I say YES to 12 new chapters and 365 new episodes

Right before 2018 ended, I read something that brightened my day and forced me to remain in gratitude… Regardless of the challenges and uncertainty we face.

A new year means… 12 new chapters with 365 new episodes…

May every new episode in your life be filled with discoveries and strength to handle the challenges.

For us, the year just started and a very exciting episode is enjoyed… My kid has lost the fear to go underwater in a pool… It is huge. A limitation is lifted. She made the choice. She was capable of making this choice.

The degree of assertiveness, independence and self-worth this new step brings is limitless. Her eyes shine brighter. My heart pounds faster!

 

Moving on with various episodes that have caught my attention…

 

  • PanAfrican Autism Congress in Kenya (April 2019)

I’ve received the most  marvelous news. My abstract –

PARENTAL EMPOWERMENT: KEY TO SURVIVE AUTISM

has been accepted and I have the opportunity to speak at this empowering event.

As the episodes transpire… this one is full of challenges.

Yes, I should be there! Yes, I must share our lessons learned.

But, reality at this moment does not allow me to make this decision and be present. It is not the time. My priorities make me realize this.

That time will come…

 

  • Diverse Abilities, Good Business = Opportunity

Congrats to Mr. Kennedy for writing about a topic we the parents have been talking about for years… Yes, the business world must hear from those in power to validate a fact… Individuals with diverse needs must be a part of the work force – verbal, non-verbal, with physical limitations… If they can do the job, they should apply, they should be interviewed and if it is the right match, they should be hired.

I agree, not everyone with a diagnosis can have a job or start their own business. But those who have the capability or adequate supports must seek the opportunity to open every single door that exists to make it happen.

I have written to business owners and business schools inquiring on the need to create mentorship programs supporting those with disabilities interested in learning more and building a network. So far… NO ANSWER!

My two blogs from October 2018 (before Mr. Kennedy’s piece!!) emphasize this idea that entrepeneurship and inclusion is indeed good business!

 

  • Sad news from Peru 

A young boy with autism drowned — Yes, it happens. But in this case the events that led to the fateful ending are the responsibility of the adults. Why?

The boy eloped – sad and true it happens. Parents can’t be blamed. Talk to our families to understand these dynamics. The family approached the press – NO RESPONSE. The family went to the police – NO RESPONSE.

The boy got on a bus. The bus driver asked for fare money. The boy is non-verbal. A fellow passenger was asked to cover for his fare – she claimed she did not know him and did not pay. Bus driver drops off the boy at the last stop — by the SEA!

3 days later – the boy was found dead.

Peru has a law similar to the Amber Alert we are so familiar with. That bus driver, that lady in the bus had the responsibility to deliver this boy to the closest precinct. They all had the responsibility to give him a chance to continue living.

This was not the case… Another loss to autism, to indifference, to lack of training.

*Training of law enforcement, government employees, the media on Autism and the myriad of diverse abilities, is needed all over the world… Not only in Peru!

 

That I know… this never happened to my daughter. Other barbarities took place, she has PTSD from it (being screamed at, taken out of the classroom, being told to shut up in the midst of a behavior crisis, etc.), and we deal with it the best way we can.

In this case, there is proof. There is a video. This boy got hurt by the adults who are supposed to keep him safe and learning while in school. The boy now has PTSD. A boy who could be taught how to learn will face additional challenges as time passes.

I insist — school districts that refuse to implement ABA based behavior plans and proceed to not train all personnel interacting with students that have an IEP or 504 must be held accountable for their actions.

If there was no footage – nothing would have happened to those employees. I know that. It’s happened before.

UPDATE:  The teacher in question was fired almost immediately after the event, but she later appealed to a tribunal, and they overturned the school’s decision. The teacher has since been re-hired, although she’s been reassigned as a floating teacher in various classrooms throughout the district.

The above update stirs a variety of emotions in me.

  • I first say: Oh, again. No one is being held accountable.
  • Then I think: Wait, this woman abuses a student with an IEP and she gets her job back?
  • And I also realize: She’s lucky this boy was not my child.

These are the abuses that are driving countless parents to home school their children. I will say it everywhere I go – I wish I could home school. My daughter deserves to be in an environment that accepts and respects what she can and can’t do… and help her overcome what limits her now.

 

There are many moments in each episode that make me think, make me react. What is most important, I make the choice to be present, take the good, learn from it and avoid repeating the not so good.

This is it for now…

Tell me about your episodes. What makes your heart skip with joy? What keeps you awake at night?

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

 

A reading to share emotions: The Story of Thomais

NOVEMBER 2017 – Laura Harris from WFTS – The Now Tampa Bay Interviewed Thomais!

Click the picture to watch!

 

Click the link to watch the video:    Fave page from book…

All families – diagnosis or not – are welcomed to join Thomais as she reads favorite pages from her book “The Story of Thomais”.

Thomais recently expressed: “Parents you must also share your emotions with your kids!

In a safe and child friendly environment children and parents will share, using words or drawing, their emotions.

EMOTIONS  – Thomais latest video!

NOTE:  We’ll be collecting items – canned food and/or grocery store gift cards to be given away during The Harbor Dish Thanksgiving celebration —     Details here: https://www.facebook.com/harbordish/

 

Read about her book – The Story of Thomais

Thomais has autism. She is understanding and acknowledging her EMOTIONS. She is also learning it is important to express them and there are many ways to do this…

Thomais was learning 3 languages, reaching milestones like any other child – until December 2010 when she had a massive regression. She stopped talking, lining up toys, behavior crisis began and she was sick every month.

April 2012, what we lived  –   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfcRxgTZVHk

Almost 7 years later, after many interventions, therapies, over doses of love, patience and attention, Thomais is capable of engaging the day to day. She faces many challenges and as time passes they are easier to manage…

 

REFERENCES-

Deborah McNamara, Ph.D.  – Five Things You Might Not Know About Human Emotion

 

Background info – videos showing past experiences/reality and progress!

Sept 2017 – Surviving Hurricane Irma
https://www.facebook.com/yadira.c1/videos/10103269090054464/?permPage=1

Oct 2017 – Song to Fall Asleep – After Hurricane Maria, a family member who lost her home could not sleep… Thomais has sung various versions of this for her… She’s laughed and put her mind in a different place briefly… May it bring peace and laughter to your home as well… #Autism does not stop her from feeling for others!!

AUTISM REALITIES

We know all about autism awareness.

We want action. Life with autism is 365 days, 24/7…

These are various posts  I shared in social media. They reflect the reality of many families. For many it’s been the same or worse for 10+ years. The media rarely reports on these matters.

Do share!

Continue reading AUTISM REALITIES

WEDU PBS Autism Broadcast: Yadira Calderon Is A Featured Guest!

I thank everyone who is making these opportunities possible.

Town Hall — my intervention, segments from Autism and Employability parent panel —   min. 23:28 – 29:04 and min. 48:38 – 49:14

Webcast – min. 4:04 – 4:39