Slowly And Steadily Change Has Set In


Hello Everyone,

As parents of an autistic kid the struggle to find a place in schools apt and catering to the special needs is equally hard as accepting the fact that autism is going to be a part of their lives.  I can say this with utmost conviction because I am a parent to an autistic kid.

Source: GoogleAutism-brain-lead

Life never remains same once parents learn that their kids differ from others or let’s put it this way : their kids have different needs which are labelled as “Special Needs”.  And I am among many such parents whose purpose of life after the diagnosis is to make constant efforts in a bid to make this world a better place for their kid, acceptable to and fro (world to kid, kid to world).

The first worry that struck me instantly was to find a place in school with a staff efficient enough to handle, in fact handle with care my little bub with his diagnosis attached.  The previous school gently informed me that they won’t be able to take care of a non social, non-verbal kid once they had the knowledge of the reason behind his behaviour. It was a real tough time for us as well as for him as he was forced to spend more time at home (no place even in summer activity schools) and he despised it for he wanted to be set free and discover more and we simply couldn’t let him. I don’t and can’t blame them as they had their limitations.

After prolonged chain of meetings with the doctors and social services, a year or so being spent in a day care hospital (routine was just like any other school, going in the morning and coming back in the evening) finally we were able to register a place in a new school specifically commenced for children with autism.   Here within Brussels such schools and organisations are limited hence that adds to the woes of parents like us.  Waiting lists are like blows on already sore thumb.  But on this occasion we were lucky enough as recommendation from the hospital and social services worked in our favour.  Moreover his trainers thought that he was ready for the school and that prompted them take the next leap.

We were ready for a new routine now and equally apprehensive as the kid was supposed to spent more hours in school/ transportation as his day usually begins at 7:00 AM (pick up time) and ends at 4:30 PM when his school bus drops him back.  Given the long hours and new environment I was more concerned about “What would he eat?”, “How he would cope with the new environment and his hunger?”, “Would he able to demand for his needs?”  Basically all I could think about was his hunger to begin with 😉 which is I guess is normal for any mother.

At the end of the first day when I received him at home I saw a smile on his face which did send a signal of relief to my heart.  But I was not sure if it’s just one day wonder or not. Gradually with every passing day my son proved me wrong as till this day I haven’t faced any tantrum (except for few rough days when he had his melt downs right after getting off the bed) while dressing up for the school.  In fact he eagerly waits for the bus to arrive every day.  That’s a blessing I have been longing for!

At school he is kept engaged in various activities that help him to work individually, in groups, communicate better (he is still non-verbal and utilizes pictures for communication at school),  concentrate, learn day-to-day activities that would make him autonomous.  To be precise he is being prepared every day to better himself for the next day.

But still there is a void especially during weekends and school holidays.  Now that he is used to a routine of going out everyday he wants a continuity in that regime.  People with autism can be very rigid with the schedules and it can be an uphill task to explain the reason for change.  Rigid adherence to the schedule is their way of confirming security (they have different prism to look at the world).  That made us look for other options of engaging him when he is not going to the school.  And we ourselves wanted it more than him because that could help him to build his confidence and social skills when amidst new people.  And more importantly keep him engaged with new activities and away from YouTube 😉.

Thanks to the registration with a social services organisation that works for children we have been able to book places (so far) for our son in different institutions during different vacations (there are so many school holidays in Belgium)  as well as Saturdays are also occupied with swimming sessions.  It seems he has taken a liking for swimming instantly.  His excitement is there to see every Saturday.  He has started filling the bathtub with water up to his neck and practicing his swimming lessons there.   The way he moved his body in the water surprised me.

Along with swimming he has a peculiar interest in cooking for he is having a cooking activity every Friday in school.  He likes to observe, stir after spices are added and add water in every recipe (his idea of cooking 😁).  I occasionally instruct him to add the requisite ingredients in the pan so that he gets a sense of involvement in the process.

Over a period of time after he has begun his school changes are quite noticeable in him.  His receptiveness to things and people is evident, no matter how trivial but nevertheless it is there.  And it’s a matter of rejoice for us.  Now we are aware of his interests, probably skills too.  Talking about skills I must say that he sings really well 😁.   He is little bit more independent everyday.

I understand we have a long way to go.  From understanding to controlling his melt downs; from a place in an organisation to a better future, we have a daunting task at hand.  But these petty changes do give us a glimpse of hope towards life.

We Are Hopeful 😊.

 

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Parental Guidance – Be More Careful Parents


Hello Everyone,

As the title suggests this is specially for parents, to be specific parents of kids (age bracket, I leave this task for you😀)

Without beating around the bush I would like to know from parents themselves how do they decide which movie their kids should watch?  Isn’t it obvious – of course the film certification stating the suitable age group aids the decision.  I am sure everyone is aware of the different classifications.  Here parental guidance is clearly guided beforehand.

Basically parents can safeguard their kids against any kind of sleaze, blood, gore and anything which is not meant for the tender minds with certifications on display.

But it might come across as a shock that kids need monitoring against the seemingly safe content that they watch especially on YouTube (one of the most widely viewed, there can be other online sources too).  There can be no denial that kids of this generation are more or less net savvy thanks to their early exposure, knowingly or unknowingly to the gadgets and WiFi connections.  There can be numerous reasons accredited to this.  Our nuclear family set ups, less time spent with family, our own addiction and submission to internet (after all kids follow our footsteps ☺) and so on.

What’s the threat?   Recently I caught my two years old  daughter watching a video on YouTube which apparently had no adult content but the portrayal of characters in that video was just unacceptable.  It showed a family of four (two daughters aged around 8-15 years, a father and a mother), everyone with a pacifier in their mouths and doing pretty much nothing but destroying things.  Throwing bad tantrums along with objects was predominant in that video which was meant for viewership of toddlers.  That was pretty much in a bad taste.  I immediately switched it off.

One more example:  Recently I read that famous cartoon “Peppa Pig” is having a negative impact on the target audience, you know whom I refer to.  The central character is a loud, inconsiderate, spoiled child (a pig as the name suggests) with haute tempers.

Considering the tender minds kids have such kind of portrayals influence their behaviour in the long run if not checked in time.  It might sound bizarre but continuous viewing of such  negative characters train kids to exhibit traits that they watch.  They might turn aggressive, throwing tantrums at the drop of hat, indifferent towards their siblings and responsibilities as well.

The irony is the animations and videos designed specifically for young ones are falling short of the most important aspects that should be their highlights – subtlety and drive home a point.  Aspects such as Body shaming, violence, bullying are gradually having  sedimentation into the content meant for kids providing wrong illustrations altogether.  This is not only pitiable but an alarming situation.

Therefore as parents we should be vigilant enough to monitor the view list of our tiny tots.

Reason:. They watch, they learn, period.  This is the only reason why we are constantly careful about our behaviour, about the language we use in front of our kids, isn’t it?  We want to set right examples.  Then why not go that extra mile?

Think about it.

Let’s Learn It From Kids


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Source: Internet

Hello Everyone,

In the process of raising our kids we impart (try to constantly) many things, per say – discipline, values, ethics, etiquettes.  From how to eat to how to and what to wear, how to sit and how to behave especially with strangers (read do not entertain), we keep on instilling things into their heads.  But have you ever wondered what our kids can teach “US”?  They are of course very good teachers if only we can see:

  • Unassuming they are: As we grow and evolve we become complex. And not just us but our relationships too get tangled many a times.  One of the main reasons behind things not remaining linear in our lives is our nature to “Assume”.  “I want to go on an all alone trip but I can’t express it because I know the answer would be NO” this is an example only.  We don’t express and assume that we would be misunderstood.  That’s where the problem lies.  We assume a lot and that messes up things many a time as a result of lack of clarity of communication.  On the other hand we have tender minds that speak up their likes, dislikes, preferences, whims and fancies, wishes – literally everything that leaves no room for ambiguity.  “Mom I want an ice cream, I don’t want broccoli” (I know not a healthy choice though😉)  but what’s important is they don’t assume our response and keep their thoughts to themselves.  That keeps things linear, period!
  • Ego at bay:  They fight, they unite.  I remember this particular episode from my childhood – I fought with my now best friend.  Face-offs, grouping followed but not for long.  We broke the ice when the other one needed help, it was that simple (hope she reads this😊).  But somehow Ego has become our staple and a constant companion which we misspell as “Self Respect”.   We find it really hard to extend our hand to sort out the differences cropping up only to see them develop as a permanent damage.  I wonder what would have been the outcome of our fight had it been fought now.
  • Never fail to question:  That might irritate us as adults but their eagerness to know things is something that we should learn.   Joy of exploration is surely something we should give a shot at because hadn’t it been the eager nature of questioning, we might not have our major inventions and discoveries that improved our lives.  Don’t you agree?

These are seemingly pretty simple things yet difficult to inculcate when you are an adult but as they say “Learning has no age”.  So keep trying and let the child in you Blossom to keep the complications at bay and make life simple, isn’t it worth that?

 

 

 

viaDaily Prompt: Blossom

Share the chores – It Helps!


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Hello Everyone,

In one of my article I said “Your time is best gift to your child” (https://world4womencom.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/your-time-the-best-gift-to-your-child/).  I am sure everyone would agree with it but many find it difficult to do it effectively.  Thanks to our lifestyles, complications, obligations, choices made out of compulsions we as well as our kids are at the receiving end due to “Lack of Time”.

Well it is not practically possible to sit with them and spend couple of hours separately or exclusively because of various deadlines we have.  In this scenario I think sharing chores with kids can be a very effective way of spending time with kids.  Sharing of chores here doesn’t mean burdening them with orders over orders, I believe you know what I mean.  Ask them to arrange plates on table for dinner, ask them to arrange books on rack or do their beds, they can accompany you in tasks like shopping from super market or gardening.  There are numerous petty chores that your kids can be a part of to make the big difference – for you and for themselves.

How sharing of chores with kids can be instrumental in their development?

  • Helps In Developing Bond:  Guiding kids how to go about a task, appreciating their participation and most importantly being patient while handing over the responsibilities or handling the crises (I mean mistakes) gives a definite boost to the bonding between parents and kids.  Such moments can help parents / kids to get closer, to understand each other (starting from understanding the instructions 😁), talk more often thus giving quality time that we were talking about earlier.
  • Independent individuals in making:  To begin with delegation of responsibility as chores helps kids not only to learn daily tasks but it makes them independent over the period of time.  They become responsible as well.   And confidence is surely an icing on cake.
  • A helping hand for sure:  Help from those tender hands would surely make your day, isn’t it?  And over the period of time when those hands master the little tricks they surely prove to be a huge help and relief.

So dear parents don’t stress too much thinking you are unable to spend time with your kids.  Just give this idea a chance, make smart use of time, let your kids share the chores, contribute in their development the fun way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the Rush?


Hello Everyone,

When I look at the kids of this generation  (yeah I can use this word “generation” as I am already over three decades😉) I find them very smart, competitive and raring to go. Be it studies or other than that, there is always a rush.  And I have this question at back of my mind “What’s the rush?”.  Why there is a rush to win at any cost?  Why there is a rush to grow up too fast too soon?  Who is prompting it after all?  Frankly, I have no idea so whatever I am expressing here is definitely not a blame game or finger-pointing someone.

I understand it completely that competition is the norm of the day.  Excellence in studies is not enough to stand out among the crowd. “All Round ” development or excellence is the target of both parents and educational institutions.  “Zero” hour studies, “Extra / Special” classes, Extra curricular activities – few terms that are most commonly tossed upon these days. And to include the term “Extra” in the brochures educational institutions are charging extra (read: mind boggling high) fees, just to reiterate the fact or illusion for that matter that they are providing kids with an edge that could steer them through the competitive world and make them a winner.  And parents are definitely falling prey to this willingly (almost).

As parents are coughing up or made to cough up hefty donations and fees for the bright future of their kids they start expecting from their kids to “perform”.  And when expectation sets in  or rather seeps in, it changes gear and acquires the form of pressure on kids.  It’s a pretty much race like situation out there, whose kid is going to make it to the finish line that never exists.  I remember this incident from the days when I used to work as a teacher to pre-primary kids – a father of one particular student came to collect quarterly report of the child and asked me “What’s the rank of my child?”.  I was startled by this question.  I said to him that at first place there is no ranking system at that level.  Ranking (at least at that tender age) can hamper their confidence.  Our emphasis is on how a kid is learning, how he or she is behaving in the class with teachers, elders and fellow classmates. Are the glances of good behaviour and better learning can be seen out of the premises of classroom (at home) as well and more importantly how happy a child is.  As long as a child is picking up the things taught in classroom with interest and shows interest in the collaborative and other individual activities other than studies and most importantly are happy (psychologically not intimidated) we can mark the report card with “A+”.  It was just an isolated incident but I have many to recite if time permits.

This is new age mark of excellence and a guarantee card for success – Rank!  And the grind to attain ranks begins even before a child can spell his or her own name.  It’s a matter of real pity that despite of numerous explanations given n number of times as to how pressurizing could do more harm than good there’s no alarm ringing for those who are constantly pushing their kids to align in this race format.  So much pressure is encouraging methods like mugging up the content rather than soaking the subject.  Result: “Marks on report card with zero knowledge in brains”.

Carrot and Stick” rule of rewards is being strictly followed which says if you perform well then get Carrot (not literally 😀, it means rewards/ gifts) and if you fail get a Stick – get ready to be beaten up (many a times it happens literally too).  I personally feel it is okay to reward a good effort but too much negative approach if one fails could demotivate too.  There is a possibility that kids inculcate fear of failing and expect repercussions rather than perform with heart in place and mind free of fear.  I want to re-emphasise that ranks don’t guarantee success. Success is purely based on the inherent talent and how it is put to use.  I won’t repeat the names of great men and women  around who stand as icons to success but are not rank holders, that would be too clichéd.  I would rather quote people from my circle, whom I know personally.  They may not be icons to the world but are successful in their own right and of course no the rank holders – they are my school friends (hope they don’t take offence 😊), many from my relatives and so on.

It’s also important to see that when we talk about competition it’s not just restricted to books and education.  People want their kids to learn and excel in other activities too.  You may be thinking how it could be considered as something harmful.  Let us take a look at current scenario.  There is nothing wrong in letting a child pursue his or her interests.  There is nothing wrong in letting them compete or participate in events concerning their interests as long as it is only meant to boost their confidence and helps acquire more skills and not to rate their “standing” per say.  In this retrospect I would like to mention about the plethora of  reality shows which showcase kids of as young as 3 years doing stuff like dancing, acting, singing etc. in the full glare of camera eye.  Purpose – to be famous; to earn money; to assess your talent.  I condemn it wholeheartedly.  I don’t see a reason why the burden of parents’ of dreams are dumped upon tender shoulders.   It irks me to no end that kids who haven’t even started speaking properly are given dialogs that they can’t even mouth.  Believe it or not they are made to smile, laugh, play even cry for the perfect shot to be captured in camera as everything is scripted.  Isn’t it cringe worthy?  What is the rush to be popular or make them popular as if there is no tomorrow, I simply can’t understand.

There are quite a few things that parents need to understand ASAP:

  • Teach your kids to be happy at first place.  Let them grow up at their own pace.  Let them enjoy their childhood, don’t force them to grow up out-of-the-way.
  • Know the difference between literacy and education :  If a person can read and write and sign his or her name he or she is merely literate.  Education in true sense imparts values and wisdom.  Give education to your kids, that would count in the long run as it would help them to differentiate between what’s wrong and what’s right, period.
  • Let their interests blossom before you pluck the fruit.  To compete or not should be a child’s prerogative. Never ever force your decision and whims & fancies on your child.

A lot more has been said already in this context and a lot more will be said after this and the question will be same every time “what’s the rush?”.

Play Groups – More than just play


Hello,

The social setup of families in the current times is “Nuclear” – parents and kids, that’s it.  The Joint Family system is more or less dwindling away especially in the urban lifestyle.  Whatever be the reason psychological or financial;  self-imposed or otherwise the links of the joint family system are slowly de-linked and what we are left with is the single or nuclear family structures.

Mine is also a Nuclear Family in a foreign land.  With no help around, no near and dear ones around going can be tough sometimes.  I can sense it often.  Though days are busy with daily chores and kids more often than not I crave for support, emotional and otherwise.  I am sure many mothers/wives sailing in the same boat  (read living offshore) face such moments – moment of truth.  And of course we cannot call our husbands at the drop of a hat lest we end up disturbing their professional fronts.  And no matter how many times we use our Skype option to call home a void is still there because of physical distance.  And it’s not only us who fall prey to this “I am alone🙁” syndrome our kids also get impacted by the nuclear family set up and foreign domicile at least till the time they start going to school and exploring the world outside.  And this is the time they (between the age of 10 months – 3 years) befriend gadgets namely smart phones and tablets.  With parents busy in their respective duties and with no grand parents or other family members around to engage them television or phones come to their rescue.  They get this addiction  (more or less).  Such involvement also hampers their social skills along with their health beginning with their eye sight.  Sad but true.

What could be the possible solution?   How can I keep my kids engaged and entertained. Taking them to parks everyday or  just a walk outside…. one probable solution but weather in Brussels can be spoil sport many a Times.  What shall I or rather one do?

My sister-in-law once told me about playgroups that her son attends.  It’s a very good idea I thought with kids of almost same age together.   Then I started to search for playgroups in nearby areas to my place in Brussels.  I found few, in fact I am a dormant member of two playgroups on Whatsapp ☺ (never attended because of reasons known to me).  But being a member of a group on whatsapp gives me a detailed account of activities going on in playgroups and trust me it’s definitely a place to be for kids.

So as the name suggests is play group only about just play?  I would dare to say “NO”.  Playgroups are not just about play but beyond that.  Let’s see what else:

  • Break from monotony:  Though we are housewives we do have a set strict routine to follow, if you know what I mean.  Day in day out we are churned in that routine.  Playgroup meets give mothers a break, much-needed relief from the monotony.  Be it at someone’s place or outdoors such meets help refresh moods, that makes a lot of difference.  When kids meet their friends we too can make new friends for that much needed emotional support (to have fun as well😉😃) in a foreign land apart from family.
  • Develop social skills:  When kids go (before schooling begins) out and meet their counterparts again and again at regular intervals and involve in interactive activities be it learning alphabets, recitation of rhymes, colouring, playing outdoors, constructive activities etc. they develop social skills of interacting with peers and manners as well.  And the best thing is that I could think of is such meets would keep them away from mobiles and tablets at least for a considerable period of time.  Double bonanza, isn’t it?
  • Informative/ Educative:  When I say informative I don’t mean rocket sciences.  When mothers meet in a playgroup there is exchange of ideas (chatter added 😉).  Ideas as to how to inculcate habits, healthy recipes, information regarding health issues, vaccinations, schools –  you just name it, mothers know it all.  And playgroups facilitate healthy exchange of ideas helping us to better ourselves for the betterment of our kids.
  •  Potluck ( icing on cake😉):  I am not sure if it happens all the time because as I mentioned earlier I never participated in playgroup meets but I have a hint of doubt that potluck do happen.  If it does then definitely its a feast for taste buds 😋.  Well this might not be a serious point to advocate but definitely an icing on cake, isn’t it?

What I mentioned above are few instances of how playgroups could help mothers and kids equally.   I am sure those who are active participants of such playgroups would have few more points to list.  But the matter of fact is playgroups are not just about play, it definitely play and more.  I would definitley love to be actually active in those circles.

 

 

 

2 better than 1


Hi Everyone,

I am back from sabbatical of one month.  Was in India to attend my brother’s wedding.   I missed this platform the most, all those views,  likes and comments to say the least 😊.

Coming back to the title “2 better than 1”, before you indulge your brain in any guess-work and think that I am going to throw light on numerology or other such fields let me clarify that my focus is only on “Second” child – why not have one?

Complete Family portrait:  When we talk about a “complete  family picture ” it is more or less a norm that we are referring to four members – father, mother and rest is for you to decide 😉.

Don’t worry, you will do fine :  Well apprehensive approach of couples is quite understandable when it is about their first child but  with a second child in the picture apprehensions take a back seat if not off the ride completely as they already are “parents”.  And once parents, they have already acquired the useful tips of childcare though every child is different but knowledge gained is never a waste, I can bet my life on that as I am a mother of two.

Sharing and Caring:  A sibling at home goes a long way in imparting important values of sharing and caring.  As siblings grow together they develop an emotional  bond (apart from blood ties).  A Child’s best friend @ home for life is sibling.  Between them they share not only commodities but their turmoil, secrets, laughter and much more.  Adjustment and compromise come to them little more easily.  A child must have a sibling because there are many things in life that a child might not be able to share and discuss with parents or anyone else outside even with friends then only a sibling can be his or her confide.

A big family tree:  I have many uncles, aunts, cousins – first and so on.  I am sure most of us have many linear and non linear (read very confusing, extended branches of a family tree)  relationships and sky is the limit for fun when a family gathers under one roof, isn’t it?   Now just imagine a scenario where our precedents had just one offspring each, would that family gathering be so huge then?  Or will there be a gathering at first place?  Having more than one kid only helps in spreading the branches of a family tree, will help our kids understand relationship values better.

Well, having one or two kids is a personal prerogative.   By no means I want to demean the “single”child families because all said and done no one else knows the circumstances of the family than the family itself  .  But as they say two is always better than one having a second child fills home with more laughter, more fights 😉 too, more love and of course more memories 😊.