Last weekend Mi Families (“my families”) asked children what holiday they were celebrating … almost every kid answered “Cherry Festival!” I think Traverse City area needs to consider that message. Still, those kids were seeing “independence” in action and many enjoyed meeting soldiers, sailors and pilots on the Forth of July and thanking them for their service. Their service inspired many, including one of my own boys who now talks about goals of flying for the Air Force before becoming an astronaut.
Goals are an important step while teaching one skills for independence. For most those skills are naturally picked up along the way, but for many those skills need to be taught. How to teach some of those skills was a question that kept me up all night. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers. BUT I’ll also admit I’ll research and find as many possible answers and solutions as I can. It’s why I’ve been successful working with parents and providers. I love the adventure that comes with working with families (and those who work with families)… but my own family will always be the most fulfilling adventure. (Click here for FUNctional FAMily adventure ideas)
In the last article I rambled about being a team with your parenting-partner and sometimes that means rambling all night long about recent evaluations and newly collected data …trying to come up with ideas to try and routes to find such solutions. Thankfully we’re not looking for solutions to prevent or cure a scary disease … we simply want to make sure our kids grow up happy and healthy with the opportunities they need to thrive. Sounds simple, yet even the smallest label can challenge those goals.
I have seen where parents and professionals focus too heavily on those labels. They determine a kid’s future outcome based on some symptoms that qualified him/her for a label. I’ve worked with many kids with many labels, with many symptoms, risk factors, backgrounds, abilities, experiences … I’ve had to drop the bar and be satisfied with slow movement, but I have seen growth in every case… I have seen miracles! I’ve seen kids successfully go back home after being told they would never transition back. I’ve seen kids place in general ed classes after being told they would never be mainstreamed. I got a child to sing “Winnie the Pooh” and “Silly Songs with Larry” after I was told he would NEVER talk! So when I was told my son might never talk – I didn’t believe them. I wasn’t confident he would talk clearly and sing songs, but I knew he’d learn to communicate…somehow.
I’ve experienced five miscarriages, so I feel blessed with my two children. Yes, sometimes I’d like a million more – but two is keeping us busy today! Both had some challenges as babies, but for the most part they were developing typically (sometimes ahead of schedule). We had some health concerns and things we were monitoring but weren’t overly worried or protective. Then we noticed our older son kept getting hurt (broken arm, foot…knocked in teeth…) and we noticed our younger son stopped using the words he had… Such concerns brought in EARLY ON. Both boys were considered to be “on the spectrum,” yet they had many strengths and with supports we weren’t too worried.
School started and supports continued, but some of the concerns seemed more prevalent “in the system.” The world said keep them in the system as that’s where the supports are that they need. Now for many, I’d agree with this, but as a professional who always says the parents knows their kids best – I listened to my own advice (or actually my husbands ;)… We decided to try homeschooling after a couple of years watching the boys regress and were encouraged by the results we found at home. We don’t stay at home though. We don’t put our kids in a bubble and ignore those social issues. We face them daily. We join in activities they are interested in from arts to sports and everything in between. We try small groups, large groups, quiet groups, rambunctious groups… We get out and “world school” in every setting – learning through life experiences (don’t worry, we learn through book experiences too). Throughout the process we were able to identify strengths and weaknesses and individualize services.
Although many things are going great there are always things we’re gonna need to work on and re-evaluate. Sometimes that’s the tricky part with kids that are “high-functioning.” Often kiddo’s who “don’t look their label” will be overlooked (and kiddo’s who “look the part” are overlooked for their strengths). Everyone has strengths and weaknesses (and everyone can be given some kinda “label” – everyone!) – and our list of gifts / needs are ever changing! Everyone changes and we should often re-evaluate needs and goals. Summer is the perfect time to do so. It’s the perfect time to consider your own needs and those of the kids you care for. Mi Families programs spent the first part of the year focusing on family-team-challenges, now we challenge you to assess each team member individually. Take time with children to get to know their interests, what they are good at and where they need some assistance. Set goals for each team-member to accomplish by summers end. I have a personal goal to learn more about the challenges some of my clients face and find solutions to their challenges – and this includes my own kids!
I am the Director of Mi Families (“my families”), but I am not all of Mi Families. Mi Families has a growing team of committed professionals here to help providers and parents reach goals for the kids in their lives. Mi Families has a growing number of members who are willing to follow the mission that is to “share resources, time and ideas…” Mi Families is you – the amazing person who just read this whole ramble! If you wanta be a part of our team contact me (Christi@MiFamilies.com), if you wanta continue being updated about what we are doing and what we challenge you to-do please subscribe towards the top right of this page (and follow us on other social sites such as linkedin, facebook, pinterest, youtube, twitter….) …Always feel free to leave your thoughts below and always feel encouraged that just by being a part of Mi Families – you’re making a difference and strengthening families beyond your own.