Hello! This blog is about my daughter Hailey (currently 12 years old) and her experiences living with auditory processing disorder. Auditory Processing Disorder is Hailey's primary issue, however she has also been given the labels Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Visual Processing Disorder, Mixed Expressive Receptive Language Disorder and Phonology Disorder at various points in her life.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Accepting Our Child Has a Difference/Disability: It's A Process

"When our daughter was two, we noticed that not only did she not speak, but she didn’t seem to understand most of what we told her.  She has a twin brother and he was speaking in sentences, telling us stories, and in every way communicating well.  We wanted to believe that she was just a late bloomer, but when she started tantruming from frustration, screaming from noises we could barely hear, and staring glazedly into space – absolutely checking out from reality – we knew something was not right." Suspecting Auditory Processing Disorder in Young Children

Realizing that your child has something "wrong" for lack of a better term is extremely frightening and completely overwhelming at first.  I remember being so stressed by it all that I actually would have quasi-panic attacks where I would feel my heart palpitating and feel short of breath.

Thoughts would race through my head: Will she ever be able to understand language?  What if she always tantrums? Will I have a 16 year old daughter who runs around frantically screaming with her hands held over her ears whenever she hears a loud noise?

Yes, it's true.  When our children show signs of a problem, we have no real idea how significant that problem is going to be in their lives.  And it is not just us who don't know!  We go to doctors and therapists and specialists of various sorts who can tell us what most likely is going on in their opinion, but none of them can give us guarantees of what the future holds.

So the hardest thing we as parents do is learn to be patient, keep hope alive, and honor and assist our children where they are at each and every day.  We cherish the little things they accomplish and work to help them meet one goal and then the next along their path.

Then over time we realize that our own anxieties are less.  We come to understand this disability for its gifts as well as its difficulties.  We embrace our child for who she is and cannot imagine nor wish her to be any different than whom she is.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tell Yourself Ten Good Things About Yourself – How to Battle Negative Self-Talk

I’ve written before about self-esteem and the child with special needs, specifically in Nurturing Self-Esteem in the Child with SpecialNeeds, but I was reminded recently during a conversation, about a game I played with my daughter to help her specifically with her self-esteem.

After experiencing some bullying, my daughter became very down on herself and got to the point where she believed the insults hurled at her were accurate portrayals of whom she really was.  She started to believe she was stupid and fat and no one would want to be her friend.    It got so bad, she started telling herself these hideous lies, and I knew I needed to do something to stop her.  She needed an intervention, but what would work best?

So I caught her saying an evil to herself one day and I explained to her that when you tell yourself such things, you start to believe them.  I told her if she continued to go through her life telling herself how stupid or fat she was, she would always be miserable because she was carrying a bully around inside her own head.  I told her she was being the bully to herself!
Well, my sweet little girl who would never hurt anyone intentionally was devastated to hear that she was being a bully.  That was just not how she thought of herself.  So we made up a game to change her from being a bully to herself into being a best friend to herself.

Whenever she thought one bad thought about herself, she had to say ten good things about herself.  We practiced this by randomly asking each other for ten good things; for example, we’d be riding in the car and I would just say, “Quick, tell me ten good things about yourself?” 

At first it was hard for her and she needed a lot of prompting as well as she would make me go first to model examples for her.  Eventually, she began to really like the game and sometimes even get silly with it – “I am a marvelous cupcake baker” with an exaggeration on the word marvelous.

In the end, it did change her negative self-talk.  In fact, I overheard her telling her neighbor friend the other day about how telling yourself ten good things whenever you think one bad thing is important for your brain and will make you happy.

I hope this is of help to others in some way.  What techniques have you used to battle negative self-talk or to raise the self-esteem of your child with special needs?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Community of Mothers: The Internet Has Found You

I have been thinking a lot about a community of mothers*.  You see, I used to always daydream about the days when mothers would get together over coffee in the morning and talk about the kids and the housework, swap recipes, share advice, etc.  At least, that is the way the books I would read always suggested it was – back when most moms were stay at home moms.

Being a stay at home mom myself, I felt wouldn’t that be such a wonderful resource, but alas I didn’t know how to make it actually happen.  How impossible would it be for my friends to drive over to my house every day for coffee!  Then along came the internet.

I have found that community of mothers I was seeking.  Online, I can talk to other mothers every day – even multiple times a day.  We can share stories, advice, recipes, anything really.  We all can do it when it is convenient for us to do so, and we can do it without having to step outside our front doors.  Seriously, all those naysayers who think the internet killed interpersonal communication have gotten it wrong.  We are communicating and our voices are growing stronger through the support from one another.

Moms with children who have learning disabilities or other special needs can reach out across the globe to help each other.  Moms who homeschool can swap resources and share stories.  There really are groups and ways to connect with pretty much any group of moms you are looking to meet.  Whether you live in a bustling city or out so rural the cows are your only neighbors, you can have a community of moms just like you.

Thank you to my community of moms from around the world.   
You mommas are amazing!

--To find groups for auditory processing disorder support, check out my post Facebook Auditory Processing Support Groups.  It has links to the groups themselves.

---And here is one I participate in for Dyslexia (There are probably more and feel free to comment and tell me them so I can update this.): Dyslexia Support Australia 

---Comment and let me know others and I'll gladly add them here as well.

*Daddies are great too, but it is mommas who seem to be connecting the most in my experiences.  Thank you to you daddies out there that are part of this global community of parenting as well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Call to Compassion: Stop the Bullying

(This didactic speech was inspired by my friend's child being bullied, and on a support group for children  with auditory processing disorder where she posted about it, parent after parent wrote: "It happened to my child too!" Pair that with what is happening everywhere we look in society, and I had to express my opinion. )

As a society, we need to take that next big step into enlightenment. What I mean by this is we need to stop comparing ourselves to others and garnering our self-worth from how much better we are at something than someone else, how much more attractive we are, how much wiser we think we are, or how much more money we have.  None of that matters!  We are all human beings and our self-worth needs to come from the knowledge that we are actively compassionate people who strive to do our best and recognize the value in ourselves as well as that in others.  It’s time to believe that there is room in this world for all of us to shine and one light does not extinguish another.

You see, I have read account after account of children being bullied by other children and unfortunately, sometimes by adults.  Why are they being bullied? They are being bullied because they can’t do something as well as another, they don’t have the same looks as someone else, or they somehow are different.  Some children, following the path that society has laid out to them as the right one, have learned to value themselves by putting down others.  They position themselves as a “leader” in a social setting by excluding others through actively harming them.  This creates the “haves” and the “have nots” that society is so fond of: the smart and the not smart, the pretty and the not pretty, the rich and the not rich, the whites and the not whites, the Christian and the not Christian, the American and the not American, the men and the not men.  Do you see where I am going here?  It’s all about comparison and nothing about compassion!

Of course, it is worse than just those actively bullying.  The others just stand aside and accept it.  Why?  Well of course it is for survival.  In a world where you are either a “have” or a “have not” and the “have nots” are tortured, most people actively align themselves with the “haves” no matter the cost.  The only ones who do not are the ones whom have already taken that next step and realized how ridiculously foolish and harmful the whole game is.  They have their self-worth in being a compassionate human being who values everyone (which does not mean everyone's ideas, beliefs, or actions - just that they are people who have some value in some way), and so they have the strength to not go along with the crowd – to stick up for the one being bullied.

It’s time to start actively pursuing this goal of compassion.  Start pursuing it on an individual basis.  Start actively teaching it to our children.  Start demanding it be reflected in our larger society.  How?  Support compassion where you see it: put your heart, your money, your work into compassion being practiced, whether it be the child sticking up for another at school, the business putting its profits into helping others, the politician refusing to support discriminatory laws, the movie where there are main characters eliciting kindness in others, the fashion magazine that showcases a variety of body images and price levels, the church that accepts everyone, etc.  Refuse to support intolerance!  Refuse to support those people and those entities drawing the line and categorizing into the “haves” and “have nots”.

Or as John Lennon put it so many years ago, "Give peace a chance."

-This article is cross-posted on both this blog and my personal blog as it is relevant to both.