Inspiring Man and Movie 8

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Front of the Class is the story of Brad Cohen, a teacher who has Tourette’s. I love this movie for several reasons and I highly recommend it. I believe it should be required for teachers to help them understand how teachers can devalue a child when they should be inspiring them. This movie resonated with me since my daughter had a vocal tic when she was younger that a teacher actually made worse after we told her to ignore it.

The movie starts prior to young Brad’s diagnosis with Tourette’s and follows him as he interviews for teaching positions at multiple schools where they fail to see his potential. One of the interviewers tells him, “You must have had inspiring teachers.”

He responds, “I had an inspiring Principal. My teachers really only inspired me to be the kind of teacher they never were.”

She asks, “What kind of teacher is that?”

He responds, “One who makes it possible for a kid to learn even if he’s different. In a way the best teacher I ever had is my Tourette’s.”

Later he tells his students, “Never let anything stop you from chasing your dreams.”

I am grateful to Brad Cohen and others who continue to pursue their dreams and work to change the world to a place of tolerance and acceptance of differences.

Autism Myths, Legends, and Mysteries of Sleep 15

This post is for Danette’s wonderful Best of Best Series.  Click on the badge below on July fifteenth to see other posts on this subject.  FYI: My daughter approved this post.

BestofBestThe myth is that if your child cannot fall asleep it is due to either anxious parenting or lack of firm parenting.  The legend is that those on the autism spectrum can totally avoid sleep problems if they avoid sensory overload and they are in a calm environment.  The mystery is why those on the autism spectrum have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

Too many parents of children on the spectrum experience judgement for their child’s sleep problems and are given poor advice as a result.  I am one of them.  I can tell you now that if you talk to my fifteen year old that she will collaborate that the environment was quiet prior to her bedtime, and I was calm as we read her bedtime stories, told her stuffed animals good night and said her prayers during her toddler years.  Her bedtime was the same every night too.  Still she rarely slept more than six hours and she frequently had trouble going to sleep and went through periods of waking up several times a night.  She completely gave up her daytime naps unless she was ill by the time she was three.

Parents are also told that if they remove bright colors and all electronics from the bedroom and keep the house quiet their child will be able to sleep just fine.  Some recommend adding deep massage and/ or aroma therapy.  My teenager will tell you this does not work for her.  There are many times that she has no idea what keeps her awake.  Her mind just has trouble shutting down when it is bedtime.  She does eventually fall asleep.  She does get enough sleep to function either by taking naps or by sleeping longer some days.

No one knows for sure what causes those on the autism spectrum to have problems with sleep yet it remains an issue into adulthood for many.  Baylor College of Medicine believes it possibly is due to alterations in the production of melatonin.  You can read about their study by clicking on this link: Treatment of Sleep Problems in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder With Melatonin – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov.

I believe we need to quit believing there is a one size fits all range of needed sleep or even for the time of day people sleep.  Maybe some children and some adults do not need as much sleep as others.  Maybe some people are born night owls and need to sleep later in the day.  Mayo clinic seems to think this is true for teenagers anyway.  Click on this link to read more: Teen sleep: Why is your teen so tired? – MayoClinic.com.

Let me know what you think!

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of Media Use 9

BestofBestMedia provides so many good things especially for special needs children.  It offers educational programs, a means for those without a voice to have one, and a place to stay in touch with far away family and friends.  It also provides support from others around the world.  This is the good.

However, there is another side to media devices that most of us are aware is bad.  That is the issue of needing to make sure that children learn to interact with others face to face, not just in cyberspace and that they get outside for fresh air and sunshine and exercise.  Many blame media devices for childhood obesity and other illnesses and most parents try to avoid the all day video games many of our children would enjoy.     

Consumer Reports released the results of a survey in May that indicated that 7.5 million Facebook users in the U.S. are under the age of 13, and about 5 million are under the age of 10.  Obviously, this is where things can start to get ugly.  Social networks have been used for bullying by some and others are looking to harm our children in other ways. 

That is why many sources recommend talking to children about the dangers and some suggest being on your child’s friend list.  Others even recommend having their passwords when they first start using social media so you can monitor and help them correct mistakes before they become major.  I see the value of teaching our children to use media responsibly whether they have special needs or not.

Young children certainly need to be monitored when they first start e-mailing, using instant messages, texting, surfing the Internet, using X-Box Live, or joining social networks even when they are thirteen.  Parents also have to monitor television and movie viewing closely especially for young children whether they have special needs or not. 

Those of us with special needs children may actually be better at helping our children avoid the pitfalls than some just because we have had to do this all of their lives.  It is so important that all parents teach their children that the Internet is forever.  Children need to understand that it can’t just be torn up or erased. 

It is the job of parents and educators to teach children responsible use of the Internet.  Children need to understand that there are laws that apply to certain behaviors and that they can destroy their repetition with inappropriate Internet posts.  Anonymity does not really exist for those who break laws as any computer address is traceable.           

Technology is a daily, graded class for sixth graders at my son’s school.  They learn how to safely navigate the Internet, applicable laws that apply to information on the Internet, as well as, how wrong it is to cyber bully someone.  They are accountable for their actions on the Internet, but parents need to remember that until their child reaches legal age, the parent is also accountable.  Maybe we all need a class like this too! 

Remember Every Life Has a Purpose 6

While all of the characters in my book exist only in the author’s imagination, being misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated by others when you have differences is real. People with a learning disability and/or a neurological disorder, such as Mia’s sensory sensitivity with features of Asperger’s syndrome may find it hard to recognize when others mistreat them until things escalate. I want to educate the world about the delightful traits many of these kids have and encourage them to standup for themselves, but also to encourage all of you to standup for them too. Remember-every-life-has

Remember, every life has a purpose. We are all unique in some way, even if we do not admit it. Be grateful for who you are and for who your children are. Help them to learn to cope in this world. Use whatever resources are necessary to help them. However, do not try to make them like the rest of the world. Help them to be proud of who they are.