Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Photo Dump - How We Spent Our Sunday Afternoon

We went to the tulip fields on Sunday and had such a good time. We've done this for many years now and I always love going with the family, taking pictures and then going out to eat afterward. And this year was no different. Seattle has had one of the wettest Aprils on record but it didn't rain on us there! 

I've been enjoying the contrasts between textures lately and I had to really look for it to find it. But I did!

The colors are so vivid!

I think my favorite photo of them all though, is one Sharaya took. She and Allie left the gardens to go out to the fields and she found an artist perfecting his craft. I absolutely love this picture!!

Do you have tulip fields or flower festivals where you live?

(I will be away from the blog for a couple of weeks. I look forward to reading all your blogs when I get back!)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Inclusion vs Specialized Education

Most of Beth's adult life has been spent with other adults who have special needs.

She's part of a group called All Aboard and they offer classes and activities for adults with special needs. Art, karaoke, cooking, bowling league, parades, that's her social club. That's where she learns behavior and etiquette and conversation and friendship.

She doesn't have 'typical' friends.

There are women at church who have befriended Beth, who talk to her and give her hugs in the foyer. But most of them are my age or older. There are one or two who are close to her age who will talk to her and ask her about her day but they're married and have kids. 

She doesn't have typical friends who hang out with her, invite her to the movies, out to eat, dancing... there just isn't anyone. And there's no one her age that she could invite out. No one typical.

I remember struggling with this when she was growing up. She imitated the behavior of those she was around all the time. Which was her classmates. And they were students who also struggled with social interaction and developmental issues.

She's been secluded. I don't think it's been on purpose. We haven't gone out of our way to keep her separate, but I think I can also say we haven't gone out of our way to integrate her into typical circles either. She's very shy and pushing her into social situations would just terrify her. 

When she was growing up she was involved at our church with Missionettes, kids choir, all with typical kids.

Beth in Missionettes - June 1992 - 8 years old

Beth with her Missionettes class on the night of Crowning
(They've completed 6 years of badges and scripture memory and work books and it culminates in a night where they're treated like royalty!)
Beth is 4th from the left

But in Jr. High everything changed. They began talking about things that were beyond her comprehension; dating and driving... and mentally Beth was only about 8 so honestly, she just wasn't interested in any of it.

Since then, it's been specialized all the way. And I'm torn because she's so happy! She's very content with her life and she doesn't realize her friends aren't 'typical'. I know there are intense arguments out there for inclusion but I have a difficult time when they insist that is the only option.

I mean, I understand the positive affects of inclusion for everyone and I believe it should be offered or explored in every situation. But I also think there is a place for specialized education or social activities, as long as it's meeting a need for those who desire that. For those students who absolutely have a melt-down with the noise level or the amount of kids in the room. And sometimes I feel like those parents who place their kids in a specialized learning environment are looked down upon for not advocating for inclusion.

I've seen specialized classrooms give one-on-one attention to students who need it and thrive with it. They're able to focus on one person and connect with that person. Something that's almost impossible with 25 other kids in the room. I've seen specialized classrooms give students the time to process the work required and consequently succeed in doing that work.

I think it's just as detrimental to ignore the area of inclusion as it is to keep a student in a typical classroom for the sake of inclusion when a specialized environment would help them thrive.

We should try to provide every type of learning environment so every student, regardless of how fast they learn, can succeed at the task put before them. 

Our deepest desire may be for our kids who have special needs to go through their entire school career with their typical developing peers, but at what cost?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Quick Little Post About What I Found On The Front Porch

I came home from work the other day and couldn't figure out what was hanging from my wreath on the front porch.

I looked into the wreath and oh my goodness! Sharaya gave me the wreath for Christmas so I've only had it a few months.

On Monday as I was going to work, the little momma bird flew out of the nest when I opened the front door. She sat on the roof right above the porch as I got into my car then drove out of the driveway. Then today when Chuck left for work he called me over to show me the eggs!!

Now we're trying to be very careful when we're coming and going. I know very little about birds and have no idea how long it will be before they hatch but I'm so excited to hear those tiny little chirps!

Monday, April 9, 2018

A New Comforter And Something From Her Love

I realized the other day I never showed you a picture of Beth's new comforter. She's had it for a couple of months and she loves it.

I bought it at TJ Maxx, I always forget about that store! It was around Valentines Day that I took Beth and Nick to the movies and while they were there, I walked around the mall and that's when I found it. I never think to go to TJ Maxx on purpose but once I'm there, I absolutely love it and end up buying something! 

It doesn't look very warm but she says it is and she even took the blankets off her bed. So there.
The pillow in the middle she got from Nick. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Emergency Drills - How Do We Include Those With Special Needs?

Our week of prayer and fasting went very well. There were 200+ people at every prayer meeting and the Holy Spirit changed hearts.


I hope you all had a wonderful Easter, or Passover. For the first time ever, I think, we all went out for Easter dinner. It was fun being together and talking over dinner. Then we came back here and I hid some eggs for Allie. We had colored them last week and you know, I think this was the very first time I'd ever done an Easter Egg Hunt with her! This was a year of firsts!

I guess she liked the way it turned out!


I had a meeting this morning with our Children's pastor. We talked about Special Connections and some of the challenges we've faced lately. When we first started this class, we had 2 or 3 students and often none of them would come. We'd wait a while, then begin putting away all the toys and we'd head out early. Well that is definitely not the case anymore.

We have an average of 9 students that come on a regular basis, most of them are high school and older. He had some incredible ideas about recruiting and just getting the word out about our class.

We also talked about Emergency Preparedness and how we don't have a plan in place. Tonight I met with a man who leads Disaster Preparedness drills throughout our region and he asked me a lot of questions and gave me a lot of ideas about how to prepare my teachers and students for an emergency situation. We mainly talked about earthquakes and fires but he gave me some good suggestions for being prepared, in case anything ever happens.

What would we do if the nearest exit was blocked?

Yes, we need to know the route out of the building, but have I checked the terrain to see if we could get a wheelchair through?

Do we have noise cancelling headphones for those students who absolutely can not handle the sound of the fire alarm?

He suggested wrist bands or a vest or something that would alert a first responder that a student was non-verbal or someone who was deaf and may not respond to instructions.

He suggested I keep a duffel bag / backpack in our room, filled with things like a flashlight, a whistle, an attendance list, bottles of water, mylar blankets, glow sticks in case it happens at night these may keep the students calm... we can just grab this bag on our way out.

It was so good to talk to B and just get some ideas about how to help our students in an emergency. Now I need to start gathering supplies and putting this plan in motion.

Do you have a plan at home for what to do in case of an emergency? I'll admit, we don't have one at home. 

But we need to get one.