Learning From My Special Child

Last updated on September 21st, 2009 at 09:33 am

Raising a child with special needs takes a lot of patience. Before my son was born, I didn’t have much patience. I had a hair trigger temper and was intolerant to people that didn’t learn as quickly as I did. My son taught me a lot. After he was born, I discovered that I zoo 012was living in a very narrow minded world.

In time, he taught me how to be patient. He taught me how to keep my temper in check. I also learned that things that I thought of as important, weren’t. I discovered life through his eyes. My son has a unique way of learning, and he learns at his own pace. I discovered different methods of teaching and discovered that his pace in learning was just fine. It made his accomplishments all the more amazing. When he first walked independently out of one room and towards me, I cried. He was two and a half.

As his mom, I wish things were not so hard for him. I wish he didn’t have all the challenges he has to face everyday. As his mom, I accept him for who he is and do my best to teach him the things he needs to know. He is even more stubborn than I am. This leads to both of us getting frustrated with each other. I’ve learned to take a step back during these times. Instead of forcing him to learn something he is not ready to, I plan activities that he loves to do.

I’ve learned that it is important that my son feel like a normal child. To me, he is. He just requires extra help. He is a ten year old, nonverbal autistic child. The important part of that description is child. As he gets older, he accomplishes things that no one thought he would. I credit this to his amazing intelligence and to the love and trust we have with each other. He will learn things from me that he wasn’t able to learn from anyone else.

Because of my son, I am able to help others. I take the Type A part of my personality and put it into my writing and my online blog. I do the best that I can to share information with others that will be helpful. I also do volunteer work for non profit organizations that work with children. When my children are home, I am their mom. I am not perfect, but I am able to love them and teach them with patience and understanding. Along with my husband, we plan family activities that we all will enjoy.

If you have just discovered that your child has a special need, take a deep breath. You may be wondering if you are up to raising this special child. Take a step back and remember that this is the same child that you loved before the diagnosis. It takes time to adjust to what you need to do to help your child. The important thing to remember is that the two of you are mother and child. Do what needs to be done to help your child, but always remember to take time to express your love. The most important lesson that I have learned from my son is that just being together, taking time to do something he loves, is the most special gift that I can give both of us.

Shopping cart safety

Last updated on June 16th, 2018 at 12:34 am

While shopping at the grocery store, it’s quite common to see young children climbing on and standing up in shopping carts. Although safety belts have been available for many years on most shopping carts, there are still an estimated 21,400 children under the Walker -shoppingcartcoverage of five who are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year because of injuries sustained from shopping carts. Most of these injuries are head injuries due to falls from not being properly restrained in the child seat of the cart.

Most children love to climb and do not enjoy sitting still for long periods of time. So parents face the challenge of keeping their kids restrained and entertained while shopping and may be tempted to let them climb on the cart or ride in the basket just to keep them happy. Or a child may get out of the restraint belt while mom or dad is preoccupied with shopping. So how do you keep your little one safe while you shop?

Here are some tips to help.

Always use the seat belt/safety strap

Children who are properly restrained in the child seat of a shopping cart are much less likely to fall out of the cart so make it a rule that if your child is in the cart, the strap has to be fastened securely. This should be non-negotiable with your child, just as seat belts and car seats in the car are a non-negotiable rule when riding in the car. Infants who are not able to sit up without assistance should not sit in a shopping cart seat unless it has a built-in infant seat with a harness restraint system. Never allow kids to climb on the cart or ride in the basket. Older children should not push the cart if younger children are riding in it and should not be allowed to ride on the outside of the cart, as this could cause the cart to tip over.

 Use a shopping cart cover

Shopping cart covers help protect kids in two ways. First, they cover the seat and bar of the shopping cart which protects from germs and provides some padding, making the ride more comfortable. Secondly, some covers provide extra safety straps to provide a more secure ride. There are numerous covers available in a wide variety of styles and designs so you may want to shop around to find the best one for your child’s needs. Some even have toys attached to the cover to provide entertainment during the trip through the grocery store. When shopping for a cart cover, make sure it is large enough to fit over the child seat and bar of the shopping carts you most often use and check whether or not it has its own straps to restrain the child or if you have to use the straps on the cart.

Engage your child in the shopping experience

If your child feels included while shopping, he may be more likely to sit safely in the cart through the whole trip. Talk with him about the choices of products you are buying. Let him help pick out some of the items, if he’s old enough and talk about what you will use the items for at home. If your child is old enough, let her help you read the grocery list and check off items as they are put in the cart. Or she can hold a calculator and add up the cost of your purchases. Even toddlers can be involved by using a list with pictures instead of words or using a cheap calculator and let them pretend to add up purchases. Keeping your child involved and entertained can not only make your shopping trip safer, but also more enjoyable for you both.

 Use these tips to protect your child from shopping cart falls and injuries every time you shop!

Swimming Pool Safety

Last updated on August 30th, 2015 at 05:31 pm

I was born and raised in Hawaii where I grew up surfing and swimming on both racing and synchronized swimming teams. I later became a lifeguard and swim instructor and even swam with dolphins and whales in the open ocean. Yet, it wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I heard of more drownings than I had ever heard about prior to arriving here 3 years ago.

Sandoz-poolsafety2-smallerI was puzzled as to why until I realized that many of the people here simply don’t understand that there is no such thing as a ‘water-safe’ child and that no child, even one who can swim, can ever be near a swimming pool unless an adult is free to watch that child every single moment, just as a life-guard is trained to do. This is the only way a child can be safe, since drowning happens in a few short minutes. Thus, anyone who has a pool would be wise to take this black and white approach to water-safety and to never even think of cutting corners on this rule.

Remembering 911, Saving Children

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 03:15 pm

Today is the eighth anniversary of the worst attack against America and our way of life and is a day a national remembrance. The 911 attacks attacked differences. Differences of religion, differences in appearance. The attacks said we are worthy to live you are not. The attacks said we are better.

Love - 9-11.final2Taking a moment to remember, reminds us to embrace our differences, to embrace other religions, different governments and different appearances. Taking a moment to remember says we all deserve to live. Doing so builds a better life and better future for our children, for all children, for many generations to come. Only we can teach hate and only we can erase hate in the future for our children with love.

Create Accountable, Masterful Children: The Family Coach Method

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 03:16 pm

The transition from toddler to child is a leap for both of you. As a parent during this time, you go from meeting all your toddler’s needs to helping your 3- to 8-year-old learn to be independent and responsible for herself. This is one of those profound developmental processes that no one really teaches parents how to navigate. But that’s why we’re here now, to help you and your child develop the skills you’ll both need to enter this amazing and challenging time in your lives.

Small Steps to Wider Horizons

When we speak of responsibility and independence, we’re really talking about mastery and kidschoreslink2accountability. In other words, your child is free to wander a little farther away from you at the park because he has mastered the skills required to do that: he stays within bounds, he engages with other children respectfully, and he knows basic concepts of safety. And he has shown you that you can rely on him to do these things as you expect – this is the accountability part. The level of independence you give him, and the accountability you expect in return, will grow as your child grows. Children as young as 3 are beginning to feel their own way in the world, with your guidance.

But how do you introduce independence and responsibility to your children? First, you provide your child with the opportunity to exhibit a greater level of skill than he has previously. You might make the conscious choice to stop picking up your son’s underwear from the bathroom floor and expect him by age 3 or 3 ½ to put them in the laundry basket himself (He’ll feel like such a big boy!). You start to break down specific tasks and activities of daily living and allow your child to do more for himself. These are often small tasks for an adult, but brand new and perhaps even exciting to a child.

As you clean your home or fold the laundry, begin identifying small tasks that you can give your child so that he can feel more sense of accomplishment and mastery. Don’t worry too much if she gets it wrong at first – he will master his new skill quickly.

If you haven’t already noticed, your 3-year-old is capable of several chores around the house. She can pull up the covers on her bed, pick up toys and put them in the toy bins, take her laundry to the laundry room, pour water for the family dog, wipe up his messes with a paper towel and even help you dust. Watch the transformation from toddler to skillful 3-year-old as your child proudly helps you and herself.

Example:When your 3-year-old asks for milk, you say, “Let’s look on your shelf in the ‘fridge. Do you see it there?” Voilá! Before your child, right at eye level, is his cup of milk, pre-made (of course you were ready for the request!). “You can take it and drink it.” In this simple scenario, your child now experiences pride at being able to do this on his own for the first time.

By the time a child is 5, he is ready to hear, “You are really growing up. You want to do many things like play at the park, ride your bike on your own, and stay up later. You may be ready to do those things, but with independence comes responsibility.” These are big concepts for a child, but ones which they are primed for and often quite ready to understand. It happens with small steps.

Your 8-year-old has better dexterity, is taller and can think through tasks better than a 3-year-old. He can help you fold laundry and put it away in open drawers. He can set the table, clear the table and he may even love vacuuming. Your job is providing the opportunity to complete these tasks, but his experience will develop solid skills for a lifetime. As always, don’t expect perfection and give credit for a thoughtful effort.

* TIP: If you want to suggest improvement, frame it in the language of success: “You did a great job folding those shirts! Would you like to see a little trick for making it even easier?”

Independence and responsibility go hand in hand

With the independence of sleeping in a “big girl” bed comes the responsibility of making the bed each morning. With the independence of taking the school bus comes the responsibility of placing homework, lunch and permission slips in the backpack, then leaving it in “ready-to-go” position at the back door. With the independence of watching television one hour a day comes the responsibility of making sure homework is completed before the television is turned on. See how this goes?

When you tie independence to responsibility early in life, good habits that foster responsible independence become the norm.

Teaching your children this relationship early will lead to children who place their clothing in the hamper and not on the floor, teens who clean up their fast food when they return the car, and college students who always finish their studies before going out at night with their friends. As in adulthood, independence and freedom must co-exist with responsibility.

Demonstrate this now and your children will understand it forever. Responsibility may not be the message they’re getting from the popular culture around them, but it’s the message they’re now getting from their family culture…and you’re taking the proactive measures to establish your family culture strongly in your children’s minds and hearts. Is it worth the effort? You bet it is!


The Family Coach Definition: Task Demand

(n.) A task demand is a set of expectations that require a certain level of skill to complete. The task demand is what is required of you to complete an action. The skill is what is needed to meet the requirement. Examples of task demands would be: 1) being required to wait to walk out the door, when you are really excited and your parent tells you, “Wait until I say you may go outside.” 2) being required to put your hands in your pockets before you get near a brand new baby. 3) needing to hold a pencil correctly in order to write your name. 4) needing to shift one’s attention from the television to the parent, when the parent says, “Turn off the TV.”


*note: this post is an excerpt from Dr Kenney’s upcoming book “The Family Coach Method” scheduled for release September 15, 2009 . The Family Coach Method is ‘rug-level,’ friendly and centered on the concept of families as a winning team – with dozens of age-appropriate sample conversations and problem solving scenarios to guide a family to the desired place of mutual respect, shared values and strengths. The goal is to help children to develop the life skills, judgment and independence that can help them navigate the challenges of an increasingly complex world.  The Family Coach Method is also being taught as an Educational Series where parents can join with other moms and dads in live calls with Dr Kenney.

Becky N. | Statesboro, GA; Mon., Sep. 7, 2009

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 03:24 pm

Our children are the future of tommorrow and need all the support they can get in all areas of life.