Special Ed Solutions for School Closures.

A few weeks ago I was quoted in an article about how school closures have affected my family, especially in regards to my son with special needs who can not learn virtually. Read the article here.  This quote led to a feature on Fox News where I very quickly had to share my thoughts. Admittedly, I had so much more to say, but I did what I could with my 3 minute segment. Since airing, I’ve had many of you reach out, sharing the same frustrations & stories about how your special ed son or daughter isn’t receiving an education when schools shut down because they simply won’t learn virtually or can’t learn virtually. When our family went into lock down in March of 2020, it was literally hell for months. Luke went to school one day & then never returned & this disruption to his schedule caused constant screaming, aggression, regression and pacing back & forth as he repeatedly asked “go to school?”

My husband & I tallied & came to the conclusion that Luke had, at a minimum, 7 people working with him on a daily basis at school. Seven people with specific certifications & degrees such as physical therapy, speech therapy or behavioral specialist – all specialties we weren’t certified in & somehow, the two of us who had full time jobs & 7 other children were supposed to fulfill the roles of all these people it took to educate Luke in one day.

Needless to say, we didn’t. We did our best. We worked on his life skills. We practiced his flash cards. We went to the park & walked but there was absolutely no way we could adequately fulfill his IEP when at school it took a minimum of 7 people a day to work with him.

I’m not sure how exactly I became the face of this problem (or if I even want to be the face!) but here we are & I’ve had numerous people ask, “I get it Jess, it’s awful! But what’s the solution?” And, I’m just a mom. I’m not privy to school budgets or politics or employee recruitment practices, but I do have a few thoughts on the matter & maybe even potential solutions including the following:

1. Pull aids, teachers & subs from other schools & classrooms. My typical children are capable of learning virtually unlike my son with special needs who requires face to face opportunities. Not entirely ideal but a possible solution if we pulled teachers, aids & subs from these classrooms to help out in special Ed classrooms when there are shortages due to Covid or staffing issues.

2. Pay more! And way more for aids willing to work in Special Ed. Offer bonus money to subs who work a certain number of days. My 16 year old daughter receives a $500 bonus after she works for 6 months in retail. Every business is offering this! Why aren’t schools? And, aids who work in Special Ed classrooms must be compensated accordingly & this is not minimum wage. This job requires so much more than that of a typical classroom & often times includes specialized training. I can’t find respite workers for less than $15 an hour & aids (or subs) who work in these classrooms should also be paid at least this amount.

3. Let parents decide regarding contact tracing & virtual. Some children are medically fragile or immune compromised, and if this was the case for my child, I would absolutely be more concerned during cold, flu and Covid season, but he’s not and there is an extremely low chance that he would ever have complications or die from the flu or Covid; however, there is a very high chance that he (and we) might have a mental breakdown & financial hardships if he doesn’t attend in person schooling because we can’t work.  Mental health trumps physical health in our situation, but this could very easily be different for another family. Choice is a good thing. Let parents choose.

4. Offer a stipend to homeschool. Some states offer this & it’s not much but at least it’s a viable choice. When we lived in Tennessee, we were offered around $900 a month if we chose to homeschool Luke. This isn’t much but at least it gives parents a little bit of autonomy over the situation, & if the parent is expected to set aside their whole life to educate their son or daughter for an extended amount of time, they should be compensated. Or, perhaps a group of parents could pool their money together and start a special Ed co-op. Normally, we have numerous options when it comes to schooling for our typical children, and we should have a few for our special ed students as well.

Again, I don’t claim to understand the inner workings of each and every school district but these might be viable & attainable solutions for a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Any other thoughts?

Just keep livin.

The Caregiver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spider glides across the window pane
The beetle traverses the cold tile
The moth returns to the light
And the mama releases a sigh,
Weary after consoling her child
Again.

She exhales the attempts
To extinguish the flames
That rage within
The neurotic chaos soothed
By anti-psychotic meds
Or Barney’s songs
Or maybe there is no solution
On this particular day.

No solution for what
The blast stole from him
The stroke that occurred
Many, many years ago
And pained those
Who love him.

And the screams rattle the walls
And the windows
And the beetle cowers behind the urn
Which illuminates a translucent prism
Of relaxed bodies
that lean into the silky softness
or slowly cascade from the glow
and drift to lie
upon the patio.

She stretches her tired limbs
The mama who loved him from the start
Her terminal boy who defied every odd
And lived
But in living
Her dreams died a little bit
And she became frantic –
Fighting against the web
And against the light that beckoned
Desperate for an escape
Desperate to find a crack in the floor
Or maybe in the windowpane
Desperate to avoid the patio graveyard
And reject the silken suffocation
And she retreated
to the mat
upon the floor
again.

The spider, the beetle, the moth –
Her friends in isolation
They wait
All three – they wait
And ponder
And shrug.

They consider their Job
Lying still and silent before them
Prostrate upon the cold tile
Seeking the light within
and not the one flickering
beyond the window pane.

The spider eyes her suspiciously
The beetle hurries past her motionless body
The moth flaps mightily
Her friends in quiet contemplation
Living a life not chosen
But yet, it was.
In childlike surrender
The light glimmers within
and beyond.

The spider, the beetle, the moth
They surround her
And peer intently into her dismal eyes
Her hallowed gaze
And they wait
All four, they wait
For escape.

An eerie silence fills the room
Except for the occasional screams
From the child
below.
She sighs,
defeated,
Again.

And then –

A sound –

She untangles her weary body
Her foot swipes the web
as she rises from the sunken mat
and scuttles to the door
flinging it wide
in welcome relief
The light rushes in
And becomes one with the day
Redemption
has arrived!

Hallelujah and Amen!

The fresh air
Ebbs and flows
Like a steady tango
And brings hope
That brushes away
The spider, the beetle,
and the moth.

A burden lifted
Her soul is light and free
A meal, a drink, a gift
Extended
Life-giving sustenance
for the weary and famished.

She exhales
Slow and steady
Not caught
Nor trapped
By light nor silk nor walls
There is grace
Through giving hands
And sacrifice.

She is renewed.
She is seen.
Again.

#seemetoo

PRIME DAY DEALS AND STEALS!

Who’s taking full advantage of Prime Day?! This girl sure is! I know, ridiculous photo.  It looks like I’m shooting myself but whatever… I don’t have time to take 500 selfies.

Here are a few of the great deals I’ve found so far, and yes, totally Christmas shopping. I’ve already pulled the trigger on most of these!

What are y’all finding? Link up the good deals in the comments below, and let’s go shopping!

1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness – Regularly $20, now only $9.99 for clean water anywhere. I bought a few of these.

Get yours. 

 

2. Echo Show 5 Charcoal with Blink Mini Indoor Smart Security Camera, 1080 HD with Motion Detection Normal Price $125, now $49.95! Awesome deal for peace of mind. This is headed straight to Luke’s room where I hope and pray it enables him to have more independence and security.

Buy Here. 

 

3. IPad Mini I am admittedly going back and forth about treating myself to this. I currently have one, an older model and I LOVE it. It’s compact, much easier to lug around in my purse than a full size Ipad, and literally is my life line. Everything I write and do is on this baby. Seriously at this price, I should buy two. From $400 to $335.

Great deal here.

 

4. Super cute down coat that I love and sometimes you just buy super cute things that you love. Down from 46.77 to 36.48 after you enter the code UZ2ZSHOW.

BUY NOW. 

 

5. I don’t know about you guys, but my girls love scrunchies (and so do I!). These are going to make great stocking stuffers. 60 Pcs Premium Velvet Hair Scrunchies Hair Bands for Women or Girls Hair Accessories with Gift Bag, Great Gift for Holiday Seasons. Normally $17.99 now $7.99!

Get yours. 

 

6. Ryan and I found the cutest vintage dresser for Jada and Annabelle last weekend, but in using it we had to remove their bookshelf because the room is too small to hold both. Thankfully these Floating Shelves will be the perfect replacement. Regular price $19.00, now $12.47!

BUY HERE. 

7. Perfect snack holder for my teenage boys in their dungeon (basement). I’m SO over picking up all of the empty containers of peanuts and chips. Normal Price $48.99 now only $28.73.

BUY NOW. 

 

8. My kids are obsessed with slime and if I’m honest, I don’t allow it in the house because we’ve had too many problems in the past but at this price on this DIY slime kit, I will allow it on the patio. At originally $60, it’s now a steal at 15.17 with a 20% off coupon at checkout.

Purchase Now. 

 

9. Josh and Jada are obsessed with LEGOS and this Advent Calendar is super cute – especially with the holidays arriving. Regular price $30.00, now only $19.97.

Get Yours 

10. We have a Roku and we love it! At this price I bought two more. Normally $40, now $27.

Buy Here. 

 

11. Play-Doh Gingerbread House. Cutest thing ever and Annabelle will love it (and it’s sugar free!) $9.99

Get Yours. 

 

12. iCOVER Sun Shade Sail perfect for a patio area that I’d love to utilize more but don’t because of the sun beating down. $21.75

Buy Now. 

 

Ta Da! Shop my look.

I’ve detailed my issues with hair loss in a recent blog post which can be  read here but as my hair grows back I’ve found that I really like to use hair pieces in small (believable) amounts like this one from Amazon for $8.49.  Can’t get any easier than this thing. Purchase here 

 

 

I am also wearing another new favorite, magnetic lashes.  I’m not a glamour girl, but if I want to amp it up a notch, these are my go to.  I’m also not one to spend a lot of time trying to figure out weird products (I gave up on lashes years ago!) but these couldn’t be easier to apply. Swipe the magnetic liner on and slap the eyelash on, and I’m good to go. Regular price$ 24.98. Prime day price $19.23.  Buy Here

 

AND FINALLY – to polish off my 5 minute look are these earrings that are awesome and come in a package of 14. If you don’t want a particular color, give it to your best friend.  You can’t go wrong at $16.99 – that’s like $1 a pair. Get Em.  

That’s it!  Let me know what you’re finding!

Just Keep Livin!

 

 

(affiliates used in this post).

A Holy Shift

I descended the stairs, immediately irritated by what was awaiting me with each scream originating from my 15-year-old son. Great, I muttered as the uninvited stench rose to greet my nose. Luke, my son with profound special needs, required yet another diaper change – a chore that was becoming increasingly able to grate my very last nerve over the past few weeks as his father recovered from shoulder surgery – a recovery period that did not allow for diaper changes.

I opened the door slightly and held my breath. The third of the day so far. My least favorite job in the whole world.

I did what was necessary – cleaned my big 15-year-old man child, and as I prepared to leave, he reached for my face, met my eyes and sang in his sweet jumbled way,

Oh God you are my God, and I will ever praise you.

Continue reading “A Holy Shift”