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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Top 6 Special Needs 2015 Resolutions

As we get ready to begin a new calendar year, my thoughts inevitably turn to thinking about what I want to do differently in the next 365 days. Rather than focusing on any weight-based goals (although I'm still waiting for that magic drink that melts off pounds while napping), I am looking at a whole different set of action-oriented resolutions for parents who have kids with special needs, the community, and while I am at, the whole world.

For myself and other parents who have children with special needs:

1) Laugh More – It is way too easy take life too seriously when faced with complex medical, physical and behavioral challenges on a daily basis. But if I can just watch one silly cat video or chuckle over the headlines at The Onion everyday, I will stay more positive.

2) Don’t give up- Once our kids with special needs get older, it’s hard to keep up the same energy in seeking out new therapies and strategies that we had when the kids were younger. But with technological advances, there’s a constant stream of new devices, apps and interfaces to research and consider using. And sometimes, looping back to interventions first tried when the kids were younger, can really help boost developmental milestones.

3) Assuming competence- When our son was younger, I was pretty diligent about reading Danny a picture book every night, and when he got older, simple chapter books. Sometimes he paid attention, but he often got distracted, looked away and didn’t seem too engaged. So I stopped reading to him. During this winter break from public school, I started reading to him once more, and nothing sounds better than hearing Danny say, “Again!”

For the community:

4) Making faith-based programs open to all- There’s nothing sadder than reading blog posts from other parents of different faith traditions who write to say that their church/synagogue/mosque, etc aren’t welcoming to their family members with disabilities. Sometimes it’s a physical barrier, with many older building lacking an elevator or adequate disabled parking. But more often, it’s a cold shoulder, combined with intolerance for those children and adults who act, look or behave differently than the norm. A welcoming attitude costs nothing.

5) Stop using the word “Retarded”. Period. - There’s a concept floating around that as long as you use the word “retarded” to refer to an inanimate object, such as your broken cell phone, that’s okay, although it’s commonly understood that it’s not cool to use the “r-word” to refer to people who actually have intellectual disabilities. Every time I hear someone use that r-word, I feel hurt and offended. As they say on the “R-word: Spread the Word to End the Word”, “Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.  Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.”

For the world:

6) End the institutionalization—In too many parts of the world, children with disabilities are placed in “orphanages” even if they have living, loving parents. Once inside these inhumane facilities, residents are segregated abused and given sub-standard medical treatments. Support Disability Rights International, the leading international human rights organization dedicated to protecting the rights of people with mental disabilities.  Too many governments would rather lock up kids and adults with disabilities instead of paying for the community support services that families want and need to keep their loved one at home.

Keep warm on New Year's Eve and may the coming year bring us all good health, good friends and good times!

Source: Jewish Journal, 30th Dec 2014

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