Monday, December 18, 2017

A Holiday-Card Craft for Kids Who Don't Like Crafting

My 4-year-old son's team at preschool consists of a lot of teachers, teaching assistants, aides, and therapists, and I wanted to give them each a homemade card for Christmas as a thank-you for their work with him.

I liked the idea of my son helping me make each card using fine-motor skills he's been working on at school. He doesn't particularly like doing arts and crafts, thoughthey're often tricky for him because of his cerebral palsyso I knew I needed to minimize the amount of time he'd need to spend on the cards.

Here's what I came up with for making 16 cards in one short go (for him):

I started with 8 holiday cards, blank on the inside, plus 3 sheets of colored card stock paper, star stickers, tape, scissors, a pencil, and non-toxic paint:

I also used a glue stick and a marker, which I forgot to include in this pic. Whoops.
I taped the 8 holiday cards together such that only the bottom inside half of each card was showing, and I made a Christmas tree overlay out of 2 sheets of yellow card stock:

To make the Christmas tree overlay, I first made a stencil of a single Christmas tree by folding a sheet of orange card stock into fourths and cutting off one-fourth of it...

...and then folding that small piece in half, drawing half a Christmas tree on it, and cutting the Christmas tree out:

I used this stencil on another sheet of card stock that I had folded into four equal vertical sections.

I used the stencil in the same way on a second sheet of yellow card stock, and I cut out all of the Christmas trees, leaving me with 8 stuck-together holiday cards and a Christmas tree overlay, as shown earlier and again below:

I placed the overlay directly over the 8 stuck-together holiday cards and taped the 2 sheets together in various places, including right around each Christmas tree.

I put a blob of green acrylic paint in the center of each Christmas tree and encouraged my son to paint the Christmas trees with his fingers. Here's what he came up with:

I separated the overlay from the cards:

I un-taped the cards, and I cut the Christmas tree overlay into 8 pieces and used a glue stick to secure them to individual cards. I then added a brief message to the top of each card and a star sticker to the top of each Christmas tree:

One of my favorite things about these cards is that it's clear that my son helped. 💕

Friday, December 15, 2017

'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Special-Needs Mom Version

© | Dreamstime
This is a parody I wrote of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (a.k.a. "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr., depending on whom you believe.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the home
Not a creature was stirring, except for the mom;
With medical bills spread wide on her desk,
She hoped that a fairy would come grant her some rest.

The dad and the kid were all snug in their beds,
While cars zoomed in circles inside of their heads;
And mom with her to-do list on a long paper scrap
Couldn't stop dreaming about a very long nap,

When on the front door there arose three soft knocks,
Mom heaved herself up in her hole-y old socks;
She shuffled to the door, with her hand on her back,
And then she unlocked it and pushed it open a crack.

She said “Who is there?” and at first she saw nothing,
Then she caught sight of a twinkling and fluttering;
When, what to her wondering eyes she should see
But a glitt’ry winged girl—a sugar-plum fai-ry.

With the fairy’s sweet smile and her kind hazel eyes,
Mom knew in a moment relief had arrived;
The fairy said she knew what worries to blame
For Mom’s weariness; then, she called them by name:

“Appointments! IEPs! Emergencies, medical!
Tough choices! Fears ‘bout things real and theoretical!
Get into my bag! And go up that wall!
Then melt away! Melt away! Melt away all!”

The wind blew from the north; conditions were right
For the sugar-plum fairy to go upward in flight,
So up to the house-top the fairy she flew,
With the bag full of wearies and her glitt’ry wand, too.

And then, in a moment, Mom heard on the roof
A crackle, a sizzle, and then a big poof!
As Mom gasped aloud and put her hand to her lips,
Through the mail slot Miss Sugar-Plum came in a zip.

She was dressed in deep purple, from her head to her toes—
Her headband, her waistcoat, her slippers with bows;
The bag that she carried, once drab-gray, now silver
Made it obvious she had grand things to deliver.

Her eyes—how they sparkled! Her dimples, how sweet!
Her hair-do was simple—in waves, nice and neat;
She beamed and she wiggled and burst out with delight:
“I have something for you that I think you will like!”

The long silver wand she held tight in her hand,
A silvery shimmer trailing behind in a band;
“Please open my bag, see what it does store!”
Mom opened it and found her wearies were no more!

The IEPs were now tea bags of mint and chamomile;
The bills were now journals embellished with frill;
The worries had turned into books full of hope;
The to-do list had turned into soft scented soap.

“Last but not least, I do free babysitting
So you can get sleep, take up running or knitting—
And oh, one more thing, how could I forget?
A new pair of socks—you could use these, I bet.”

She grinned wide as gingerbread men at Mom, whom she saved,
Then fluttered out the door and turned around with a wave;
Before flying away, through the door crack she peeped—
“I wish you a Merry Christmas and a night full of sleep.”

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

5 Simple Things That Make Life Easier as a Special-Needs Parent

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Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate image links, which means that if you click on certain images and then purchase the item shown, I will receive a small percentage of the sales.

It's no secret that life can be challenging at times when your child has special needs. There's a lot to juggle: medical appointments, concerns about health and developmental issues, time needed to research special-needs toys and equipment. To hopefully help make your life a tiny bit easier, I've composed a list of 5 simple things that have made my own life easier as a parent of a child with special needs:

1. Slip-on shoes

As parents of kids with special needs, we often have lots of therapy and doctor appointments to take our kids to. If you're anything like me, you're always rushing out the door for these appointments. Being able to quickly slip on a pair of shoes can save timeand sanity. Until recently, I had a pair of slip-on Sketchers similar to these ones.

I loved them. 

After 3+ years, they finally became so worn that I could no longer wear them. I replaced them with a pair of lace-up shoes, and I have to say, I'm really missing my slip-ons. Some days they made the difference between catching the train to take my son to school...or not.

2. Gemiini

screenshot of a Gemiini video clip
Many kids with special needs benefit from lots of repetition in order to receptively learn new words and learn how to say them. Gemiini is an online program that involves having your child repeatedly watch themed 2- to 5-minute videos.

A full video on shapes might contain clips on circles, stars, squares, rectangles, triangles, and hearts, with a few short humorous clips interspersed to help keep your child interested. Within the video, actors repeat the words "circle," "star," etc., over and over again, which gives your child the language repetition he needs while you get a break. 

To learn more about Gemiini and my family's early experiences with it, check out this post.

3. Recordable storybooks

These are similar to regular picture books except that you record yourself reading them. When you or your child opens the book or turns the page, the recording plays in sync with whatever page you're on.

My parents introduced me to recordable storybooks a year or two ago when they gifted two of them to my son. At first, it felt a bit weird to hear my parents' disembodied voices every time my son and I opened the books, but I've since grown to really love these books. 

For one, my son loves them. For two, they're great when I'm feeling particularly exhausted. I can snuggle up with my son on the couch with a recordable storybook, turn the pages, and take micro-naps while the recording is playing. My kid gets a story read to him, while I get a much-needed nap. Win, win.

4. A dedicated filing box for your kid's therapy and medical records

It's a good idea to keep all of your kid's therapy and medical records in one place. For example, when your child is seeing a new therapist or doctor and you have to fill out forms about his medical history, knowing exactly where you can find the necessary information will save you time. 

I've been using the Sterilite Portable File Box shown above for more than 2.5 years, and I've been quite happy with it. It's sturdy, having survived 2 moves, no problem.

5. Prescription medication delivery

© | Dreamstime
Not all pharmacies offer this service, but if your kid (or you) needs prescription medication, it can be worthwhile to look around for a local pharmacy that does.

When my son was a baby, he was taking 4 or 5 different medications at a time. They typically couldn't all be refilled at the same time, which could have easily meant multiple trips to the pharmacy per month. Thankfully, we had access to a prescription medication delivery service. It was a snowy winter, and I was grateful not to have to take my medically fragile son out for frequent pharmacy visits in addition to his doctor and therapy appointments.

What has made your life easier as a parent of a child with special needs? Please share in the comments below!