Special Needs Homeschool….Can My Child Learn?

I have always wanted for my son to do good in school.

When he was younger, I always see to it that he finishes his homework and sometimes, I even help him accomplish his school projects.

One time in grade five, his simple science project was chosen as one of the few that were represented in the division level. I was so excited for him and his best friend-classmate, who was his partner in the project.

I was one proud Mama.

Of course as parents, we want our kids to learn the best that they can. 

When they do good in school, we are the proudest of their achievements.

The same goes for our children with special needs. 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.

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.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read the full Affiliate Disclosure here.

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.
  • 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.

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Click the images to buy these helpful books and planner to make homeschooling easier.

  • 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

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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 neighbourhood’s annual picnic to broaden his horizon and meet other kids.
      • Enrol 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.



Click the images to buy these flash cards and book to make homeschooling easier.

  • 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.

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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 three parents who found homeschooling effective for their children with special needs.

JOYCE has this to say – from HE Special-Home Education in the UK-Special Educational Needs 

” 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.”

LIANNA  KOERNER, whose 13 year old son Gabriel, has Down syndrome, homeschooled him after four unsuccessful years in the elementary school.

Lianna  says , ” The luxury of Gabe’s learning ability is a gift. We can master a skill before moving onto another. There are no “precedents or antecedents of behaviour” to be discussed. He has been growing into a responsible person who is assured that it is okay to be right where he needs to be educationally. He is happy now and it shows.

Gabriel is living a life of inclusion, where he can safely learn what he needs to learn without adults pushing their own perceptions about Down syndrome into his education. “

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

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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.

Click here and get ten inspirational quotes about kids and parenting.

 

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.

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How to Tell if your Child has Autism( Look for the Common Signs )

Parents are so excited of their kid’s milestones. Especially if he is the first child or the first ever grandchild.

The family would even  excitedly record the first steps, the first words and even the first time that he goes to school.

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? 

What are the earliest signs of autism?
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

Watch out for Early Warning Signs of Autism

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 some kids who attended the Special education program at the Romblon East Central School where Pangga ta Ikaw is presently building a mini-therapy area.

The SPED as an early interventions for kids with autism.
Interventions such as zipping and unzipping are done to develop fine motor skills and to teach how to focus on tasks.

FM was enrolled at SPED when he was six, and initially had poor language skills with words that were hard to understand, was hyperactive, with very short attention span and no eye contact. Social skills were also very poor, he seemed to be afraid of other kids, did not want to mingle with them and would not enter the classroom unless the teacher was there.

Teacher Bing, his very dedicated mentor, started to develop his speech, so he gradually learned how to speak clearly. Behaviour modification was done as well so he slowly learned how to socialize with other kids.

At 8, FM is now mainstreamed in Kindergarten after 2 years in SPED and now able to read and add in the kinder level.

JR had meningitis when he was younger and then developed autism signs and intellectual disability. He was initially enrolled to Kindergarten for one year but eventually moved to SPED and stayed there for 3 years. Now at 10, he was finally mainstreamed to Kindergarten.

JV, now 7, was initially enrolled to regular Kindergarten for only 2 weeks but pulled out because he was non-verbal and they thought he was deaf. He was brought for assessment and was diagnosed with autism. After a year in SPED, he was mainstreamed to Kindergarten, and now able to read, write simple sentences and add in the Kinder level.  His social skills are now much improved, as well.

These 3 kids above are still monitored and taught by teacher Bing for an hour everyday after their regular Kindergarten class.

On the other hand, Heleina is a 15 year old girl with severe autism who has been in the SPED program for 6 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. She still has very poor social skills.

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?

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Educate yourself

               
   A Parent's Guide to High Functioning Autism Spectrum DisorderNathan's Autism Spectrum Superpowers

 

 

 

 

Click the images of the books to see the price.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Related post: How to Spread the Word of Love.. Ten Songs to Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day

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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Best Christmas Gifts for Kids with Special Needs- What to Give and Get the Biggest Hug!

In barely two months, we will be celebrating Christmas.

Of course, aside from all the parties and trimmings, let us not forget that we celebrate this season because it’s Jesus’ birthday.

And what better way to celebrate His birthday but to share our blessings to our loved ones and the less fortunate?

Do you have plans already for your Christmas parties with family and friends? We sure have. As early as December 1st, we will be having our party with some friends and our families, from our home province.

Of course, with parties we have to bring gifts especially for the kids who are so excited because they have wishes from Santa.

How about our special kids? Do you think they are excited of their gifts?

I’m sure we have been thinking, ” What would be the best Christmas gifts for kids with special needs? “

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 neighbours chat with each other outside their homes and practically we knew everyone in the neighbourhood or maybe even the whole town.

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

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 and toys were favourites, more than clothes or money.

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

I have some collections 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.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read the full affiliate disclosure here.

Here we go!

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.
Or this interactive toy school bus 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 farm wooden puzzle will teach your child some farm animals, as well develop his fine motor skills and imagination.



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

Theraputty to enhance fine motor skills and creativity

Best Christmas Gifts for Kids with Special Needs

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 favourite book will enhance 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.


 
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.

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

Love You Forever is my most favourite 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.

 

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

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.

This drum set for small kids ( 15 months up )  will enhance their motor skills and help them focus and engage.

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 Colouring 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 coloured 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 colours 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 coloured pencils, this colouring book is a nice gift.


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

These large crayons with 16 colors to choose from will delight your special child and inspire him to doodle or  draw all the time.
Mommies, you will love these washable crayons because they’re easy to clean up even if your kids draw on your walls. How’s that?


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!

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.

These squeaky shoes for your little girl will amuse her as she walks.


Awesome shirts will make your kids’ Christmas more enjoyable! Check them out. The boys’ shirts  come in three colors- red, blue, and black.

Harry potter’s girl’s shirt in burgundy.

 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.

 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.

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 the Christmas countdown begin !

 

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?

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Special Needs Stroller: Choosing the Best for Need and Comfort

Traveling is part of everyday life, especially if you have a special child who needs to go to doctor’s appointments, physiotherapist visits, special school attendance, and even family gatherings or just to go to the park with cousins and friends or go with you to the mall. Of course a special needs stroller is so essential for these activities.

 

A lightweight stroller is a must for some short trips

I have even seen some parents jog with their kids in their stroller. What an awesome sight!

Your special child could even go with the whole family to any fun travel or visits to an amazing place during summer or any holiday for that matter. I’m sure he would love to bond with everybody on these trips.

Thus, a special needs stroller, or an adaptive stroller, is a most essential companion for parents and caregivers for easy mobility.

 

A special needs stroller needs to be durable for long term use.

 

When planning to buy, what do you have to keep in mind? Is it the price? Durability, comfort, beauty?

Lots of reasons perhaps. So, what is the best special needs stroller out there? How do you choose one for your child?

Reasons for buying a stroller

1. Need–          Do you have frequent visits to doctors and therapists, or does your child go to school at least 3 times a week?

2. Comfort-    Is it the right fit for your kid for him to be comfy for long hours of sitting or lying down?

3. Price –          Do you want something that is not so pricey, anyway your child will outgrow the stroller soon or is it okay with you to pay more now, anyway he can use it for years to come?

4. Durability – Is your child on the heavy side or is older that something which will not wear out soon needs to be bought for him? Or you really prefer a stroller that would serve your kid for long term and grow with him?

5. Disability–   Is your child unable to walk at all or have stiff joints that prevent him to be moved easily to fit in the stroller?

When to buy

Foremost, you have to consider the need to decide when to purchase your stroller. Definitely, you will need one when you go out every week or even just twice a month for those appointments for your child.

You also have to consider that your kid will have mobility issues for some years because he will have delayed developments of some motor capabilities, like in children with Down syndrome, so deciding when to buy is critical.

Plan on the long term use so you can decide well on what to buy. Be open to the idea that your child will walk later than normal kids and when he learns to walk, it will take a while for him to have full balance.

If your child has disabilities that need to be addressed, consult your physiotherapist or rehabilitation doctor for proper advice on what type of adaptive stroller to buy.

Depending on where you live, some government health insurance may pay for these devices for your special child. Your private health insurance might be able to help as well. You just have to inquire, who knows you don’t need your pocket at all or you might pay only partial of the whole amount.

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Choose an of adaptive stroller to meet your special child's need

Click here to look at varieties of adaptive strollers

Related post: How to travel with a stroller: ten best lightweight strollers for children with special needs

I am introducing 5 adaptive strollers for you to choose from. Of course, there are lots of choices out there but these 5, based on my research, are very useful for the kids with special needs. This review will somehow give you ideas when you are ready to buy one for your child.

Reviews on 5 strollers

1. MacLaren Major Elite Transport Chair

Mac Laren elite transport chair
  • Its basic weight  is  7.7kg/16.9lb
  • It is ideal for children age 6 months and weighs up to 50kg/110lb.
  • When open, it measures:      L x W x H  92 x 53.5 x 108 cm; 36 x 21 x 42.5 in
  • If folded, it measures : L x W x H 115 x 27.5 x 22.5 cm ; 45 x 11 x 9 in
                                        • It has high-performance aluminum frame, ergonomically optimized
                                          handles, full swiveling front       wheel and brakes on each rear wheel
                                        • This is available in AMAZON

PROS:

  • This transport chair is ideal for both small and even big kids who are too heavy but unable to walk by themselves.
  • It is lightweight, sturdy, easy to open, and fits in the back of the car.
  • It runs smoothly on rough surfaces and is very easy to handle.
  • It is very comfortable and a kid will enjoy sitting in it.
  • The seat is wide and allows room to grow for a special needs child.
  • It is perfect for traveling, easy to fold and set, and super light to carry.
  • The swiveling front wheels make the stroller maneuverable in tight spaces.

CONS:

  • The foot rest has to be removed to close, thus, a hassle when traveling buy bus or train.
  • It has squeaky, loud wheels.
  • The front wheels don’t spin easily on very smooth surfaces, like tiles in a mall.
  • The seat depth is a little too shallow, so little kids have a tendency to slide down.
  • One buyer’s experience: The left steer wheel became very stiff and the stroller cannot be turned, and the wheel came off totally when he straightened it.
  • Amazon return policy is 4 months and MacLaren is 2 months, after which, they don’t accept returns if they get broken.
  • Hood and lateral supports have to be bought separately.

2. Trotter Lightweight Adaptable Stroller

Trotter lightweight adaptable stroller ,with transit tie-downs

  • The dimension in its smallest size : 53 x 12.8 x 17.8 inches
  • The smallest size has a basic weight of 19 lbs ( 24 lbs with front rigging )
  • It is ideal for simple transportation because it has a lightweight folding frame with closure straps
  • The range of weight capacity is  75 to 250 lbs ( available in 4 sizes )
  • It comes with optional transit or school bus tie-downs, which is really good for school transport
  • Click the image or here to see the price

PROS:

  • It has swing- away or removable foot rests for easy getting in and out.
  • It comes with 5-point harness to keep child safe and comfy.
  • Simple adjustments allow to grow with your child.
  • It has adjustable seat depth, depending on the size of your child.
  • It provides easy curbside navigation with tipping assist lever.
  • Free shipping if you buy here

CONS:

    • There is a wide wheel base so when turning to left or right, the front wheel seems to get caught.
    • The chair is on the tall side, thus, not ideal for short kids.
    • It is quite bulky and heavy.
    • It is difficult to fold and unfold at first- you need a certain time to get used to it.
    • It is not easy to control on an uneven surface.
    • It has limited two year warranty

3. Special Tomato Special Needs Jogging Stroller

  • This is ideal for children up to 110 lbs
  • The lightweight aluminum frame allows it to be folded easily
  • When open, it measures  :     L x W x H 42″ x 26″ x 43″
  • If folded, it measures : L x W x H 33″ x 21″ x 16″
  • It is durable, thus ideal for long use
  • It has a reclining seat ( recline range 100 to 140 degrees ).
  • The stroller weighs -27 lbs
  • Click the image or here to see the price

PROS

  • With 5-point harness to keep child safe and comfy
  • It is very comfortable for long trips.
  • The stroller for a jogging parent
  • It rolls really well ; the 12″ pneumatic tires works well both on smooth streets and rugged terrain
  • The front wheel can lock in place during jogging.
  • Free shipping if you buy here

CONS

          • Basket under the stroller has to be bought separately
          • Takes a bit of space when folded up

Related post: How to travel with a stroller: ten best lightweight strollers for children with special needs

4. Wenzelite Trotter Mobility Rehab Stroller

  • Wenzelite Trotter Mobility Rehab Stroller
    The product dimension varies with size, for size 12 ( smallest ) : 121.9 x 34.3 x 45.7 cm
  • The smallest ( size 12 ) weighs 3.06 kg while the biggest ( size 18 ) weighs 3.15 kg
  • It comes in 4 sizes from 12 to 18 inches
  • It is fitted with black removable and washable fabric
  • With lightweight folding frame and closure strap to hold the chair when it shuts down

Click the image or here to see the price

PROS

  • The seat depth can be adjusted to seat angle at 15 and 22 degrees and to back angle at 85,90, and 95 degrees.
  • With adjustable and removable independent swing-away footrests
  • Provides  more comfort with reversible padded strap covers in 5-point harness and positioning pelvic belt

CONS

  • Not very comfortable for a small parent-the handles are quite tall, stroller is huge and heavy 
  • Quite heavy for traveling
  • It is hard to navigate on an uneven surface such as in a park
  • It is wide for some doors to fit in

5. Baby Jogger Freedom Stroller with 16 in. Wheels

  •  The stroller weighs 30 pounds 
  • Product dimensions are 47 x 24.6 x 12.9 inches
  • Comes in navy color
  • It has a reclining seat and a padded seat back for comfort
  • With a 16 inch static wheel and swivel front wheels
  • It has a multi-position canopy with clear view window

Click the image or here to see the price

PROS

  • The handbrake comes with a parking button
  • The curved handle makes pushing comfortable
  • It comes with a quick folding design
  • The stroller is sturdy and suitable for big kids
  • With room to grow for your kids 
  • Can be also used for adults with special needs

CONS

  • When folded, the chair doesn’t lock in place.
  • It is not so easy to push and guide on trails
  • The stroller is tall and the handle is high, thus,  not very comfortable for small parents

Is it time to buy?

Special needs strollers or the adaptive strollers are definitely a necessity for our special kids with mobility issues.

Your kids are able to walk probably at this point, but then they get tired easily with long walks.

For those with wheelchairs, you might still consider buying an adaptive stroller for them because wheelchairs are usually bulky and heavy.

My final word

Remember to always  consult your child’s physiotherapist or rehabilitation doctor for advice as to what specific adaptive stroller will fit your child to address his mobility and disability needs.

After all, your child’s comfort is foremost in your mind, as well as your need to consider your budget because these strollers are not on the cheap side.

Lastly, put inquiry to your health insurance, private or government,  if they will pay your mobility device. 

I’m sure with proper referral from your child’s physiotherapist or doctor, his adaptive stroller will be reimbursed or paid directly by your insurance.

Choose an adaptive stroller or special needs stroller for comfort and durability

Click here to find more options for your adaptive strollers and devices

 

Have you used several adaptive strollers through the years? Did your child prefer one over the other? Please let us know your experiences in the comments below.

 

Would you like to start an online business? Learn how at Wealthy Affiliate. Join me inside and I will guide you. Click the image below.re you planning on putting up your website and not sure how to do it?

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Back to school checklist for moms ( and dads ) -what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs

It’s school time in a week!   I’m sure it has started in other parts of the world, as well.

I guess the kids have mixed feelings. 

Some maybe excited to see their teachers and classmates once again.

Others may feel a little bit sad that summer vacation will be done and they will be missing the late night sleep and sleeping-in the following morning, the camping, the out of towns, the never ending video games, etc. 

For your child with special needs, they may have the same mixed feelings.

I guess they are more excited than the regular kids. I know they show more enthusiasm and elation.

They are more open to express their joy and eagerness to be back on track.

How about the first timers? Is your child with special needs starting school just this year? How does he or she feel about it?

Maybe a little bit nervous to be out there on his own? Or also excited to be with other kids his age?

Of course I’m talking about those kids who are verbal and could express themselves already.

For the non-verbal ones, I guess the parents are the ones who are either nervous or excited.

So, my dear parents, have you started buying the things that your child needs come school opening or you already have bought some essentials way back in June or July and just about to complete the list?

This post maybe a little bit late but I’m sure it’s still very helpful for that final look for school must-haves.

I have prepared a back to school checklist for moms ( and dads, of course ) – what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs, so be ready to check out what you still need.

This post contains affiliate links. Read the full affiliate disclosure here.

1. Adaptive stroller

  • If your child is still non-ambulatory or is walking but gets tired easily, this is really essential.
Getting ready for school, in adaptive stroller
Ready for first day of school

 

The school bus is here!
Riding the school bus is a breeze with the adaptive stroller with a transit  tie-down.
  • These strollers are usually what they sit on in the classroom as well, so choose properly with the help of his therapist or rehabilitation doctor.

Click here for some choices of adaptive strollers

2. School bag

  • This is very important as well. 
  • You have to consider a few things though. If your child has attended school the previous year, you might not need to buy a new one if his bag is still useful.
  •  I know kids always want something new, but if you feel his old one still looks okay, a little talk with your kid might be all you need to let him know that he doesn’t need a new one.
  • Anyway, if you’re ready to purchase a new one, keep some things in mind before buying. How big does your child need for his bag? Big enough to put his sweater or jacket in winter?
  •  Will his lunch bag plus some school essentials like his planner and pencil case fit in comfortably?
  • How heavy will it be with all the essentials in there? Think of his back for all the time that he will be carrying his bag. Is it a long walk from his classroom to the parking lot or to the bus stop?
  • Does he need just a back pack or a school bag with wheels?

Please see some choices below. Click the image to see the price.

Unicorn backpackBatman backpack Cars backpack for boys

Click here for more choices of backpacks

 

 

3. Lunch bag / kit

  • The size will depend on how many hours is your special child staying in school or the time of his class. 
  • If he is in school for just 2 hours, more or less, then he needs to bring in snacks only but if his school time is done just about lunch time maybe you need to pack lunch for him.
  • Consider packing a crunchy snack because chewing is great for reducing stress and a good concentration tool.
  • Of course during recess, your special child needs to eat something to reward him for a good day or to sustain his interest to learn his lessons.

  Look at these awesome lunch bags that your kid might love.  Click the image to see the price.

  Frozen lunchbag Pink insulated lunchbag for girls  

4. Water bottle

  • A 2 glass water bottle is also an essential part of his bag. He needs to be hydrated at all times so he will not be sluggish and will continue to be receptive of the day’s lessons.
  •  After a hectic  or an active day, your special child needs to drink his juice or plain water ( the healthier option ), so be sure to fill his water bottle to the brim!
  • Make sure to buy a BPA and PVC free water bottle which has leak proof lid with cap.

Here are some awesome water bottles, click the image to see the price

Tritan Spiderman water bottleHearts clear water bottle
Thermos Funtainer Paw patrol

5. Pencil case

  • Choose something that is spacious enough to fit in his pencils, markers, and sharpeners.
  • Your special child will love opening and using a pencil case with designs that he loves like animal prints or his favorite cartoon character.
  • Having a pencil case will teach your special child to organize his stuff and put them back properly to where they belong. This develops in him responsibility. 

  Here are some choices. Click the image to see the price.

DC Comics Superhero pencil caseDisney Minnie mouse pencil case

 

 

6. Pencils, markers, and crayons

  • Buy as many as you can.
  • Your special child may just be starting to scribble or just beginning  to learn how to hold a pencil, but the more choices he has, the more chances of getting him excited to do his part in learning how to write.
  • If possible, buy the big grip pencils and crayons or markers.

 Here are some choices. Click on the image to see the price.

        Emoji pencils     Crayola washable 16 markersCrayola Jumbo crayons 8

 

 

 

  • You can also buy some additives that will be useful for your special child such as these  pencil grips for perfect grip for him to be inspired to write or scribble as much as he can.
  • These are useful even if the pencil is small.

Click the image to see the price ( pencil grips and erasers )

Pencil grips, ergonomic gripEmoji erasers

 

 

 

  • Your child’s teacher or school might have these items provided, but it is still best to buy so your child will have something to use at home for his homework or just for practice.  

7. Notebooks

  • Buy those with beautiful covers that your child with special needs would love to open time and again. Designs that would let him smile and giggle and get him inspired to write down because his favorite animal or cartoon character is in the cover.
  • Those with lines are the most essential ones so your child will learn how to write with proper alignment. If possible choose notebooks with three lines, so he will be guided how to write big and small letters properly.
  • These colorful notebooks will delight your special kids.

  Click the image to see the price.

Cute Tiger notebook, notebook for kids              Unicorn notebook for girls

More choices here.

 

 

8. School shoes ( and socks )

  • Find shoes that are most comfortable on his feet. You would not want your kid to be coming home limping with sore ankles because his shoes is too tight that he develops a blister after a day’s wear.
  • They should  just be the right size so your child can run or walk without difficulty while playing in the playground or doing tag with his friends and classmates.
  • Socks that will allow his feet to breathe  properly even in winter are a must. Buy socks that he can wear depending  on  the weather outside.

   Click the image to see the price for some choices of  girls’ and boys’ sneakers/ shoes.

Dream pairs Boys girls sneakers, running shoes   Skechers boys ultrapulse sneakers    Reebook kids girl's smooth glide running shoesHawkwell Girls' black shoes

9. Sweaters/ Pull overs

  • Always let your child wear a sweater or a pull over on top of his shirt  because it will usually be cold outside once school starts or put it in his bag if it is warm, so he can wear it if the weather changes.
  • This is really important if your special one still cannot express his feelings.
  • Again, sweaters with awesome designs will become a favorite of your kid. Also match the color of his sneakers with his sweater. 

Click the image to see the price of the awesome sweater  your special one will love to wear on the first day of school.

Adidas boys crew sweatshirtFull blessing Floral button -up Cardigan

 

Click the image above to see more choices

10. Clothes and accessories

  • If there is no uniform in the school that your child goes to, you may need to buy a few set of clothes especially those that he can wear and show off on the first day or week of school. 
  • He will always be proud showing off to his teacher and classmates a blouse or shirt with his all-time favorite cartoon character  or a shirt which is his favorite color.

Click the image to see the price.

Just a girl who loves horses fitted shirt   French toast Long sleeve boy's shirt  French toast girls shirtHanes big boys White shirts

Click here for more choices of clothes for your child with special needs

  • Your little girl’s hair will be pretty either tied or with an awesome bow.

Click the image to see the price.

    Goody girls elastic hair tiesRibbon Hair bows, hair clips

 

 

 

  • A cute beannie hat ( and mitts ) for your little boy or  girl that can match his or her backpack and shirt will be useful to keep his or her  head safe from some cold or draft at the start of fall.

Click the image to see the price.

                  Starwars Chewbacca beannie and mittsDisney Frozen Anna and Elsa beannie and mitts

 

 

 

11. Calming toy or pillow

  • Let him bring to school his favorite toy or pillow for calming effect especially if it is his first time to attend school. This will really be helpful to allay his fears and anxiety. 
  • You can allow him to bring it to school on the first day or week or the whole school year whichever he prefers. 
  • Your special child will be more focused with his school work if he has these handy.

If you are planning to buy, read some suggestions here.

  Click the image to see the price of the calming pillows

Calming pillows

Are you ready for school?

There you go, my dear parents, have you looked into the list of school essentials that your little one needs for his first day of  school? Did I forget anything? Hope not.

Anyway, most of the time, kids want to show off to their classmates or teachers their new backpacks, new clothes, new pencil case, etc, so I suggest buy him something new , even though some are recycled from last year or the previous years or maybe hand me downs from older siblings or cousins.

 I remember when my son was in the elementary, even though we just buy his schoolbag from the thrift store, he was so excited to show off his “new” backpack to his friends and he was proud to show off how many pockets it contains, the awesome design, etc. 

I guess even our special kids would love to show off their stuff to his teachers and classmates, so as parents, let us try to be aware that this is something that our kids get excited about school.

We don’t want him to hate his school bag or lunch bag that would ruin his enthusiasm to go to school everyday.

There’s this excitement or some fears on the first day of school that ” something new, ”  especially if it’s his favorite toy, marker,  shoes,  top, or bag and if his classmate or friend also likes it, it will be a big factor for your special child to have a reason each day to get excited to come back to school everyday.

Let the start of school be something that your special one will look forward to with an AWESOME school essential.

Look at this back to school checklist again so you won’t forget anything.

Back to school checklist

Happy shopping!

 

What is your special child’s favorite cartoon character that he wants for his backpack?  Have you bought or prepared all the essentials for his school this year?

As parents, are you excited that your special one is up to another school year of learning and discovering new things?

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Learning the Symptoms of an Autistic Child ( Up Close and Personal with Nathan )

It’s different when you just read about something, specifically about the signs and symptoms of Down syndrome and autism.

Looking at pictures or images of people with Down syndrome, they are so typical.

Even observing them from a distance, you will know that they are kids with Down syndrome.

And of course, I have lived with some family members, like Pangga, my sister who sadly passed away a few years back, and whom this website is dedicated to, and my nephew Mark, whom I see every year when we go on vacation to my home place.

But with autism, I haven’t really been with them up close. I’ve just read about them or heard some friends describe their autistic kids.

I don’t really know how they behave in person, until I met Nathan again and stayed with his family for about a week this summer.

It was a really special encounter with Nathan, being with him up close and personal for a week was something. Seeing him, I missed Pangga so much more, but being with Nathan, it was always fun and it’s like being a kid again with freshness every day, no worries, just pure awesome joy.

We planned on our vacation to be with Nathan’s family ( his mom is my sister ) and to see their place and go to some exciting adventure places.

We went to Universal Studios in Florida!

I will not discuss about Down syndrome here because they don’t really have behavior issues and just looking at their physical appearance, as I have mentioned above, you will know who they are.

I’d like to share with you more about learning the symptoms of an autistic child that I have observed in Nathan for the one week that we were together.

I really do honor my sister and her husband and their older daughter for being so patient with Nathan and so accepting of his inadequacies.

Related posts:

Big sister, little brother…. he has Down Syndrome and Autism

Down Syndrome with Autism-my Son has both and He is a Gift from God

About Special Needs Fathers ( Meet three awesome dads! )

First impressions

On our arrival, we were treated to a sumptuous dinner and some entertainment and dancing at a local restaurant. We just enjoyed watching other people gyrate to music though, because we were tired from our trip.

Nathan sat at the other end of the table beside my son and his other cousins. We observed that he always sat so close with them, like he was so welcoming and happy to be with them. He even put his arms over my son’s shoulders, like they are good old friends. This is actually the first time that they have this chance to be close together. And mine, too.

Autistic boy welcomes his cousin

We first saw Nathan about two years ago at the wedding reception of my cousin. And we were just with him for maybe an hour or so only, not having a chance to really bond with him.

This time, we lived in their house and in a rented unit in a resort in another town.

I was able to observe him from the time he woke up until he fell asleep.

I know kids in the spectrum don’t really socialize well. They don’t have eye contact and I have proven this, never did I see Nate having eye contact with anybody.

When you call his name, he never looks directly at you; it seems like he is ignoring you all the time. But he follows simple instructions and I will talk about this later.

Nathan cannot sleep

In the morning after our first night in their house, my son complained that he was able to sleep at 5:00 AM already. He slept on the same room as Nate with another cousin.

When asked why, he said Nathan didn’t sleep and was having ” seizures,” in his bed.

Of course they were not real seizures lol! Apparently, Nathan couldn’t sleep, kept on rocking in his bed all night, and only able to sleep early in the morning already.

Nathan’s parents said if he sleeps during the day, it’s hard for him to sleep during the night and he is restless.

It is said that sleep disorders are common in autism and would occur in 40-80%of children with ASD. These children could have the following:

  • A hard time falling asleep
  • Disturbed and intermittent sleep
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Irregular sleep routines
  • Waking up too early or in the middle of the night

There are several theories as to the causes of sleep disorders in children with autism, among them are the following:

1. Social cues, like seeing other people getting ready to go to sleep. Autistic kids have struggles with communication, so they may misinterpret or misunderstand these cues.

2. The hormone, melatonin, which regulates the normal sleep–wake cycle, are found in some studies of kids with autism to be higher during daytime than nighttime, thus they sleep more during daytime. Maybe this is true for Nathan.

3. Increased sensitivity to outside stimuli, such as touch or sound, so they are easily awakened even by a parent opening their bedroom door to check on them.

4. Anxiety, which is found to be quite common for kids with autism, can also affect their sleep pattern.

Nate and his stims

Every day, during our stay with Nathan’s family, I have observed his stimming behaviors. He does rocking almost daily, with no specific time, anywhere. He would rock when he is sitting in their sofa or even inside the car while traveling.

One time when we were swimming, I also noticed that he kept on circling or going around a part of the pool which had water falling from above. He ignored my request to go up the slide, instead he just kept on circling around the little water falls. He never stopped until he came out of the pool.

What is stimming or stims? It is short for self-stimulatory behavior, and is the repetition of physical movements, like hand flapping, excessive or hard blinking, head banging, snapping fingers, spinning objects, or even repetitive noises or words, and for Nathan it was always body rocking with noises, which happened that first night at their house which annoyed his cousins. My son described it as “seizures.” lol!

Stimming could lead to self-injury such as in head banging or hand biting, so fidget toys, fidget spinners and puzzles are encouraged for safe stimming.

It is said that autistics stim to meet a need, thus encouraging them to continue with their stims and not discourage them will help them to become more confident and will help them to be more regulated to avoid autistic burn out and meltdowns.

Behavioral therapists however, say stimming should be stopped especially if they are hurting themselves or others, like head banging and biting.

Stimming may look or feel very annoying to other people, like to my son that night when Nathan couldn’t sleep and just kept on rocking in his bed, but to these autistic kids, they serve real purpose, so we have to be open -minded about them.

Nathan loves the water

Autistic boy loves swimming

His cousins went swimming with him in the resort pool twice. Nathan was with his dad for the first one and with his sister and I, the second time.

He was so happy and excited dipping into the pool and loved to walk in the water. He didn’t know how to swim, so we were always on the look out for him, in case he goes to the deep end.

One young boy came close to him and started talking to him. Nathan’s dad and I appreciated the efforts of this young boy to communicate with Nathan, but of course Nate didn’t reciprocate it because, like the typical autistic child, he cannot engage in conversations, plus he is still non-verbal.

Getting him out of the water was quite a struggle, he would never get out of the pool, if he had the choice, lol!

Nathan’s way of communication

Ever since he started to regress in his speech, Nathan has only around ten words at present, according to his mom. Personally, I heard him utter only two words, “outside,” and “mas,” the latter being the Spanish word for “more”. He learned this from his Spanish teacher assistant before and if he wants more food, this is his way of communicating.

Other than that, Nathan just makes sounds all the time, sounds like he is complaining.

As mentioned awhile ago, Nate has no eye contact at all. When you call him, he might turn his head towards you after several calls and I observed that he has nystagmus-this is a common sign of Down syndrome.

Love for the riding machines

Autistic boy loves the elevator Nathan runs when he sees an elevator or an escalator. He loves riding this so much so that he wants to go in and out of these riding machines.

This was quite challenging for his parents and us, while in the airport when we were going for our plane ride home as well as my sister and her son. His parents would try to pull him ( he is so strong, much stronger than anybody except his dad! ) out of these rides because he loves getting in and out of these.

I guess this is part of his repetitive behavior or circumscribed interests as one of the unique behaviors in autism.

Autistic boy loves the escalator

Eating habits

Nathan loves to eat. He sits on the table and feeds himself from a plate of food prepared by his parents. But he cannot sit still. He would feed 3-4 tablespoons one after the other, then go to the sofa and play until somebody calls him to go to the table again.

He has a big appetite and makes noises if he is in the table and there is still no food. Like in a restaurant, his parents bring cookies for him to munch on while they wait for the food to be served.

Autistic kids could have various eating habits such as:

  • Fussy eating habits – they eat only a limited kind of food and these could be because of sensory sensitivities ( they choose only a specific texture of food ). With Nathan, he prefers smoothies than real fruit. This could also be because they like routines- same food every time, they may find it hard to try new food or are preoccupied with certain food.
  • Over eating habits – less common than fussy eating but should be watched out to avoid health problems
  • Non-food eating habits, called pica, where they would eat hair, coins, dirt or fabric. This could lead to malnutrition, infection, increased levels of toxin, etc. This needs to be addressed ASAP and try to replace non-food items with snacks and praise the child when they choose to eat the snacks.

Nathan’s pet snake- his sensory toy

Pet snake as Sensory toy

He has a toy snake, his favorite toy for the longest time. He loves to put it in his neck or toss it in the air. He would bite at it sometimes so much so that the tail end is messed up already. Maybe part of his non-food eating habit?

His aunt, my other sister who gave him the green old snake bought a new violet snake supposedly to replace the green worn one. At first, he didn’t like it, he held it for a few seconds then threw it away. After a few hours, he tried to compare the two and soon learned to like both of them.

Sensory toys are said to benefit autistic kids because they serve their sensory needs, like being focused on their sensory toy could drown out being overstimulated with outside noise, so they don’t have a meltdown.

Incidentally, I never saw Nathan having a meltdown in our one week stay with him and this maybe because he learned how to drown out noises or distractions around him with his snake.

He loves to be tickled

Nate has autism

While in the car or at home, I had numerous chances of playing with Nathan. Not that we played with toys, but just sitting close to him and singing with him or just holding his hands or tickling him.

While traveling by car, he loves to watch his favorite movie so he doesn’t get bored. Beside him, I always tried to hold his hand and I know that he loved it because aside from non-stop rocking, he smiled from time to time.

I remember, the second time that he swam with his cousins, sister and I at the resort pool, his dad tried to pull him out of the pool earlier than the rest. I tried to help his dad because he did not want to get out of the pool, and his dad said, “Tickle him, ” which I did, and true enough he did not fight with us and got out of the pool easily.

Every day is a reason to be happy

That one week with Nathan and his family have made me realize how important family is.

Especially family support for a child with special needs.

Nathan has both Down syndrome and autism and although he is still basically non-verbal and thus, non-communicative, he is loved and taken cared of wholeheartedly by his parents and sister and his extended family.

He might feel left out in a bunch of kids his age, but he has his own world and he is thriving well with his stims and his pet snake.

He has a good appetite and although he might not be able to sleep well sometimes at night, he sleeps during the day if need be.

Autistic kid having fun with cousins and sister in the resort

 

With Nathan, we all realized that life can really be lived simply with minimal worries for tomorrow.

What is important is the here and now.

See you again sometime, Nathan! Thanks for that week of pure joy and bliss.

And of course, thank you for teaching me about you, thus, learning about the symptoms of an autistic child firsthand.

 

Have you had a close encounter with an autistic child? How was your experience? We would love to hear from you.

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The Benefits of Reading Everyday ( Make Learning a Fun Experience for your Special Child )

You and l know that love for reading starts early during childhood. We, parents are the ones who need to inculcate in our children the beautiful habit of reading.

Even for our special kids, this habit of daily reading could be cultivated early on.

Of course, kids will always be kids. They enjoy time with their parents and caregivers. They will always feel safe when they are around with their beloved mom and dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or their nanny.

What a better way to spend time together with your special child than reading to them.

Make it a daily habit. Your child will always look forward reading with you.

I assure you there are tons of benefits of reading everyday to your special child.

Exploring books together with  your special kid is one of the best forms of parental-child bonding, maybe second to playing with them.

What are the benefits of reading to your special child?

Even if your special child has  delayed mental development, he will still enjoy sitting down with you or lying down in the bed with you.

He will always tend to snuggle or hug you while listening to your story-telling.

So aside from just being happy together, there are lots of positive output that reading to your child will bring:

  • A strong bond is developed between you and your special child.
  • Your child will have  a sense of security when he is  there in the bed or chair  with you.
  • You are both able to explore the world, your town, province or country.
  • He gradually forms a deep trust in you.
  • He learns to appreciate that you are trying to help him improve or overcome his incapacities.
  • Your special child will slowly increase his vocabulary.
  • He gradually improves his language skills.
  • His mental capability will be boosted.
  • You are opening your child’s awareness to his surroundings, thus he learns coping skills.
  • You are helping your child’s teacher in a way because  your kid will be more receptive with lessons in school.
  • Reading will develop your child’s imagination and creativity.
  • He will learn to relax and quiet his mind during reading sessions with you.
All About Reading Pre-reading
Click the image to buy books to help your child learn to read

Make reading together a habit

We learn easily when we do things again and again.

Your child with special needs will truly benefit from you when you make reading to him a habit and reading with him daily is the best thing!

Rather than make your child watch nursery rhymes on television or you tube  day after day, develop the habit of reading to him instead at bedtime or just anytime that you feel he is receptive to listen to your story telling.

Making reading to him a daily thing will surely increase his trust in you and he will always look forward to that special time together.

Gradually, you are increasing his vocabulary and his understanding of his environment.

This special time will also make you feel that you are giving him a special part of you.

Enjoy reading with your child

Read aloud to your child.

Act out and speak out like the characters in the book that you are reading.

If you are reading a dialogue for an old lady, let your voice be slow and quivering. If you are reading a man’s dialogue, speak in a deep tone.

You can even mimic some animals’ sounds. Surely your child will giggle and enjoy hearing your story.

He will always look forward to reading with you everyday.

You yourself will feel very happy and at peace after these sessions.  Your child’s laughter will wash away all the worries or stresses that you maybe experiencing at that moment.

squeezy canoe for sensory needs
Read to your child in this squeezy canoe

Incorporate the assignments from school in your reading sessions

During homework time, start by reading to your child a good story book. This will develop his enthusiasm in doing his assignment.

Answering questions or completing his tasks that his teacher sent home will be a breeze if his brain is programmed to respond positively.

Encourage him to answer his homework by himself.  Let him ask you questions as well or let him know that you can help him if he cannot answer the questions.

Guide him if you can, instead of giving him all the answers. This way, you are encouraging him to think and decide for himself what is the best answer.

His teacher will be very appreciative learning that you are there to help her encourage your child to learn each day.

20 Best Tips

Related post: Special Education Teaching-Facing Challenges and Feeling Fulfilled 

Read various topics

To increase your special child’s vocabulary and develop his language skills, try to read a variety of topics from animals, cartoon characters, plants, school, home, family, food, etc.

After reading, talk about the story that you just read.

Ask him questions like, ” What part of the story did you like most? “, “Who is your favorite character? “, or ” What did you learn from the story?”

Encourage him to ask questions to you as well. This will also gauge if he understood the topic or not.

An inquisitive mind is open to more learning.

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Here are some awesome books for your special one.

Click the picture to buy!

Love You Forever

I would like to mention especially this book, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.  This has been  my favorite book ever since I read it to my son back when he was younger.

I have given away most of my son’s children’s books, but not this.

I’ve kept it and I read it again and again, even just by myself. It’s so beautiful and inspiring.

It tells about a mother’s love, which is unconditional and infinite, from birth up until the son grew old.

Love you Forever is so rich with moral lessons, especially about a mother’s love which was later on reciprocated by her son. 

The story is so touching, you could’t help but cry after reading it because it’s so full of love and gratefulness. 

Go grab this book, the very young and the old alike will truly appreciate it and be touched by this book. 

Keep reading time short and sweet

A special child will have limited attention span, so plan to read short stories. Their intellectual capacities are also restricted, so they lose interest easily.

You might need to speak very slowly too, so he can understand every word and appreciate the story.

Don’t be upset when your child doesn’t decipher everything that you read to him. Keep in mind that he has delayed mental capabilities, so his brain is slow to digest.

Instead, always appreciate that he enjoys time with you even though he is learning slowly. 

Plan on going to the library regularly

A trip to the library on a weekend or right after school on a certain day is something that you can develop with your special child.

This will teach him the value of reading regularly. Likewise, he will be exposed to different books and topics.

Let him choose what he wants you to read to him. This way, you will encourage him to explore.

Start with small books or short stories.

Picture books are awesome for small kids to begin with.

You yourself can also borrow your own books while visiting the library. Always find time to read, this is a very relaxing ” me ” time for you, my dear parents.

Introduce reading to your special child from birth

Reading to your newborn or a few months old special baby can certainly give benefits both to you and him.

You will develop a special bond right away aside from his feeding schedules.

His brain will be exposed very early to this stimulating activity and as he grows and develops, reading will aid  in forming his language skills early on.

Your voice will soothe him to let him sleep good at night.

Developing that good habit of reading everyday will surely help him overcome his mental delay sooner because his brain will be rewired early.

As your child grows older, he would be learning to choose his favorite topic, author, or book.

All these because you have started to expose him early on and he has developed that habit of reading ( or listening to you while you read, if he has not learned reading by himself ).

Reap the benefits of reading everyday to your special child by starting early on!

I hope I have inspired you, dear mom and dad to start reading to your special child now and continue this awesome bonding activity daily!

Wishing you and your child happy reading!

Check out my favourite AMAZON picks  for babies here. 

The Benefits of Reading Everyday

When did you start reading to your special child?  Are you reading to him everyday?

What is his favorite book about? Please share your story with us.

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How to Prepare for Camping with a Special Child ( Summer Escapade Galore!! )

Now that school is done in two weeks and summer is almost here, what better way to relax but to go camping!

Plan and prepare what to bring so nothing is missed and everybody can enjoy and have fun.

But wait, can you bring your special child with the whole family?

Of course, he may have special needs but he has the right to enjoy and spend time with everybody.

This will be a special bonding time for everyone – to relax, unwind, breathe some fresh air and enjoy nature.

Let’s go and delve on how to prepare for camping with a special child in tow.

I promise you, it will be a summer escapade galore!

Camping with a special needs child is fun!

Where to go

Months or weeks in advance, you need to plan where the family wants to go and reserve or book the place.

I assume you did this already. Did you book a cabin or a tent area? Or are you bringing your camper? Either way, all three are fun places to stay.

Is your site somewhere close, like half an hour ride or maybe up to 2 hours is good. But some families love to go long driving, like a 3-4 hour or more travel, which might be uncomfortable though for the kids, especially your special one.

You can actually make a long trip comfy by breaking it into shorter trips. How do you do that?

Rest in between, like after an hour or two, look for a park with a picnic table or a grocery store with some benches outside where you can rest or maybe eat your snacks or lunch.

Even a 30-45 minute rest would give everyone a space to relax and a time to stretch and fill the hungry tummy.

Then, off you go again for another ride. Make sure that you let Dad or whoever is driving know that you need to stop every after 1-2 hours of driving to recharge.

Plan your activities and meal preparation

Planning is key to success, comfort, and fun in camping.

If you are camping with your extended family or friends, like what we do all the time, for sure there maybe a minimum of 4-5 families or around 16-25 people.

For a big group like this, it will be surely fun and the most important thing is to decide how you will prepare your meals.

For our group, we usually assign which family prepares this or that meal, so we prepare and cook only once or twice for that weekend get away.

On the first day though, that is on check in day, each family brings packed lunch or dinner, so we don’t worry what to eat when we get to the site and we can focus on pitching our tents or preparing for the first night.

That said, you know what food and cooking utensils to bring when you have planned your menu for your assigned day and specific meal. For example, you don’t need to bring eggs when you are assigned to prepare dinner on a Saturday.

Swimming is an all-time favorite activity for kids including your special one.

When booking for a camp, always look if the site has a swimming pool or a suitable lake. Be sure to be with your kids at all times during these activities for safety reasons.

Outdoor games like badminton, frisbee or parlor games would be fun as well for the whole family.

Be sure to bring those rackets and shuttlecocks, frisbee flying disks and materials for parlor games like sacks, big hankies, empty bottles, etc.

What to bring

It is best to make a list of what to bring so you will not forget anything or at least you will be able to bring the most essential things that you need.

I remember in one of our tent campings, my husband forgot to bring our sleeping bags, it’s good that my brother’s family were in their camper with heating, so they let us use their sleeping bags.

Here is a list of what you will need:

1. Shelter and sleeping needs

  • Tent- make sure that what you have from years before is still usable and clean, otherwise, you have to buy again. Does it fit everybody or do you need an additional tent if everybody will not be accommodated? If you want to purchase a new one, you can buy at AMAZON by clicking here.
  • Sleeping mattress or airbed- don’t forget to bring the pump to put some air
  • Sleeping bag – it is usually cold late at night and early morning, so this is really important; suitable for one to 3 -persons depending on the number of family members; lots of choices at AMAZON.
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets- the regular ones that you can use at daytime when you want to have a nap or just want to lie down
  • Weighted blanket- if you have one, bring it!

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2. Cooking materials

  • Stove
  • Match or a lighter
  • Propane
  • Kettle, frying pan, rice cooker – you have to know what food are you cooking so you know what to bring
  • Laddle
  • Chopping board

3. Eating utensils

  • Disposable plates, spoons and forks, glasses
  • Serving spoons
  • Napkins

4. Clean up materials including stuff for bathing and swimming

  • Towels
  • Tissue paper
  • Boxed tissue
  • Toiletries-including soap, body wash, body scrub or sponge, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, dental floss
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunblock
  • Make-up, lipstick, deodorants
  • Diapers ( click to buy ) for small kids or even for your non-toilet trained special one

5. Food and Water ( think of your assigned meal plan so you don’t miss anything )

  • Bottled water
  • Water for cooking in a large container
  • Rice
  • Cooler with ice and hot dogs, pre-cooked food
  • Fruits
  • Snacks-cookies, chips, nuts
  • Drinks, including milk for young kids and your special one
  • Coffee or chocolate for grown-ups
  • Bread
  • Travel food in a separate bag for long trips- usually cookies, nuts, including water
  • Pre-packed lunch or dinner depending on your check-in time so you can concentrate on putting up your tent upon arrival
  • Other food- meat, fish, dried food such as beans, eggs, vegetables, spices, salt, marshmallow, etc

6. Clothes

  • Sweaters, jackets, toque, scarves, mitts- Be prepared for cold nights and on early mornings
  • Jogging pants- especially because there could be mosquitoes or ticks
  • Jammies, preferably long-sleeve tops
  • Socks
  • Shorts and light-colored or white shirts for daytime use when it’s usually hot
  • Underwears
  • Caps or hats

7. Other Essentials

  • Flashlight
  • Light for the tent and for your dining table
  • Camp chairs
  • Alcohol or disinfectant
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellant
  • Coins- some showers need coins to function
  • Hanging ropes for wet towels and clothes
  • Books and board games – reading to your special one can still continue outside or inside your
  • Camera or phone
  • House keys
  • Travel diary if you are fond of recording your experiences
  • CD’s to entertain you while traveling for long trips
  • Slippers
  • Balls, Badminton sets, freebies
  • Small toys for your special child
  • Lightweight stroller for your special kid- very important!

Related post: How to Travel with a Stroller: Ten Best Lightweight Strollers ( for Children with Special Needs ) 

What do you do during camping?

 

When you have small kids and a special child with you, fun activities need to be planned so they don’t get bored.

Activities that kids enjoy are swimming, outdoor sports like biking, ball games, badminton, etc.

Hiking could also be fun if your special child can walk by himself.

Let him stroll at the start then maybe carry him later in your back if he gets tired. Then plan to go back to your tent at this point, otherwise your back will get sore carrying him for a very long walk.

As you progress with your hike, show your special child the plants, flowers, trees, or animals around you and this could be an educational experience for him as well.

Campfire and barbecuing or grilling hot dogs and marshmallows are things that they also love.

This is a special time for families and friends to bond by sharing experiences or jokes around a campfire, or sharing music by singing in a guitar accompaniment, if your family is musically-inclined.

If possible, tell your kids to limit the use of social media ( phones, laptops, DVDs, etc ) and instead encourage them to play active games and interact with family especially siblings and cousins their age.

After the camping, what?

Be sure to ask your older kids to help you out with folding the tent and keeping all the things that you need to bring home.

Make your trip back home fun by playing music and singing while traveling. If you think your special child cannot handle the noise, put on him an earphone.

You can also play games in your car, like the ” I spy ” game where you take turns in saying something that you see around, for example, a red flower, and let the other family members guess where it is.

When you are already close to where you live, you can eat out in a restaurant so you don’t have to prepare another meal at home because by then you will be very tired.

Then, putting away stuff is another hurdle to do. Try to keep all things in their proper places so when you need them again in your next camping trip, you know where to look for them.

Inspect all your stuff and clothing to make sure that you don’t have ticks with you.

Remember, that weekend with your family including your special one is a precious event.

He will always cherish those times with you. Keep memories alive through pictures and videos.

Lastly, if possible, allot a day for rest and to put all stuff in proper places before you go back to work , so productivity in your workplace is not affected.

Till next camping!

Prepare for camping with a special child

Do you and your family love camping? Do you always bring your child with special needs? Not that hard, right? Please share your experiences with us.

Summer Photobook
Collect memories in a photobook. Click the image to start.

 

 

 

Mixbook photobook

 

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About Special Needs Fathers ( Meet three awesome dads! )

Let’s talk about special needs fathers this time. 

It’s almost Father’s day and what better way to honor them than to put out this post on how they are as partners of their wives in taking care of their special kids.

We all know that there are lots of struggles in raising up kids, more so if they have special needs and these become challenges that are easier to hurdle if both parents are present for their kids.

Thus, we cannot underestimate the help that our special needs fathers do.

I don’t know if you agree that dads give more tough love than moms, and I don’t know if they are really tough even with their special kids.

Let’s all find out, shall we?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read about our full affiliate disclosure here.

Jojo and Nathan

 

A very responsible family man, Jojo is a full time nurse who likes to go fishing and do some basic carpentry in his free time.

Married also to a nurse, they have 2 kids, their eldest daughter is in  medical school and the youngest is Nathan, “the most special in the family, ” according to him.

Tell us about Nathan

Nathan is now 12, he was born with Down syndrome and diagnosed with autism later between 8-9 years old but started to show signs at 4 years old .

At present, he’s still having a hard time expressing his needs.”

 When did you know that Nathan was special and how did you react?

” Actually, I was in the Philippines attending to my sister’s funeral when I learned that my son had questionable genes and that they would have to do some studies later to confirm his diagnosis, since he had the features of Down syndrome.

 It was like a double blow on my part, attending to my sister’s funeral and my son having Down syndrome, at that time in my life.

 And I was helpless because I was in the Philippines and my wife was still in the hospital since she delivered earlier than expected. I couldn’t get to the US in time for the birth of my son and I couldn’t miss my sister’s funeral. “

According to his wife, Diane, it was really difficult for him to accept at first. ” Jojo was given a parental leave for a few weeks, he just can’t function and think straight. I had to encourage and push him to get up and move on.

It took him probably 2 months to accept everything that happened to us.”

Related post: Down Syndrome with Autism-my son has both and he is a Gift from God!

Is there a special activity that you bond together as dad and son? 

” We like to watch TV and listen to music together. We also love visiting my sister and her husband who lives in the same city as us. “

How do you share with your wife in taking care of Nathan?

Down syndrome boy with dad

 

” We take turns, since we’re both working 12 hours, on our days off (we alternate our work schedules, too so that there is always someone present for Nathan) and I bring Nathan to  let him attend to some activities, like soccer and basketball with the other special needs kids via special olympics.

I also like to cook and Nathan loves to eat ( and me ) so, this is one thing that my wife loves me doing for Nathan and our family.

When Nathan was younger and starting to be potty trained, I really tried hard to let him go to the bathroom on specific times of the day and before I went to work and it all paid off.

He has been fully toilet-trained since he was around seven.”

Related post: How to Potty Train a Child with Special Needs…When is the Best Time to Start?

Do you have any fears or concerns about his future?

” Yeah, since we’re getting old and we don’t know what will happen to his future.

Luckily he has a sister who loves him very much and willing to take care of him. 

Hopefully by that time he can express what he wants and his needs and will be able to do some daily basic living activities. “

Related post: Big sister, Little brother…he has Down syndrome and Autism!

Does he have any big challenges at the present and how do you handle them?


” Nathan doesn’t talk and when he doesn’t get his way he stomps upstairs and won’t come downstairs for awhile or unless someone goes to get him.

 We put a certain time limit and if he doesn’t come down, we check on him or we turn on one of his favorite shows so he will hear it and come downstairs. 

He also hurts people, especially if he’s in an unfamiliar environment and can’t communicate what he wants.

To amend that, we just talk to him in a nice way and explain that hurting people isn’t what you’re supposed to do.”

 Is there an activity that he excels?


“He doesn’t have any noticeable talent yet. He just enjoys watching TV, looking through his books, playing with his favorite stuffed toy snake, or listening to music.”

How does Nathan make you and your family happy?

Down syndrome boy with family

” We are glad when he is enjoying his shows and is dancing with the music that also occurs in the program. 

Sometimes whenever he listens to simple things that we say like,” Help us prepare the table,” and then does what we say, we are happy.

 We also enjoy when he shows that he is responsible, like he brings the laundry basket back to its proper place and when returning home from school he will take off his shoes and socks and place them by the door where they belong without any prompting from us.”

 How do you celebrate Father’s day?

” Simply, we just have a family dinner together at a restaurant. Or enjoy food with extended family. “

Down syndrome boy with DadHow did Nathan affect your views on life? 

” Sometimes, we  still question why there is such a  thing as a special kid.

 We wonder if everybody should be the same with their knowledge and growth.

 Many times we ask why do we have to take care of Nathan with things, when other kids can do them by themselves. “

Any advice to other special needs dads on how to take care of their special child?

” Just be patient with everything that they do.

Sometimes they get frustrated when they can’t do it the first time or within a certain amount of time, so just explain how to do it with simple words, try to make eye contact, and get down to their level. 

This shows that you see them as an equal and are not looking down on them (as opposed to standing) giving off a commanding vibe. 

Also when interacting with them or if you’re trying to get their attention, do it in a playful manner.

Lastly, spend as much time with them as possible. “

 Any other experiences with Nathan that you want to share?

“He loves to stay with us when it’s bedtime and is reluctant to leave our room to go to his own bed, but because of his bad habits when sleeping (wanting to occupy the whole space) we have to make him go to his room.

 Lastly, he loves the water but sometimes when we go to the beach, it’s a struggle since he doesn’t want to go home.”

Click here to get ten inspirational quotes about kids and parenting.

Arnold and Alyanna

A hardworking dad juggling two jobs, Arnold is a caring father to three kids with Alyanna as the youngest.

As busy as he is with his jobs, he still finds time to fix their house,  ( his hobby ) and when he starts a project, he doesn’t stop until it’s done.

His latest project was making a washroom in their basement from scratch.

A self-made handy man indeed!

And a man of few words.

Tell us about Alyanna

Girl with Cornelia de Lange syndrome

 

” My daughter Alyanna is a sweet little 6 year old child,  with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome

She just learned how to walk confidently on her own and she has been roaming around our house lately.

As long as her tummy is full and she has enough sleep, she is just full of energy and smiles. “

When did you know that Alyanna was special and how did you react?

” At birth, we were told that Alyanna might have Down syndrome, so work up was done right away, but eventually, she was diagnosed with Cornelia de Lange syndrome.

It was easy for me to accept her condition, after all, she is still our sweet little girl. “

Is there a special activity that you bond together as dad and daughter?

Girl with Cornelia de Lange syndrome and dad

” Singing and playing the guitar is our favorite bonding activity.

Alyanna really listens to me intently when I do this.

When I feed her, I also let her watch Nursery rhymes in my cellphone and she loves it.

She smiles and laughs a lot!”

How do you share with your wife in taking care of Alyanna?

” We work alternate shifts, but my mother who is visiting,  is having the bigger  part of taking care of Alyanna these days.

I’m a hands-on dad, so I have learned how to change her diapers and give her food to eat. “

Do you have any fears or concerns about her future?

” Yes, I just hope that when she is older and we are not around anymore, her siblings could help her in whatever way. 

We have been saving some money too, for her future care. “

Does Alyanna have any big challenges at the present and how do you handle them?

She is non-verbal, so communication is a big challenge, and she is still very dependent  on us for everything, so our love for her and lots of patience do the trick.

Is there an activity that Alyanna enjoys doing?

” As of now, she likes to walk around the house and listen to me while I  play the guitar.

She also loves watching Nursery rhymes in the cellphone or the television.”

How does Alyanna make you and your family happy?

Girl with Cornelia de Lange syndrome with family

 

” She is so amiable that her smile and laugh is contagious. ” 

How do you celebrate Father’s day?

” Usually I’m working on Father’s day, but my family finds time to celebrate with me, like we eat out in a restaurant. “

Was there an impact to you when Alyanna came into your life? 

” Yes, indeed I became more resilient to the challenges of life.”

Papa Erning and Pangga

My dad is caring in his unique way, which I call tough love. He is a disciplinarian, especially for my brothers, who when they were younger, would challenge him in some ways.

Dad of a Down syndrome girl

Even Pangga then had challenging times when Papa would reprimand her for taking too long in the shower and wasted lots of water.

Papa has mellowed over the years, but his grandchildren would still get his “tough discipline,” from time to time when they would sneak those ice candies from the fridge that were for sale.

Oh well, I guess Papa’s tough love has made us learn how to discipline our very own kids.

 When did you learn that Pangga was special and how did you react? 


” When we learned later that Pangga was special, we took extra care of her, especially giving her breastmilk from her mom and some milk supplement, too.

It was easy to accept that she is a gift from God and a lucky charm for our family.”

 Share with us Pangga’s  growth and development.

I don’t exactly remember at what age Pangga learned how to walk and talk, but I’m sure it was later than her other siblings. 

When she was big enough, my wife’s aunt took care of Pangga because there were 4 other younger siblings  after her. 

Every afternoon, they would go to church, so Pangga learned how to sing the prayer ” Our Father,” in the Filipino version.

 Eventually, she learned how to talk and would answer simple questions. 

She loved to sing, she had a good voice, thus singing became constant for her. “

How did you share with your wife in taking care of Pangga?

 I would help the best that I could, like prepare her bed, food, and give her medicine when she was sick.

 We are a big family, and although there were nannies to help, I was always there to support my wife in whatever way I can. “

Do you remember any struggles or big challenges as she was growing up?

” Nothing serious when Pangga was growing up, but just before her demise, she got sick with slight fever and wouldn’t eat for about a week until the local doctor treated her for a urinary tract infection.

 Later she was brought to hospital because she stopped peeing. Her tummy was observed to be swollen after a day and was advised to be brought  to a tertiary hospital in the city where the doctors found a serious abdominal infection due to ruptured appendicitis and pneumonia.

Her sisters brought her to the city, and we stayed behind in the province because my wife and I are already quite frail for our age to travel.”

Did you hope that Pangga would grow old?

Girl with Down syndrome

” From early on, we knew that people like Pangga don’t really grow old, more like they pass away in their 20’s, so we feel that we were  lucky to be with her until she was  46 years old.

Though we were unprepared of her death, somehow, we were comforted that she is now in heaven without those pains and suffering, and looks upon us from up there.

We know that she is now an angel looking after us.”

How did Pangga make you and your family happy?

” Being special, we always believed that she was the lucky charm in our family. 

Her innocence and her no nonsense humor made us happy. 

Just listening to her songs with some funny lyrics made our day. “

Related post: Luxury on Mother’s day…our Special needs moms deserve it

What do you miss most about Pangga?

” Pangga’s presence in our family is missed so much since she was considered the lucky gem and our home felt so empty without her, especially for the first few months after she passed away.

 It has been almost five years that she’s gone and we have accepted it and used to not seeing her around anymore, although her memories will always stay with us.

Of course, when we see people like her, we do really miss her!

She was the first ever member who has gone ahead,  in our family of twelve.

 Our home used to be somewhat busy with her presence because she was considered the youngest, and mentally she was like 5-6 years old only, thus we have to remind her always about lots of stuff like, to wash her hands before and after eating, after using the toilet and to take a bath and limit her time in the bathroom.

You know if you have kids around the house, it always feels busy and chaotic.

We also miss her singing that even in the middle of the night, she would sing when she couldn’t sleep.”


Down syndrome girl is considered the youngest in the family

How do you celebrate Father’s day?

” If we have enough budget, we prepare food for family and extended family.

Usually our kids from abroad call us on this special day and sometimes they give me money to spend for some celebration.

Just knowing that my children are all successful in their careers and married life, with the exception of my other special child ( he is now 56 but mentally, like 7-8 only ), my wife and I are happy that we have raised responsible kids who always see to it that our medical needs are met and are always willing to help us out in whatever way.

For me, I don’t need big celebrations for Father’s day, my children’s greetings and well wishes are all that matters.”

 

There you go, three special needs fathers and their experiences in raising their special kids.

Their support and help to their wives cannot be ignored, always appreciated.

To my brothers-in-law, Jojo and Arnold, and my dad, Papa Erning, thank you for all that you did and are still doing for Nathan, Alyanna, Pangga and Batch.

To my other brother-in-law, Aries, whom I failed to interview, your care and love for Mark is much appreciated, as well.

Related post: A Mother’s Unconditional Love.. It is for Real

It’s really challenging raising our kids, more so if they have special needs,  but of course they  give our families pure joy and bliss with their innocence.

Happy Father’s day to all our special needs dads out there!

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Down Syndrome with Autism-My Son has both and he is a Gift from God!

I have written a post on Mother’s day about five awesome special needs moms and Diane was one of them.

She described her life with Nathan a little bit in that article and today, you will learn more about their story. Their extraordinary life of Down syndrome with Autism.

Related post : Luxury on Mother’s day…our special needs moms deserve it 

Me and Diane

Let me bring you first to the time when we were younger. Diane is my sister and we have 4 years in between us, so basically we have plenty of times growing up together.

We went to the same schools from elementary, to high school, until university. As little girls, our mom would sew us the same clothes, like we were twins. I think she would wear hand-me-downs from me as well.

When she graduated from the elementary, I graduated from high school.

Because I did another four years in medical school, we shared the same dormitory when she enrolled in Nursing. Would you believe, she was more determined in reviewing her lessons than me, she would stay up later at night than me.

But of course, even if I slept early, I would wake up in the middle of the night or early the next morning to catch up on my review. I guess we just have different ways of studying.

She got married earlier than me and went abroad earlier as well, so later on, we just saw each other a few times every few years but of course, the bond will be always there as sisters.

Okay, off to their story, the real story of this blog.

I’ll be repeating some questions from the previous post but this is just so you will understand more if you were not able to read the other post.

Tell us about yourself and your family.

Down syndrome child with family

” My name is Diane, a post-op surgical nurse, married to an OR nurse, with two kids.

I was 42 when I had Nathan, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth and autism at around 8-9 years old, although he already showed early signs like losing his words at around 4. 

Joanne, my eldest is now 24 and Nathan is almost 13. “

Related post: Big sister, little brother- he has Down syndrome and autism

Did you know that Nathan had Down syndrome when you were pregnant?

” I didn’t believe right away even though it was 25 % + in my blood work because two of my friends were 25% + and gave birth to healthy babies .

Also, series of ultrasound didn’t show any sign of Down syndrome .

My specialist wanted to do amniocentesis, but I declined.

Of course, he was not happy of my decision, but he can’t do anything if it’ll show that my baby has Down syndrome.

I’ll just be in pain and there’s a possibility of losing the baby. He was slightly annoyed because he can’t convince me.

I told the doctor that whether my baby comes out with congenital defects or Down syndrome, we would still accept and love him.

And that’s why I chose his name to be Nathaniel because it means gift from God, according to the book of baby names.”

How did you react when you learned that he had Down syndrome at birth?

” When Nathan was born, they told me right away in the delivery table that they will test him for trisomy 21 because of the typical upward slant of his eyes and the straight line on his left hand.

I gave my permission, but I was in denial because even though I have a sister with Down syndrome, I heard from old folks that the possibility of having another Down syndrome in the family will come in the next generation.

I was told that day that the result was positive!

My pleasant day turned into silence of worries.

I was alone in my room.

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Our eleven year old daughter was in school.

My husband was not yet back from the Philippines. Two weeks prior to my expected delivery, his sister died suddenly and I let him go to pay his last respect.

And we moved temporarily to my sister- in-law while he was away just in case I needed help anytime.

I made an overseas call the next morning to let my husband know that I gave birth already. I also told him that our son was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Another moment of silence on the other end and he flew back right away after his sister was laid to rest. “

Was your pregnancy with Nathan the same as your first?

My pregnancy was wonderful. I felt so good and energized after 11 years of trying. Was it because he was a boy?

On my girl who was my first one, I had these horrible feelings all day long for 7 months. I just couldn’t understand what’s going on with my body!

That’s why it took me 5 years to forget my first pregnancy.

I even had postpartum blues – I would suddenly burst out crying loud without any reason when it was only me and my baby at home.”

After diagnosis at birth what happened next?

” There were a lot of struggles from the beginning of Nathan’s life in the outside world.

My mind started to get pre-occupied with things that needed to be attended to everyday.

For a few days, we had to go back to the hospital for more tests that I don’t remember exactly now.

I knew we made appointments to his new pediatrician, cardiologist, urologist, endocrinologist, and geneticist.

Those were quite overwhelming!

There were back and forth appointments almost every week to see his different specialists.

Then we were referred to government agencies who evaluated him in their offices and we were also interviewed at home by their own coordinators.

Physical therapy started when he was 3 months old followed by Occupational therapy, then Speech therapy when he was a little bit older.

They would come to our house 1-2 x per week and that would depend on their evaluation and assessment.

We were just so thankful that we all have those supports. “

How was Nathan’s early development?

Down syndrome child starts school

” At three years old, Nate was placed in the school system so he can socialize.

But before that, I was advised to put him on a daycare.

I found a nearby daycare that I like, but one day during pick up time he was eating his chicken nuggets and he got choked.

We had to do Heimlich maneuver till it got dislodged.

His first 2 yrs in prekindergarten was very exciting. Nathan enjoyed his class.

He knew about more or less 100 words at this time.

He liked to say “hi” to everyone, he was the greeter of the class. “

You said Nathan was diagnosed with autism at 8-9 years old. Can you elaborate on this?

” When he was four,  he had flu shot for the first time per his doctor’s advice and encouragement because I was very hesitant for him to have it.

He got sick for about a week with slight fever after the needle.

And we noticed that he stopped talking.

He couldn’t even identify the pictures in the flash cards.

I was so angry with the doctor !

I called the clinic to inform them about the reactions that I noticed in him.

It took about a year before Nathan got 25 words back from the flash cards, even if he was on speech therapy in school.

Since then until now, Nathan doesn’t get flu shots anymore.

( As a Pediatrician, I always convince my sister that this is not due to the vaccine, but only coincidence that Nathan started showing signs of autism during the time of the vaccines. )

At his annual checkup when he was 6 years old, we were told that he’s due again for booster vaccinations.

Again, I was worried that Nathan will react to these 4 vaccines that they will give him. The doctor gave me assurance that they are different vaccines this time and there’s no evidence that these vaccines can cause autism.

Nathan had overt signs of autism at this time- he liked to isolate himself, loved to wiggle his socks on the air after he removed them, circled our living room, and enjoyed rocking for hours in our recliner/ rocking chair.

We moved the chair to our garage & he would still visit and rock himself there even without light.

Rocks back and forth as sign of autism

The doctor further said that the person who made the article about autism as caused by vaccination was already in prison for giving a false statement to the public.

I was convinced of course, knowing it’ll protect my son for any future ailments.

And once again, he got sick for about a week and the more that he didn’t talk .

His behavior got worse as well.

He would always pull our hair, couldn’t follow simple instructions, pinched us all the time, including his teachers and other kids in school.

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Another therapy was added, it’s behavior therapy this time and he was about 7 years old then, and done with physical therapy at 6 years old.

Thank God, Nathan got better gradually and he also got bladder trained around 7 years old.

It took awhile for him to be officially diagnosed with autism because our insurance stopped paying fully when he was more than three and it was so expensive to see a developmental pediatrician and other therapists.

So I have to look for a doctor who did not charge very much because we were spending from our own pockets. “

What are your fears for his future and how are you preparing for this?

” That’s always in my mind because he’s my son . Sometimes I worry because he’s not that independent and he has only one sister who could help him in the future.

So, we already signed some papers in the government agency that Nathan can live outside his family if he chooses to be independent someday.

This is part of government benefit here in our place and we are thankful that they will help in taking care of him.”

How is Nathan at present?

” He has only around ten words that he says constantly and he’s basically non-verbal but he can express himself in his own way.

He goes to a Special Education program everyday for 6 hours and he loves it!
Nathan loves going to school

He wakes up in the morning without struggle, eats his breakfast, brushes his teeth and off he goes.

He usually takes a bath before bedtime.

Nathan loves to eat anything especially chicken or any meat for that matter.

He scoops the meat first on the table and eats the veggies later. If he is alone in the table, he will grab all the meat!

He doesn’t like whole fruits though, so I blenderize them, 3-4 kinds at a time, all fruits, no sugar or milk, so I always put in banana to sweeten the taste.

Nathan still does behavior therapy at school for 15 hours per week.

And he has improved a lot!

He does not isolate himself anymore in the corner, no more shaking of his socks in the air, no more biting, pulls our hair less frequently, and less circling and rocking.

Nate does seasonal sports in school like basketball, as well as weekly music and dance therapy.

Outside of school, he loves to swing at the park and swim. “

Do you have some advises to moms out there on how to take care of their special child?

” Be a friend to your special child, explain everything that you do so they can follow whatever you are teaching them, they will learn eventually though slow, of course.

By repeating things, they will be able to recall in due time.

Praise all the time, they usually like the positive and happy approach.

I tickle Nathan when he does not follow quickly whatever I tell him.

Don’t hurt them, just be patient and calm, with a happy tone plus explanation then they will eventually follow.

Teach them how to be responsible, like let them bring their own clothes or socks from the closet when they need to change.

Or let them bring light grocery items from the car to the house and their backpack to the car when going to school and when getting inside your home from school.

Most of all, give them lots of hugs and kisses, that way they will feel your love and care. “

Down syndrome and autism- my son has both and he is a gift from God

 

What has been your biggest challenge in raising your special child? Please share your story with us.

 

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