Are we Teaching our Kids Correctly?

A life lesson I wish more people would experience. As a manager, I am taught that I need to manage people based on how the employee learns best. Are they read/write, visual, etc… and I need to adjust my teaching to make them more successful.

Yet, in school we don’t adapt to how the children learn, we require they learn in the way that we teach. Teachers are overworked and are amazing, but the districts are way behind in ensuring our special kids are successful. Case in point below.

We wanted Wyatt, who has high functioning Autism, to be able to ride a razor and be able to play with the other kids. We bought him the beginner style one and when Wyatt tried it he was very unstable and instantly disliked it. About a year later my husband bought Wyatt a different style razor hoping Wyatt would like it. Wyatt tried it and did ok but went really slow and stopped trying because it was a lot of work for him.

About two years later (1 month ago) my husband bought him a new style laser. He realized that he has balance issues, so he bought him one with two wheels in the front and he also had a hard time steering while balancing so he got him one that turns like a bike. Guess what? I watch Wyatt all weekend long zipping around and actually racing his brother and winning. Most importantly he had the biggest smile on his face and the laughter we heard was priceless.

What is my point? We could have given up when Wyatt didn’t like the typical razor and Wyatt would have missed out on all the fun it brings and we would miss out on the smiles and laughter. But through my husbands persistence and realizing the need to get him a razor that doesn’t necessarily work for all kids but works for him, we know have a little boy laughing and smiling and playing with other kids.

Kids, that are special needs are not, don’t all learn the same way.
Most of the core testing our children take haven’t been adjusted or changed in years. One test is the teacher tells the student the instructions once. They are not allowed to repeat the instructions nor answer any questions the student might have. This is setting up any child with Sensory Processing Disorder, ADD, ADHD, Autism, Read/Write or Visual learner , etc. to FAIL. When a child fails, they don’t like school, lose motivation, etc…

When Wyatt first started elementary school, the teacher handed me a packet where she graded Wyatt on where he was academically. She said, “please don’t open and read this, I don’t want to make you sad. They don’t adjust this for kids with special needs, so he will show he is failing in all aspects.” THIS BLEW MY MIND.

We need to change HOW we teach our children. Please understand this has nothing to do with teachers. It has to do with the need to make the school a positive learning experience for kids. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole has never worked.

Thank you for reading and if you agree, please share so our voices can be heard.

Thanks,
Heather Sheward

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When you find a trailer 1/4 of a mile from your boat on the freeway and no car was located do you think 1) Drunk 2) Stolen 3) Insurance Job or 4) Stupid??

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John Bandaruk
John Bandaruk or maybe 3 out of the 4

Manage

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Cullen Sheward
Cullen Sheward Unfortunately it’s becoming the new mindset, goes to integrity. When no ones around what do you do ? Do you think someone else will take care of it. I’ll deal with it when they find me. There’s no way you can prove I was drunk or high cause I’ll be sober then.

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Manage

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Chris McDonough
HahaShow more reactions

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Andrea Anderson
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Helping or Hurting our Children?

Happy New Year!

Over the last few months, I have ran into the same scenario over and over. It has opened my eyes to a behavior of mine and many other moms out there that we might not realize is hurting our children. Our intentions are good, we want to help our children, we want them to be successful. However our OCD natured mamas out there have a hard time making sure our kids aren’t perfect. Sounds horrible doesn’t it? We spend more energy on our kids being dressed nicely and hair perfect, yet I sometimes don’t even wear a bra to school drop off. On bad days, its a mom bun, yoga pants, and a hat. The scenario I have seen is doing things for our children so it is done correctly, instead of letting our children figure it out themselves or god for bid, let them fail.

Let’s discuss the oral book report. The child is supposed to pick a book, read the book and pick out a character from the book that they can make out of paper, glue, glitter, etc…So your child has read the book and decided he wants to focus on the dragon….fantastic a dragon..ugh. You let your child start making the dragon and see that the basic body part of the dragon is ok but not sure where your child is going with this. No problem, I tell myself, just keep folding laundry and see what he comes up with. Your anxiety is increasing because you see him making what more resembles a dog and you realize at age 5, focus is an issue and he probably has no idea what he is supposed to be doing. You walk over to the table and ask him how his dinasour project is going and he says, “I decided to make my dragon a half dragon, half dog.” Ugh.

You calmly, although you are starting to get irritated because you don’t have time, explain to your son that it isn’t following the rules and your teacher will not be happy and won’t give you a good grade. He gets frustrated and walks away. Well that went well. More on this later.

I went to Color Me Mine over the holiday with my husband and two boys. As our boys were painting their sharks and piggy banks, I told my husband to look around and see if he notices anything. He looked around and said to me, “all the moms are coloring their children’s projects and the kids are sitting there bored.” It always starts with the kids painting and without a doubt, the mom takes over. More on this later.

For those who have read my Blog before, you all know my past history with my twins playing soccer at 5 and me acting as their coach. I was floored at how much pressure parents put on their 5 years old kids to be good at sports and be the winners. Their is always that one parent who is screaming aggressively at their child to do better, or be better. I was floored when a parent told me that their child was upset because we weren’t winning. I couldn’t understand why you would bring a great teachable moment as a parent to me instead of handling yourself?

I know that while you are reading this, you can think of so many other scenarios where mom has taken over to make sure everything is perfect. Where did we learn this from? Our parents. Where did they learn it from? Their parents.

What are we so afraid of? That they are going to fail? What happens if they fail? They will learn the hard way. But I guarantee you they will learn the lesson and not repeat it. Or they might take two times to really learn the lesson and that is ok.

When I ask my son why he wanted the dinosaur to be 1/2 dinosaur 1/2 dog, he said because he likes them both. Did the teacher mark him down? No, she said she appreciated his imagination and creativity. She did write that next time he needs to follow the directions better. Granted my son is 5 and this wouldn’t work at 16, but you get my point.

We as parents worry so much about our kids being perfect, that we forget to let them be them and figure out who they are. Our son has Autism and everyone was telling my husband and I, how our son should be acting. It took me years, with the help of my husband, that he is acting the way he is because that is who he is and who are we to change it? He is perfect the way he is.

We are stifling their creativity by finishing the lizard at Color me Mine because we can’t stand the thought of having a half painted lizard in our house. But you better believe that your child, if they had finished it themselves would think it was perfect.

My doctor told me that I need to reduce my stress and I laughed. She said, “why are you laughing?” I replied that I had twin 6 year old boys, one with Autism, and a full time job. She basically told me that I am taking care of everybody but myself and wouldn’t your husband and kids want you around more then want you to be worried about everyone but yourself? Ugh, that hit home. My point is, I have been living my life with some many tabs open, just like my computer. I need to close a lot of tabs and only have a few tabs open that truly are important to me.

My need to control everything about my children and family is one I can close because guess what? I can worry if an issue comes to my attention but worrying about my kids art project being perfect, dressed perfect, acting perfect, and being the perfect child isn’t something that I need to worry about. Nobody is perfect. My children, in my eyes is perfect, however they need to learn about failure, not getting 1st place, and god for bid losing at Sharkonoply.

My first act at less stress was allowing my kids to decorate the Christmas tree. Even thought all my decorations have a spot and I like everything color coordinated and ideally matching the wrapping paper, I didn’t this year. This year it looked crazy, busy, and amazingly beautiful. Most importantly, my son told everyone he decorated the tree himself and was very proud of himself.

Progress.

Please share my blog.

xx

Heather

 

 

 

 

 

What Supplements do you give your child with Autism?

I get asked daily what Supplements we have Wyatt on and have spent hours on the phone with other mamas who are just beginning on their Autism journey. As a result, I decided to do a video about what supplements we have Wyatt on.

He was diagnosed at 16 months and has just turned 6 and our supplement journey has been a long, complicated road. Every child with Autism is different and therefore every child will need different supplements. After years of trying different ones and thru the guidance of our DAN doctor, we have found a combination that is working for Wyatt.

Let me first say that I am not a doctor. I am just a mama bear who does countless hours of research to help my son in anyway I can. We have spent thousands of dollars on different supplements and many of them have not worked. We finally found a combination of supplements that are working for Wyatt and he has just graduated from Special Ed and going to mainstream in first grade next year. YAHOO

The hard part for parents is most doctors don’t believe they will help our kids and advise against it. You end up joining every Facebook group and blog to find out what other parents are trying. You try every supplement and there are a lot of times, we see no benefit. Hence me putting together this video below. I will show you what we are using and what it is for, i.e. anxiety, sleep, OCD.

If you have any questions, please Like my Blog and comment and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

xx,

H

 

 

 

Supporting Young Athletes with Autism

Last season, I signed up both boys for AYSO soccer and I volunteered to coach. I figured that if I volunteered, I could help support Wyatt in learning the sport and interacting with other children. Although he had fun, it wasn’t successful for Wyatt for many reasons. Sensory overload, not enough support from aides or volunteers, and competitive parents and children. I told myself, I wouldn’t sign Wyatt up for team sports moving forward.

A few months ago, a fellow Autism mommy sent me info on Spirit League, which is a organization for children with special needs that can participate in soccer, baseball, and basketball. I signed Wyatt up for baseball hopeful that he could experience a team sport and actually have fun. We had our first game on Saturday and we were blown away at how amazing it was.

Look at the picture below:

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The people in the blue shirts are volunteers and every child has a volunteer. They stay with the child thru the whole game and teach them the game of baseball. The gentleman in the yellow shirt is the coach, who is also a volunteer.

The part that blew me away? The amount of support that each child received, whether standing on the field or hitting the ball. The parents were so excited that their child was playing a team support and most importantly every child had a huge smile on their face. Way to go Spirit League!

xx,

H

How to Teach Your Kids about Children with Autism

I was reading a post about a mom who encountered a child with Autism trying to integrate and learn how to play appropriately at a park with other children. The child with Autism hit her child and she wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. I appreciated her willingness to ask how to handle the situation and it showed compassion and empathy. The responses from other moms was heartbreaking. “I would tell my kid to stay away from kids like that” and “I would tell that mom to get her child under control.” However, there was a lot of moms who were compassionate and really just wanted to know how to teach their kids about other kids with Autism. Hence my blog today.

I am going to tell you what we told our son Tucker (5) when trying to explain to him why Wyatt acts differently then other kids and has Autism.

  • Autism is when a child has a hard time processing things and make take a little longer to respond or do something you want him to do. (I keep it very simple for kids to understand)
  • Wyatt can be very hyper and excited when playing with other kids and has a hard time with following rules or having boundaries and might stand to close to you. He might scream really loudly because he is very excited your playing with him and just doesn’t realize how loud he is.
  • When out in public, he can become overwhelmed with sounds and lights and has a hard time focusing. So if you ask him to stop doing something and he keeps doing it, it is because he mind is overwhelmed with noises. You might need to ask a few times to get their attention.
  • A child with Autism can have a hard time processing their words and being able to express themselves. For example, he might be upset because he really wants a turn on the slide but instead of telling you, he can get upset or scream.
  • Wyatt can be very physical and like to bounce of couches, or tackle you because it makes his body feel good. He doesn’t have a sense of where his body is so his body has to be always touching something and the more pressure he puts on his body, the better.
  • Some children with Autism don’t like to be touched at all and might get upset if you try and hug them or touch them.
  • Children with Autism don’t understand if you are happy, sad, laughing, or mad. So, if you are running around playing tag and touch them on the shoulder, he might think you are hitting him and not playing.

Most importantly that we tell our kids that children with Autism have feelings and being compassionate and empathetic towards them if key. That they work hard with therapists to work on their symptoms and they can be great friends.

I get asked a lot the best ways to teach their children about other kids with Autism, so I hope this blog helped. Remember that these are very general items and that every child with Autism is different.  I love it when parents or kids ask me about Wyatt to better understand him, so please reach out to the parents. We will tell you with pride, everything about our Wyatt.

 

 

Autism Awareness Month

Today is Autism Awareness Day and I couldn’t be more proud to be this guys mama. This year he started Kindergarten, learned to swim, played on a team sport, learned to drive a golf cart and a go cart, braved getting on a bike, learned how to read facial expressions and know how people feel, started giving hugs, started giving kisses, greets me at the door and asks how my day was. He has made friends all on his own, loves to crack jokes, bother his brother, and cuddle with mama and dada. He has learned how to be flexible and not have melt downs, he loves to be tickled, and his laugh is infectious. He earned his first award at school, and had his first “girlfriend.” He is so much more then a boy with Autism, he is a boy who is kicking Autism in the ass and doing everything the doctors told us he might never do. He has given our family so much pride and every accomplishment was achieved with his pure determination. I used to struggle with his diagnosis because I feared his future, know I embrace it because he won’t let anything get on his way. His path might be different, but the end result is what we make of it and the end result is determined by us. This boy is everything and has my heart. ❤️FullSizeRender

Autism and Physical Symtoms

A friend asked me the other day why Wyatt has Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy? (OT) They thought the symptoms of Autism were more behavioral based and didn’t realize there are also physical symptoms associated with Autism. I thought this was a great question and decided to explain more in this blog.

In previous blogs, I have discussed Sensory Seeking behavior vs. Sensory Avoiding behavior and how it effects people with Autism. I want to preface by saying that I am only speaking on Wyatt’s symptoms, as each child is different and experiences different symptoms. Wyatt is Sensory Seeking and can be described as very physical yet clumsy. He loves to run into the couch and tackle his brother; the pressure against his body makes his body feel grounded. If he is having a meltdown or upset, squeezing him tightly thru hugging, will calm him down.

The Proprioceptive System helps children to locate their body in space. Wyatt has a difficult time locating his body in space. What the heck does that mean? Basically, he doesn’t like any activity where his feet aren’t touching the ground. He will not let you hang him upside down, won’t do a somersault, or ride a bike. All of these activities are items that are taught in OT and PT.

The Vestibular System is located in the inner ear and responds to movement and gravity and effects sense of balance, coordination, and eye movement. Wyatt has low core strength and physical activities that come easily to other children, have to be taught to kids with Autism. Hopping on one foot, running without leaning forward, and catching balls are all activities that need to be taught thru OT and PT therapy.

Have you heard of Crossing the Middle Line? I had never until this year. It is Bilateral Coordination and it is the ability to use both sides of the body together in a coordinated way. For example, there is a glass of wine on the table and a person would choose to use their dominant hand to pick up the glass of wine, regardless of where it is on the table. (My friends will appreciate my example) They would use it to reach in front of them or cross over the middle of their body to grab the glass of wine. Wyatt will not do that. He will use each hand evenly and never cross over the middle of his body, hence “Crossing the Middle Line.” When writing he will flip the paper around or move his body to make it more comfortable. This affects his core strength, trunk rotations, and fine motor skills. This can be worked on thru OT and PT.

We decided that gymnastics would be a great way for Wyatt to have fun and work on all of these physical symptoms caused by Autism. First of all, he LOVES it! For us it is a win, win because he is having fun and getting therapy at the same time. Normally, learning these activities and mastering them can take a lot of time. However after 3 weeks of gymnastics Wyatt accomplished something he never had before. We went to Pump It Up and in the 2nd playroom is the “big jump” and Wyatt never did it the 4 previous times we were there. I am happy to report that he finally made the leap last weekend and we couldn’t be more proud!

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There are other physical issues associated with Autism, like gut health and toxins but I will address that in another blog. The good news is one step at a time and one accomplishment at a time.

Thanks for reading and I would love it if you would share my blog.

xx

H