Posted in Education, In The News, Politics

Are You on the Bus of Integrity

Have you seen the big yellow bus of insinuation parked by Murphy’s on the bypass?  The intent, obviously, was to make people think Clark County Public Schools was endorsing Bill Taulbee for the school board seat district 1.  What Mr. Taulbee did not count on was the backlash of his outlandish act.  I spoke with Superintendent Paul Christy who strenuously denied the insinuation.  Mr. Christy stated the bus in question is not now nor has it ever been a part of the CCPS fleet.  In fact, he received multiple phone calls from angry citizens demanding to know why a school bus was used in this political stunt.  It certainly implied that the tax dollars you spend in our schools go to support Mr. Taulbee’s campaign, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Taulbee’s choice of placing a sign on a bus not only nullifies any message he hoped to have but also toys with the boundaries of zone signage ordinances.  Section 11 of Winchester’s Zoning Ordinances deal with the specifications of signs.  Vehicle signs exempt from the ordinance are those painted or affixed to vehicles, contain only business/owner name, are on vehicles used in the business not just merely for displaying a sign, and are parked in an area appropriate for the business and in a manner that minimizes street visibility.  None of those apply to Mr. Taulbee’s bus stunt.

When Mr. Taulbee posted the picture of his infamous bus stunt to his campaign page he only incited more anger.  Again, using the tactic of insinuation, he implied employees of the school system aside from teachers were forgotten.  The facts are that other employees received raises alongside teachers.  It was just another smokescreen intended to conflict rather than clarify.  The campaign trail is where the candidate puts his best foot forward.  So what does that say when the candidate’s campaign tactics are deceit, misrepresentation, insinuation, and outright excuses to avoid constituents one one one?  Well, you don’t need a bus to tell you what that is a sign of!

Prior to this misstep, Mr. Taulbee was reported for exploiting his position as football booster president for political gain.  It has been said that Mr. Taulbee while presenting awards, working concessions and engaging in other booster activities he was simultaneously campaigning.  A bit frowned upon.  His own Facebook posts have alluded to such controversial campaign tactics.  Even as he used his booster position to benefit him politically, he also uses it as an excuse to shirk his duties.  His political mailer states, “I would personally would (sic) have liked to speak to every voter in the District. Unfortunately, due to working a full time (sic) job and performing my duties as the George Rogers Clark Football Booster President, I may not make it to your house before the election on November 6th.”  In my opinion, that is code for if you’re involved with football I’ve talked to you and if you’re not then why bother?

When I discussed these matters with Mr. Taulbee’s opponent, Patti Columbia, she understood the anger and frustration of her supporters but remained true to her eternal optimism and commitment.  She will continue to run a clean positive campaign centered on how she can serve the community.  That comes as no surprise to her supporters because it is classic Patti.

Patti Columbia didn’t just decide one day to run for school board.  For years, people have asked her to run.  Typical of her nature, she would only run if she believed she was the best person for the job.  She invested her time in educating herself about procedures and needs, attended countless board meetings, interacted with the community and a plethora of other things no prior board candidate has done before tossing her proverbial hat in the ring.

Patti Columbia doesn’t blur lines of integrity, she happily engages in the tiresome footwork of door to door campaigning and orchestrated her life to make the board seat a priority rather than something to try to make time for.  That is why the best choice for District 1 and all of Clark County is Patti Columbia.  Because integrity and insinuations really do tell the tale of the candidate.

Posted in Education, parenting, Parenting From The Headlines, Special Needs Kids, Special Needs Students

You Can’t Drag A Child To Progress

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Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Education, parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids, Special Needs Students

After School Programs Fall Under 504

504 Plan VS. IEP (Individualized Education Plan) alphabet blocksI have seen a disturbing trend in public schools. Though I am at a loss to explain why some public schools are laboring under the misconception that their after-school programs are exempt from accommodation requirements for disabled students.  Administrators are informing parents that their student’s IEP doesn’t carry over to the after school program. That is somewhat true but highly debatable.

What is not debatable, however, is federal ADA law. Section 504 of that law applies specifically to the educational setting. It states that child care programs (including after-school programs in public schools) are prohibited from discriminating against a child with a disability by denying admission into the program or by denying requests for reasonable accommodations. Individual states have additional variances supporting this law but ADA is the federal guideline. It’s non-negotiable.

So, what should you do if your child is not receiving accommodations, has been refused entry into the program or been booted from it? First, send a letter to the principal, superintendent and school board members advising that you are invoking your child’s rights under section 504 of the American with Disabilities Act. Then clearly define what accommodations you are seeking for your child. Provide a date (I suggest a couple of weeks so they have the opportunity to get with their attorney) in which they must respond to your request. Also, make it clear that you will only accept their response in writing. If you are having to go this far to secure your child’s rights nothing they verbalize should be trusted and if you have to pursue it further proof in writing is worth its weight in gold.

If for some crazy reason they still do not relent, your next step should be a letter to the state board of education. Be certain to include a copy of the letter you sent to your local board of education. Since you can likely email them I would allow only a week for them to respond.

If all attempts have failed it’s time to call in the big guns, so-to-speak. ADA will fight for the rights of your child at zero cost to you. You will not have to hire an attorney to go to battle because the war is already won. It’s just the little generals on the ground who haven’t fully understood their role that cause the problem. You can file a discrimination complaint with ADA online. You will be required to jump through a lot of hoops, fill out mounds of paperwork and possibly pay to have papers notarized. But once that is done so are you. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy someone else caring enough to fight for your child.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Education, Just for fun, parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids

Feel the Sensory in Halloween

Science has proven that a multi-sensory environment improves brain function, language, social interaction, coordination and much more. Just as you arrange your food intake for maximum nutritional benefits, the same should be done for your sensory diet. The majority of us can exist in a day and get enough input to all of our senses to keep us balanced without having to actively search for ways to increase one sense or the other.

Individuals with sensory processing disorders, are on the autism spectrum or have other special needs, lack sufficient sensory input. The lack of an incomplete sensory diet can wreak havoc throughout our physical, emotional and intellectual state. With millions of  nerve endings sending messages to the brain about even the smallest tactile (touch) sense it is extremely easy to have a few crossed wires. Most of us can sift through the multitude of tactile stimulation without giving it much thought. Those with processing difficulty cannot. They either perceive too much stimulation or not enough.

Regardless of whether it’s a child with an over or under sensitive tactile system all children can benefit from a little tactile processing practice.  Halloween is the perfect time introduce your child to a sensory bin. The bin can be filled with sand, rice, water, flour, shaving cream, and even jello. Just go with the substance that your child will tolerate delving their hands into.

To keep the project affordable I purchased my bin and the contents at my local Dollar Tree. You can use any size or shape container you prefer. Mine is rectangular with a lid so I can safely store it away for reuse later. I filled the bin with rice then buried some plastic treat bag items in it.

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The goal is to have the child blindfolded, close their eyes or turn their head as they dig into the bin for the items you request. You want them to work on the sense of touch alone. Show your child an item then have them sift through the contents of the bin to find it.  I recommend having a couple of items that are easily identified. The ping pong eyeballs are easily recognized as are the tiny skull rings. Allowing the child to either start with one of the easy items or switch to them after missing an item or retrieving one that was particularly difficult gives them a much-needed confidence boost.

Only do as much as your child can tolerate. We want to push them a bit beyond their comfort zone but not to the point of a meltdown or where the activity isn’t enjoyable.  The more fun they have they less they care about the therapeutic aspect. As always, forget about the mess and enjoy the bonding time between you and your special one. Happy feel-o-ween everyone!

Posted in Education, Uncategorized

School – AGAIN??!!

How did this happen?  How did summer end and school begin without my permission?  Granted I have more freedom because I homeschool.  But because I homeschool I’m also more frantic!  I need a homeschool 911.  You know someone I could call to write my lesson plans and figure out the schedule.  I’m willing to teach the kid if someone else will do the prep work.

The problem is DJ is special needs.  His skills are obscenely scattered.  I’m poor.  I can’t afford to buy homeschool curriculum in three different grade levels.  That means I write lessons to fit his needs.  Do I have time to write his lessons?  NO!  I’m trying to write a book so that next year we actually can afford three different homeschool curriculums.

Since I’m a homeschool hoarder (there’s a reality program for you) I have tons of worksheets that combine to make – NOTHING!  Will social services come and get me if I just throw random stuff at him?  If they do come I wonder if I could talk them into helping me sort through the random mess?  After all, that would be why they were called.  They should at least do something while they are here.

The one good point about this year is I am far more organized.  My kid may not learn anything but hey, the organization will at least make it appear as though he is learning.  I need help people!!!

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Posted in Education, My Life My Way, Special Needs Kids, The DJ Diariers, This N That

What Does Time Cost at Costco?

In a world that is daily increasing in the number of special needs children, it is exceptionally important what parents teach their typical children. Even toddlers have the ability to recognize that DJ is unlike them. Of all the responses we receive in public, we never had one like today.

Costco shoppers have always been the most tolerant. They smile and go out of their way to speak to DJ. Once in Walmart a woman actually said to me, “What’s wrong with it?” In reference to my child! DJ isn’t stupid. He picks up on unkindness. So, needless to say, Costco is DJ’s favorite store. Since the store is so big we push DJ in a wheelchair which really draws the eye of children.

Today two little boys were riding in a shopping cart and caught sight of DJ as we rounded a corner. The oldest looked to be maybe five and the younger about three. The younger questioned his older brother about why DJ was jabbering and flailing about. Their mother, unaware of what was taking place, pushed them away before I could hear the older one’s response. As we were leaving we ran into them again. The older one immediately began hollering at DJ and waving frantically at him. I mean this kid was serious about getting DJ’s attention. When he did, DJ gave him an enthusiastic wave back. The younger one immediately turned incredulous eyes upon his brother.

“He waved at you.”  The little one was so in awe you would have thought his favorite movie character had just come to life before his eyes.

“Wave at him. He might wave at you too,” was the older child’s advice.

DJ, now seeing he has the attention of two children, is jabbering in that dialect that only he understands. He was rocking the wheelchair trying to roll over to the two. His little arms were flailing about as he simply couldn’t contain the enthusiasm of having what he rarely has; the undivided attention of another child.

When the youngest one, with his big beautiful brown eyes round with wonder, gave DJ a wave and DJ jabbered and waved him the little boy just couldn’t believe it. These two little boys were amazed that DJ was “talking” to them. When their mother turned to see what all the excitement was about they both began pointing at DJ with enthusiastic gestures and simultaneously telling her how DJ was waving and “talking” to them. We had a good laugh about it while all three boys were going crazy over each other. Those little boys were amazed that DJ was interacting with them.  They treated DJ like a rock star.

Parents need to know the importance of encouraging their children to ask questions about DJ  and to interact with him. DJ LOVES to get the attention of kids. He tries his best to talk to them either jabbering or using his iPad. Unfortunately, it is a very rare occasion when the child will respond in a positive manner to him. Science has shown us that children learn physically and intellectually from other children. Therefore, no one wins when the opportunity to interact with a special needs child is lost.

Somehow that mother at Costco has successfully taught her two very young boys that they should be accepting and loving of all people. And in the process of doing so, her children made DJ, for a brief moment in time, just like every other little kid. That is a blessing that defies words and will have a positive impact on DJ for the rest of his life.

 

Posted in Education, Homeschool, The DJ Diariers, Valentine's Day

My Very Special Valentine

Despite homeschooling DJ we always have a Valentine’s Day party.  We’ve been talking about the party this year for a week.  Last night before he went to bed I told him all about the things we’d do today, much to his excitement.  We were going to go shopping, make cupcakes, crafts and just all around merriment.

Look at our cupcakes!  Aside from DJ being a little heavy handed with the sprinkles, they are perfect.  And our giant chocolate kisses turned out perfect, despite it being our first time attempt.

 

Anyone looking at these pictures would think we had a great time.  You know what?  They would be WRONG!  Somewhere between last night’s excitement and this morning’s reality DJ lost his “give a care” chip.  He was not only uninterested in any sort of Valentine’s Day activity but he made sure I suffered while making him do them.  Meanwhile, I’m living in some idiotic state thinking he’s going to warm up to the idea.  I was sure that at any given moment the merriment I had dreamt of would commence.  Wrong again!

Lost somewhere between the crazy notions of, “oh, he’ll come around” and “by george it’s a party and we’re going to have fun if it kills us both”, I came to my senses.  It’s not like guests were arriving at any moment.  The only guest was the dog and she can’t have chocolate or cupcakes.  There’s a reason he has special needs. Uh… because his needs are special (perhaps not as special as his mother’s though).  And it’s homeschool for crying out loud.  I’m not even competing with other mothers.  Apparently, I’m just crazy.

Alas, I gave up the party mentality and let the child go watch Big Hero 6.  And for that, I got the sweetest gift of all; a hug and big kiss from my very special Valentine.

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