Guest Post #1 in a series of ?? I don’t know about
PARENTING AND LOVING THE SPECIAL NEED CHILD
I am a passionate parent. I am passionate about many things but especially about remembering, always, that our children are gifts from God. Not gifts in a general sense of ”I am so blessed to have this life” but specifically each and every child is a personal and special gift uniquely created for the parent.
Parents gifted with special needs children are extra blessed. “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” — Luke 12:48
About 4 years ago I met a great mom and an amazing lady: Alexis Hooper. I am honored to know her. She is the author of this piece, and I am truly sorry to NEED to post it, but blessed that she allowed me to. I am praying that this is to be only the first of many extra blessed mom’s that guest post for him. I am praying to do a mighty work here; or at least a work :).
She is writing about her son with Autism. However most of what she says applied to many different special children. Much of what she says applies to our family (especially about parenting and going out being hard).
1 in 166 children will be diagnosed with Autism. http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/07/19/11807.aspx
Alexis Hooper: Mom of four who has yet to accept Autism as a disorder and forgets everyday that we can’t do things normal families do and tries to do them anyway often resulting in disaster of a comedic proportion. Wouldn’t hesitate to give everything I have to my children and can’t understand anyone suggesting otherwise.
It has come to my attention that there are some in this community who are offended by my 7 year old child’s autism. For that I would like to apologize. I am so sorry but didn’t you know how much he loves to have autism? Obviously, we prayed for it everyday before he was born. We prayed that he wouldn’t have any friends, that he couldn’t do things normal kids were doing, that strange things would upset him, that the lives of our whole family would be turned upside down. That his siblings would suffer because of him. His sister really loves having to leave the park because her brother is having an autistic moment almost as much as she likes it when other moms keep their little girls away from her because of him. Oh how I hoped that he might never have a job, a family of his own, or any number of things normal people expect to grow up to have. The day he was born I looked down at him and said please God let my son have autism that way I won’t have to work because no daycare provider will watch him (thank you by the way to the one person who did watch him for a year). Oh won’t it be wonderful to not be able to go to the doctor, dentist, grocery store, court house or God forbid spend time away from him because he has panic attacks when placed in unfamiliar situations or I leave for more than a few hours. And those panic attacks manifest themselves in bad behavior.
You have no idea what it is like to raise a special needs child. Perhaps you do not believe that I have tried to teach my child how to act in public. Perhaps you think that I have let him run free. Not true. He has been in special education since he was two years old 6 or more hours a day. He has had wonderful teachers who helped him to communicate and to learn. He is constantly reminded to say yes ma’am, yes sir (did your children ever say this?), please, and thank you. Every time we leave the house we say “you do not touch other people, you do not talk to people without permission, you do not do this you do not do that.” But most of the time we just try not to leave the house because attempts to do normal family activities end in autistic disasters and embarrassment and if I’m lucky if it doesn’t cost me anything if something is broken. I enjoy the laughter behind my back. I like the mean looks and comments from people too spineless to say them out loud.
He doesn’t have that little voice in his head that says “hey, that’s not a good idea”. He acts on impulse and when he is in a new, crowded or over stimulating situation his impulses are amplified. My child has Autism, he’s really overloaded by all the sights and sounds. He doesn’t mean to bother you. He is a totally different child in unstressful situation. Come to our house and meet him before you judge him. He is incredibly smart. He can read several grade levels ahead of his peers. He can explain in great detail on numerous subjects at levels most high school children would not be able to follow. He is learning 4 languages. May I remind you he is only seven.
I’m not asking for you to feel sorry for him. I’m not asking for you to say oh well he has autism it is ok for him to break something. I am ask those of you who do not know to be understanding. I am asking you to defuse the situation; to handle it diplomatically. To tell him what is the right thing to do. What if a two year old did the same thing? What would you do? Did you know that when it comes to social development he isn’t much beyond a two year old despite years of therapy and may never be? When he does do something that upsets you please tell me and tell him that what he did was hurtful and he should apologize.
Am I really sorry? No. I have nothing to be sorry for. In fact, my child has done nothing wrong. All children do these things, mine just happens to do it more often than most but you know what? Maybe you don’t know that. Maybe you are witnessing it for the first time. And perhaps making judgments. No, my child has done nothing wrong. You have. Shame on you for passing judgments without all the information. And for those of you who do know he has autism. Shame on you for talking about it behind my back. Shame on you for not having the courage to ask me to correct the situation. Shame on you for standing there watching and not offering to help.
Today when we were driving and doing errands I let the boys watch the Letter factory on the van DVD player. I was so excited to hear Little Brother, yes LITTLE BROTHER mimicking phone sounds. This is so cool.
Today, for “school” Big Brother asked to make another book. I asked him what he wanted to do it about and suggested a few things, but he chose to make another dinosaur book. He put a lot of effort in to all the pages, and then dictated to me the text. I got him to write his name for the title page and we made a cover.
So I actually EXPERIMENTED in the kitchen with a “cooking related thing” last night. Be amazed, be very amazed. My kitchen confidence level is so low it could be negative so this is a huge deal. Furthermore no fire and the product is usable if not perfect.
Big Brother is very self-limiting in his food consumption. I do my best to respect his desires about food while at the same time trying to expand his collection. I DO truly desire for him to eat more variety, but I am well aware of the dangers of food struggles. As long as he is healthy, gaining weight (though I am not sure how) and otherwise fine, I choose to keep the food fights low level. Also Daddy and I struggle with the idea of demanding a child eat if they don’t want to; we both feel – especially in this nation of eating disorders and obesity – to teach our children to listen to their bodies and not to eat because of a clock or to eat everything because it is there. So if Big Brother is not hungry, I feel to a good extent we should respect his body, just as we did breastfeeding – allow him to say if he is hungry or not rather than forcing expectations on him.
I’d love to be able to sneak more ‘good stuff’ into his foods, but most of his acceptable foods do not give that option. How I wish he’d eat muffins or pancakes or something, but not yet. Frankly last time we make home made cookies at his request, he helped, he ate ½ of one cookie and that vas all, for the entire batch.
One on going concern of mine is protein. A variety of protein might be a better term, he gets enough protein but it is all whey – milk and some yogurt (no cheese). Occasionally he eats chicken in nugget form (Tyson dino nuggets often) but then, maybe 1 or 2 nuggets so that is a small amount of protein. Occasionally he eats crunchy fish sticks, but again he consumes so few that the protein count can’t be that high. No meat, way back when he was just starting food, and was like 14 or 15 months he’d eat as much browned venison as I offered; then he stopped. I do not think he has ever eaten beef or pork. No fish that is not in crunchy stick form, and well breaded to make it crunchy.
He does drink milk, ‘hot cocoa’ – basically chocolate milk heated up. He doesn’t like white milk, though he used to, and frankly I have bigger fish to fry at the moment that a battle of wills over milk. Besides, chocolate has more calories, and that is not a bad thing for him. Many have suggested removing his milk, for various reasons. I admit his doctor / nutritionist, who I truly respect and value, has suggested it. The reason I don’t? Simple really. I am afraid to. I know he has the capacity for starving himself, I know his emotional challenges get worse without enough food, and honestly I am afraid to go down that road. Sad, but true. I am afraid he’d just not consume anything; and I am afraid that THAT would snowball downhill and make everything else about his challenges just that much harder to deal with, on a minute to minute bases. My biggest fear is he’d end up sick or in the hospital due to it and then I’d loose control of his ‘care” and he’d be force fed and all the unkind “get the kid to eat” methods I refuse would come in to play, then, I’d have real issues to deal with for the rest of his life and quite possible a real eating disorder or more emotional issues than we have now. Ok, so I may have to “go there” some time, but not now.
At the health food store I bought: Organic Inca Meal Rice Protein (Peaceful Planet brand). It is a non-soy vegan protein power. The raw organic fruit complex DOES include berries, and Big Brother is not supposed to have that. But, sighhhh, I didn’t see that till I bought it. (I never said this diet was easy). So I am going to go on and try it – then next time I will have to be more careful. I see now on the store site they have a vegetable non-soy protine power, so many next time I should try that.
Here is the experiment. Don’t laugh. The protein power is very light and powdery like a powered sugar. So I tried adding some of it to the chocolate syrup as I made it. Hey it was worth a shot.
The scoop is 1/4 cup
I warmed the water and dissolved the coco in it, like normal, then added the protein power. Then as that dissolved I added the sugar.
Ok – so success or fail?
NOT FAIL. I am fairly happy with it, and it is usable – that is what matters. I am hesitant to call it a clear success – but I am happy with it for a first try.
The ½ that I did not boil is not 100% smooth, but dissolves into “warm milk” if warmed – but not when cold. So my chocolate milk is a bust, but his hot cocoa was fine. Also this syrup will go in the pour spout bottle I use for our chocolate syrupy. Not as smooth as normal but basically the same. Big Brother didn’t notice. He drank all of the 4 oz I gave him immediately.
The ½ that I did boil really thicken up – not fudge, but noticeably thicker than my chocolate syrup usually is. Hubby suggested it as an ice cream topping or something. It is thicker, fudgier. However it still dissolved in heated up milk. It took more effort than the unbolided mix. Big Brother said it tasted “fine” but then did not finish all 4 oz. so I can’t fully tell.
So I will use the rest of the practice batch and then decide. Next time I want to dissolve the protein power into the water before I add the cocoa – rather than 2nd to see if that will dissolve the protein power better.
It is extremely difficult to compare home school students vs. public school students; at least accurately. This is because, of course, they are not simply piles of veggies on a table. And as we all know – say it with me Michelle – correlation does not prove causation.
However at the same time, there is clearly no empirical evidence that homeschooling produces negative results compared to standard institutional schooling. Homeschooling is an extension of parenting, and if the parenting is good the homeschooling will be – good parents would not choose to home school, or continue homeschooling if it was not a good choice for their child(ren) and family. If parenting is bad, the homeschooling may very well be bad, but it is not the homeschooling choice at fault it is the parenting and the parenting would still be a risk to the child even in public school.
If a homeschooled child reads better than a public schooled child of the same age, is it really homeschooling? Or is the fact that THAT child had a parent that valued education and chose to home educate thus put forth the effort; while the random child in public school might just be the one from a home with no book and TV on 24 hours a day where mom and dad don’t see the value of reading? So then the homeschooled child would realistically be ahead of THAT public school student even sitting next to each other in the same classroom. Children that are blessed with parents that value education, and are willing to go the extra distance, are going to do better. That is the subcategory of children that homeschooled children come from. It certainly doesn’t mean all parents that use the public schools don’t care and all homeschooling parents do care. Nevertheless it stands to reason that the homeschooling parents on average do have to put forth more thought and effort; also the public school population – no matter how great some parents are—by default contains the children’s that suffer without supportive parents.
Homeschooling as a trend, as a choice, is defiantly gaining acceptance and normalcy. This makes me very happy. Parents need to take responsibility for their children, children God has given to them, and the State needs to remember it is not the parent and the school needs a strong and constant reminder that they are employed by and function at the pleasure of, the parents. Too many in the school would like to take over the parent’s role and too many lazy parents are willing to accept that. Success of homeschooling is self-evident. (Below I will cover some test numbers that clearly show there is no negative effect on a child’s education based on standard measures)
Homeschooling is growing at a steady pace and the academic numbers show clearly that these students are being successful. There are about 2 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.9 to 2.5 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during 2008-2009 in the United States. It appears the home school population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 5% to 12% per annum over the past few years). In the long term, this has to be a positive thing for the nation as a whole. This nation was founded by men and women educated at home, well educated individuals (see). This nation is in trouble and will be saved by courageous men and women of faith standing on a resilient education; one they received at home.
A better educated population is always a good thing. Homeschooling is not an all Christian all white phenomena. Beyond that, it is not all a fad of college educated parents either. Homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of home school families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo). A demographically wide variety of people home school – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and parents lacking a high-school diplomas.
Homeschooling has as much to do with parenting as it does education; with the attitude toward children and the value placed on skill and knowledge and achievement. When you look at public school vs. home school test scores and tangible data the story is not as black and white as it would seem. Again we all know correlation does not prove causation. The important things about the data is that is does show that homeschooling children are not at a disadvantage in any way with regard to evidence based measure of achievement. Secondly there is no positive correlation between money spent on education and student performance. Public school advocates could refocus their emphasis if they learned this lesson, more money is not going to make better schools it is a question of people not check books. Loving and caring parents are what matters. Money can never replace simple, hard work, time and effort.
2009 ACT High School Profile Report
Check out this National Data! For the graduating class of 2009, 11,535 students who list themselves as homeschooled took the test, and their average composite score was 22.5. [1,480,469 students took the test in all, averaging 21.1.] [0.78% homeschoolers].
I again caution you that the designation that someone is home-schooled is self-reported, and that we have no way of knowing how long they have been home-schooled. There may be many students who home-school until they get to high school, and these would not be included. Similarly, students who list themselves as home-schooled may have been so for only a year, and these would be included.
Emailed to me from
ACT Statistical Research Department
One respected researcher of homeschooling data is Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. He is an internationally known researcher, speaker, and expert witness, and serves as president of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute. He has taught as a certified teacher and as a professor of education at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Ray has been researching the home school movement for almost 25 years.
Some of his findings are very enlightening: The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; thus the bell curve). More importantly: home school students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
In 1997, a study was released. Entitled, “Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America.” The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. The more encouraging finding though, when analyzing the data for 8th graders, homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less. So, basically, the positive benefits of home schooling increase over time. Isn’t that an awesome thing? What encouragement to a first or second year home educating parent, the effort pays off more and more over time. The new homeschoolers were scoring on the average in the 59th percentile compared to students homeschooled the last two or more years who scored between 86th and 92nd percentile. Further, and this is very important, there was no significant difference between minority and white homeschooled students; a statement that simply can not be made about performance in the public schools.
These findings show that when parents, regardless of race, commit themselves to make the necessary sacrifices and tutor their children at home, almost all obstacles present in other school systems disappear.
Again, it comes back to the parenting; the parenting and the choice to actively parent and thus educate.
Here is an excerpt from a recent study of homeschoolers: “According to a report published by the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, home school student achievement test scores were exceptionally high. The median scores for every subtest at every grade were well above those of public and Catholic/private-school students. On average, home school students in grades one to four performed one grade level above their age-level public/private school peers on achievement tests. Students who had been homeschooled their entire academic life had higher scholastic achievement test scores than students who had also attended other educational programs.”
“Even with a conservative analysis of the data, the achievement levels of the home school students in the study were exceptional. Within each grade level and each skill area, the median scores for home school students fell between the 70th and 80th percentile of students nationwide and between the 60th and 70th percentile of Catholic/Private school students. For younger students, this is a one year lead. By the time home school students are in 8th grade, they are four years ahead of their public/private school counterparts.”
The list goes on, stats by individual states, year after year comparisons of the ACT / SAT scores, the numbers continually bear out that the effort to parent by home education pays off in the long run. See http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp For a more exhaustive list.
At the end of the day, we can all rest confident that home schooling is academically successful.
A discussion of my on going search for a good easy-reader Bible; Ah Dr Seuss where are you when we need you. A Bible; not a collection of stories, nor a discussion.
Do your young readers have a Bible that you like? Mine do, but Big Brother is outgrowing it quickly. Last Advent I sought to find a better version, a bit more mature, and did not succeed. Thus this Advent this is, again, number one on my must accomplish list.
We have several Bible Story collection, and rhyming tot Bibles and so on. However Big Brother is ready to move into the “real Bible” arena; or at least up a level in his complexity and depth. Something with more challenging vocabulary, more complete stories; more Biblical text vs. retold stories; a Bible that will feed him more. Also I would be to see his Bible go more deeply, cover more. Not yet the rape of Tamar by Amnon (II Samuel 13:6-29,32,33) of course; but I would like to see Jacob and Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29); or the woman at the well (John 4), things like that.
He daily asks me to read his Beginner Bible and he also understands some of the very basic Old Testament history and can narrate back to you several “stories” in pretty good detail and understands the “point” or “lesson”. He is understanding more and more and I really feel the need to “step up” his level, add more consistency to the baby food of the happy easy starter stories.
The Bibles we have:
The best we have, we ♥, the Beginners Bible Timeless Children’s Stories. Daily read here, Nicely done. I like it because there is no “addition to the test” it is very very simple but it is just the stories. But they are not separated as “stores” it is more like a grown up Bible in that it goes from one to the next. It is, however, just a string of and anything that doesn’t make for a good story is missing, also slaves are “helpers” and while I respect the reasons, I do not agree with it. Big Brother loves it, asks for it daily and is learning some of the basic stories. I have no complaint with it save Big Brother is mature past this one; I expect it to still be read for a long time.
We have: The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. Not so happy: it is NOT the actual text; it is pictures based on bible verses then a discussion of the pictures / a rephrasing of the bible story — but not as well done — not as much a “complete story” as the one above; and then a number of questions, and some of the questions are kinda corny. I don’t need a book to suggest questions, especially in the text.
We have The Jesus Storybook Bible. Interesting. It is a rephrasing, a story book based on the Bible maybe, not just a simply version of the Bible like the first one and like I am seeking . I like it for what it is, but it is not just a simply Bible which is what I was /am looking for. The stories are accurate — and it interesting how they are all directed towards the coming of Christ. Like the story of Abraham and Sarah says that God did give them the promised baby just like He gave another promised baby; and that is true and good, but not simply a children’s level Bible. Art work is ok. The “tie in” to Christ happens at the end of the stories, so it works, as a great Bible Story collection, but not so much as just a “simple to read / understand Bible”
we have the Big Picture Story Bible. Again not really a simple Bible. Again there is a lot of questions in the text, on some pages they are the only text. I really dislike that in Children’s books in general; the questions feel forced and I simply do not need them,. There is little text on the big pages, and the pictures are just not so good. If the book is going to depend on the art, as this one does, the picture should be better. The people are too pale (that bugs me to no end). Not really one I like doesn’t really serve a purpose in our family and I am bothered by the art.
we also have The Children’s Bible (1965 reprinted in 1993) that was mine (orginal 1965 printing). I think I have been though all the boxes of books mom saved for me (7 banker boxes) and I do not think there is another of my youth / children’s Bibles in there. I have my Confirmation Bible, but that is just a Bible. The Children’s Bible is nice, traditional, a true Classic of Children’s Literature. In fact if ytu search for Classics to create a library collection for your children, this Bible is almost always included in the recomdations. It may turn out to be the text we start reading more of. However I still feel it is too old for the boys, even Big Brother. It is also not really a “children’s” as one would think of a “children’s Bible” these days (gosh I sound old). It is well beyond the level of the boys now; and for a while. It is a big book 510 pages and most of the pages are ¾ text. It is maybe the step beyond what I am looking for right now. Boarders list it as 8 to 13 years for reading level and that seems about right. I am seeking a 6 to 9 reading level.
So in the end, I am still in the market for a Bible, not Bible Story book, that is “over” the level of The Beginner Bible, but still realistic to read to a 5 / 6 year old. One that by 8 or 9 he can start reading on his own, while I know it might still be a challenge. Meaning just a really easy translation, with pictures, big print, not too much on a page, decent vocabulary but still faithful to the actual Bible (Abraham had slavers, not “helpers”, Ruth gleaned grain in the field). Not a story book based on the Bible, not and interpretation of the Bible for children – just a Bible with a really easy text.
This advent Big Brother is getting this one: The Super Hero Bible. I’ll see how it is. Amazon.com lists it as 4 to 8 years for the reading level; the included review targets elementary school level. Also, happily, one of the customer reviews comments that Christ is not blond (he was Jewish remember, and Middle Eastern, seeing him blond and pale really annoys me). I am getting it as Big is really really into superheroes and it will mean something to him; and if he has to grow into it, so be it. He will. They both will. I can’t see superheroes falling out of favor in our home for a long time. Maybe not as all-encompassing as Big Brother finds them now, but boy will be boys (especially mine) and I am fairly certain a superhero Bible is not going to be a bad addition to this male household.
I have also looked at – on-line – not in person:
And I think Little Brother is getting a book like this: Animals of the Bible Dorothy P. Lathrop (Author, Illustrator) rather than a Bible. Frankly I am not pleased with the “easy Bibles” / “children’s Bibles” (as listed above) I just don’t see the need for another. In the next 2 or 3 years Little Brother will get a step up reader like I am currently seeking for Big Brother. Or maybe something like: Big Thoughts for Little People: ABC’s to Help You Grow. Again A strong feed for his faith but not just yet another book containing the same stories again.
I put a lot of effort into making sure Little is not just left with the left-overs from Big. All our books are kept collectively and read at random, however I am sure as they grow they will have books they desire to keep in their own rooms and own space. All of our new books are scribed to one or the other of the boys and the occasion and date is included. 20, even 30 year from now the boys will be able to share these books with their children. We are blessed to have a good number of books from my childhood which will also go to the next generation, and I have gone back and noted in all the books that were mine that they were. But for now Little is not in need of, or ready for a next step up children’s Bible like Big is; so I will branch out into “related” for his Bible Advent book; that will add more depth to our family library too.
I have to say a number of the things I find most challenging about being a good mother are NOT the things I expected to be so tough. Hours over several days spend searching out a easy-reader Bible? Still unsure and concerned about getting another bad choice or missing a great one? Never expected THAT to be on my list of “hardest jobs of a momma”.