Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms ~ An Interview

Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara. She is the driving force behind Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms. As a parent of a child who was neglected when he was in public school, I stand behind her, and her mission, 100%. My son was fortunate in that he wasn't physically abused, but we can't say the same for MANY other children. Sadly, abuse in special needs classrooms happen every day. If we aren't their voice, who will be?

(images used with permission from Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms)

-Tara, could you tell me what inspired you to start Camera's in Special Needs Classrooms?

My son has moderate Autism, OCD, and TICS. May 10th 2012, he came home and said, "Teacher mean to me today." My thoughts were teachers can come off mean, that maybe she was just telling him to sit down or something. Well, later that day we met up with Corey's friend in his classroom. He mentioned that Corey was crying (meltdown) because he forgot his money. They teacher's aide came over to Corey, hit him in arm, grabbed his forearm, yanking his arm till she was face to face with Corey, and she screamed in his face. Corey agreed what had happened. I looked at Corey to see if he had bruising and he had four finger bruises on his forearm, matching the boys story. I then became furious. I took the photos of his arm. The next morning I went up to the school to let them know what the children said had happened to Corey, by the aide. The school said they would investigate and get back to me. They called me back a few hours later and said that, the children made up the story. That the aide never touched him. I asked if there were cameras, so I can see if the boys made up the story. They said no cameras. I then made a police report, and showed police photos of my sons arm. They said I can file a report to keep it on record, but told me there was not much they could do since it involved school staff. I shared my story and concerns with my group on Facebook called, Dealing with Autism. Many had stories of unexplained marks and bruises, neglect, abuse, and more. So I decided that people need to be aware of this so changes will happen. I started Cameras in special needs classrooms May 15th 2012.

--Why do you feel that states need to take this seriously, and have these cameras in ALL special needs classrooms?

Many of these children can not communicate for themselves. Many of them are not believed. Some childrens' lives are very fragile and need constant care.

What would be the benefit(s) of having these cameras in the classroom?

Cameras will help these children have a voice in school, and help staff with any false accusations. Parents from all 50 states have shared their stories and concerns. Abuse and neglect are happening all over. This can catch bad staff and remove them right away, preventing more abuse. Staff can also use these cameras as a great teaching tool. To learn about each child's needs. Camera can also prevent abuse. Staff members mqy think twice before harming a child. Cameras will not STOP abuse, but cameras will CATCH abuse.

What ways can we, as a community help this vision come to light? What can we do?

I stress that everyone calls, e-mails, and visits with their State Representatives, Senators, and Congress. Focus on the ones who specialize in the Education. Also, make a petition for your state, and have as many sign this petition as you can. Petitions can help back you up. Stress safety of the children and staff should be first priority. When you see children coming home with unexplained marks and bruises, neglected, raped, and killed while in staff care, that is not safe. I'm asking everyone to stand together on this fight for cameras in special needs classrooms. Share your stories and concerns. Your child may have a great teacher and staff but still something could go wrong. One day I would like to see them expand to all classrooms. Baby steps due to funding. Most vulnerable childrens' classrooms first.

I look at the photos above and I become sick. I can't believe that anyone could harm a child in such a way. I can't believe that schools won't step up to the plate and provide these cameras to assure the safety of our children. I can't believe that we, as special needs parents always have to fight so hard for our children. Safety should be a given in a school setting. This has to stop! 

To follow Tara, or to find out more on what YOU can do for your children, and many others in your state, check out Cameras In Special Needs Classrooms.

Thank you Tara for taking the time to answer these questions, and for providing me with permission to use your photos.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sassy Grow Up Cup Review

  I'm sure by now you have all seen the commercials for the Wow Cup. Liam would see this commercial and scream, "mama! I want that!!! I could have a big boy cup!" But at 10 bucks a cup, my wallet shrunk back and cried a little.

So I went online and googled 'no spill cups,' and this is what I found! 

Sassy Grow Up Cup.

(this is the one Liam chose, it's a 7 oz cup and the handles can be removed)


This cup comes in 7 oz, 9 oz, and 12 oz. It's AFFORDABLE!!!! It can be found at Walmart! (We paid 10$ for 2 cups.) I have seen online it also comes with characters on it as well. (found at Toys R Us)

  So, lets face it, this cup is awesome for kids, especially special needs kids that have issues with spilling, or drinking. My kid has definite issues with all that. He has been using sports bottles or sippies since he was a year old. Now that he is turning 8, other kids are starting to notice, and Liam is starting to be conscious of it.

  As soon as we got the cups, I took the handles off. He then insisted I put them back on "because they are cool." He also wanted pop. NOTE: Soda does NOT do well in these cups. Too much carbonation makes it harder to get a seal and for the kiddo to get the proper "latch" to get any liquid out.

  Next, I put tea in it. At first, he had a hard time. He expected it to be more like a regular cup. It isn't. (I have even tried it so I can give this a review from my own experience as well)

It takes a bit to figure out how to drink from it. It's not like a regular sippy, where you can drink almost like a bottle. Once you start using it though, it works great. It doesn't flow fast, so there is no worry of choking. It also DOES NOT LEAK. I mean, you can hold it upside down, shake it, throw it, drop it~ it won't leak.

  In my opinion this cup rocks! Liam didn't like it at first, but now that he is used to it, he likes it. He gives it "two fumbs up for not spilling, and one fumb up for drinking!"

As a mom, I give it 2 thumbs up. It's so nice to give him a "big boy cup" and not have to worry where it will get spilled!!! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sentio Chews a Review

Kid Companions was super kind enough to send us one of their new Sentio CHEWS to try out and review. Liam was stoked to try it out.

Before I get into the meat of this review, let me share with you a bit about what a Sentio CHEW is.

Kid Companions Chewelry is a chewable necklace and wearable sensory tool for kiddos who like to fidget and chew. Sentio CHEWS are a new addition to the Chewelry family. They are:

FDA compliant, BPA, latex and metal free. SentioCHEWS are more durable than generic silicone chewables.

4 styles ~ Resilient soft rubber feel ~ Economical 1-part shapes ~ Breakaway paracord lanyards!

He took it right out of the package and put it on. He loved the color of the break away paracord lanyard. He also commented that he "loved the feel of it!" It does feel pretty cool. Very smooth and durable feeling.

So far, he has only taken it off to sleep, and as soon as he gets out of bed, he puts it right on. It has been in his mouth as much as it has been in his hands.

He chews it....

He fidgets (and flaps) with it :)

Liam is a VERY aggressive chewer, and has chewed through quite a few chewies in the past. I have yet to see ANY teeth marks or dental impression of any kind in his Sentio CHEW.

As a mother to a 7 year old boy, I like this chewy a lot. It's cute, but it doesn't stand out. Liam used to wear a chew tube on a lanyard, and many people thought it was a dog chew toy. (I kid you not.) The Sentio CHEW is as stylish as it is durable, and Liam loves the bright color of it. My point is, this chewy doesn't make him stand out when he's wearing it. It merely looks like a cute ice cream cone necklace.

The Sentio CHEW and Chewelry come in other cute designs as seen  below: 

For the Kid Companions Store: CLICK HERE