Frumpfighter

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

CEDAR RAPIDS — After the Ellis Boulevard home they were renting flooded last June, Patty Blackwell and her family camped and stayed with relatives until they were able to move back.

This disruption in their routine took its toll on the family, especially on Blackwell’s 3-year-old daughter.

“She threw temper tantrums, was non-compliant,” said Blackwell, 46. “I let her walk all over me.”

Charts are kept for each child's progress on specific tasks.

Charts are kept for each child's progress on specific tasks.

At her wits’ end, Blackwell enrolled her daughter in the TIES program when it first became available in Eastern Iowa in October. TIES, Teaching Interventions to Empower and Strengthen Families, is a proactive parenting program for children under 6 with mild to severe behavior problems.

What makes the program unique, according to program coordinator Craig Meskimen, is that parents and children go through the program together.

Parents are taught eight strategies focusing on positive interaction with the child. The key is telling children what they are doing right rather than what they are doing wrong.

The eight strategies include:

  1. State expectations in advance.
  2. Catch your child being good.
  3. Limited reasonable choices.
  4. Say “when,” “then.”
  5. Plan ahead.
  6. Know what’s reasonable.
  7. Stay calm.
  8. Use neutral time.

Blackwell said her daughter is a success story of the program.

“Thank God for this place,” she said at a recent open house at the Resource Center Building on the St. Luke’s Hospital campus, 1026 A Ave. NE. 

Blackwell is in the “payback” phase of the program. Funded by a grant through Linn County Community Empowerment, the program is offered at no cost to parents. In return, parents who have completed the program with their children pay back by training new families.

Aaron Jarvis, 31, of Marion, also is a charter parent who is now in the payback program. He was referred to the program by Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

Skeptical at first, he now says he’s a firm believer in the program.

His daughter, now 4, experienced separation issues after her mother left when she was a baby. Her aggressive behavior escalated when she was 3.

“She would scream for two, three hours at a time,” Jarvis said.

He could see a difference in his daughter within three weeks of the program.

“She wanted attention and knew bad behavior worked,” he said.

But parents need to ignore the bad behavior, as long as it’s safe, he said.

“They can get the attention they want by being good.”

With his daughter’s behavior under control, things are less stressful at his house.

“Behavior problems with a child are the last thing you need with the flood and recession,” he said. “You want to be able to go out and have a good time.”

He believes in the program so much he plans to volunteer after his payback time is completed.

“It is so gratifying to see changes in other children,” he said.

He distributes fliers at preschool and day care to spread the word about the program.

The program originated in 1969 in Tennessee to treat children with Down syndrome and those on the autism spectrum. However, Meskimen said there is no minimum or maximum behavior for a child to qualify for the program.

Keith Pitts, 33, of Cedar Rapids, said 90 percent of the program is focused on changing the parent, not the child.

He and his wife, Emily, adopted three children from foster care, making the bond even more difficult from the onset.

His son was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Pitts wanted to try this program before medication.

“He’s an amazingly different kid,” he said.

Ignoring the bad behavior is difficult at first for both the parent and the child, he said.

The child needs to realize that “no matter how I act out, I’m not going to get attention unless I’m being good,” Pitts explained.

Parents need to be consistent with the program’s skills or the information will not be retained, he said.

Kenny and Kim Petersen check out the charts marking their son's progress at home.

Kenny and Kim Petersen check out the charts marking their son's progress at home.

Kim Petersen, 32, of Cedar Rapids, came to TIES “pulling my hair out” fighting with her husband, Kenny, about their son’s behavior problems.

“Now he’s done a 360,” she said of her son. “It’s not just us teaching him, he teaches us.”

Parents are encouraged to keep a tally of every time the child does something negative. Parents also are encouraged to be consistent with ignoring bad behavior and recognizing good behavior. 

Once the program is completed, the families take the strategies home with a written plan. Andrea Dorn, of the Abbe Center, said the home program is written in three phases. First, the TIES staff writes a home program for the parents, then the parents and staff write a program together. Finally, the parents write their own home program to fit their child’s needs.

Marian Wright Edelman has always been on a mission to prove doubters wrong. When she was growing up in the South in the ’40s and ’50s, everything around her said she wasn’t worthy as a black child, especially a black girl.

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman

“But I didn’t believe it and my parents didn’t let me believe it,” she said Thursday at the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

With her family’s support, she continued her education and graduated from Spelman College and Yale Law School. She was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and directed the NAACP Legal Defense Fund office in Jackson, Miss.

Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality for all, Edelman founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973. It has been her life’s goal to see all children are given a level playing field.

While the country has come a long way since the segregation of the ’50s and ’60s, there still too many children in poverty and uninsured.

Here are some facts provided by the Children’s Defense Fund’s Health Coverage for All Children Campaign:

  •  9 million children in America are uninsured. A child is born uninsured every 39 seconds.
  •  Currently, approximately two-thirds of the uninsured children are eligible for health coverage under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but are not enrolled; excessive enrollment barriers are often the cause.
  • In January 2009, Congress acted to expand CHIP and enroll more children in coverage. This legislation was necessary to prevent more children from losing health coverage in the economic downturn, but it still leaves 5 to 6 million children uninsured.
  • Children are subjected to the “lottery of geography” – whether they get coverage and what kind of benefits they may receive depends upon the state in which they leave.
  • Roughly 800,000 pregnant women are uninsured.
  • Approximately 28,000 children die each year in America before their first birthday – ranking the U.S. 25th among 30 industrialized countries.
  • Almost a quarter of 2-year-olds are not fully immunized.
  • The majority of uninsured children live in two-parent families:
  • Almost 90 percent have one parent who works.
  • Almost 90 percent are U.S. citizens.
  • Health insurance premiums for families have risen more than three times as fast as wages since 2001 at the same time that fewer employers are providing coverage for employees.

To reverse this trend, as well as the “cradle to prison pipeline” in our country, Edelman says every child and pregnant woman should be guaranteed comprehensive health and mental health coverage.

“It cost so much more to detain children than to provide mental health services,” she said. “America has the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest jailer. If we don’t think this has anything to do with us, we need to change our thinking.”

The country needs to invest money on prevention and early education to prevent money spent on incarceration, she said.

Edelman believes adults need to set an example for children, including instilling a sense of family, community and self.

“We don’t have a children problem, we have a profound adult problem,” she said.

Although poverty is a problem, “affluenza” is just as damaging to our youth, she said. “People have too much worth too little. Children learn from us.”

Edelman doesn’t comprehend how the government can’t support comprehensive health care, but can dish out $700 million to bail out failing banks. “We don’t have a money problem in this country, we have a values problem,” she said, prompting applause from those in the audience at the conference.  

Health care and prevention would be less expensive for taxpayers than treating a child in the welfare system. When poor children are hospitalized and possibly die from seemingly simple medical issues, such as a tooth abscess, the cost to taxpayers is about $250,000, she said.

She praises President Obama’s proposed budget which includes health care reform, early childhood development and tax credits for low-income families.

“This is the most sympathetic budget we’ve ever seen,” she said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with setting priorities.”

The reverse the facts and guarantee every child and pregnant woman has comprehensive health and mental health coverage, the Children’s Defense Fund believes any health care reform legislation must include these principles :

  • Coverage Must Be Affordable. Establish a national eligibility floor of 300 percent of the federal poverty level for all children and pregnant women, with an affordable buy-in based on a family’s income for those over that income level.
  • Benefits Must Be Comprehensive. Guarantee every child access to all medically necessary services to maximize a child’s health and development. 
  • The System Must Be Simple and Seamless. To ensure children get enrolled and stay enrolled, simplify the application and enrollment process to make it easy for all children to get covered and stay covered. This must include eliminating known barriers to enrollment and instituting automatic enrollment of eligible children.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.childrensdefense.org/healthychild

An open house for a proactive parenting program will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at the Resource Center on the second floor of St. Luke’s Hospital, 225 12 St. NE, Cedar Rapids.

According to program coordinator Craig Meskimen, Teaching Interventions to Empower and Strengthen families, or TIES, is a positive parenting program for children between 18 months and 6 years old. What makes the program unique, he said, is that parents and children go through the program together.

“Parents don’t just drop their kids off,” he said.

Parents are taught eight strategies focusing on positive interaction with the child. Parents need to tell their children what they are doing right rather than what they are doing wrong.

“If they are sitting and being quiet in church, tell them exactly what they are doing right,” Meskimen said.

All eight strategies will be taught at four stations during Thursday’s open house. The goal is to control disruptive behavior before it begins with positive reinforcement.  

TIES is the result of a partnership of the ABBE Center for Community Health, Grant Wood AEA, Healthy Linn Care Network, Mercy Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital and Linn County Community Empowerment.

It is offered at no cost to parents but has a payback system – as parents learn the program, they then teach other parents.  

Although the program was developed in 1969 in Tennessee to treat children with Down’s syndrome and those on the autism spectrum, Meskimen says there is no minimum or maximum behavior for a child to be involved.

Children in the program range from “whiny” to destructive, he said.

The program works with parents and children on an individual basis, depending on the child’s behavior. The behavior is targeted and the parents need to realize how to control that behavior, Meskimen said.

This TIES program is the only one in the Midwest. It has been available to Eastern Iowans since Oct. 13 and has received a positive reception, Meskimen said. The evening program is full with a waiting list and the daytime program has a few spots left.

“Parents are here because they want to be,” Meskimen said.

For more information, call (319) 558-4861.

If there is any other mother in the world who is beaming more than me tonight, I would like to meet her and swap stories. Here’s mine:

Tonight was the spring music program for the kindergarten classes at Tilford Elementary in the VintonShellsburg School District. My son, Sage, has been preparing for this concert for months. He sings the songs in the bathtub and plays them on his keyboards.

My son Sage, in the yellow shirt, having a great time at his music program.

My son Sage, in the yellow shirt, having a great time at his music program.

There’s never been any doubt he loves music and has a beautiful voice. However, Sage’s issues with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (on the autism spectrum) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have made any day care or school program an adventure. I’ve never been to a program where Sage stands still, doesn’t need an aide or even participates.

Until tonight.

I’ll admit I was a little (OK, a lot) worried about how Sage would react to standing on the risers for 45 minutes in front of an audience in the auditorium. He told me his music teacher has been instructing him to stand in place and not walk from riser to riser. Apparently, this has been a problem during rehearsal. I, too, have been telling him to sing pretty and stay on the riser.   

But I’ve been through this before. Sage will sing his songs all the time at home and constantly talk about the upcoming concert, only to be instantly distracted when the program begins. However, the moment he stood on the riser tonight, I knew it was different.

He stood there, straight and tall with his arms to his side, with a huge smile on his face. He sang the words to every song with unbridled joy. He did the moves and danced at the right time with his classmates. And he managed to bring tears to his Mommy’s eyes. I, too, was smiling through the whole show. I wasn’t my usual tense self hoping for the program to end before Sage ran off.

No, I was a proud Mommy, thrilled to see my son focus enough to enjoy himself doing the things he loves the most – singing and dancing. I used to be wistful during children’s programs at church and school, wondering if my child would ever be able to participate. Now, I can’t until the next one.

Thanks, Toots. You’ve brightened by day. And my life.

Gazette Communication’s Information Content Conductor Steve Buttry (in short, my boss) posed a question at the end of his March 23 column regarding the Linn Area Reads program.  This year’s program features “Tallgrass” by Sandra Dallas and Harper Lee’s classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which delves into the delicate issue of racism in America. Steve asked readers what issues a modern-day Harper Lee should address today.

Longtime Cedar Rapids resident and Gazette reader Ray Buck e-mailed Steve of a possible Harper Lee in our midst today.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Ray wrote: “Cynthia Lord and she has written a lovely children’s book, Rules. It is a novel that looks at feeling different yet finding acceptance in today’s crazy, demanding world. You mentioned both of your books were told through the eyes of a young girl. Rules is a story told by a 12 year old girl with an autistic younger brother. About a snooty new neighbor and a young man, ‘handicapped’ with no voice.”

Steve forwarded me Ray’s e-mail because I often write about my son, Sage, who is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD as well. Ray is the grandfather of an autistic child, Jack.

What struck me most about Ray was his willingness to learn about the disorder that affects approximately 1 in 150 children. Autism is a difficult disorder to understand and, sometimes, to accept. It affects an individual’s ability to socialize, make transitions and in extreme cases, function. There are outbursts, tantrums, obsessions, inappropriate comments, incessant talking, and, sometimes, no talking at all.

It is instinctive to think these children are “bad” and their parents are not disciplining them enough. It can be especially difficult for grandparents and others  in Ray’s generation (he’s 68)  to understand these children. But Ray and his wife, Karren, are making every effort to understand their grandson.

When the Bucks’ grandson was diagnosed with autism, their son Brad and his wife Traci involved them with the process.

Ray wrote me in an e-mail: “I don’t recall we had a difficult time understanding or accepting his diagnosis because his parents included us in everything, right from the start. What they were feeling, what they were doing to help Jack.”

autism-ribbon2April is Autism Awareness Month and I hope more and more people take on Ray and Karren’s attitude of understanding and acceptance.

The Bucks were kind enough to drop off a copy of “Rules” for me at the office. I finished reading it last night and agree that it teaches a valuable lesson and should be read  by many, especially young students.

“Rules” focuses on a 12-year-old girl, Catherine, who is torn between taking care of her younger autistic brother and making friends with the new hip girl next door. To make things more complicated, she develops a friendship with a non-verbal boy in a wheelchair while going to her brother’s occupational therapy appointments.

At that age, there is a need to impress peers , and having your “different” brother tagging along and acknowledging your handicapped friend to the “cool kids” just doesn’t fit the mold.

I won’t tell you the ending, but I think you’ll be pleased with Catherine’s maturity.

I have set up an Autism Awareness Month page on the Frumpfighter blog. I invite anyone affected by autism to share their story. Please e-mail me at angie.holmes@gazcomm.com or ajh1109@mchsi.com

Today was as heartbreaking as any I’ve had in the 6 1/2 years I’ve been a parent. My son, Sage, has had his share of doctor’s appointments, therapy and difficult moments in the journey of being autistic and recently diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety.

He does have awkward social skills and tends to run from one place to another so quickly, you have to wonder what is going on that brilliant, yet busy, mind of his. But he is a sweetheart and loves all people without prejudice.

This morning when I saw his little neighbor friend outside, I told him to go out and play with him. After a long winter of being cooped up in the house, he was excited to see his friend again. Last fall the boy, who is probably 4 or 5 years old, and Sage were the best of buds.

But over the winter, the boy changed and Sage remained the same. His little friend is now buds with his older brother and his friend, who just last fall ignored him. Now it seems the threesome is a little too cool to play with Sage. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Sage can be difficult to play with as he tends to be in his own world sometimes.

But that does not make him devoid of feelings and the need for friendship. Each time Sage approached the boys today, they told him to go away. Even his best bud from last fall. Happy-go-lucky as he is, Sage went and rode his bike in the neighbor’s driveway.

I’m sure I am taking his rejection much worse than he is. I know this type of behavior is part of growing up, whether you are autistic or not, but I am worried that someday his cheerful spirit will be crushed. While the other boys have obviously changed, I hope Sage will not.

Here is a column my husband wrote about what is “normal” after he spoke to a class about Sage: http://watchingwheels.wordpress.com/

This week I had the pleasure of meeting Adriana Boettcher of Mount Vernon. I interviewed the 35-year-old single mother of two because she was named the Newspaper Association  of America’s adult Newspaper Carrier of the Year.

Adriana Boettcher

Adriana Boettcher

This is a national award and a certainly a great honor. Adriana is proud of the award but still seems a little bewildered that such a fuss was made over doing something she says anybody would have done in the same situation.

While on her early morning route in Mount Vernon, Adriana came across two elderly people in distress during winter 2007. These were separate occasions happening within a month of each other. She called 9-11 and stayed with the people until help arrived.  She then completed her route.

A customer on her route was concerned when his paper arrived later then usual. He called her to see if she was OK and she told him what had held her up. He nominated her for a state livesaving award, which she received last August, and her name was also put in consideration for other regional and national awards for newspaper carriers.

This is all flattering to Adriana, but her biggest reward is the way her young daughters are developing into model citizens. In 2000, Adriana began her paper route because it allowed her to spend more time during the day with her ailing parents and her daughters, who were then toddlers.

The time spent with her daughters, Catherine and Sarah, has paid off. One Christmas the girls donated their gift money to orphaned children. Another time they gave money given to them for a fun night out to local charitable organizations.

I, for one, would have a diffucult time getting up at 2:45 every morning to deliver papers until about 5:30 a.m. and then put in a full day. I struggle with the occasional night shift at The Gazette. 

I, along with the entire Gazette Communications organization, commend Adriana for her selfless dedication to her job, her family, and even to complete strangers.

To read more about Adriana’s lifesaving efforts while on her paper route, go to www.gazetteonline.com


    follow me on Twitter

    Blog Stats

    • 55,351 hits

    Top Clicks

    • None
    June 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    2627282930