Thursday, July 3, 2008

First blog

So here I go, off into my first adventure as a blogger. I've been hanging out on a number of blogs for the past year or so, most of them informational, some of them glimpses into personal experirences willingly shared. So now it's my turn to add to the online universe. I don't know where this will go. Will it be resources and information? Will it be a forum for creative writing and self expression? Will it be an ongoing to-do list and celebration of our successes? Will it become something entirely different? I have to admit that the quality of the blogs I read on a regular basis is really high and I don't know if I can come close to matching it. But here goes...

Let's start with a little background. I have been teaching kids with severe and multiple disabilities for 14 (!!) years, most of that time in my current placement in a middle school in South Central Kansas near Wichita. My program serves kids from age 10-16 (sometimes older and sometimes younger) with low incidence disabilities in the severe-profound range. We focus on fundamental skills such as communication and motor skills as well as cognitive development, personal care, and vocational and community opportunities. I currently have 5 students on my ful-time caseload with a variety of disabilities including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, brain anomalies, seizures, and other health impairments. All are nonverbal and 4 are nonambulatory. Two qualify as deaf-blind and two others have significant vision impairments. They are a diverse group of kids who are a blast to work with. The constant challenge of meeting all their needs and creating opportunities for success is something I wouldn't change for anything. I can't imagine being in a different teaching position. I love the creativity and freedom my job gives me. Besides, it's just down right fun. It's awesome to have a job where I actually get paid to play!

I also work with an organization in the Wichita area that provides respite care services to families with children with disabilities. ROCKO (Respite Outreach Care for Kansans Organization) is desperately needed in our area. We currently serve approximately 100 families and are growing daily. I have been fortunate to be involved with the organization almost from the beginning and am among the core staff of dedicated professionals committed to its success. ROCKO gives me the opportunity to work with some awesome people and to stretch outside my comfort zone to work with kids with different skill sets and needs than those in my classroom. I have learned so much from working with ROCKO and know that those experiences have improved my abilities in my classroom.

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