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Parent Programs at The Quad – 2011 Calendar

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Family Programs 2011-12

The Quad’s Monday Workshop Series

 

Kindergarten & Beyond: Navigating Turning 5  

Sarah Birnbaum, Monday September 19th 6-8 pm

The parent of a child with special needs, Sarah Birnbaum has amassed a wealth of knowledge in dealing with New York City’s unique subculture of therapists, agencies, schools, and governmental bodies. She turned her experience into a consultancy helping parents navigate the maze of services and educational options here. She guides parents to schools that can best support their children’s needs, gives advice on the application process, coaches them on working with their school districts, and helps them to become powerful advocates. But most importantly, she offers them support in coping with the complicated emotions that accompany the quest to educate an exceptional child. 

Developmental Milestones for ALL Ages
Anne Marie Albano, PhD. ABPP, Monday October 17th 6-8pm

Master Clinician, world expert on childhood anxiety and trusted advisor to The Quad Anne Marie Albano will discuss real world markers she is creating to gage a child’s progress towards independence and autonomy.   When should kids be independent enough to ride public transportation on their own? Have a cell phone? Do sleep-overs or sleep away camp? Interact with store clerks? Find out answers to these plus a whole lot more!

Preceded by The Quad Fall Open House 5-6pm

 

Dr. Anne Marie Albano is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University and Director of Columbia University’s Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. 

Meeting the Needs of your Gifted Child: All 8 Intelligences
Pat Sciortino, Ms. Ed, Monday November 14th 6-8 pm

The Quad’s very own gifted 2e expert and Educational Director, Pat Sciortino, will share her insights and strategies for parenting and educating a gifted child.  Ms. Sciortino, who has over 10 years experience working with gifted 2e learners at Bridge’s Academy in L.A., will outline best practices and settings for these very EXCEPTIONAL kids!

Raising a Sensory Smart Child

Lindsey Biel, MA OTR/L Monday December 12 6-8 pm

Lindsay Biel is a pediatric Occupational Therapist with a private practice in New York City. She works with children, teens, and young adults with sensory processing disorder, autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, learning challenges, and other issues. She is also the author of “Raising a Sensory Smart Child” that has long been the “bible” for children with sensory difficulties–those who struggle to process everyday sensations and exhibit unusual behaviors such as avoiding or seeking out touch, movement, sounds, and sights. In this talk, Ms. Biel will describe SPD and best practices to help those affected by it: from the right type of therapies to practical tips on parenting in a “sensory smart” way.

 

 

Monday Worshop: $30/per family

All programs are from 6-8 pm 

Childcare is available at ALL our parent programs

 

We look forward to seeing you all in the Fall!

 

Kimberly Busi, Founder and Executive Director 

Pat Sciortino, Educational Director 

Emily Andrews, Preschool Director

Sarah Clay, Associate Director 

The Quad Manhattan

Another Post About Balloons – What Would You Do?

July 13, 2011 3 comments

After reading this post make sure that you weigh in on the newest poll, posted in the right sidebar. I’m really curious about this one because even though I feel okay about how we handled it, I thought through several different scenarios and still feel like there was more than one “right answer” here.

Last weekend at the Natural History Museum sprinkler meetup we were busy having a good time splashing about when other people showed up. The nerve. Not just other people, but other people with balloons. Seriously, can we escape the freaking balloons for one day? One woman, whom I shall refer to from here on out as The Ringleader, brought a pump-your-own-and-let-it-squeal-through-the-air-deflating balloon kit, and was sharing it with any interested child. Including my 2 yr old. At first James didn’t notice – I thought, maybe this will be okay; these balloons look a little different and they are sailing through the sky, no chance of popping. Then one popped.

All hell broke loose, James started screaming and ran out of the sprinkler area. I corralled him onto our towel and offered him books, snacks, cash, but all he wanted was for me to “tell that lady to put her balloons away!” Though he was 20-30 feet away from the action, he was impossible to calm down and continued screaming loudly with his hands over his ears. Damn, people were starting to stare at us. I started having Central Park Zoo flashbacks (see Balloon Vendors post). I offered for James to sit on a nearby bench, about 20 feet further away, and read a book. He tearfully complied but another %$#@ing balloon popped and he went crazy on the bench, still perfectly audible to the growing crowd of curious onlookers.

At this point my 2 yr old daughter raced down from the sprinkler area with her hands over her ears to comfort James. Watching them both “sit out” on the bench with their hands over their ears, one voluntarily and one empathetically, I felt like I should be doing something. I watch The Ringleader gleefully leading children around like the Pied Piper. I said irritably to my husband, “What is she thinking bringing balloons to the sprinklers? Couldn’t she be a little considerate of other people’s situations?,” to which he said something about balloons outside and it being a free country and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t have time for reason – my kids were missing out on sprinkler time! We were having a meetup for special needs children, for crying out loud! Come to think of it, where were all of the other balloon phobes?

I thought about explaining our situation to The Ringleader and asking her to put the balloon pump away for a bit. Though many other parents were openly staring at my blubbering 10 yr old, she had not so much as glanced in our direction – too focused on her balloon magic, I guess. But then I looked at the crowd of excited children she had racing around behind her and I felt my indignation deflate (pardon the pun). My husband hustled James over to another bench, about 50 feet further away and out of sight of the balloons. I mean, why should everyone else’s fun be ruined so that James could play in the sprinklers balloon-free, right?

Then I watched my 2 yr old chasing the balloons, her hands still clamped firmly over her ears in silent support of her brother. I could tell she was torn between sharing in the same carefree exhilaration as all of the other children and comforting her very upset brother, who was far, far away from the balloons.

All joking aside, this is not an easy thing to watch your toddler struggle with. In fact, it makes my heart ache a little that she is learning this kind of empathy at such a young age. I don’t want her to see balloons  and feel a sense of panic, anxiety, unhappiness, worry or tension. I don’t want her to step on a sheet of bubble wrap at home and be chastised as James runs into his room hysterical. At 2 years old she should be able to see Curious George floating in the air with 50 balloons and not think he is scared because the balloons might pop!

We are not “soft” on James’s phobias – just last week I was bragging about how many he was able to overcome on our beach vacation, with a little coaching (and some neat props!). But balloons, popping, potential popping, things that sound like popping – this phobia has only gotten worse over the years and there seems to be no stopping it. It’s right up there with blood pressure cuffs and taking the elevator alone. Does it affect our daily life? Not really. Did my 2 yr old accidentally pop a plastic bag today and send James into a panic for the rest of the afternoon, in which he hid under the covers and cried every time he heard a noise (a book dropping, broom handle hitting the wall, toys crashing into a box, door closing too loudly)? You betcha.

So I’m passing the buck this time. What would you do if it was your child at the sprinklers? I know, you’ll need to use your imagination in a big way. But seriously, I’d like your opinion. Vote for what you think is the best answer in the poll to your right, or check Other and leave your potential solution in the Comments section.

Taking A Special Needs Child on a Beach Vacation, Part 1: The Boat Shirt and Other “Necessary” Supplies

June 28, 2011 1 comment

Noise-canceling headphones and mp3 player

“Boat shirt” (not life jacket)

Medications!!

Plastic spoons and pudding for meds

Extra underwear

Plastic shopping bags

Garfield comic books

This is an excerpt from my not exactly typical beach vacation packing list. But then again, I’m not bringing your typical beach crowd. Sure, we have the towels, beach ball, swimsuits, sunscreen, even a beach tent on the list, but it’s the items above that could make or break the trip. We’d have to turn around without the medicine, and we won’t be able to go on a boat without James’s “boat shirt,” a special lightweight life jacket that in no way resembles a balloon. The headphones will come in handy if we happen upon any fireworks, even from a distance, and the Garfield comic books will be necessary if James is going to sleep by himself. The extra underwear speak for themselves. Don’t ask about the plastic shopping bags.

Let’s move on to the list of James’s phobias that have been taken into consideration while planning a trip to the beach:

Fireworks, or any popping noise in general

life jackets

balloons

getting his ears wet, or basically above the neck

amusement park rides

water with waves in it, like a wave pool or ocean

And we’re going to the beach. Over the holiday weekend. That’s plain crazy, you’re thinking. But it’s true – I have the plans, lists and insomnia to prove it.

I am feeling cautiously optimistic. My husband is downright excited – he turns into a big kid at the word “ocean” and hasn’t spent a full day outside in ages. Despite all of the obstacles mentioned above, we do have one thing going for us: James can easily spend the entire day in the sand. It is one of the places I am able to keep a less watchful eye on him, especially since there is NO fear of him wandering into the water, or even within 50 feet of it. His favorite thing is to lie on his side, kind of like a GQ model, and repeatedly pour sand from a bucket, shovel or his hand – James can spend many hours like this with very few sand toys.

But, not unlike TV, James is kind of a zombie in the sand. He isn’t able to build anything and doesn’t dig a very deep hole, though I think he would like to. So unless you are willing to actively play in the sand with him, after 2 hours it looks as though James has just taken a bath in the dirt. The surrounding sand, however, looks the same as it did when you got there.

I spent some time last weekend watching a lot of other kids at the beach nearby our apartment. They were having water gun fights, swinging on the rings, throwing a frisbee, building forts, playing volleyball. The picnic I made and our medium bag of sand toys seemed tame in comparison. In fact, I spent more time watching other kids take our toys than watching our kids use them.

But as is often the case with me, frustration becomes inspiration. In my very first post I bragged about the awesome vacations I plan for our family. This week should be no exception. In fact, because Ryan was working such intense hours for the last several months, planning this trip became my own “boat shirt.” Every time I would have a long day alone with the kids, I would sit by the computer with a glass of wine that evening and plan something fun we would do once Ryan was on vacation. On particularly late nights I would shop – we have an extra-large beach tent, Wonder Wheel beach cart, water shoes, mesh sand bags, and more activity books than I can count (Ryan worked late quite a bit recently).

I packed bags of sand toys, beach games, books, tents, nets, snacks, movies – anything to capitalize on our days at the beach. I reserved a private cabana at the oceanfront waterpark in case James is too nervous to go on any rides or wants to relax with a book while we splash around. I bought special noise-canceling headphones in case he gets anxious about screaming on the rides or fireworks over the holiday weekend. I got a lightweight life jacket and renamed it a “boat shirt.” That way James can put it on and actually get onto the boat we chartered for parasailing.

I know, parasailing might be a little over the top. But James and I watched a  bunch of videos on youtube and he thought it looked fun. Sold. I found a company that deals with physically challenged riders, who won’t charge us for James unless he decides to go up. Besides, we’ll also need the life jacket for whale and dolphin watching, and for the pontoon boat we rented later in the week.

Unlike the lists above, my goals for James this week are simple and specific (and even realistic!):

1. Dip foot into the ocean. Even a toe.

2. Go down one water slide, even a small kiddie slide.

3. Wear life jacket and board one water vessel.

4. Go back on the ferris wheel.

I’m sure that you are aware of the “post goldmine” you are reading right now. I promise to come back next week with a full report on how it all went, including pictures when possible. In the meantime, have a wonderful first week of summer vacation and I look forward to seeing/meeting many of you at our first meetup next week (see July Excursions and Adventures)!

Jersey Shore, here we come!

To be continued…

Another Day, Another Milestone

June 24, 2011 2 comments

So I have fallen behind on my posts this week. It’s week 2,374 in MK time (Multiple Kid time) that my husband is working late every night and things have been especially busy with the end of the school year approaching. You know how sometimes when there is just so much to get done and so little time to do it in you just don’t do anything at all? It’s like the deer-in-headlights indecision – “What the hell do I do now? Right, just stand here staring at the headlights blankly!” That’s kind of where I’ve been the last couple of days. That, and making dinners for James’s teachers, baking bread and pastries for the rest of the school staff, and traipsing all over Coney Island with my dad and three kids.

I don’t even have my packing list done for our vacation next week – now you can appreciate just how serious the situation is. But, I did want to take a moment to tell you about my trip to Coney Island because something amazing happened there that deserves recognition. I’ve been too wrapped up in the “now” to reflect on an “achievement of the decade” that James made yesterday.

We arrived at the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium to sing the national anthem with DMF after coming down early to visit the Coney Island boardwalk. “James went on the Wonder Wheel,” I said excitedly to the first DMF member I ran into. “It’s the first time he has ever stepped foot on a ferris wheel, and not for lack of trying.” “That’s great!” said the woman with a friendly smile. I repeated this announcement to no less than five people that evening, and everyone professed congratulations with the same polite enthusiasm. Nobody gasped in shock or exclaimed “that’s amazing!” or even gave James a huge high five.

It was an amazing milestone, achieved after 10 years of begging, bribing, cajoling, explaining, pleading, threatening and even tricking James did not work to get him in line for the ferris wheel. We couldn’t even buy tickets without him totally freaking out in a loud and public way, which drew stares and halted our passage to what I considered the epitome of a family ride. Last year I offered him any Wii game in the entire store if he would stand in line with me for the ferris wheel in the Times Square Toys R Us. He flat out refused. I upped it to any toy in the entire store. Still nothing.

So yesterday my dad bought tickets to the Wonder Wheel. I almost stopped him because I hated to think he was wasting the money. We all walked over to the enormous wheel (my 2 yr old practically floated over) and James said, “Can I play some arcade games after this?” Though I had an anxious pit in my stomach, I forced myself to be casual. “Yeah, I guess this ride is worth 2 arcade games, but only 2 because it is so slow.”

We stepped into a stationary car (versus the swinging option they have on the Wonder Wheel), my dad and James in the front and me and the babies in the back. We stepped into the car! Hooray! James asked, “Is the car going to drop? Is the ride going to go fast? Will the ride be slow? It’s just slow? Is it over? Can I play 2 games after this? Can we be done yet? Are we done after this time around?” and other such variations on a theme. It didn’t matter. He was riding the freaking ferris wheel. Amazing.

Let me clarify – I’m not being critical that nobody else, including James, was as excited as I was about this amazing, huge, terrific success. Seriously. How could anyone possibly feel what I was feeling as I experienced something for the first time that most families completely take for granted? The ferris wheel is not a big deal by any standard. In fact, some people (including my husband) don’t relish handing over $30 to send their family into rotation two puny times. But I do feel that 10 years of effort, tears, frustration, anxiety and full-blown hysteria coming to an end is at least worth a post.

I told James that since he “learned how to ride the ferris wheel” he’d be able to go on it again when we went to the beach and boardwalk for vacation next week. No big deal, right?