Thursday, April 26, 2012

Are special needs funny?

Today I saw an adoptive mom's advertisement for t-shirts she's selling. One said something about how it wouldn't be terrible to have a kid with special needs, it would be terrible to raise a kid who was cruel to people with special needs. I don't love the implication that it is inherently unwelcome to have a kid with special needs, but I certainly appreciate the sentiment behind the shirt.

But another shirt said, "Ask me about my attention deficit disorder" and then listed a bunch of random thoughts, ending with, "hi." Um, isn't making fun of a very challenging special need just a little bit cruel?

I sent an email to the mom saying the ADD shirt really made me cringe, and she responded that humor is what parents of SN kids need and that the shirt is her best seller among her clients, who are loving Christians with senses of humor. She also said the creator of the shirt was her 11-year-old son, who has ADD.

I'm not comforted. If her son wants to laugh at his own challenges, awesome. But do the people who see such a shirt recognize and admire a kid who is laughing at his own challenges? Or do they see such a message as sanctioning their own prejudices? I fear it's the latter.

Humor? Absolutely! At our kids' expense? Never.

That's my take. What do you think?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Good vibes for my little orator, please...

About six weeks ago, when Quinn's Chinese school teacher announced that all her students would participate in the school's annual speech competition, my stomach did a little lurch. Speech competition? As in, sentences? Spoken on demand? Quinn?

On top of the idea seeming a little far-fetched, the speech itself seemed crazy long:
I am Jianrong.
I am four years old.
I am a boy.
I know how to count.
(Then he counts to 10.)

This child is FOUR YEARS OLD! He spoke his first word at 26 month, strung together his first mangled sentence at 3, is so delayed in his speech that he qualifies for special education services, is still considerably short of what you could call conversational.

And yet.

Tomorrow is the speech competition.

Quinn knows his speech by heart and willingly recites it on command. His Mandarin is clear and beautiful.

Truly, I am in awe of this child.

I don't know what will happen when he gets up on that stage, looks into the crowded audience and has a microphone shoved in his face. But I know that, no matter what happens up there, one mama, one baba and one nana in the crowd will be fiercely trying to hold the cameras steady through the tears.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The magic cushion

There's no way to know exactly why, but Quinn has gone from daily problems at school to daily successes at school. We are trying a lot of things to help him succeed - daily joint compressions, daily skin brushing, a weighted vest and good 'ole bribery. So I don't know if one thing is key, or it's the combination. But I do know that the magic cushion is a major factor in his success.

A fellow adoptive mom who herself has sensory processing disorder gave his to us when she saw how much Quinn was struggling at Chinese school. He just could not sit in his chair and was really getting in other kid's personal space. It's a bean-filled plastic disc with a thick fleeecy cover. We take it to his special-needs preschool, his typical preschool and his weekly Chinese school.

I didn't realize how much it helped until I noticed that every day when I dropped him off the teachers would ask hopefully, "Do you have his cushion?"

Here's a link to the cushion itself. The cover, which has a velcro closure, was handmade - and all of his therapists covet it, so if you've seen them for sale anywhere, please let me know!