Thursday, January 26, 2012

Look MOM....I got a "P"!!!

This is Sophia's first middle school report card. I find it interesting that her special ed classes are non-graded..they receive a Pass/Fail. So, she got all Ps in those. She has always wanted to receive real grades like her sister. Can't blame her there...she does work hard and the least the district can do is reward kids for supporting the district vision statement: "The District 303 School Community empowers and inspires ALL to Attain excellence, Learn with passion, and Live with integrity,in a changing world." Letter grades would go a long way towards the district reaching one of their stated goals: "Improve individual student achievement and personal growth." It's hard to measure these 2 things without grades. And how do I know that it makes a difference for Sophia??? Because of the 2 "typical" classes she takes, she received an "A" in Consumer Science and an "A+" in PE. And this made her smile from ear to ear and tell everyone she knows about her A's including people on the street. Yeah...I'd say that's excellence...and it's definitely a changing world thanks to my daughter. And my guess is that it is going to help her improve personal achievement. Not that I'm expert. But I was a student. When's the last time your kid worked really hard to get a P ?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Middle School and Inclusion

Had to share…..’s-“ooh-la-la”-inclusion-success-story/

I loved that blog post. I think when I had Sophia signed up for Italian classes for 2 years people thought I was nuts. I could hear their silent criticism, "Why would she pay for Italian classes when her kid can barely speak English?" Anyway, our relatives visiting from Italy last summer surely got a kick out of it!

As far as Life Skills and Inclusion and Fighting the Fight….

Sophia is currently in a 6/7/8 Life Skills Class (she is a new 6th grader at local middle school). I agreed to the placement after much angst about the middle school transition in general. Plus, I was not made fully aware of what our district offered even after repeated requests for this info. Needless to say, I am mad at myself and have no problem admitting I made a mistake. I am a work in progress :)

It is not that Life Skills is bad. They offer some wonderful things for students who will obviously benefit from it. But if Sophia stays in it, I will never know what she could have, would have, should have done in a regular classroom.I go back to the quote from the mom in the blog ,"None of this would have happened if I had allowed Kacie to be sequestered in the life skills classroom."

The only time she Sophia is not with the Life Skills students is gym and an "elective" (family and consumer science) with typical kids. Other than that she is doing all of the Life Skills curriculum which the district tried to convince me is similar to the typical 6th graders. Not. I am trying to get her into the special ed classes which really are the 6th grade curriculum, just modified. I think that is a good starting point and then I can worry about conquering French in High School. As far as Sophia her favorite class is…you guessed it…Family and Consumer Science. Here is an email I got from Sophia's Family and Consumer Science teacher "Sophia is doing great in class. She is an active participant and gets along well with her class mates".

Coming across this blog post was a blessing! I hope you enjoyed it :)


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Respect Life Sunday-Down Syndrome Awareness Day 3

Today is Respect Life Sunday. It takes place on the first Sunday of October and is an " annual, nationwide commemoration to help bring Catholic Church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and public at large."

There are many issues relating to respecting life-embryonic research, end-of-life dignity, abortion. And while I am Pro-life and absolutely unwavering in my beliefs, for me today is a day more about LIFE than about being against ABORTION. For me, it is quite simply about celebrating life. I spent it celebrating with my 2 beautiful girls. It was a sunny, crisp Fall day and I couldn't put off the inevitable shopping for tweens that needed to get done. After church we headed to the mall to get jeans for Mira and shoes and glasses for Sophia. The girls strolled hand-in-hand through the mall and we stopped in at the Picture People to look at pictures we took back in July! We giggled at some of their expressions and each girl picked out the one they liked of themselves. We found jeans, shoes, and glasses and did it all without tears! It was a great Sunday.

I really couldn't possibly think about Respect Life Sunday without thinking about Sophia and all of the special needs children around the world. Here in America I guess I would call them The Survivors. Various studies say that between 90-98% of children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are aborted. Right now, 1 in every 733 babies is born with Down syndrome. 1 in every 100 children are living with autism. I would venture to say that the rate of babies born with Down syndrome would increase greatly if there were no pre-natal tests to diagnose it. There would be MANY MORE people with Down syndrome living in this world. Is that a bad thing? I often wonder what will happen when there is a prenatal test for autism. Will the incidence of autism become 1 in 733 or will it go to nil? What about the other pre-natal tests on the horizon... for addictions? depression? heart disease? cancer? Where do we draw the line? Why DO WE draw a line?

Sophia loves her life. She loves her friends and family. We love her. I feel very blessed with the miracle of her life. And that's what life is...a miracle. Every life.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Conversations with Sophia-Down Syndrome Awareness Day 2

While it seems that we spend a large amount of time trying to teach special needs kid, I am most amazed by the daily life lessons Sophia teaches me. Sometimes I wonder if this is a big trick God is playing on us. Are special needs kids here to teach the whole world lessons? Sophia feels all the same emotions that we feel. The most amazing thing to witness is that there is no filter through which she analyzes them or through which she shares them. When she's feeling mad, sad, happy...she just tells me.

"Mom, I am so mad at you." "Why, Sophia?" "Because you won't let me watch my t.v. show and I really like it." I usually tell her that she can watch it when she finishes her homework and she reluctantly sits down to do her homework. And when I tell her she can now watch it I usually get a "You're the best mom!".

I never doubt Sophia's love for me and I don't think she doubts that I love her. I know this because multiple times daily, she tells me she loves me. We have also been having this conversation for a few years. "How come you love me so much?" To which I answer, "Because God gave you to me and you are my daughter." She responds by saying, "Awww. I love you,too" and encircles me with a hug. Some mornings she wakes up and says, "Do you love me because God gave me to you?" I respond yes and then she points to a picture of me holding her when she was a baby. "I was a baby and I was so cute and God gave me to you." And for me, it is never redundant. She says it with renewed energy every this is a fact she has just learned and it makes her so happy and it is the only thing that matters in her life.

Occasionally I will see Sophia just sitting on the couch crying. When I ask her what is wrong she says, "I'm sad because I miss Auntie Donna". Or, she misses Granny, Mimi, Grandpa Ron, Marley or any of the people/animals in our life that have passed on. Some she has never even met or doesn't even remember. But we talk about them to her and show her pictures and she somehow senses that there is a void in this world left behind by their absence. I think about the number of times in my life that I miss someone and I may even cry. My first instinct is to hide my tears. After all it is the middle of the day and there are people around me and I don't want to explain or be embarrassed or diagnosed as unstable by strangers. How silly really that I feel that way. Am I not entitled to miss people and feel sad because of it? Sometimes I wish I could be more like Sophia.

I think my favorite emotion that I get to witness from Sophia is her joy. Some days we will just be outside playing or pulling weeds. She'll say, 'Wait mom...smell the air." She'll pause and inhale deeply and smile. Then she says, "It's a beautiful day. The sun is out, we're together...the whole family-me, you, daddy, Mira." I know that I taught her to "smell the air" when she was very young but somehow it has stuck and I am so glad because as I age and get busier I often forget to "smell the air" and breathe deeply and thank God for each day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tonsillectomy-Day 2

I have to say that Day 2 went pretty well. I am truly amazed by Sophia's tolerance for pain. She slept good and woke up fine. As the morning wore on I could tell she wasn't herself. I asked her what was wrong and she said "My froat hurts" and a tear trickled out of her eye. She probably would never had told me if I didn't ask. I gave her regular tylenol and she perked up a bit. She was bored so we visited Kelli and Everett and they took us to McD's for french fries and Target for an icee. Sophia's "belly was starving" at this point. She ate all the mushy fried once they were cooled and seemed quite content. I could tell the tylenol was wearing off and now that she had food in her stomach, I gave her the Rx pain med. Medicine is absolutely amazing. As you will see in the photo, Sophia was quite happily playing Wii boxing and oblivious to the fact that she had her tonsils out the day before!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tonsillectomy-Day 1

Well...the best part is that it is over! Yahoo! Sophia did great. She didn't complain about anything and even was smiling when she woke up from anesthesia. I am forever grateful to God that she seems to recover quickly and uncomplainingly when she is sick. Her tonsils were gross and huge and I know that she will sleep much better now that they are gone.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


On Sunday, Sophia participated in her first Special Olympics. Her event is gymnastics. She did a floor routine, uneven bars, vault, and beam. She took a Gold Medal for her beam-so cool! Her floor routine was AWESOME. She took a bronze in that-totally deserved a gold! She got a bronzes in the other 2. The whole day was just amazing. There was no shortage of tears. Many of my family members were feeling sorry for some of the participants. As the mom of a child with DS, I have been able to move beyond that. I guess it is because I don't see their disability first. I see their ear-to-ear grin when they complete a routine, their perseverance, their joy, excitement, and pride just because they are there. These kids were all so darn cute and obviously truly loved by their families. It was a pretty cool day. In the back of my head I kept thinking I wish President Obama was here. Anyway, we are headed to the state's Special Olympics in June because Sophia won a gold!