Tag Archives: special needs

“here”

You know the feeling… the one you get when you know something impressive is going to happen. The sense of anticipation builds, you get a knowing look on your face, your eyes get wider and a glint appears … waiting… waiting… not much longer… it’s nearly upon us, wait for it…. wait for it…

Ahh, success – it happened (of course you knew it would)… a sense of pride now follows, you knew what was going to happen, you knew others didn’t… you might, just for a moment feel slightly superior… just for a moment… for any longer would be to brag.

Now imagine this exact emotion multiplied by 19. That was Mac’s class on Friday morning.

There was a change in the schedule, both the Kindy classes joined together for roll-call. This is the first time they have joined up for that part of the day – the roll was being taken by a fill-in teacher.

Well Mac now has one of his one-step communicators dedicated to answering his name at roll call.

Max, one of his Kindy colleagues, was very kind to record himself saying “HERE” on the switch so Mac can hit the button when his name is called and answer like the rest of the kids.

This has been working well. One child each day is responsible for getting the switch, and helping Mac answer his name roll.

Friday was interesting. Mac’s class knew the others hadn’t seen him in roll call – they had never seen Mac ‘answer’ his name before – they kept watching and waiting for his name – there was a sense of anticipation.

Then finally, the teacher called… “Macdonald?”… huh, that wasn’t right (of course the fill-in teacher wasn’t aware Mac doesn’t use his full name in class) – did he say “Macdonalds?”, thankfully his usual teacher wasn’t quite out the door – “That’s Mac”, she called, so the fill-in teacher called again… “Mac?” and the button was pressed… “here” came the pre-recorded voice (declared on recording to be ‘just perfect’ by Max) and 19 faces turned to look at the other class, a look of pride, a look of knowingness and just a touch of gloating…

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i don’t know why he swallowed a fly…

There has been much discussion amongst K-C and K-W (the two kindergarten classes) as to why Mac can’t talk.

Connor gets the whole wheelchair thing – his Dad is in a wheelchair – but “why can’t Mac talk?” or “do the things his Dad can?”

Izzy had one answer – “it is because his brain is smooshed all through his body”.  Izzy has been at Day Care with Mac, she knows about his brain injury – this is her take on it.

James, on the other hand, has a different take…

“it’s because he swallowed a fly…”  ?

Connor was not convinced.  I have since filled his mum in with regards to Mac’s brain injury.

Guess we are just about due for a Q&A session with the kids.  

In James’ defence his class has been reading “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly”

However, I don’t think we will go into the “perhaps she’ll die” portion of the book/song.

I look forward to answering their questions – particularly as there won’t be any parents around to ‘shush’ them.

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it’s a wrap

week one ‘in review’

All in all it was a pretty good week. Mac managed all five days of full time hours with only one day time nap (day one). Considering it was close to 40°C every day this was pretty impressive.

He has some wonderful kids in his class – keen to interact and assist Mac. They are learning how to Hi-5 him, ‘scruffle’ him up, to push him back up when he is tipping out of his beanbag. There is only one who doesn’t seem particularly happy with Mac being in the class… he “hates sitting near the stinky baby” – oh well, his loss – Mac couldn’t give a hoot.

Mac & his peers

PHOTO FROM THE LOCAL PAPER IN THE KINDERGARTEN PHOTO LIFT-OUT

We have been trying different pieces of equipment to see what works. I’ve realised Kindy kids spend a lot of time on the floor. We still haven’t quite worked out the best option there – because as quick as they are on the floor – they are back up again at their desks.

Mac’s hi-low chair is pretty good – just a bit bulky for the Kindy sized desks and doesn’t go quite low enough to fit in under the extra bits on the desk.

We will have to look at getting a hi-low base for indoors. Much less bulky but should accommodate him for most of his primary years. Any suggestions?

I look forward to getting this sorted out so I don’t have to ‘lug’ quite as many seats/chairs to and from school each day.

I like that his aide is understanding the beauty of the hi-low chair option. She understands how he is far more included when he is at the same height as those around him. When they stand – up he goes, when they sit – he goes down too.  A good indicator was a pic taken of Mac’s clsas for their newsletter.  Mac’s head was cut off – this isn’t necessarily an indication of a bad photographer – more that Mac isn’t positioned in an inclusive enough setting.  We will continue to improve I am sure.

I enjoyed collecting Mac on Friday – it was the end of his first week, the end of a successful week – I was in an upbeat mood. But of course someone is always there to bring you down. Obviously someone was miffed because I was in the accessible parking spot and left me a ‘narky note’ under my wiper. I admit, I don’t have a sticker – we have never used disabled parking spaces before and my appointment with the Doctor to get the forms signed isn’t until Tuesday. So, probably, I shouldn’t have been there but I was parking where I was told to by the Head Mistress. If I didn’t have three chairs, a school bag and a child with a disability to get to the car – do you think I would need the spot? I know I am at fault because I don’t have a sticker – but please, can’t we all just be a little nicer and at least put a ‘disclaimer’ on our “narky notes” reminding people to put their stickers up or imploring them to get their stickers if they are eligible. I drives me crazy I have to see a Doctor about a ‘mobility’ issue (what a waste of their and my time) but that is another rant for another time.

All in all it was a good week. 


Thankfully this week is cool and wet – a nice change. Hmmm, Mac doesn’t have a jumper – must get on to that one soon. He has long sleeve shirts (and arm warmers if need be) – they will suffice for now.

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of course it’s not perfect

While Mac is having a lovely time at school it is disappointing to see the NSW DET as the ‘weak link’ letting their schools down.  Sure the accessible toilet has been built but the change table and hoist were not installed and there is some other problem (I think, haven’t asked) relating to powerpoints near water outlets.

Honestly, DET need to be better at this.  There is no excuse for the equipment not being ready and there is certainly no excuse for buildings not being ‘fitted out’ in accordance with Australian Safety Standards.

 If Mac was a larger child and we hadn’t made alternative arrangements – he would have been excluded from school – and I probably wouldn’t be ‘so understanding’ about it.

That being said… if anyone from DET is reading and wants us to review the forms/submissions completed on our school’s behalf for the required change facilities to see if there is any feedback or suggestions we can provide to ensure the next child has safe, timely and appropriate access at school… then we are happy to do so.

On the outside the toilet block is great, ramping is good, facility matches the rest of the buildings in its block.  I am not 100% sure why the bollards are so close together (can’t fit the chair through) but assume it is to stop the potential of a ‘runaway chair’ – there is an alternate route to the classroom/changeroom that doesn’t add too much time – but it isn’t a direct route.

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a WHAT panda?

x:pan·da   (ɛks – pān’də)
n.

  1. exceptional multiadjustable dynamic seat system designed by R82 in Denmark
  2. school chair of choice for Master Mac
  3. supplied to us by PADP the NSW Government prescribed appliance scheme – this was our first piece of equipment supplied by the Government… it took five years just to find a seat Mac could cope with.

When it first arrived I worried about how heavy it was (over 20kg), how clunky it might look.  Would I ever work out all the levers and options and would the teachers and aides cope with it.

The good news…we love it.   It is easy to push, we love the fact Mac can ‘grow and shrink’ depending on his audience.  If his classmates are sitting then standing… he can too.  

We chose an outdoor hi-low base – it copes with rough ground well, has a good brake and is really stable.  The seat can click into different bases so we will start saving our pennies for a lighter weight option for lifting in and out of the car and greater flexibility and options for different terrains.

panda out of its natural habitatthe x:panda out of its natural habitat

Sure, we have a few changes we would like to see – hah, I always do (who doesn’t) but for now we are happy in our choice of wheelchair for Mac. 

In the meantime I will send my list of adaptations, changes, options and ideas to R82.  For starters we thought we would like a really light weight mobility option with power, a springing/rocking/spinning/bouncing  adapter for in the playground, a carseat mount with ISOfix fittings, a hoisting option for the chair (not the child) and/or transfer system from going from one base to another without taking the child out of the chair and laying them on the ground.  None of which exist…  oh well, we can only ask.

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K-C

Welcome to the Kindergarten class of 2009 taught by Mrs Collins… henceforth known as “K-C”.

happy day

What a day, what fun, what a blast!

uniforms, school lunch, school bag, wheelchair, seating system, bean bag, change bag, bibs, bandanas, teeny tiny hat…  OK, so maybe a little more “baggage” than the other kids…  

Mac’s amazing friend from ‘Pedagogy at Five’ is in his class along with some good friends from Pre-school.   His School Angels (Teacher’s Aides) are delightful and enthusiastic – there are lots of things to work out  - but I am sure we will get there.

We prepared a Cheat-Sheets-4-School for his Teacher and Aides.

Mac added a 20 min sleep to his day’s curriculum – no one seemed to mind.

All in all it was a good day – looking forward to tomorrow.

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four sleeps to go…

so the bibs, trying to look like they are NOT bibs, are almost finished (why did I think I could sew?),

the pencil case (hmmm, more like suitcase) is nearly packed,

the school bag is awaiting filling,

the uniforms, recently embroidered, are washed and ready…

Mac’s  seating system has been tweaked, twisted and turned – it is now pretty comfy – he is happy sitting in it…

the excitement is building…

school starts Monday!

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what he said!

picture-43

CLICK THE PICTURE TO TAKE YOU TO THE “ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY BOOGIE”

Thanks to the ‘smart people’ at www.inclusive.com for saying it so well.  


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Awesome…

ORIENTATION DAY THREE…

The class buddies arrived in the form of very enthusiastic sixth graders.  Mac got to meet his buddy, Ryan. He has met Ryan a couple of times as he is my cousin’s son – but hasn’t had a lot to do with him.

It was nice to hear Ryan had actually requested to be Mac’s buddy and was proudly declaring to everyone that “Mac is my cousin”.  

During the playground break when Ryan was busy pushing Mac around the grounds in his chair and trying to ensure not too large a group was alongside I could hear him declare… “I can manage on my own you know, he doesn’t need a crowd staring at him”.  Oh well, the novelty will wear off, most of the kids just have lots of questions and are excited about Mac’s arrival – they have been expecting him.

As Ryan and Mac were wandering past one class I heard a boy of about 10 proclaim Mac is Awesome” to his mate, who responded yeah, he is so cool”.   Another contributed… and his wheels are MAD”.  

As a parent it made me smile.  We all want our kids to be liked, to fit in, to be accepted.  With a child with profound disabilities heading into a mainstream environment it has been hard to guage what the response could be.

Guess I can’t complain – I think he’s “awesome” too.

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