Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Say What? How important is music to your special needs child?

It has always been my personal impression that music is extremely important to children with special needs.
I can only speak from my own personal experience.  Granddaughter, Aimee, has always been passionate about music and has reacted positively to all types of music.  When an infant, she didn't respond to much, if anything,  but did respond to music.  In fact, the first time she smiled was while listening to a familiar tune she recognized.  This was a major breakthrough which I've always linked to her love of  music.  She didn't speak until age three and a half, however, once she could talk, she readily began singing familiar words to the tunes she knew. This, in turn, broaded her vocabulary and her desire to speak.

A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News  "Studies find music may give voice to those who can't speak" (Sunday, 2/21/10) written by Randolph E. Schmidt points out that words and music are natural partners and it seems obvious they go together.  He states that studies have found overlap in the brain's processing of language and instrumental music, and that new research suggests that intensive musical therapy may help improve speech in stroke patients.  In addition, researchers said, music can help children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately use speech.

Gottfried Schlaug, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School told the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "Music making is a multi-sensory experience, activating links to several parts of the brain".

Music can be integrated into all kids of educational games and activities as well as set the mood for rest and relaxation. My suggestion is to play lots and lots of music for your can't hurt and can only help!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Say What? An IEP Checklist app for your iPhone!

This morning I downloaded the IEP CHECKLIST from the iPhone apps to my iPhone.  It is free and available to parents, teachers and other professionals who make up the IEP stakeholders group.  It can be downloaded by going to the app store on your iPhone or iTunes.

I am confident that parents who attend these meetings will agree that they are often confrontational and challenging. At least they have been in my case.   Determining what is best, and/or available to meet the needs of your child is not always what teachers, therapists and other professionals are eager or willing to offer.   The best outcome can be achieved by being prepared and informed regarding the rights and services available to successfully advocate for your child at these meetings. 

The IEP (individualized education plan) application is well is organized for your use.  Categories include team members, notifications, goals, services, supports & aids, student placement, federal regulations, and transition plan to name a few.  Each of the categories has more detailed information that can be easily accessed by selecting that portiion of the application, which then takes you to appropriate sub-title options.

This nifty tool will inform and empower parents as they nagivate this (often difficult) process to advocate for their child in developing the best IEP possible.  If you have an iPhone I highly recommend it.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Say what? Olympian inspired by brother with disability...

I watched the NBC news coverage of Alex Bilodeau's outstanding performance during and after the men's moguls event and was impressed.  But, what really impressed me was what followed.

When the camera spanned the audience and the commentator focused on Alex's older brother, Frederic (age 28) who has Cerebral Palsy, I was glued to the TV and I soon realized there was more than one winner in this story.  This came to light once again when I watched a short documentary before the award ceremony which featured Alex and his brother.  It showcased their loving bond and tears filled my eyes as Alex himself, was quick to respond (once again) that his older brother was the inspiration behind his gold medal performance. 

Frederic, although able to walk some, apparently spends most of his time in a wheelchair.  He cheered and raised his arm in praise of Alex's performance; so proud of his brother's win!  But he is a winner too, for his own inspiring example to never complain and to perform to the best of his ability.   

Alex's own soft-spoken words deeply touched me when he said, "When he wakes up he's got that big smile, and when he goes to bed he's got that big smile."  

Does that sound like anyone you might know?  It definitely sounds like a special girl in our family who inspires us all with her courage, her determination to succeed, and; of course, her beautiful smile!

These young men are both heroes in my book and role-models for all siblings who live with, or with somone, who has a disability!