A mother’s unconditional love…it is for real

Delivering a baby whom you carried in your womb for nine months, more or less,  is a very satisfying and heavenly experience.

More so, if the baby is the very first of the new mom.

Even if the baby is SPECIAL.

Thereafter, only a mother can provide to her child the best care there is.

A mother’s  UNCONDITIONAL LOVE….a nurturing love , which  a mom wholeheartedly  gives.

Let me introduce to you a mom who has a  special kid and is happy to share her experiences.
 

 

LEE is married and blessed with four kids, 3 girls and a boy.

The three young ladies  are in high school and all are doing good, all of them with honours.

Her youngest, a boy named MARK has  Down syndrome and presently enrolled in a  Special Education program.

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

” I was 42 when I had Mark and I knew right away when I saw him at the delivery room that he was special based on his facial features. I had a sister who also had  Down syndrome  but she passed away a few years back and  so their features are quite familiar to me. “ 

Tell me about your special  son.

” Mark has Down syndrome with  a congenital heart disease.

He is a jolly kid who loves watching motorcycle and car races and sports on television.

At  9 years old, he is  still unable to talk but communicates  in his own way, like if he wants to watch TV, he will hold your hand and bring you close to where the plug is.

He can walk on his own, but still needs full assistance in eating. He is not yet fully toilet-trained as well.”

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

” I was initially  shocked because I had no idea when I was pregnant about having a special baby.

Then, I was depressed for awhile. I guess I was unprepared emotionally during his birth.

But in the end, I just accepted him for who he was, so did  my family.”

           

Do you have any fears about his future?

” Yes, because Mark is special, he will be dependent on us throughout his lifetime and I don’t know when we get older if we can still take care of him or if we pass away, who will be responsible for him?

I guess parents always think about the future of their kids especially if they have special needs. “

Did you have any struggles on caring for him and how did you manage?

” Taking care of him has been a challenge because he needs special attention especially since he has a congenital heart disease. Of course we also have to understand how he behaves.

I remember Mark had several episodes of convulsion with fever when he was around 4 years old and he was admitted to the hospital for several days. It was then that we realized that we could lose him and that we really love him dearly.

With the support of my family, and him getting more independent, things are becoming better and easier each day. “

Is he having therapies or attending Special Education?

” Mark is seeing a Pediatric cardiologist at least once a year and he has maintenance medicines for his heart.

For the last two years, he has been going to a Special Education program from Monday to Thursday for one and a half hours in the morning in a class of 3-4 kids. “

What advice can you give to parents especially  moms on how to take care of a special child?

 

A mother's unconditional love
Accept your child for what he is. Celebrate his life and all his milestones. Support him all the way!

” Love your special child no matter what. Be very patient with him or her.

Provide your kid with everything that you feel he needs for him to grow up like a normal kid. “

Having a special child is indeed a blessing

These special kids maybe a challenge to take care of but usually they are the darlings in the family, they bring so much joy and  happiness everyday.

Support from the family especially the spouse and the relatives as well as the whole community is of utmost importance for our special kids to thrive and develop fully.

 

Watch out for more interviews with some other moms or family members with special kids.

 

We would love to hear from you, especially to moms out there who have children with special needs. Please share your story with us.

 

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How to tell if your child has autism- look for the common signs

Each of your child’s milestones are usually met with awe by the whole family especially if this kid is the first in the family or the first ever grandchild.

Parents even excitedly record the first steps, the first crawl or the first stand-alone position.

At certain times however, parents notice something different or something not going the way it should be or not coming if it’s expected.

At the back of your mind, you maybe asking this question, ” Is my child autistic? “

You as a parent, being with your kid most of the time, is the best person to notice the earliest warning signs of autism. You see your child on a daily basis and you know your child better than anyone else and observe behaviors and peculiarities that a pediatrician, in a short visit, might not observe at all.

So, the question “how to tell if your child has autism, ” which maybe ringing in your ears on a daily basis needs to be answered fast!

What are the earliest signs of autism? 

Watch out for early warning signs and seek timely diagnosis and intervention.
Parents usually notice early signs and should seek consultation right away.

 

As early as 6 to 12 months, studies demonstrate that behavioral signs are starting to be noticed for autistic kids.

 

If your baby doesn’t do these tasks, don’t hesitate to ask his Pediatrician if something is wrong or better still see a Developmental Pediatrician for evaluation.

  • Make eye contact or look at you when you carry him or smile back at you when you smile at him
  • Reacts to his name, or to the cooing of somebody familiar
  • Follow objects with his eyes or seem interested with things around him
  • Wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate.
  • Make noises to get your attention
  • Initiate or respond to cuddling or reach out to be picked up
  • Follow your gestures and facial expressions
  • Play with other people or show interest and enjoyment
  • Show concern if you hurt yourself or experience discomfort

When is the best time to see a doctor to confirm your doubts?

If you spot these developmental red flags in your baby, go see your child’s pediatrician for evaluation as soon as possible.

At 6 months: No big smiles or expression of being happy

At 9 months: No imitating of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions

At 12 months: No response to name and no babbling or “baby talk”; no imitating of gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye

At 16 months: No spoken words

At  24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that are spoken on his own

The importance of early intervention

Your baby may not be diagnosed that early but at least his doctor can follow up his progress on a regular basis.

Usually, a definitive diagnosis is made only sometime on the 18th to the 24th month. This is because some kids may catch up on the 24th month with their delays.

Also, a small number of children appear to develop normally in the first 12 months, and then start to show autism symptoms between 18 and 24 months of age by going through a period of regression. They may have started to learn a few words then stop talking suddenly. Some parents even blame the vaccines given to their kids.

Studies have shown that early intensive treatment started at 18 months, if they are diagnosed at that age, may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.

There are variations though, like high-functioning children with autism aren’t diagnosed until they start school and noted not to interact well with classmates and teachers, thus are struggling socially.

The Special Education ( SPED ) program as an early intervention

Let me share with you two kids who are in the program at the Romblon East Central School where Pangga ta Ikaw is presently building a therapy area.

Specific interventions are taught in school so kids with autism learn how to focus.
Interventions such as zipping and unzipping are done to develop fine motor skills and to teach how to focus on tasks.

Fritz is a 7 year old boy who started the program  when he was five. He was classified as autism spectrum disorder at school. He had delayed language skills with words that were hard to understand, was hyperactive, with very short attention span and no eye contact.

Teacher Bing, his very dedicated mentor, started to develop his speech so now he speaks clearly but oftentimes still with unintelligible words. He can now sit still for 1 hour in school and is learning to read syllables and write and copy letters and words. His attention though is still in the works because for that 1 hour of sitting in class he needs to be  doing some manipulatives to keep him still.

This school year, the teacher plans to mainstream him in regular grade one.

On the other hand, Heleina is a 14 year old with severe autism who has been in the SPED program for 5 years, so started only at 9 years old,  but could not be mainstreamed to regular school and at present just in the  grade one curriculum.

This only shows that  early intervention is really important  for our autistic kids to develop well.

As a parent with an autistic child, what can you do to help your special kid?

Educate yourself.

A different way of seeing autism
Groundbreaking book on autism
An early start for your child with autism
Kids with autism have an amazing capacity to learn.
Children with autism can excel in school with early intervention.
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Read a lot  and learn about autism for you to make informed decisions with regards to treatment options for your child. Always ask questions and participate in all treatment decisions.

Know your child well.

Learn what triggers your kid’s challenging or disruptive behaviors and what makes him calm and settled. What makes him stressed out or frightened? If you discover what upsets your child, you’ll be good at solving conflicts , thus preventing struggles and difficulties for him.

Love your child unconditionally and accept him no matter what.

Never compare your autistic child with a normal kid, accept him for what he is, otherwise you will always be frustrated with his development. Be happy with his accomplishments, celebrate small successes, and stop worrying about his delays.

Be positive.

Know that the future of your autistic child depends a lot on your support with his therapy. There is always help out there for him to grow and develop his abilities.

“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.”

Your autistic child is a gift

Remember your autistic child is not a burden even though taking care of him might be a big challenge with lots of struggles.

He will always give joy to your family especially watching him grow and develop himself.

Let him play with educational toys that will help him enjoy and relax . Calming products likewise,  will help him with meltdowns and sensory challenges.

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His innocence is a gift, his dependence on you will always give you a feeling of being his protector.

Celebrate his developments,  don’t focus on his delays.

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Join the World Autism Awareness Day

Celebrated every April 2nd , this is a special day declared by The United Nations General Assembly  that acknowledges the need to focus on the enhancement on the quality of life of those with autism so they can become productive members of society and lead full lives.

Your child and your family is one with the other families and the whole world in rejoicing during this special day.  Encourage your whole family to join and have fun!

World Autism Awareness
Every 2nd of April, the world celebrates all children with autism.

 

Do you have a child with autism or know somebody with autism spectrum disorder?
Please share your story with us. We would like to hear from you.
Post your comments below.

 

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Special Educational Needs for Children-starting early is the key!

Any parent with a special needs child would want the best for her kid.

A caring mom would be very happy hearing her special kid speak for the first time or learn that she is able to read the ABCs and write the alphabet or her name. Even if the special son or daughter is already way above the age that they’re supposed to.

A dad who is very supportive of his kid’s development would try his best to find the number one school for him or the most dedicated teacher out there.

It is without question that the special educational needs for these children should be on the top priority when considering their growth and development, and of course their future.

Let me present to you some information about the ongoing program in the town where I grew up and where we are giving our support.

The Special Education ( SPED ) Program at the Romblon East Central School ( RECS )

When we started Pangga ta Ikaw in 2015, Brittany, my niece, interviewed the pioneer SPED teacher, Mrs. Lulu Lo and read some materials in the school about the program. Likewise, she was able to witness how teacher Lulu spent half an hour or so teaching a visually-impaired  kid.

She was so amazed at how that time was spent by the teacher in guiding the special child.

The Special Education teacher doing one-on-one with a visually impaired child.

 

Brittany wrote a very nice article then about the program and her experiences, which I posted in our Facebook page.

Here goes….

Romblon East Central School’s ( RECS ) Special Education (SPED) Program is dedicated to supporting Romblomanons of different ages with special needs through the development of necessary social, academic and livelihood skills.

The establishment of SPED was supposed to start in the 1990’s, but unfortunately didn’t push through due to lack of resources. It was only in the year 2003 when RECS – SPED was fully established, with Mrs. Lulu Marzonia-Lo, a trained visual impairment educator who humbly taught SPED classes starting with only 5 children from different barangays around the municipality.

In the program, handling just one student is equivalent to a teacher-student ratio of 1:10 when compared to regular, non-SPED classes thus the maximum number per SPED class required by the Department of Education should only be 4 students. However, due to growing public awareness about the advantages of the program, 3 Philippine Normal University trained teachers are now catering a total of 23 students having special disabilities such as ADHD, HI (hearing disabilities), autism, blindness and Down Syndrome to name a few.

Considering the variety of disability areas, the program’s curriculum is specially crafted around these to ensure high quality special education. While most of their students are taught as a class, some of them are given special, individualized 30-minute lessons where they are taught hand coordination, mobility and space familiarization one on one.

On the other hand, 4 transitional students of ages 20 years and above are taught how to do haircuts, prepare the dining table, cook and sell what they made at the RECS canteen for them to earn additional income and consequently, become more independent individuals in the future.

With only a few years under their belt, the program is still very much in the development stage. Thriving only on minimal government subsidy and a few private donations, financial constraints hinder both the teaching staff and the families of these special children to deliver the best possible education there is for these children.

And because parents tend not to send their kids to school due to lack of resources, there was even a time when Mrs. Lo had to sponsor the transportation allowance and let five of her SPED students from the barrios to live in her apartment for them to be able to go to school.

This is where our help comes in. We need you to help enable Romblon East Central School’s Special Education Program continue their legacy of providing the very best, and only the best special education for the students and their families.

A very touching article and very informative as well. This was written three years ago and the program has expanded tremendously.

From an initial enrolment of five ( all visually impaired ) in 2003, each year enrolment adds up.

Last year in 2017 they enrolled 27 special kids under 3 Special Education teachers. Of course not counting the ones who have been mainstreamed in the regular classes. These kids included 5 with Down syndrome, 5 with autism, 4 with hearing impairment, 1 with visual impairment , 10 with intellectual disability, and 2 with behavior and emotional problems.

So, why do special kids have to be enrolled in Special Education programs?

As parents or caregivers , what are your goals for your kids? Do you want them to gain knowledge as fast as they can or would you want your kid to become independent and productive someday?

I’m sure you always want the best for your kids by providing them with special education suited to their capabilities and to let them start as early as possible.

To quote the Objectives of the SPED-RECS:


” The Special Education shall be the development and maximization of learning competencies as well as the inculcation of values to make the learners with special needs a useful and effective member of society. “

It goes without saying that the mentors only want the special kids to develop the best that they can be, to develop their fullest potential and for them to learn values and traits such that they become productive, independent citizens.

I have so much respect and admiration to these teachers who are so passionate in guiding and encouraging these children with special needs. They must have lots of patience and love for their craft that they are able to fulfill their roles so well. I’m sure the parents of these kids echo my high regard for their kids’ mentors as well.

Interventions in the SPED program

Various interventions are implemented in the program with the objective of teaching the kids basic skills like fine and gross motor skills, depending on where the level of the kids are when they start school.

Activities are usually made fun to promote learning, like using toys and letting them do art activities.

Film viewing in class widens a special kid's horizon.

Film viewing could be done as a group activity where children can enjoy as well as learn the moral lesson of the story or add to their vocabulary.

Likewise, interventions  involve skill-building strategies that are designed to progress special children  to advance their  academic knowledge.

More often, one-on-one is  introduced because these kids need special attention and their attention span is  very limited.

Daily living skills are taught to prepare the special kids to be independent.

Ordinary chores at home like cooking are taught in the SPED classroom.

 

Daily living skills, like cooking  or cleaning , are likewise implemented for older kids to prepare them to become independent and productive as they age.

The children of course are able to learn at  their own pace; no two children are alike. Several factors are into play, most especially their mental development, their readiness to learn and the parents’ support.

And the most important thing? Start the kids early!

 

What happens after SPED?

The special children at the SPED-RECS are mainstreamed to grade one once they are able to read, can do simple math and no longer hyperactive.

The SPED teacher sits in with them in the regular class for two weeks until they are comfortable in their new classes. They are also being followed up regularly as to their progress.

Many times because of their disabilities, these kids are bullied by the normal kids. This is another challenge that these kids have to face. Of course with the support of teachers and their parents they can overcome these obstacles eventually.

It is so heartwarming to learn that  a lot of the special children who have started at the SPED-RECS are able to continue and be successful  in their studies.

Success stories… where are they now?

Mark, my nephew who has Down syndrome is now 9 years old but still unable to talk, he only has some babbling sounds when he complains . He started the SPED program two years ago. Initially, he had very limited attention span. He couldn’t sit still, but now he listens to his teacher 30-45 minutes at a time. He can now hold manipulatives and can sort geometric shapes but with maximum assistance. He is able to listen to short stories as well. Teacher Bing, his very patient mentor, hopes he learns to hold crayons and pencils soon for him to be able to scribble and doodle.

Chloe, who is hearing-impaired, just finished Grade 9 ( Special program in Arts ) with honors. She was started in a regular Kindergarten school and the teacher observed that she was probably deaf and mute because she never talked. After 2 years in regular school, she was moved to the SPED program at the age of 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. Started on one-on-one lessons, she eventually learned to read and talk in sentences. After two years, she was mainstreamed to Grade one and the rest is history. She has also a special talent in drawing thus, Chloe was a consistent contestant in sci-art competitions in school. She is  a graceful folk dancer as well.

CJ is another hearing impaired kid who started  the SPED program early at 6 years old. With constant mentoring, he learned the sign language and was able to talk. After 3 years in SPED, and after learning to read and write, he was mainstreamed to regular school and continued,  until recently, he just finished grade 9. He is a good dancer as well. Although able to talk already, he still uses sign language at times, to express himself fully.

Truly, we cannot ignore how  vital Special Education is for our special children.

Early intervention is the key to maximize their learning capabilities. We have seen that they can excel in school if properly guided in the beginning.

They may start late with learning their basic skills like reading and writing, but once they are able,  there’s no stopping them to succeed.

 

Do you have a child with special needs and is presently enrolled in a special education program ? Please share with us how he is doing in school. Leave your comments below.

 

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