The year has ended, like play like play.
Before I got married, I was a Daystar person and my fave part of that was being focused and stating clearly what you want in life. We had this life audit/goal setting thingy down pat every quarter. It works for me still, in this new Redeemed life dispensation. More on that on another post.
Shalla to Pastor Adeyemi. He imparts change in peoples’ lives. Nothing overly religious, just plain logic and common sense. That sells with millenials anyday.
Back to today’s post. Stuff has been happening here and there, just to brief you guys.
- I have a dog, a Samoyed, whom I haven’t even trained. Dude is some 5 months old, such a family dog and a delight to have. I really should get to training him. His name is Sniff but my (hood) neighbors call him Wiski. TF! Lol
- Finally hopped on the DSTV Explora wagon. Apart from groaning monthly to pay 18 taasaaan, I have to be honest and declare that I love it! Fun catching up on missed episodes and whatnot, especially on insomniac nights.
- Bumped into a few old friends this TurnUp season and yea, I have changed! My priorities have totally shifted and appaz I’m a bit standoffish. That was never my intention, to be a snob, I promise.
- Is it a new thing to get hit on by younger dudes? Eiss, y’all can’t see the greys? Park well o, I’m not yua mate 🙂
- My boys are growing! Daniel is more a talkative than ever, David just loves to drum and play. I worry for David tho, I feel he’s not as book smart as his twin. That one is omo tisha. Before you finish asking question, he has answered. But David takes a while. Twins 🙂 So similar, yet so individual.
- Working in e-commerce this year was an eye-opener. I love my job, love seeing the numbers rack up. However, I desperately long for a solution to this logistics headache. Guys, business in Nigeria is not for the fainthearted.
- Speaking of which, this dollar thingy isn’t funny o. I sell Fitbit, books and some bric-a-brac but it’s been tough bringing in more stock. This is FitFam season and I can’t even trade. Comme d fock on! Emefiele and CBM Overlords, how far this fx situation?
- Got a domain name on gigalayer but no single time to move content there. Or even start fully. Help needed http://www.bukonlashobanjo.com
- Been learning CSS and HTML (starting from the bottom, innit). I can read and understand any source code now. Oya apply to my own website na, no time. This life! 🙂
- I want to move to Ikoyi or VI. Or Lekki 1. From my blog to God’s ears.
Random, people watching is my new fave pastime. Y’all Lagos people do the MOST! Lol.
My default ‘new post’ format is the Quick Post. Lazy much.
So I miss having a personal blog and because I’m older, I’ve started caring less about what (often-irrelevant) people think. Did a quick scan of the naysayers and found they are still at same spot as last time. So, dust off me shoulders.
On to random interesting things:
- Montessori is not my preferred preschool philosophy for Early Years. I know it’s holistic, etc but it just isn’t MY preference. I get a lot of backlash whenever I make this statement. I’m more of ‘traditional’ classroom teaching, with room for differentiation of course. Interesting debate here
- Changed my kids’ school because of reasons. They are suddenly more independent, more brilliant, better with word associations, the works. Here is a school whose total fees is a fraction of the previous setting. I am not saying the other school is bad, I’m just saying my kids appear smarter now. Is it the previous school’s training just showing through now or are they getting older and hence more vocal? Time will tell.
- Got to assess 3 kids during this holiday. I have just one thing to say: Parents, allow. This is a HUGE topic for another post.
- The holiday has been a good one, coupled with the fact that I’m on a short leave. Family visits,lots of rest, movies, but no money.
- Enjoyed this Map of Nigeria Puzzle
- How does my Swift Data (of 34GB) finish so fast! Only 3 movies downloaded and I have less than N2k left. My network is secure, sure of that, so no ‘pilfering’ from neighbors.
- New fave jam is Lagbaja – Jenke Totally my feel-good track.
Got some distance to eat up, in my Mental Health Education journey.
So far, I have focused only on Special Educational Needs for Children aged 1-12yrs.
However, something happened last week, that further piqued my interest in Adult and Adolescent Mental Health.
On the way to work, there is a guy (who I’ve always thought is schizophrenic). People give him a wide berth because he looks very strong and prone to violence. Looks only, no evidence. Sometimes, he walks around with his fly out for the world to see, talking to himself loudly and gesticulating wildly. Usually, without a t-shirt, only trousers. Tangled hair, dirty skin, the works.
Walks a great length too, just basically traipsing up and down the long road, in his own world.
This day, I parked in an Estate near my office. When I got down from the car after applying slight makeup (not every time, tomboy), I saw him gisting with the gate-man. Next thing, a woman walked down with a little girl and said, ‘Chima how you dey nao?’ He smiled and said ‘I dey fine’, stretched his hand towards the little girl who shook his hand fearfully. Before I could blink, he picked the girl up, hugged her and said ‘girlie are you okay?’. Poor girl was scared shitless, I was awestruck and basically had my jaw near my chest throughout.
I was running late but my brain was ‘literally’ rifling through DSM V. Came up with a dead end,
I’ve been to CAMH Oshodi twice, to see how I can learn Psychiatry for non-medical folks. People there just keep looking at me somehow.
Not giving up though. To successfully improve the outcomes of children I work with, I HAVE TO improve my Mental Health knowledge.
Should have started out with my play-based ABA center, rather I got a job with an online store. Now, this job leaves me with zero free time, such that I feel I may get stuck and never pursue my passion of supporting children with special needs.
Why did you take the job, you may ask? Money! Simple and short.
I did the calculations. Passion is fantastic but if I have to groan before paying my own bills/taking care of my boys, then I may begin to hate myself for taking this step.
However, staying on this job isn’t doing that much good to my psyche either. I see some therapists making a mess with these kids and my heart bleeds.
Finna take a drastic step soon.
I keep oscillating between running a developmental play-based ABA day center (for kids to come in 3 days a week) and a full-time SEN center.
My limitations are:
– Basic knowledge of Makaton and SSE.
– Near zero experience of working with these kids and fear of recruiting people who only want a job.
– MSc ABA is minimum 18 months, full time. Can’t leave my kids for that long, not in these formative years of their lives.
– Funding. I can make some resources using local items though I am not very creative, but I will still need some standardized play equipment and learning materials.
This post was about me. Wish I had someone to talk to in person, for days, about this.
Top Must Know About Autism
– It is not mental retardation.
– It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.
– It is a neurological condition (and sometimes genetic) which manifests in social, behavioural and communication difficulties.
– Affects more boys than girls because (unconfirmed) research has linked it to genetic makeup.
– At least 1 in 3 adults suffer severe mental health difficulties because of lack of support.
– Vaccination DOES NOT cause autism, neither does it aggravate the condition, if currently existing.
– People with Autism do not understand body language. If you have something to say, out with it. Body language is as understandable as ancient Greek to people on the autistic spectrum.
– People on the spectrum have difficulty relating to, understanding and recognizing other people’s feelings. This means they find it more difficult to communicate and interact with others which can lead to high levels of anxiety and confusion. No harm intended, it’s just how they are.
– People with autism may also experience over or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
– Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning difficulties and need a lifetime of specialist support.
Some of the telltale signs of autism in a child include:
- not drawing their parents’ or others’ attention to objects or events, for example pointing at a toy or a book, or at something that is happening nearby (or a child may eventually do this, but later than expected)
- carrying out activities in a repetitive way, for example always playing the same game in the same way, or repeatedly lining toys up in a particular order
- resistance to change or doing things differently
- emerging difficulties with social interaction, social communication and social imagination.
- behaviour such as biting, pinching, kicking or self-injurious behaviour
A child must have at least 3 of these or similar signs before professional diagnosis is done.
There is a Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (starts from 18 months upwards) which can be used by parents and what this measures is basically risk for social-communication disorders. There are other professional examinations done by clinicians and psychologists too.
Children with autism can cope well in mainstream school after being certified by a therapist. In addition, they can have support sessions after school and cope best in schools with a SEN department.
For a parent whose child has been properly diagnosed and the feedback is autism, know that it is not the end of the world. Information is knowledge. Now that you know why your child is different, read up, join Facebook Support Groups (those are really great by the way), talk about it. An autistic child is not broken and doesn’t need fixing. He’s just different,
I have a few words of advice for parents:
– Every behaviour happens for a reason
It is wise not to take negative behaviour from your child at face value. there will probably be something going on behind the scenes. There are usually antecedents before a tantrum. You need to know what happened before the negative behaviour, who was involved, what activities were ongoing.
Thing is, people on the spectrum loathe abrupt changes to routine and they flip if they are not given adequate notice beforehand,
– Know your child’s limits.
Play dates are fine and dandy but for a child with autism, it can cause distress. Activities which embrace your child’s strengths are more meaningful, e.g. creating spreadsheets for household chores, writing a story, etc. Remember, children with autism have challenges interacting in social settings.
– Be Calm and Be in Your Child’s World
If you need to discipline your child, do so calmly and compassionately. Don’t attempt to impose discipline when they are emotionally unable to interact. An instance is when they are angry or anxious. That’s like filling a basket with water. He is not present at that period and discipline won’t amount to anything then.
Offer ways to solve their behaviour challenges, e.g. use role play to show a more positive way of handling a situation.
Use social stories or visual aids to demonstrate ‘good behaviour’ . Parent, get creative. Is there a favorite cartoon character? Use that and form a story that emulates good behaviour.
• Be a positive role model for your child.
Show them the correct way to respond to criticism. And trust me, you will get a lot of criticism from other parents when your child demonstrates social tantrums. Do not be apologetic for who your child is.
– Give Positive, Clear Instruction.
Don’t leave room for confusion. Let your instructions be positive and crystal clear. Do not give more than 2 tasks at once. e.g. Bring broom from the kitchen NOT Bring broom and a cup of water from the kitchen.
Look at the mess you’ve made on the table.” Instead say: “ Please clear the table and put any rubbish in the bin.”
– Give Warning
Getting from home to school or to a relative or friends house can be a stressful experience as it can take a little longer for children with autism to process this transition.
Giving them a two minute or five minute warning can really help. Use a visual aid , such as a clock face, to count down to the time of the next transition – this will help them handle the change on their own.
This is a powerful video by a poet who is on the autistic spectrum herself. She’s brilliant, and I do say so 🙂
Another is this video by Skinny Boy, get to know Autism better
There are many therapy models available for people with autism. My favorite is ABA; I however do not want to start on that so I don’t confuse y’all.
Who needs normal anyway?
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty in reading and writing despite normal levels of intelligence. It is a genetic and often neurologic condition, affects more boys than girls and often goes unnoticed. There is no cure for it because it is not a disease.
Dyslexia can be assessed from 3 years as this is the age literacy gets fully established. With early diagnosis and intervention, children with dyslexia can become great at academics.
Dyslexia is a world of moving words for kids affected by it. They often say ‘the letters are acting excited’ or ‘the words are jumping at me’
Photo source: http://squareheadteachers.com/tag/dyslexia/
Children with Dyslexia show a few of the following signs:
– Messy/Sloppy handwriting
– Very short memory. They cannot remember seeing a word even if they read it on a previous page.
– Fantastic with math calculations but struggle with word problems.
– Complains of visual stress when reading from the board.
– Read and re-read without much comprehension.
– Slow in copying notes.
– Hold pen/pencil differently and very tightly
– Mixes up certain letters such as b and d, p and q, etc
– Tardiness: Last to settle down in class, last to leave after class.
Children with dyslexia are creative, intuitive, great with hands-on learning and 3D problem solving. They often see the big picture and can easily grasp new concepts.
Teachers and therapists need to adapt learning styles to suit dyslexic tendencies because children with dyslexia learn differently.
Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Orlando Bloom, Tommy Hilfiger, Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo Da Vinci, Richard Branson are a few famous people who coped very well with Dyslexia.
There are other learning difficulties which arise as a result of dyslexia. However, this is not the post for those.
Dyslexics function very well in Software Design, WoodWork, Engineering, Photography, Science/Research, Architecture, etc
PS: My number is publicly available for those who have concerns or just want to chat about special needs. Whatsapp preferred please.
Having a child with special needs is heart-wracking, particularly when it is a condition one is at odds with handling. Hence, information is crucial in managing the situation and giving your child the best life.
I have observed that most parents, even after spending huge amounts of money, still cannot define what condition their child has in simple terms. This shows a lack of understanding of the challenges the child faces in everyday life. What you do not know, how will you resolve? Such parents are usually at the mercy of everyone with half a pinch of (usually ill-placed) advice and we keep running from pillar to post with no solution.
The interesting thing about children with special needs is, a wrong diagnosis/treatment creates another special need in the child and aggravates the existing condition.
Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?
A child is said to have Special Educational Needs (henceforth referred to as SEN) if he has a learning difficulty which makes it more challenging for him to learn than other children of the same age group. Children with SEN often require special educational provision made for them.
A special needs child does not necessarily have learning impairment.
Even if a child has had a ‘label’ attached to his/her particular special need, this does not mean that his/her needs will be exactly the same as others with the same ‘condition.’ The difficulties a child experiences can range from mild to severe and a child may have problems in more than one area of learning.
For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on children whose special needs makes learning difficult for them.
Children have a learning difficulty if they:
- have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age; or
- have a disability, which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools.
A learning difﬁculty could result from a physical or mental impairment, a medical condition, emotional and behavioral problems, communication difﬁculties, problems with concentrating or learning to read etc.
All children, including those with SEN, make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best.
There are several types of SEN and to ease understanding, I will break them down into broad categories:
– Specific Learning Difficulties e.g. Dyslexia, Dyscalculia
– Behavioural, Emotional or Social Difficulties e.g. Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
– Sensory, Physical or Genetic Impairment e.g. Visual Impairment, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome
– Communication Needs
– Medical or Health Condition, e.g. Mental Retardation and so on
Let’s put the big sounding names aside for a bit.
Most of the names we call special children are demeaning and do not show the strengths such child has. Like I said above, we have been ill-informed about SEN for decades!
Some of these conditions are neurological while some come about as a result of environmental factors (ranging from home setting to exposure)
A parent knows his child better than anyone else. If your child already attends school, discuss with the teacher. Ask if he is progressing at same rate as other students, tell them why you think your child may have SEN, ask what the school (and more importantly YOU) can do to help.
Hold on with labeling a child until a proper assessment has been done by a licensed clinician and child psychologist. When a child exhibits 5 or more of the signs below, the parent should start thinking about getting extra help (do not panic, get solution calmly):
- A lack of pleasure in reading.
- Problems with writing, messy presentation, indecipherable paintings.
- Clumsiness; bumping into things, poor spatial awareness and perhaps an inability to hop/jump properly.
- Not getting on with other children or avoiding social contact altogether.
- Not enjoying school (in this instance, it is assumed the child goes to a fun, interactive school)
- Being easily distracted.
- Generating distraction.
- Reluctance to do homework.
- Not thriving at school.
- Disorganization: Late settling into class, last to pack up.