On becoming a Special Education teacher- getting to know the kids’ second parent

Being a teacher is a gift.

Mentoring the young ones especially kids with special needs involve a lot of patience and determination.

Parents with special kids are really appreciative of the teachers’ efforts in guiding and teaching their kids more so because their kids need utmost attention. And because these mentors spend a lot of time developing the kids’ capabilities, they are considered their second parents.

I would like to honor a very dedicated mentor at the Romblon East Central School, where Pangga ta Ikaw helps, as she shares her journey on becoming a Special Education teacher.

 

 

TEACHER BING has been nurturing kids’ minds for twenty years. For the last 12 years, she has been a Special Education teacher handling children with various special needs like Down syndrome, hearing and intellectual disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder, to name a few.

Q: What motivated you to become a Special Education ( SPED ) teacher?

“Honestly, my being a SPED teacher is not my choice.

I was just encouraged by the then Assistant Schools Division Superintendent, Mrs. Susan F. Malihan, but then when I came to the field I realized that probably this is my mission in life.”

Q: What is your typical day like?

“Compared with teaching regular children, I would say that handling children with special needs is very challenging and takes a lot of patience and commitment in my part to be able to help them enjoy my lessons and end their day with learning.”

Q: Do you have any struggles or big challenges on being a SPED teacher?

“Yes, a lot, especially in behavior modification which needs the involvement and collaboration of parents which usually is a big challenge for them.

Most parents do not give follow up lessons to their children at home and much worse is that they expect a lot from us and even think that their kids will be cured from their disabilities even though we tell them from the start that we are not doctors who could cure them, what we could only do is help them overcome their disability.

When the kids learn to read and write, they expect us to mainstream their children in the regular class right away.

Likewise, parents of children with severe disabilities expect that their kids will be mainstreamed to the regular class soonest but we can’t do that because we rely on their learning pace. We have to wait for them to learn and we can’t force them to learn just like kids in the regular class.

Mainstreaming– Some regular teachers are not open or positive to us mainstreaming our kids. They neglect our children, but of course it is already difficult for them to handle 30 – 40 pupils and here comes another special child, who is equivalent to 10 regular children, to teach and help. It is an additional burden in their part.

Bullying – Our children are oftentimes bullied by the normal kids when mainstreamed in the regular class.

Parents – Some parents are in denial and could not accept the condition of their children and they always resist when there are programs or activities required for their children.

Monetary Benefits that SPED children receive – Parents enroll their children in SPED just because of the incentives that they get from the government. From the month of June to September, we get a good attendance of the kids, but from August onward after they get their allowances in July, absenteeism becomes a norm for some children.”

Q: How do you handle a very difficult child?

” I always start with behavior modification. We cannot affect learning if these children are not focused and are manifesting negative behavior.

I reach out and emphasize the cooperation of parents. There are behavior modification techniques that we employ but these techniques will only be effective with the strong collaboration of the parents who should follow – up at home.

We also use rewards and punishments but for me I always focus on the rewards. But not monetary, I often use tokens that gradually fade out as soon as they are conditioned with the very good stamp on their hands. “

Q: Do you involve the parents in teaching their kids?

” Collaboration of the parents is very important especially in behavior modification. There should be follow-ups at home and teachers’ and parents’ discipline should be consistent both in school and at home.

It’s really hard for me to teach discipline but when the kids get home, the parents tend to compromise , especially the mothers who pity their children. I do understand though that when their kids have tantrums, they usually give up. So when the kids go back to school,  I have to repeat the lessons all over again.

And some parents are  indifferent that they tend to just leave the teaching to us.

Sometimes, our pupils come to school without pencil, notebook and even snacks.

What  frustrates me the most is when I give homework and when the kid comes to school and has nothing to show that he did it, and of course, I know that the parent did not follow up their kid. Sometimes they even lose their assignment portfolio and when I ask where it is, they would answer, ” I don’t know,” or ” I lost it.”

Q: How do you feel at the end of a school day?

” Of course, I feel fulfilled and happy when my pupils accomplish something.

But I get discouraged and feel unproductive and exhausted if they don’t get my lessons and especially if parents don’t cooperate and despite my efforts of getting through the challenges of the day, I don’t feel appreciated at all. “

Q: Any advise/s on those who plan to pursue a career as a SPED teacher?

Teaching SPED classes is a very challenging task and they need to realize that these children have special needs to start with. They should not be taken lightly. 

Like normal kids, they have dreams and want to become productive and useful in the community.

We should always remember that we could make or break these kids.

So, if they want to be a SPED teacher with meager salary, they should think twice.”

 

There you go, being a Special Education teacher is no big joke.

It involves a lot of patience, dedication and commitment.

Parents truly are so grateful that these Special Education teachers keep their sanity in dealing with their kids with special needs.

 

Hey parents, would you like to show appreciation to your child’s teacher with a gift certificate? Click on the image above.

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If you have a child with special needs and he has an awesome teacher, please share your story with us. We would love to hear how your kid enjoys being in school.

 

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A mother’s unconditional love…it is for real

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

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

Even if the baby is SPECIAL.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me about your special  son.

” Mark has Down syndrome with  a congenital heart disease.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           

Do you have any fears about his future?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is he having therapies or attending Special Education?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Having a special child is indeed a blessing

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the earliest signs of autism? 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At 16 months: No spoken words

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

The importance of early intervention

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

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

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

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

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

The Special Education ( SPED ) program as an early intervention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Educate yourself.

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

Know your child well.

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

Love your child unconditionally and accept him no matter what.

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

Be positive.

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

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

Your autistic child is a gift

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

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

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

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

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

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Join the World Autism Awareness Day

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Here goes….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To quote the Objectives of the SPED-RECS:


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

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

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

Interventions in the SPED program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

And the most important thing? Start the kids early!

 

What happens after SPED?

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

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

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

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

Success stories… where are they now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Indoor play area – where kids will romp and laugh

Pangga ta Ikaw is excited  to share with you all  that we are in the process of building an indoor play area for the special kids at the Romblon East Central School in Romblon, Philippines.

Enhancement of  motor and social skills

Aside from nurturing the mental development of special kids in the Special Education ( SPED) program it is also important that they develop wholly as individuals, such that their mentors and caregivers need to consider their psychological needs as well as advancing their social and motor skills.

Most of the kids who start school are either shy or just not used to being with other kids, thus they are anti-social or not able to interact well with other kids or even the teachers.

Of course interaction with others is also limited due to poor communication skills. They cannot develop strong friendships with other kids in the neighborhood because they cannot express themselves well.

Growing up, their parents must have focused more on their developmental milestones, like teaching them how to walk on their own or encouraging them to learn to talk, or assisting in their eating skills, but developing social skills might have been put in the background.

Do kids with special needs know how to play?

When we see children with special needs, we might even ask ourselves. Are they able to play with other kids? Are they able to follow instructions on how to go about a certain play?

Of course, just like normal kids, they know how to enjoy ; they even giggle and laugh at the simplest things like blowing bubbles or doing peek-a-boo or catching a butterfly.

Free play would let them become adventurous and creative, as well as develop their motor skills like walking, balancing and running.

I’m happy that the SPED teachers at the Romblon East Central School ( where our project is ) are so passionate in teaching their wards on how to write their names and read the ABCs and they thought of their holistic development by planning to provide them with a mini-therapy area exclusively for them.

Planning for the project

Before we started, we only had a very small amount of money from some small fundraisings for our transportation project like selling pantry products and holding small parties at home for families and friends.

This plan of putting up a mini-therapy area for our kids with special needs is a project which is something big, quite scary at first because we didn’t have enough money , so when the teachers presented their need to me, I brainstormed right away on how to raise funds.

After building the area, we plan to put up  play therapy equipments, like

A mini-trampoline that will enhance the kids’ motor skills and develop confidence and coordination.

and structures like

Sandboxes, where kids can become creative and gross and fine motor skills will be developed, as well as tactile ability, and eye-hand coordination.

and

The sensory path that will develop gross motor skills, balance and body coordination .

thus, we look forward to hours of laughter and giggles for the kids.  Aside from enjoyment, they will also enhance their exercise capabilities and improve their social skills as they learn to play with other kids.

Setting up the Go fund me page and starting the project

Check out our fundraising page-go fund me

We started with a $2000.00 goal in October 2017 and thanks to some generous donors we were able to start the project two months after.

Pangga ta Ikaw is proud to say that we have started to construct an indoor play area at the back of their resource room in December 2017.

Hauling the materials to the site
Preparation of the flooring soon began.

 

 

The stairs were built to enhance the kids’ motor abilities, balance and coordination.

 

Counting while going up and down the stairs will add to their basic math skills.

 

The future sensory area is in place.

Since  the flooring  is done,  building the  roof is next in line and more money will be involved here.

So we raised our goal to $ 5000.00.

We are just close  to the $2000.00 goal this time but I believe that we will reach our ultimate target.

Please visit the Go fund me page and consider helping. We would greatly appreciate your support.

We are slowly getting close to our dream

From a vacant lot

The SPED teachers envisioned an indoor play area for the special kids in this vacant space

to something concrete to stand on, we hope to continue and finish the project .

It was a very fulfilling visit to my hometown and to our ongoing project.

Who knows, it could take a few months to a few years.

But definitely, we will finish what we have started.

And we need your help!

We did a local fundraising in Romblon

My family went to spend the holidays in Romblon, Philippines  in December 2017. Before going, I already planned for something that the community can participate in with the objective of creating awareness of the mini-therapy area project and inspiring the parents and the whole community to support.

The BINGO SOCIAL  done on January 12, 2018  was a great success ! There were screams of joy and laughter as the games progressed. There was outpouring of support from the whole community as well.

We witnessed the willingness to help of a lot of people and we learned that if everyone chips in , something big can be achieved.

Parents, teachers and donors had a great time hoping not only to win but to give support as well.
Games with numbers and stones was a hit to help build the mini-therapy area.

 

In this event, we even enjoyed the participation of the special kids in the program presented before the games and it was a joy seeing them showcase their talents in singing and dancing.

The special kids sang and danced before the games even began to the delight of everyone.

What’s next?

Now that the flooring is done, with some structures underway, such as the staircase and the sensory path, we will continue with the roof in the next few months.

As of today, we don’t have enough money to finish, but we believe that there are a lot of generous donors out there.

We will definitely continue what we have started to offer our special kids an area where they can be free to romp and laugh. And thus, they will develop confidence to walk and run and chase their dreams.

Help us make this vision a reality.

Kindly share your blessings to our special kids in Romblon, Philippines.

Visit our Go fund me donation page  and consider helping. We and the special kids would  be forever grateful for your support.

 

Do you agree that special kids need an indoor play area to develop their motor and social skills?  We would love  to hear your comments and suggestions, please post below.

 

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Down Syndrome- Signs and Life Expectancy

When I got pregnant at the age of 43, my greatest fear was having a baby with Down syndrome.

First, because I was an old first- time mom ; second, I had a sister with Down syndrome and lastly, my husband had a brother who was also Downs but died at a young age.

So, when I had my first pelvic ultrasound at around four months, I could not contain my excitement ( coupled with fear ) and asked the doctor ( sonologist ), ” Are you able to see signs in there that my baby will be Downs or not? ”

To my relief, he said, ” Yes, we do usually see a sign, and there is nothing in here. ”

I could have hugged him then and there with the good news.

At around 6-7 months of pregnancy, I had another ultrasound and aside from asking about the gender of my baby, I asked again  the doctor ( my obstetrician ) about the possibility of my precious one having a defect or syndrome.

And of course, when I finally had my son, I looked at him and seeing that he looked normal, I could not believe that this beautiful human being just came out of my body.

He is already a pre-teen now and in middle school. But he will always be ” my baby.”

New moms out there truly understand how it feels looking at and holding your baby for the first time.

Having a baby gives you the greatest feeling on earth!

Even if your baby has some “odd” features, like an upward slanted eye, you will surely feel in your heart that your baby is God-sent and your little angel has finally arrived!

But at the back of your mind, you will have those doubts, ” If my baby has Down syndrome, what are the other signs and about his life expectancy, ” How long will he live? “

What are the signs that your baby has Down syndrome?

These are crucial questions especially for first time moms.

And would also include a mom who before birth knows that her baby would be having Down syndrome or another mom who has no knowledge but looking at her baby for the first time sees something odd about his appearance, or some moms who are not at all aware but the doctor tells them later that their baby has Down syndrome.

I believe they would feel that their world is spinning or the other way around, they would gladly accept that this baby is God-sent and whatever he is, they will take care of him and nurture him no matter what.

Related posts:

Raising a Child with Down Syndrome-our Baby is our Happy Pill

A Mother’s Unconditional Love… it is For Real

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

Here are the most common signs that you may or may not notice right away at birth:

1. Up Slanted Eyes ( Almond shaped eyes )

The outer corner of the eye will be turned up rather than down. The shape is also very similar to that of someone of Asian descent. 

This is usually the most noticeable physical feature of Down syndrome as your child grows up.

Look at the upward slanting of  Nathan’s eyes, isn’t he cute!

2. Flattened Facial  Profile

Because of poor tone in the facial muscles, Down syndrome babies  will not have  much curve from the nose, cheeks or mouth.

Their cheeks seem to hang on the face as well. This is noted  when you look at the baby from the front wherein there is also not much shape to the cheeks.

3. Protuberant Tongue

This is also very typical for babies with Down syndrome. New parents and families  often ask “Why does my baby stick his  tongue out?”

This is either because of a small mouth, large tongue, or simply poor tone.

Mark is Nathan’s cousin ; the genes definitely run in our family.

4.  Single Palmar Crease ( Simian Crease )

This single  crease across the palm of the hand is seen in 45% of children with Down syndrome and  is a result of hypotonia as the hand was not held in a tight fist while he was growing in the mother’s womb.

That means 55% of kids with Down Syndrome  do not have this, but if they have, it’s quite typical.

Don’t get confused though, because some normal kids can also have  a single palmar crease.

A straight line goes from one side to the other side of the palm.

5. Decreased or Poor Muscle Tone

Down syndrome boy with decreased muscle tone
Nathan can easily sit down with legs wide open.
Down syndrome boy with hypotonia
Look! Mark can fold his legs very cozily like a gymnast.

A baby with Down syndrome always  feels floppy or limp.

When you hold him, it feels like he is  going to slip through your hands or arms and if you lay him across your hand, he will look like a wet noodle.

Growing up, they are so huggable because of this.

This is also the reason why they may develop motor skills later than normal kids, thus, usually learn to turn over, sit up, or walk much later than usual.  Their limbs become so flexible as they grow up.

Pangga, my sister, had all those physical signs above, plus she had short stature    ( also typical ) as well.

What was very amusing as she was growing up was that she could  pull her legs up to her face very easily even  when she was sitting down.

Growth and development- how delayed will they be compared to normal kids?

Parents of babies  with Down syndrome need to understand and accept that their angels will develop later than normal kids.

They will definitely learn how to stand, walk and run but not as fast compared to other kids their age.

Different kids develop at their own pace though, so one kid might walk at 2-3 years old, while others walk at around 3-4 already.

Usually, they  can walk on their own between 16 and 42 months with the average being 24 months.

Cognitive learning skills likewise , as well as  thinking,  develop late and impairment  ranges from mild to moderate.

Other common cognitive and behavioural problems may include:

  • Short attention span
  • Poor judgment
  • Impulsive behaviour
  • Slow learning
  • Delayed language and speech development

Again, Pangga learned how to talk and communicate but of course, was not able to sustain good conversations.

Unluckily, she did not have any interventions like therapies because she  grew up in a small town where these were not available.

But she learned how to sing ( She had a beautiful voice ! ) just by listening over the radio and watching television or just hearing songs from other peopl

We used to live in a house just a few steps away from a church and even if she did not attend mass regularly, she learned to sing the mass hymns just by overhearing people sing them during Sunday masses.

And boy, Pangga loved to sing that even in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep except her, she would sing at the top of her voice.

When she sang and we would appreciate and clap our hands after her rendition, she would always giggle and have that captivating smile.

What a joy to behold in our family!

Congenital defects-will they have other illnesses at birth?

1. Heart defects– Almost 50% of these kids have congenital heart disease which     can lead to high blood pressure in the lungs, thus the heart is unable to  effectively and efficiently pump blood, and cyanosis (blue-tinted skin caused by reduced oxygen in the blood) develops.

If severe, this could be a cause of death at an early age.

2. Vision problemsMore than 60% of children with Down syndrome have vision problems, including cataracts (clouding of the eye lens) that may be present at birth.

Other eye problems that could occur at birth include near-sightedness, “crossed” eyes, and rapid, involuntary eye movements.

Pangga had near-sightedness and rapid, involuntary eye movements, the latter was the reason why one of her young nieces  was scared of her and did not want to come close to her aunt.

They need to be seen by an eye doctor as soon as possible to prescribe either glasses or surgery.

3. Hearing loss –  About 70% to 75% of children with Down  syndrome have some hearing loss, sometimes because of   structural defect in their ears.

They need to be screened at birth and have regular follow-up hearing exams.

Later in life, or as these children grow up, some other health concerns may come up, such as infection, epilepsy ( seizure disorder ), usually developing for the first two years of life, gum disease and dental problems, disrupted sleep patterns and sleep disorders ( even obstructive sleep apnea ).

Life expectancy- do they live until adulthood?

Definitely they could live until adulthood.

My sister, Pangga, lived until 46 years old.  But because she reached only a mental age of around 5-6 years old, she was always considered the youngest in our family, even though she had four younger siblings.

Pangga always had her favorite toys with her

Mr Joe Sanderson  from Cleveland, who was born in 1936, and is believed to be the oldest person with Down Syndrome, just turned 80 recently.

Another guy, Kenny Cridge, from Britain turned  77 last month.

Mr Sanderson recently celebrated his 80th birthday

The life span of Down syndrome children, however, depends if they have concomitant illnesses, like congenital heart disease and other factors, like development of infections and other health concerns as they grow up.

If properly trained  and supported, some people with Down syndrome can live
independently in a home or in an assisted independent arrangement, and a few even develop romantic relationships and even get married.

Many people with Down syndrome are also able to work or  volunteer, thus, able to contribute to the progress of their communities where they live.

In big countries like Canada, the government usually supports people with special needs starting when they are newborns, and even provide assistance for them later so they are able to live independently and have profitable income.

A great blessing

A family who is blessed with a child or children with special needs like Down syndrome, maybe overwhelmed at first, but with full support within the family and the community as a whole especially the government, these kids can grow up and become productive citizens .

You may have learned of a couple from Australia who abandoned their baby with Down syndrome ( named Gammy ) and just got the normal baby ( they are twins ) born to a surrogate mother from Thailand in 2013.

Gammy, born with a heart condition, is now 4 years old and lives with his surrogate mother in Bangkok. The family he is now with may not be related to him by blood, but they feel so blessed to have him in their midst.

Truly, kids with Down syndrome, bring an immeasurable joy to everyone in the family and there may be lots of challenges raising them, but in the end the happiness that they bring in the household surpasses all these.

Down syndrome signs and life expectancy

 

Do you have a child with Down syndrome? How does your child bring joy to your family? Please share your stories with us.

Check out these books about Down syndrome. Click the image to buy.


About US

THE BEGINNINGS

Welcome to my site, Pangga ta Ikaw, dedicated to help kids with special needs to develop their fullest potential.

We started this endeavor in 2015 to commemorate the first death anniversary of Roxannie, fondly called ” Pangga ” by family and friends.

Pangga is my sister with Down syndrome who died at the age of 46.

Pangga in the local dialect means LOVE, and Pangga ta ikaw means ” I love you, ” which I thought is a  very  appropriate  name for our group.

Children with special needs are angels in our midst and need our love and support.
The launching of “Pangga ta Ikaw “…….0n a beautiful sunny Sunday, 10 families gathered together to make the passing away of a loved one more meaningful. They shared food, stories, and their generous hearts to support special kids. — at Crescentview Park Winnipeg, Manitoba on June 28, 2015.

OUR FAMILY IS SPECIAL

My name is Marita, a practicing Pediatrician in the Philippines before I moved to Canada in 2008. I now work as a Clinical Research Assistant in a large university.

I  always have a soft spot for special kids not only because of Pangga, but I also have another special brother, 2 nephews who have  Down  syndrome and another special niece.

They all bring joy to our families and we truly love them and consider them GOD’s gifts to us.

When Pangga died, our family was at a great loss, she was the first ever to pass away in our family of 12.

It was doubly hard for me, because I was not able to go back home for her funeral. I terribly miss her up to this day.

Our family decided to donate to the Special Education program of special kids in our town, part of the money that family and friends shared  for her burial expenses.

That started my desire to continue the legacy of providing love and support to kids with special needs in our town back home.

OUR PROJECTS

For the last two years ( 2015 to 2017 ), we have helped indigent kids in the Special Education program of the Romblon East Central School in Romblon, Philippines with their transportation expenses to and from school.

Most of these kids have to be accompanied by parents who barely could meet their family’s needs and lots of them live in far-flung barangays, some even cross the sea to attend school.

From October 2017, we have leveled up with our assistance by starting to build a minitherapy area aimed at developing the kids’ social, motor and sensory skills.

This website hopes to promote awareness that kids with special needs are part of our society and they are just like us, who need love and acceptance.

Their parents and families for sure truly care for  them but the whole community has a role of providing support for them to develop the best that they can be.

I would love to hear your comments and insights on my website and if you could help financially for our projects, it would be much appreciated.

If you click this link, it will direct you to our Go fund Me page for our present project, the mini-therapy area.

We thank you so much for your generosity, which will go a long way in supporting our special kids.

If you have questions about our project and how you can help or anything about the articles in this website, please post your comments below/ after the post or email me at admin@panggataikaw.com.

God bless,

Marita

panggataikaw.com