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Rainbows and Butterflies

Heartfelt Stories of Special People and Special Education

“Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart.
And your story will touch and heal people's souls.”
~Melody Beattie

With gratitude, I acknowledge the people who generously shared their story for you to experience.
Maybe yours is similar, maybe not. Regardless of what brings us here to the same place in this book, we
have something in common. Soul. Soul is what makes us tear up when we see someone overcome a
great obstacle. Soul is what puts that lump in our throat when we feel such empathy for another’s
struggles. Soul is what helps us to see a little bit of ourselves, plus a little bit of miracle, in people we

It was my privilege to compile these stories into this book. Through the process, I realized that none of
us are simply walking horizontally through life for our own purpose. Our journeys are incredibly
intertwined. I read more than once that the people who thought they were doing the helping, were in
fact on the receiving end…they would never be the same because of a chance crossing of paths with the
people who supposedly “needed them”. I read about incredible triumphs and celebrations as well as
sorrow and reflection. The love of families and the rainbow of emotions made it clear that uniting and
overcoming is far better than dividing and conquering. A common denominator was “believing.” The
biggest gift you can give people is to transparently believe in them. And whether you hear a soft whisper
or a loud bellow, your inner voice must tell you to believe…believe bigger than you think you are, believe
the power is within you, believe you can go one more day…

This book is called Rainbows and Butterflies. Rainbows cannot come out without the rain. In fact, the
embrace of a rainbow spreads colorfully across the sky when the sun shines through the rain. We treasure
that the rainbow has several different colors – and we value that each color proudly shines its own light.
Butterflies are not born with wings. In fact, they are born with little hope of ever leaving the ground – that
is if they decide to remain a caterpillar. How sad it would be if the caterpillar believed he would never
flutter atop the flowers. Instead, he grows the wings that were always within him, takes a leap of faith,
and soars. While we work through our own personal journeys:

May we be the hand the reaches out and the smile that stretches wide.
May we share our words of encouragement for the ones who’ve tried and tried.
May we be the message of hope and the voice that easily sings.
May we cherish our own colors of the rainbow and spread our growing wings.

~Marnee Brick, November 2009 | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

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TinyEYE believes in children. Because we understand the heart of a child, we care so much that we
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Healing children's smiles. Making the world a better place. | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Rainbows and Butterflies
Heartfelt Stories of Special People and Special Education

A Daughter’s Message Maria’s Story 1

A Father’s Son Tom’s Story 2
A Mother’s Intuition Jodi’s Story 4
And One Person Raised Her Hand Janet’s Story 5
Bobbi Veronica’s Story 6
Treasures Susan’s Story 8
Boost to Distinction Susan’s Poem 9
Dare to Imagine Karen’s Story 10
Don’t Cry Mom, I’m With You L. Mae’s Blog 11
IEP Serenity Wish L. Mae’s Blog 12
I Don’t See it That Way Your Friend’s Story 13
I Just Am Bryan’s Story 15
Just See Me Robert’s Blog 16
Miracles Found in Art Bailey’s Story 17
My Vision Donna’s Story 19
Nashville Bound Veronica’s Story 21
Unlocking Potential David’s Story 22
When Life Seems out of Tune – Sing Joaline’s Story 24
Windows to the Soul Susan’s Story 25
Words of Encouragement Derrick’s Story 27
State of Flux Amy’s Story 28
Plant a Seed – Watch it Grow Susan’s Story 30
The Legacy Pablo’s Story 31
Lifeline to Hope Michele’s Story 32
Part of a Bigger Plan Chelsea’s Story 33
Your Special Brush A Child’s Voice 35

A Daughter’s Message | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”
~ James Earl Jones

When new parents are asked what they dream of for their baby, a common response is “I just want her to
grow up to be happy”. As the journey unfolds differently than we expected it would, we sometimes find
ourselves saying, “Hey, this wasn’t the plan! Why has this happened to my precious child? ” We might
mourn what is…and what will not be. The gift of parenthood brings gre
at responsibility and tremendous
perseverance. As our new reality unfolds, our hearts embrace our child. We find new moments to
treasure, different achievements to celebrate, and another wish
true. Still, our resilient focus
remains: We just want our child to grow up to be happy.

Our first story was shared by a mother who found peace in her reality after receiving a special message
from her daughter, who is living with a disability.

Each night I close my eyes

so that I might find you
again…laughing, dancing
and running to me.

Maria’s story:

I dreamt once that my daughter and I me

met in a place
ce between lives. I
sat there wondering why we found ourselves in this situation, this life or ours, her with her
caregiver…or is it the other way around? And she was laughing,
disability and me as her caregiver
joyfully and knowingly at me and said, “You take things so seriously… this is only for a little
while you know? You
ou just need to learn how to feel
feel.” And
nd so I continue in my journey of
opening up my partially closed heart and hope I can fulfill my purpose.

A Father’s Son | | 1-877-846-9393

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“Just when you thinkk you have learned what you need to know in life, someone special comes into it
and shows just how much more there is.” ~Tom

Tom’s story:

Karen and I had been married for over four years when on December 3, 1981, our son, Bryan, was
born. As I watched this
his miracle unfold in the birthing room, I
realized our son’s eyes looked different from what I had expected.
And even though I did not have a lot of experience with Down
syndrome, I knew right then that our boy had it and immediately
my first selfish thought
ght was, “Who will I play baseball with?” Little
did I know at that time that Bryan would grow up to be a young
man who loves to play all sports, except baseball. At that time, I sure could not envision the
happiness, pride, knowledge and love that Brya
Bryan was to bring into my life.

When Bryan was born, my wife, Karen, and I knew that our lives were going to change dramatically.
Since there was no Internet back then, and very little help from the library, we chose to raise Bryan
as if he were “normal”. Every professional that we spoke with and every item that we read said the
same thing – “just take this baby home and love him. See that he walks and talks, but don’t expect
much.” So we simply raised our son the same way we would have raised a son
withoutt an intellectual disability. We tried to incorporate anything and
A child is a gift
everything into his life. We took him everywhere we went: shopping, that will unwrap
parties, concerts and trips. Of course, we also sang to him and read to for you each day…
for the rest of
him. We included all the academics that we though
thought he could handle.
your life.
Parents today are so lucky to have the resources needed and the
therapies available that we did not have. But when I see Bryan open a door for a
girl, without being asked, I know that Karen and I did a good job. | | 1-877-846-9393

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When it was time for Bryan to be included in school, we fought for that right. When it was time for
Bryan to make his Holy Communion and Confirmation, we fought for those rights. When it was time
for Bryan to play on a soccer team, we fought for his right to play with his peer
s. When Bryan
decided he wanted a tattoo, we fought for his right to honor
his favorite band, Aerosmith! And when it was time for Bryan
to walk with his peers at his high school graduation, we fought
for that right.

In the meantime, I was busy every sp

spare moment writing …
about Bryan. The finished product, SPIRIT, COURAGE and
RESOLVE … a Special Olympics Athlete’s Road to Gold, details my family’s experiences with and
because of Bryan. It culminates with our trip to Ireland, where we were invited to speak
sp to
Congress, and coming home with gold medals.

I took a job in the Special Ed department at the high school where both our kids graduated, in Bryan’s
old Life Skills classroom! I now know that this is where I truly belong

Bryan has shown and where I will spend the rest

st of my working days. In the

me an meantime, my wife and I decided we wanted to give something

unconditional love back. Along with other parents, we started a non-profit

non group called,

for which I was RAD, Recreation and Athletics for the Disabled. We exist solely to

unprepared. He financially assist anyone with

h an intellectual disability who cannot

has brought more afford to participate in Special Olympics activities in Chandler.

happiness to my
As Bryan and the rest of us have gotten older, I have noticed him
life than I could
slowing down a bit, a little forgetful at times, and he gets tired
have dreamed quicker now. Course,
urse, who doesn’t? He still loves his rock and roll,
possible. He has favorite television shows and going to dances, but we definitely
made me proud to worry about his future. We certainly do not mind if he lives with
be his dad. us forever, but we would like him to be more independent and
perhaps live with others.

Throughout the years, Bryan has taught me about humility, by accepting who he is and never
complaining. He has taught me to be patient, by waiting for opportunities to present themselves. He | | 1-877-846-9393

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has given me the knowledge to be who I am today. And because of him and our three legged
German Shepherd, Ozzie, I am now an advocate for people and animals with disabilities.

A Mother’s Intuition

One can never co

nsent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.
~Helen Keller

Jodi’s Story:

I'm an adult who received special ed

education services as a child, from first
grade until 5th.
I have walked in my child’s
shoes. After bombing first grade, I was diagnosed with a learning disability
and received special education help almost daily until junior high.
I know his journey for I The techniques I learned help me to this day. It took some time,
have taken it myself. For yet I ended up doing really well in High School and graduated
college with honors.
this reason, I will spread
my wings so that he My special education teacher saved my educational
educ career!
believes he too can fly.
One of my three children struggles in school. Though it took outside
testing, he now receives special ed
education services and it has made a
huge difference in every aspect of his life! I cannot say enough about the
decent special ed
education teachers I have met over the years.

I am a first time author. My book was released by Llewellyn Worldwide this August and is titled, The
Happy Medium. Writing has long been a passion of mine. Without the special education
ed help I
received as a child, I am not certain I would have had the confidence to move forward and reach for
my dreams.

Today, Jodi helps business owners and individuals learn how to

utilize their own intuition in their everyday life. In addition, she
is a medium and helps clientss understand their continued
connection with loved ones on the other side.
you.html | | 1-877-846-9393

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And One Person Raised Her Hand: “I Will Take Her”

“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and

I didn't have the heart to let him down...”
~Abraham Lincoln

Janet’s Story:

My background is in Special Education and I taught in a wonderful state school in Texas. It came to
be that I became the legal al guardian of a severely disabled child who had been abandoned at birth.
She was not even given a name.. As I have watched her progression as she has matured, it has been
incredible to witness the proof of people willing to work with her. When I was
able to be her teacher (back in 1977), I never dreamed that she would now
be able to hold a job. The milestones we celebrate with her are just as
I see beyond your sweet worthy as any other child. She lives in a dormitory, helps with meals
freckles, your long and dresses herself. When she graduated ffrom rom a divided plastic tray
eyelashes, your wide to a regular diner plate, it was because the staff devoted time and
smile…I see your radiant care to her. When she didn't cry the first time when I had to leave,
spirit. Nurturing you, I cried. I knew she was developing with help from teachers and
trainers. Her quality off life expanded beyond what was planned
cheering you, and loving
for her at birth. This is largely due to the group of individuals who
you will be a gift to me. made it their life’s purpose to contribute, to teach, to believe.
believe | | 1-877-846-9393

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“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of
overwhelming obstacles.”
~Christopher Reeve

Veronica’s story:
I have been a special education teacher in Boone County, Madison, WV at Scott High School since
l992. I live 96 miles (roundtrip) from there and it has been my choice to drive this
distance to be part of such an excellent school system and special
In all the lands of this education department. My first year teaching there, I had a student
universe, our paths crossed with locked in syndrome. Bobbi had been hit by a car in 4th grade
at this moment, here. Stay and lived with a traumatic brain injury.
with me a while. Then, if I was with Bobbi until she was 21.
you must go, I will hold
Bobbi had purple everything throughout the time I knew her:
your everlasting light in my
purple clothes, purple ceramic tile in her bedroom, and a purple
prom dress. I escorted her to her
senior prom. Her boyfriend, who she
liked in elementary school before the
accident, danced with her. Needless to say,
there was not dry eye in the room. After that, her mom said she had a
surprise for me and told me to come out to the car. Bobbi mouthed the
words and sang to me "Wind Beneath My Wings": …Did you ever know
that you're my hero, and everything I would like to be? I can fly higher
than an eagle, 'cause you are the wind beneath my wings….
Bobbie was maid of honor at my wedding. She wore a purple gown. She looked like Cinderella
being wheeled down the aisle! We practiced for weeks doing therapy for her to be able to open her
hand wide enough to let go of the groom's ring! She did it!
The day I met her parent's, her dad asked, "Where is it you are originally from?” I said, "Oh a little
place in McDowell County called Keystone". You have probably never heard of it. He said his sister
married a man from there. Turns out it was MY HUSBAND'S 1st cousin and his sister had been in my
home many times! I feel this was all meant to be for my connection with Bobbi and her family.
The day after her last day at school, I visited her at her home. She was in a coma. Her other two sisters
were in the room and for whatever reason we began talking about her life from the beginning up to the
accident. We took our turn around the room talking to her and when it came to the last comment from
her sister of, "it is ok Bobbi, you can let go now", she took her last breath. | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Her parents had a WHITE dogwood tree in their yard and the spring after she passed away there
was ONE PURPLE bloom on the tree.
During the time I had Bobbi as a student I always knew and really felt I
had made a difference in her life. After her death I then realized that it
was Bobbi who made the difference in MY LIFE.LIFE
Because of her I have grown as a Christian, teacher,
teache mother and
human being. She truly was the one to make a difference in my life
and those who had contact with her.

Treasures | | 1-877-846-9393

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“Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.”
~ Carol Lynn Pearson

Susan’s Story:

I have often heard it said that “G-d doesn’t make mistakes”. And I suppose that I am living proof of

Fascinated with history and books, I saw myself, a born and bred Washingtonian, spending my adult
life dusting off and displaying historic treasures at one of the 19 venues of the revered Smithsonian

G-d had other ideas. He sent me Beverly Resnick.

Needing to do community service for a high school honor society, I was all set to bus into downtown
Washington to “intern” at the Smithsonian. When with great energy, Beverly bounded up the
school hall and said with 1000 watt enthusiasm, “Come with me to the Jewish Home for Retarded
Children”, and then as if an afterthought, added “ and your father can pick us up on his way home
and we won’t have to take the bus home!” So I went, promising myself that next week I would get
to go to my dream job. The kids drooled, they needed diaper changes, they had trouble swallowing,
many were in wheelchairs, I got through the first encounter envisioning dusty books.

Next week came and again Beverly bounded up the hall and I knew I was a goner.

I went again to the “Jewish Home for Retarded Children”, and something
miraculous and so touching happened that I remember it today as new
Epiphany as when it occurred. The previous week I had fed and played with a
If you live life by the book, little red-haired boy named Tyler. He didn’t speak, he didn’t make
you will miss the point. Don’t eye contact, and I thought he didn’t even notice me. When I
write your last chapter before walked in the following week I was greeted with a very loud,
it is yours to have. Your story painstakingly slow, “Hi Susan!” His aide said he had been
will unfold in a way you never practicing all week. I cried and hugged and kissed him, and never
could have written for looked back.
I don’t dust off treasures in the Smithsonian. I do something much
better. I am honored to help the treasures with whom I work, find and
display their own personal inner riches.

Contributed by: Susan N. Schriber Orloff, OTR/L | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Boost to Distinction

“They may forget what you said, but they will

never forget how you made them feel.” OH THE CHILDREN I’VE MET
~Carl W. Buechner What is it I’ve seen?
Hopeful faces galore
Do you know what I mean?
“Susan N. Schriber Orloff, OTR/L” is a parent of Can’t write, Can’t ride, Can’t look, Won’t see
children who learned differently. Shouting inside, “What’s the matter with me?”

So we enter into a journey

Professionally, Susan is an author, advocate, My new friend and I
service provider, and business leader. Among Learning together
Guided by a Force in the sky
other accolades, Susan was awarded Outstanding
OT for 2006 by the Georgia Occupational Therapy They try it, They do it,
Association for her commitment to children who Time after time
It’s not easy this mountain they’re destined to climb.
have special needs.

But upward
Susan has helped develop several programs for And onward
children who learn differently, including her They do reach the top-
Having learned along the way
handwriting program entitled "W.I.N. - Write
When to push, when to stop
Incredibly Now" and "Handwriting on the Wall"
through which she has developed a method of But a stop’s just a rest
Of that they are sure
applying a series of OT techniques which take
Going on they will
children (who have handwriting challenges) from Knowing there’s more
"labored" to "legible" in 12 sessions.
Tasks learned/Skills achieved
They did it not me!
Children’s Special Services, LLC My part was so small, This I ask you to see;
Just a booster of sorts…
As they learned to succeed!

Excerpt from Susan’s acceptance speech for

"Georgia Woman of Distinction" award | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Dare to Imagine

Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as
I look can I see
see, only as much as I dream can I be.”
~Karen Ravn

Karen’s Story:

My middle son presented as deaf. Nathan started speech

ech therapy when he was just two years old.
Four times a week, speech therapy was our destination. We used sign language and made up much
of our own nonverbal communication.

athan had supportive teachers through 5th grade. He continued to

develop hihiss skills and participate in school. Junior high was more
difficult. I really had to push for my son to receive the services
As a parent, I am the constant. I
that were on his Individualized Education Plan. Nathan was not
knew my son before today and I finished with overcoming obstacles. It was a day of
will know him beyond tomorrow. celebration when he graduated from high school. You can
You might have him for a moment imagine my mother’s pride when Nathan recently graduated
of time. You are one of the from UMASS (University of Massachusetts). That two year
rainbow of people who will hold old little boy without words is now a university graduate.
out the next step on his journey.
As much as you will impact him, I would say that without the services
rvices he received, he
he will change you. You see, he is wouldn’t have graduated from high school let alone college.
one of the rainbow of people on
your journey. Oh by the way, he was not deaf. He could hear sound – he just
couldn’t get on the frequency to tune all the other noise out!

My journey in special education and

ing for my children is not over. My
youngest child is autistic and attends a specialized school.
This had made all the difference. Partnering with people who care so
much about the quality of my child’s life - present and future - is
replenishing. They dare
re to imagine what my child will do, will have, will

Karen Monroy, Ph.D.;; Teaching Sustainable P

Prosperity; | | 1-877-846-9393

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“Don’t Cry, Mom. I’m With You”

L. Mae’s Blog:

September 13th, 2009

My husband and I have been trying to engage our son in Cub

Scouts for the past two years. Sometimes we think we are
making progress, and other times, like today, we ask ourselves
What were we thinking? Everyone involved with the den – the
scoutmaster, his wife (a parent educator), the scouts and the
ther parents have bent over backward to support us, so we
continue to have high hopes that Connor will find a place to
develop friendships with peers.

This afternoon’s festivities

ies were supposed to include a ceremony whereby our son and the other
scouts were to graduate to Bear Cub status. Connor had finishedshed his requirements ages ago, and we
planned carefully to ensure that the event would be successful. We decided to arrive a little later to
avoid the pre-ceremony
ceremony commotion that always precedes a Pack me meeting. We gave Connor
advanced notice of how the ceremony would be followed by a picnic and then a hayride, and we
also agreed to allow him to take off his scouting uniform and replace it with his customary pull-
on pants and tag-less, button-less
less shirt, immediately after the ceremony was finished.

Perhaps it was the garage sale the day before, or perhaps unstructured activity just isn’t in the stars
right now, but for whatever the reason, Connor took one look at the picnic area and another look at
the playground where other scouts were playing noisily on a life-sized
sized pirate ship, and decided to go
home. NOW. And so back home we went.

We’ve left the scene hundreds of times before, forestalling many other social outings that were
supposed to be fun, but forr Connor, were torture. Still, I really thought he was ready for this one.
And I blamed myself, Should we have arrived earlier rather than later? Timing is so important for
these things. Should I have forced Connor to stay and accept responsibility? Perhaps
haps I should’ve
signed him up for that social skills course last summer, instead of waiting for next summer as
planned. Maybe he’d be further along socially if he weren’t an only child. Maybe he doesn’t feel
welcome or worthy because he hasn’t been able practice conversation skills with a sibling.

When we came home, I started preparing dinner. Before I knew it, I began to cry. I was failing my
son. So I hid my tears the best I could behind a simmering pot of spaghetti, Connor’s favorite Sunday
dish. But Connor doesn’t miss a thing. As I was sniffling around the kitchen, Connor came up to me
and said, “Don’t Cry, Mom. I’m With You You.” I felt as though I was staring into the eyes of Christ
himself. My petty worries were meaningless. My son knew better th than
an anyone else his difficulties,
his travails, and yet, as he told me in his next sentence “Mom, I’m happy. Don’t worry so much.” | | 1-877-846-9393

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IEP Serenity Wish

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm”
~author unknown

L. Mae’s Blog:

May the Great IEP Wizard Grant Me:

The strength to help my son change what

can be changed through a combination of
effective and thoughtful programs,
teachers, therapists and compensatory

The courage to ignore those behavioral

issues that drive me crazy, but will likely
disappear on their own and/or didn’t
matter in the first place.

The wisdom to know the difference so

that I don’t drive my son crazy, thereby
increasing my chances that he might
actually come to
visit me in the nursing home (preferably
accompanied by at least one grandchild)
during my sunset years.

I simply cannot let autism become the boss of me, my son or my family. It will not stand in
the way of teaching my son the social skills, communication skills and abilities to make his
own good choices and healthy relationships and consequently, his own success in life. He
will understand how not to be a victim. And I shall not fail. To do so would be to consign
my son to a life without options, and I never want him to feel trapped in a situation that
he never bargained for.

I wish I were smart enough to find a cure for autism, but I’m not. That only leaves one
thing: good old fashioned parenting. Because I am going to raise my son, not fix him.

L. Mae | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

I Don’t See It That Way

"Cherish your vision and your dreams as they are the children of your soul;
the blueprints of your ultimate achievements."
~Napoleon Hill

Your Friend’s Story:

I know that people consider problems learning, reading and writing as Learning Disabilities. I don’t
see it that way.

The reality is we are all abnormal creatures in a very abnormal world with a unique perspective of
the world, with great new ideas.

I was born with a vision problem known as Amblyopia (more

I see (problems) as a different commonly known as a lazy eye) and Stigmatism. Unknown to
perspective and one should most, I was also born with a small hearing impairment, and
think about a learning after many years of struggling with school and college, then
environment that fits the being mis- diagnosed by a person as having Auditory
child/student, without a label Processing Disorder (which I don’t have); I was diagnosed
attached. with Irlen’s Syndrome (another Eye condition).

~a friend To best explain these words, my hearing problem involves not

hearing most sibilant sounds (i.e. “s”), and most lower spoken
words (males talking, and lower females voices). I miss much
of what they are saying. My vision problems are that I have a lazy eye (It has a mind all of its own).
Irlen’s Syndrome is considered to be a sensitivity to light, (but also colour). To me, I have viewed it
as the perfect opposite to being Colour Blind. I see way too much colour. My eyes are more likely
to wander with Irlen Syndrome, and I skip words when reading. When I read sheet music, the lines
move, the notes change places, and boxes on pages change shape.
When writing on ruled paper, I may skip lines because I don’t see them, just like when I read. Words
can float; gglloow
w and be blacked . The rest of a page can be dancing with black spots turning pretty
purple, then a funny orange/yellow grey, then float around a page, far more interesting to watch
than to read the page or paper I have been asked to read. I also would be easily distracted from
other children tapping a pencil on a desk beside me, or some other movement activity beside me.
My eye problems that Irlen’s Syndrome and my hearing problem are both located in the same part
of the brain, which is where why I can look like and fail a Audio Processing Disorder test. Some of
the same products that they use to treat Audio Processing Disorder could be a benefit to me only if
the Irlen’s Syndrome is properly treated. Since it is a costly thing to treat, it really is unlikely that
any hearing things will be a full benefit to me. | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

I struggled in school to read; write, and do most of my homework. I survived school by copying
homework at home from an older sibling and turning it in without d doing
oing many of the reading
assignment, and never once caught at this method, all book reports were my own, but the reading
assignments from most books in English and history were copies of another sibling. This was really
necessary, as after a long day at sschool
chool I would have a headache from reading the boards, and
writing, on the glaring white pages. The reality is that my notes were rarely readable. I did pass
Grade 12, and go on. School and reading will always be a challenge for me but I haven’t given up,
and won’t give up. When working on the computer, I use a special function in Microsoft Windows
2007 that helps me to read more easily. Go to Page Layout and select a Page Color.

I think the thing that helped me the most was that I had animals to play with, they didn’t see the
problems my eyes or hearing had created and never really cared. I lived for the weekend and visits
with relatives with pets or other animals, as that was my comfort zone. The other area I do have a
great gift for in is patience
ce because people rarely had any with me. I also have more tolerance for
others that have problems because of my own. I also gained a lot of strength from having so many
problems as I have to be the person to stand up for myself. I did have to fight to prove that I don’t
have Auditory Processing disorder, and have been successful in that, I got this from fighting my way
through the school systems, and proving that I could pass regular classes.

It always amazed me at how the dogs would take their place on my left
side (my hearing and vision problems are greater disadvantage on that
side); even when the dogs have not been trained for special needs. If I
visit a friend now and they have a dog, it too seems to take up the left
side, even if I walk around the dog so the dog is on the right side of
me, after two steps it will wait and rejoin at my left side.
I have a great pet Rabbit, Teanna, who is a big part of my life right now, and
does some of the strangest things to help lighten up the mood.

I am now 35 years old, and I have two areas that have interested me since
high school: psychology and music. I have some university in both of these
areas, and hope someday, even if I am 80 or older, can complete these
degrees. For this return to school, I have a better understanding of how to
better help myself and others understand what I have and what will help me
be a success in school.

To learn more about Irlen’s syndrome and to experience sample visual distortions, visit: | | 1-877-846-9393

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I Just Am
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go
through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bryan’ Story:

At 23 years old, Bryan is a published author. On the website for his book
book, I JUST
AM Bryan affirmed,
"I have a disability. It is not my fault. I just am." His dad told me about his triumphant story and led
me to his website:

An avid sports enthusiast, Bryan was just eig

ht years old when he competed
for the first time in the track and field events of the Illinois Special
Olympics. Fourteen years later, he stood atop the winner's platform at
Ability is the triumph
over disability. the 2003 International Special Olympics in Dublin, Ireland. While in
Ireland, he and his father spoke to congress and inspired people to
reconsider their own perceptions of a person with a ‘disability’.

esides travelling the world and winning goal medals, Bryan holds two jobs.
He sorts x-rays
rays for shredding and works as a greeter at the Chandler AMF Bowling Center He
wling Center.
dreams. He dreams of getting a driver's license, living on his own, and being married. He continues
to participate in Special Olympics and especially enjoys bowling, swimming, and basketball.

His incredible book, I JUST AM…a Story of Down Syndrome

Awareness and Tolerance, is about how Bryan perceives
himself and his disability. Bryan shares his book with
schools and groups to educate the public, while also trying
to change some misconceptions others have about Down
syndrome.. Bryan’s inspiring book will touch your heart
and leave footprints on your soul that you will not forget.

Special Olympics athletes are spokespersons for freedom

itself - they ask for the freedom to live, the freedom to
belong, the freedom to contribute, the freedom to have a
chance. And, of all the values that unite and inspire us to
seek a better world, no value holds a higher place than the
value of freedom. ~Eunice Kennedy Shriver | | 1-877-846-9393

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Just See Me

“You can be a leader too. Leadership is attitude

tude you develop.”
~Robert Pio Hajjar

Marnee’s Note: Early this year, I wrote a blog about Robert. I have included part of it here.

Tears fell and my heart danced. I watched an amazing pep talk from a
fellow visionary, Robert Pio Hajjar.

He is th
the founding director of,, which is dedicated to
enriching the lives of intellectually disabled individuals and groups. This
year, he was the inspiring opening speaker at the Best Buddies Regional
Conference 2009. Best Buddies Canada is a non-profit rofit organization
dedicated to enhancing our communities through one-to-one
one friendships
between individuals with intellectual disabilities and students.

Robert has a vision for his organization. In fact, he had saved money for
some time and donated all off it to start IDEAL He is committed to helping others feel IDEAL.

IDEAL: Included Deserving Equal Appreciated Loved

Robert urged his audience to know that “the only time you can’t do something is if you never try”.
ults are possible when we experience love, encouragement, and
He explained amazing results
opportunity. Considering his own accomplishments with achieving his goals, he asked the
audience, “Have you ever wanted to be a part of something? Do you have a vision? Do you stand up
for what you believe in? Do you have a purpose?”

Robert is an inspiration. He is changing perceptions and giving

hope. He is an incredible, devoted individual who is changing
lives and fostering a community of support and spirit. He is As I stand here, I see
bringing people to theirr feet to dance, dance, DANCE. The world everyone as an equal.
needs more Roberts. As I stand here, I see
you as my friend.
“When I was born, the doctors told my parents to put me How do you see me?
away.” ~Robert See me first, and then
my disability.
It was Robert’s parents who knew their son, who was born with …or just see me.
Down Syndrome,, had a great purpose in life. Now Robert is the
voice, he is the believer, he is the tea
teacher. ~Robert

Update: The Planning Group for the City of Toronto's 2009 International Day for People with Disabilities has awarded
Robert one of six Unsung Heroes awards
awards! | | 1-877-846-9393

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Miracles Found In Art

Another word for creativity is courage
~ George Prince

Bailey’s Story:

I am a fiber artist with a 25 yr

background in Occupational Therapy. I
work as an artist-in-residence
residence in special
education classes. I am passionate about
the power of using art to teach these kids
and have seen many ‘miracles’.

It is so important for children with

disabilities to have art experiences
iences as a
way to learn their academic lessons.
Teaching academics through art provides
the children an opportunity to process
the information through multiple
senses. It provides a concrete practical experience of the concepts. It summarizes, reviews, and
reinforces academic lessons in a stress
stress-free, non-threatening
threatening environment. As a professional artist
and occupational therapist, I’ve dedicated my life to empowering children and adults with disabilities
through art. Over the years I have witnessed manyy miracles. I would
love to tell you about one of them.
I see your true colors
shining through
I was working in a special education classroom of third, fourth, and fifth

graders. We were creating a quilt on the topic of the pillars of
So don't be afraid to
character. The children had been learning about positive
positi character
let them show…
traits all semester. I was brought in to create a quilt with them that
Your true colors
would hang in the school hallway. I love to get the children sewing on
are beautiful,
a sewing machine. They really enjoyed this aspect of the project. The
like a rainbow
children with autism are dra
drawn to the lights and the rhythm of the
~ True Colors Sung
By Cyndi Lauper
One yyoung man was so excited,, he felt compelled to tell his teacher
about his experience. He had very limited verbal skills and, because
of his autism, his communication tended to be based around personal
eds. He rushed down the hall to find his teacher. When he found
her, he began pantomiming about sewing. She didn’t understand what he was trying to | | 1-877-846-9393

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communicate. This young man didn’t give up because he really wanted her to know about what he
had experienced.

He grabbed her hand and led her back to the classroom to show her the work he had done. His
overwhelming joy, enthusiasm and relentless desire to connect and communicate with someone,
was completely uncharacteristic for this young man.

Months later, when I returned to the classroom unannounced, activity stopped and everyone chimed
in, “Mrs. Earith, you helped us make a quilt!” They were still able to recall my name and the project
details enthusiastically without prompting!

Art requires no speech, yet it speaks an international language that connects

us. Art is the keeper of stories.

Bailey specializes in providing art opportunities to people with disabilities in the special education
classroom and in the
community. She travels the
country, training parents
and professionals how to “I feel it is very important for everyone to give back to the
use art to teach academics community in which they live. I believe everyone has
and address IEP goals. something of value to offer others regardless of ability. And,
Bailey has been published as I teach my students, when giving to others you get back
extensively in magazines tenfold.” ~Bailey
and books for both her
studio and artist-in-
residence work.


Website: | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

My Vision

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I
cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
~ Helen Keller

Donna’s Story:

Donna was born blind; however she has a vision and mission that will change the way we see. While
she was in school during the 1950’s, teachers either felt she was making up her vision challenge or
they would not let her participate. Ultimately, she experienced bullying. Donna started writing
songs when she was fourteen, then taught herself to play guitar. It was not until she was in
university that she taught herself Braille and received a guide dog.

Fast forward to the present, Donna is a role model in so many ways. She has overcome adversity
and conquered her amazing goals. As a motivational speaker, she encourages kids to believe in
themselves and their dreams. As living proof, she talks to them about how she has far exceeded
what others suspected she would. Donna is also a song writer, singer, and recording artist. In addition to recording her own albums, one of her songs
was selected for the CD called Sound in Sight. All songs were recorded by promising blind recording
artists (

Triumphant in the face of adversity, Donna survived breast

cancer twice thanks to self exams.
The Songbird’s Advocacy

Moving forward, Donna has been a relentless advocate Crow: Why is it that you wake
for the rights of people who have vision impairment. up each day and sing?

A large part of this advocacy includes educating the Songbird: I sing for those who
public and supporting people who live with a visual cannot – my song gives flight
to their dreams.
challenge. | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Urging schools to respond to how necessary learning Braille is, Donna writes,

“Only ten percent of our blind kids are taught to read and write
Braille, which is the only tool offering true literacy to people who
cannot read print. This is down from fifty percent in the sixties. It Many of us are
affects employability and is contributing to the seventy percent programmed to believe that
the people who overcome
unemployment rate among working
working-age blind Americans. Of the
obstacles are those who
thirty percent who do work, however, over eighty percent read never doubt that they will
Braille.” and are never afraid.

Most of us, however,

Congress recognized the problem when they authorized the stumble, fall and pick
production of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar (released ourselves up again and
again on our
ou journey
March 26, 2009), the proceeds of which support the Braille Readers through life’s road-blocks.
are Leaders campaign of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB):
~Donna Hill
NASA, which has a long-standing
standing relationship with the NFB
collaborating on innovative methods for teaching science, tried to draw attention to the problem by
taking two of the Braillee coins along on Atlantis's last
mission to repair the Hubble telescope.

For the reasons this is happening and what is being done

about it, you might be interested in my series of articles on
the Braille literacy crisis for American Chronicle. I would
cially recommend "Braille Literacy: Lessons from a
Handed World" and "Braille: for the Love of
Reading." They can all be accessed from my author's page
at:” | | 1-877-846-9393

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Nashville Bound

If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.”
~ James Matthew Barrie

Veronica’s Story:

I have a student now who is blind

blind. He is the happiest kid I have ever been around. He is amazing!
He is gifted musically. He sings like a country singer, loves an audience,
marches with our high school band, p
lays the trumpet and piano. He can
If you could see yourself play other instruments as well. I am working with parents and
the way I see you, you
encouraging him to major in music and head to Nashville. He is in the
would stand atop a
mountain and sing your 9th grade and I am having a ball with him!
song to the world…

Camon was recently celebrated on the front p

age of the Charleston
Gazette. The story highlights his amazing spirit and incredible talents. It
shares how proud his parents are of their son, which has worn off of Camon. The story reads:
"You'll see me up on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry someday,
someday,"" …"I'm going to get up there, and
I'm going to sing loud and proud so the audience can hear me…”

Photo by Bob Wojcieszak | | 1-877-846-9393

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Unlocking Potential

“Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world”
~ Maria Montessori

David’s story:

I work with special needs young people who have dyslexia. I help them overcome their difficulties in
reading, writing, speaking and thinking clearly, and focusing their attention. Dyslexia is not just a
learning disability. It carries with it enormous emotional frustration, shame, and lack of self-worth.
I relate to these young people for I too live with dyslexia.

Every once in a while I get the privilege of working with a young person who is so ready to make
major changes not only in their reading and writing, but to their relationship to their life in general.
When 8 year old Jordan first came to my office for a dyslexia assessment, he was extremely quiet.
He barely looked at me. His hair covered his eyes, his shoulders were slouched down and he
answered questions minimally, mostly “yes” or “no.” When it came to the reading part of the
assessment, he quickly put his head down on his folded arms on the table and in a loud firm voice
exclaimed, “No … I won’t read!” His mom sitting behind us put her head down and sadly shook her
head. Quietly, I moved around the table and sat next to Jordan. “If I read with you would that
help?” Jordan looked up at me. There were tears in his eyes. He looked directly at me for a time and
then said, “Maybe …” “Ok, we will share the reading… I will start, okay?” I picked the simplest,
most visually-based page among the reading choices. I told him a bit about the story we were going
to read. I started and then I urged him to read the words. He struggled tremendously. He was hardly
able to get through most words.

We started with the basic alphabet. He was unable to write or speak a large majority of the letters:
There were lots of reversals and confusion with them. He would mix up the sound of a letter with its
name. I am sure he had proper instruction in school; it just was not very well suited to Jordan’s
thinking style, which was mostly a visually-based thinking process.

One day I decided to take him for a walk to the shopping center next to my office. As we walked I
asked him what his favorite stores were. Without hesitation he pointed to the video game store. He
saw the name of one of his favorite video games on the store window with a bunch of writing under
it. “What does that say?” he asked. “How about if we do the reading exercise together on that?”
Jordon moved quickly towards the window. Slowly, we did a particular reading exercise that helps
to ensure the person is seeing and saying each letter in a word and tracking his eyes across the word
left to right. Usually this exercise is done in my office, on a page on which we use a large index card
to draw across the letters one at a time. But what the heck, I thought. We walked up to the writing
on the window, my hand becoming the card, and we did the reading exercise right there in front of
the store with people watching us wondering what we were doing. Jordan made good progress that
day! He read a number of signs in the mall that were of interest to him. He was viably excited about
his newfound skill. | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Several weeks after the initial program, I got a call from Jordon’s teacher. Thehe teacher told me. “I
have never seen this in him. This
his is quite interesting and
The Birth of a Butterfly wonderful to see what is opening up for Jordan. I have never
seen him so excited about learning!” A few weeks later I got
another call from Jordan’s teacher. “Well, David, something
I have always wanted to fly. interesting happened today with Jordan. He was trying to do a
project in the classroom and several students next to him were
I will cease being a caterpillar. talking very loudly. Without any notice, Jordan yelled at the top
of his lungs “Be quiet!!!” There was a dead silence in the room.
Embraced by wings, I shall soar. This was so uncharacteristic of Jordon’s behavior. Then in a roll
which spread throughout the classroom, everybody started first
giggling, then laughing, and finally clapping. Even Jordan smiled
and enjoyed the whole event.” Somehow
omehow this newfound ability
or breakthrough had open up Jordan’s energy. In fact, he was not
just shy but actually a very energetic young person. That cork on his energy was a result of his
frustration and shame regarding reading and writing.

Jordon and I worked one morning together on writing a simple story. We slowly but steadily worked
on a way for him to get an idea of what he wanted to write about (rock climbing!), and I helped him
with a way to sequence all the various aaspects of this subject (sequencinging can be very difficult with
dyslexic individuals). When we finished writing the three paragraphs of this story, Jordon briskly put
his pencil down on the table and proudly smiled ear to ear.. When his parents came to pick him up, up
Wanna hear me read it?” It
he very proudly showed then his writing. Then he said in a loud voice ““Wanna
took several tries for him to get all of the words right. The last reading was almost a play, with
Jordon as writer,
riter, actor and director!

It is a success story like Jordon’s that make all the hard work with dyslexic young people that I do
completely worth it. Beneath all of the complication, shame, struggle, and behavioral issues with
these young people, there are undoubtedly very intelligent, creative, motivated, and immensely
talented human beings. I have the fortunate job of helping to facilitate the unlocking of all that

David Rosen helped to establish one of the first alternative

therapy centersrs in Sacramento, specializing in non
therapies. He is a Licensed Davis Dyslexia Correction®
Facilitator, one of the most widely used dyslexia correction
programs world-wide.
ttp:// | | 1-877-846-9393

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When Life Seems Out of Tune, Sing

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings beca
use it has a song.”
~ Maya Angelou

Joaline’s Story:

One of my clients was a very special pre

school child who had autism. We were trying so hard to
potty train him, but he had a great deal of trouble
t remaining
Care Provider’s Wish seated for any length of time. He had a love of any music
and we often used my MP3 in order to entertain him, but
Show me all the magic in this little sometimes we didn't have the MP3. So we had to be
child today
creative and act fast. So I began singing songs to him in
Bring me all the treasures that will order to make himm more interested in remaining on the
help him find his way potty and doing his business. So I started singing "It's my
He and I will find a trick for him to POTTY and I'll pee if I want too, you would pee too if you
sing out loud were seated here too!!!" He loved it and remained seated.
Then I added new songs to my potty repertoire.
reper I soon found
And fly his little wings; to shine myself singing "Potty like a Rock Star" and "Potty for Two”.
among the fluffy clouds
Soon Mom was joining in as
were all the other
individuals working with this
little musical angel. He had
very little verbal utterances at the beginning of my work with him,
ut he never failed to amaze me with his smiles when I would sing
songs to him and his intent gaze into my eyes when he would say
"JOOOOALINE" (He always dragged out my name and it made my
heart smile!!! What a joy!!!! | | 1-877-846-9393

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Windows to the Soul

“Run your fingers through my soul. For once, just one, feel exactly what I feel, believe what I believe, perceive
as I perceive, look, experience, examine, and for once, just once, understand.”

~author unknown

Susan’s Story:

This is a story about how changing handwriting can affect self-esteem and general life skill

Cameron was a 14-year-old rising 9th grader in the Georgia Public Schools. Testing indicated that he
was bright, but he was failing. He was slightly built with fine wavy blonde hair and a winning smile,
when it could be coaxed. When it couldn’t he was defeated, angry, and enormously sad. He was
ready to run, and in fact did. After less than 5 minutes he stormed out of the clinic only to return a
few minutes later. We did nothing that first day but talk. I told him about my own children and their
struggles, I talked about things I found hard to learn, and most of all I assured him that I would not
give up, get angry, or shame him, ever.

He entered the program emotionally resistive, shut down, defeated, angry, and totally suspicious of
anyone who said they could help him. After all, he “made it to 14 ok,” why couldn’t people just be
happy with the way he was and leave him alone?

Although Cameron had a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and compulsive
disorder, he didn’t qualify for school-based occupational therapy. His parents opted to try private
therapy outside of school. At 14 Cameron had no functional handwriting, and his number
production was worse. This frustrated and confused both his parents and his teachers, who saw
Cameron as a child with above-average intelligence.

Many who interacted with him had written him off as a “kid who didn’t care.” In fact, when I first
met him it would have been easy to agree, except for the sadness in his eyes.

If it is true that the “eyes are the windows to the soul,” then Cameron’s “windows” were clouded
with confusion. How to reach a boy who needed so much help, but resisted it with an intensity that
matched the need? He talked tough, he stormed out, and yet he listened. He listened to the promise
that I wouldn’t be scared away by his brash behavior, and that my faith in him was stronger than his
fear of trying. What teachers didn’t understand was that behind the “so what” façade was a young
man who really did care deeply, but was afraid of success—having learned all too well how to fail.
Treatment began with a lot of talking—mine, not his. Validating his feelings that he was too fearful
to verbalize helped him to trust that I wasn’t going away, and that I thought it was okay for him not
to want to talk. Slowly mumbles became smiles and smiles became sentences and sentences turned
into conversations.
And so we started. Meeting force with force; resistance with structure; fear with encouragement,
we met twice a week for 6 weeks. It was the end of school, and summer was coming. The goal was
to show him how he could prove “them” wrong by the start of the next school year. | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Therapy began with one small success at a time. Cameron could n not
ot understand how learning to use
a hula hoop (in an unconventional way), dribbling in a pattern, and playing jacks and other games
was going to help his handwriting, but he went along with it. He was a young man who prided
himself on keeping his word.
ike traditional writing programs that start with tracing, reproducing, and repeating basic letters
on paper or other mediums, Cameron’s therapy was based on my “Handwriting on the Wall, Write
Incredibly Now™ Program.” We started by building on familiar, th then
en introducing novel repeated
motor patterns that mirrored the patterns needed to sit at a table and write legibly and coherently.
For the first month, Cameron did not pick up anything that resembled a pencil, pen, crayon, or
marker. Instead he learned shoulder
oulder stability and simultaneous wrist flexion (which is needed to sit
and write) by learning to “skim” a hula
hoop across the room. He learned sequencing from an
adapted game of basketball. He learned how to have a dynamic tripod grasp by spinning tops and a
jacks. He learned bilateral coordination by playing with jacks that he had set in motion. He learned
to juggle, first scarves, then hacky
sacks, then tennis balls. After all of this, he learned shapes and
flow patterns that he could accurately reproduce
reproduce,, even with his eyes closed. He learned to trust his
internal body sensations as he increased his trust in himself.

His first “honest” remark in therapy was that he “hated his hands.” Indeed he kept them shoved in
his pockets when he wasn’t engaged in a sspecific
pecific activity. Through increased successes with both
gross and fine motor activities, he learned that it wasn’t his hands that were the problem, but a
disconnect between what he saw in his mind and what he produced on paper. By “playing games”
he learned to trust his body to move with greater fluidity. As his proprioceptive and kinesthetic
abilities increased, so did his confidence; and to his own surprise, so did his ability to have fun, both
in the clinic and at home.

By the time a piece of chalk was put in Cameron’s hand, the shapes and forms that comprise all the
letters were automatic and the words just began to flow. And, in late summer when he went to
meet his new teachers for the upcoming school year, he even reported that he thought his teachers
“liked him better.” What was really happening was that Cameron was learning to like himself.

Cameron’s story was written by:

Susan Orloff, OTR/L; CEO/Executive Director;

Children's Special Services, LLC , www.childrens | | 1-877-846-9393

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Word of Encouragement

Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit we cannot flower and grow without it.
~Jess Lair

Derrick’s Story:

I have worked with youth with speci

special needs for over 15 years. I'm currently a Juvenile Corrections
Officer. As a Teacher’s Aide, I worked with the students who had special needs. The love I gave and
received through teaching
ng and being there for
them was priceless.. This was one of the most
How Far Do You Want to Go?
rewarding jobs I ever had. This experience
My father said, "You do what your
taught me how to adjust to the needs of youth
mother says!"
with emotional behavior problems and to see the
And I stood up, looked him in both
person, separate from the problem. Love wins
eyes, and said
out. When the youth know you care,
care they will
“…I'm running away from home!"
give you effort beyond their expectations.
And my father lifted me up over his
head, and said,

"How far do you want to go?"

He didn't know I was THEE Bill Cosby.

Bill Cosby about being eleven in the

Derrick is a motivational speaker and encourages

teens to “Use your skills or someone else will”. Among multiple achievements, he is the creator of
the WOE concept ("Give
"Give Someone a WOE, a Word of Encouragement") to help people overcome
trials and tribulations. Derrick has authored a book called 1 WORD Is All It Takes™ (Fall 2009).
2009) | | 1-877-846-9393

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State of flux

“I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much.” ~ Mother
Teresa of Calcutta

Amy’s story:

The upside of having a child with special needs is that I have learned an extraordinary amount about
being a parent from the countless experts who have been part of our lives these past three years.

The downside is that I had a panic attack when my sister offered to pay for a cleaning service as a
birthday gift. I simply couldn’t fathom the thought of another person in my house. In the past three
years that my son, Nathan, has been receiving services (occupational, physical and speech therapy, as
well as special instruction), he has had at least 817 therapy sessions—most of which took place in our
apartment. Moreover, there have been at least 22 therapists in our lives, plus evaluators for Early
Intervention and preschool special education services, in addition to a coterie of medical professionals
(pediatrician, neurologist, orthopedist and cardiologist).

At age 4, Nathan has eight therapy sessions a week after school, which means there are eight
opportunities each week for me to hear about yet another activity or approach that one of his
therapists believes will help further his development. Thank you all for the ideas! Please forgive me if
I’m focusing on getting my son to speak in a pleasant voice instead of whining, and addressing other
behavioral issues instead of practicing jumping up with both feet, tracing train “tracks” on the wall so
he’ll cross his midline or setting up a play date that might or might not end well. My goal is to deliver a
well-fed, rested and happy child on time for each designated session, even if that means skipping a
shower some days and seeming perpetually frazzled (oh, wait—I was frazzled before I had a child!).

Sorry. I was trying to sound grateful. I am. I truly am. It’s just that the day-to-day work of dealing with a
special needs child is so … exhausting. All-encompassing. Pervasive. Permanent. These wonderful
people share themselves and their enthusiasm and dedication for an hour here and 30 minutes there,
and it enhances our lives in untold ways. But before and after the session it’s just me, and on the
weekends, me and my husband, trying to get from Point A to Point B without my son having a
meltdown or me hiding in the bathroom with the door locked so I can breathe for a few minutes.

That said, it has been so gratifying to share each little step that Nathan takes as he continues to move
forward with people who are so genuinely happy for him. “He let me brush his teeth!” I exclaimed to
his occupational therapist after we started brushing his body with the special brushes. “He came out of
the bathroom and told me he’d done a poop!” I told his special education teacher, who’d been working
with us for a year to get Nathan toilet-trained. “He told me he was frustrated!” I told his speech
therapist. These amazing people are Nathan’s cheering squad, and my sources of inspiration and
information. I do write down all of the activities they suggest and, as opportunities arise during the | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

natural course of our day, I try to implement them almost subversively so that Nathan feels I am his
mother and not his teacher.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering what his diagnosis is. Guess what? So am I! Seriously, we have an
inkling and are waiting for the full report. Since he was 11 months old the diagnosis has been
hypotonia (low muscle tone) and global developmental delay. When he was 3½, though, there was an
exuberant burst of speech followed by what sounded like verbal tantrums. Something didn’t seem
right (weren’t kids supposed to have fewer tantrums as they got older?!) so we had him tested for
autism. He’s on the spectrum; we’re not exactly sure where, but he talks from dawn to dusk and loves
going to school and clamors for play dates so it seems that he has some rough edges that need to be
smoothed out but he really, really wants to learn and is capable of doing so.

Knowing he’s autistic means everything and nothing. It means everything in that we now have a
diagnosis (for whatever that’s worth; mostly to qualify for services once he reaches kindergarten) and
there’s a whole shelf of books that can give us some answers, reassurance and techniques for coping
with his quirky behavior. At the same time, it means nothing. It doesn’t change how we see him or how
much we love him. He’ll always be our adorable, funny, magical child.


A mom of one who’s always in a state of flux

Copyright 2009 by Amy Hochstein | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

Plant a Seed and Watch it Grow

You are the stars and the world is watching you. By your presence you send a message to every village,
every city, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory.
~ Eunice Shriver at the 1987
87 Special Olympics World Games

Susan’s story

I am from Waltham, MA, and have a son who has been in special education for 10 years in the school district's
PDD program. I am a member of the Special Education Parent Advisory Council and w we
e just held our first
f year end
reception where we recognized the 10 year anniversary of the PDD program and
presented the teachers, staff, and administration with an award. The PDD
program started in 1999 with 4 students and has grown to over 45 this year.
How great it is that people Here's the link to our website where you can read about it and hear the
believe in the potential of audio from the speeches.
a seed. The world’s most
breathtaking gardens grew We had over 100 people in attendance including
the Mayor, many of the teachers and
because someone with a paraprofessionals from special education and
vision planted, nurtured, the director who started the program. We are
and believed in seeds. fortunate to have the autism research pioneer Dr.
Margaret Bauman nearby (she began her multi multi-
disciplinary approach in our city at the E.K. Shriver
Center) and she and her staff at the LADDERS Clinic,
have many years of experience in ASD and related disorders and are instrumental in
providing advice on how to best educate children with special needs.

Susan Sutherland

Marnee’s Note: Susan Sutherland produced “Voice Colors - Billy’s Story”, which was created by Eve
Megargel. It is a documentary film that explores Billy from ages 3 to 16, showing him learning and
wrestling with all that is entailed in understanding tthe
he elements involved in a social interaction.

In Memory of Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the principal founder of the Special Olympics. The Shriver Center, named in her
Honor, is a Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabiliti
Disabilities (UCEDD).. The directors of the Shriver Center
shared these memories of her following her passing:

“Mrs. Shriver’s vision of dignity and fulfillment for people with intellectual disabilities
has informed our field for more than 50 years, and her profou
profound and enduring
contributions have changed for the better the manner in which people with
intellectual disabilities are perceived, treated, supported and involved in community
life.” | | 1-877-846-9393

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The legacy

“My life is my message.” ~Mahatma Ghandi

Pablo’s story:

I am an internationally recognized artist known primarily for my

drawings and sculptures of dancers. I have been featured in books,
magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and film. Currently I live and work
with my wife Beverly on our historic 1856 ranch north of Austin,
Texas. Before acting as my full time muse and business manager,
Beverly was a model and then in sales and marketing for Diane von
Furstenberg, Revlon and Ralph Lauren. You can see my work at . You can see that I am now a successful
artist living the good life. Today you might call me accomplished. Once you would have called me trouble.
I grew up in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Houston. I was always sm smart
art and good in art, but also
always in trouble. I could not read well and could not pay attention to anything for long. Of course, we
would now recognize this as ADD--in in my case due to minimal brain injury. However, in those days Special
Education was available for children with severe mental and physical handicaps. But fate worked in my
favor. A teacher in the 7th grade recognized that I was smart and had potential
but reading was my problem. So I was put into a specials reading class.
This class was before school. At first I did not like it because I
had to get up early and walking to school in the dark in a
The Moral of the Starfish Story rough neighborhood was a bit scary. They had
projectors that would show words, then phrases at
A boy watched as his teacher was preparing to faster and faster
aster speeds. As time went by, and I got
throw a stranded starfish back into the ocean. better I enjoyed the class. It lasted a full school
year. I went from very slow to very fast. In fact
Boy: You cannot possibly save all of the starfish because I was so hyper, I put that energy into
on this beach. What difference can an you make by learning all that I could. I still shot my mouth off
throwing in one after one? too much (and nd probably still do), but my grades
got better and better and I enjoyed school more
Teacher: I will make a difference to this one.
and more. I eventually even got a scholarship to
She tossed the starfish into the water knowing college. And for several years I tried to give back
by working
orking in special education. I hate to think how
the value of that starfish’s life equaled the
my life might haveve turned out if that one teacher
lives of all the starfish in the sea.
had not seen that I was a poor reader and not just a
smart aleck. Thanks. | | 1-877-846-9393

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Lifeline to Hope

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be,
that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michele’s story:

I'm a speech-language
language pathology assistant with Interactive Health Therapies in Charlotte, NC. NC
My husband, Ken, suffered a stroke in 2003. Ken's stroke was very profound. His hearing, speech,
vision, cognition, and the right side of the body were affected. Even as a healthcare professional, I
could not see the complete picture. This event wa wass happening to someone that I loved, so I couldn't
completely process all the physical changes were occurring to Ken. My husband had his stroke on
his 38th birthday, thus I found it hard to believe that he would not bounce back because he was so
young. Wee spent one week in the hospital and a month in an in in-house
house rehab. Ken was so weak after
his stroke that he could not tolerate sitting up in a chair. He had to learn to sit, walk, talk, and adapt
to using his left hand (due to the weakness in the right).

At the time of his stroke, I had only been working in the speech field for 3 years. I had worked in a
nursing facility for a year and then with the pediatric population for 2 years. I knew how to comfort
family members of my patients, but I could no nott deal with the effects the stroke left on my husband
and family. The rehab teams at the hospital that he visited, the in in-house
house rehab, and later the
outpatient rehab, where the absolute BEST.

With a group effort and several years of therapy, my husband is now able to walk with a cane and
talk to some degree (though not as fluent as before).

This is to all of the PTs, PTAs, SLPs, SLPAs, OTs, and COTAs
that have contributed to the care of my husband and who
have helped others just like him who have suffered a major,
life-altering illness, I thank youyou.

Therapists sometimes don't realize just how much they

truly support and encourage
courage their patients and the patient's
family members.

At a time when life seems so difficult, the therapist often

becomes a lifeline to the family unit. ~Michele | | 1-877-846-9393

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Part of a Bigger Plan

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~~Eleanor
Eleanor Roosevelt

Chelsea’s story:

ollege student who is currently atten

I am a 21 year old college attending
ding Beacon College in Leesburg. Beacon
College is the only accredited LD four year college in the nation

I started my education in a regular kindergarten class, but was moved to a contained class room in 1st
grade. The LD (learning disabled) kids went outside to play by ourselves and we sat at our own table. I
did not understand why.

I stayed in public school until 4th grade and then went to a couple of private LD (learning disability)

In a LD school
school, we are all the same. The
he teachers truly understand us.
us All
the students back each other up and understand and support each
other in every way.

Hard is easy. Hard started on I have decided to not define myself by test scores. This decision
happened after a heartbreaking meeting with ith a vocational
day one. Thanks to HARD, I
counselor. It was there that I learned for the first time how poor
can climb any mountain, my psycho-education
education results were. I was so upset because I
overcome any obstacle, and knew school was very, very difficult for me, but when she said it
be a light for those lost in the in her terms, it sounded like I was the opposite
oppos of smart.
“Be strong and let your heart take courage” ~ Psalm 27:14

I had faith that there was a plan for me and that maybe I had to look
inside myself to find the answer.

GOOD NEWS!!! The plan for me was bigger than I could have imagined
for myself.

I was always creative and loved clothes. When I was seventeen, I started
my own clothing line called "Faithful Fish"
It includes mainstream Christian clothing for the faithful. A portion of all
proceeds are donated to Christian charities and are used to give back to
people in need. | | 1-877-846-9393

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A liberating experience for me was when I stood side
side-by- side with academically successful student-
entrepreneurs at a speaking engagement. I was almost the last person to speak. It seemed that every e other
entrepreneur was going to a university like Princeton. I deci
ded to take a leap of faith and share my
story…my real story. When I went up, I took a deep breath and told everyone that I had a
learning disability and couldn't read until I was almost 9 years old. I told them that everyone has
a gift no matter how smart,
mart, no matter your challenges
challenges. You can imagine how elated I was recently when I
came in first place in the regional Global Student Entrepreneur competition! I am on my way to nationals!

Recently, I shared my story on Fox & Friends and Dave Ramsey's TV V and radio show.
show An amazing experience
for me has been accepting the role of Seventeen Magazine’s online money advisor.. I encourage kids to
babysit, save their money, cut coupons
coupons, and to use
other tips. I still have a terrible
rible time writing and
ng, but that does not prevent me from
contributing in a way that is helpful and meaningful to My story at the end of the
other young people. This summer, my story was day is about life, love and
published! I was a contributor to the book, Chicken
Soup for the Soul: Extraordinary Teens
Teens. If I would how faith can bring you
have given
en up on myself in school, while I struggled joy. Like so many people,
with reading and writing, I don’t know how I would
have found myself in a book about extraordinary I have experienced
people! tremendous losses and
I want to encourage
other young people faced challenges. But
to hang onto from those losses came
their dreams
and to believe inspiration and from
in themselves.
those challenges came
I go to schools
and tell both determination. ~Chelsea
the parents
and the students that
they should focus on w
they are good at the most.
Do what you love and you will be successful.

I am grateful to the teachers at my private school

and Beacon who helped to make me who I am. am

They gave me self

confidence; they made me
believe in myself. | | 1-877-846-9393

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Your Special Brush

Thank you for the sun that warms my face

and for tthe water that wets my toes

Thank you for my dad who knows my pace

and for my mom who kisses my nose

Thank you for my helpers and friends

who know how to grow my smile

Thank you for my heart that quickly mends

when learning takes a while

You painted me with your special brush

and put me here with a plan
Beyond the struggles and the rush
I’ll shine in all I can

In my life, I’ve been blessed

as far as I can see
For out of all the people in this whole wide world
I am the best at being me

~ Marnee Brick | | 1-877-846-9393

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If you or someone you know would like to
share a story for the extended version of this
book coming out in SPRING of 2010, please let
me know!!
You can reach me at!
All the best to you,
Marnee | | 1-877-846-9393 (toll free)

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