Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Say What? What about "Prom Season" and your special needs child?

What do you do when your child with special needs wants to go to the Prom?
You take them, of course!

Michelle Diament notes in her article, Salons Pitch in to Make Prom Memorable for Girls with Special Needs, May, 2010 issue of “Disability Scoop”, “In the process these girls (and boys, I might add) with special needs also get to be included in the annual right of passage alongside their typically developing peers”.

For girls; going to a salon for a new hairdo, getting a manicure and/or pedicure, and putting on make-up for the special occasion are treats they will undoubtedly enjoy. Your child may, or may not, be able to perform these tasks on their own and may require your assistance. If budget doesn’t permit going to a salon, how about doing a “spa” day at home with your child and maybe even an invited friend? It is easy enough to do a mini-facial, manicure and hair style yourself. Or, if necessary, use the resources of friends and family.  In any case make it fun and make it special.

Why shouldn’t these kids have the experience, and pleasure, of wearing a tuxedo, buying a prom dress (and the accessories to go with it) and the joy of experiencing their own prom night?  If there’s no official "date" perhaps a parent or relative can step in and be an escort.

When my granddaughter, Aimee, a tween, comes to visit we always plan “spa” time, or what she likes to call the “royal treatment”. This time includes all the special grooming tasks that don’t routinely get done on a day-to-day basis but that are, nevertheless, necessary to maintain good hygiene. For us, this might include treatments for skin, hair, nails and teeth and maybe even a little make-up. By making it fun and special, it will encourage grooming that your child might not otherwise enjoy and you will be amazed at how cooperative your child can.

The prom is important…..but please don’t wait for prom night to make your child feel special….do it routinely and do it often.  Looking the best we can builds confidence and makes us all proud of who we are. Children with special needs are no exception; let's all help to make them be the best they can be!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Say What? Did you understand the message behind “Glee”?

Some time ago I wrote a blog about the TV program “Glee” and the actor, who plays Artie, who is in a wheelchair but who isn’t really disabled. As the series unfolds Glee has apparently generated more controversy and debate about real actors playing persons with disabilities on this and other TV programs.

Tuesday night’s episode was about being true to oneself. This was played out by several of the characters as they sang and danced their way through their difficulties. Rachel looses her singing voice and Finn calls her a “vocal cripple”.  (I thought this was an interesting choice of words.) Then he takes her to meet his friend, a quadriplegic.

I was pleased to learn that they used a real disabled actor to play a (real) role as a quadriplegic who had a spinal cord injury. The scenes involving this actor were realistic, touching and meaningful. In fact, I felt that the entire episode had many provocative moments, especially when Rachel first meets the former athlete who is paralyzed from the neck down. He says how much he misses his body, his friends, girls, and his life! .But then he says he has learned more about himself…that he likes math and can sing. This touches Rachel’s heart and she makes a return visit on her own and offers to give him singing lessons.

The message was clear—appreciating what you have and not that which you have lost.

We all have so much to be thankful for in our own lives. We truly must learn to embrace the gifts we have and make the best of them.  I felt the concluding message was most meaningful. I may not get the words exactly right, but here’s the message, as I heard it (told by a dad to his gay son):   It’s your job to be yourself and the parent’s job to love you for what you are.

Isn’t that so true? We love all our children for exactly what they are.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Say What? What about quality of life for children with special needs? Part II

It pleases me no end to see that my granddaughter, Aimee, has a wonderful quality of life. She is well-loved and has many activities and events with her family and friends.  I notice that she enthusiastically anticipates activities and events that include her.

A loving and supportive family can make all the difference in the world. Inclusion in most, if not all family activities, outings, and travel will provide rich experiences and opportunities for the child to develop quality relationships.
Sports and adaptive sports can provide an outlet for physical activity and an opportunity to build confidence. Music and art can also provide opportunities to develop creative outlets and interests; even if it is simply listening to music or looking at art. Reading, crafts, and other activities with others can provide hours of enjoyment and gratification.

Appropriate equipment and mobility aids, as well as a safe and accessible home will provide a secure environment. Physical therapy and training will help maintain body strength and a good physical quality of life.

Emotional well being: A sense of belonging, participating, and inclusion provide the child with the confidence to interact with family and friends and reap the rewards of loving relationships. Participation in school and community activities can also help to develop appropriate behavior, as well as communication and social skills.

Education and school involvement are important. Classroom participation and perhaps even mainstreaming in school all contribute to a positive and rewarding learning process. The right tools, as well as technological assistance in the classroom can heighten the child’s overall interest and satisfaction in learning.

We can all make a difference in adding to the quality of life for our children with special needs. I encourage you to think about what you can do to make a difference to a child in your life.