Today I’m having yet another guest blogger and that is my wife Mama Fog who runs her own blog about what she has learned about autism to help her better understand how to deal with the system when it comes to our daughter. You can read more on her site Out of the Fog.
Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day. It seems like a perfect time to list some of the local resources available for families with autism.
As most of you are aware my daughter, Becca has been diagnosed with autism. While she is in a classroom for severely diagnosed children with special needs she has been coming along quite well with the ABA therapy she has been receiving. After reading many of the articles out there on autistic children using iPads to communicate and after seeing Rebecca’s reactions to my iPhone she definitely is a techie kid and she loves music.
She was a born musician and loves spending her time banging on the drums that we have gotten her to the point that some of them are a bit worn out now. If we can raise enough money to buy her an iPad 2 we will definitely be getting GarageBand for the iPad because of its built in virtual instruments that will allow a four year old to play the piano, guitar and drums.I also have several programs for my iPhone that she uses to help communicate to us what she wants, but with it’s small screen and her small fingers I think an iPad will work better for her. She still has a few problems with fine motor skills in which an iPhone doesn’t help too much.
I don’t like to ask for handouts, but my wife and I are unemployed at the moment and we cannot afford to purchase an iPad for her. I had google adsense up here and had earned enough to more than cover the cost plus some additional speech therapy, but google has informed me that it’s not giving me the money due to “invalid clicks” which I wasn’t doing and have no control over. I will try to work this out with them, but oddly enough I was notified of this after the first month I was eligible to get money from google, so they have essentially screwed my daughter out of an iPad.
If you could even donate a dollar by clicking on the link below we would greatly appreciate it and I’ll make sure to keep you all in the loop as to how she is progressing with it. I am told that ChipIn lets me check who the donors are and I will give the largest donor a personally autographed copy of my CD, I’ve got a guitar and I’m not afraid to use it! if we collect the money.
Yesterday was my daughter’s fourth birthday and she had a fun party at her pre-school. My daughter was diagnosed with autism right around her second birthday and having to deal with autism in a child can be a struggle. I have to say that the City and County of San Francisco did it right this time. We received early intervention assistance through the Golden Gate Regional Center until she was three. They came daily and worked with her to help her with her speech and behavior and they did a great job.
When she turned three she moved away from GGRC services to the San Francisco Unified School District’s pre-school for children with special needs. This is more than just autistic children, but some who are mentally retarded or physically handicapped so it can be difficult for the teachers let alone with them having to deal with the wide spectrum that covers autism. In looking at the choices that were available to us we finally chose Grattan Elementary School because they seemed to have the best people for the job there.
Well, I have to say that Becca’s teacher Kara is THE super cool pre-school teacher. She is very similar to the teacher’s I had as child with the exception that she’s not a few years from retirement and prune-faced like my teachers were. She’s young and energetic and has the assistance of a few aides to help with some of the more problematic kids. Kara loves all of the kids she teaches and gets to know them all very well and all of their idiosyncrasies.
We brought doughnuts, party hats and horns for the party and the kids couldn’t have been happier. Her friend Jeffrey that she rides to school with every day helped her put on her party hat because he’s the kid who looks over all the other kids in class. Becca’s other friend Brandon showed off by stuffing an entire doughnut in his mouth and eating it without choking.
Kara as well as her aides have had special training in dealing with physically and mentally challenged kids. Autism is kind of hard to explain to some people because they equate it with mental retardation — it’s not. There are lots of people with autistic kids who argue that this thing or that causes autism, but it’s such a wide spectrum of behavior that I can’t put a finger on any one thing and I don’t really want to go there. When you first see our daughter you don’t really notice anything wrong until you notice she doesn’t talk much. She’s getting a lot better at talking now, but to a lot of people she’d just look like a quiet little kid. Little being relative because she’s four feet tall at four years of age.
What is a bit troubling is that the school district doesn’t have the funding to cover the kids needs. Kara gets $5 per child per year. That’s it, nothing else. She has to purchase items for her class out of her own pocket or ask parents to bring in the things she needs. Even though we aren’t floating in money we do what we can to help out. It amazes me how well she is able to do with so little money. It’s just a shame that there isn’t enough money to help our kids get a better education.