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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?
” 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.”
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?
” 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. “
How 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.”
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?
” 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?
” 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.
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 herto 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?
” 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. “
” 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.”
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.
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.
” 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. “
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.
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?
” 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.
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.
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!
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. “
What has been your biggest challenge in raising your special child? Please share your story with us.
How do you, dear moms celebrate this special day? Maybe eat out with the whole family? Or a movie date with your spouse or even with the kids as well?
The kids or the spouses usually bring flowers home, right, and of course this is a very nice gesture from your loved ones.
I remember when my son was younger, and still in elementary, he would bring something that they made at school, like a special art or a poem, and of course it would always give me a wide smile and I can’t help but give him a big hug.
Plus beautiful flowers from my spouse and daughter, that would make my day!
Here at Pangga ta Ikaw, we would like to honor five special needs moms on their big day, Mother’s day.
We know that they have done a lot and is still doing great things for their families and of course for their special child.
They are very patient and very loving and ” giving unconditional love, ” is their mantra.
Luxury on Mother’s day, our special needs moms definitely deserve this!
Read on their stories on how their special kids make their families extra joyful and blessed.
Until now, it’s still hard for me to see him not able to associate properly with kids his age.
We just take each day’s struggles as challenges that eventually and hopefully will make Nathan better especially in his speech and self-care later in his life.”
How does Nate make you and your family happy?
” Although Nate is basically non-verbal, he can say a few words like stop, done, outside, go away, bye, and please. This makes us happy that at least he can express himself in his own simple way.
Nate is also a very neat and organized kid. He loves to shower every night, loves to brush his teeth morning and night time , all with assistance and no tantrums.
He’s a little bit responsible of his personal belongings like every time he comes home from school or outside, he puts away his shoes by himself. When he takes off his clothes, he puts them in the hamper. When he is done with his snacks and drinks, he puts the dishes in the counter.
Nathan makes us smile too when he goes to the mirror and tries to act out anything, He is amused himself doing this, as well. Maybe he is an actor in the making, who knows? “
What do you do to celebrate Mother’s day?
” I’m working on Mother’s Day, so no celebration this year, but usually, if I’m free, we eat out in a restaurant after attending mass. We’ll do that when I’m off work next week.
Ever since Nathan attended school, he brings home a Mother’s day card or a small pot of plant from school. This makes my day! “
How does Nate affect your life as a mom?
” I may have accepted my son as special, but there are lots of times that I feel sorry for him especially if I see our family friends’ kids of his age and they can already do things and here is Nathan, still unable to read and write.
There’s 5 boys of them that’s almost Nathan’s age and he can’t just socialize with them . Nathan would just sit in the sofa watching them or watching television, but he’s happy though to see them running around the house playing. “
Watch out for more insights about Diane and Nathan in another blog sometime soon.
Lee with Mark
At 42, Lee gave birth to her youngest and only boy, Mark, also a Down syndrome kid.
He is now 10, but is still non-verbal. Mark has 3 older sisters.
Lee is a full time government employee and juggles her time with family and work, which sometimes call her on weekends.
” Starting Mark on solid food is really a struggle. He cannot properly swallow solid food, so we have to prepare them always in a blender.
Growing up, Mark relied mostly on milk and he had frequent diarrhea, thus he would be confined to the hospital a lot of times.
Until now, his food is still processed in a blender and being given to him by me or his dad or nanny. He still cannot feed himself.
Mark is only partially toilet-trained as well, so still needs lots of assistance. “
How do you cope with Mark’s inadequacies or incapacities?
” I have ever since accepted Mark for what he is and although taking care of him is challenging, I have lots of support in my husband, my daughters and his nanny.
Patience, understanding, and acceptance of what he can do everyday keeps me grounded. I don’t expect anything but just appreciate what he is and what he can do.
I still believe that eventually he will be able to talk and will be able to be toilet-trained.
When? In due time. “
How does Mark make you and your family happy?
” Mark is easy to take care of, he is able to follow simple instructions, like taking the hand of his grandparents or us his parents or other elders to his forehead as a sign that he is asking for God’s blessings.
He has no tantrums and just loves watching TV at home.
Although he cannot express himself, his mere presence in our lives with his innocence make us realize that life can be as simple with just the basic needs and still be happy.”
What do you do to celebrate Mother’s day?
” Usually, we prepare some food and celebrate with my family and my parents. Nothing extravagant, but just getting together as a family.
This day makes me realize how challenging it is being a mom especially since I have a special child. “
How does Mark affect your life as a mom?
” Mark is a blessing to our family. He may have made my life busier and more challenging, but at the end of the day, taking care of him is a joy and source of satisfaction.
He may be delayed in his development but because of that, I always feel that having a ” baby” ( Mark ) in our midst keep us grounded and full of simple joy. “
Now 6 years old, Alyanna is still non-verbal and has just started to walk on her own.
Mylene , who is working part-time at a senior’s home, is always full with three young kids, including a special one.
What is your biggest challenge in raising Alyanna?
” Starting from Alyanna’s diagnosis, I have accepted that she has delayed physical and mental development. Having studied Nursing, it was not so hard for me to take care of her.
Until at almost 3 years old, we were advised to submit Alyanna to have open heart surgery for a hole in her heart which was noted when she was more than a year old. The doctor had to observe for a few months to see if it would close spontaneously.
We had to fly all the way to another city where the heart surgeon was. We stayed in the hospital for 5 days after surgery ( including 2 days in intensive care unit ).
My husband and I were quite stressed during that time because we did not know the outcome and thinking that she is so young , so small and so frail, we were not sure if Alyanna would recover fully and come out safe after the surgery.
Thank God we were able to get out of hospital with Alyanna then already smiling, eating apple sauce and yoghurt, and on the road to recovery.”
How do you cope with Alyanna’s inadequacies or incapacities?
” I’m so thankful for the support of my family-my husband is hands on giving food to Alyanna and taking care of her during his off days from work. Even my daughter who is almost 10 can take care of her, as well.
Nowadays, my mother-in-law who is on vacation with us has been a big help for taking care of Alyanna, to doing household chores.
I can also count for help with my two other sisters.
So, family support does the trick for me.”
How does Alyanna make you and your family happy?
” Alyanna smiles a lot, she giggles, too especially when her sister tickles her.
When I arrive home from work, she lets me feel that she misses me by hugging and kissing me when I get to hold her.
Her mere presence in our lives is a blessing and we appreciate every little thing that she can do.
Lately, she enjoys walking back and forth from the sofa to the love seat. She’s like telling us, ” See I can walk now, you don’t have to hold me anymore.”
What do you do to celebrate Mother’s day?
” It’s usually an extended family celebration, either at home or someone else’s home or at the park. It’s always a potluck thing where every family brings their specialty.
It’s all about food, stories, games, singing, and laughter.
My 2 older kids who are in the elementary and even Alyanna who is in SPED, gives me special crafts on this day and they validate my job as their special mom. “
How does Alyanna affect your life as a mom?
” With Alyanna around, life is always happy. Whose heart would not leap as she giggles and laughs when tickled or even for no reason at all?
I know she is God’s gift to us, who will always keep us grounded and humble.
Alyanna is our reality check.”
Berling with Pangga
My mom Berling, who had a small retail business, has 10 kids. Pangga, my sister with Down syndrome, is the sixth child and she had her when she was 29 years old.
My mom married at a very young age, did you figure that out?
Having 10 kids is also something. I only have one and he is a handful.
I really appreciated my mom when I got married and had my own child.
Mama is now 80 years old, somewhat frail with health concerns and some memory problems.
Even if I wanted to interview her, she wouldn’t be able to remember details, so I’ll just relate to you some observations on how she raised Pangga with all her big family plus being a full time self-employed retailer. I also learned some facts based on her stories when she was younger.
My mom breastfed all of us and had every baby home-delivered by a traditional midwife. She would also need the assistance of that traditional midwife to take care of her babies like bathing them, until maybe two months old.
She was a really hardworking and responsible parent. She did not go to any business school, but because of determination and hard work, she was able to contribute enough for the family’s finances. My dad worked full time as a government employee with just the basic salary.
Jill of all trades
In one of our family reunions, we gave her the award, ” Jill of all trades ,” ( from Jack and Jill ) because she was into several pursuits when she was raising her family.
When we were younger, she learned how to sew anything from ladies’ brassieres to girls’ dresses and hair accessories and she would sell these items in a makeshift store in local communities during special occasions in any town in the province where we lived.
She would also accept dressmaking orders from clients. Aside from having a retail store at home, I remember at one time she had two stores in different locations. She repacked household food items like sugar and spices that she sold on her store.
Growing up, we kids would reluctantly help her with these. I guess kids are always like this, lol!
My mom always had paid help in her businesses and around our home. In fact, we grew up with different nannies every few months or years, except for one who really stayed with us for a long time until she got married and even came back when her kids were grown up.
Aside from the retail stores, my mom was good at cooking any food that she sells , like snack items or dessert which were made from scratch.
She was the most persistent businesswoman I know.
We kids definitely learned how to be responsible from her because we would always be asked to assist her in all these endeavors.
So, with all her busy business life, you may ask:
How did she raise us, ten kids with 2 special ones?
Of course, as I mentioned awhile back, we always had nannies to help. My younger brother who has mental retardation stayed at home and was trained to take care of himself and to help around the house.
Pangga, on the other hand, who really developed late, physically and mentally, stayed with my mom’s aunt in another town and would come to visit us every few months, until she stayed with us in her later years leading to her death.
All of us siblings were also trained to pitch in with the household chores and in her stores, so everybody helps.
The older siblings would be baby sitters with the younger ones, as we were growing up. Since I am the oldest daughter, I was usually tasked to be like the mom when Mama was away or busy in her stores.
Generosity as a family trait
Aside from being a very responsible mom, she was also very generous with her siblings and other people around her. She and my dad , when we were still young, provided for the school expenses of one of her sisters, a trait which we copied with our own siblings down the line.
Being a big family, whose parents are medium income earners, who would have imagined that we all could successfully finish university, except for the 2 special ones?
It all started with an all out financial help for our studies, for me and my older brother, from one of my mom’s sisters who worked as a nurse abroad. I believe she got this benevolent trait from my mom, as well.
This then started the tradition in our family of sending to school our younger siblings and the next in line, until everybody graduated.
My mom was and still is a strong cohesive force in our family.
Celebrating Mother’s day
We may not have celebrated Mother’s day big time when we were younger, but now that we have our own families, we realize that our ” Mama Berling,” has been a source of inspiration for all of us for being so resourceful, responsible and caring.
Since most of us now live abroad, we try our best to call her on this special day and hand out some cash gifts to make her smile.
In one of our visits about 3 years ago, I bought a personalized cake and prepared some food to celebrate with family.
A big hole in her heart
When Pangga passed away, being the first in our family to leave us, my mom got so depressed for a few months. She couldn’t sleep and eat and felt so useless.
We, the kids have come to the rescue to fill the void in her heart!
We made a schedule so that almost daily, she received a call ( most of us are based abroad ) from us kids and her grandchildren, to cheer her up and to make her feel that we are here for her and we still need her.
Of course we prayed a lot, as well.
Thank GOD she eventually recovered and now, even if she is getting frail and not as active and productive at home, she and my dad and my special brother enjoys tending a vegetable garden at a place where she feels she is useful and happy.
This is quite an expensive hobby; selling the produce from the garden is way less than the amount that they spend on fares to go back and forth and the salary that she gives to the workers, but who cares?
This is her happy place and this is what makes her wake up early in the morning, rather than sleep in and wake up at noontime to go back to sleep again after a few hours.
Keeping her busy in the garden, even just overseeing her workers, make her days feel full and productive.
Happy Mother’s day,Ma! We love you!
I’m sure you would all agree that as moms of special kids, they are also “special,” in their own right.
Special and extraordinary.
Taking care of normal kids is itself challenging, how much more with special kids?
Not only double or triple hard and more challenging, and if the kid has some health problems as well, it adds to the burden.
But mind you, these moms, have all what it takes to be super moms and they all deserve luxury on Mother’s day, right?
From Pangga ta Ikaw, we wish Emerald, Diane, Lee, Mylene, and Mama Berling and all the special needs moms out there a joyful, blessed ” Happy Mother’s day! “
We truly appreciate what you do for your special kids and your whole family.
May your tribe increase!
How do you celebrate mother’s day? As a special needs mom, do you feel extra special on this day? Share your story with us.
As parents, we want our kids to learn the best that they can. We always seek for them the best schools, under the best teachers if we have choices.
We assist our children as much as we can with their homework and projects. We see to it that they hand in their assignments on time and they review their lessons way ahead of their scheduled examinations.
When they do good in school, we are the proudest of their achievements. We even buy something for them to celebrate their success.
The same goes for our children with special needs. As parents of our special kids, we always want for them to achieve the best that they can be.
It doesn’t matter if our special child is not able to talk at the age appropriate for him, as long as gradually he is able to communicate, that’s all that matters.
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.
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.
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
As the teacher for your special child, you can always plan on improving how you handle him. You don’t need to suggest to his teacher in the regular school what you think is the best way to offer him lessons.
Let your special child attend group activities like your church’s Sunday school or your neighborhood’s annual picnic to broaden his horizon and meet other kids.
Enroll him in extracurricular activities like piano lessons where he can interact with another teacher or other students if they will have recitals or concerts.
Let him stick to a routine as much as possible, like the same schedule each day for school, play, and homework. This will develop in him discipline and good study habits.
Daily habit of reading if he can, or reading to him if still not able on his own.
Encourage him to ask questions, thus enabling him to learn through exploration and discovery.
Give rewards for his achievements. There is no better way to encourage him to achieve more if he sees that you appreciate his efforts.
Encourage him to repeat works or projects that are not acceptable at first or second try. Let him feel that mistakes are okey as long as he tries again to correct them.
Discuss with him why he did not get good results or scores with certain exams or projects and encourage him to give suggestions on how he can overcome these.
Balance learning with fun. Introduce play as much as possible or activities that your child enjoys in your daily lessons.
Connect with other parent-teachers ( join home school groups ) so you could compare ways on how to optimize teaching to your child and he can meet new friends as well.
Be patient with your child’s progress and just be content of what he can achieve daily. Don’t expect too much.
Display his works at home such as in the fridge or a dedicated corner or show to family so he knows that you are proud of his achievements.
Legalities and requirements of homeschooling
While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in the US and all provinces in Canada, there are different requirements of each state or province where you live.
Call the authorities or agencies in your place just to be sure that they will not go after you and you will be out of trouble.
Some places require home school parents to meet basic educational qualifications, like a high school diploma or GED or a teaching certificate, but most states in the US do not have this requirement.
For Canadian homeschooling, please visit your province’s Department of Education websites for specific requirements. Some provinces may require you to report to them periodically for your child’s achievements. Or you need to tell them before you start home schooling.
I have mentioned only US and Canada here as examples, but if you live somewhere else, this could also apply to you.
Parents excel in giving education to their special needs children
He did this by seating-in on teaching sessions and observed every twenty seconds how the students used academically engaged time during instructional periods. He then encoded data in his laptop which were double-checked by a second observer.
Likewise, Dr Duvall measured the students’ scores in standardized achievement tests in reading, math and written language.
Look at the amazing results!
The home schooled special kids showed academic engagement two and a half times more than those enrolled in public schools.
The home schooled kids spent only 40.7 % of their time with no academic responses against 74.9 % for the kids in public schools.
The teachers and kids in home schools were sitting side -by-side or face-to-face 43% of the time compared to only 6% of the time for public schools. This gave more advantage for the home schooled kids.
The home schooled kids showed an average of six months improvement in reading compared to only half a month gain for special kids enrolled in public schools.
The home schooled kids showed an average of eight months improvement in written language skills compared to only 2.5 months in kids enrolled in public schools.
Dr. Duvall summarized, “These results clearly indicate that parents, even though they are not certified teachers, can create instructional environments at home that assist students with learning disabilities to improve their academic skills. This study clearly shows that homeschooling is beneficial for special-needs students.”
It is a very positive and encouraging study, so my dear parents, take the opportunity to home school your kids if you can!
What parents say about homeschooling or home education:
Here are two parents who found homeschooling effective for their children with special needs.
JOYCE has this to say – 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.”
Home schooling could be the best option for your child with special needs
There you go, considering the many benefits of homeschooling plus the positive results of the study done by Dr. Duvall and the awesome and positive experiences of some parents, let you be inspired to start to home school your special kid and erase your worries that you cannot be the best teacher for your special child, but of course, he can definitely learn from you.
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!
Daily time with him is really important for your child to develop deep trust in you.
He will feel that he is important and that you really care for him.
You will have firsthand observation on his progress.
Playtime and reading are some of the greatest bonding activities that you will have with him. You will share with his fun and joy as he learns to explore things.
Connect with your family and friends
Don’t isolate yourself.
Make regular dates with your partner.
Continue to attend family gatherings.
Share with your family the progress and milestones of your child.
Communicate regularly with your family, especially with your spouse, parents and siblings. They could always support you emotionally as well as help you with baby-sitting from time to time.
Schedule playtime for your child with his cousins, to develop rapport and acceptance.
Take care of yourself
Have lots of sleep and rest. Eat nutritious food. You need to be healthy and not get sick.
Exercise regularly. Daily walks will enable you to have time to think and recharge.
Go out and find time to relax with your friends and other adult members of your family.
Be proud that you are able to take care of your special child. Don’t dwell on self-pity.
Find and join support groups
Know that there are lots of parents and families out there who are in the same boat as you are.
Learning from other parents will help you how to be always ready for your kid if problems arise.
Knowing that you’re not the only one having struggles will make your load light.
Schedule playtime with other kids with the same special needs as your child.
Celebrate milestones of your kids with other parents.
Collaborate with his teachers, caregivers and health advocates
Attend meetings and consultations when the teacher and therapist schedule them. Be open to their suggestions.
Ask questions and follow up the progress of your child.
Suggest to his teacher and therapist if you think something needs to be done or addressed with about your kid’s behavior. After all, you are always with him and you are able to observe him close enough and somehow, you know how he copes up with challenges.
When your child arrives from school, look at his backpack for homework and help him do it.
Acknowledge the support that his teacher and therapist gives him.
Celebrate your child’s progress and milestones
Keep a record of his milestones and progress in his baby book.
Capture his first walk, first word, etc in pictures or videos.
Share his progress with your friends and family.
Reward him with a toy or food for something that he has accomplished, like toilet training or being able to write the alphabet or his name.
Let him join the class concert or program and be there for him.
Ask for help
Inquire from your child’s doctor and therapist about any problem or struggle that arises and seek advise on how to deal with it.
Support from family, even from grandparents are really important. Babysitting , turns in caring if child is sick or in the hospital, or company for you to the doctor or therapist visits are all important.
There is always help and support if you feel overwhelmed. I’m sure even neighbors and friends can pitch in help if you ask them.
You and your child are partners
Parenting a child with special needs maybe overwhelming and tiring, but seeking the help of others, accepting your child as he is, focusing on his strengths, milestones and progress and taking care of yourself are all very important so you can thrive and your child likewise will develop to his fullest potential.
Being a parent of a child with special needs is indeed very challenging but your rewards will come from your kid himself when he shows you his progress, even though they are slow.
When he calls you ” Mom,” or ” Dad, ” for the first time at 3-5 years old or even if he’s older, then you will jump with joy. You know that from there, everything will just fall into place.
You are capable of becoming the best mom or the best dad to your child with special needs and be proud of that.
After all, caring for your child, loving him for what he is and celebrating his milestones will always bring immense joy in you and your whole family.
As a parent, how do you take care of your special child? How do you bond with him or her? Do you find time for yourself and ask help from other family members as well? Please share your experiences with us.
Would you like to turn your passion into
Would you like to turn your passion into a business? Let Wealthy Affiliate help you. Join us and let me help you, as well.
Delivering a baby whom you carried in your womb for nine months, more or less, is a very satisfying and heavenly experience.
More so, if the baby is the very first of the new mom.
Even if the baby is SPECIAL.
Thereafter, only a mother can provide to her child the best care there is.
A mother’s UNCONDITIONAL LOVE….a nurturing love , which a mom wholeheartedly gives.
Let me introduce to you a mom who has a special kid and is happy to share her experiences.
LEE is married and blessed with four kids, 3 girls and a boy.
The three young ladies are in high school and all are doing good, all of them with honours.
Her youngest, a boy named MARK has Down syndrome and presently enrolled in a Special Education program.
How old were you when you had your special child and how did you know that he was special?
” I was 42 when I had Mark and I knew right away when I saw him at the delivery room that he was special based on his facial features. I had a sister who also had Down syndrome but she passed away a few years back and so their features are quite familiar to me. “
He is a jolly kid who loves watching motorcycle and car races and sports on television.
At 9 years old, he is still unable to talk but communicates in his own way, like if he wants to watch TV, he will hold your hand and bring you close to where the plug is.
He can walk on his own, but still needs full assistance in eating. He is not yet fully toilet-trained as well.”
How did you and your family react to the news that he is special?
” I was initially shocked because I had no idea when I was pregnant about having a special baby.
Then, I was depressed for awhile. I guess I was unprepared emotionally during his birth.
But in the end, I just accepted him for who he was, so did my family.”
Do you have any fears about his future?
” Yes, because Mark is special, he will be dependent on us throughout his lifetime and I don’t know when we get older if we can still take care of him or if we pass away, who will be responsible for him?
I guess parents always think about the future of their kids especially if they have special needs. “
Did you have any struggles on caring for him and how did you manage?
” Taking care of him has been a challenge because he needs special attention especially since he has a congenital heart disease. Of course we also have to understand how he behaves.
I remember Mark had several episodes of convulsion with fever when he was around 4 years old and he was admitted to the hospital for several days. It was then that we realized that we could lose him and that we really love him dearly.
With the support of my family, and him getting more independent, things are becoming better and easier each day. “
Is he having therapies or attending Special Education?
” Mark is seeing a Pediatric cardiologist at least once a year and he has maintenance medicines for his heart.
For the last two years, he has been going to a Special Education program from Monday to Thursday for one and a half hours in the morning in a class of 3-4 kids. “
What advice can you give to parents especially moms on how to take care of a special child?
” Love your special child no matter what. Be very patient with him or her.
Provide your kid with everything that you feel he needs for him to grow up like a normal kid. “
Having a special child is indeed a blessing
These special kids maybe a challenge to take care of but usually they are the darlings in the family, they bring so much joy and happiness everyday.
Support from the family especially the spouse and the relatives as well as the whole community is of utmost importance for our special kids to thrive and develop fully.
Watch out for more interviews with some other moms or family members with special kids.
We would love to hear from you, especially to moms out there who have children with special needs. Please share your story with us.
“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”
Check out these books about a mother’s love. Click on the image to see the price.
Interested in making money online? Click the image to learn about Wealthy Affiliate.
" We have an advertising relationship with the stores or businesses we link in this post. We'll earn a commission when you shop through our link with no added cost to you. You are able to help special children, as well in Romblon, Philippines. "