Thursday, August 12, 2010

Accommodations and Learning

Lately I find myself pursuing some hobbies that have always been interesting to me but that I had never found the time to indulge in the past.   I do find it more than a little ironic that I've chosen to pursue these hobbies now since my free time mostly consists of the hours between 10pm and 4am.  And while I absolutely love my sleep, I forgo a bit of it each evening to spend a little time with photography, sewing or digital media.  The time I take is the pretty much the only part of my day where I do something exclusively for me that recharges my batteries to take on the next day.  

This week I took an intro to sewing class and at the end of the class I mentioned to the instructors that I wanted to learn how to sew zippers so they showed me a lovely decorative pillow that incorporated a zipper into the design and will be made in an upcoming class.  Although this class seemed like a great fit at first glance, we realized that the class would focus on some techniques that my machine could not do and I told them I felt the decoration was a higher level skill than I could accomplish in the 3 hour class.  We discussed some options and within a matter of minutes decided that I would indeed be able to make a decorative pillow with a more modest decoration and that this pillow would include a zipper and only a few modifications to the techniques would be necessary for my machine and that this pillow would more than exceed my expectations.  That was easy.  

My experience with "customizing" the decorative pillow class made me think of Emma's upcoming education.  She will turn 3 in a matter of weeks and - while I want to focus on celebrating her third year - I have to admit that I approach this milestone with trepidation since it will end our early intervention experience and begin our journey in the education system.   

Emma will require a lot of accommodations when she starts school and I am pretty sure that the accommodation discussions will not be nearly as easy as I experienced with the sewing class.  Someone will have to make sure that Emma's cochlear implants stay on her head, that she spends time outside her wheelchair, that she gets a snack that not only is the texture and consistency that she can eat but also patiently fed to her by someone, that she makes use of the augmentative communication devices while we work on getting her to talk, that she gets ample time to interact and play with her classmates which will require someone to move and position her for these interactions.  

I know that Emma will love spending time with children her age in a school setting.  I also know that it will be hard to ensure that the diligence we have at home in meeting her accommodation needs are mimicked in school.  I'm sure the upcoming IEP discussions will be quite lengthy and that we will choose to have Emma attend school only a few hours a week rather than the full-time schedule the district discussed in our initial transition meeting.  Overall, though, I am hopeful that we will be able to reach a similar outcome for Emma as I did with my sewing class.  


Kristina is the mother of two charming daughters, Julia (4) and Emma (2), and wife to a wonderful man who puts up will all her wild ideas.  A former marketing executive, she finds her days at home to be full of life and laughter even though they are busier than she ever imagined.  Kristina started blogging to chronicle her family's journey that includes raising a child that has a profound hearing loss and cerebral palsy due to a congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) exposure.  Since learning of the CMV diagnosis she has worked to raise awareness on preventing CMV exposure during pregnancy.  An advocate for disability rights and inclusion education, Kristina will graduate from the national Partners in Policymaking program in September.  


  1. Kristina sheedy/WhiteAugust 12, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    Loved your first post. Hopefully there will be many more. We understand what you are experiencing these past few years with Emma, but you must also know that we are behind you 100%. You always put your heart and soul into all that you do. Keep up the good work.
    Mom and dad

  2. I love the analogy between the sewing class and accomodations for our kids. I hope Emma has a wonderful time at school.

  3. That gorgeous girl of yours is so impossible to resist, that if anything you'll have to ask people at her school to back off a little bit!
    So great to see a post from you here!

  4. Once again Kristina you inspire me. Great analogy. If you feel comfortable doing so it may be helpful if you hand out copies of this blog to Emma's IEP team. Just a thought.