Friday, June 26, 2009

Actually Happy? What Does It Take?

When people meet Sam, they usually say, "He's so happy!" and sometimes, "Is he always this happy?" Mostly parents of young children don't ask the second one. --Only people without kids or whose kids are older and have therefore experienced the merciful opium of time which blocks out memories of temper tantrums, etc., ask about always being happy. Often there is a tone of wonder when people talk about Sam's happiness.

Sam expects people to like him. After all, for the most part, he expects to like them. This expectation of friendliness and fun, creates the happiness which people see when they look at Sam. Expectation of happiness, in general, creates happiness. The opposite is also true.

The other day in my yoga class, one of my students, when asked how he was doing, replied that, as per usual, he was mediocre. The student who had greeted him with, "how are you doing?" said, "Well, I am sure you will feel better after class." The student's reply was along the lines of, "probably not." At the time, I didn't say anything. I simply thought about the people in my life who are and are not (to my perception) happy.

Many who are not have the expectation that somebody (the man, PG&E, the Republicans, their parents, the FBI, the New World Order, global warming, the devil, you name it) is trying to do them down.

Many who are happy notice and appreciate the little things (the birds, walking into town, their affectionate family members or pets, water, fresh air, delicious food, a good book) and allow themselves to enjoy them. Oh yes, they expect to enjoy their lives, their connections and focus on that. Just noticing.

Expect to hear more about this in class. See you on the mat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Being Different

Yesterday I had to have a talk with Sam about how it feels to be different.

There is a boy, Cadence, whom Sam has always admired for his charm, wildness and agility. Sam usually loves to hang out with him in the pool or at the park because the boy is full of fun and loud about it. Lately, when Sam sees Cadence, he turns in on himself and makes himself small. Sometimes he even wants to leave wherever we are if Cadence is there. I hasten to add that Cadence has never been anything but nice to Sam. He has not ever criticized or hurt Sam. Sam simply feels his difference.

I have seen this interaction with another child and her daddy. Tessa is fairly adventurous and her dad likes Sam. He often comes up to Sam to "pound it out" or get a high five. Sam likes him, and probably Tessa as well. Despite this liking, as soon as Tessa's dad says, "Sam, watch Tessa," and invites Tessa to do some acrobatic trick, Sam tries to leave. I say tries because if he is not in his walker or wearing his swimmies, he relies on me or another adult for locomotion.

In other instances, Sam has been on the brink of speaking and stopped himself from making a sound.

He has a great book by Todd Parr called, "It's OK to Be Different." Unfortunately, this book doesn't talk about how it feels to compare oneself and come up wanting. I suppose I will try to write a book about this for Sam, since nothing else is available. In the meanwhile, now that my heart is wrung out, I suppose I will hang it out to dry.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

That Workshop...Argh

Well. Preparing for my workshop on developing a personal yoga practise (why we do what we do in class) and teaching it were so entirely different that there might have been two different workshops.

In fact, there were at least two, many more if one counts all the workshops in my head and those which I prepared for. I devised this fairly esoteric workshop delving into the Yoga Sutras and Ayurveda. How I hoped to address this in two hours is anybody's mystery. As part of the workshop, I had worked out what poses addressed various doshas and ailments. Of course everybody knows their doshas, their environments' doshas, the doshas of their life stages and how all of these fall out of balance. We all do, right?

Also, there was the workshop about taking care of your body while recovering from illness or injury. Then I prepared for the workshop about breath practise or pranayama. And of course the workshop about meditation, diet and what to do at home. In two hours. Goddess. Gods. What was I thinking? Squishing all of this together into two hours was kind of crazy.

Obviously, next time I need to narrow my focus significantly or teach an ongoing class that is 2-3 hours long.

It was great seeing all the different levels of practitioners who wanted to deepen or re-enter their practise. I only wish I could go on longer or teach an ongoing workshop of this nature. Plus, I rediscovered one of my favorite quotes: "To the yogi, death is like a sauce that makes life savory." -Iyengar

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Yogini Vision (as opposed to television?)

Whew, I have to take a break from angsting over all those IEP issues. Today's post is about yoga, specifically teaching yoga.

It is so interesting to me to watch people (particularly women) shift from Tadasana (mountain pose, standing hands by one's sides) to standing with hands in Anjali Mudra (prayer pose at the heart).

Starting with Tadasana: Many of us stand with hips thrust forward, chest collapsed ala sullen, yet cool, teenager. Also popular, collapsing the solar plexus, center of the will. What does this body language say? 'Here I am, all sex, no heart.' Or all sex, no will ~both popular attitudes in today's world, certainly. In relation to the chakras, it pushes the earth, fire and water chakras to the fore. In relation to physiology, these stances make it very heard to breathe. Some of this is learned when we are kids, trying not to take up too much space or trying not to say what we really want for fear of being ridiculed or failing. I am not saying that all people with poor posture have these issues. Rather, I think that many of us once had these issues, held our bodies this way and developed a habit. Yoga can free us of this postural habit and the shallow breating that usually accompanies it. Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP, sure but where did that come from?) and Somatics tell us that once you hold your body differently, you hold your mind differently almost automatically.

Quite a lot of people do stand upright without collapsing their solar plexus or heart centers. Some of these people, once they pur their hands into Anjali Mudra or prayer pose, collapse their hearts and or solar plexus...almost as if the concept of praying rather than lifting the heart and spirit, causes it to sink. Or maybe, praying is like being good and that sinks one's heart--a concept that makes one question "good," eh. Ideally one's connection with Spirit, with Divinity should make one's heart soar and strenghten rather than weaken the will. Well, that is the Mighty Eye's vision, anyway.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

one step forward 2 steps back...

Bear in mind, Sam loves his school, likes all his teachers and therapists and is well treated there. We are grateful for all he is learning. And I ask you--with on ly 4 choices for communication which must be reprogrammed every time how can my son develop communication skills? So far as I know, no signing is encouraged at school. He is allowed four expressive statements from his talker (you try communicating much of anything like that, especially if you need help to ambulate) My son who needs help to do every little thing and wants to do more each day as he grows bored with previous accomplishments and old games(actually quite happy aobut that part) is stymied at every turn because of communication. and then the pictures for his 4 talker which I made (3 sheets that say approximagtely the same thing as I had to remake them 3 times) are kept at school.

Sam is actively discouraged from communication because the talker does not say what he wants. It is faster and easier for people around him to understand his grunts and whining so this behavior is rewarded, while other forms of communication are discouraged via boredom and frustration. This will not bee solved by sending them home more frequently or by having two sets. Sam needs a more adequate device.

I was told that once sam needs a more complicated device, he will get it. He needs one now: one that is easy to transport and has at least 8 choices. The way the 4 talker was chosen (I requested a device & proved via one that I cobbled together that he would use it regularly) was not a fair evaluation. Only one device of the augmentive specialist's choosing was given a trial while none of my suggestions were given a trial. I was repeatedly pressured to agree with this device. The device was purchased. Now he uses it, but it is inadequate for his needs. in order to progress, he needs a more complex, easily transportable device immediately. If the team does not feel this is true, he must be evaluated by an outside team (as I requested at a previous IEP--this was illegally denied.).

Funny, how interesting: I finally sent a note asking about three sheets I made for his 4 talker over the course of the past two weeks which were never sent home. I immediately received a call about a piece of his equipment that did not go back to school today. It has gone back to school every day this week, except today. hmm.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Because I dont have enough to do helping my physically disabled child with his functional issues, I seek out the need for intensive advocasy . NOT

The Update: Sam was on the waiting list for Tree of Life, the Montessori charter school. He was first. He got in. Nobody told me because word came down from one EG, special education director, that first we must have a meeting to be sure his needs could be met. Funny, but nobody called me to tell me any of this. Meanwhile, his current preschool teacher advised me to sign him up for the neighborhood school, "just in case." I told her that I could not go observe that school until I finished my college semester. She went out on medical leave for a month. I happened to call the charter school to see what was happening with the waiting list and discovered that he was in-- providing this meeting I had never heard of, but was supposed to receive a call about from the special ed office, went well.

I called the special ed office. No explanation. I leave a message and don't hear anything. Then I called a special ed advocate. I repeatedly call the special ed office. Then I had a phone call saying when Sam's teacher comes back, there will be a meeting. Then no meeting, no call, but, once his teacher returned, repeated urging to sign him up for the neighborhood school. Still no contact from the Special Ed office or the charter school. I go observe the other school. I tell them I want two years of kindergarten, which is automatic in the charter school. I am told this is absolutely not possible. No word on the charter school (where it will cost more to provide Sam with services, need I add). I tell his teacher that I very much want Sam in a two year kindergarten. Inquiry made on her part. Suddenly, one of the people who told me it couldn't happen AND (via his teacher, no actual communication to me that could be quoted) the special ed director says, yes it is possible, but not guaranteed. So now, with my deal breaker ostensible resolved, I agree to put him in the neighborhood school.

Now we prep for an IEP. I had previously agreed to a date, but when I tried to change it, this was (illegally, I believe) refused. Last week I sent the Ukiah Unified Special Education Director a letter requesting an assessment of Sam's behavior (not acting out, just preventing himself from learning and focusing). I have not heard back. I have sent this letter to all of the IEP attendees along with my write-up for the IEP, emphasizing Sam's need for a better communication device. When I go to this meeting, I go armed with the knowledge that, by law, Sam can be reassessed for communication by an outside source at my request AND at the district's expense. I am on fire.