Sunday, 27 May 2012

Volunteering

I volunteered at the Abilities Centre on Friday. The Centre will offer world class programs in the areas of sports, arts, life skills, research and education - in an inclusive environment. It will be open to the public Saturday, June 2nd. 

Take a look...



Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Meaning Behind the Name

Maybe you've given some thought to the name of my blog. Maybe it makes sense to you and you get that there's a deeper meaning there, or maybe you've been so distracted by the simple, yet oh so elegant, blog design I chose from the wide variety of Blogger templates (Love those stripes, Mom!) that you haven't thought twice about the meaning behind...

More Than Words.

No, I did not come up with the name while listening to the ever popular ballad from the '90s (hear it here). Nor did I come up with it while reminiscing about a place in time when two clueless, newbie parents were sent to an early language intervention program in hopes that it would help them deal with their non-verbal, 2 1/2 year old son (the name of that program was, by the way, More than Words and yes, my *DH and I were the clueless, newbie parents).

For some fluky reason, when I finally decided to start this blog, More Than Words popped into my head and I knew that was it - that was the name I wanted for my blog.

I must admit, I didn't really give much thought to the deeper meaning until recently. Here's what I came up with...

Carter's Words and his unique way of expressing them will be largely what I write about here. However, Carter is More than a boy who expresses his Words in an alternative way. His lack of speech is just one small part of who he is. It does not define him. He is More Than Words. So much More.

To me, this blog is about More Than putting Words on a page. It's about remembering and recording all that is important to me. It's about sharing. It's about connecting with others. And it's about crafting my Words into something interesting, compelling, moving, creative, memorable.

I have been admiring the writing and the content on several blogs for some time now. I hope that I can emulate my favourite bloggers by sharing my experiences, building connections and supporting others who relate to what I write about.

In the meantime, I'd like to send Words of thanks to my family and close friends for being my start-up audience. Your support means More to me Than you'll probably ever realize.

*DH = darling husband (for those unfamiliar with internet acronyms)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Barometer of Emotions

I like to think that I'm an even keeled kind of person -- someone who goes with the flow and takes things in stride. Lately though, specific things have been setting me off.

Below: some emotions...and their triggers...

Sadness
Thursday morning I dropped Carter off at school as usual. Some mornings are busier (with other students around) than others. On this particular day there was another boy arriving with his mom right when Carter and I arrived. I said goodbye to Carter, but he wasn't paying attention so his therapist told him to, 'say goodbye to mom'. The other boy thought she was talking to him and without hesitation he called out, 'Goodbye, Mom'.

symbolstix.n2y.com
Carter doesn't actually say goodbye. Instead he waves. Usually I'm good with that, but that particular morning, hearing the other boy put voice to something so simple, something my boy won't likely ever say to me...well, it got to me...and my reaction caught me off guard. My eyelids felt all pin prickly and that sensation spread quickly to the back of my throat where a small knot formed and took up residence until I was back in my car and moving on with my day. Sadness.

Rage
We are still without Carter's talker . At least 3 weeks have passed since we were told it needed to be shipped to the U.S. to be fixed. When I got in touch with the U.S. manufacturer to follow up on things -- as in, what exactly is wrong with the device and when will we be getting it back -- the response I received infuriated me.

symbolstix.n2y.com
The e-mail from a technician indicated that they had not yet received Carter's device. That's right...you read correctly! It's been three weeks since I was told that the device needed to be shipped to the U.S. to be fixed and it has not even arrived there yet.

The e-mail went on to tell me that the order was dated May 2, 2012.

You're telling me it wasn't even shipped until May 2nd? Where has it been all this time? Sitting on a shelf? This is not just some toy or computer used for pleasure! This is a child's voice we're talking about!

You can imagine my rage. And if you can't, here's a suggestion: try duct taping your mouth shut for a day (never mind three weeks to a month) and see how that helps bring some clarity to our situation.

I was so distraught I promptly clicked my mouse to forward a ranting, raging e-mail to my husband to share with him the update I'd just received. Rage.

Awkward and apologetic
Apparently in my rage (they say it can be blinding) I actually hit the reply arrow instead of the forward arrow and my ranting, raging message was sent to the technician at the company, not to my DH (darling husband).

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I won't lie. It wasn't pretty. There were choice words used and I'm not proud (actually feeling somewhat embarrassed) that they were sent to some poor technician that probably didn't know what hit him. But, the customer service we've received thus far is inexcusable -- which I explained in my follow-up apology e-mail to said technician. Awkward and apologetic.

Content and appreciated
Now we are starting a new week and the first day of that week is Mother's day. I am feeling that being a mother is no picnic. But, I am also feeling appreciated and I am feeling loved. Content and appreciated.

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I wonder what readings will show up on the barometer of emotions this week.


© 2003-2012 n2y, Inc. © Symbolstix, LLC used with permission.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Evolution of Lawn Mower Play


It's never an easy task finding toys that interest Carter. Twice a year -- Christmas and his birthday -- I scramble for gift ideas at the request of relatives, all while trying to save some ideas for myself.

It was obvious early on that having wheels would be the prerequisite for any toy to be endorsed by Carter. Toy lawn mowers (TLMs) definitely 'made the cut' (pun intended...smile) and they've held fast their position on the top ten list of most playworthy toys according to Carter.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my husband that maybe, since Carter is 8 years old and getting taller by the minute, we could get him a used lawn mower and take the engine out of it so that he could push it around with ease. Wouldn't he just have a blast with it?

My hubby did better than that. He found a used lawn mower that is super light. No alterations or adjustments were needed. He arrived home with it a few days ago and Carter is smitten to say the least.

He has this cute way of animating objects that he really loves, hugging them and telling us that they're sleeping or tired. He waves goodbye to his LM when it's time to come inside, blowing it kisses as the door closes behind him.


Take a look at how things have evolved in our household with lawn mowers (I'm sure we had at least two or three more TLMs over the years. But I guess I didn't capture them all on film):



2006   Birthday gift for Carter...here sharing with Jack


2007    Still loving my lawn mower a year later!
 
2008   Little sister gets a pink TLM!




2011  The pink TLM is still going strong. Who says pink is only for girls?


  And now the moment you've all been waiting for....



















Signing 'lawn mower' and loving his new machine.
 

 
Some decorating was in order (Thomas and Toy Story, of course).

Carter's interests are a bit unconventional -- definitely not typical for an eight year old. But he doesn't want for much. Yes, it's challenging to buy for him but when we finally find something that he loves it's beyond satisfying to watch his genuine, unadulterated joy.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Meeting other Cool Communicators

I attended a convention of sorts on Sunday at Holland Bloorview Children's Rehabilitation Centre. The event is called Breaking the Ice and it is put on by the March of Dimes and ISAAC Canada for adults and teens who use AAC (augmentative and alternative communication), professionals in the field of AAC, and parents and family members of AAC users. I didn't take Carter because I didn't think the program would be suitable for an active eight year old.

The day consisted of various speakers and presentations and it finished off with a screening of the movie, Only God Could Hear Me.

I met some amazing people and I learned some things too. Here's what I enjoyed most about my experience:
  • meeting Jess, Emily and Carolyn -- three adult women who use voice output devices to communicate. 
  • speaking with Jess and hearing about what she has accomplished.
  • listening to Skye Wattie and his mom, Gail Fisher-Taylor tell about their trip across Canada to raise awareness and funds for people who use AAC.
And WOW...
  • I actually got to meet Gail Fisher-Taylor and her eldest son, Kerr Wattie. He is a cool communicator just like Carter (I'm borrowing that term from Gail, Skye and Kerr. Love it!).
To me, Gail, Kerr and Skye are like celebrities -- VIPs in the world of AAC. So, meeting Gail and Kerr really meant a lot to me.

Skye and Kerr Wattie
Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Skye. He is Kerr's younger brother and what an inspiration he is. Fed up with the treatment his brother, Kerr was receiving as an individual who communicates differently, Skye decided to do something about it. What he decided to do was no small thing. Over the course of two and a half months, 19 year old Skye rode his bike across this vast country in an effort to raise awareness and funds for people who use AAC. The campaign was called Kilometres for Communication.

I followed their blog last year which tells the amazing story of their cross Canada trip.

Here are some links (also embedded above) where you can read more about the Kilometres for Communication campaign: