The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do you really know what it is like to be a parent of a child with special needs - VENT re: school board members

I have not posted much in a while because my parents taught me "if you do not have anything nice to say don't say anything at all."   So I am sure you will be able to 'read between those lines' and figure out that I don't have much nice to say.  This is true, I don't have much good things to say about the way we are educating our children in our schools today, especially children with disabilities.  Right now there are a number of school board spots open or for re-election all around the United States & I just can't stand hearing/reading such Bull Shit all the time.  What is frustrating is unless you actually live a life with a person with a disability (any kind) you just don't understand what it is like & it is offensive when you say that you "understand & if you are voted on the school board you will advocate for children with special needs."

BS - YOU don't understand!  You have NO idea what it is like to constantly feel like you are in a battle with the school just to assure that your child is receiving an appropriate education and you being on the school board will not changes these battles.  I have clients all over the State of Ohio in hundreds of different school districts and the battles are all the same - parents want their child educated but schools resist providing an appropriate curriculum, teachers blame the students and their parents, school staff members refuse to learn about different disabilities, and many other negative events.  I also have three children of my own with special needs and in a school district that has come a long way but still fights against me every step of the way.  School board members have NOT made any of this better.

I have decided to quit reading our local newspaper until the elections are over since it only makes me feel more frustrated and want to openly share my own thoughts and opinions.  I honestly am worried if I actually share the truth my children will pay the price.  If you have a child with special needs and have ever advocated for your child and the school district didn't like you or what you were doing then you know I am telling the truth when I say - if a school or school staff member is unhappy with you it will be taken out on your child.

Shocking isn't it?  YEP it is shocking but it happens all the time but mostly covertly so that there is no proof or evidence that the child is the target of retaliation.  I will not share stories here because I want to protect my clients and my own children.  I do plan on writing all these down and once my children are out of the school district I will share these stories publicly.

So, as I stated before unless you have a child with a disability you don't understand so stop trying to act like you do understand.  If you do have a child with a disability then publicly share how hard it really is to receive an appropriate education for this child - I dare you!  I know you would NOT share these challenging stories because you too know that you and your child will be the target for retaliation.  You would not be honest at how hard it is to get your child the specific curriculum he/she needs to learn efficiently and effectively.  If the school is being so "good" to you and just "doing the right thing" for your child than you are being played and used because this is NOT the norm for parents. Ask any parent whose child is below grade level in reading, writing, or math.  Ask the parent of the high schooler who is failing or the parent with the child who is so hyperactive/impulsive that teachers are constantly calling the parents telling them how 'bad' their child is in school.  

Sorry for this rant I'm just tired of the Bull Shit I have been reading and hearing.    

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday- student is not lazy

"My son is not lazy he consistently feels defeated and needs teacher support to learn and retain the information.  Unfortunately, teachers don't want to take the time to re-teach him what he needs to know and willingly allow him to fail.  Some students are motivated by bad grades and others are motivated to just get out of the situation.  My son just wants out of high school so he can move on with his life.  It's like how a trapped animal will chew off it's own limb just to escape the trap.  It is sad to watch how teachers see my son in a trap but refuse to help him out instead they just watch him chew his own limb off and marvel at how much emotional pain he struggles with wondering why he's so lazy.  I say the teachers are lazy for NOT wanting to help a failing student!"   
"Oh by the way, helping a failing student is taking the time to re-teach him the information he is missing in different ways so that he understands this information- this is why it is stated this way in his IEP.  NOT sitting down with him and re-teaching him information he doesn't understand means the school is out of compliance with his IEP.   Blaming my son for his failing grades is wrong since the teachers have not been complying with his IEP for years.   I understand why he just wants to get out of high school- I'm exhausted fighting for his educational rights too."  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Multicultural Dyslexia event from Yale in Cleveland

Well, I’ve been very busy this last week and realized that I was not able to post my “Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday.”  I have been working with clients going to school districts to help educate everyone on what it is like to be a dragonfly, how dragonflies learn, and other ways to help all dragonflies. 

Today I will be going to Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio to attend a conference with Drs. Bennett and Sally Shaywitz from the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.  They are on a mission to help educate the world on dyslexia and now have the Multicultural Dyslexia Awareness Initiative. 

The conference – Dyslexia & the Achievement Gap: A Civil Rights Issue for Our Time will be today (October 18, 2013) from 3:30 to 5:30 PM and there is still time to register here’s the link: MDAI at Cleveland

I’d love to see you there!  Here’s a picture of me (and one of my cofounders of Decoding Dyslexia Ohio, Cheryl Kleist) with Bennett & Sally Shaywitz.  I'm the one on the far right (next to Sally). 

Here’s also a picture I created for my Decoding Dyslexia Ohio Facebook page!   

Monday, October 14, 2013

Motivational Monday: Heath White's story of becoming a Dad

We have an expectation that our lives should be “perfect” but we have the wrong vision of what is “perfect.”   Society believes that different is flawed or inferior.  Society believe that it is better to have “good” grades than “average” or “bad” grade; as if the lower grades means a person is less than.  Society places higher value in people who fit a specific image of “perfect.”   But these are all false perceptions of what is “perfect.”  You are perfect, your child is perfect, and life is perfect because you are alive!  Here’s a great video of Heath White a “perfect” man who had a “perfect” vision of his life until he had a daughter with Down Syndrome and he learned what “perfect” really meant.

“Before you were born I only worried about how your disability reflected on me. Now there is no better mirror in the world. You’re my light in the dark, and it’s a privilege to be your dad. Love always, daddy.” ~ Heath White

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - letting it out!

This week a client shared this comment:

"Why don't my teachers understand how my brain works?  Shouldn't teachers be taught about the brain in their teacher classes in college?  You wouldn't want to take your car to a repairman who doesn't even know how an engine works so why do I have to be with teachers who don't know how students actually learn?"  

**very insightful for a 4th grader

Monday, October 7, 2013

Motivational Monday Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

The Seven Habits 
The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic, by Stephen R. Covey

BE PROACTIVE ~ Between stimulus and response in human beings lies the power to choose. Productivity, then, means that we are solely responsible for what happens in our lives. No fair blaming anyone or anything else.

BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND ~ Imagine your funeral and listen to what you would like the eulogists to say about you. This should reveal exactly what matters most to you in your life. Use this frame of reference to make all your day-to-day decisions so that you are working toward your most meaningful life goals.

PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST ~ To manage our lives effectively, we must keep our mission in mind, understand what's important as well as urgent, and maintain a balance between what we produce each day and our ability to produce in the future. Think of the former as putting out fires and the latter as personal development.

THINK WIN/WIN ~ Agreements or solutions among people can be mutually beneficial if all parties cooperate and begin with a belief in the "third alternative": a better way that hasn't been thought of yet.

SEEK FIRST TO BE UNDERSTANDING, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD ~ Most people don't listen. Not really. They listen long enough to devise a solution to the speaker's problem or a rejoinder to what's being said. Then they dive into the conversation. You'll be more effective in your relationships with people if you sincerely try to understand them fully before you try to make them understand your point of view.

SYNERGIZE ~ Just what it sounds like. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In practice, this means you must use "creative cooperation" in social interactions. Value differences because it is often the clash between them that leads to creative solutions.

SHARPEN THE SAW ~ This is the habit of self-renewal, which has four elements. The first is mental, which includes reading, visualizing, planning and writing. The second is spiritual, which means value clarification and commitment, study and meditation. Third is social/emotional, which includes service, empathy, synergy and intrinsic security. Finally, the physical element includes exercise, nutrition and stress management. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Languages are fun but are they all real?

Freaky Friday Fun:

Recently I posted on an app that helped people translate different languages.  I am one who was not able to become fluent in a different language.  Oh heck, I'm not fluent in the English language.  I love languages though.  As a fan of Star Trek, Avatar, and Lord of the Rings I appreciate languages that are not "real" languages.   I was never a child that could speak or understand 'Pig Latin' so I was impressed by the other kids who were able to communicate this way.  

Here's a great video that discusses these made up languages that I think you might find interesting:

Okay now go out there today and start speaking to someone in another language or if you are like me just pretend to speak English. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - what a parent wants a school to know

"We often hear that we should be partners not prosecutors and accused of causing problems.  Remember we come to you with a lot of emotional baggage (some very bad) plus it is a natural instinct to be protective (of ourselves and child).  When I feel YOU are being a partner and truly understand my experience and my child I am exceptionally cooperative because I finally can feel trust."

"Stop taking it personal if I don’t trust you, I don’t know you and I have been burned year after year.  Once bitten, twice shy."

*A parent of a child with a specific learning disability wanted this shared because the staff members at the school are constantly accusing her of being bitter or hostile and she is NOT acting this way, she is only asking the hard questions the school does not want to deal with.