Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Preschool Roof Collapses in our Town

We have 3 schools in our town: preschool, elementary and middle/high school. My children attend the elementary and middle school.

Today, the preschool roof collapsed due to heavy snow accumulation. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Children were rushed immediately out of the building and walked over to the middle school which is a short distance from the preschool.

The roof of this building was installed in 1957 and was built to cover a flat roof underneath. It was this inner flat roof that protected the building from further damage and students from injury.

The gaping hole is about 25 to 35 feet in width and scary to behold, especially since damage could have been much worse. Weston walks over to this school each afternoon where I pick him up in the parking lot.

Heavy snow accumulation is taking its toll on our town and its residents. Tempers seem shorter as folks deal with what's being called "Snow Rage". Driving is difficult as many of the roads have high snowbanks and narrow pathways. All of us are scrambling to have the snow removed from our roofs before the next storm hits on Saturday. All three schools have canceled classes for tomorrow.

I am ready for spring!

A High School Mentor for Weston

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been working very hard with the school to put more supports in place for Weston since he had a very rough transition into the middle school.

I wanted to share some good news with my readers about a new program we created which could benefit many other students who also struggle with hyperactivity, anxiety and poor social skills.

I noticed that my son gravitates almost instinctively toward male energy. He enjoys spending "man time" with my husband and my brothers. And is calmed by activities enjoyed mostly by men. He loves working outside, riding vehicles of any sort and "throwing the ball around". I encourage this male bonding since Weston seems to be naturally calmed by it.

I asked the school if it would be possible to pair Weston with an older high school boy. This boy could help Weston do his homework, assist him in class and teach him those precious social skills. I figured since high school students now need to perform community service in order to graduate, this might be something an older student might enjoy. Thankfully for me (and Weston) the school agreed and provided Weston with a mentor named Matt.

The program has worked beautifully. Matt is a kind, bright, upstanding young man with wonderful social skills. Weston adores him. He comes to Weston's class and easily motivates Weston to do his work (something none of us have been successful at). When Weston's work is complete, he and Matt get to spend time together. Lately, they have been "shooting hoops" and visiting the weight room. Weston's self-esteem has sky rocketed. Matt feels good about himself too, since he knows how much of a difference he has made in Weston's life.

The other children in Weston's class, see him spending time with a very "cool" high school student, and suddenly Weston's "coolness" is also increased. This is something even more valuable to Weston than ABC's and 123's and will no doubt give him the skills he will use for the rest of his life.

We have documented this mentor program on Weston's IEP, so that it will continue for as long as he needs it. It is my hope that when Weston is a senior, he will be able to give back to another 6th grade boy who may need him too.

I encourage any parent with a child with special needs to discuss this option with their school. It has had an amazing effect on my son.

Is there anything more important that we can teach to our children than the importance of helping others?

 p.s. Since this program has worked so well for Weston, I have spoken with my Mom's assisted living facility to see if perhaps they can also establish a program with the local school to have some students come spend some time at the Village. They could play games and talk with many of the more social dementia patients. Anxiety that accompanies dementia seems to subside when these patients spend time with others. It could be a good way for high school student's to earn some community service. Once again, it is surprising to me, how much caring for children is a lot like caring for an elderly parent!