Mirrored Writing

Have you ever seen the servers write their name upside down at Macaroni Grill? I waited tables there for years and really had the backwards cursive signature down pat. It took practice though. It wasn’t like I just automatically write in reverse although sometimes it looks like my daughter SJ does.

 

left handed mirrored writing

She hasn’t been writing for long, but in the past couple years I have noticed a trend where she not only writes from right to left, but the letters are often backwards as well.

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Above is a drawing of her dad teaching her to ride her bike. The names are Daddy, Ezra, Sedona, and Mommy. Not all spelled correctly, but clearly written starting on the right. Writing her family’s names is one of her favorite things to do and it always looks something like this.

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Of course I freaked out a little bit when I saw this repeatedly because she has been a detail oriented perfectionists since she was two. I could tell story after story of how visual and focused she is. I think some of it comes from her delayed access to sound. So I knew it must be something that was a mix up going on inside her mind and not just her being silly or sloppy.

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It sounds like I am the perfectionist, but I am not! Not at all. Thanks to her speech delay I have never expected her to be able to write at age four. I was just worried because I hated the idea of her as a special needs child to have another hurdle to face.

I do realize dyslexia is more than just backwards letters, but at the same time I didn’t like how consistent she was with this mirrored writing. All kids mix up letters and left and right from time to time, but this was so thorough!

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The above is her copy of the “EAT MOR CHIKIN” sign from Chic-fil-A. So in this case she was looking directly at the message she was copying. The words below were completely from memory and those are some of her sight words. I, am, the, little.

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Here is the beginning of the alphabet (she did this in the car recently)

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And here is the same image MIRRORED. There are a few backwards letters like J, N, and P, but she’s still learning. I think if she knew the “right” way to write them then she probably would have written all of them backwards!

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I could give other examples about reading or journaling from back to front, but I have been asking about this for years and the experts didn’t seem concerned. She goes to a special private school where they give frequent assessments and go through everything with a fine tooth comb. They told me not to worry. When she is at school with the lined paper and direct instruction she seems to be doing everything the correct way from left to right. Most importantly she really enjoys reading and writing. And she absolutely loves homework!

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Still, at the last parent teacher conference I brought it up AGAIN and they looked through some samples I brought and explained why the order and precision of her work does not show signs of dyslexia at all. Not that I think dyslexia is the worst thing in the world. Like I said though, she has enough extra obstacles due to her hearing loss without adding any other disabilities.

The more people I talk to and the more I research online it looks like her mirrored writing can probably be attributed to her being left handed. Just one of the many resources I have found to support this is from the Better Health Channel and it says

  • Left-handed children learning to write often write back to front (‘mirror’ writing). This is a natural inclination, not a sign of dyslexia, and will resolve given time, practice and encouragement.

She just has to be the minority in every aspect doesn’t she? That little stinker! I am just joking. I am serious though about being grateful that this whole mystery is pretty much solved.

Have you seen or known any mirror writers? This was a first for me.

By | October 16th, 2015|Schooling, Special Needs|8 Comments

School is Cool

I realize I already talked about school yesterday and don’t want to bore you all, but I do have more to share and I’ll tell you why.

1. I am extremely passionate about education. If we can get our kids to love to learn then the sky is the limits on what they will achieve through self motivation.

2. Public schools get so much bad press and some of it’s deserved, but what about all the of the good, life changing things that happening!? I want to be someone who shines some light on the positive and gives credit where credit is due to all the phenominal teachers out there busting their butts.

3. Lastly, I also love homeschooling families and have a great amount of respect for the mothers that are investing everything into teaching their own children. For all my friends and reader who homeschool it is my hope that some of these ideas could possibly be inspirational.

So here are some fun highlights from this first semester of the 2015/2016 school year.

Kindergarten

Ohhhh, it’s so hard for me to narrow it down. They do so many cool hands on learning activities for each subject and theme it is incredible. The time spent learning about maps is probably my favorite so far. First of all I told you that SJ learned her city, state, and country. She also learned the pledge and I put that video up on youtube this morning so here it is (not perfect, but still a big deal!).

Then with permission from parents they looked up each student’s address in google maps and displayed the homes on the smart board. SJ LOVED this. I was a little reluctant because we live in such a dumpy old house (for my small space peeps the garage isn’t even ours), but at this age the innocence and appreciation children have astounds me and she was so proud of what she calls her “rectangle house”

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Another activity they did with maps was to bring in a stuffed animal from home and leave it at the school overnight. The next day the students went into the class room to find all their furry buddies were gone and there were foot prints leaving the classroom! They posted some of these hilarious photos on the Facebook page. SJ’s toy is the unicorn.

 

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That morning each child was given a clue and a map to try to navigate through the school and find their beloved toy.

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In the end each student was reunited with their animal and they had such a fun time while learning how to use maps!

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 2nd Grade

As with SJ’s school I could just go on and on all day about what Z comes home learning and how they make interesting for the kids.

For the lesson on fossils they used different materials to imprint shells and compare how the materials held the shape, which one worked better and why.

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They also had a lesson in digging with tooth picks for fossils using chocolate chip cookies. The goal was to find as many chocolate chips as possible while keeping them in their original condition. Sounds delicious!

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Also, the second graders have been reading and writing about farms and they had a very special guest who owns a farm, but also happens to be the PRINCIPAL!

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I love their school principal so much he is really involved and I love how he cares so much about connecting with the parents and children.

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Quick story to share what I mean. One day I was picking Z up from school and he said he had something he wanted to show the principal so he bolted through the administrative office down the hall to the principals office. I was mortified! It happened so fast I couldn’t stop him. I mean he might as well have broken into the white house. You just don’t do that! The secretaries came over to see what was needed and just then the principal walked up and Z showed him the little game he made. The principal was completely interested and focused on every word this little 1st grader had to say and was showing some of the other staff members what impressive work they were doing in his class. As I watched and eaves dropped from a  distance I held back the tears.

It was the perfect picture of our heavenly Father and the relationship he has with us. He has authority and power and yet he give us ACCESS so that even if it’s something so simple or seemingly insignificant we have his undivided attention. Oh. How grateful I am for the direct line I have of communion with God. Ephesians 3:12 In him and by faith in him we can approach God with freedom and confidence. Thank you Lord.

I know that’s a total side note, and I understand their have to be some rules and boundaries at school, blah blah blah, but that was such a wonderful reminder for me of Christ’s love for us and now I have it written down.

Okay, so now that this post is really lengthy and all over the place I will just end with saying yes I do love my children’s schools. I am so happy that the Lord has placed us here and divinely orchestrated everything for them to be in such good care. I look forward to the months ahead.

By | October 15th, 2015|Schooling|8 Comments

Keep Your Kids Inside When Mowing the Lawn

Yesterday I mentioned Jude in my post about having a special needs child.

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While Jude has always been special, adorable, and loads of fun he wasn’t born with any disabilities or particular medical issues. However, just over a year ago he lost part of his legs due to a tragic lawn mower accident. I will never forget the day I got the message from my friend Jen last summer. J and I have been friends with this couple for almost 10 years now. Jen even contributed to the Messy Mom blog during my Lots of Hope in a Little Home series by allowing us to peak into her house and catch a glimpse of some of the brilliant strategies she uses to homeschool in a small space.

 

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This was one of the photos posted on my blog. That’s Jude on the far left. Now they have FIVE kids.

 

As I said yesterday, there are so many ways that I can relate to their story. I learned that SJ was deaf just after I had discovered that I was pregnant. When her surgery was scheduled I wasn’t sure if I was going to go into labor! Luckily, Ezie came early. Weeks later SJ got her first cochlear implant. The hospital gave us a little wagon for Ezie to sleep in so that he could stay with us in the hospital room after her surgery.

When Jude had to have his surgery very soon after the incident Jen was VERY pregnant. She even had to switch the hospital that she had originally planned to give birth at so that she could be at the same hospital as Jude. Their story really is a miraculous one. I won’t go into details because she has graciously agreed to do a guest post sometime which would be awesome! This whole family just radiates the love of Christ and their story has impacted so many already!

In fact they traveled across the country not that long ago to be a part of a campaign called Limbs Matter which raises awareness about lawn mower safety.

First of all, the local news station did a really great story last year with a follow up this year and I definitely encourage you to watch the clip.

Also, here is a video from the public service announcement they were a part of. It explains what Limbs Matter is all about.

The message is clear and simple “Keep your kids inside when mowing the lawn”. These kinds of irreversible incidents happen on a DAILY basis. I love Greg’s (Jude’s dad) message that he shared along with this video on Facebook

“Here it is.. Please share this friends! Had you asked me the day before our accident if I would ever back up over one of my children with the mower I might’ve chuckled at you and said, “Of course not I’m safe!” Well here we are with a double amputee. It can and does happen. I’m not a fear monger but I do hope to get the stats of these accidents going in the opposite direction.”

By the way Greg is the one with glasses at the end and you can probably recognize Jude from the shoes.

Greg is totally right. They are not fear driven people. They are also really responsible and cautious. Knowing this family on a close personal level I can say that it could happen to anyone. Accidents can and will happen, but as these families have conveyed if they help one child or one family not to go through this then it’s totally worth it. So spread the word about Limbs Matter. Share the videos and go like their Facebook page.

I am so proud of Greg, Jen, Jude and their whole beautiful family. Jude is such a fighter. He really does NOT quit and he is so strong and active. I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next!

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By | September 1st, 2015|Parenting Tips, Special Needs|2 Comments

Living in Holland (Thoughts From a Special Needs Mom)

If you have a  child diagnosed with some form of special needs then you have probably come across the “Welcome To Holland” essay by Emily Perl Kingsley. Basically it compares the shock of finding out your child has a disability to the feelings you would have if you planned a trip to Italy, but landed in Holland. The idea behind the whole analogy is that Holland isn’t BAD it’s just different and may take time to readjust your original plans and learn your way around.

The comparison applies to my situation well. I thought I was raising a perfectly “normal” (for lack of a better word) child the first two years of her life before I learned that SJ was deaf. I was speaking Italian, bought all the guide books for Italy, and really believed I was in Italy until that point which I consider my crash landing in Holland.

I have known about SJ’s hearing loss for 3 years now. The 2 1/2 year mark was a significant threshold for me because at that point I knew that my daughter was deaf longer than I knew her as (I thought) a hearing child.

It really does get easier. I have an appreciation for Holland. I’ve met lots of new friends here and learned so much. I’ve got the Holland guide books and maps now. I might as well have a tshirt and bumper sticker declaring my loyalty to Holland! There are moments though. There are moments you remember this wasn’t your original destination. I am being candid because I know I am not the only special needs mom going through this.

For example I have never babied or coddled SJ for her disability. She can truly accomplish anything she wants to do. She has been learning to swim this summer and let me tell you she is a champ. She fearlessly tackles this mission with great passion and fervency. She does so without the use of her cochlear implants so she is completely without hearing the whole time. I try to sit by the pool for a little break and she will tug on me and sign  “Practice! Practice! Mom, practice.” I see her going after it with all she’s got and when she comes up for air with the splashes of water blurring her vision I scream “Good job. Take a breath. KICK! KICK! KICK! You’ve got this!” but I know she can’t hear me. She can’t even read my lips or see me with the conditions that we are working with in that moment and I have felt helpless. Similarly, when my three kids are going to sleep (they share a room for now) I lie there in the dark with them for a while and Ezie says he wants to pray. After he finishes he wants his sister to take a turn. I tell him SJ can’t hear us right now because she doesn’t have her implants. If it were light it would be different because she reads lips so well, and with her implants she is just communicating non stop, but the next night we went through the same thing and Ezie said SJ needed to get her implants. He’s two and just starting to verbalize more himself, so it’s kind of heart breaking to hear him process all of it for the first time. Add to some of these emotions that SJ is starting kindergarten and she can’t go to the same school or have the same opportunities as her brother and it’s just another layer of Oh yeah, I was supposed to be in Italy.

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I know I shouldn’t feel guilty sharing some of these stories, but I do because we are so blessed and I love SJ exactly as she is. We are to the point now that if I try to think of what life would be like if she weren’t deaf I absolutely can’t wrap my brain around it because it’s a part of who she is. It’s like trying to picture what she would be like if she had been a boy. That’s just not who she is and I don’t want to change a thing.

As far as the little bumps in the road, we can purchase special gear that she can wear in the water to swim with her cochlear implants on. We can make sure everyone takes a turn praying in bed before SJ takes her implants off. She goes to a phenomenal school, and will have tons of wonderful experiences this year in Kindergarten. These are really minor things, but as in the Holland analogy it’s different and it takes some getting used to.

I have a friend whose son just crossed the one year mark of being a double amputee and that family has the most incredible testimony.

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I have loved cheering them along as I have watched all that their little man has achieved and I can’t wait to see what comes next. They have a caring bridge site where they post updates about Jude’s progress. Reading some of their experience has been like reliving my own. Even though SJ has artificial hearing and Jude has artificial legs there are just TONS of similarities.

I don’t know it all (that’s for sure) but since I feel like I am a couple years ahead on this journey I shared with my friend what I have come to realize after being thrown into the world of special needs parenting. I wanted to encourage her that just because it’s been a year doesn’t mean that you should be completely adjusted and move on. It’s been 3 years since SJ’s diagnosis and we are still in the transition stage. I look at the timeline like this Old normal, shock, transition (or adjustment, or adaptation), and then new normal.

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We spent just over two years living in the old normal, there was probably a year of living in shock and just doing my best to stay afloat. The last two years have been transition and we’ll be here for a while. I feel pretty darn close to “New Normal” but we still have such a long way to go. I feel like for us that will be when she goes to main stream schooling. I’m sure it looks different for everyone and more experienced moms could give a lot more insight into all this and the multifaceted layers. I am just learning, but this is my message for those in similar situations. Don’t feel like you have to rush into coping or adjusting. It’s going to be uncomfortable at times for some more than others, and somedays you are in Holland with a map from Italy. That’s okay, you will get there. I will get there. Our precious babies will get there and boy will we have stories of all the adventures we’ve had!

By | August 31st, 2015|Motherhood, My Life, Parenting Tips, Special Needs, Uncategorized|5 Comments

Building a Language

My first response before I even knew the degree of SJ’s hearing loss was to learn American Sign Language and teach it to her. I never thought it would be be easy, but my original expectations might have been a little unrealistic.

I was already familiar with baby sign language. I figured that if babies can learn to sign before they can talk then this sign language thing should be a breeze, especially for SJ because she’s brilliant! Come to find out it’s not that simple and it has to do with what I wrote about last week in “the Science of Language”. You acquire your first language by being immersed in it and it all happens easily and naturally. It’s called first language acquisition.

Babies hear MILLIONS of words before they ever say their first! They are observing, listening and mentally taking it all in for the first year or so. It’s a critical time developmentally. A deaf baby born in a deaf family is going through the same process except with a manual language. These children are typically raised in deaf culture so they see sign language happening all around them through their parents, teachers, and communities. One of SJ’s therapist says a child needs to see a sign around 100 times before it sticks. I thought I would simply show SJ some signs and teach her how to talk, but I am up against her natural urge of language acquisition which is to imitate, and for the past 2 and a half years she hasn’t seen any proof that the world around her communicates through sign language. Even now, I try to sign quite a bit, but we are still no where near the amount of oral words she would be hearing if she could. I’m not sure if I am making sense, but this whole first language acquisition thing was a recent epiphany for me. I just never thought about it that way.

Realizing your child is at square one trapped in world without language is a tough pill to swallow. It’s different than realizing that they can’t hear, it’s like Okay. Wow, we have a lot of lost time to make up. I explain it to people using Z as an example. Z started watching signing time and learning ASL along with us just a few months ago. As a 4 year old he quickly picked up around 100 words with minimal effort. I can ask Z What is the sign for share? and he’ll show me. The difference between him and SJ (besides that Z is 2 1/2 years older) is that Z already has a language. He knows what share means and has been learning about this word for years, now he is just attaching a sign to it. Just because SJ is deaf it doesn’t mean she is naturally more inclined to pick up sign language, it’s going to be harder for her because of the lack of immersion that I mentioned earlier. Anyway, that was my light bulb moment last month, but taking all this into consideration she is doing awesome. Sometimes I take for granted how much she does communicate with us through ASL. I need to document more of those precious first words that we are seeing from her.

On another note, we got the test results back yesterday and praise the Lord SJ’s brain and ear anatomy looks great. This means the hearing loss is not caused by any shocking unforeseen damage or malformations. That is really good news and now we can move forward with getting a cochlear implant, which is another big ol’ topic that I need to write about sometime. Just another curve on this windy hilly journey that we are on. There are ups and downs, pit stops, and speed bumps, but I am trying to take in all the beautiful scenery along the way and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

By | September 6th, 2012|Babies & Toddlers, Parenting Tips, Special Needs, Uncategorized|2 Comments