Saturday, October 30, 2010

The New York Botanical Garden Part 3

HOORAY FOR HALLOWEEN!! Today we took a trip to The New York Botanical Garden. This was me and the girls third time there. It was Big Al's second and my husband's first time. I really wanted to make this trip last week when the Meetup went, but today worked out better. 

A rare event happen. My husband was off from work and Big Bea was with us too. When these Saturdays happen....we have to get out and do something.
Given the opportunity of the entire family Cool Culture Family Pass was talking to me..."Use me before I expired on Sunday!" It whispered to So for the last time this Cool Culture season we got some culture. We headed to Halloween Hooray! Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere. Giant ones, little ones, fake ones, real ones and one that was a house. It was amazing!
The kids enjoy every drop of Halloween at NYBG. The especially loved the giant pumpkin that was being curved by Scott Cully. He is try to break his record for curving the largest pumpkin. He is doing an awesome job. I can't wait to see it when it is done. I have some great picture of his work up until today on my Facebook page.

My favorite part of the day was when we were walking passed the Discovery Center in the Everett Children's Garden. Big Al took his arm and wrapped it over Big Bea's shoulder. I quickly pulled out my camera and snapped the picture above. What a joyous moment! I was so happy I wanted to cry. Him showing affection is amazing. Big Bea was shocked the most. 

That movement it made all my hard work worth it. Affection doesn't come easy to those with the disabilities that Alex has. 

NYBG was still very sensory friendly even with the large crowd, bright orange pumpkins and the Fordham University football game taken place across the street. I can't wait to go back for the Train Show.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our School Has Potential!

In 1985, the Vega family moved from Brooklyn to the Bronx. I still don't know why we moved to the heart of the urban decay ....but we did. We moved to the corner of E174 Street and Vyse Ave. My building, at the time, was the only building on the four corner of that intersection. When I looked out my window, I could see empty lots, the Cross Bronx, the Bronx Zoo and many buildings in the distance. I lived block from the famous Charlotte Gardens, the urban war zone of the 70's & 80's.

I live one block away from Community School 50. Between my building and the school there was a row of buildings, three empty lots and two abandoned buildings. Drugs and gangs filled my poor block. My neighborhood was considered under developed. My neighborhood was left for dead after the deconstruction of the rich culture to make way for the Cross Bronx, the rapid depopulation of the Jewish residences and the burning of building after building.

In 1985, my neighborhood was apart of one of the first revitalization of the Bronx. My building was state of the art (for 1985 that is). C.S. 50 was apart of this revitalization, along the other district 12 schools. Because of the rapid depopulation of the 60's and 70's, schools like 50 were close to closing its door because there were simply no students to teach. If you walk through the halls of 50 you can still see signs of low school population. Strangely placed gates and old locks on exit doors. This were placed in the school for the safety of those children left in this struggling school. The fifth floor has no access except for the library and music room. The gates on the second floor were to keep the thieves at bay.

Who the heck would work at a school like this? I can list ALL the names of the staff members that made it through to the other side. I was on the other side. When I walked into 50 doors, the urban decay did not step foot in with me. I was supposedly going to school with the new generation of crack babies. The teachers never let us think that. They told us that we could be what ever we wanted and not to give in to the  world out side of that building. 50 was my second home.

50 is still my second home. Now that I am a paraprofessional at 50, I see how a school works from the other side.

Unfortunately, we are facing our second potential school closure. In the papers you'll read that this is the first time 50 has the potential to be close... which it is not true. In its 98 year history, this is its second time it is a failing school.

Just like in the late 70's, 50's staff & parents are fighting to keep our school open. This change is not going to happen over night because we didn't get this way over night. We are going to scream from the roof tops that we need help. We will not accept: no, I can't and I don't know as answers. If you don't want to work.... well 50 is not a place for you. Step aside and let someone who wants to work

Stop spreading rumors that we are closing next year..... The last time I checked....It takes more then a newspaper article or a blog post to close a school.

Our school has greatness built in its wall.

Our school has stood up when the neighborhood was demolished.

Our school has stood as Public School 50 and Community School 50 for 98 years and it will stay for another 98 years because we will not let it crumble.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Standing In A Crowd Room

A lot of the time I feel like I am all alone even if I am standing in a crowd room.

Many people can say they understand what I am going through with my children but you will never understand unless you are in the thick of it.

Even those who stand closely beside me don't clearly understand what is going through my head every second.

I am a mother of three beautiful children.

Mother is my title....I may have many other titles but MOTHER is the title that rules the rest.

I put myself fourth after Becky, Alex & Aly.... (the order that the kids come depends on the situation).

I keep order....but some may not see that.

I have a method.

My next ten moves are playing in my head like a chess master.

I am ALWAYS tired.....

and yes I can use some help but help never seems to be around when I need it.

There are many reasons why I am kind of venting on this blog post....some reasons that I do not want to share in this forum. 

The main reason behind this post is the tug of war of a working mother. My dream is to be a stay at home mother. I don't want to have to pick work over my kids. I want to be able to attend school events for my kids and not having to worry if I have days to do it. I don't want worry if I can make it in time to met the OT. I want to be that lucky mother of disabled children and an exceptionally bright child that get to stay home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exceptionally Smart Children

Today my co-workers and I had a discussion about what are the special population in our school building. We ran down the list of children that fall into this general label....

For the most part the sub categories of this list were groups where children with issues that negatively affect their grades to some degree. Examples are children in Special Education and English Language Learners. What about those children that are exceptionally bright? Those children that score perfect or near perfect grade almost all the time. Do they fall into the special population label?

I believe that they do. It's not everyday that you find a child that understand ALL the concepts that are cover in class for EVERY subject. In the 9 years that I have been working in the NYC school system, I've seen only a hand full of these exceptional children and I can remember each student and every one of their names. 

I have a huge interest in this topic. Becky falls into label of exceptionally bright children. I don't blog a lot about Becky because she in essence is the perfect or near perfect child. She follows directions 100%. She is hard working and helpful. She is also a true artist. The last two parent teacher conference, the teacher was only worried about her handwriting. Her handwriting doesn't discourage her from learning or writing... she just needs help in neatness. That doesn't worry me at all. She'll get it.

What can a school do to address these smart children?

Teach them things that they can flourish in:
Advanced computer skills is my favorite
Involving them in the Stock Market
The arts is always a great choice
Get them involved in school decision, like fundraising, gardening or decorating the school building

What can a parent do to address their smart children?

Read WITH them everyday
Explore museums, parks and zoos
Arts & craft is always fun
Talk with your child about topic that interest them
TALK, TALK & TALK... don't go a day with out understanding that is going on in your child's life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Example Service Change Letter

Since Aly's services are mainly held at Easter Seals, I am requesting her home-based OT be transfer to the center too. The reasons are that her sensory issues aren't being fully addressed at home. I wish Karen could drive around in a sensory gym... Whoa! That's a good idea....Mobile Sensory Gym.

Here's is part of the letter that I wrote for the location change. Feel free to use my example and change it to fit your needs.

Child’s Name:

To whom it my concern:

I, ___________, am requesting a change of location for services for my child, _________. My child is currently receiving home-based ___________________, an employee of __________. The frequency of service is ___ session a week for ___minutes.

Currently, _____is actively working on ________ visual motor skills, fine motor skills and sensory input to her extremities, which align with _______ IFSP goals. The areas that are not being address are___________. These areas are not being addressed because of the lack of space and availability of equipment. ________ is unable to provide equipment normally found in a sensory gym because of the how large this equipment can be and how limited the space in my home is. These sensory areas can be better addressed at a center with a sensory gym.

Please consider this request of change in location currently on ______’s IFSP dated  10/99/2010 from home-based occupational therapy to center-based.


I need a hug.

For two days in a row, Big Al has been pull-up-less from sun up to sun down. Sending him to the potty has been great except when it's time to poopie. Normally, he hides in his room and does his business fun. That's doesn't work so well in under wears. Today and yesterday when it was poopie time he self regulated himself to go to the bathroom and poop.

It was awesome to see him jet to the bathroom for some quality time. It got very quiet in the bathroom..... Then I hear..."Oh no" softly. I walk into the bathroom.....Big Al says, "Sticky!" and holds up his hand with.......poopie on it.


It turns out that he got up before he was done.....SMH! (harder)

He pulled up his under wears and got the "sticky" stuff on his hands......and the toilet.....and the tiles on the wall......and the tiles on the floor.....and the bathroom door. SMH!

I took a deep breathe and started cleaning. All Big Al could says is "Sorry Mommy Sorry."

I explained to him that you have to finish before you stand up... He repeated everything I said but I know it didn't understand because he did the same thing again a few hours ago.

SMH.... my head hurts.

Potty training with a child sensory integration issues is harder than calculus.... just to think I have to start with Aly very soon....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Constant Crying.....

This afternoon and evening Big and Little Al constantly cried.... if it wasn't one.... it was the other. I want to rip my hair out. They both had busy days. Big Al went to Green Meadows farm in Queen on a class trip and Little aL spent the day free range at her Titi's house. They were both hungry and tired by the time I got them. By 6 pm Big Al had five meltdowns because of "Little Al". He doesn't like her touching, looking, breathing on anything he is near, touching and in his line of sight that happens to be related to his possession. This is extremely frustrating! He screams, "NO! MINE!" all the time. After he screams ....she cries. They don't listen to reason.

Every day and every night.... the same struggle. It's rarely they play together. When it's beautiful. I dream of the day of no more constant crying.

I put them to bed 30 mins early because I couldn't take it anymore. Yes, they are going to wake up earlier but at least I can calm down with my blog, my music and my Butter-finger. (Thank you Tangela for the selling chocolates for your children's football team.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cool Culture Family Time Interview

If you haven't figured out by now... I love my Cool Culture Family Pass. I've been to so many places with my pass that I can't remember them off the top of my head. I enjoy sharing my experience on my blog with my readers who are family, friends, co-workers, bloggers and passer-byers. I also share my experiences with Cool Culture via their Facebook page. A few months back, when I was burning a whole in my family pass, Cool Culture contacted me. They congratulated me on what an amazing job I am doing with exposing my children to New York City Culture. I was very gracious that they contact me. They wanted me to continue sharing my culture experiences blog post on their Facebook. You know me... I have no problem sharing.

Soon after that, one of the Cool Culture communications staff members, L.B., contacted me about an interview. She read my blog and was amazed by how I was using my Cool Culture Family Pass and wanted to know if my name can be forwarded so that I could be interview for a future Cool Culture Family Time Newsletter. This newsletter get send out to the families that hold a Cool Culture Family Pass. I keep all of my newsletter as a reference. I love the map on the back, its a map of the NYC transit system with all the locations of each museum marked. So you know my response was YES!

I tried my hardest to keep it quiet on Facebook, so not to jinx it. I spoke about it a few times this week and I believe one other time.

Three weeks ago, I was contact again by L.B. inquiring from I was available the next couple of weekend so that an interview can be arranged. Last weekend was not good, and this weekend wasn't any better but if I didn't say yes I would regret it.

My crazy weekend nearly caused me to cancel the interview but I shook it off and didn't cancel.

I am so happy that I didn't.

Writer G. A. conducted the interview today. Once, I saw his ID I let him into my home. (You never know these days) The interview went great. The questions were difficult only because I had fun at ALL the places I used my family pass. It's hard to pin point which experience was the best for everyone because we enjoyed everything.

Little Al was the kid around for the interview. Little Al was napping and Big Bea was her father. Big Al was showing off some of his PDD-NOS behaviors. He lined up on the chairs and tables across the living room. It was actually very cute. He was also eating an egg-roll and shared it was the living room rug, kitchen floor and with Mommy of course.

All in all the interview went great. I hope that it gets published.

Also the person that interview me isn't a small town free lance writer. G.A. has earned a 2010 NAACP Image Award nomination and has written for many big name companies. Something told me after the interview to google him.... well good thing I googled him after the interview or else I would have been a nervous wrack. He must have also thought that I was a nut when I asked for ID.

Little Al's Update

At first we thought that Little Al was adjusting well to center based services. It turns out that she is having a very hard time adjusting. She whines and cries all the time. She is not transitioning well. I believe that the main reason this is happening because she is only at the center for three days out of the week. After her four sometimes five day weekend, she has to re-adjust to center life. Its a vicious cycle. Her teacher recommends five days a week (Like I asked for in the summer but NOOOO.) Here is where it gets tough, if the request increase service for special instruction goes in now (after 2 months of her attending the center) the request is going to get a big fat NO by the EIDO who reads the request. That EIDO will only be doing there job correctly. For the request to be given an OK, new progress reports must be given in and 3 months must have passed in order to show that an increase is necessary. There is a chance the EIDO can say no stay with the same amount of service and try again in another 3 months. I hope they say yes.

Here is another thing that adds to the problem, I am requesting center-based OT and PT. The EIDO has to approve PT for Little Al but doesn't have to approve the location of services. They can make it home-based. Home-based services put a strain on everyone. Adding more home-based services is going to plan out give me more gray hairs. If I was a stay at home mom I wouldn't have this problem. Center-based service allows our family to enjoy some free time together. I want to change OT to center-based because Little Al s sensory issues are not being fully met with home-based OT. Karen does her best but a sensory gym is what Little Al needs and I don't think Karen's car is big enough to carry a gym in it.

So what is this mom to do......

Well bombarded the EIDO with paperwork. All of Aly's services providers and myself have to take fingers to keyboard and write out a lot what is needed for Aly. We have a few weeks to the 3 month mark to get this done. We have to give enough proof that the EIDO can't say no. Wish us luck!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Speech Delays

Little Al is 24 months old and have the speech pattern of a child that is 7-12 months. She has maintain this speech pattern since she was 18 months. Thank to her home-based speech therapist and special instructor she was able to progress in her speech patterns. At 7-12 months first true words appear, mostly nouns. These words are have same syllable length. Dada, Titi, apple, etc. (She doesn't Mommy yet) She also demonstrates and increased understanding of daily rounties. She understands that once she has her coat and book bag on its time to go out the front door. She understands that once she has taken an evening bath its bed time. It's excited to see her understand the world around her.

Little Al's speech pattern should be like this:

"-Child understands simple questions and commands
-Identifies familiar actions/activities in pictures (i.e. "sleeping, eating")
-Follows directions to put objects "on, off, in"
-Puts two words together on average
-Sentence length of up to three words
-Child will refer to self by name
-Labels pictures
-Final "s" is used for plurals" (, 2010)

At 2 years old, Big Al's speech patterns weren't as delayed at Little Al's. He had a larger vocabulary and he could say Mommy a thousand times a day. He does have the speech pattern for a child his age but he demonstrates delays in expressive language. When is sad, upset or happy it is very hard to express his feelings. Negative emotions almost always means he is crying and positive emotions means he is jumping and hopping around.

So what do we do to get these kiddies talking.... Add sounds and language to everything that you are doing. I just to be over the top and silly when we are doing daily routines. Since Alex has transition issues also verbalizing what are the next steps and telling him how much time her his helps to avoid meltdowns and fits. Sing songs with finger play. "If you're happy and you know" it is my favorite.

When it comes to discipline is very difficult. It's easy to punish a child and assume that they know what they did wrong. That is not the case with child with communication issues. If they see you upset and angry that are scared by your react and have no idea what happen that made you that way. If you put fear in them... they don't want to come to you for good or bad things that may happen to them. Discipline has to be enforced calmly and consistently. Shouting is the enemy.

We also use PECS as a way to communicate. PECS are fun even for older children. Becky like arranging the pictures to make funny sentences.

Patience is your best friend when dealing with speech delays.