Saturday, April 30, 2016

Education Soap Box

Soap box.

This is where our American exceptionalism causes blind spots in the vision of our country. Finland is just one of many countries that are doing education better than us. And they did this turn around powerfully and quickly. We are fools if we don't look at what other countries are doing successfully and see what we can learn and implement in our country. There are examples of some schools in the US that are doing things like this and showing positive changes.

We are failing our children and our country with our currently accepted educational model. Educated children make educated adults who then make educated decisions as law makers and leaders. We need this. Our reliance on military might and our immense economy to define us as a world leader is floundering. Our ability to force others to see and treat us as "special" is crumbling.

I wonder why we now see this phenomenon of our children hating school. Some like to call them entitled and spoiled and in some instances I am sure that is true. It's human nature for some people to be that way. The bigger problem I see is that the educational system does not treat them as dynamic, evolving humans. There are amazing teachers who do and they are the people who are saving the children from a system that is set up to dehumanize them, even if that is not the plan, that is what happening. These children know it could be better and they are fighting for that by controlling the only thing they can control, themselves and their minds. They check out and refuse to participate.

One of the things I have learned from my son is to follow his lead. He knows what works for him. How do I know this? Because he succeeds when I let him show me what he needs. This does not mean that he gets to do whatever he wants. I say no to him more than any other person on this planet. What it means is that I trust his inherent intelligence. All children have this inherent intelligence, that's what playing helps to grow. We need to use their intelligence for them/with them to have successful educated children.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

April is Autism Awareness Month

On May 27, 2013, at 2 years and 9 months old, Nolan received a diagnosis of severe autism. He hit 11 out of 12 diagnostic points of autism in his 3 evaluations with the developmental pediatrician over the previous 6 months. He was completely non verbal at the time with limited social interaction outside of those he saw on a daily basis, zero safety awareness, limited environmental awareness, extremely high pain tolerance, global developmental delays, severe sensory challenges, challenged executive functioning and while strong his gross motor functions were highly disorganized. His sensory meltdowns were very scary to him.

He was also affectionate, loved to laugh, be tickled, and kissed. He loved to play in the water and with bubbles. Playing in the sand was ecstatic for him. He had no idea how to and no interest in playing with toys but he LOVED colors, shapes, letters and words. And Baby Einstein??? We lived those DVD's for years...

Nolan has had anywhere from 10-20 hours a therapy a week for over 2 years along with attending developmental preschool for 10 hours a week during the school year for almost 3 years.

Since that day in 2013 I have seen his development explode. He started making his daily rainbows. He talks now and is able to say what he wants, what he likes, what he needs. He tells me he loves me. He calls me mommy, or mama. He says hello and goodbye to people by name. He has mastered his ipad and all the games on it. His love of music is his own and his ipod and blue tooth speaker are his constant companions. He loves airplanes, school buses and cars and is now playing with them. He rocks at puzzles and is reading, writing and learning how to ride a bike.

This is the reality of an autism diagnosis in our family. Some days he might look like any other big 5 year old boy, he's almost 4 ft tall. Other days he might look like a spoiled brat. Other days he might very obviously look like he has autism, however you think that looks.

But every single day he is my Rainbow Maker.
His future is limitless.
His potential, endless.

April is Autism Awareness month.
Be ready to be made aware.

Love and Rainbows,
Nolan, The Rainbow Maker, and his mom.

If you would like to follow my son's experiences in life and autism please join us on his Facebook page. Click here.