You Make my Heart Sing!

Debbie and Her Little SisGrowing up with an older sister with developmental disabilities did not seem unusual. My mother decided early on that we were just a regular family. Not easy for Mom, but as adult children we think of ourselves as equal family members.

My sister recognizes we are different. She still lives at home. Although she works as a grocery store clerk, this is not enough for her to feel independent. As a family, we have developed other ways.Often it might be easier to do something yourself, but I can truly see how important it is for Debbie to do tasks herself.She does her own laundry- taught by breaking the chore into simple routine steps.She is responsible for her room and making her lunch. My mom typically buys the food, but Debbie contributes by listing what she wants to eat.

What seemed to be missing was a social life.After years of going to church, she met a boy.A big life event. He lives in a residential group home, and she says they will marry some day. Not sure what will happen, but having someone special has been great.My mom bought her a pretty wedding dress. It was a message to say we see Debbie as an adult. Although she is not totally independent, we support her dates: Driving them to movies, and taking them to dinner, but sitting at separate tables. I tell her how special that is because even I do not have a boyfriend. My reward? Hearing Debbie say, You make my heart sing. Maybe that is why a sister and I both work in special ed classrooms.These kids remind us what is truly important.


The Star of the Story Is… You!

The Star of the story is YouA tool I have found helpful with transitions, especially the transition of a new school year, is social stories. An array of social stories are avilable on-line and in books, but personalizing social stories with photographs of the student doing the desired activity seems to get a better response. A new school year may include many firsts such as new staff,new room,and a new routine.Familiarizing students with new staff or what is expected (Such as, “waiting in line to get lunch”, or “sitting on the carpet with hands in lap”) by using photographs increases buy-in. Who doesn’t like being the star of their own story?