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Oh Chattanooga of our dreams!!!

The Ambassador of Autism Tourism made it to this incredible town one more time… Yep, we could not stay away for long…

She conquered… She surrendered to the marvels of Chattanooga

We had to… The town screams take me, I’m all yours!

How? Why?

The Passage – Water Fall Stairs!

When you have a 10 year old, full of energy, curious yet also with fears… Chattanooga will delight and appease.

Chattanooga will entertain and force you to discover.

I’ve said it before… Nature is the force that drives this incredible town. It guides the interaction a family can create in its open spaces.

A family with a child or adult with diverse abilities can find its little corner or take over every open space it offers.

I will insist… Just own your experience. Plan A and B and C, etc is always a good idea — you know what your kids/adults can or can’t handle. Keep seeking quality of life — whether it is 5 minutes or 5 hours.

Our favorite stops this time:

Tennessee Aquarium

It has been Autism Certified – this means personnel has been trained and consideration, respect, tolerance, empathy is available to all…

The designers of these spaces get all my respect. What a great flow, how hands on everything is and the reminder we must take care of our environment is obvious everywhere.

The Ambassador can show anxiety in new spaces, with new sounds. We are so proud of her… today, it was all welcomed, handled, survived, enjoyed. Many factors were at play – she’s older, she had previous activities to release anxiety (IMAX Theater, pipe cleaners craft and Orbeez) and we talked about it. She did it. She saw everything. She enjoyed it all – even those areas with intense sounds or enclosed spaces.

I’m a proud mom. This is why I strongly urge all of you to visit this spectacular place stat!!!!

  • Sensory Bag

Chattanooga Autism Center

  • This powerful organization in partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium gave free tickets for families to enjoy a movie in the IMAX Theatre and access to the River and Ocean Journeys of the Aquarium! Beyond thankful we are!
  • The cute mouse – Cheesey – made with pipe cleaners – provided hours of entertainment and incredible stories will be told about its valiant approach to life!
  • Creative Discovery Museum – we plan to be there soon!! Was present with a great hands on activity!

Puckett’s

We love their pulled pork!!!

Always good and jovial service… Tasty comfort food. Close to everything. And Cheesey was the star!

Walnut St Bridge

In the heart of it all… So much to offer. Limitless beauty!

Thomais witnessed an accident on the bridge – something her brain had never seen in real life. She was impressed. Shocked. She wanted to help. There were many details that had to be explained – several times!

Exposing our kids to real life is a must. Explaining what can occur. What the expectations are is our obligation as parents. Keep it simple or be as detailed as you need to be. But keep the communication lines open.

 

Riverwalk and The Passage – Water Fall Stairs

 

Our day ended with peace, calm, delight, wonderment and many questions… Beyond thankful!!

When can we return? Why is this place so special? Yes, at times it feels magnetic and you want more…

On the road back home…  a distant rainbow…

the reminder we must keep dreaming and making it all happen…  Why? Because it is possible… Thank you Chattanooga…

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Let’s follow Ghana’s example!

I do not cease to be amazed by the brilliance and resilience demonstrated in so called (incorrectly) third world countries.

Presently, the country of Ghana has an incredible group of mothers (some fathers) who knock on all doors to guarantee future educators have the opportunity to listen about autism and the needs of their kids – – based on their reality!

This is one novel concept and one such group is the Special Mothers Project in Ghana. I have interacted with Mary Amoah, the incredible and power house mom of Nana Yaa. Nana is now a teen, on the autism spectrum, non-verbal. Their experiences in the last 15 years led Mary to pursue advocacy at its maximum level and share the many lessons learned with the upcoming number of parents raising children on the spectrum.

But, the main goal is to educate future teachers about autism and what their children actually need.

From what I understand, in Ghana (or the United States) there are no University courses educating about the academic and social needs of students on the autism spectrum. This is where Mary and her Special Mothers come in.

These super heroes have surpassed the  boundaries of bureaucracy and nepotism and have convinced academic leaders to open the doors to offer workshops to future and current teachers — yes, parents educating teachers to be about autism and learning how to learn — regardless of behaviors and countless challenges the diagnosis presents.

I mega applaud them. They have succeeded.

University settings in Ghana acknowledge they need to transmit a variety of messages to the future educators of their country. They also realize autism prevalence in their classrooms and the lack of trained educators. They realize they do not know what autism is all about and it is advantageous to work with those surviving it every day.

Say it with me… The PARENTS!!!

Why do I write about this?

I will continue to write to all universities in the USA requesting similar projects become a part of the curriculum of education.

These experiences shall determine how prepared teachers will be when reaching the classroom and realizing that 10+ of 25 students are capable of learning  but need to be taught differently.

Right now, the United States must replicate projects like the Special Mothers Project in Ghana.

What have I done?

Below find the letters sent to the Departments of Education of various universities in Florida.

Only one university responded – UCF.

We have not had the opportunity to meet.

I urge all of you to send similar or completely different emails to these individuals. They need to hear from all of us.

Changes will only take place this way. Books and researchers cannot be the only way future educators shall learn about autism and its realities.

We the parents shall always be a part of this equation.

 

———- Forwarded message ———
From: YADIRA CALDERON <racayadi@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, May 3, 2018, 11:26 PM
Subject: Fwd: My daughter speaks… Teachers in Florida…
To: <Brindley@usf.edu>, <dnull@usf.edu>, <mbrownell@coe.ufl.edu>, <ggood@coe.ufl.edu>, <pamela.carroll@ucf.edu>, <wsecada@miami.edu>, <heithaus@fiu.edu>

 

Greetings

Representatives of Education in Florida

I have a simple request…

Please read this email carefully.

My daughter and I are ready to meet with you to discuss the reality of many in Florida’s schools.

Our basic need…

Better training of future teachers.

What is being taught and highlighted does not reflect what the system is and prioritizes or what the actual needs of the students are.

Particularly, students with a variety of diagnosis who need Multisensory methodology so they can be taught how to learn.

Many parents end up investing in tutors outside of the school system in order to see our children reading, writing at grade level.

Additionally, teachers to be need sensitivity training to avoid situations like the ones described below.

Yes, I am the kind of parent the school system does not like because I give less praise and do more complaints.

My daughter and her needs represent money to the school. These funds are not properly used and federal law is being violated.

But you know this.

I welcome the opportunity to meet.

Thank you for your time.

Yadira Calderon and Thomais Moshopoulos

Palm Harbor FL

Read about us here…

Www.autismhappykingdom.com

I was a featured guest in a WEDU PBS broadcast

Wedu.org/autism