Tag Archives: wheelchair

you know your commitment to inclusion has been worth it when…

Grafitti image of the words Inclusion Rocks.  yellow blue paint on a brown brick wall.

Today, on arriving at school I found out Mac’s aide would be arriving a bit late.  Mac also had a fill in teacher (but one who has been around the school a fair bit).

What I LOVE…
there was NO suggestion I needed to hang around until the aide arrived.

And better still…
when I offered to hang around they reconfirmed that it was ‘totally unnecessary’ so I happily went on my way.  Mac just settled in for roll call with the rest of the class while a couple of kids busied themselves setting up his gear ready to start work.

One of Mac’s IEP goals has always been ‘to become an independent learner with the long term goal of aide support needed only for personal care and not for meeting his education needs’.

It’s one of Mac’s more powerful IEP goals for a number of reasons:

  • It sends a message to Mac that he has a role to play in his own learning and removes the suggestion he “needs an aide” from his world.
  • It shows we have confidence in, and high expectations for, Mac.
  • It helps ensure the teacher takes greater responsibility for Mac’s learning.
  • It provides room for Mac’s peers to really learn how to work with, and advocate for, Mac in the absence of another adult (aide).
  • It allows the aide confidence to constantly strive to become redundant in their role or, at the very least, invisible in their role.
  • And it removes any possibility that threats around ‘withdrawing or reducing aide support’ can be used as a  power play by Principals or education departments.   If that is ever suggested you can simply say “fantastic, a step closer to our IEP goal, what a great opportunity!  What will we need to adjust in the classroom to allow this to work well for the teacher and students?”

A typical school day for Mac has a period of half an hour where where no aide is in the classroom.  During the lunch time period the aide was helping develop and facilitate more inclusive opportunities for Mac which has proven successful and has allowed her to now assist other students who actually need more help with the chaos of the playground instead.

So Mac is on his way in meeting that long term IEP goal… days like today only confirm this.

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‘pig smell’ and why it’s worth fighting for…

I was collecting Mac from the school excursion at the local zoo and was met by Mac and his mate K.

K:  “Mac smells like pig smell” he said in a manner that ‘implied’ I should consider this a good thing.

Cartoon image of a pink pig with flies buzzing around it to insinuate it's stinky.

Image courtesy of cartoon-clipart.com

I admit, I was a teeny bit worried.
Let’s face it – no one wants their kid to be known as “Smelly” or “Stinky Burns” or (deep breath in) “Pig Smell”.

Me:  “Oh, OK then – is that good?” I asked wincing just a tad.

K:   “Yeah! It’s awesome” he confirmed.  “Mac couldn’t reach the pig to pat him so I leant over the fence and patted him then wiped the pig smell on Mac’s hands and arms so he had some too”

Me:  “Yep, you’re right – that’s cool.”

So there you have it…pig patting by proxy, sharing pig smells & including your mate.
Yep, that’s what we fight for.

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the lost boys…

Mac finally had his 10th birthday party – some two months after the actual event.  We haven’t done a formal birthday party since kindergarten, so we figured it was about time and double digits is always call for celebration.

After much debate, the WHO, WHAT & WHEN was settled.

the who…

all the year four boys (28) in total with 20 coming out for the fun

the when…

dates were negotiated with others planning similar festivities around the same time

the what…

activities were discussed, plans hatched and invitations sent

screen grab of party invitation. text says: You're invited to Mac's Birthday party along with all the Grade 4 boys. Weather permitting we will light a “baby bonfire” at 5pm(ish), if grown-ups wish to come and stay for a sausage sandwich at 5pm & help look after your own kids around the fire that would be fantastic. No birthday presents required. If you want to put a gold coin in a treasure chest that we will put out, Mac can use that money towards something he wants/needs. Feel free to bring your bikes & helmets and be sure to wear your oldest clothes as we may head into the bush or go on a treasure hunt. RSVP info adds: As you can probably guess we aren’t so used to those fast moving, walking & talking variety kids, so anyone wishing to hang around & lend a hand is more than welcome. Also, while the kids have confidence in Mac’s ability to pass messages on to us, and it’s great if they let ‘him know’ they are coming, can you please make sure you let us know too ;-) Please let us know of any allergies

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

The party started with a bike ride.  Mac’s bike jogger was attached to Shawn’s bike, and off they went.  All but three of the kids had bikes so those guys took the iPad and filmed the ‘riders’.

shot of all 20 kids in the distance on a country road 17 on bikes and three running behind. Mac in his trailer on the back of the bike. more like bike specs in the distance than clear images.

A treasure hunt was next on the agenda.

We set up the treasure hunt so that Mac’s could have his iPad using Proloquo2Go (P2Go) speak the clue.  When the kids arrived at each location the clue envelope simply pointed them to the next colour clue Mac was required to give them.  What worked particularly well was that it didn’t matter how far ahead some kids got, they needed to wait for Mac and his push-buddies to arrive before they could move on.  We didn’t do teams it was an “all for one and one for all” type of event.

Here’s how it worked with P2Go, the clues and the audio (a bluetooth speaker made it loud enough for all to hear).

CLICK VIDEO TO RUN (FULL SCREEN AVAILABLE)

So, I wonder, would you have found your way?

With some daylight remaining before the bonfire lighting we decided to give the “paint bomb catapult” a go.  We had set up a water balloon catapult with the plan to pelt a 1m x 1m canvas with paint filled water balloons fired from the catapult.  It might have worked… if we had some better shots and some harder timber behind the canvas.  Instead, we reverted to 60ml syringes, paint tubes, cups and 20 kids (channeling Lord of the Flies on occasion) to decorate the canvas.

While Mac can’t do any of this physical stuff (until I build that switch adapted, self loading catapult) what he does get to enjoy is an amazing artwork, made by his mates, which will hang on his wall above his bed.

shot of the splatter artwork done by the kids. Lots of colour and splats of red smaller splats of green, purple, blue. To touch it would be fun there are some parts that sit almost 1 inch off the page.

The weather stayed fine and the wind didn’t pick up too much. So, the bonfire was lit, sparklers were had and bellies were fed.

one night shot of lots of kids with lit sparklers above their head, the other of the bonfire just starting to take off with kids sitting on a grassy knoll

We had an awesome day and were pleased to be able to give Mac a great party, but also thrilled to let all the kids enjoy the same sort of stuff I got to do as a kid growing up here on the farm.

So the next one isn’t needed until 16, right?

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exposure…

Last week Mac made the trek to UOW (Dad’s University) for his participation in a session on ‘exposure to people with disabilities’.

You can read about the where/what/why here on Shawn’s most recent blog post over at Disability + Media Matters.

At the end of the session we gave an extra bit of ‘secret Mac business’ to these future journos by sharing a couple of our ‘tried and tested’ tips on how to photograph a group shot when “someone in the shot”, courtesy of some ‘not so great head control’, is often looking in the opposite direction to the rest of the group.

Seems like such a minor thing (and some might say superficial)… but could a poorly considered shot be enough for that person to be devalued in the eyes of another, could it send the message that they “aren’t even aware of their surroundings” and therefore “really disabled” rather than someone simply having poor head control?

EXAMPLE ONE:  point & shoot…

Traditional shot where you expect to have the whole group ‘looking down the barrel’

As you can see, Mac is NOT looking at the camera, in this instance it actually looks like he is looking at me so isn’t too bad, but what other techniques can we use?

Group shot with all looking at the camera except for 9 year old Mac.

EXAMPLE TWO: every which way but front…

Potentially a more social and natural looking shot than the one above.  The person with the disability isn’t the ‘stand out’ as the only person not looking at the camera.  Certainly works much better when the shot is actually in focus. ;-)

Group photo with everyone looking in a different direction.

EXAMPLE THREE:  follow Mac’s eyes…

This is my favourite, particularly when you get a run of three or so pics in succession.   Basically, the photographer (or a buddy beside them) will tell everyone where to look based on where Mac is looking.  We have plenty of birthday cake shots with everyone looking to the same spot Mac is – which is rarely at the cake –  it’s much more fun imagining what may have had everyone’s attention when you look back years later.  Once again, the person with the disability isn’t the only one looking away, it’s much more “look, is it a bird, is it a plane…” by the entire group.

A group shot where the group are directed to look wherever the pwd is looking, so all eyes focussed on the same 'off camera' spot.

So, there it is, “Secret Mac Business” and, in the words of my husband, “consider yourselves exposed”.

Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

 

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the footy draft and the kid who was ‘second pick’…

 

I know there are people who wonder why some of us fight so hard for the philosophy of inclusion to simply be the norm.

Today was a reminder of why we do what we do.  The concept of inclusion isn’t really about Mac, it’s not about me, or us as a family…   it’s for all of us, our entire community, our entire society.  It makes us all better people.

It makes us gooder

According to Mac’s teacher, this is how things went down today…

Friday is sports day and today’s activity was touch footy (touch football/AusTag/flag football/toque de futebol).

Under Mr B’s guidance the team captains get four picks each – then Mr B divvies up the rest to avoid someone being the potential ‘last pick’.

Mr B was absolutely amazed when Mac was the second pick on one of the teams.  He said, “it wasn’t something I expected – but it was awesome to witness”.

It is these little moments that make you realise what great young people we are growing by ensuring they are ALL together, authentically together.  Not as part of a program, or a unit or by special invitation for part of a day, or for certain subjects or by volunteering to be with the ‘special kids’ as a rostered job.

To these kids Mac is just one of them.  Sure, they know he has a disability… they just don’t care.

For the record… Mr B & I both acknowledged we may not have picked Mac if we were captains.  He kind of sucks at touch footy and we are both, clearly, a little bit too competitive and perhaps not as ‘evolved’ as these kids…

As it turned out he played briefly then switched it up to become a touch judge/linesman.

To be honest, I’m not sure what is funnier – Mac playing touch footy in the chariot or Mac being a linesman (bearing in mind his vision impairment).  I guess touch footy at CPS just became a ‘game of chance’.

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crrrcht… he’s still OK!

Shawn has just returned back for breakfast after his overnight at Mac’s school camp.  Mac is sleeping in a dorm room with three other boys and Shawn is in the next room… It was decided Shawn head down each night just to help out since Mac’s sleeping is still a fairly new phenomenon.

To give Mac and the boys some independence we decided to give them a walkie talkie to tell Shawn if there were any problems.  We had thought the rooms were adjoining but this wasn’t the case so the walkie talkies were a good option and the boys were keen to take on that role.

Apparently the walkie talkie conversations through the night went something like this…

9:30 PM       LIGHTS OUT

All boys in bed…
Mac pretty much asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

9:35 PM       FIRST CALL

Tom: crrrcht… he’s still OK. Over.

Shawn:crrrcht… OK (chuckling), how about I’ll
presume he’s fine UNLESS I get a call.

9:45 PM      SECOND CALL

Tom: crrrcht… Shawn, Mac’s making a noise
and we can’t get to sleep

Shawn: crrrcht… What kind of noise.

Tom: crrrcht…[mimics Mac’s delightful lip smacking]

Shawn: crrrcht… Oh, that’s not that a bad noise (thinking of all the dramatic noises it could have been),  maybe you guys aren’t trying hard enough to get to sleep.  See how you go if you just ignore it.

Tom: crrrcht… oh, OK then.  Over.

Shawn checked them a little while later… all sound asleep.

4.30 AM        THIRD CALL

Tom: crrrcht… umm Shawn, Mac’s making a weird moaning noise.

Shawn went in to assist.  Only to find Mac really sound asleep not making a peep.  As he rolled Mac, just in case he was a bit uncomfortable, he heard a “weird moaning sound” from one of the other beds….

Ahhh, too funny, Mac wasn’t actually the culprit.  Sid, one of his roomies, was the ‘maker of the sleep moaning sounds’.

Tom settled back in and all boys slept for a few more hours.

Well done guys – you are all kinds of awesome!

 

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cross country: MMXII

Autumn signals the start of the cross country season in Australia.

Once again Mac’s school event was held at our home track.

A couple of Mac’s classmates convinced Mac and Tim (Mac’s aide) to run with them in the 10 years boys event rather than “the nines”.  I asked the boys if they were hoping to finish in the places to ensure a spot on the district team.  “Nah” they responded, “we usually try to finish in about the twenties”.   When asked, Mac thought that was an OK place to finish and was very happy to run with the ‘lads’.

I always remind Mac of his ‘home advantage’ (never mind the four wheels and the able-bodied ‘pusher’ he also uses ;-) ).

But when I say ‘home track’… I’m not exaggerating.   The local cross country course is literally the property next door to ours.  It’s part of my Grandfather’s old farm – now in the capable hands of my Aunt & Uncle.   In fact, Mac & his cousins are sixth generation to live on this property… not bad considering how relatively young our country is.

Mac’s aide from last year “Ms M” had a great chuckle as she realised she hadn’t given Tim the information on how to take a short cut and hide out for the middle two kms…  Oh well, they made the distance… Mac didn’t even seem out of breath.

PHOTOS: using Halftone app on my iPhone 

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