Saturday, August 12, 2017

Teaching Special Needs Children to Work

Miss K has a long list of professions she wants to do when she grows up. She wants to be a doctor and work at Children's Hospital. I think that is because she loves the Children's Hospital except the time when she had to go there to get her tonsils out. She also wants to work at Costa. I like that as she can make coffee for me. She wants to be a bus driver. She wants to work at McDonald's. She wants to be a ringmaster at the circus. We just went to the circus last night and so she decided that was what she wants to do.

The list of places where she wants to work is long and varied. I know that most of these are not possible but some with modifications might be possible.

One of the things that I have found in my special needs parenting is that Miss K tends to stay at a level while a normal child for various reasons moves on. It requires that we push a bit to move her on to age appropriate things.

We decided that this summer we would spend some time focusing on teaching Miss K to work. We gave her a goal for her work, hoping that would be some motivation -- earn money for tap shoes and uniform. She wants to take tap lessons so we decided she can earn some of the money.

The perfect opportunity came -- fill in for a friend's newspaper route.

Some of my goals in teaching her to work are the following:

1. Willingness to work - the fun jobs are easy to fill but the not so fun, every day jobs are just not as easy. I am focusing on the attitude when I say it is time to go. Miss K would rather listen to music or read a book. My goal is when I say it is time to go that she is willing and ready to go. This also applies to jobs around the house.

2. The attitude at work - I have so say for the most part while on the newspaper route she has had a good attitude. One lady told her "thank you" which inspired her to make a card for that lady. She was sad that #18 didn't get a paper for a few days. I have talked about how this is a good job and we are helping people.

Saturday's papers are thick so we use a cart.

3. Excellence in work - Doing a good job, being neat, those are some of the things about having excellence in work. This is more something that we work on with jobs at home. We clean the dishes with excellence.

4. Finish the job - Sticking with the job until it is done is a skill that is needed. Keep going until the end. It could be just finishing that day's job or finishing the time that we have committed to.

I know in many of these ways these are the same skills you teach any child but at least for me I have found that as Miss K learns slower and needs more teaching it requires that I think through these things and have a bit of a plan. While she is old enough for a newspaper route, she is not capable of doing it on her own so I go with her.

I measure based on progress. Are we making progress? In some ways we are, today she delivered all the papers even the ones with cars. For some reason she did not like to deliver the paper to a house with cars in the driveway. That is progress.

I can't say that she is willing to go. That is something that we are still working on.

She does enjoy having a bit of money to spend.

She is showing me the money she earned not giving it to me.

I will say it can be hard work to teach a child to work. It requires patience. It requires a plan. It is worth it.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I did it!

I completed Race to the Stones which is 100km or 60 miles. I walked it over two days so if you do the math that is 50km each day.

I shared a bit about the race here.

Our starting time was 8:45. We got to the start early to drop off our register, drop off our luggage, get a cup of coffee and be ready to go.

This are my feet ready to do serious steps. I had a small rucksack with me that had a bunch of things half of which I didn't use.

The path was clearly marked with arrows and signs saying, "not this way".

This is called the "field of dreams". At this point it is single file. It was raining a bit and we had to be a bit careful that we didn't slip in the mud.

There were pit stops approximately every 10km with food and drinks. The base camp was just over 50km. I made it there in 11:00 hours. Dinner was delicious and the shower refreshing. Then we had small tent to sleep in. The next morning we were up and on our way.

The trail was varied with woods and tree roots, to paths along fields to along the road. We walked along the Thames.

This was Sunday as we were walking. I loved the contrast. The clouds look like it might rain but thankfully on Sunday it didn't rain.

We did our training here and it is full of hills. Somehow I had it in my mind that it would not be as hilly when we did the Race but there were hills. The weather really was perfect for the event, not too hot.

On Saturday at the last pit stop I was tired and just wanted to get to the base camp. I walked through the pit stop, got a drink and kept walking. My friend was going to run and catch up but ended up enjoying a cup of tea. I was afraid that if I sat down I would not get up.

There were times that I was just putting one foot in front of the other. Doing that I had over 75,000 steps each day. One foot in front of the other is progress.

At one km before the pit stop there was a sign "Pit stop 1 km". I decided that km was the longest km ever.

The Race to the Stones did pass by the stones and we got a photo there but the race didn't end there. We had 1.5km to go to get our medal and a hot meal.

I did it. I walked 100 km over two days. I took a challenge, trained and prepared and completed it. I learned "more is in you".

On Saturday morning someone asked me why I was doing the race. I think one of the reasons was -- I wanted to take a challenge that might be a bit different from the normal things I do.

On Sunday the question was, "would you do it again?" I am not sure that I would. It took quite a bit of time to train and prepare. Most Saturday mornings we were out for 4-5 hours walking. It also took quite a bit physically and emotionally.

I decided that I can go the distance. Now I need to work on the cardio to be able to run so my next goal is a 10K run. I can walk 10K in about 1 hour 40 minutes.

Over the next few weeks I am going to share some of the lessons that I learned as I reflect on the walk.

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