What Makes a Home?

We all have to have a roof over our heads don’t we? Most of us are lucky that we have, but is it a house or a home?

A house provides shelter for us and our family but a home provides much more. Walking towards your house/home after working all day, is it an attractive prospect or is it just somewhere to get out of the rain and sit down? The reason I ask is that so often you get the wrong advice usually from people who benefit out of it.

I have recently moved to Swansea where there are some lovely little terraced cottages – my wife and I have bought one – with stone walls, a slated roof (someone was given bad advice and put tiles on ours!), chimneys, timber sash and casement windows, flagstone path, good quality timber door, etc., etc. But I see whole rows which have been covered in beige cement roughcast, whole streets of them, all the same.

Hardly any chimneys remain in some streets with uPVC windows and doors, concrete paths, totally devoid of their original character. A terrace near to us was stripped of its old cement render and the stonework exposed. I had high hopes of it being repointed in lime mortar and shining but, no, beige cement roughcast accompanied the uPVC windows and removal of the chimney stack so we now have a faceless roughcast box in its place.

Why does this happen?

I suppose that it’s partly an effort to modernise but does that mean that the original fabric should be forgotten or hidden as if it’s something to be ashamed of?

Original/traditional features like timber windows or chimneys are in poor condition. MAINTENANCE SAVES MONEY. It seems that very few of you can be bothered decorating your windows or doors and would rather lose that part of your homes history and character by replacing these troublesome features with plastic, which, I must add, also need replaced after about 10 years. The wooden windows you just got rid of probably lasted for the previous 100 or more… So, would it have been worth decorating or repairing them? Everything can be repaired. Chimneys may no longer be used. IF they are repaired correctly there is no reason they will give you any problems for decades or longer and it helps prevent your home from becoming just a house.

You are asking the wrong question of the wrong person. I have mentioned this before but, if you ask a double glazing salesman if you need windows – guess the answer. If you ask a builder if you need building work done, he’ll no doubt find some like removing your chimney or covering your stonework up with beige cement roughcast from the apparently never-ending supply.

The lack of importance of traditional/original features in the community. What sets out an historic town centre from a modern one, how do peoples feelings change towards them? Do you enjoy trips to an historic town with different shops and building styles or prefer 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s flat-roofed or concrete slab-fronted buildings with no soul? You probably are mixed but aesthetically, the craftsmanship of the old must win out.

The local authority has some responsibility for this by allowing or not preventing these changes. And it’s not just the aesthetic and historic value, these features have an intrinsic value and usefulness. Chimneys, even if there isn’t a useable fireplace, can provide ventilation. This is vital for human health, reduces condensation and the risk of some chest complaints, improves air quality and the movement of air in the chimney will help keep it dry.

Sash and casement windows are known as being draughty but this again is good for you and your home, maybe no so good for your heating bills though. Maybe you should expect to be wearing a jumper indoors in the winter and not flip-flops and shorts like my son used to. Old windows can be draught-proofed and double glazed units can be fitted to the same frames however double-glazing salesmen are NEVER going to offer you that option.

If you have a limited budget, as most of us have, it is cheaper to refurbish, repair, mend, decorate, fix, etc., than it is to replace, short and long-term. There is as much value and a great deal more social history in your terraced cottage than there is in the Colosseum or Buckingham Palace so, how about taking some free advice and please consider the consequences of removing something that helps make your house into a home. Or even calling for some advice or to discuss a survey.

How to Talk to Your Special Needs Child About Challenges

Children with special needs are prone to depression and irritability at a rate nearly triple that of children that don’t deal with unique challenges. It’s a fairly predictable occurrence: the child encounters a difficulty that isn’t hampering their peers, and they wonder if anyone has ever had to work this hard only to not succeed as well as their relatively effortless cohort. As their parent, of course you want to do something to help them — and you can.

Talk About Your Own Struggles

Talking to your special needs child about some of the most challenging moments you’ve faced in your life — obviously, mediated based on their maturity level comprehension — can do an extraordinary amount to help them feel less hopeless. Knowing that their primary role model (you, their parent) has struggled, worked through difficult situations, and found a way to succeed can help them understand that success is out there to be attained.

Be Specific, But Not Bogged-Down

When you sit down to talk about your own life, it’s important that you operate at a level of detail that makes it clear you’re definitely describing a real event. Don’t talk in the abstract, or in the passive voice, or in the third person — say “I did this,” not “this happened to someone.” Talk about the salient details of the problem and go into detail about your emotional state and your emotional processes. But don’t get so bogged down in detail that you lose the point of the story; tell them only the parts that are most necessary to help them comprehend the point.

Frame Every Story in a Positive Light

Don’t tell stories of times that a problem made you give up, but then things turned out OK anyway — you don’t want to encourage them to give up! Instead, choose stories where your struggles were difficult, but you actively overcame them in the end. Point out the lessons you learned, and how those lessons made you feel better about yourself and your situation.

Talk about Starting Early

If you didn’t overcome the challenges you’re discussing until later in life, tell them why you wish you had learned those lessons much earlier. Discuss with them how your life could have been better if you had understood a decade earlier that (for example) standing up for your own needs was likely to result in your needs getting met.

Empower Your Child

Through the entire discussion, remember that your goal is to empower your child. It’s good to acknowledge that your child’s struggles are real — they should openly acknowledge that fact as well — but it’s also good to acknowledge that the power to overcome those challenges is in their hands.

Problems Are Opportunities in Disguise

Ultimately, the “meta-lesson” behind these discussions is the same: that every challenge your child is currently facing is an opportunity for the child to learn skills that they would otherwise never had attained. One day, in all likelihood, they will look back at that opportunity with gratitude — and that is the sign of a truly empowered individual.

Meeting Expectations As an Autistic Employee

Meeting Expectations As an Autistic Employee

For thousands of autistic adults everyday is an opportunity to prove themselves. The testing fields are business organizations all across the nation with employees on the autism spectrum. For adults on the spectrum fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, the path is filled with obstacles. Consider the fact that so many autistic employees live with secondary medical conditions which require management and sometimes therapy. Further, those conditions may cause side effects such as pain and difficulty focusing as a result of medications. Living with the constant challenge of managing a permanent medical condition is difficult, by anyone’s definition, but life under these conditions with autism is hard. Yet, there are courageous 
women and men who stand gallantly each day in the face of tremendous odds, as they are determined to live independent lives expressing their abilities to the fullest. These are the people who bring their “A” game every day, even when it is apparent they are experiencing extraordinary distress. Rather than complain, they move forward with the determination and heart of a warrior in environments that can be hostile at times – even unforgiving and callous.

There is an even greater enemy, however, that autistic adults must combat daily. That foe is invisible, lurking, insidious, and unrelenting. Challenges are not limited to health or physical conditions, but the emotional burden of low expectations and neglect can take a mental toll. Despite the fact that thousands of autistics are now enrolled, in and graduating from, colleges and universities around the world – there remains a perception of low achievement for those diagnosed with autism, in some circles. Working in such an environment is a tremendous source of stress for many on the spectrum. After years of meeting deadlines and serving as a model employee, there is an underlying doubt related to autistic workers performing at a level that conforms to company standards. While this may not hold true for all industries, the prevalence of these attitudes seem unusually high in the technology and computer fields. The argument could be made that certain occupational areas attract larger numbers of autistic employees. Perhaps – but the pressure to dispel myths is real and prove the doubters wrong is a powerful motivating force.

Ultimately the battle comes down to overcoming self- doubt and negative perceptions we all struggle with from time to time. The key here is to not allow labels or the expectations of others define who we are. There is still so much we don’t know about autism, but the process is evolving with new discoveries and possibilities. For anyone diagnosed with autism, it is vital to get the support needed to maximize the talents and gifts within. That is a fundamental right as a human being and without each individual making her unique contribution to society, the world simply isn’t as good as it could be. Some practical steps for autistic employees to consider would include seeking help from a support group or a professional skilled in the area of workplace conflict resolution. In addition, most group situations, including work settings, are comprised of caring people who are in touch of their surroundings. Gravitate to them and they will reach out in return, thus cancelling out the minority who are entrenched in antiquated thinking and negativity. Regardless of what others may say or think, we are all responsible for our feelings of worthiness and how we interact with others around us. Autism is not a barrier to achievement and being a good citizen of the world – unless we allow it to become a personal detriment. Stay strong and keep it moving in the direction of your goals. Eventually the walls will come down and all resistance is gone.

Parent Educational Choices in Autism Assessment

Parent Educational Choices in Autism Assessment

Parents are often making choices about a young child’s educational future at the time of an autism assessment. Many educational angles are presented to parents during the autism assessment process. The following information includes five choices that parents make during the autism assessment.

Choice to Give Consent for Autism Testing

First of all, the parent has a choice as to whether or not to give permission or consent for a team to conduct an autism or early childhood educational assessment. Once the information is explained to parents, some parents make the choice to opt out or not have the child tested in the assessment process. However, many parents gladly accept this opportunity to learn more about their child’s skills and abilities as well as letting professionals give their opinions related to autism characteristics.

Choice to Agree or Disagree with Autism Results

Second, parents have a choice to agree or disagree with the results and recommendations of the autism eligibility meeting and team. Some parents are right on board with the results of the multidisciplinary team assessment, while other parents don’t see their children in the same way. It is not uncommon for parents to say that he or she ‘does not act the same way at home as he or she behaved in the assessment.’ At other times, the educational team may have different ideas than a doctor or early childhood intervention specialist so parents must make a choice in how they review the results of the assessment. There are times when parents disagree with the eligibility results, but still agree to have the child put in a special education program.

Choice to Complete Part of the Educational Assessment & Program

Third, some parents complete an autism or early childhood assessment and complete only the eligibility portion of the assessment. However, after the results are presented some of these parents will make the choice not to complete the Individual Educational Program from the local school district. Perhaps, the child is doing well in another program or with behavior therapy so the parent opts out of accepting a structured educational program in the school district.

Choice of Placement Options

Fourth, parents have choices to discuss placement options for the child with autism. Some children need more structured programs with intensive interventions, while other children need less support and can function in regular education programs with limited special education support and consultation.

Choice of Placement Changes

Finally, parents have a choice to work with special education staff to consider autism placement changes. If a special education program is not meeting the child’s needs then the type of program selected for the child may need to be modified. Parents have the option to ask the school to reconvene and have another meeting to discuss trying an optional educational program on a temporary or part time basis to see if the child with autism can function and adapt in the new educational situation. Most importantly, parents are making significant educational choices to help young children with autism. Parent input is extremely helpful and valuable in the child’s autism assessment and educational planning process.

How Outdoor Play Is Beneficial for Special Kids

How Outdoor Play Is Beneficial for Special Kids

Are you worried about your special child and fear he might lack behind other kids in learning? Special children have special needs because they are different than others. These children face problems in communication skills, social interaction, and cognitive learning due to the deficiencies they have. Despite lacking some obvious skills, they can benefit from outdoor activities up to a great extent. Apart from providing physical benefits, playing outdoors is absolutely beneficial for improving social and mental skills in special children. In this post, I will be talking about physical, mental, and social benefits, separately and respectively.

Physical Benefits

The most obvious benefit kids get when they step outdoors to play is an intake of Vitamin D from the sunlight. A number of researchers have shown how important it is for kids to expose themselves to sunlight for a few minutes every day. What is more, playing outdoors enhances motor and balancing skills and also boosts muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination. Moreover, playing also enhances cardiovascular health, which, in turn, increases life expectancy.

Mental Benefits

Special children have a great inferiority complex. However, playing outdoors helps in improving their self-esteem by overcoming obstacles and meeting challenges. Even setting minor challenges help in boosting their confidence as they feel pride in accomplishing something they thought they couldn’t do. Moreover, it enhances their problem-solving skills as completing a task involves a lot of issues that have to be resolved. What is more, special children suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression more than normal kids, and the outdoor playtime helps in overcoming such psychological problems.

Social Skills

Kids with special needs suffer the most from an inability to interact effectively with others. Since playing outdoors is all about teamwork, it provides them with an opportunity to make new friends and interact with them. They share their ideas and listen to others, deal with conflicts that arise during playing and work in a group to meet their goals. They do all this in a low-stress environment and have fun doing so. As a result, they are able to maintain a healthy relationship with their peers due to the improvement of self-confidence, resiliency, and self-advocacy. The process of overcoming challenges in a group helps a great deal in boosting social skills.

Where to Take Kids for Playing Outdoors?

Now, the question is where should you take your kids to play? To be honest, it could be anywhere at all, but wherever you take them, make sure it’s safe enough for playing. There are different types of playground structures that look amazing apparently but aren’t as safe for outdoor play as they should be. Therefore, first inspect the playground you are taking your kids to. Since they are special, they need extra care. There are some playgrounds that offer an exclusive play area for such children. If you can find such a playground nearby, then it would be beneficial to take them there. If you can’t, then do not take a risk and make your home garden their playground and gather neighborhood kids to play with them.

Creative Recreational Systems, Inc. manufactures and distributes Commercial Playground Equipment for both residential and recreational areas. In addition, the company deals in equipment installation, playground part replacement, and project design consultation, and Foam Padding For Playground installation. Since 1972, the company has been successfully delivering high-quality recreational playground equipment across America with 100% customer satisfaction.