This blog contains thoughts, observations and comments from my experiences past, present and future in the field of special education and Conductive Education. I welcome your input please feel free to comment on anything you read here!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Disability on TV

So the world of TV is slowly catching up with the world we all live in and we are beginning to see more and more individuals with disabilities represented for our popular digestion.
Typically we have seen many wheelchair users depicted either people born with a disability (Billy Nugent, Legit) or more often using a wheelchair after sustaining some kind of injury (Logan, Dark Angel; Hodgins, Bones).

As reflected in today's society many shows are adding characters who are on the Autism Spectrum (Gary Bell, Alphas; Sonya Cross, The Bridge; Dr. Virginia Dixon, Grey's Anatomy, Max Braverman, Parenthood). And there are many more characters that while not officially diagnosed have fans speculating on whether they are on the spectrum (Dr. Temperance Brennan, Bones; Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory, Dr. Jeremiah Sacani, Royal Pains, Dr. Spencer Reid, Criminal Minds).

Other disabilities have popped up from time to time as well including
Down's Syndrome (Becky Jackson, Glee; Corky Thatcher, Life Goes On; Tom Bowman, The Secret Life of an American Teenager)
Visual Impairment (Auggie Anderson, Covert Affairs)
Hearing Impairment (Joey Lucas, West Wing; Daphne Vasquez, Switched at Birth).

What is interesting is that we are now seeing more actors with disabilities playing characters with disabilities. More importantly more often the disabilities is not the main focus of the show, these are real people living real lives (Christopher Reeves, Smallville; Katie Leclerc, Switched at Birth; Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God, West Wing, Lauren Potter, Glee; Kerry MacGregor; The Book Group; RJ Mitte, Breaking Bad). These characters are rarely the star of these shows though and are often guest stars or background characters.

Now however ABC are promoting a new show for the Fall which will feature a disabled individual, played by a disabled actor, as a main character in a show.
'Speechless', is a comedy based around parents raising three children one of whom has cerebral palsy is non verbal and using a wheelchair.
The trailers look great and Micah Fowler who plays JJ states, "I am honored to have the opportunity to play the role of a down-to-earth normal teen living with the challenges of cerebral palsy, and I am thrilled to represent the millions of people living with special needs."*
Look out for this show which promises to address the day to day issues associated with living with disability from both the individuals and families perspective.

Check out the clip below:


Monday, June 20, 2016

Back from the dead (so to speak)

So there have been many changes since that last post so many years ago. The school I was Directing merged with another school then broke away again while I have moved on to a new organization and broadened my work to include students on the spectrum as well as multiply disabled and medically fragile students.
This population is so very different from what I have experienced before and the behaviors I have witnessed over the past 2 years have been extreme and sometimes heartbreaking. I am working along side families and special needs organizations and the lack of resources and the challenges families are facing can seem insurmountable.
I was recently part of a grant funded program that was aimed at students with autism spectrum disorder who were in crisis.  We worked with the students in the home with their caregivers and family and also in the school environment.  We bridged the home/school gap and helped parents and teaching staff to provide supports and interventions to the students. I was devastated when the grant ran out and we were unable to fund the program any longer.  There is no feeling worse than having to turn parents and families in need, away.
Right now I am promoting my current program and also collecting information about resources and supports in the five boroughs that will provide services to a whole range of special needs. My aim is to be able to direct families to at least one organization that can help them if I am unable to.
No parent/caregiver should have to hunt high and low for services, they should have easy access to information and support. My goal is to provide as much of that as possible.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall semester

The students are back in fine form.
This is a welcome surprise as typically after a 2-3 week break bodies are tighter and brains are out of shape!

I'd like to think that the Communican program is so successful that the students are maintaining their communication skills throughout their breaks from school. I'd also like to think that parents and families are using the system at home in whatever form works for them and so this maintains the students skill levels.

Our team of therapists, conductors and teachers came back somewhat refreshed and are excited to be back in the classroom. Our practice at integrating the therapists over the summer would appear to have been successful.
We are doing less pull out sessions for speech and OT and while PT still does require a significant amount of pull out they are working to find ways to assist within the classroom environment whenever possible.

The summer was interesting! Scheduling mandated therapy times was as tricky as it has always been, which somewhat surprised me. It was also challenging to try to explain to the therapists what we wanted them doing within the classroom as it required some 'out of the box' thinking and creativity. That combined with fast track learning for me about the necessary paperwork therapists are required by State and City, meant there was a little confusion. I knew what I wanted to see in the classroom environment, the whole team working together, PT, OT, SLT, teacher and para all focused on the students needs.

The need to fulfill mandates put the first spanner in the works, the need for paperwork was the second and the third was trying to explain this vision to the team!

I'm hoping the program continues to develop in this direction. I still feel that integrating the staff is the best way to provide a complete educational, communicative, therapeutic day for our students. I feel all the team members can learn much from each other and that the students complex needs can be met better by a whole team approach. But it is definitely a work in progress right now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Creative Apps

Our iPads are being integrated more and more into our daily program!
Students with limited access and challenging motor issues are being given more and more apps that they can access independently, and we are taking full advantage!
One of our new favorites is a finger painting app by helpkidzlearn
It allows them with a very light touch to create art. It also creates sound as they draw which is a great way to keep their attention.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:W 116th St,New York,United States

Friday, April 5, 2013

A new home!

Standing Tall has made a huge change, we have moved from our main site at West 69th Street where we have been happily providing services for over 12 years now, to a new 10,000 square feet space in West Harlem.
We have been able to move our annex class back in with us and we now have access to 6 large classrooms, 4 offices, 2 therapy rooms, a huge industrial kitchen, and a multi-purpose room.

The move has not been without its stresses but after our first three days in the new space we are already beginning to settle in. The students seem content, the staff seem calmer, the therapists are on cloud 9 and me? Well it's been a couple of busy of months I'm physically and emotionally exhausted and I'm also incredibly excited as we move the school into its new phase.

We had some very happy times at 69th Street and while I'm still a little sad to be saying goodbye, I'm also looking forward to new adventures and creating new memories at 116th Street!

Packing up 69th Street!

Some of the 6 classrooms in the new space!

Celebrating together on the first day at 116th Street!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:101 West 116th Street, NY, NY, 10026

Monday, October 15, 2012

Closing the Gap 2012

So here we are at CTG presenting 'Jumpstarting AAC: From light tech to iPad to devices'.
I've never been behind the scenes, so to speak, at a conference before! It's definitely a learning experience!
Long, long, long hours of preparation!
Technical issues!
Then a long day of standing and talking!
And you know what? I am loving every single second of it.

We talked about our program and the amazing progress our students have made.
We discussed the integration of communication and best seating within the confines of a Conductive Education program.
And all the while I was conscious that it all sounded too good to be true! And let's face it if I hadn't actually been the one teaching the program I may have found it hard to believe too!
Hopefully I managed to convince the people who came that this is not fiction, this is real and it works!
Tomorrow I'm helping set up the booth and at an iPad workshop.
Wednesday Pati and I are presenting an hour on scripting before I have to fly back to NYC!
It's all to and I don't want it to end! LOL

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Normandale Blvd,Bloomington,United States

Monday, September 10, 2012

New semester, new students

With a group of new students entering the school we have begun using a newly developed communication book. As these students are all 5 years old we are using 6 symbols on the page rather than 12.
We are introducing sequencing in stories and our social scripts and the students are responding very well so far.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad