Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Reading & Writing . . . so very exciting!

Books related to special needs and disabilities? I've read my fair share, to educate myself, and to try and find answers to the many questions I've had over the years about Carter's 
challenges. The reading list is endless.

These three books (that I really enjoyed) have protagonists who use AAC to communicate:

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson 

           Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper          

             Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

 Here are a few more I've enjoyed that have characters with disabilities:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

                                                      Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Yes, the disability books I've been reading lately are all fiction: middle grade and young adult novels. 

And why is that? 

Because you're supposed to read what you want to write. And for some time now, I've been working on my own middle grade novel.

Writing a book is a lofty goal. I thought the book I would someday write would be the story of Carter's life. I've told a lot of that here, including his journey with AAC, but I wanted to step away from memoir writing. 

Instead, my story is about two young girls who are total opposites. One is a neat freak and the other, not so much. 

It came out of a writing prompt. I started writing and never looked back. Go where the writing takes you (or so they say)! That's what I did and guess what? It didn't take me down a path that had anything to do with AAC or disabilities.

Maybe someday I'll try and tackle a story like that. I've certainly read a lot in that genre.

For now, I'm happy to share, promote, and recommend the books above. 

I'm also happy to share something very exciting...

(Drum roll, please.)

Last year, I submitted the intro of my middle grade novel to CANSCAIP's Writing For Children Competition and I was long listed! What a huge and wonderful surprise! 

But if I'm ever going to finish my story, I'd better get back to it!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Is AAC Going to the Dogs?

Meet Stella, the Catahoula / Blue Heeler. She uses a sound board to talk.

A dog who uses AAC to communicate???

Yes, a dog who uses AAC to communicate!

This article in People tells all about it.

There's video imbedded in the article that shows Stella in action, or you can go to the Hunger 4 Words YouTube channel here.

You can read more at Hunger For Words, where Christina Hunger, speech language pathologist blogs about teaching her dog to talk!

You can also follow @Hunger4Words on Instagram to watch Stella do her thing.


Thursday, 19 March 2020

"Pandemic" a Poem by Lynn Ungar

I've seen this posted on a few blogs that I follow. I thought I would share it here as well.

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

GOAT Carter

Carter is truly the GOAT when it comes to loving animals. Hands down (or should I say hooves down), he is the Greatest Of All Time.

That's why, when I came across this opportunity, I just had to get farmiliar with the details. Once I herd what it was all about, I knew it would be a good fit.

Carter's been working as part of the Farm Crew since July. The program offers hands-on learning and future-focused vocational coaching for people with neurodiverse abilities.

Paul and Audrey, a.k.a. Dynamic Supports, run the program and ewe know something? Carter absolutely loves it!

Check out these pics of him hanging out with his new friends.

Doodle and Carter

Carter chatting with Zeus.

Despite what it might look like, he's not just horsing around. This kid works hard during his time at the farm. He goes whole hog three times a week and he's building some serious muscle from shovelling. 

There's no sitting on the fence about it. The farm is his new favourite place.
We're very proud of him and he's pretty proud of himself too. Hay! Why not?
Keep up the good work, Carter! You'll always be the GOAT to me.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Oh the Places We've Gone

I suppose my retirement is similar to any retirement really. Although, I am puppared to admit that my work was much like play. I loved tagging along with my bud, Carter. Oh the places we've gone!

Oh the places we've gone.
We've been here, we've been there.
We've seen Pittsburgh and Disney.
Good times we did share.

Yes, we had fun, but sometimes things got serious.
Doctors and dentists, they drove C delirious.
He helped in return. Oh yes, yes he did.
Because vets weren't my thing, behind Carter I hid.

I'm sorry to say so
But, sadly, it's true
I've reached my tenth year
And retirement too.

And happy birthday.
Yes! It's your retirement
Rest easy, we say.

You have stiffening joints
Your coat's been turned in
You can lay your head down
On your paws, rest begins.

You're still our good boy, a true family member.
You'll now be our pet, January through December.

Thanks Big B for your years of service and dedication to Carter and our family. Happy (belated) 10th birthday and Happy Retirement!!!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Dear Voice of Carter,

You didn't show up.

For years I thought you would. Some might say you did, eventually, just not as  expected. 

I like to think I’m pretty good at figuring you out, but a voice that doesn't form words is impossible to decipher. I never get to know the real you. 

I wish you'd stop hiding. I catch glimpses of you in Carter’s facial expressions, tucked away behind his impish grin or in the crinkled skin bordering his ice blue eyes. I've heard you in his giggle and in his thunderous belly laugh. His pantomimes, his flailing about, and his movement to music are your physical camouflage. Wails and screams of protest reveal your unflattering side. 

You make life mysterious. And puzzling. And downright frustrating. I accept that, begrudgingly, and carry on. But sometimes I just want things to be normal. I want to experience what it would be like to hear you form words instead of grunts and squawks. I want to hear you speak a sentence instead of watching my boy gesture and point. I want to hear the real you, instead of a digitized version dubbed 'Kenny' or 'Alex'.

When Carter was outside playing with Jack one winter years ago, you didn't help him. Jack came inside. Several minutes passed before I went to check on Carter. He’d gotten himself stuck, legs first, in a hardened, icy snow tunnel. I could see how he'd struggled. His glasses were thrown across the driveway. His face was streaked with tears. 

You didn't protest and ask Jack to stay outside. Y
ou didn’t scream out or call for me when Carter got stuck. You failed him. 

During a family ski trip to Vermont, Carter wasn’t feeling well. He was exhausted from a long car ride and a sleepless night in an unfamiliar bed. By the time he got to his ski lesson he was hot from having to wait inside the chalet in his snow gear. He tossed his cookies right there on the spot shortly after we dropped him off.

You could have prevented the whole incident if only you'd told the instructor that Carter was overheating. Again, you failed him. 

How many times have I had to pick Carter up from school because of you? On the other end of the line, the school secretary always giving me the same basic narrative, 'Carter isn't feeling well. Please come pick him up.’ 

Not once have you explained that there was too much noise, or too many people, or just too much stimulation. You don't provide information to the people around Carter so they can make sense of what's bothering him. He has no choice but to hold his stomach to convince them he is sick - his way of escaping the situation.

When Carter is hurt or sick, your negligence is deplorable. Carter is in distress. I am distressed. You don't tell me where he is hurting or what's making him feel badly. I have no idea what's wrong and I feel helpless.

Do you know how hard it is for me to send Carter to respite activities, to camp - anywhere  with people who don't know him well? Knowing that you won't be there to help him is overwhelming.

You don't show up.

You'll never show up. 

I’ve done everything in my power to replace you with sign language and gestures, an electronic version of you, but it’s not the same. It never will be. Without you, Carter will go through life being minimally understood. His communication will be slow and inefficient. And because of that he won’t express a fraction of what's running through his head. He’ll be left behind. Misunderstood. Complacent. Vulnerable.

If only there was some way that I could bring you here. I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried - with speech therapy, prompt therapy, oral motor therapy, behaviour therapy. It didn’t work. 

It didn’t work. 




Do you know what it would be like to hear you form words flowing from my son’s mouth? What would you say to me? 

The silence has been filled with other noise. It’s so different. It’s not what I expected.

You didn't show up.

Sunday, 7 April 2019


Back in October, I responded to a tweet by Minnie Driver: 

Have you seen her show, Speechless?

Minnie plays Maya, a mother of three.

"Maya is a mom who will do anything for her husband, Jimmy, and kids Ray, Dylan and JJ, her son with cerebral palsy."

My family loves the sitcom because we can relate to it. Our family has a lot in common with the DiMeos. The biggest one being that JJ uses AAC to communicate, just like Carter.

I love Minnie's character, Maya. She's quirky, but she's also ruthless when it comes to getting her family members what they need, especially JJ. 

When I received a response from Minnie, I was the one who was