Parenting

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Posted 9/11/17 at 3:25 PM | crystal jerke

Benefits Of Sport Participation Among Kids

Sports carry an immense influence on kids. It serves as a wonderful and effective means of infusing strong moral values into the little ones so that they can grow up as mature and real human being, in the true sense of the term. As per the eminent sociologists, education is not only confined to the text books but can also be derived from many other arenas and sport is certainly one of them. The article here is an attempt to explore the benefits of participation in sports for kids.

According to child experts, sports participation is significant in the early stages of development in kids & young adults. The skills learned (both technical and soft skills) during play aids in fostering a holistic development in the young niche. No wonder, why the wise schools' principals stress so much on actively incorporating sports education in schools.

Participation in sports infuses some of the key values in the little minds. These are teamwork, honesty, fair play, self-respect & regards for peers as well as strict adherence to discipline and rules. It also teaches the young ones on how to stay stable in a competitive world & coping up with both losing and winning. The kids develop self-confidence through achievement in sports which in turn encourages them to stay positive about the hardships and challenges in life. This is why sport education is highly encouraged among students who generally suffer from under confidence. Moreover, participation in sports boosts up good physical development. Kids actively engaged in sports develop a very agile portfolio which enables them to stay enthusiastic on tough physical activities. FULL POST

Posted 8/31/17 at 3:52 PM | Karen Kramer

New Beginning

Here’s my annual back-to-school blog post. This year it’s personal.

Dear O,

This summer you hiked places you’ve never been before. Soon, you’ll be in middle school classrooms that you’ve never been before too.

But unlike your summer hikes, this one is going to take months to complete. That’s okay, because afterwards you’ll be smarter and stronger in new ways.

While you were hiking in Glacier National Park, there was some concern about running into a grizzly bear. You did, but you were safe in your truck when it happened.

In middle school, there will be some things that seem as big and bothersome as bears. But just as your truck provided security when you saw the bear, there are people at school to help you.

Then there’s this:

You’re resilient. I suppose being a soccer goalie in the freezing rain taught you that.

But resilience will help as you handle more kids and five or six different teachers with higher expectations than before. FULL POST

Posted 8/17/17 at 1:10 PM | Audra Jennings

Autism is different in every person

Part 2 of an interview with Karla Akins,

Author of A Pair of Miracles

Kregel Publications
A Pair of Miracles by Karla Akins

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although a growing number of parents face similar circumstances, many still feel isolated and alone. In A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting (Kregel Publications), author Karla Akins, the mother of twin sons with autism, offers encouragement and reassurance.

Q: Who will benefit from reading your new book, A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting?

I hope families and caregivers will be encouraged by reading about our journey and might gain a few ideas on how to work with their child. I also hope they will feel like they’re not alone in the struggle. I know I like to read books that validate what I’m feeling. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one in the trenches, fighting the good fight of day-to-day survival with autism.

I’ve included a generous section on how to work with your child. These include ideas that worked for us but also some evidence-based interventions proven to work for a lot of children with autism. Since I’m also a special-education teacher, I hope the book will help educators understand what families deal with. I’ve sat on both sides of the IEP table. I know the stress of advocating for what’s in the best interest of my child, but I also know how it feels to be an educator. Educators and parents need to work as a team, and the book gives great tips on how to do so.

Q: What misconceptions do most people have about autism? What would you most like your readers to understand about autism?

I wish more people would understand autism is different in every person. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means there’s a wide spectrum people fall on. I have friends with children who have a severe form. Their children are grown now and still can’t toilet themselves. I have friends with children who have children who are considered high-functioning because they have high IQs, but the child can’t shower independently without guidance. It’s a neurological disorder, not a behavioral or psychological problem, and it manifests in a myriad of ways. When you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen one child with autism. It will look different in another child.

Q: For parents who are walking the road of raising children with autism, what advice do you offer for becoming the best advocates for them when it comes to medical care?

Trust your God-given instincts, and don’t second-guess yourself. God gave those children to you, and He will equip you to do what is right if you seek Him for answers and wisdom.

Put everything in writing when you have a concern that isn’t being answered. Do your research to make sure any treatments you desire for your child are based on evidence and not trends.

Karla Akins, author of A Pair of Miracles

Q: What are some of the other areas you discuss in the book for living life with autistic family members?

I really want parents to take their children out in public and de-sensitize their kids with autism to uncomfortable situations. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but you do your children no favors by hiding them away at home. Society needs to see them, and the child with autism needs to be exposed to the sights and sounds of the world so they can learn to cope.

I talk about how difficult mealtimes were. They were a nightmare when the twins were small. Food was thrown everywhere, and a lot of screaming went on. Looking back, now I can see the screaming was from anxiety, but I didn’t realize it then. We learned the twins ate better if they ate in the dining room while we ate in the kitchen. We all had to learn not to take it personally. It was just what it was. At that time, our kitchen had a cut out in the wall to the dining room. We’d put two vinyl table cloths on the floor under their high chairs and let them go at it. It was the only way we could eat and have a conversation. Every meal ended up with them painting themselves head to toe with food. They couldn’t eat solids because they had poor motor control, so I pureed everything for years.

I also discuss the need for a network of support because of how stressful it is to raise a child with autism. I learned I couldn’t care for the boys without help, and I needed to admit it.

Q: How were your other children impacted by their brothers’ autism? What recommendations do you have for parents to make sure their other children don’t feel overlooked?

If I had my kids to raise all over again, I’d have been more deliberate in scheduling one-on-one time with each of my children. I think we were too busy. I try not to second-guess myself, but it’s hard not to. What parents absolutely must not do is depend on their other children as caregivers. Yes, definitely, they can help out because that’s what families do. However, every child needs to feel they are a child and sibling, not a parent.

Q: Can you share some of the basics teachers at church and ministry volunteers should know when working with a child who is autistic or has disabilities? What tools are offered in your book?

My book has a great appendix that answers questions about working with people with autism. I give a lot of great tips on how to respond to different behaviors and how to motivate kids with autism.

Remember all children are unique, no matter what their ability or diagnosis. Also remember a diagnosis is not who they are. They are children and people first. They just happen to have a label.

Churches can embrace families living with disabilities by providing one-on-one aides in the child’s classes so the parent can attend their own classes. This also allows the child with disabilities to attend church with children their own age too.

I offer training to the teachers and those working in the children’s department. I love giving training seminars. People can contact me through my website. I also do one-on-one online consultations as well. Folks can sign up on my scheduling page.

Q: You include sections with scripture to meditate on. What verses have meant the most to you throughout the years?

Psalm 139 is my favorite scripture passage because it talks so much about how God knew us before we were born and how He is always with us.

I’ve also leaned a lot on the book of Job for inspiration, especially Job’s attitude in Job 13:15 (KJV):

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”

Job is saying, “I trust God no matter what, but I’m still going to be bold in going to Him.”

There are many things that happen I don’t understand, but this verse keeps me praising instead of complaining. It also gives me permission, in a way, to wrestle with God about the hard stuff that goes on in my life. It also helps me realize I can trust God, even when things don’t make sense. He’s in control.

Learn more about A Pair of Miracles at www.KarlaAkins.com. Akins is also on Facebook (KarlaKAkins) and Twitter (@KarlaAkins).

 

Posted 8/17/17 at 1:06 PM | Audra Jennings

Mother of sons with autism offers encouragement and reassurance

Part 1 of an interview with Karla Akins,

Author of A Pair of Miracles

Karla Akins, author of A Pair of Miracles

It was not long after Karla Akins and her husband brought their adopted sons home from the hospital they realized the boys were not behaving and developing as they should. A few months later they learned the boys were on the fetal alcohol disorders spectrum, and by the time they were four, they were diagnosed with autism. Twenty years ago, autism was not as prevalent as it is today, and Akins admits she knew nothing about it. When she voiced her hopes her autistic sons could learn to read and function independently, doctors warned her those expectations would never be met. Despite those warnings, she set out to prove all things are possible through God.

Laced with humor and compassion, A Pair of Miracles is the heartwarming story of the Akins family’s journey of raising Isaac and Isaiah. However, the book is more than a moving biography from a mom on the front lines. It is a powerful tool, full of practical help for parents, educators and church members working with children who have intellectual disabilities, speech impairments and other limitations on the autism spectrum. It is also a challenge to the church to welcome and celebrate all of its members, no matter their abilities.

Q: A few months after you brought your adopted your twin sons home from the hospital, you learned they were born with Fetal Alcohol Disorder. How did they behave differently from other children, and what clued you into the fact something else might be wrong?

The twins screamed constantly and were very, very difficult to calm. They had an amazing stamina when it came to screaming and could scream for hours. They would start screaming even before they opened their eyes to wake up.

Doctors chalked this all up to the twins being premature. Because they were premature and born to a “low-functioning” mother, they didn’t really give us any other explanation. It was a given in their mind that due to their prematurity they would have unusual behaviors. At three months they were diagnosed with microcephaly (their skulls too small for their brains), and it was assumed, because of their facial features and small head circumference, it was due to fetal alcohol disorder. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) is difficult to diagnose (at least it was back then) because you need to have the mother’s admission that she drank while pregnant. We didn’t have that admission, but the twins are textbook cases of the syndrome.

When they were diagnosed with microcephaly, I was determined they wouldn’t keep that diagnosis. I laid my hands on their heads every single time I touched them and prayed their heads would grow. God answered that prayer. They have regular-sized head circumference! Truly a miracle. If they didn’t, their cognitive functioning would be much worse.

Q: How old were the boys when they were diagnosed with autism? How much did you know about autism before their diagnosis?

The twins were four years old when they were diagnosed, but I knew something was wrong years before the official diagnosis. Not only were they a textbook case of FASD, but they are of autism as well. It’s important to remember that autism can have co-morbid diagnoses. In other words, having autism doesn’t mean you can’t have other diagnoses as well. Did the FASD cause the autism? We have no way of knowing.

When the boys received their autism diagnosis, the only thing I knew about autism was from the movie Rain Man, which means I knew nothing! Plus, autism is different in every individual.

In 1997-98, the only thing I had was a rickety old IBM computer someone had given me. It barely worked and was one of those with the green screen, but I used it to hook up to AOL. (I can still hear that dial-up sound in my ears!) Once online, I connected with an amazing crew of mamas and grandmas who also had children with autism. It was those women who led me to resources. I have to tell you, we were on the cutting edge of research in those days, but as far as early intervention was concerned, it was very difficult to get anyone to listen to us regarding what our children needed to have to succeed. It was very, very hard to get people’s attention. If it weren’t for those women, I don’t know how I’d have survived those early years. They were a lifeline.

Kregel Publications
A Pair of Miracles by Karla Akins

Q: What was the doctors’ prognosis of how the boys would be able to function as they grew and matured? How did you work through the grief that followed the news?

The working title of this book was Pie in the Sky. I was told by a psychologist my hopes and dreams for them to function independently was “pie in the sky thinking” and I “better get over that right now.” I never went back to her. The boys have done much, much more than anyone thought possible.

For instance, that particular doctor told me they’d never read, be able to live independently or speak. Other doctors simply didn’t know and told me I would have to wait and see. Only one doctor I worked with was sympathetic to me, and it wasn’t anything he said, but it was how he treated me with such kindness and respect when we’d see him. I wish there were more pediatricians like that today. He never gave an opinion about the future. He just helped me get through each medical crisis and was very encouraging to me. He made me feel like I was competent.

Today the twins walk. They talk and understand everything that’s said to them. Their speech and language is a little difficult to understand at times, but they function well enough to send text messages and talk on the phone.

I worked through my grief about their diagnosis in stages. In some ways, I already knew something was wrong. Developmental pediatricians were tracking their physical development, and we could already see some things about their development weren’t right, such as the size of their heads. I also knew the way they reacted to sensory input was way off, and they weren’t meeting their developmental milestones on time, such as sitting up, walking and talking. Still, even though I knew something was wrong, I went through all the normal stages of grief — from anger to acceptance. I still do go through some of the stages. All parents with special needs kids deal with grief on a day-to-day basis. It cycles through us at various times depending on what we’re dealing with. Mostly, though, I’m so proud of my guys. They’ve worked hard to get where they are today.

Q: When the boys were young, in a meeting with your pastor, he asked, “Do you think you missed the will of God when you adopted them?” Even doctors made hurtful comments to you about your boys. How did you respond?

Well, I’d like to say the conversation doesn’t still bother me, but it does. I do realize some people just don’t “get” adoption and disability issues. I’ve forgiven the pastor and those doctors, but just thinking about those conversations makes me shake my head with incredulity. Some people don’t have filters. They just say whatever they’re thinking.

I was furious, of course, when those conversations took place. I never responded negatively or rudely to them at the time, but I did stew on what they said. I’m the type of person who when you tell me I can’t do something or can’t make something better, it fuels me to prove you wrong. I used those conversations to motivate me rather than discourage me.

Q: You talk about bargaining with God and even encourage readers to “wrestle with God” in difficult times. What were some of the questions you had for God in the early years of raising Isaac and Isaiah?

I would actually pray for forgiveness from God for wanting to adopt because I sometimes worried about what it was doing to our family. It definitely took away the tranquility in the house. I am a huge peace-lover and maker. I crave quiet spaces. I also asked my husband to forgive me for pushing for adoption, but he never once wavered or questioned our decision. That helped me a lot in the twins’ younger years when they were so, so hard to care for.

I still have a lot of questions for God where disabilities and pain in the world are concerned. However, I do know the devil hates humans and wants them to suffer because we are created in God’s image. Still, God’s ways are not our ways, and I truly believe He will use our struggles for His purpose and glory if we let Him.

Q: What have your boys taught you about God, and how has your faith grown by being their mom?

The boys have taught me more about everything in life and especially about God. I’ve never seen greater faith than theirs. I’ve never seen joy such as theirs. The twins have amazing faith. To me, they’re spiritual giants. Their faith in God inspires me every single day. Their spirits aren’t at all disabled. Their spirits are as healthy as yours and mine and probably even more so because of their childlike faith.

They are very tender-hearted toward the Lord, and they know to turn to Him for help. Just a few days ago we had a situation that made Isaac anxious. He asked if we could all pray, so we stood in a circle and prayed. He sobbed like a baby, crying out to the Lord for help. That is faith. Without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11). Their faith amazes me. I am eager to interact with them in heaven when they are completely healed and to talk to Jesus about them and how their prayers affected heaven. They are true prayer warriors. When I need prayer, I ask them to pray because of their great faith.

They’ve taught me what’s important in life. I’m not as materialistic as I might have been otherwise because autism doesn’t allow you to have breakables. Doors get kicked in. Walls get holes in them. Furniture gets mauled. They’ve taught me not to sweat the small stuff. My tolerance for imperfection is extremely broad because of them. Societal constraints don’t worry me. Our yard might not be the prettiest in the neighborhood because we’re so busy supervising the twins, but the love in our house is immeasurable. It’s far from perfect, trust me, but when I focus on the blessing these boys are to others (they love serving people), I’m deeply humbled. I wish I could be as sweet as they are.

My faith has grown as their mom because what the world said could never happen, God made happen. When doctors told me they were microcephalic, I refused to accept it. As I mentioned earlier, I constantly laid my hands on their heads and told them to grow. They have normal-sized heads now. Doctors said they’d not walk, but they walk. Doctors said they wouldn’t read or do much independently, and with God’s grace we’ve proved them wrong.

Q: Tell us about Isaac and Isaiah today. In what ways are they able to function independently in ways the doctors never expected? In what areas do they still need help?

They do so many things on their own! They have a golf cart they use for transportation to their part-time jobs and other places in town. Fortunately, we live in a community that allows it. They use their smartphones and iPads to communicate and read things. They attend church and help with various duties there. Isaac helps with the sound system, and Isaiah loves helping in children’s church. They are amazing helpers. They love helping people.

The twins will probably always need to live with someone who can protect them from being taken advantage of. They have a difficult time counting money, so it’s easy to cheat them. They can also be talked into doing things, as they are quite naïve and gullible. They have dual-diagnoses of fetal alcohol disorder and intellectual disabilities, so that makes dealing with them a bit more involved. They still need to have reminders for daily self-care and function at about the level of an 8- to 11-year-old. They still need to be prompted to do their daily chores (don’t we all?) and so forth.

Learn more about A Pair of Miracles at www.KarlaAkins.com. Akins is also on Facebook (KarlaKAkins) and Twitter (@KarlaAkins).

Posted 6/14/17 at 4:26 AM | Biru Singh

How Positive Parenting Helps Children Learn Through Online Games

When it comes to kids, playing and learning go hand in hand. Be it traditional outdoor games or modern version of indoor games – Play Station, Xbox etc. – children tend to enjoy and educate more than adults do. However, if they are allowed a free run without a necessary restrain, the results could be counter-productive for both the kids and their parents. This is where a positive parenting comes into the picture. It is an effective way which ensures that your children are also learning while having fun without being carried away too far.

Today, with the advent of advance computing technology, the World Wide Web is replete with thousands of online games and it is increasingly becoming difficult for you to keep a tab on your kids’ choices. These games have understandably become a normal part of modern childhood. However, if children are guided and taught properly by their parents, these video games could pretty well turn out to be a potent tool for developing certain life skills in them. For example, there is a wide range of age specific games that help your children use their creativity, be innovative, achieve goals, develop a sense of responsibility, and gather a lot of important information. FULL POST

Posted 5/21/17 at 7:48 AM | George Smith

2 Ways Homeschooling Will Give Your Kids an Advantage

homeschooling

If you’ve wondered why many parents have chosen to homeschool their kids, you might be surprised to learn there’s more to it than just being able to control the content of the curriculum. Deciding to homeschool can provide you as a parent with the ability to design a more faith-centered curriculum, obviously, but you can also enjoy greater freedom in the ways you may educate your kids.

For example, physical education in the public schools hasn’t changed much in decades. Students get lined up to run laps and try various sports like basketball, football, and track and field.

Everyone typically has to do whatever’s on the agenda for the day, and anyone who doesn’t gets marked down. What if your child doesn’t like to run but loves skateboarding? When you homeschool, your son or daughter’s love for skateboarding can count as physical education.

Homeschooling was the original version of education

Although homeschooling seems foreign to many Americans today, public schools didn’t always exist. Homeschooling was the way kids got their education in the past. FULL POST

Posted 3/20/17 at 8:14 AM | George Smith

Become a Parenting Genius Using Stress-Relieving Decorating Tips

When your child prays at night it relaxes their mind and helps them sleep. It's much needed these days because we're living through challenging times. More and more kids are suffering from anxiety and depression, which has become worse over the years.

If you want to help them out you can design their bedroom in a way that promotes calmness. After a while their quality of life will improve. In order to accomplish your goal you'll need some effective decorating tips, so let's look at some now.

Concentrate On Their Bed

The first thing you should concentrate on is the bed if you want your child to be extremely comfortable. It can be broken down into a few categories, but a nice mattress is at the top of the list.

Bedding is important too, so make sure your child isn't irritated by it when they're in bed. Lastly, you should make sure they have comfy pillows. All three of these things should be taken into consideration.

The Color Of The Walls

People will tell you certain colors evoke different emotions when you look at them, which has been proven true on many occasions. It still doesn't mean you should pick them when deciding what color you want the room to be. FULL POST

Posted 3/15/17 at 8:10 PM | Marianne Kurtz

Can You Believe It? It Might Actually Be Empty Nest!

I love this show called the talk with Sharon Osborne I really just love her, an amazing woman. Anyway, she was talking on there a few weeks ago with a guest and they discussed empty nest and how it took her 2 years and it felt like death.

I just sat there and was like WHAT? That is what I said, that my son leaving felt like death. I literally had to keep walking around my house and saying “He is not dead!” which just is crazy…he was just in boot camp. I mean not just, that is crazy tough when you CAN’T contact someone and it’s your 20 year old son and let’s not talk about the days when they couldn’t do that! I don’t think I would’ve survived. This was torture, I literally felt like my whole world ended! What was I going to do now? My whole world has been my sons and I forgot to think beyond that. Actually, I thought beyond that but, only because my call always seemed to forever include my sons and I couldn’t understand what went so wrong. FULL POST

Posted 3/14/17 at 7:16 AM | Lisiana Carter

Here are the 8 Fashion Trends to Look Forward to in 2017

"Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak,” that is according to celebrity fashion stylist, Rachel Zoe. The way you put together yourself from the head, down to your toes, indeed, is how you make an impression, most especially in this growing culture of “Hi. Goodbye.”

Bring it on, Spring.
Spring, unlike the cold and gloomy months of winter, is a time to welcome the sunshine and therefore a great time to go see, sit, have a tea and chat with the lovely people in your life. When you do bask in the sun, style it up in the best fashion trends for spring. Here are our top picks:

Metallic florals and pastels.
Hands up to the extraordinary showing from Elie Saab. She lined up a delicious combination of mini dresses and sheer, long gowns in metallic pastel and glitter frosted fabrics. Who would have thought that glamor, star quality (the clothes literally have stars on them) and comfort can all be rolled into one —and, for the warm months of spring. The collection also showed what look like Kimono inspired dresses with neckline cuts running across the chest, all the way to the waist level. We also loved the glittery ball caps, very clever! FULL POST

Posted 2/23/17 at 11:23 AM | Brian Wallace

Frivolous Student Loan Spending

Preventing teenagers fro taking on a lifelong debt load is job #1 when it comes from preparing your kids for college. Learn more about student loan spending from this infographic!

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