Friday, February 10, 2012

How or Why The Poor Are Happy: A View

"The happiest people aren't the ones who have everything, they're the ones who make the best out of everything they have." Shared by my friend Niki.
So what makes life good for any person? Laughter, love, and the everyday pleasures make the world better no matter what coins are in the bank. But it is hard for anyone to find happy when they are busy making ends meet, landing the next big deal, or dodging what ever scandal is on the horizon. Again, there are universal worries that have nothing really to do with money.
Life is complicated for everyone that makes it complicated. Some things we can not control. We have no way of avoiding the line at the store, the paperwork involved with life and death, and the job that moved out of state. We can not control the weather or the tide but we can control if we bring an umbrella or get off the beach before the tide comes in. 
We may not be able to control everything but we can control how we deal with it. Life is life. It has ups and downs and turn-a-rounds. Some times life goes easy and sometimes it acts like it has some serious issues, but it always comes down to how we handle it.
The working class has it a little harder to find the reason to smile when they are struggling. It is a simple fact of life. They still smile. It is actually the reason life is worth fighting for. And for most of them, it is simple things that will do it for them.
Kids are often a reason to smile. Pride in a job well done helps lighten the load. Weddings, birthdays, Sunday church, funerals, friends and family all bring reasons to touch base with the basic easy love of life. Simple quiet moments when the worries sink down like the setting sun aren't often but are golden.
Happiness isn't something we buy like a DVD player. Yeah, money is a bonus. It can make it easier to feel free and light, but it doesn't make a person truly happy. It is simple, simple moments that add up to a deep down contentment with the life we have and doing our best to find balance. 
I hear so many people talk about how great it is to rich and how not great it is to be poor. They're right to a point but so not right on the other hand. Yeah, it is very tough to get by some days and really easy others - for rich and poor a like. Honestly though, the poor appreciate the good in a way the rich may not be able to because it is harder to grab.
I don't care what you have in your bank or what you need to do every day, you need to find what ever gets you to that place where life is enough to bring you peace, love, and happiness. You need moments that make you smile... whatever ways you find. 
I wish you all you need and most of what you want.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Odd Things Special Needs Parents Encounter #1

♥ My tears cleanse the wounds I carry but your tears cause my heart to break. My smiles come from your laughter. My pride comes from seeing you stand back up after you fall. My direction is which ever way helps you become all that you can be. I am MOM. ♥
- Trying to explain an 8 year old with the mental age of a 4-5 year old why they can't ride in the cool kid car cart at the store. They really don't understand age limited toys and attractions.
- Trying to explain the things their bodies are going through, long before their mind is ready to deal with it.
- Pain they go through that rips their parents hearts, but the kids still find really stupid things to laugh at, like cartoon fart jokes.
- People who think that you are 1. babying  2. spoiling 3. exaggerating or 4. making stuff up. Really. They are out there and they tend to open their mouth and tell you what they think you are doing to screw things up.
- Random honesty from children that will have you crying... either from laughter or hurt feelings.
- Doctors and therapist who think they know it all about your kid, but don't. They also will contradict each other over the same thing. You should take them at their word but they won't take you at yours.
- Moments when the child seems like an insane alien transplant from some far off planet in the fourth dimension countered by moments when the child seems to be off the chart amazing.
- An odd sensation of never knowing if one should laugh, cry, scream, lecture, rant, chat, refer, or just sit quietly and watch the world go around.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Review: The Puzzling Piece

*will be updated as I move through the Challenge*

I have tried to sign Rowan up for several charity type sites that state that they help special needs children get iPads. Some have mixed reviews, poor communication, or a way too long waiting list. I'm sure there are great ones out there, I just haven't found them in the last 4 months. If you know of any, please include them in the comments below because I know that I am not the only one with a need.

Before that, I tried insurance and state run special needs funds. They are at best, under funded and at worst, stupid. Let me explain the stupid part. An iPad runs about $600, give or take depending on make and model. It has many Apps to help kids, people. In Rowan's case it will help in just about every area of life, from speech (Touch Chat) to life skills to hand and eye coordination. It will help his mind, body, and behavior. The traditional communication device runs upward of $1,000 (and more) and does communication - period. It would help Rowan to a point. It would help with communication and that would make him less frustrated so his behavior may change. Insurance will not cover the cheaper, more helpful item. Stupid.

When charities and insurance failed I got to thinking and searching the internet. I was looking for some way to raise funds that left people who gave a sense that they could trust that the money was going exactly where they wanted it to go. I asked my son's therapist and she suggested The Puzzling Piece.

Their Story:

It all started with trying to help the school that was helping their child become more than Autism. Mrs.Winters is raising two sons, the oldest was diagnosed with Autism at age 3. She and her husband started with just one, hand blown, glass puzzle piece to use in an effort to raise funds for their son's school and awareness of an ever increasing condition. Boy, has their efforts paid off and grown. 

They give their proceeds to several charities as well as helping families directly.  For more go to a news story Here

How They Help:

They raise money for different Autism charities through selling their product on-line and at events around the country including the Autism Speaks Walks. They donate that money directly. They also have a fund raiser program that people and organizations can do for orders over 25 items. The products are deeply discounted and the organization keeps the difference. And then there is the iPad Challenge that allows parents, teachers and other special needs caregivers to sell 60 special items to "win" an iPad. And as a special touch that I really like, for every 12 sold after the first 60, the challenger is awarded a $100 iTunes gift card that can be used to buy applications.

The Process:

I went to the website and followed the directions by emailing Mrs. Winters. I received a wonderful welcome email. It contained a video with the information and tips on how to make a go of things. It offered a couple of print/sharable items and videos. I then shared my story in a blog that you can read Here which wasn't a suggestion. I printed out a flyer to share with others. I made posts to social networking sites. Now I wait. I will update this section (and the following ones) as I move along in the process. 

People who see my information go to the website, finds the tab marked iPad Challenge pieces, and places an order. They put the full name of the challenger on the form where indicated. They get their pieces and the challenger gets a point toward 60.

The Products And Shipping:

My girls have a birthday coming up so I bought them each an item as well as one for Rowan. Quick Note: Make sure you read the descriptions because some items do not come with the chains unless you pay more.

We ordered: The Necklace (a blue puzzle piece with silver shatter paint), The Key Chain (a heavy puzzle piece on a strong chain), Smiling Sam (a smile on a chain), and The Heart Of Gold (is what it sounds like with out the gold part)

Ordering, payment, and shipping was easy through PayPal and we received our order in good time.

The items are actually bigger and heavier then they look in the pictures except Sam. The girls loved theirs, and all seem to be well made and strong. I think it is worth the cost. Remember you are not just buying the product but also the portion of the iPad.


-I love that the "burden" doesn't fall on any one person. Your family and friends can all do as little or as much as they can. There is even a little side bit that says that even if someone doesn't want to buy a piece they can still donate. Every $20 donated in the challenger's name is a point even if no jewelry is bought.

Update from Mrs. Winters: "One thing (we do is) when people send me 20 dollars for a donation, I like to donate a piece to someone!"

-I also like that people know that they are giving money to get exactly what Rowan needs. They know what he is working toward and that there is a third party making sure their money is going for it.

-People like getting something they can hold, remember someone by, or to give someone and this program rewards both the buyer and the challenger. They get something for their money and they get to help.

-The program is simple, straight forward and the communication is great. You get updates on how you are doing weekly. You only have to tell people, show them the products, and make sure you take care of any orders you get personally (say through checks).

-Anyone is allowed to use the program not just the autistic community or just parents. That means my not just autistic son can do it as well.

-I love that so much of the money raised goes to the families in one form or another. Major plus there.

-Visit their FaceBook page for even more pros in the form of friends, giveaways, and tips!


-I would do the flyers a little differently but I over came that by simply adding Rowan's name to the flyer as "Challenger" so people would know. I would also include a description of the items on the flyer because one (at least) of the pendants doesn't come with a chain though one can be bought for it for a little more.

-I am a little concerned about the people who go to the site and do not understand that only certain products help toward the challenge. It is confusing to some and even more so to the computer challenged (like Grandma Maggie)

Update from Mrs. Winter: "I also get orders from people that don't understand to add a challengers name when they place the order, so I reach out and ask if they made the purchase  to help someone in the iPad challenge. That way we get the correct points to the challenger."

-If you are a bit secluded, as some special needs parents are, then it may be hard for you to reach the goal. I may have a blog but even I am concerned that I don't have enough people in my circles to reach the goal. I have received help in some form or another from some of my friends in the past so it can be hard to ask for more. But I am hoping that they will share it around a bit and their friends will help a bit.

-I didn't realize how hard it is to get to 5 or 10, let alone to 60.

- There is a limited number of items that are included in the challenge and that may limit the sales. I'll let you know how that goes.

OK... Like I said, I will update this more as I go along. I think over all, that this program is a great one. I am really hoping that it works out because Rowan really needs the device and sooner than later. 

Keep coming back and don't forget to leave your advice, thoughts, and comments below.
Check out my story so you can help Rowan find his voice!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Helping Rowan Find His Voice!

(I didn't realize how hard it is to get to 5 or 10, let alone to 60.)

Child's Name: Rowan

Child's Age
: 4

Child's Disability: seizures, hypotonia, cp, chronic encephalopathy, severe apraxia, severe expressive language delay, moderate receptive language delay, 11 genetic abnormalities...  among other things.

Do you have specific Apps you are planning to use?
iReward, Touch Chat, My Virtual Playhouse (those are the ones he uses in Speech)

How do you think an iPad will change your child's life? 
His speech therapist says: "That Rowan may never gain the ability to use speech as his primary means of communication but having a personal iPad would give him the best chance to communicate at the level of his peers."

His neurologist says: "It would be highly motivating for him and will increase his ability to effectively communicate his wants, needs, and emotions with others." 

His mother says: He tries so hard to communicate but it is so frustrating for him and his family when we just can't understand. I know he has so much locked up inside that he could let out. He would be lighter and free to be more involved in the world. He would be able to learn better if he could show us what he already knows. There is so much help that an iPad contains. The reward program is a great way to help him see how well he's done and when we can be all done. I know there are other programs that would aid him in knowing what his day will contain, games to teach him things while we wait in the many waiting rooms we visit.

Why we are asking for YOUR help: Insurance is a funny thing. It will pay for an assistive device like THIS, that can cost thousands of dollars.  It only has one function. communication. The iPad has many functions for a fraction of the cost. In Rowan's case, his Speech therapist uses it to help his communication, his behavior, and to encourage his speech using description. Those go beyond the abilities of the traditional more costly devices. Insurance does not want to pay for the cheaper but more functional device.

At this time his family can not afford to meet this need on their own. With your help, we can give Rowan a voice for just a little bit out of several pockets.

Ways to help:
1. My therapist suggested the following way to earn an iPad2 with your help. Go to main page here and click on their products tab, then the tab for iPad challenge pieces. Or you can go directly to the right page for the challenge by clicking HERE.

***If you buy one of these pieces add Rowan Sandeen to the challenger line.***

Then share this with others. For the first 60 items from that page (only) Rowan will win an iPad2. For every 12 sold after that, Rowan will receive a $100 iTunes gift card to be used for the apps that he will use. 

You can read my review as we go through the challenge by clicking Here.

2. Hit the tip jar that is in the upper corner of the blog and put a note on your donation that it is for the iPad fund. 

3. Let me know if you know of another way to get Rowan what he needs. We have contacted several resources for help but the waiting lists are long because the iPads help so many children with so many different diagnoses. 

4. If you can't help yourself, PLEASE share the blog around to others who may be able to help.

****NOTE: I will be updating the number at the very top to count down to let you know how we are doing. Remember it starts at 60. I will also be sending the blog out at least once a week until we reach our goal, so I'm sorry in advance if you get sick of seeing it.****

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!