Monday, April 30, 2012


On Friday, my baby girl turned four.

It was quite a week with appointment after appointment.  We did Botox two weeks ago, and while Kendall had a massive headache a few days after (resulting in a frantic trip to the emergency room), she is already reaping the benefits!

We did it under general anesthesia.  Because we needed to go so deep into her hips that was necessary.  It was a quick and relatively painless morning (for me) and Kendall seemed unfazed.  We didn't see any results until about a week later.  It was then we went to our scheduled orthopedic appointment to do x-rays and revisit her hip surgery situation.  To our delight, we discovered that her hips had gone from 60% subluxed to only 40%.  Progress indeed.  So, we have bought ourselves a summer of swimming instead of a summer of surgery and casting.  I'm thrilled beyond words.

We had a small family gathering in celebration of her big day.  We've decided to hold out and have one big party in a few weeks to celebrate the end of school, beginning of summer, and Kendall's birthday.  I'm cutting myself some slack this year.  Between my heavy course load and the number of times I've had to go to Austin for school...April came and went in a flash.  Everyone in my family caught a nasty virus in the past two weeks, so things have been a bit frazzled around here!

I was able to snap a few pictures before I had to leave town on Friday. I'm super behind on blogging, and do have quite a bit to share...but it'll have to wait for another day :)

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An Amazing IEP Meeting!

Kendall's IEP went remarkably well.  It was a reminder that there are people in the world working with this population who truly have a passion for it.  I have heard so many horror stories along the way.  Issues families have had with different districts (and our district) that make your hair stand up straight...but I'm happy to report this ARD was incredible and I attribute it to the amazing group of people who work with Kendall everyday.

Obviously Kendall's very involved.  We have PT, OT, SLP, AT, MT, TVI, O&M, RN, LVN, etc!  Basically the entire alphabet. 

For me, it was amazing to watch things go so flawlessly.  I attribute it to the great communication skills each of them have.  I had her goals before the ARD, the diagnostician always crosses all her t's and dots all her i's!  The principal shares the vision for her school that we have for Kendall.  It truly was amazing.  And an example of how things should go....for everyone....everywhere. 

Some of the highlights include:  Kendall will attend summer school this summer and ride the bus.  (She has an emergent skill that qualifies her, and a digression too)  I decided (yes, I did!) to let her ride the bus.  I think she will probably love it, and it will give me a chance to see how things go this summer doing it before we commit to it for next year.  This will be a big factor in me going back to work. 

We also discussed a little of Kendall's "learned helplessness."  Not a big surprise to me.  I'm an enabler!  Thankfully her teachers have no problem raising the bar for her independence!  And I am going to try to follow suit more at home.  It's just really hard.  She's still so little...and so stinkin cute!  But I certainly don't want to cause her to face more challenges than she already does. 

I read an article the other day that addresses this exact issue.  It was about how kids with multiple disabilities develop adaptive and challenging behaviors (hmh...imagine that!)  It was focused on a behavior analytic approach to a child's behavior in order to "enable the child to live as independently as possible while being fully included socially in the least restrictive environments that offer ample opportunity for physical, cognitive, emotional, and social growth and enrichment." (Koegel, Koegel, & Dunlap, 1996)  Some of the approaches to managing this behavior as referred to in the article...are positive reinforcement, planned ignoring (extinction), negative reinforcement, and punishment.  Since this is exactly what we want for Kendall as parents...Justin and I are committed.  Game on, Kendall!

So as we approach Kendall's 4th birthday, I'm happy to say we have seen great strides in her development in a number of areas.  She's completed her first year of school,enjoyed every minute of it, and will continue to excel.  I'm sure of it!

Last summer I attended a seminar about inclusion.  It was probably the best thing I could have done.  In that seminar, I received a bookmark from Texas Project First  The site is amazing and has a plethora of information for parents.  They encourage you to come up with a "vision" for your child.  It is something that should be shared with all professionals that come in contact with your child.  After reviewing parent examples, I completely plagiarized reworded one that really felt like our vision for Kendall.  I have since given it to everyone on our team with a super cute picture of Kendall..and I believe they too now share our vision.  I will share it with you  below:

Our Vision for Kendall

Our family’s vision for Kendall is simple.  We want her to have the same opportunities as any other member of our community.  We want her to live, love, and achieve whatever dreams she desires.  We feel very strongly that her school experiences will play a major role in her accomplishments.  We hope to form a partnership with all of her educators in order to make this happen.

            One of the most important things to us as Kendall’s parents is that Kendall be seen for what she can do and not for what she cannot do.  We appreciate the environment that surrounds Kendall in our Mansfield community.  We dream of a community where differences are accepted and attempts are made to educate those who may be fearful or ignorant concerning the culture of disability. 

            We want Kendall to reach her full potential academically and socially.  Both areas hold equal importance to us, and to Kendall’s future success.  If she is part of a community where all children are valued and belong, she will know it and will rise to the occasion.  We are confident that environment will exist in Kendall’s lifetime.

            Presently, one of our biggest goals for her is communication.  She is a very bright girl with a lot of emotions and thoughts.  We hope to assist her in finding her voice, whatever form that may be. 

            The following values are important to us as a family:

·        Kendall is loved and her strengths are celebrated

·        A school environment exists where diversity is nurtured and celebrated

·        The use of People First Language is expected and adults model appropriate responses to questions regarding differences

·        Kendall is never pulled or segregated for any reason without our consent

·        We are an integral part of the team that supports Kendall in her education

Monday, April 2, 2012

Our New Addition...and Everyday Videos...

Things have not been the same around our house since we lost Chloe. Ironically enough, I was the one who missed her the most. To turn a very long story short, Kendall met a Therapy Dog named Chip with me the day after we put Chloe down. Of course, it made my wheels start spinning. What if we could replace our precious girl with another like Chip who doesn't shed, and has the temperment and training to assist Kendall in the future? So this past weekend we went out and adopted this cutie patootie.

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Her name is Addie (Addison Paws Briggs). She is 10 weeks old. She's basically a mutt. Her mom was a poodle, and her daddy a lab, which makes her a first generation Labradoodle. In my humble opinion, she is the smartest puppy that ever lived. She already fetches (and returns it) and signals when she needs to go outside.  I'll leave out the most recent puppy behavior...where she tried to take Kendall's glasses off her face and attacked her pony tail :)  We plan to do extensive training with this baby girl to ensure she puts her smarts to good use. 


We've had some very warm days here of late, so have been outside quite a bit.  During a bunch of errands the other day, Kendall's sugar dropped pretty quick.  I took her back to the car to give her some juice, and she started a new game.  This game is now requested after every feed:

And this video shows how excited Kendall is for the summer and  the water to get warm enough
to swim in: