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Showing posts from 2011

Just The Way You Are - What We Owe Our Children

               Would you ever dream of allowing your son or daughter to receive an education that is less adequate then his or her peers? Would you deny your child something that would allow them to be successful now or as adults? The answers to these questions are obvious to anyone, but all too often it happens to children who have a disability without their parents ever having any intentions of letting it take place.                 Often times when parents learn of a child’s disability, especially in the case of mental impairments that don’t present themselves until later into adolescence, they are warned to “be realistic” when it comes to the child’s abilities and future potential. This precept is, however, very flawed. If you as a parent don’t have big dreams for your child, who will? Children thrive on the encouragement and support of their parents, so you are in a prime position to influence your child to be the very best and to succeed. If you have low expectations for your

Just The Way You Are - Special Education - IDEA

               Our kids have to go to school, and as parents we want them to do well, learn all that they can, and have some fun while they’re at it. When dealing with kids who have a disability, a normal classroom setting may not be appropriate, however. This doesn’t mean, though, that they do not deserve an equal education. Tennessee follows the federal guidelines of a law known as IDEA, or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provides funding to states who follow its guidelines in educating children who have a disability. Its purpose is to ensure that everyone gets a “free appropriate public education.”                 The idea of IDEA (pun intended) is that each special child has a written plan in place that is specific to their needs and detailed to ensure that they get the best possible education. A student with a mental impairment will need something very from a student with an auditory impairment, so this law lays out a path for schools, teachers, and parents

Just The Way You Are - Disability Etiquette

             Quite often, I am approached in public about Christian. People ask questions and they want to know more about him, about his condition, and about his abilities. Sometimes when I get approached, people apologize for being intrusive, or they ask me if I mind them asking questions. And many times, when young children approach Christian, they ask questions that make their parents feel very uncomfortable! I have received many apologies from embarrassed parents. But honestly, I don’t mind.   Most adults who ask do so because they are concerned, because they see an innocent little baby, and I think they just want to know that he is ok. Once I tell them how healthy he is, and they see him smile, the questions turn into conversations about my amazing son! And children, well, they are just being kids! Curious, intrigued, and confused. One little girl, no older than three, saw Christian one day and walked right up to me and said “What happen?” I have done this plenty of times, so

Just The Way You Are - Caring for the Caregiver

             Hearing that your child has a disability is hard, but having to live day by day with a child or family member who has a disability is probably one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to do. It presents unique challenges, unwanted hardships, and daily frustrations. A caregiver, such as a parent, can get discouraged and tired when dealing with the struggles that come along with having a disabled family member. I can attest to the difficulty. I spent the first four months of my son’s life making 2 to 4 trips to Vanderbilt per week, have spent his whole life fighting the Social Security office to get him SSI, make weekly trips to physical therapy, and have watched him have major, life-threatening surgery on more than one occasion. This is definitely not what I expected or wanted when I found out that I would be a mother, and this is the case with anyone who has a family member with a disability. No one signs up for it, and yet, there they are, forced into a positio

Just The Way You Are - October 6, 2011 - Dealing with the Diagnosis

               I will never forget the message left on my phone the day my doctor found something wrong on my son’s ultrasound. He was “concerned” about the results. He called three times that Thursday, each time sounding a little more urgent, but never giving details. I didn’t get the messages until Saturday evening, and by Monday morning I was ringing his phone off the hook trying to get a hold of him. When I finally heard the news, I came unraveled. The next few months leading up to and including Christian’s birth were a rollercoaster of emotions. It was hands down the most challenging thing I have ever had to face and I can think of few things that would be harder. I am not alone in this experience, however. This experience happens more often than we’d like to hope. Dealing with the grief and other emotions that comes along with hearing your child’s diagnosis can be very challenging. So where do we turn for help? I have found a wonderful site that discusses how to deal with hav

Just The Way You Are – September 29, 2011 - People First Language

                 I was sitting in my Employment and Labor Law class a few weeks ago at Nashville School of Law when a guy that was close to my age stated, “My wife is an architect. One of the burs in her side when designing, say, a hospital, is that she has to design it so that a blind, deaf, and wheelchair ridden person can get around by themselves in it.”                 My jaw dropped. I glanced at the guy to my right, who happened to be in a wheel chair, to see his reaction, then I looked at my friend to my left and said, “How dare a blind, deaf, wheel chair ridden person need to find their way around a hospital!” As you can tell, I was upset by this comment. It was uncompassionate, bred from ignorance, and flat out rude. The guy to my right never even flinched at the remark, which puzzled me for a second, because it was all I could do to keep my composure. As I thought about it later, I wondered why he didn’t react, then it hit me. This probably isn’t the first time he’s heard

Just the Way You Are – September 6, 2011 - Toys R’ Us Differently Abled Toy Guide

                Some disabilities hinder children from playing in certain ways. For example, a child who can’t walk will not be able to play with a push and pull toy, at least not in the traditional way. A child who is deaf will get little pleasure from a toy whose main function involves music or noise. A blind child will not enjoy a toy such as a mirror. But one thing that disabilities do not do is stop children from playing. Despite any disability, children are still just children who learn by playing and exploring and a disabled child’s need to play is even more important to their development because of the propensity of the disability to slow or prevent their normal progress. When raising a child with a disability, it is a full time job to try to encourage the child to develop those skills that the disability might delay or prevent. Using the right toys is vital in that development. Although some examples as I have listed above are obvious to anyone, it can be hard to determine ex

Just The Way You Are - Tennessee Early Intervention Systems

            Anyone who has been involved in the world of disability for any significant amount of time knows about a program called Tennessee Early Intervention System.   For those of you who don’t, though, I’d like to share with you some information about a wonderful, state funded program that Tennessee offers to its special needs and developmentally delayed children ages birth to 3.             Tennessee Early Intervention System, also known as T.E.I.S., is an educational program that is offered free to special needs children and those at risk for a developmental delay.   Kathy Long, a Service Coordinator for T.E.I.S. describes it this way, “I want parents to know this is really a partnership where we all work together, parents and professionals, to meet the needs of their child.” It is completely voluntary, but in my opinion, it would be a disservice to any developmentally challenged child to keep them out of this program. T.E.I.S. works with a wide range of children, including th

Just The Way You Are - Introductory Article

Just The Way You Are                 Welcome to the first piece in a series of articles on special needs, disability, and the people whose lives it affects. My name is Lacey Buchanan and I want to thank you for taking the time to allow me to share with you something that is near and dear to my heart. If you enjoy it, please continue to follow this column, as I will submit articles often. If you ever have any ideas, questions, or concerns please e-mail me at                 I would like to start my first piece with an excerpt from a story. In a children’s book by Lisa Tawn Bergrenm , a curious baby polar bear asks her mother where she came from, which leads into an adorable discussion about her mother’s pregnancy. “Umm, Mama? I was wondering . . . Did you ever want a different baby? One like Samuel the seal or Fredrika the fox?” “Never,” Mama said. “Never, ever, ever. Your Papa and I wouldn’t trade you for the world.” “Why?” Little Cub asked. “Why? Because

Just The Way You Are

As Christian grew and I became more accustomed to raising a child, and raising a special child, I learned not only about the many joys that come with, but the pains as well. Many of those pains are unavoidable, such as watching Christian go through surgery. But many we encounter have been brought on by people who meant no harm, but didn't know how to approach us, what to say, or when to keep their mouth shut. At first it was stares that got us. We got ALOT of stares. The reason it bothered us so much I think is because we never even thought about or expected to get stared at! It was a shock to us the first time we went grocery shopping and we literally could not go down a single isle without getting glances. We realize that Christian looks very different, we are not naive, but we also didn't realize that people would actually whisper about us within earshot, or make it so obvious that they were staring that they would turn completely backwards while walking and walk into things

What pain really feels like

I thought I knew what pain was. I remember how nervous I was the morning we went to Vanderbilt to have Christian. I was so scared because I knew what could happen. I knew what the doctors had said. I knew that it was going to be hard. When Christian was born at 9:32am, I was so happy. I was scared, but relieved that he was OK. At 4 o'clock that afternoon I was finally able to make the 1/3 mile trek to see him in the NICU. When I saw him for the first time, I knew immediately that he was blind, although I wouldn't admit it for weeks. The first time I had ever laid eyes on my baby boy besides in the OR, and all I could see was that he was blind. And then, the pain grew. I would go to Wal-Mart, proud mama I was, with my baby in tow. And naive little me learned a hard lesson. As I would get groceries, I would notice people walking by my buggy and slowing down for a second. I was happy to show off my beautiful baby until I realized that these admirers were not smiling and cooing a

Team Christian Block Party and Car Show

Some wonderful friends of mine got an idea one day that they wanted to help me and Chris ou and raise some money for us, so they came up with the idea of a car show in Woodbury. After they got the square reserved for the day, everything started coming together. They decided to have t-shirts made to sell, and through donations, the shirts were completely paid for. They decided to have concessions, too and almost 100% of the food for the concessions was donated. Then came along some bands who volunteered to play at the event and someone who offered to loan us their sound equipment. And along with about a million other things, it all just fell into place. Channel 4 News even got whiff of the event and showed up at my house one day to talk to me about the event and broadcast it on their 5 o'clock news.  Here is the link to that story if anyone wants to see it! Here is the shirt that was sold at the benefit. On May 14th practically t