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Help for Haiti
This organization has been in Haiti for many years. They are trustworthy.

Friday, May 11, 2012

On The Road Again

This is the time of year when I do the most traveling to conferences and conventions.  This weekend I will be at the CHAP conference with Pennsylvania home educators.  This has always been a busy conference with the opportunity to see some familiar faces and meet new people.  This year I am accompanied by my husband, Scott, and two of our three children.   

Since my son, Josh, has been the inspiration and field tester for many of the ideas and strategies I’ve tried over the years I am always happy when he attends conferences with me so attendees can speak to him and gain access to a struggling student’s perspective.  My daughter, Beckie, has likewise tried out most of the products that Heads Up carries.  I have grown in my understanding and knowledge of learning challenges over the years and I am thrilled when I can help others as they try to make decisions to help their own children.  I have been around the block (on my knees in desperate prayer at times) as a Mom seeking help and answers.  Even so, I think it can be very encouraging for people to talk to Josh and Beckie about their personal challenges with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorders, Sensory Processing Disorders, and homeschooling with a Mom whose learning style is very different from theirs. 

Josh and Beckie are the true experts, because they live with the challenges and understand the struggles and feelings students may face.  They can share firsthand what did and did not help them, and in many cases what they were thinking when they engaged in some quirky behavior or other.  You could ask me for my thoughts on why your child engages in a certain behavior, and I could give you my theories based on years of personal experience and similar situations I’ve encountered as a speech/language pathologist working with children.  You could learn as much or more if you ask Josh the same question and see immediate insight because he remembers what it felt like to be that kid who can’t sit still or pay attention or remember what comes so easily for others.   

You can ask me how I helped my daughter Beckie meet her need for sensory input and I could tell you strategies I used such as suspending a swing in the doorway for her.  Beckie, though, can tell you what swinging does for her and why she seeks it out along with other ways she meets her need for sensory input from a first person perspective.  Scott and I hope and pray to help people we meet in our travels, and Josh and Beckie willingly share their lives to help others who are struggling learners.  If you are attending the CHAP convention this weekend, please take advantage of this opportunity to talk to any of us.

Now, lest you think we have our collective act all together and will be telling you why we are so amazingly successful, let me see if I can readjust your expectations so you will be neither surprised nor disappointed.  We have been traveling to conferences for the past 15 years or so and have NEVER made it to a single destination and back without at least one of us either forgetting or losing something.  Our pre-conference hours are spent like a clutch of chickens running around with their heads cut off.  Seriously, you’d think we’d never prepared for a conference before.  

 Just this morning I asked Beckie if she was packed for our trip, since I had prompted her last night to pack as much as she could in advance. She smiled sweetly and said “Yep!  I’m pretty much all packed except for my clothes.”  

Then she gestured toward the washing machine to let me know where her clothes currently resided, and happily turned and walked away.  Now picture me standing in the middle of my kitchen with my mouth hanging open trying to process how one could be “pretty much packed” without including clothes.  

 There!  Now I think you are ready to meet the real Boring family, unplugged!

-Melinda (AKA Heads Up Mom) 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

What's in Your Wallet?

     There is a commercial advertising a credit card company that ends with the question, “What’s in your wallet?”  While this is an interesting question, at my house I am more likely to hear, “Where is my wallet?”
            Life with the distractible and disorganized can be discombobulating.  I live with three family members who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and due to challenges with inattention and forgetfulness often items get lost or misplaced.  Sometimes my kids will ask me if I’ve seen something that’s gone missing.  Since I like things to be organized and put away in a logical place, there are times when I can locate the missing object because I put it away instead of leaving it out where it was dropped. 
            I have systems for cleaning and organizing.  The problem is with implementation and cooperation from the rest of my family.  I have a strong need for things to be put away where they belong so I can find them when I go looking for them.  Just last night I pulled out all the ingredients to make a delicious smoothie, but when I went to get my smoothie maker only part of it was in the cupboard where I keep it.  I had a blender base with the pitcher and a lid, but the ball on a stick part used to help move the mixture around in the pitcher was missing.  I looked in all the places I could think of putting it, but only one place really made sense to me and that was to store all the smoothie maker parts in the same location.  My husband came into the kitchen and joined me in the search for the missing part.
            After looking in the same places I had looked, and striking out just as I had, my husband began looking in places that made no sense to me but just might contain the lost tool so they warranted a look.  Even then we could not locate our smoothie tool, so we…looked in all the same places again!  I’m not sure why we do this, as if the missing item that wasn’t there previously will somehow show up if we look again in the exact same place.  This strategy was also unsuccessful, so we moved on to asking our children if they knew where the missing piece was hiding.
            This is not generally a good strategy, either, because we are talking about distractible people who misplace things all the time and absentmindedly leave things in odd places.  But it was worth a shot, since we had nothing else to go on at that point.  Both children stated where they might have placed it, but neither actually remembered doing so and the item wasn’t where they suggested.  This time, my husband decided to try substituting a silicon spatula in place of the missing tool, with the result that we had delicious smoothies with bits of a chopped spatula mixed in.  I think I swallowed a piece.
            Those types of lost items are frustrating and inconvenient, but not nearly as alarming as missing driver’s licenses, phones, or my personal nemesis the missing wallet.  Not my wallet.  Remember, I have a “wallet place” where my wallet lives and is predictably located when I need it.  My daughter and husband have misplaced their wallets multiple times, though, and it sends me into a far greater panic than they experience.  While my mind is racing with all the possibilities and security risks, they are unsystematically roaming the house looking in odd places for their wallets.  Sometimes they leave the house for a minute and I realize they are checking the car to see if it’s there.  Or maybe on the sidewalk, or in the grass, or…well, you get the idea.
            My daughter will, at times like these, casually ask me if I’ve seen her wallet.  She acts like it’s not really a big deal because it’s bound to turn up sooner or later, and she really believes that! Hunting for her wallet is like a treasure hunt and is only mildly irritating if she doesn’t find the wallet.  I, on the hand, begin mentally listing all the items that will need to be replaced or cancelled.
            My husband is more subtle about searching for his missing wallet or other items, and rarely asks me to help him look anymore.  The reason he doesn’t bother seeking my assistance is because I’m not much help at finding whatever he has lost.  I look in logical (to me) places where I would leave my wallet, for instance, and since I have a “wallet spot” I don’t have too many places to look. 
            Even when my husband doesn’t come out and say that he’s misplaced something of importance, I can recognize the signs.  He enters a room scanning it like a secret service agent taking everything in at a glance.  Then he moves around the room, picking up papers and small portable items while surreptitiously looking under and around them.  He never panics, and never tells himself not to bother looking in strange places because he knows the missing item could be anywhere.  While I fret about possible identity theft, my husband remains unruffled as he continues his quest for the missing wallet.
            I no longer reach the panic stage as quickly as I used to, because more often than not my husband and daughter do find their missing wallets.  Rather than berate themselves for having lost them, they congratulate themselves on another successful recovery.  I would like to avoid the stress of “Where is my wallet?” but I do admire the resiliency of my family members who just don’t sweat it when these events happen.  They take it in stride as casually as a driver stopping for a red light, doing what the situation calls for and moving on.
Speaking of moving on, I just heard my husband in the next room quietly asking himself, “Now where did I put my keys?” 
             I am quite confident that he will find his keys, no matter how strange a hiding spot they are in, because his experience and resiliency will win out.  Keys, your time on the loose is limited.  Give yourselves up!  You will be found.