Remote Learning Vocations Sonnier Style

Mac has been a trooper as we reach one year of remote learning. We have done our best to make his weekly vocations a real-life experience. Keys to being successful with remote learning on the spectrum: Keep it Fun and CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY.

Carpenter
Chocolatier
Cameraman
Educator
EMT
Flight Attendant
Geologist
Hairstylist

Inequality in Mental Health

One of my greatest fears is losing my mind.

Witnessing a person become someone you don’t recognize because they have no control over their mind, and their actions are horrifying. You feel scared and hopeless.

My mother is bi-polar, and I know it well. This affliction can overwhelm and destroy families and relationships. As a loved one, it forces you to do things against a person’s will because they are a danger to themselves and others. You never want to be in a position of having to authorize a person being institutionalized against their will. It’s soul breaking.

I am speaking out about this because I want people engrossed in popular culture to make an observation of how differently men and women with mental health disorders are treated.

Remember 2007 when Britney Spears hit her bottom? She was taken into custody on a 5150 hold and had everything seized. She was shamed because of erratic behavior, she lost custody of her children and became a mockery. Britney was manic and was struggling with an undiagnosed mental health disorder. Sadly, it took her years to get medicated, healthy, back to entertaining, seeing her children, and doing what she loved. But through all of that, she never regained her independence or respect for her contribution to the arts because her father became her conservator. No control over her wages she rightfully earned, even 13 years later.

Now fast forward to Kanye West. A man who was deeply impacted by the trauma of a near-death accident and the death of his mother. Many would say these events triggered what has been a litany of manic episodes America has wrongly declared as “genius” in songs, fashion, and publicity. Kanye himself admits his bi-polar diagnosis and claims the medication stifles his creativity. But not once has Mr. West been taken into custody, held against his will, or been isolated from his family, children, or finances. If anything, his mania has been highlighted in the Oval Office and now on his own campaign trail.

See the difference?

This inequality in mental health is evident and on display today. Kanye is midst manic episodes while Britney is struggling and having attention drawn to her situation via Instagram. This may be the one time Americans wrapped up in celebrities can see for themselves the inequity of women and men with mental health disorders.

Mac is an Official Teenager

Mac LOVED our trip to NYC in 2016. Now he has a particular fondness for Lady Liberty. We were so thankful for planning so we could give him a special day today!

There are so many things to celebrate this year as Mac turns 13!

On track for growth and development.

Making great progress in his academics.

Adjusting to Virtual Learning like a champ.

An amazing trustworthy and loving team of educators and aides.

Seizures are under control with medication sans any side effects.

Overall Happiness!

Mac is Excited and Genuinely Happy!

Autism Moms: Surviving Virtual Learning during a Pandemic.

Like most moms, I was overwhelmed by how QUICKLY we transitioned to virtual learning. Realizing my parenting skills will be on full display, literally, in a video classroom, anxiety kicked in. It took a couple of days to get my bearings, laying out assignments and expectations. I’m an online student myself, but this is an entirely different ballgame, folks.

Thankfully, Mac has a great tech-savvy teacher who knows her way around the curriculum and Google supplements for learning. Also, we have advanced technology and access through the Department of Defense Education Activity schools.

We decided routine is vital for Mac, so that was our priority. We could push wake up time later, but we would keep all our steps the same. We used the same language, prompts, and even wearing our school uniform. We called it “school at home.” Created an organized area with a desktop computer and familiar items; digital clock, pencils, and log on information. Using a Velcro tab schedule, we moved from subject to the website, pulling the tab completing each assignment.

Mac’s daily team meetings with his teacher, aides, and classmates kept familiarity, and he is so excited to see everyone each day.

He has daily Show and Tells with his one on one aide. They can share things from home with each other and stay connected.

We use Mac’s favorite item, his treadmill, as morning movement, and for break times. It was a great way to keep him active and engaged.

For lunch, we drive to Sonic. Mac requests French fries and drinks on his voice (AAC device) just like he does in the cafeteria line at school. He has 45 minutes for lunch in his room as a little reprieve.

After lunch, we do another round of academics at the desk and finish our day with PE. Outdoor activities; bike riding, walking the dog, trash clean up, and sometimes exercise equipment inside on rainy days.

Mac has been a champ and doing great with his new virtual school from home.

To all my fellow special needs moms out there, we know it takes a village to raise a child. Although it may feel like it right now, you are not alone. Your village is one text, email, and video chat away. Reach out!