April 14, 2016

Road Dogs and Special Education Updates - New Posts


Hi friends-
There are new posts over at Map Unknown :

Road Dogs. 
Abi's Experience in the Public School System So Far

There's also a new post on where we are in regards to Abi's feeding tube...

Come hang out in our new space!! www.mapunknown.org 

Happy Thursday friends! One more day until the weekend!

February 25, 2016

Ambulances, Dislocated Hips, Girls Night, & Mary Tyler Moore (and more).



These past few weeks I've been partying over on my new blog Map Unknown. 

Here are a few of the most recent posts:

Anatomy of a Weekend: Ambulances, Dislocated Hips, Girls Night, & Mary Tyler Moore

The Guessing Game of Special Needs: Learning Abi's Language

Go check it out! Also, if you feel so inclined, click here to follow the new blog on Bloglovin', or click HERE to sign up for weekly recaps!

Toot-a-loo friends!  Hope you're gearing up for a great weekend!

January 12, 2016

We've moved! COME WITH US!

Hi friends,

I LOVED blogging on this space for many years, and now I'm taking the party to a new site I created that I'm really excited about. The new blog is called Map Unknown and can be found at www.mapunknown.org . 

Come visit us there!


Much love!
mae mae

November 18, 2014

IEP Meeting 2014

Last week we had our second annual IEP meeting. I can't imagine how difficult that process might be for families when their school isn't a 'safe' place for their family. For us, however, Abi's school is like going to your favorite great-aunt's house. It's warm and inviting and exciting and you get the feeling that everybody is working behind the scenes to make sure Abi's time with them is the very best it can be. They are enthusiastic and positive and acknowledge Abi's many gifts. Our hour-long meeting was spent discussing Abi's strengths and the ways we can use those strengths to help her grow. 

Some highlights from the meeting:

- Assistive Technology team is providing a head-switch for Abi! I CAN'T WAIT!!!!
- Abi met her goal of being able to look at an object for 10 seconds. So, the team is also giving her an eye-gaze board!
- They are also supplying her teachers with a sensory pillow, and some other really exciting cause and effect pieces they think Abi will love. We will be able to check out any tools that are working and bring them home! 

Each member of the team: Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Classroom Teacher and Speech Therapist shared with me the things they were doing in class and the ways Abi was responding. I love that they are allowing Abi to pick books and songs for the class using the eye-gaze method. She is included in every aspect of the class except snack time. We did however, reach a major milestone, when at her classroom's Fall Party last month I was able to attend and assist Abi in eating some of a sugar cookie, orange icing and a little bit of grape juice! It was very exciting for me. While Abiella can safely eat by mouth it's still a delicate process with some anxiety attached if not done in ways her feeding therapist has shown me. I'm sure we will be joining snack time in the future, but for now, I have a peace with pulling her out. As a major benefit, while her classmates eat a snack, she gets to go to the floor and receive some extra one-on-one time with her physical therapists. They use both school PT's at the same time and she seems to love being with them. It's a wonderful way to give Abi something special during that time that she really enjoys.

I left the IEP meeting with half-a-dozen leftover muffins and the excitement that my girl is getting  an incredible education! So thankful.
mama mae mae

PS- This school is a public elementary school that has a free early childhood program for eligible students. Half of the students in the early childhood program have varying special needs and the other half is considered typical. It's an inclusive, half-day program, 4 days a week.

May 6, 2014

Abi's Tap Shoes

Last week I was in Goodwill when out of the corner of my eye I spotted these beauties. 


Thinking they were a good pair of neutral flats, I picked them up to see if they would fit Abi and discovered not only were they the right size but they were TAP SHOES. TAP. SHOES.
This was monumental for a few reasons.

Abi loves loud SOUNDS and since we are working on mobility, I thought tap shoes could be an awesome motivation.  We recently got a walker called a “kid-walk” (thanks to the amazing community of special needs mamas in this town).  This amazing piece of equipment holds her upright and allows her torso to be totally secure while she explores the mobility of her legs. She LOVES to kick when she’s lying down or in her chair. Now if we can get her to do that upright, I think the possibilities are endless . SO I figure if she likes the sounds of the tap shoes on the floor, she might be enticed to bring those kicking skills into our time with the walker.  “KICK! KICK! KICK! MARCH! MARCH! MARCH!”  These are our new favorite phrases -- Followed by lots of clapping and us both laughing. Right now I’m still putting her feet a little bit behind her and letting her feel what it’s like to push off on her own and roll backwards a little. Today I saw her trying to move forward a bit when I was out of her view. A little independent exploration is so very very awesome to see. 


Meanwhile, I found my own tap shoes in the back of my closet. Abi laughs hysterically every time I walk in them. This is going to be a fun and *noisy* summer. 
mae mae

April 29, 2014

Abi's School

School- I still can't get over it. When Abi was first home, I knew that our services through TEIS (Tennessee's Early Intervention System) would stop on the day before her 3rd birthday. TEIS would provide all therapeutic services in home and in clinic up until that point. (Hallelujah.) This wasn't something we thought too much about before she came home but WOW what a blessing it was. Our adoptive coordinator had mentioned it early on and when the doctors at the hospital asked if I'd like to be referred I gladly agreed. What a gentle way to be introduced to all the therapies. They came, interviewed us, evaluated Abi and then as a unit (parents and coordinator) we came up with a list of goals for Abi and then began facilitating services that would help with those goals. If I wanted feeding therapy in the house they set that up for me, when I moved they transferred all of our services to closer facilities. It was truly a massive blessing.

From our first meeting with TEIS, I knew the next step, should we choose to participate, would be to allow Abi to attend a unique preschool program provided through the state to fill the time between her 3rd birthday and kindergarten. The first time our TEIS coordinator mentioned it, I was hesitant. I wanted Abi to have social interaction but this was big-kid education... in a REAL school building. "You mean my three year old would be attending school? Like big-kid school? Like a typical elementary school with a cafeteria and a flagpole and a principal and morning announcements and everything?" Yikes. Even though her class would only have three and four year olds, the thought was intimidating. I knew I had a year to decide if it was right for us. During that year we moved and our new house was located in the school district that I had attended for most of my childhood. It was familiar territory- exciting and happy familiar territory. Our new TEIS coordinator was equally as excited about the previously mentioned program and encouraged me to at least go for a tour. We went to the closest school offering this program (12 minutes away. SWEET!), we debated, we talked to friends who had walked the same path with their children with special needs, we gasped as 5th graders passed us in the hall (they're SO BIG) and after a lot of consideration we jumped in. We decided to give the (free) public school program a shot and then if we weren't satisfied, we would transfer to a private preschool program in our area for children with special needs.

I'm ridiculously thankful. I can't even explain how much this program has blessed us. The class that Abiella is a part of is absolutely phenomenal. She goes 3 hours a day, 4 days a week. She is in class with three and four year olds and they meet in a local elementary school. Abiella's class is one of 4 in the building participating in this unique preschool program. She is one of 10 kids in her class, (hooray!) with, bum-bada-bummmm... 4 adults. These four adults include the classroom teacher (with a master's degree in early education), a mother of 5 who serves as an amazing aid, a NURSE who serves as another aid, and a rotation of a physical therapist, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist. Good gosh that's incredible. It's an inclusive classroom. Approximately half of the students have special needs of varying types. The other half, considered "typical", must apply to attend the program and serve as peer mentors. It literally takes my breath away when I try to explain it to people. I feel like I'm living a dream.

The truth is though, a program like this means nothing, if you don't have the right spirit. Credentials, degrees, and fancy buildings are worthless if the love and soul of a program isn't thriving in the heart of the person holding your child. And THAT is what I love most about this place. When I pull my van up every morning we are greeted by so many wonderful women who are ready and excited to love Abi, wheel her into the building and provide her with an amazing, exciting and safe educational experience. I drive away in awe every time. EVERY. TIME.

So if you're thinking of looking into preschool options for your special kiddos, I highly encourage you to take a deep breath and at least look. I know not all programs are created equal and I feel very blessed to live near this one. Each situation has it's own unique fit. But WOW what an amazing blessing it is, to stand there with mamas and daddy's in similar situations and watch all our kids come out in a line to greet us at the end of their day. Kisses being blown to one another, Abi smiling ear to ear and teachers returning our precious cargo- Happy and well educated.



mae mae

March 21, 2014

Please Help Abiella Win an Adaptive Bicycle!!!!!!!

Hi Friends! 

This is BIG news! Abiella's physical therapist has helped us enter an incredible contest that gives adaptive bicycles away to children and young adults with special needs. The bicycle our PT has suggested is absolutely AWESOME. It would allow Abiella to use her legs to work the bike while her neck, trunk, and head are completely supported. This could be SUCH a huge deal for Abiella. Independent movement! Summer fun! AHH!! If we win, it could be here in MAY! Just in time for summer! Ahh!! Please consider going to this link, clicking NOMINATE, and then spreading the word if you feel so inclined :) Every nomination gets Abiella closer to winning the bike! The person with the most nominations automatically wins a bike and then everyone else who has received 50 nominations or more is put into a drawing for the remaining bikes. This would be such a wonderful thing for Abiella! She loves being outside and would LOVE the opportunity to enjoy the summer and ride a bike around the neighborhood like her other friends.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT!

Here's the link again: 


Much Love Friends, 
Mama Mae Mae