We Must Protect Children with Special Needs – JetMag.com

For those who are parents to children with special needs, here are five ways to protect and advocate for them on their behalf.

As the parent of a special needs child, I am outraged at the recent Facebook Live attack of a Chicago suburban special needs teen.  The video shows assailants beating and abusing the victim, as he sit bound and gagged in a corner.

There are more than 2.3 million children with special needs in the United States. Fourteen percent of school-aged children have special needs. Yet, they are still one of the most vulnerable and least talked about groups. There are actions that we can take to protect all children with special needs, one of the least talked about groups in the country.

Protecting children with special needs should be a priority. Here are a few ways to do so.

Stop using the “R” word. Over the last two years, multiple campaigns have been waged to stop using the outdated word, “retarded.” The most appropriate term or phrase to use for people with special needs is “intellectually delayed” or “cognitive delay.” Most individuals with a diagnosed disability would rather be seen for who they are personally rather than the title of their disability. Some even prefer the term “differently abled.” Rather than saying, “autistic,” it is more appropriate to say “person with autism.” Technically, the words, “moron” and “idiot” are also inappropriate words to use. Historically, they are derogatory words used to describe someone with a low IQ. By starting to change our speech, we can start to change the culture of how special needs children and adults are viewed in society.

Monitor their social media activity. If your special needs child has a social media account, make sure you have their password. Monitor how much they are online and who they are talking to. Keep a record of strange requests and relationships that they have online. Getting dial-up internet instead of wireless is another good way to maintain control over internet interactions.

Visit the school. Attend the back-to-school night at the beginning of the year. Introduce yourself to their teachers and make sure to know the protocol for bullying and reporting incidents. It is also good to know the name of the principal. Email all correspondence. No text messages or written letters.

Ask questions. Write down a list of questions for administrators. Check the laws in your state involving people with special needs. The state of Texas allows cameras in the classroom. If you are uncomfortable asking questions, look for the local advocacy group in your area and have them inquire on your behalf.

Follow Your instinct. If something does not seem right about your child’s activity online or a person caring for your child, do not feel like you have no voice. Speak up and schedule a meeting. Make sure to attend the meeting with someone else, so you do not feel overwhelmed. You are your child’s biggest advocate and their voice.

Eraina Ferguson is a writer and tech Entrepreneur. She is the Founder of Good Life, a resource website for families of children with special needs.

Source: We Must Protect Children with Special Needs – JetMag.com

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Why I Forgave My Baby Daddy – JetMag.com

When I gave birth to my daughter Taylor at the age of 20, I knew that there would be some challenges. She was born with severe hearing loss, and displayed global developmental delay almost instantly. Her father’s lack of involvement compounded with her special needs created a sense of resentment and anger.

However, after 16 years I was finally able to forgive my daughter’s father for his absence. The following five points describe why I made the choice to forgive.

I forgave myself.

It takes two people to create a child. Though I was 19 when I became pregnant, I was well aware of what would happen if I did not practice safe sex. I was not a victim. As a sophomore in undergrad, I was thankful for my family and friends who supported me while I worked hard to finish school. Owning my choices allowed me to replay the details of our relationship without casting blame. I made plenty of mistakes in my desire to have a father for my daughter. Part of starting the healing process involved owning my choices; the good ones and the bad ones.

I moved on.

Once I realized that my daughter’s father would not be involved to the extent that I needed, I moved on. First emotionally and then physically. I moved thousands of miles away and started a new life. I pursued my dreams and passions to the fullest without regret. The decision to move on was not difficult once I faced the reality of what his involvement would be. My success was never contingent upon his involvement. I had freedom. Engaging my freedom meant embracing the limitless choices that life brought my way. I dated, traveled, completed school, married, and eventually built a life for myself. My husband is a loving dad and provider for my daughter. Moving on helped tremendously with the forgiveness process.

I saw the good.

Another step towards forgiveness involved me extracting the good from the situation. A good aspect of the situation besides my awesome daughter was an additional family. Her father’s family displayed remarkable kindness and acceptance from the very beginning. They always made it clear that they loved Taylor. Their involvement helped balance the rejection that I felt at the beginning. The other piece of good that I recognized early on was the level of freedom that I had to make major decisions regarding my daughter’s well-being.

Since she was born deaf and diagnosed with autism at the age of five, there were many decisions that I had to make on my own. Though some would view this as a limitation, I saw it as a good thing. Because of his lack of involvement, along with the consultation of doctors, I had full agency to make decisions regarding her progress. One decision included a surgery that helped restore hearing through the implantation of a cochlear implant. I also had the freedom to move out of state and pursue graduate school. Absence is not always a bad thing. There is freedom in limited involvement.

She lacked nothing.

Despite my daughter’s limited understanding of her father’s lack of involvement, she was afforded the best of everything that I was able to give. Though I often overcompensated in certain instances, especially during holidays and birthdays, I was grateful that she had everything she needed. Thankfully, over the last 16 years, we were able to create a village of people that were affirming and loving toward us. She attended schools and programs that met her needs, while gaining exposure to new experiences. I even found an amazing skiing program for special needs children in Maine, and she traveled with me to at least three university campuses during my time in graduate school.

Last year, I heard a sermon by Touré Roberts that helped free me from the last bit of hurt. In the sermon, Pastor Roberts describes three kinds of fathers. When he mentioned the father that was never involved, but still loves his child, it helped me release the last bit of hurt. Over the last few years, though I had completed the above steps, I felt obligated to hold on to a little anger since she is not able to express it herself.  Somehow I was filled with a peaceful resolve that he loved her, despite his choices.

Love wins.

My spiritual beliefs helped me to understand the power of love. It always wins. Over time, I was able to realize that the same love that I feel daily from God is the same love that would help me to forgive her father. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you become best friends with the person, but it releases the level of hurt and anger that keeps you tied to them emotionally. When you forgive, everyone wins.

Eraina Ferguson is a writer currently penning a memoir about raising a daughter with special needs. You can learn more about her at: www.erainaferguson.com.

Source: Why I Forgave My Baby Daddy – JetMag.com

Family

I always misunderstood the phrase good family. Most people use the phrase when discussing someone’s choice in dating. The term good family then serves as a part of a rubric to follow. My mother would often say, “Make sure he comes from a good family.” I thought she meant that when dating someone new, I should make sure that he came from a family that was financially stable. As an adult I now understand that my mother meant something totally different. She meant that when a person comes from a good family then they have a built in schema for what a positive family interaction looks like.

Every family has their own set of issues and lacks stability in some areas (whether it is mental or emotional). However, there are two common attributes that are present in what I notice in the good families that I interact with, including my own. In most good families there are important traditions that are specific to that one family. Those traditions make up the basic structure of the family and provide them with most of memories that will serve as a road map for their ongoing relationships. Second, there is good old fashion love. Though the dynamics within each family structure varies, those are two key elements that help to make a good family. There are difficult circumstances that occur in all families since no family is free from their fair share of drama and pain. However, a good family knows how to combat those issues with love while continuing to practice those traditions that are unique to their family.

Good Love+ Good Traditions= One Good Family.

Good Timing

There are so many opportunities for God to use us in our everyday lives and it is often about His timing. Sometimes I have rushed around, in anticipation for a specific event and when I finally arrived it was right on time. Have you ever been in traffic, or minutes away from your destination and everyone is seemingly driving in slow motion? It was probably not your time to be there. My most vivid memory of involving good timing was during a drive to take Taylor to daycare when she was a baby. I lived downtown Chicago and her babysitter was in the Western suburbs.

I woke up late that morning (what I perceived to be late) and I quickly dressed her and packed her into my 1999 Malibu. I was a junior at UIC and anxious to get to class on time I rushed onto 290 West headed to the sitter. As we drove, I pulled into the center lane. I had a weird feeling that something wasn’t right. In fact, it was moments later that I saw an accident occur right in front of me. However, before it happened in real time, I had the urge to slow down and pay attention to what was in front of me. A car swerved from the left lane, across my lane hitting several cars in the far right lane. As I slowed down, everyone in back of me did as well.

By the time everything halted there was wreckage in front, my car untouched in the middle and a sea of cars behind me. Taylor was resting safely in her seat and I was a mess. At the time I wasn’t really firm with my relationship with God and I was overwhelmed with panic. I did know enough however to give glory to God for his perfect timing. I was grateful that we were “late” and that I was given some sense of warning. Sometimes we are eager to rush and have a plan in mind for ourselves, but it is in His perfect timing and His perfect will that we will be placed in the best possible position. His faithfulness is evidence that no matter what time of day or what situation we are in He will never leave us. He will guide us, protect and instruct us if we take the time to hear His voice.


Psalm 31:14-15

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.

Good Change

There are good things that happen when things change. Though we do not always choose those circumstances in which things change, and in spite of our apprehension, the changes are often for our own good. I enjoy planning out the events of my life strategically and making sure every detail is in place. I am very particular about the timing in which events occur. In fact, I am already making goals and plans for next year; month by month. Needless to say, with all of my planning and foresight, there is a greater force at work in my life. God has plans for us that we can not even imagine. There is a greater plan in store and sometimes that means that things have to change. Even though we do not recognize it at the time, the changes that happen are instrumental and down right essential for our long term success.
To every thing there is a season and a time and purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Good Fight

Sometimes you have to fight back. I remember enlisting the help of my brother before I went to high school. I didn’t know how to fight and needed to know how to defend myself. We stuffed plastic bags with foam and placed them on the beams in the basement. I punched them as if they were real punching bags in the gym. He taught me how to stand and protect myself in case I was in a fight. He told me to keep my arms up and protect myself from my opponent. My step dad was a boxer and I would look at his old equipment in awe, wondering what it must have been like to get into the ring.
Little did I know that there was absolutely no fighting allowed at my strict inner city high school, and the only fights I would have would be in the form of classroom debates. However, I never forgot what he taught me to do when defending myself and the same things are applicable in everyday life. Sometimes you have to assume a position and take a stand for what you believe in.
Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold to the eternal life to which you were called when you made your confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1Timothy 6:12

Good Faith

When seasons change there are some things that stay the same. Most often it is easy to forget the season we just left. Now that the snow has melted and the hot and humid days of summer are here, no one remembers the cold hard winter. There is one day during the winter that I remember well. It was a cold Sunday morning in early January and the ice covered the sidewalk. I moved forward and walked slowly praying that I would not fall. I noticed that Taylor was especially careful but unafraid. She depended on me totally and trusted that I would not allow her to fall. As we made our way to “safe” ground where there was no ice, we were grateful that we did not fall.

Little did Taylor know that I was careful and depended on someone besides myself to assure that we did not fall or stumble. I prayed and trusted God, trying hard not to meditate on the the possibility of falling, but instead treading carefully and never looking back. That reminds me of that “now” faith described in Hebrews 11; believing that things would work out and treading lightly, knowing that there is a greater force sustaining you. Though the season has changed I would like to keep that kind of faith for this new season; treading lightly and trusting God. Because I know that He will not let me fall.

Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen…

Good

 

I have an annoying ability to see the good in almost anything. I don’t think that it is something that I can take all the responsibility for because God* is all good and perhaps if there is a lil’ bit of Him on the inside of me then I will blame Him. Nevertheless it is an annoying trait or characteristic to have for a couple reasons. Mainly because if I see a lil’ bit of good in some people that are undeserving there becomes a larger issue. I am hopeful that one day I can see the good in the right person and not people that are undeserving of that second glance. I love good things; good people, good food, and good friends. Perhaps, that is the reason that I see the good in people.
Whatever the case may be, I am grateful for the good experiences that I have and even some of the difficult ones. I pray that I am surrounded by good people that mean no harm rather than the alternative. I have a heartfelt hope that good things come to those who wait and one day I shall have more than my fair share of good.
Good (adjective): Morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; Satisfactory in quality, quantity or degree. Of high quality.
*After looking up the definition I realize that there is only one good thing: God.

Good Love

There is something so amazing about love. It holds you close and makes you feel safe. Never failing. Never wanting anything. Always steady. There is something so awesome about being cared for. Adored. Loved. Real love, good love can sustain you and keep you safe from harm. Good love is authentic. Powerful. Good love + More Good love = A Good Life
Love is the immortal flow of energy that nourishes, extends and preserves. Its eternal goal is life. Smilely Blanton