September 29th, 2013 | No Comments
September 18th, 2013 | No Comments
September 16th, 2013 | No Comments
Tired of listening to bad news in Team Meetings? Well now you can let the IEP Team know how your feeling without even speaking — with this colorful sign. (Available at Target in the Halloween section.)
September 16th, 2013 | No Comments
Young Jessica crying her eyes out when her mother told her she had to go to social skills group. “I don’t wanna go. I don’t like people.”
September 5th, 2013 | No Comments
Gina just happened to come upon some Facebook pictures of her daughter Katie at college (not that she was sketching on her daughter or anything). Katie looked so happy. Meanwhile back at G’s homestead…
September 3rd, 2013 | No Comments
Silly, silly me. I thought letting go of my daughter to attend kindergarten was hard. Back then, I could at least follow the bus, bribe a lunch lady, and rummage through her Scooby Doo backpack to find out how she was doing. (Hey desperate mothers call for desperate things.)
That was a piece of Little Debbie Cloud Cake compared to the letting go I had to do this past Labor Day Weekend. I’m not talking about letting go of my white pants and shoes for the season, though that was pretty tough. This was the hardest letting go I’ve ever had to do — I had to let my special daughter begin her life without me at college.
I’ll admit, there was a time, a very long time, when I thought that day would never come. At least that’s what the experts told me when she was first diagnosed with her disability.
“Mrs. Gallagher, she probably won’t be able to graduate high school, let alone go to college.”
“She’ll be living with you for the rest of your life.”
Of course, I made the mistake I have been so guilty of making for most of her young life; I underestimated her will. As a kid who has always wanted to “be like everybody else,” she desperately wanted to live away at college, and worked diligently toward her goal.
I’ll admit, I was scared to death at the thought of her taking on this challenge, recalling my own college experience and the struggles I had without a disability.
What if she doesn’t make friends?
What if she gets a terrible roommate?
What if she gets too homesick?
I even had painful flashbacks of my move-in day panic attack when my parents left me behind.
“Mom and Dad, don’t leave me!”
“Gina, please let go of the bumper! It’s dangerous!”
I was so homesick my first few weeks that I expected the worst for Katie. I wondered, If I had struggles without learning and social issues, how much worse would she struggle?
I prepared myself for the sobbing phone calls that I made to my parents. (“Mom and Dad I want to come home. I hate it here!”). The poor things never even had caller ID to screen those desperate calls.
But once again, I underestimated my daughter’s strength and will.
After I helped set up her room, I turned to say goodbye. She gave me a hug, a sweet smile, and said, “Bye Mom. I love you.” Then I watched her leave with her roommate and the other students to attend a dorm meeting.
After trying to keep my fears and emotions in check for Katie, I got in the car and sobbed on the way home. When I finally arrived home, I was ten pounds thinner and no longer retaining water. I found my husband, who had gone home ahead of me in a separate car, sitting on his chair in the dark.
“Mike, are you OK?”
“Yeah,” he said, “I’m just sad that she’s not here. Are you sad?”
I replied, “Yes. I’m so sad. I’m also happy, proud, worried, scared, ecstatic, hopeful, and empty. Do you know if they make a med for that?”
What was most difficult was realizing that for the first time, we would no longer know what our daughter was doing or how she was feeling. Was she scared? Sad? Lonely?
We had to force ourselves to live with that and to let her contact us when she was ready. The first evening, we didn’t hear anything from her. As highly experienced recipients of frequent bad news calls and texts from our children and their schools, we knew that this was a positive sign.
The next morning, my husband was climbing the walls. “Gene, I’m sketching on her on Facebook. I feel like a stalker. I’m dying to know how she is doing.”
“I know Mike, but you can’t do that. You’ve got to give her space. Besides, I’m Googling Nanny Cams to see if we can put one in her dorm room.”
Throughout the day, we anxiously awaited for her to contact us. Surprisingly my husband was the most anxious, “Mike, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take your phone into the shower with you.”
Around 9:00 p.m., we both finally received texts from her. She wrote, “Hi Mom and Dad. I love college. I’m making friends and I’m not coming home this weekend.”
We could not have been more thrilled… or relieved…or proud….or happy… or sad. And it made us realize that it was time for us to grow up a bit and let go. After all, it wasn’t like we didn’t have another kid — we still had her 14-year-old sister Emily to nurture, though she didn’t seem to be thrilled at that prospect.
“Dad, stop following me around the house! And Mom, get your nose out of my backpack. You guys are so sketchy!”
August 30th, 2013 | No Comments
She’s been called many things. “Ma,” “Mommy,” “Mom,” “Mum,” “Mama.” Probably even “crazy” by unsuspecting motorists. A Boston television station once referred to her as “The Mom with the Moves.” She’s Tracy Moutafis, mother of two who’s taken the country and the Internet by storm with her unique bus stop boogie, an annual dance ritual in celebration of her children going back to school. We had the privilege of interviewing this dazzling dancing dynamo to learn what moves her to take part in this heralded annual tradition.
SU: So Tracy, what inspires you to dance on the streets?
TM: Well, I love my children dearly, but let’s face it, by the end of the summer, I am ready for them to go back to school and they are ready to get away from me. Five years ago, I decided to show my excitement by breaking out in dance when the bus came. I’ve done it every school year since then.
SU: You’ve gotten quite a bit of publicity. In fact, we’re surprised you haven’t been a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance in the Streets? How did a Mom like you end up in a place like this?
TM: Well, it started off that I posted the video on Facebook for my friends to see. They thought it was hysterical. The next thing I know, I’m getting a call from the local newspaper, which wanted to post the video. It took off from there. I’ve been on Boston TV, Good Morning America, and I was on Skype for Anderson Cooper’s show. This year, I got a call from Fox and Friends.
SU: You have quite the moves, did you have any formal dance training say at Arthur Murray Studios? Or were you ever on Solid Gold?
TM: I don’t like to brag, but I did dance for several years as a kid at Miss Maria’s Dance Studio in Watertown, MA where I grew up. I also danced at high school dances.
SU: Some of our loyal followers are dying to ask you questions. For example, a Mom would like to know if you’ve ever fallen in a crosswalk.
TM: Knock on wood, I’ve never fallen in the crosswalk or been hit by the bus.
SU: Another mother would like to know why in this year’s video, you didn’t dance when your kids got on the bus to increase the embarrassment factor?
TM: Well, in the past I’ve done that. But my 12-year-old, who started middle school, was a little nervous about it. I made a deal with him that I wouldn’t do it until he was on the bus. I love my son and had to keep my promise.
SU: How do your children and husband feel about your display of excitement?
TM: They think it’s really funny. My 10-year-old loves it. I was going to dance for his bus, but then thought about it and didn’t want to overexpose myself.
SU: I see, so you don’t want to be like the Kardashian’s of bus stop boogiers?
TM: Yes, that’s right.
SU: How have your videos been received?
TM: A lot of people think they are hysterical. Others, have been so critical saying that I don’t love my children. One person even told me to go to a gym and get dance lessons.
SU: Well, personally, we are huge fans of your work. In fact, just the other day we tried copying your moves in the mirror. We weren’t successful until we served wine. Then, we were break dancing. What would you like to say to those critical people?
TM: I would tell them to lighten up. I love my kids more than anything. But I’m human, too and there are times when I just want to go to the bathroom without someone screaming “Mom!”
SU: What would someone be surprised to know about you besides the fact that you studied at Miss Maria’s?
TM: People don’t realize that my oldest son has autism. He has his struggles so when he gets on the bus it’s something to celebrate.
SU: In the past you’ve danced to Celebration and Beat It? What made you choose this year’s song, Bye Bye Bye?
TM: Well, I figured with the resurgence of ‘N Sync, it was timely.
SU: Yes, it was. We’re glad you went that route instead of the Miley Cyrus route. Where can we see more of your great work?
TM: You can watch all my videos on Youtube.com.
Tell us would you like to dance with the Bus Stop Boogier?
August 14th, 2013 | No Comments
Change is hard.
And for kids who have disabilities, it can be extra hard.
So how can we help our kids transition from their relaxed, summer routines to their more structured school year routines?
Here’s some ideas to consider:
1. Visit your school. Let’s face it, the first day of school can be chaotic. School bells are ringing, hallways are swarming, children are buzzing, and there’s ample opportunity for kids to become confused. Consider visiting your school before the chaos sets in. Let your child explore the environment when it’s quiet and calm. Perhaps you can even schedule multiple visits to make sure your child feels extra comfortable in a new setting.
2. Talk to your education team. Gather your education team together – your general education teachers, your special education teachers, your paraeducators, etc. – and ask them to visit your child at home or in a familiar setting. This allows your son or daughter to meet new people in a safe, familiar environment.
3. Write a welcome story. Kids with disabilities need a chance to visit their classroom, but it’s also helpful for them to know their new routine, the names of their new teachers, where and how to line up, what to do with their backpack, etc. Write a welcome story that describes each of these items and allow your child to read it over and over again. (See School Welcome Story for more details).
4. Carry a classroom item. Allow your son or daughter to carry something that belongs in the new environment. For example, during a school visit you could allow your child to take a toy, book, or poster piece home (with the teacher’s permission). That item needs to be returned the first day of school. This will take the pressure off the “child” walking into the room and put that on the “item” coming into the room. This is especially effective for children on the autism spectrum. Instead of the teacher saying, “Come in, Eric” they can say, “Let’s put the book back on the shelf.” This may be helpful transitioning from gym to music room to chapel area (e.g., carry the ball to the gym, bring a note for the music teacher, find some other item that needs to travel to that spot).
5. Ease the transition. Have a few familiar people stay with your child for the first few minutes of school. Ask the teacher if you, your spouse, and/or a sibling and your child can come to school earlier on the first day. Use the time to play together in the classroom before the others arrive and then slip out when your child appears to be happily engaged in an activity.
This passage was adapted from “Nuts & Bolts of Inclusive Education”, a new book by Barbara J. Newman. Barbara J. Newman is a church and school consultant for CLC Network, a non-profit organization based in Wyoming, Michigan that promotes the development of people with a variety of abilities and disabilities to live as active, integrated members of their communities. CLC Network partners with families and organizations to understand more fully the individuals they serve and to build support systems that enable their inclusion in all aspects of life.
June 26th, 2013 | No Comments
We gathered these from some of the funnies and smarties on our Facebook page.
1) “Let the kid come hang out at my place for a bit, I’ve got this!”
2) ”Leave the kids with the husband and let’s go out for dinner. And drinks. Lots of drinks. And dessert.”
3) ”How can I help? ”
4) ”Can I watch your kid for you?”
5) “This too shall pass.”
6) “This too shall pass, but in the meantime, do you want to go for drinks?”
7) “Just breathe. You are not alone.”
“You’re doing a great job! Hang in there!”
9) “Let me do your housework while you get some rest.”
10) ”I’ll take your kids for you. You deserve a break.”
11) ”Here’s a winning lottery ticket. Now hire an assistant and book a vacation while I clean your house.”
11.5) “How do you stay so young looking. Do you use Oil of Olay?”
What would you like someone to say to you?