Friday, 16 December 2011

I wish...

Ashley's wish for Christmas.

Ashley gets to speak at last nights holiday concert priceless and an early Christmas present for me.

This Christmas I'm so thankful for Ashley's amazing grade one teachers.  They go above and beyond each day to ensure Ashley is thriving at school and always included.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Santa Clause Parade

We headed downtown to see the Toronto Santa Clause parade last weekend.  It was so much fun!!!  

Yummy Turtles! Can't wait to enjoy some of these over the holidays.

 Hasbro's Mr Monopoly and My Little Pony

Someone named Ashley was so excited when she saw this float coming!!

You can tell she's a Princess! 
She doesn't need a crown. 
She'll turn the world around. 

You can see it in her smile! 
 and the way she wears her hair.     

 The look on Ashley face when she saw the Barbie float above was priceless and worth the trek downtown and the long drive home.   She's hoping for a copy of Princess Charm school and Barbie Blair from Santa Clause!  Santa can you add that to your list please?  She's been a really good girl this year. 

 Kung Fu Panda was a hit! 

Super Mario came over and gave Taylor a high five!!  He enjoyed that as he is a lover of Wii

 Look how much he enjoyed Super Mario.

Everybody enjoyed the Lego float!

Kermit and the muppets too!

When you see Mrs Clause you now Santa is just around the corner!!!! 

 The man of the hour Santa himself!!! 

I feel like it's time to start decorating and shopping. Tell me have you started? 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Ashley 6 years old, a public speaker and self advocate!

The Quest 2011

It was such a privilege this week for Ashley and I to share her road to inclusion story,  at an international conference for educators called "The Quest" hosted by York Region Public School Board.

I was emotional delivering this speech as this was truly a tribute to Ashley's entire team of teachers, aids, and therapists and only with them working together and believing  in my little girl is this such a success story.  There was a 1000+ educators in the room they gave us quite the audience. Public speaking was new to both Ashley and I but we were both very passionate about our message. 

Ashley's road to inclusion.  A road I hope many other kids will travel.

Myself and Ashley getting ready to speak!!  We were all so excited!

My words;
My daughter you're so amazing.
You were born into a storm. Coming into this world, so tiny, and yet instantly fighting for your life. I hope this world can see how wonderful you are.
Your life started in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for months followed by daily therapy to learn to do what comes so easy to most, walking, communicating, eating and even holding a toy. 

Instead of playmates you had dedicated nurses and therapists.  Instead of walks in the park and rides in a stroller you went to therapy, doctor visits and experienced long hospital stays

Ashley speaks - 

 I just want to run and play. 
 I have something to say. 

Then I continue to share...

When Ashley entered Mrs. Gambino’s kindergarten class, she had her challenges but was welcomed by her teacher just the same as her classmates.

September Junior Kindergarten
Ashley’s speech therapist Mrs. Visconti brought her augmentative communication devices. She gave Ashley a voice for the first time!
And if that wasn't great enough that she now has a voice! 

Mrs. Visconti also worked with 
Ashley's teachers on appropriate IEP goals that were measurable and attainable.   She helped Ashley's teachers find the appropriate curriculum even beyond communication but for language and math. 

So Ashley has a fabulous IEP!   Ashley's teachers and Aids were excited with this guidance and modified teaching methods they followed thru and worked hard with Ashley each day. Ashley was able to make progress with all this support and has had her IEP expanded. This team work is the KEY to successful inclusion. 

Dream team meeting!!!
Her   classmates connected when Ashley was able to comment and ask them questions. Ashley was embraced by neighbourhood friends and blossomed through the encouragement of her teachers and classmates.  Seeing Ashley doing so well in kindergarten, her father and I decided NO special classes, NO limits, No labels!   She like her brothers has so much potential and the sky is the limit. We feel it’s important that she learn how to interact with the real world and not be sheltered.   Most importantly we want her to believe in herself, and all of her abilities! Ashley needs to be surrounded by able-bodied peers and this is hard to provide in a separated special education classroom. We feel she will do best if she exposed to typical classroom environment where her peers can be her friends and role models.

Ashley - At school they gave me a voice. My name 
is Ashley.  Will you be my friend?

 Inclusion in education for Ashley is the beginning of inclusion for the rest of her life. Just as we all want to belong, Ashley wants to belong and Ashley wants to be included. 

I don’t want the school to focus on guarding and protecting her. I want the school to focus on giving her lots of chances and choices.

They have assisted her to walk daily and in response, she led her entire class into kindergarten graduation with her walker.

She was given a simple step-by-step communication device and is now learning to use an iPad with even more options to communicate.

Ashley has been given the opportunity to stay for grade one, and we are so appreciative of the incredible support she has received in Ms. Bloom’s class.

We hope to see Ashley’s at this year’s primary skate days and were excited when Janice Lee the school’s physiotherapist suggested of course Ashley could skate with a sledge.

Who would have thought when Ashley was born that she would be up here giving a speech to all of you.  Ashley loves music and I’m sure would be thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in primary choir. I don’t see anything as impossible for my little girl as long teachers and support staff, are open minded and welcoming Ashley can do anything!

I’m confident Ashley will be successful at her home school for all of her elementary years.

I look forward to seeing how OUR family, OUR resource teams and OUR school will continue to collaborate.

With careful planning and resource management Ashley will benefit with greater access to the full curriculum throughout elementary school and even high school.

How will YOU help me to make this happen?

Ashley's closing words; 
I love being in Ms. Bloom’s class.
I love books. I really want to learn to read. 
I enjoy going to birthday parties and playing with my friends in the yard at recess.    I just want to be a kid.
And will you be my friend?   Please

We received a standing ovation from all the educators in the room. !!!

My public speaker  just 6 years and advocating for herself and others in her position look what she can do!
I'm so thankful for this opportunity.  I hope we inspired at least one parent or teacher in the room to see a child with a number of needs as an active learner and raise their expectations for all children to the sky!  

Special thank you to Erin S. one of Ashley's friends and a neighbour who recorded Ashley's thoughts for this presentation on Ashley's step by step.  It was very sweetly done.    By the way Ashley's story was just one of 5 stories shared in this dramatic presentation.  I will do my best to find out when this will air on ROGERS TV channel 63 if anyone is interested in watching this. 

Monday, 31 October 2011

With walking comes other privileges

Like Trick or Treating!!

Ashley loved walking down the street bumping into friends from class,  she was very happy to be out and about collecting candy too. 

Here's Ashley with her brothers all very excited to get going this evening.  

By the way we have way too much candy here right now. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

My plea to the premier

Few people have that special touch,  a miraculous skill, that relentless dedication to their profession that make an incredible difference in peoples' lives.  This special lady Bernie who is a paediatric  physiotherapist has all those qualities.   My daughter had the good fortune to start seeing Bernie when she was just a few months old.  She was very fragile and her future was very uncertain.  Ashley needed Bernie's help to gain head control, roll over, use her arms to reach, and bear weight through her legs. I began to learn that she is one of the very best in her field and Ashley was so very lucky to have her on her team.  

Because of this lady, Ashley is now a walker, and even a soccer player.  Ashley has a new level of independence with her walker and every new accomplishment is like a gift. This did not come easy for Ashley but with Bernie's skills and advocating that Ashley received the adequate number if visits to make it happen, Ashley has now received a new level of freedom. You can't image how shocked and saddened I was to learn that Bernie's contract was recently cancelled by 1 to 1 Rehab. We need more physiotherapist like Bernie in the public sector.  

At present CCAC's and Children's Treatment Centre’s in Ontario  look more  at the number of visits and block the child for treatment, rather then focusing on the child's ability to progress and to attain outcomes goals.  There is just not enough funding for physiotherapy to provide the level of therapy to make a difference for the growing number of special needs kids in Ontario. We are lucky in that we can afford to supplement the government therapy with private therapy.  That was also needed to get Ashley where she is today.  Not all families are able to supplement the government therapy with private physiotherapy. 

I wish I knew how to let the provincial government know many more kids need more therapy and that it really pays off in the long run.   Many more skilled physiotherapist need to be hired to meet their  needs.  Kids who can walk and who are not confined to wheelchairs will function better and be happier adults.   They will require less expensive health care and equipment if they can move about independently.

Dalton McGuinty, I know you want to build a brighter future for Ontario.  Please don't forget about my girl.  If it were not for Bernie, Ashley would not be where she is today.  Bernie is someone that you want on your therapy team.   There are many more kids in York region that would have benefitted from her service.  Not all  parents can afford private therapy.   Physiotherapy should not be a luxury for kids who cannot walk, hold up your head, feed yourself or speak. 

Kids here need more therapy and this isn't just a physiotherapy problem, it can be said for occupational and speech unfortunately.   Ashley is enjoying and benefiting greatly from her current block of PT at CTN and but it is only an 8 week block.   Ashley will have to sit out at least 8 weeks before starting again.  Ashley will spend more time out of therapy then in therapy in the next year.   Image if she regresses and doesn't have that opportunity to learn how to walk independently.   Ontario has amazing therapists who are forced  to work privately and many families can't afford this cost.  Please don't let these children down. It's an uphill battle just to be a kid.

You can see what Ashley can learn to do when receiving on-going therapy in her progress videos herehere and here.

Monday, 3 October 2011

A treadmill work out

September passed by in a total blur for me even though three kids where in school full time there was no time to blog.  My  days are filled with phone calls and meetings.   There seems to be something on my calendar each evening too. Ashley's doing fabulously with the new schedule and managed very nicely to give up her naps she is actually sleeping 12 hours each night which leaves her very happy and  giggling each day.  Dropping the nap seems to work really nicely.

Last week  Ashley had back to back OT and PT at CTN.  It was honestly much more then I expected and Ashley loved it.  She was on the treadmill for 15 minutes straight and they kept speeding it up from 0.4 miles an hour to 0.8 miles an hour at the end her feet were moving at a nice pace and she was smiling the entire time.   I take her on a treadmill at home but I never challenged her to move her feet that fast and she would have short breaks at home as my arms would get tired just supporting her.   Mommy needs to get in shape.    I was surprised to see how easily she handled the faster speeds and her heart rate was good the entire time.  

She also crawled up a hill, worked on balance on the trampoline, crawled across a very big bean bag walked along the parallel bars and laterally along the edge of a table. Perhaps a few other things I'm forgetting too.   It was  a great workout  and all this following a session of OT, plus a morning at school too. 

OT was very busy too with targeted drawing, throwing, stacking and locating beads in putty.    I have a feeling  her new OT had more tricks up her sleeve if there was more time as there was a few washroom breaks but it was really great. Ashley has not had  OT since preschool.  I feel this session was long overdue and with guidance and practise I'm sure Ashley's  fine motor skills will improve.  

Ashley is already looking forward to returning CTN this week. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

School here we come!

My first grader

Grade 6 and Grade 4 for these two.

We live close and thought we would walk - Ashley giggled. 
Both Ashley and I enjoyed having Grammy and Grampy here for the first day. 

She continued with that giggle in class too.

I hope the rest of the year will go as smoothly as the first day.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Does summer fun really have to end?

Last week Ashley attended her second session of Soccer camp it was fabulous even the second time around.  Special needs soccer camp was the summer highlight for Ashley.  It was top notch.  I blogged about this back in July when she attended the first session.  The august session was  just as wonderful. Up on her feet walking, running and scoring goals plus time with friends what could be better. 

These two high school girls  in green shirts were very sweet and received volunteer hours to help Ashley run and score goals.  YAY!!! 
 One of Ashley's new buddies...

 Ashley with all the boys .. there was a few girls but boys definitely out number the girls.  She does like boyfriends especially this little boy Sean in the chair next to her..

 Ashley has another medal and beautiful trophy. The girl needs a trophy shelf now! How great is that.

The boys even tagged along and enjoyed the beautiful park as well as cheering on their sister.

Getting ready for school with some haircuts all around, check out these new looks.

Too cool for school or what?  Miss Ashley is not a fan of hair cuts as you can see here.

 Our evening at the park was fabulous.  Even if we need to bundle up a bit now.

School starts in one week right after labour day and I'm so not ready for that.   Please tell me summer is going to go on for another month or so.   I  need to get into  that  daily routine of getting 3 of 4  kids up and off to school.  I'm trying to get the kids to bed early each evening which is easy for Ashley but her brothers would love to stay up all hours of the night.     Tell me are you ready for school?  What will Taylor and I do while Ashley and her brothers in School all day ever day?   Things are going to change around here oh my.  

Friday, 19 August 2011

Hanging out - video

and check this out Ashley also loves walking around with her iPad in her princess basket preferably while  Justin is singing  Never Say Never.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Why the iPad and Proloquo2go is a definite win win

Yesterday Ashley was not her usual self at breakfast not really finishing her toast, which she asked for using prologo2go or interested in other yummy options like berries or yogurt being offered. Since she was so unhappy eating I placed her on the floor with her toys and her iPad.  She got right to work telling mommy and her  brother, what was up she quickly went to the something is wrong, then something hurts message.  Then repeated pressing it until Mommy came right back over and her older observant brother Damon was telling Mom Ashley hurts hurry up.  Both Damon and I didn’t notice right away but we looked her over and her ankle was swollen.  Also present tiny scratch marks and little bug bite.  She had been bitten by a bug and bug bites and her don’t mesh well she was upset and crying.   I don’t know how I missed it when I dressed her just before breakfast either if it was there at the time. But I was very thankful she was able to tell me so effectively this would not have been possible without the ipad and this amazing app!   I would likely have thought she didn’t sleep well she’s constipated who knows what when your child is non verbal sometimes even Moms don’t have the answers which is painful for all involved and very frustrating for my girl at times.   As I see Ashley getting better and better with this new tool. I’m very thankful she has a way to express herself it is such a gift.

She was even trying to bum scoot with her foot in the air to avoid using it. Luckily after some Benadryl and a number of hours her ankle was back to normal. But I was very pleased with my girl, her ipad and amazing app proloquo2go for letting this mom know what was going on.     

At a  quick glance it's hard to notice a bug bite if your child isn't pointing it out you.   You can't see it too much in the pictures I took but she was holding it up in the air while bum scooting yesterday.   I'm pretty proud of her for communicating this to her brother and I so effectively. 

Mission iPossible - is raising funds to put iPads in some other very deserving kids hands so they can communicate just this type of thing or just the fact that despite being non verbal they sure do know their stuff.  So hope on over and read all about their mission too. 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Hot weekend at home

My little fisherman in need of the lake. 

We set up a pool and played some  soccer! 

Such a caring  brother making sure Ashley gets her super girl juice aka power aid.  Not a usually drink for our high cal diet girl but something her older brothers love. She managed to have a sip.

I wish she would get thirsty especially when it's this hot.

Hose water was a little too chilly to climb right in.

One other way we cooled down this weekend.  My new favourite place MARBLE SLAB yum!

Yesterday my husband shopped, prepared and cooked up  a fabulous bbq dinner. It was so yummy and sweet especially the Malibu Sunset cocktails all this to help me celebrate my 40th birthday last week.  I felt very loved.

My neighbour brought these over for my birthday too.  Such a nice surprise. I have the very best neighbour.