Archive for December, 2011
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Do You See What I See?
In 1962, the song Do You Hear What I Hear? became an instant success when its lyrics asked us to hear, see, listen and “Pray for Peace, People Everywhere.” 1962 was a time of fear and uncertainty–much like 2011.
Today, as the year is coming to an end, I invite you to journey virtually to the Middle East–to the land of shepherds and millions of stars Listen and See this new version of a holiday classic.
‘Tis a Season of Magic
Blake Roberts and Pastor Snoopy Botten are musicians and visual artists who have collaborated on many CDs. Both are artists who inspire us to reach for the stars.
Their magic is their vision, talent and… a speech synthesizer with DECtalk software which helps people who can’t sing with words–sing with tech. Those who can’t see–paint with tech.
The result is poetry in motion.
Do You Hear What I Hear? |Music and Visual Art
In Blake’s Words:
Dectalk is a speech synthesizer that can be programmed to sing. I like Dectalk because I enjoy making it sing. Additionally, an almost infinite number of voices can be created with it.
Snoopi is a good friend of mine whom I met on the Internet several years ago. We enjoy working together on the CDs Snoopi has produced over the past couple of years. I did all the DECtalk programming and Snoopi mixed my DECtalk file with the karoake track.
My friend Snoopi is the same Snoopi you know on Facebook.
Snoopi programs Dectalk because it lets people who can’t talk sing like everyone else. I program Dectalk because I enjoy it.
I program songs at the same level of excellence as Snoopi. In fact, I am slightly better in some areas. Snoopi is the best Dectalkist in the world, I am second best. We never intended to be first and second best, we just are.
In summary, programming Dectalk is my favorite thing to do. Blake
More information about Blake and Snoopi:
If you would like to contact Blake Roberts go to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to contact Snoopi Botten go to: http://www.dectalksings.com/ or email Snoopi at email@example.com.
The video below is about Snoopi. Imagine, he sang the National Anthem for a professional baseball game. Don’t you love his confidence and spirit? His goal is to get a Grammy–and I think he will.
Keep Climbing and Singing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
What do you hear? See? Think? Want to discuss?
What did you think of Blake and Snoopi’s version of “Do you hear what I hear?” Do you know anything about DECtalk? or other programs to help people with disabilities talk/sing/dance/make beautiful art? I was struck how their work makes me listen and see differently, how it helps me see “goodness and light.” What about you? Do you know anyone who might also be interested in collaborating with Snoopi or Blake? Does their can-do spirit remind you of Aimee Mullins?
For anyone who buys gifts for a person with autism or a disability, here is a fun twist on the classic poem which shares some of the reasons it is so difficult to find the perfect gift.
Cindy Waeltermann, is the founder of AutismLink and gives us permission to reprint her poem on behalf of her two children who are adults with autism.
Autism Night Before Christmas
by Cindy Waeltermann
Twas the Night Before Christmas
And all through the house
The creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse
We tried melatonin
And gave a hot bath
But the holiday jitters
They always distract
The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When nightmares of terror
Ran through my OWN head
Did I get the right gift
The right color
Would there be a tantrum
Or even, maybe, a smile?
Our relatives come
But they don’t understand
The pleasure he gets
Just from flapping his hands.
“He needs discipline,” they say
“Just a well-needed smack,
You must learn to parent…”
And on goes the attack
We smile and nod
Because we know deep inside
The argument is moot
Let them all take a side
We know what it’s like
To live with the spectrum
The struggles and triumphs
But what they don’t know
And what they don’t see
Is the joy that we feel
He said “hello”
He ate something green!
He told his first lie!
He did not cause a scene!
He peed on the potty
Who cares if he’s ten,
He stopped saying the same thing
Again and again!
Others don’t realize
Just how we can cope
How we bravely hang on
At the end of our rope
But what they don’t see
Is the joy we can’t hide
When our children with autism
Make the tiniest stride
We may look at others
Without the problems we face
With jealousy, hatred
Or even distaste,
But what they don’t know
Nor sometimes do we
Is that children with autism
We don’t get excited
Over expensive things
We jump for joy
With the progress work brings
Children with autism
Try hard every day
That they make us proud
More than words can say.
They work even harder
Than you or I
To achieve something small
To reach a star in the sky
So to those who don’t get it
Or can’t get a clue
Take a walk in my shoes
And I’ll assure you
That even 10 minutes
Into the walk
You’ll look at me
With respect, even shock.
You will realize
What it is I go through
And the next time you judge
I can assure you
That you won’t say a thing
You’ll be quiet and learn,
Like the years that I did
When the tables were turned…….
Thanks to Trish Doerrler, a parent of a child with autism, for sharing this poem on her blog In so many words.
Hope you all have a fantastic Holiday, with lots of precious moments.
Aaron’s Favorite Gifts
This year we are getting Aaron a tape/CD player because Aaron thinks listening to music is an active sport. He loves putting the tapes (yes, tapes) in and out. We can find tapes in used book stores. They are usually pretty cheap, but that is great because then when they only last a couple days, they can be replaced. The hardest part will be to get the staff to understand the batteries are rechargable and should not be thrown out.
Aaron also likes to lick and flip baseball cards. He especially likes the ones with cheerleaders:)
I wish we had a longer list. He really isn’t impressed with new shirts and underwear.
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.
All my best,
Which gifts work for your child? especially adults with autism or other disabilities? Are the gifts age-appropriate?
Here is one of our most popular posts. Relax and make an individualized ENJOYMENT plan for your best holiday ever.
Mom’s I.E.P. for the Holidays: Individualized Enjoyment Plan
Want to enjoy the holidays?
Easy as I.E.P.
Don’t laugh. I.E.P.’s were developed because they are good planning tools. Some people are intimidated or challenged by the I.E.P. in Special Education. One way to demystify the I.E.P. process is to use it in our everyday lives. So, stick with me for a minute while we look at how this can work in real life.
Let’s use the Individualized Education Plan to create a holiday planning guide.
The first part is to create your Dream Plan of what you want. Then we plug in the basic parts of the I.E.P.: Evaluation, Annual Goals, Short term objectives, Related Services, Placement, and circle back to the Evaluation for the next I.E.P. for next year.
Dreaming of YOUR perfect holiday
Everyone’s perfect holiday looks different: Grandma’s turkey feast, or make that a roast goose, or Uncle Bob’s ham and sweet potatoes, or a vegetarian, or Kosher, or vegan, or gluten-free …
Everyone has different expectations, traditions, time and money constraints. So forget the Women’s magazines, forget what your Mother-in-law wants, forget what happens on the Food Channel and Martha Stewart show.
We don’t care about “Everybody.”
The beauty of the I.E.P. is it is individualized. It is for You. Not your mother, your children, your boss…YOU! This is YOUR moment, your freedom, just YOU–what do you want?
Action Step 1: Visualize a Dream Holiday
Take a deep breath and picture a smiling yourself surrounded by your favorite people, doing what you really want to do. Ahhhhh.
Are you skiing down a mountain? Are you sitting by the fireplace listening to Bing Crosby? or Lady Antebellum? ….
What would make this a joyous holiday for you–with just the right balance of work and relaxation?
What were the strengths and weaknesses of previous holidays?
Do you want to start any new “You” traditions, new family traditions?
Define your dream plan (see related post)
Feel empowered to do it YOUR WAY. This is your holiday gift to yourself. You deserve it!
Don’t you feel better already? This holiday is going to be the best.
1. Take a sheet of paper and fold it into four squares: Wants, Needs, Likes, and Dislikes.
2. Fill in the boxes based on YOUR Individualized choices.
If you are feeling pressure because others are trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do, be polite but tell them to make their own IEP. Empower yourself! I know this is hard for me and most Moms.
3. Circle your five top priorities and they will become your goals.
For example: Want live tree. Need family to be together for dinner. Loved shopping with Aunt Ruth. Hated the last minute rush….
One Priority goal: Need family to be together for dinner.
Making a decision is the first step. What do YOU want? What would bring YOU joy?
Since there is no standardized tool to measure the
holidays–no HFA (Holiday Fun Assessment) or HQ (Happiness Quotient)–we will create an informal evaluation tool based on ecological assessments.
LONG TERM GOAL I: To have a traditional, homemade turkey dinner with family members on Christmas Day.
Do we want to raise the turkey and grow the corn for the stuffing? Serve the strawberry preserves from your summer garden? Do we want to skip the preparation and order in? Or go out to eat? So many choices?
If we decide to keep this as one of our goals, then we must break down our long-term goal into measurable, observable steps.
Mom decides she wants to cook the Christmas dinner and eat at home.
SHORT TERM OBJECTIVES:
“Short term objectives are merely small steps that enable us to get from where we are now to where we want to be by a certain date.”
A. Mom will finalize the menu by December 10.
B. Mom will make the list and complete the shopping by December 15.
C. Mom will prepare the dinner by December 25.
Each of these short-term objectives can be “task analyzed” and broken down into smaller parts.
We know these are important steps to reaching our goal so they must be completed with 100% accuracy. (75% completion of the meal may leave some family members hungry.)
LONG TERM GOAL II: To have the gifts wrapped and under the tree by December 24.
SHORT TERM OBJECTIVES:
A. Mom will purchase all supplies by December 10.
B. Mom will supervise the gift-wrapping by December 15.
Task Analysis example:
Mom will supervise:
1. Billy will cut the paper.
2. Dad will wrap and tape the gifts.
3. Susie will add the bow.
4. Tommy will place the presents under the tree.
Notice in the Task Analysis, family members with different skill levels can all partially participate.
—“Developmental, corrective and other supportive services to enable you to reach your goals.”
To achieve Goal IC –“Mom will prepare the food by December 25”—Mom will need the following supportive services:
Consultant: Grandma has the expertise to bake and bring perfect pumpkin pies.
Consultant: Aunt Jane will come early to help in the kitchen.
Community Resource: We will purchase the local bakery’s famous dinner rolls.
Now that we have written our IEP we must determine the least restrictive environment for accomplishing our goals.
We could cook and wrap the presents at Aunt Sara’s and bring
everything home, but to meet Mom’s goals on this particular IEP, her own home is the least restrictive environment.
Remember any IEP can be revised or modified at any time. For instance, if Paula Deen wants to invite my family for a holiday dinner, I would change these goals in one butterfat minute.
I hope using the I.E.P. process not only makes it easier to understand, but I hope it can be a tool for you to have a magical holiday season.
Well, what do you think?
1. Do you better understand the IEP process?
2. Would this process be useful for everyone?
3. Does anyone raise turkeys?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
Other posts you might enjoy:
Celebrating St. Nick and Two Special Sons
Because of our German heritage, St. Nicholas’ Feast day on Dec. 6th was the start of the Christmas season. The tradition of putting out our socks (or shoes) was always great fun.
Aaron, our son with the label of autism, and Tommy, our son with the label of normal are now 36 and 35 years old. Last post I wrote about how our holiday celebrations are evolving: St. Nick meets Disney Princesses.
The first year we were married, my mother-in-law Jean, hand-made Christmas stockings for our mantle. Of course, we were living in a small apartment with no fireplace or mantle, but it began a family tradition. You know this was a long time ago because while Tom’s sock was a typical crew man-sock, mine was shaped like silk hose plus garter. (Do they even make those anymore?)
To personalize the stockings, Jean lovingly sewed small schoolhouses on both of our stockings because we were teachers, adding a felt wedding ring on mine and a felt set of golf clubs on Tom’s. When I was pregnant, she made an “Our Grandbaby” sock for Aaron who was going to be born in December. Later I store-bought some Christmas stockings for both my sons but glued and sewed some Christmasy trim on the socks.
Now a generation later, I captured our family’s own Norman Rockwell moment—Isabella pointing to the “Our Grandbaby” stocking on our mantle.
Making New Family Traditions
Lots of families put up Christmas stockings, some find stockings that are personalized with each person’s name, or hobbies, or interests like socks for dog lovers, Barbie dolls, sports fans, or ….
But, our family made the old tradition our own by adding a token of some special moment each year on St. Nick’s Feastday.
Adding a Memory a Year
Throughout each year, Tom and I look for small tokens and give them to each other on St. Nick’s Day.
Vacations and trips were easy. There were always ready-made patches, pins, buttons we could pick up at souvenir shops. Scouts, school events, sporting ribbons and awards also were small and could be easily attached to the socks. We even added some mementos inside the socks, like Tommy’s business cards for each new job and Aaron’s first pay check. Now the front, back and inside of the socks carry magic moments to remember.
Our socks have become treasured scrapbooks of our lives.
What do you think? Does this tradition meet the test of inclusion+ normalization? Are Aaron and Tommy’s socks alike? Age-appropriate? Do these socks also celebrate their individual gifts and interests?
You can see Aaron’s Trolley Bus pin from our trips to the Smokies, the pin from Carlsbad Bat Cave, his school bus and Lakota Pin, his prom key chain, his Boy Scout patch from Woodland Trails, a horse pin from Cincinnati Riding for the Handicapped, National Park patches where he hiked with our family…
Tommy has Boy Scout pins, school patches from the cross-country team, buttons of him looking fierce in his junior high wrestling uniform. Tommy also hiked the same easy trails in the National Parks but those patches were not the same accomplishment they were for Aaron. Tommy was proud of his week in Philmont and the more difficult mountain hikes on the Appalachian Trail with his dad…
So both Aaron and Tommy had hiking patches. The difference was the intensity, duration and difficulty of the trails.
Both were proud accomplishments.
Tommy’s wife, Ana, bought Christmas stockings for their first Christmas together. Each year I give them some token to add to their sock. This year, Ana became a United States Citizen. After the ceremony the Daughters of the American Revolution passed out little flag pins. I asked for an extra one, planning to add it to her sock.
Aaron just moved into his new house, I have stockings ready for his first house decorating party, he will get a house key on his sock.
And so the tradition continues:
“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” (Night before Christmas)
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
I hope you’ll share some of your family’s holiday celebrations. Is this an idea your family can adapt? Does your family celebrate St. Nick’s or have some unique tradition?