physical health but also the  emotional and spiritual health of a person. 

 For our children with special needs, music therapy improves their focus,  engagement, communication, and even their mood.

Music therapy has been used way, way back, even in  biblical times to affect human emotion. David’s harp music soothed King Saul. Several cultures, like the ancient Greeks used music for healing.

Veterans Administration hospitals following World War II  recognized that music helps their patients, so it was acknowledged as a complementary healing practice. Musicians were continuously hired at the hospitals from then on.

In the hospital where I work, I’ve been seeing musicians, like guitarists or a violinist play their thing at a corner of our institution almost everyday. 

Benefits of music therapy

This video shows how Ryan Judd, a music therapist, teaches his clients, all with special needs, on how to focus, improve communication and a lot more.

Here are the many benefits of music therapy to children with special needs:

  • Music therapy motivates communication. Even if they are non-verbal or cannot express themselves well, the special kids’ facial expressions and their big smiles or laughter say it all. 
  • Music therapy makes the body move and may cause bouts of laughter. That means that the child enjoys the music and the encounter with the therapist. They learn to dance with the music.
  • Music empowers.The kids become proud and fulfilled that they are able to learn something to share.
  • Music therapy helps address academic concepts and speech goals. The kids learn more vocabulary and even how to connect with people around them.
  • Music therapy rewards communication. The kids learn how to express themselves.
  • It re-directs and engages. This is really helpful for kids who have meltdowns.
  • Music therapy inspires and leads to social connection. Again, these special kids enhance their capability to open up to people especially to their families.
  • It honors and enlivens a chid’s spirit. Kids are uplifted and become jolly because of music. Just like Pangga, my sister, who taught herself to be happy by singing to her heart’s content, anyday, anytime.
  • By playing the musical instruments, your child’s gross and fine motor skills are enhanced. 

The music therapist

Look for a music therapist who can teach your child how to engage, enjoy music and improve his well-being through music.

Let us learn from Benji, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at  2 1/2 years and eventually learned how to communicate and able to cope with school, with a big help from his music therapists.

Characteristics of a good music therapist:

  •  Patient and sensitive
  •  Engaging
  • Loves music, can sing and  play a musical instrument
  • Understands the needs of his client 
  •  Loves being with children
  • Passionate and dedicated to his craft

Musical instruments-your special child’s favorite

Pangga loved the harmonica;  she enjoyed playing with it daily. You would see her smiling wide when she holds it and blows air to make music out of  this tiny but awesome musical instrument. 

The harmonica  lets the special child focus and be attentive while he is trying to produce music. The music per se, gives him joy and calms his nerves.

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It is so fulfiling for your special child to learn that it’s so easy to make his favorite musical instrument work and produce musical notes on his own. He can control it, make his music soft or loud, long or short, happy or sad.

Any musical instrument has the capacity to engage your special child. Observe your child while with his therapist, and see which is his favorite so you may decide to buy for him to play in your home. 

Begin or continue music therapy at home

As always, our homes are the first point of learning for our children with special needs.  Thus, music therapy should begin at home or continue if your child is with a music therapist already. 

It should be easy to do it. 

Fill your home with music. Always turn on your radio or television to musical channels. This way, your child and the whole family will always be in a jolly mood. With less stress and more smiles and laughter around. 

Or if you have a stereo or DVD player, it’s good to buy music like this to help with the anxiety of your special kid and to uplift his mood on a daily basis. 

For younger kids, the Nursery Rhymes  would encourage them to dance and improve their language skills. 

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Buy musical instruments and let the whole family play their choice, even your special kid.

Just like Pangga with her harmonica. Click the image to see the price.              Ukulele to help your special child focus

Maracas to improve your child's fine and gross motor skillstambourines for fine and gross motor skills

              

 

 

 

 

 

Your home will always be set in a joyful mood if your child with special needs learn to play even just one musical instrument. 

Just tapping on the piano randomly will bring out simple music that he will enjoy. Or blowing on the harmonica will surely let him have a wide smile and laughter.

When you constantly engage with your child and participate in his music, you will form strong bonding relationship and in time, his communication skills will be enhanced.

Enjoy music with your special kid. It’s never too late to start.

Most importantly, enrol him in a music therapy class and reap the awesome benefits.

 

Have you enrolled your special child in a music therapy class? If so, how is he doing? If not, go find the best music therapist in your area and enroll him now!

 

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Hearing impairment in children- signs and finding help

I love listening to music. It soothes my nerves. It makes me happy and want to dance.

I love talking to my family and friends. I can share with them my worries or my excitement.

I always look forward to talking with my parents back home, by phone or via messenger or face time.

I’m lucky because my sense of hearing is 100% okay.

I know most of us feel that way, too.

Our sense of hearing is really important in how we interact with others. Right?

Our world will be so quiet when we have hearing impairment or we just hear muffled sounds, perhaps. We will be missing lots of stuff around us that we’re supposed to enjoy.

 

Hearing impairment in children

 

Now, let’s talk about hearing impairment in children, what are the signs and how do we go as parents and caregivers in finding help?

CHLOE, a student who is now in high school, started kindergarten in a regular class. The teacher thought she was deaf and mute because she didn’t hear her talking at all.

Eventually after 2 years, she was moved to the Special Education ( SPED ) class in her school at age eight.

Soon after, the teacher heard her talk for the first time when she was bullied by a classmate. She was stammering and talking in phrases.

Teacher Bing started her with one-on-one lessons and eventually, she learned to talk in sentences and read on her own.

She was fitted with a hearing aid at this time, as well.

After 2 years in SPED, she was mainstreamed to Grade one and she continued to excel in school.

Last school year, she graduated with honors in Grade 9. She is a graceful dancer and an artist as well, she has a special talent in drawing. I guess all these talents were enhanced with early intervention of her hearing impairment.

Luckily for Chloe, the first teacher recognized right away the need for her to be guided and taught in the Special Education classroom so she was started on one-on-one lessons, thus she was able to catch up sooner.

Referral and assessment were also done so she was fitted with hearing aids which really boosted her learning and she was able to cope up well from then on.

 

 

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy
you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

What are the signs of hearing impairment?

Parents need to be very observant of their kids as they grow and develop, so they can be referred and have proper evaluation in a timely manner.

Look out for these signs of hearing impairment in your kids. They may look and grow physically like normal kids but have these unusual signs.

  • Seems too quiet as a baby, does not get startled with loud sounds nor gets soothed by soft sounds
  • Sleeps soundly in a noisy room
  • Delayed language development, like no babbling at 2 months or not speaking at age 3
  • Talks in phrases and cannot express themselves well
  • Have problems with hearing soft sounds
  • Often asks you to repeat what you are saying
  • Confused where sounds are coming from or cannot identify who is talking to them
  • Poor vocabulary, cannot understand even simple words at 11 to 12 months
  • Struggles to hear when several people are talking at the same time
  • Poor social interaction. Because he cannot communicate properly, kids don’t like to play with him. No friendships are formed. They may be bullied as well.
  • Teachers might think they are mute because they hardly speak at all when they start school.
  • No response to playing music, somebody talking to them, or to any sound at all.
  • Wants the television or radio louder than usual
  • Does not understand directions

Causes of hearing impairment in children

CONGENITAL– born with hearing impairment.

  • This could be genetic, meaning, somebody in the family has it, especially one or both parents.
  • It could be one of the characteristics of a genetic syndrome, like Down syndrome.
  • Other congenital causes include maternal illnesses during pregnancy like German measles, maternal diabetes, and toxemia during pregnancy ( mother has abnormally high blood pressure )
  • When the baby is born prematurely or had birth complications like difficult delivery leading to anoxia, or lack of oxygen, they can also have hearing impairment at birth.
  • A mother’s exposure to certain drugs during pregnancy

ACQUIRED- noted after birth or while your child is growing up

  • Ear infection– usually kids with on and off otitis media or infection of the middle ear and not treated right away or not at all.
  • Trauma affecting the ears or the brain, like accidents or head injury
  • Infections like meningitis, measles, encephalitis, chicken pox, mumps, or influenza
  • Noise exposure, for example if the family lives close to a factory with very loud noise

Finding help

As parents, when you suspect something is wrong with your child or if you observe one or some of the above signs, or he is not developing like kids his age, always ask for help right away.

Just follow your instinct and schedule assessments.

Timely evaluation and proper intervention really makes a big difference. These kids have the capacity to develop and catch up when helped early on, just like Chloe mentioned above.

Evaluation of an ear doctor or otolaryngologist is vital

Assessment is the very first important step.

Ask his Pediatrician or your family doctor to refer your child to an audiologist who will assess the severity of hearing loss and who will in turn refer him to an ENT specialist or otolaryngologist for proper evaluation and further surgical management, if needed. 

Audiologist and otolaryngologist assessment are vital for hearing impaired kids

A speech language pathologist is an important part of the team as well, who measures the specific speech and language skills of your child and recommends or provides remedial programs as needed.

  • For babies, the newborn hearing screening test is a quick and painless examination and is usually done after the baby is two days old.
  • Fitting of hearing aids, if needed  is set up by the audiologist after proper evaluation.
  • Cochlear implants for eligible kids are done after evaluation of an otolaryngologist.

Watch this video about IRELAND, who in 2017, was born with profound hearing loss and had cochlear implants before her first birthday, thus her family is so excited that she will hear them sing ” Happy Birthday ” for the first time.

  • Communication or music therapy augments the hearing aid or the cochlear implants because these do not restore their hearing 100% like normal kids.
  • Special Education could be started on one-on-one lessons, like what Chloe got, as discussed above.

Teacher Law of the Romblon East Central School SPED program had 7 hearing impaired students last school year, 4 of them were already mainstreamed in the regular elementary but he still follows them up after school and 3 were still under his care.

These kids started with SPED from 6 to 10 years old, they were assessed by audiologists and fitted with hearing aids, except one. When they started school, they were unable to write nor communicate properly.

Teacher Law gradually and patiently taught them so they are now literates and able to communicate with the help of sign language.

CJ is one of the hearing impaired students who started at SPED at 6 years old, and was mainstreamed to regular elementary after 3 years.

With SPED he learned how to talk and communicate with the aid of sign language. He is now in grade 10 and coping well in regular school. He was also a dancer while in the elementary, a skill that he learned because of early intervention.

  • Family support is likewise very important. Interact with your child as much as possible, extra care like cooing more, engaging more and of course, support in all interventions. Expose him to more sounds like music and talking to him at all times.
  • Sign language is another thing that is needed for your hearing impaired child. Let him learn how to communicate with sign language to avoid frustrations. Even with hearing aids or cochlear implants, they are not able to hear clearly like normal kids so, sign language is still very helpful for them. This can be learned in school or with private lessons.

So, again I want to emphasize that observations by parents are really important for our growing special kids so, if you feel that your child has hearing loss, which could be partial or total, schedule him for assessment as soon as possible.

When diagnosed really early, interventions are started and these kids can catch up with their language development and even excel in school, like Chloe and CJ and the other kids mentioned above.

Ireland, who had cochlear implants just before her first birthday, has already shown great improvement on the way she plays and it will continue on for her to develop her language just like normal kids.

As parents and caregivers, let us all be vigilant in the growing and development of our kids.

All newborns need to be submitted for the Neonatal hearing screening test and if there is something abnormal, then they will be followed up closely or intervened at the right time. We learned this from the experience of Ireland’s parents.

Hearing impaired kids have all the right to hear our conversations, especially the voice of their parents, the soft hustle of the wind, or the music of their favorite singers, so they can dance gracefully with the beat of the music.

Let us not wait until they start school and get bullied because they sound weird when talking.

After all, our world is happier with music and open communication.

 

Do you have a child with hearing impairment? Is it congenital or acquired? How did you help your child overcome his disability? Please share your journey with us. Post your comments below.

 

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