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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just Starting Out?

What is a Special Need?

A special need is anything from struggles in academics to a learning disability, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Tourette Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and everything in between.

Things to Remember

Your child was created by God, and is precious to Him.  Your child is a gift to you from the Lord.  The Bible calls your child a reward!

Pray, pray, pray.  Pray about the little things as well as the big ones.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!  For example, if you encounter a doctor/therapist hostile to your desire to homeschool, find another doctor.  If one way of potty training doesn't work, try a different approach.  If your child throws fits with one curriculum, use a different one or put it aside, give it some time, and try again later.

Network.  I can't tell you how important it is to network with others who are homeschooling special needs children!  You may find someone who can recommend a therapist, or a great curriculum that works for your child, or someone with whom you can share struggles and be encouraged.  Most importantly, you will find friends!

Things that Have Worked for us

Love.  Love your child as much as he will let you!  Hug him, wrestle with him, sing to him, tickle him.  Tell him how much you love him, how much Jesus loves him--it's okay to smother him with love!  He is God's precious gift to you!

Research.  Find out everything you can about your child's special challenge(s).  Visit your local library, explore the Internet, ask questions of knowledgeable people (your doctor, therapist, veteran homeschool mom, etc.).  Become your child's expert, because no one else will!

Read.  Read, as much as you can, as often as you can, to your child.  I read to my son whenever my baby was nursing.  My son learned to sight read, just by knowing by heart the words on each page.  Reading will improve his listening skills and attention skills, and also provide snuggle time!

Involve.  Involve the rest of the family, when possible.  Teach your other children how to love your special child, and how to help him.  Teach them that not only are they previous, but their brother/sister is also precious to you and to the Lord.  Involve your other children with any therapy or other work; help them to understand that the family works as a team, and sometimes one team member needs more attention/help than the others.

Yourself.  Take time for yourself.  This is not selfish advice!  First, you need to have time with just you and the Lord, to receive His refreshment and strength for the job He has given you.  Second, you need time just to yourself, even if it's 15 minutes snatched her or there.  I like to retreat to my bedroom right after lunch and work a crossword puzzle or read a book for a little bit.  Then, I'm ready to hit the trail running, with energy for the rest of the day.

Others.  The first others is family members.  Take time with other members in your family--especially your spouse, and then other children.  If possible, find a babysitter and take a walk or go for coffee with your spouse.  Your marriage and family will be strengthened.  The second others is your support team--friends, extended family, families in your homeschool support group.  Help these people understand your situation; involve them when you can.

Help.  Please don't be afraid to ask for help!  This is so hard for Christians, but it shouldn't be.  It is okay to feel overwhelmed!!  The Lord tells us to minister to our brothers and sisters, but so many times we can't because we don't know when they have a need.  How will they know your need unless you share it?

Finally, rest in the Lord, and know that He has your path laid out.  He will not forsake you; He will guide you and carry you, and give you blessings beyond measure!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 ICHE State Convention

Thursday-Saturday, June 7-9, 2012
Calvary Church, Naperville

Featured Special/Struggling Learners Speaker

ICHE is featuring Melinda Boring as their special needs speaker.  Not only does she have experience as a speech and language pathologist and author, she and her husband have successfully homeschooled (and graduated!) their children, including two with various challenges. Melinda’s workshops address many issues pertinent to families homeschooling special and struggling learners, including socialization, language skills, adapting curriculum, distractibility, and more. Melinda and her husband, Scott, will also present a workshop focusing on distractible adults!

Melinda's website is Heads Up Now.  From her website:

Heads Up! is a company designed to provide expert information and products for special needs children.  Our goal is to provide materials and information for homeschooling families, occupational therapists, speech therapists, teachers, and specialists who work with children who have developmental delays, learning disabilities, or other special needs.

About Melinda:

Melinda Boring is a speech/language pathologist, homeschooling mother, and author. She and her husband Scott created Heads Up!, a company designed to provide expert information and products for special needs children. Melinda’s experience with distractible and hyperactive children stems from both her professional and personal life. Melinda and Scott (diagnosed with ADHD as an adult) have three children, two of whom have been diagnosed with ADHD, sensory processing and auditory processing difficulties. After 18 years of homeschooling, Scott and Melinda graduated their youngest child from high school in May 2011.

More Workshops Packed with Encouragement and Help!

ICHE also has a few extra special workshops being presented this year! Adrianne Elbe comes to us with a wealth of knowledge to share regarding the use of technology with struggling learners. Also, Fernando and Christine Soto (ICHE Coordinator for Struggling and Special Learners) will share their story of navigating the high school years with their own special student, with solid advice about the teenage years, academics, and graduation requirements.

About Adrianne:
Adrianne and her husband, Jeff, have homeschooled their three children since 2000. She no longer works as a licensed clinical social worker; she now enjoys encouraging and educating parents about autism spectrum disorder. Adrianne shares a wealth of knowledge as she assists with ICHE’s Special Needs Committee. F

About Christine:
One of Christine’s greatest passions is to encourage and help families who are homeschooling their special and struggling students. She and Fernando have been married for 24 years, and have been homeschooling for 17 years. Together, they have successfully graduated three of their four sons from homeschool high school, including their oldest son who is on the autism spectrum. Christine has assisted with ICHE’s Special Needs Committee for several years, and has served as ICHE’s Coordinator for Special and Struggling Learners since 2009.

Convention Workshop Descriptions

Thursday Workshops

When Socialization IS an Issue – Melinda Boring
Does your child have difficulty when trying to join an activity? Does your child fail to make eye contact, or respond inconsistently to others’ interaction attempts? Perhaps your child tends to monopolize conversations or has a limited number of subjects he prefers to discuss. Children with special needs such as learning disabilities, autism, or attention deficit disorder frequently need extra practice and specific instructions to develop important social skills. Learn how to identify specific aspects of social skills and ways to gently teach them through daily activities and games.

Developing Receptive and Expressive Language Skills – Melinda Boring
Speech therapist Melinda Boring will share tips and methods used by professionals to help children develop their receptive (what is understood) and expressive (what is conveyed) language skills. Learn practical strategies to help your children increase their comprehension and express themselves effectively as they interact with others throughout daily activities.

Adapting Curriculum for Struggling Learners – Melinda Boring
You’ve planned a great lesson, you’re enthusiastic, and then before you even begin, your child asks, “How long is this going to take?” Or maybe you like to go with the flow but your child persists in wanting to know a schedule for the day. Take the next step beyond identifying basic learning styles to recognizing ways teachers and students may differ in their approaches to processing information and completing assignments. Learn proven teaching strategies and techniques for adapting and modifying curriculum to maximize your time and effort.

Friday Workshops

Helping the Distractible Child, Part One – Melinda Boring (Through Primary Grades)
Does your child fidget, seem to be in constant motion, or frequently go off on tangents? Maybe your child can sit still just fine but seems to be in his own little world rather than attending to the task at hand. Does a 20-minute assignment take two hours at your house? Come and learn the best teaching tips for working with distractible children, as well as ways to tweak the learning environment and develop your child’s awareness of time passing.

Helping the Distractible Child, Part Two – Melinda Boring (Late Elementary Onward)
Have you ever considered recording your voice so you wouldn’t have to keep saying the same things over and over? If you feel as though you are constantly redirecting your distractible child, it may b time to teach some strategies to promote self-monitoring and greater independence. Find out how using a menu can help identify areas of distractibility, encourage your child to take responsibility for using strategies, and learn ways to tackle projects and get them done on time.

The Wonderful World of Technology for Struggling Learners – Adrianne Elbe
Kindles and iPads and Smartphones, oh my! Technology is exploding and can be overwhelming. But technology may also be helpful to struggling learners. This workshop will take you on a whirlwind tour of the latest devices and how they may be used in the homeschool. If you are teaching a struggling learner, or if you are just wondering if the latest gizmos might be helpful to you and your child, come with your questions and concerns and take a stroll down Technology Lane!

Helping the Distractible Adult – Scott and Melinda Boring
Melinda and Scott, married for 25 years, team up for this lively presentation about distractibility issues for adults. Melinda loves organizational aids, structure, and planning in advance. Scott—diagnosed with ADHD as an adult—loves spontaneity, creativity, and procrastinating. How did these two every get together? Find out how this couple found strategies that work. Includes question and answer time!

Saturday Workshops

Sensory Integration – Melinda Boring
Is your child an extremely picky eater, hypersensitive to sounds and smells, or irritated by clothing tags or sock seams? Or does your child seek out stimulation and sensory experiences? Is she a messy eater, or does he seem extremely clumsy? Do they love to be hugged tightly, or hate to be touched in any way? These are just a few of the common issues when a child is experiencing difficulties with sensory processing. Come and learn how to identify sensory issues and how to find strategies and resources to help deal with their impact on your child and family.

Speech Articulation Skills – Melinda Boring
Is your child’s speech unclear? Do you find yourself interpreting what your child says because others couldn’t understand it? Maybe your child has difficulty with specific sounds, but you don’t know if you should be concerned about it or just wait and see. Experienced speech therapist Melinda Boring will explain different types of speech sound errors, which sounds tend to be the last and hardest to develop, and simple strategies to help your child have better speech intelligibility.

Special/Struggling Students and the High School Years – Fernando and Christine Soto
After a few years of homeschooling, things seem to get into a groove. Then, the high school years hit! You’re faced with changing hormones, up-and-down emotions, tougher academics, and a looming date called Graduation—all of which can be twice as overwhelming when your student is struggling. Fernando and Christine traveled that road, wondering if their son could graduate if he never wrote an essay or mastered algebra. Come hear their encouraging story and gain practical information regarding the high school years, and what the word graduation encompasses for your special students.