Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Invisible Face of Intellectual Disabilities

OK, this isn’t meant to be a pity party blog post.  This is just to share what it’s like, at least for me, to be the mother of a child with intellectual disabilities.

Spencer turned 13 last month, a big step for any kid.  But for a kid with intellectual disabilities it raises even greater issues.  You see Spencer is handsome, tall and strong.  By outward appearances, no one would ever know anything’s wrong.  And, because he is now a teenager, people expect him to behave in a certain way.  They don’t realize that intellectually he’s really the equivalent of a 6 year-old and that he doesn’t always understand socially acceptable behavior.  If this is hard for adults to realize it’s impossible for kids to realize.  All kids, that is, except his sister who really is 8 but has the maturity of a 15 year-old at times. 

She is fully aware that her brother has disabilities.  She might not understand completely what that means but what she does understand is that Spencer behaves in ways he shouldn’t and kids constantly call him weird or make fun of him behind his back – sometimes right to his face.  This upsets her and now she too is always on guard trying to protect her brother while also dealing with the feelings of embarrassment he causes her around her friends.  I’ve tried to explain to her that unfortunately people don’t always understand her brother has a disability.  If he had some physical disability it would be easier for them to deal with but this is an invisible affliction and people just don’t get it.

As I’ve written before, because his school is 50 miles away, he doesn’t really have friends in town.  So, when we are out at social functions Spencer is on his own.  I know he’s lonely.  I know he wants to be included but he’s just not.  Last night we were at our town’s 4th of July celebration.  As my fiancée said, it was like a giant block party.  I saw so many old acquaintances whose sons used to be Spencer’s friends from various activities.  That’s when the differences are so striking.  Here are these young men, independently and securely mingling, laughing and socializing.  They have far surpassed Spencer long ago.  We saw his one friend from when he was in kindergarten who is still so wonderful and friendly to Spencer – I will forever be grateful that Spencer found such a kind soul who is able to see Spencer for who he truly is, an equally kind kid.

But social situations like this are never easy for me.  I need to constantly be on guard as to where Spencer might wander to or how he might inadvertently get into a fight with another kid who was taunting him.  Spencer’s wonderful with little kids who seem to gravitate towards him. And, when adults take the time to sit and listen to him, he can be charming.  My friends are wonderful – they accept Spencer and try to put me at ease.  But it’s difficult for them to understand when their kids are running around playing and I’m torn between monitoring Spencer and wanting to spend my time with him since, at these events, I’m all he has.

Some people might advise me to just not put myself into these situations and not go to events that, because of the noise and commotion are particularly stressful for Spencer.  But, I have two other children to consider and (gosh darn it!) Spencer wants to see fireworks!  But I look around the crowd of hundreds that are seated with me on the field and think, “where are the other kids like Spencer?”  Where are one or two kids who could be his friends and understand his issues?  Yes, there are probably some parents who would rather avoid the stress of an evening such as this but there has to be a way to make it fun, safe and secure for our kids!

I’m out of ideas. For my friends from last night who supported me, thank you – I’m forever grateful for your friendship and kindness to my son.  For other parents struggling with my issues, what are your solutions?  I’m open to any and all suggestions!



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Best Books for Babies Releases List for 2011

Best books for babies has just come out with their annual list of the best books for infants through 18 months of age. A panel of librarians, child development experts, and academics reviews outstanding books, published in the United States each year, and judges them on elements such as clear, bright illustrations, age-appropriate subjects, and interactive capabilities.

What makes a “Best Book for Babies?” According to the selection committee, age appropriate subject matter with uncluttered illustrations weigh heavily in the making the top ten. Also, easy physical manipulation and durability are also qualities sought by the committee. Text, illustration and design for an infant audience as well as cultural authenticity combine to provide a rich listening and learning environment for the very youngest listener.

The committee once counted Fred Rogers among its critiquing members and today the company he began, The Fred Rogers Company, proudly supports Best Books for Babies along with The School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC)

Here is the “Best Books for Babies 2011.” All books were published in 2010 and are listed alphabetically along with comments from the selection committee. For more information visit

1. Baby Baby Baby! Marilyn Janovitz, Jabberwocky – A loving family catalogs all the fun things their smiling baby can do—from clapping and crawling to splashing in the tub and kissing good night.

2. Dancing Feet Lindsey Craig, Illustrated by Marc Brown, Knopf Books for Young Readers – Textured collage illustrations show a variety of animals stomping, creeping and clapping their way through this rhyming action tale.

3. Fiesta Babies Carmen Tafolla, Illustrated by Amy Cordova, Candlewick – Bold colors amplify the festive fun in this rhyming story about babies and toddlers enjoying a neighborhood celebration.

4. Hip Hop Catherine Hnatov, Star Bright Books – High contrast black and white images alternate with simple, brightly colored pictures of familiar animals, highlighting their typical sounds and movements.

5. I Like Fruit Lorena Siminovich, Templar – Unusual textures and vivid colors combine to create clear pictures of tasty treats in this sturdy board book.

6. One Pup’s Up Marsha Wilson Chall, Illustrated by Henry Cole, Margaret K. McElderry – Feisty puppies tumble and frolic across the pages of this charming picture book that features energetic, upbeat descriptions and enjoyable word play.

7. Pocketful of Posies Salley Mayor, Houghton Mifflin – Mavor uses intricate needlework to create whimsical, detailed illustrations for a wide variety of rhymes, making this an appealing collection for families even if they already own one (or more) Mother Goose collections.

8. Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy Denise Fleming, Henry Holt and Co. – Distinctive illustrations in warm, rich colors accompany rhythmic, repetitive words designed to lull listeners into sweet sleep.

9. Switching on the Moon Compiled by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters Illustrated by G. Brian Karas Candlewick – Perfect for sharing at bedtime, the beautifully illustrated poems in this collection are sure to become family favorites.

10. Tuck Me In! Dean Hacohen, Illustrated by Sherry Scharschmidt Candlewick Beach Lane Books – Young listeners can participate in this soothing bed-time ritual, turning decorated half-pages to cozily cover a cast of baby animals.

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In support of Tanya McDowell, a mother trying to give her son a shot at success

I’ve been following with dismay the case of Tanya McDowell, a homelss single mother from nearby Bridgeport, CT who has been charged with first degree larceny and is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

What has she done that’s so horrific you might ask? Surely it must be something terrible such as abusing her children or neglecting them to the point of malnourisment. No, what this terrible woman did was try to provide a better life for her 5-year old son and give him the best education she could. She had the nerve to sign her son up for a public school in a city where she didn’t live but a friend did. Oh the horror! (Please, please, please note the sarcasm dripping from my voice.)

I’m not sure which part of this bothers me more, the fact that our tax dollars are going to try a case like this when they could be going after child abusers and molesters or the fact we’re trying to punish a mom who was trying to do whatever it took to get her child a good education.

And please spare me the argument that if she chose to “live” in Bridgeport that’s where her child should go to school. First, I’m not sure how many people are aware that it’s actually a crime to enroll your child in a school in a different neighborhood. But, most importantly, I know Bridgeport schools and I can’t blame her. Until something can be done to be sure that every child is provided with a good public education, parents need to do whatever they can to help they’re child succeed in life.

So, I’m throwing the question out to you. If you lived in a city where the schools were sub-par and you couldn’t afford to move for whatever reason, what would you do?

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Around The Table Games are basic fun that help promote family bonding

It’s hard enough to get your ‘tween to talk to you at times but try getting to know three step kids! Sure, there’s the polite conversation, but how do I really get to know them?

Enter Family Talk, one of the Around The Table Games created by Beth Daniels. Family Talk is a series of small cards attached on a ring that ask questions designed to help family members get to know each other better. Questions range from the serious such as “Currently what is your favorite family tradition and why?” to the silly “If everyone in your family became dogs what kind of dog would they be and why?” Not only did these cards help me get to know my step kids better but it was a great way to pass some time on our recent 18 hour drive to Florida!

There are several games including Grandparent Talk, a great way for kids to get to know their grandparents better, as well as Buddy Talk, Camp Talk and Teen Talk. And, with the price starting at $7.99, it’s certainly more affordable than any video game out there!

Around the Table games can be purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond, Cracker Barrel and and many specialty retailers nationwide. For more information and to find a store near you please visit

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Latest Recall – Holiday Rattle Baby Slippers

Atico International USA Recalls Holiday Rattle Baby Slippers Due to Choking Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Walgreens. For more information, visit USCPSC.

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Vicks VapoRub and Sore Muscles

By Safety Mom

Late February and March are probably my least favorite times of the year.  It’s really a big tease from Mother Nature.  Just when you think the snow is out of the way and we’re home free another storm rolls in.  I easily could have given up my gym membership this year with all of the shoveling and “ice breaking” I’ve done.  I’ve had muscle aches in areas I didn’t even know I had muscles!

One thing I learned this season is that Vicks VapoRub isn’t just for kids’ colds like I used to assume.  I recently learned that I can use it on my sore muscles as well. Now,

I swear by Vicks VapoRub for everything and at night before bed, I use it on all of aches and pains. It doesn’t have that burning after effect that so many other muscle creams have and the smell is soothing instead of overpowering.  It can be used on my kids’ sore muscles too. Vicks VapoRub has Menthol and Eucalyptus Oil, which helps soothe sore muscles and increase circulation. Rub a little on before bed and you’ll wake up feeling as good as new!

To share some of your tips and stories and to get more tips and advice you can join Vicks Facebook page. (sponsored)

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Latest Recall – Dorel Car Seats

Dorel recalls almost 800,000 child safety seats for harnesses that do not lock properly. For more information, visit NHTSA.

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