Friday, January 27, 2012

Seeing Ability in Disability

Who knows how far my friends may go in life! Today, I watched them continue to make such good progress. For the first time, they could all find their names from identical badges, rather than key on a particular color or shape.

And Kamryn is learning to better understand social relationships—just like the other kids. She communicates her snack choices by picking them from a picture-panel and giving them to the teacher.

This poem—written by the mother of an autistic child—kind of expresses my feelings about my friends.

My Perfect Child — a Mom's prayer
by author unknown

As my children were born,
I wanted them to be perfect.

When they were babies,
I wanted them to smile and be content playing with their toys.

I wanted them to be happy and
to laugh continually instead of crying and being demanding.

I wanted them to see the beautiful side of life.

As they grew older,
I wanted them to be giving instead of selfish.
I wanted them to skip the terrible twos.
I wanted them to stay innocent forever.

As they became teen-agers,
I wanted them to be obedient and not rebellious, mannerly and not mouthy.

I wanted them to be full of love,
gentle and kind-hearted.
"Oh, God, give me a child like this" was often my prayer.

...And one day He did.
Some call him handicapped... I call him perfect!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Yes, indeed. Who knows just how far my friends will go in life? They're getting a great start—they're bound to have a great finish!

And now...why just a picture when a thousand notes will do?

Read all about it!

Mom wins $100K for special needs students
Frankie Lemmon school will use money for technology, growth.

Congratulations Melissa Matthews !!

“It’s exciting to win, but it’s humbling to win,” Melissa said. “It’s a privilege and a responsibility to do the most good with the money for the largest number of children.”

Details in N&O's Sunday edition (Jan. 28) of the Midtown Raleigh News or the North Raleigh News.

Exclusive!  Look for Melissa's interview in Carolina Parent Magazine.

More News...
What do you do with your old iPad?
The new iPad 3 goes on sale in March. The technology turnover is rapid. But what do you do with your old technology—your old iPad, your iPod touch, your smart phone? WRAL-TV's “Project Education” series recently provided one answer: an organization known as Geek Speaks ( Lief Harris, a former Frankie Lemmon dad, founded Geek Speaks after he discovered that the iPad helped his son communicate. He now installs educational apps on recycled electronics and converts them into assistive technology devices for kids with disabilities. One thankful mother says that her son: "knows far more than we know that he knows—and these devices give him a voice."
Lief was recently interviewed at Frankie Lemmon by WRAL-TV for its Project Education series. The story aired Monday, January 30th, on WRAL’s Morning News. See the video and web story
here. (Thanks, Debbie Brooks, for this head's up - Mr. Pat.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowman Jack and Breaking News

Today, we were greeted by Snowman Jack, a cowboy snowman from the cold West. Our three desperados—Bilal, Corey and Simon—posed for this photo with the celebrity guest.

Snowman Jack looked on in horror as Miss Forbis read from Snowballs. "It was a perfect snowball day until the sun came out," she said. "Then it was 'So long snowball!'" He felt better as we sang from The Twelve Days of Winter.

Meanwhile, as Bilal and Marlon "made music", as Kamryn learned to sign, and as Corey built an IPAD snowman...

Julian wondered, as he often did, "What's next?" To ease his worry, his IEP (Individualized Education Program) now calls for learning daily structure through actions. To this end, our teachers set up two "7-Message Take N' Talk" boards. (available through,). Each board holds 7 icon frames, each with its own icon and activity message recorded by the teacher.
To learn his next activity, Julian removes the next icon (e.g., a washing hands symbol) from its holder and hears his teacher's voice say "It's time to wash hands!" Julian keeps the icon until the activity is over and then returns it to the "used (replayable) icon" holder at the bottom of the board. Why two boards? One for morning, one for afternoon.

As Tanner the frog—recently returned from his long Christmas vacation—looks on, Julian holds his "Table Activity" icon and watches Kamryn replace Snowman Jack's missing arm.

A little structure added to his life, and a little music with Miss Paula, makes it a happy day indeed for Julian!

Breaking News!
Wake Forest resident Melissa Matthews wins national IKEA contest

Congratulations to Melissa Matthews!
Our own Melissa has been chosen by a public vote as the grand prize winner of the IKEA Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest! Her project, Special Technology for Special Kids, will use cutting-edge educational technology to help children with intellectual disabilities. Out of over a thousand applicants, Melissa was chosen by you and your friends to spend a year (and $100,000) helping the children at Frankie Lemmon School. Again, congratulations Melissa!

Visit to learn more about Melissa & her project or see my blog "The Polls are Open!" for Dec. 7.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snowflakes and More

When we came to school in our buses this morning we saw no sign of winter. But it was cold!
—So, as we made our usual choices on how to say good morning (decisions, decisions!)...

Miss Forbis said we have to wear lots of winter clothes when it's cold and pointed to her big furry boots

"Really?" said Cristopher. "Furry boots?"
"Really," said Miss White.

So, just what DO you have to wear in the winter when it's cold?

Let's sing about it...

Wait a minute...what about the snowflakes?!

P.S. Good News! The goal of Frankie Lemmon's first ever community-wide fundraising campaign was to raise a minimum of $100,000. Ms Sellers tells Mr. Pat this week that it has already been exceeded by at least $17,000. TO ALL OF YOU WHO GAVE—THANK YOU!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year!

After the best Christmas ever (see last blog), we built the biggest snowman ever. And then we did what we all came back for this year—we came back to learn!

First, we learned how to find our name on Miss Forbis's felt board.

Then we learned how to count snowmen under the watchful eye of Miss White.

And we took turns learning how to play Miss Paula's drum.

We learned how to play beautiful music on her keyboard.

And we learned to make our big red button say "More crackers!"

Just then Sponge Bob Square Pants hopped on the table.
"Enough work!" he said. "I'm Sponge Bob Square Pants. Guess what I can do with foaming softsoap. I can make snow, that's what! Come play with me."
So we did; soon our table was covered with foamy snow and lots of tiny playmates like whales and polar bears and seals and furry wolves.

Can you keep a secret? Learning is fun! That's what we learned today. What did you learn?

P.S. Miss Paula (left: a.k.a. Paula Scicluna, Executive Director of Rhythm & Rehab, now affiliated with Hayes Barton Baptist Church), recently announced that Jessica Albright (right), a music therapist with her group, was recently welcomed by the church as their new Director of the School of Music. Jessica graduated from Florida State University in the summer of 2011 with her MM in music therapy. Like Miss Paula, music is Jessica's passion. Already a certified NICU music therapist, she has much experience working with older adults, children and adults with developmental/intellectual delays.