Friday, March 7, 2014

Pictures, News and Updates- Florida Alternative Assessment Test

our new patio set I love it and so does Henry!
These garden pictures are from Monday after I got all the plants done



I did an older bed in flowers, some are bug repellant but they will  all attract bees and butterflies!



Sam with his Ipod.  This is probably his favorite gift of all time.   We had to work with him to use the earphones, but these are child safe and won't get too loud. 

he's showing his support for Ukraine!
Sam is not eligible for PT anymore
since his gross motor skills are really good.
So he comes in and bothers Sarah.  He loves it, her not so much so!

see that grin!

Don't touch me!

go away!

MOM!  he's bothering me

she took herself off and came to me crying.  Then Sam left the room, and she got back up on the ball.  She is a little spoiled!  sibling  rivalry! 
Last night we met some other chaplains in Orlando at Bahama Breeze.  There is a new program for chaplains & churches in our denomination to help out more and be trained for national/local disasters.   It was very interesting.  I don't know if you could see but Jon was holding Sarah.  We took her with us and she was so good.  She loves just being with us.  I'd felt like I've been so busy, that I hadn't spent enough time with her in the last couple of days.  Sarah craves one on one Mommy time!
 ON the way to Orlando we were detoured around a terrible accident.  It was on the road that Steve would use daily if he lives at home and commutes to college.  It upset me so bad.  I called him and told him we'd find a way to afford for him to live on campus!!!!!!   Two lane roads can be so dangerous.  But we also saw an accident on the interstate going and another one coming home but not as serious.  
Lots of stuff going on that I've not had a chance to share about on here....
The first things is I've become involved in a fight for special needs students, opposing a standardized test that the state of Florida requires for special needs students.  It's called the Florida Alternative Assessment Test (alternative as opposed to the required FCAT that public school students are required to take) 
Our kids' teacher came in Monday with the paperwork to start them.  I had just read about it but didn't realize my three little one were old enough for it.  It is a ABSURB test.....I have some links if you'd like to see it or a video of it being administered.  Kids are read things and asked to explain what the author was saying......My kids are ALL non verbal and don't have reasoning skills like that!  They are shown pictures and have to chose between them.....My kids are all blind (Selah is probably somewhat blind also due to the accident)  They are asked to tell the difference between various fruits....again NON verbal....and Selah is on a she doesn't even taste foods now. Just the most ridiculous silly absurd test you could possibly think of to measure a disabled child's progress.   From everything I've seen read of the test, my three little ones would score ZERO!
I feel the test is disrespectful to them and to their real strengths.  I think that is what bothers me the most.  So I called the School Board and spoke with a couple of people.  I was told it was explained in the IEP meetings.  I went back to the notes given to me BY the school board staff and read through them.  The test itself was never mentioned.  The term "access points" which I took to mean the goals of the IEP were mentioned. 
So yesterday I got a call back from the school system.  They had to call Tallahassee to see what to do and since we were past the 60 day window to ask for a wavier (although we didn't know anything about the test) the State said that the county school board could decide if they would allow a waiver.  They chose to waive the children for this year, for which I am grateful.  I feel we have had so many issues with the kids school services, far more than I even share on here, I couldn't imagine this!
In the meanwhile I had contacted reporter friends and two members of the Florida House of   Representatives .   I was thrilled with their responses.  I first talked to Linda Stewart a representative from Orange Co.  I just loved her!  She was passionate about seeing change and a very pleasant person. I told her if I lived in her section, I'd have to vote for her!!!!  She sent my contact info to Rep. Karen Castor Dentel.  Rep Dentel's office contacted me and gave me more info.  Rep Dentel is sponsoring a House Bill to change this silly law!  I will have more info soon.  Right now I'm actually at a surgical procedure place with Jon who is having an Upper GI endoscopy  (more about that later)  , so I don't have all my info with me but will share it soon. 
First let me say, I don't oppose testing BUT I do oppose testing that determines whether a child will pass a grade or graduate from high school based on a SINGLE test.   Our older boys go to private school and they have a yearly assessment test but the difference is it is a TOOL NOT something that would keep a child from going up a grade or graduating from high school if they did not get a certain score.  In my opinion, ONE test should not determine that.  It should be based on the child's overall grades. 
In Florida teacher's salary's are based on how well their students perform.  I do think teachers should have evaluations but again basing their pay on what a child scores?  Some children are very smart, some are not....some are going to score high no matter what.  Our son Shad without trying scores very high on everything.  I appreciate his teachers but no matter how bad of a teacher he has, (not that he has had any bad ones) he is still going to score high.  However if you were to score Sam on the same test or even one that is somewhat altered, he is always going to score low on academics, no matter how good the teacher or how much time she spends with him.
Some articles to help you understand more about this. 
So I'll be doing what I can to help get this new bill passed!!!!
Secondly, a friend of mine spoke with me about a friend he has in the publishing world.  He passed my info to her and I spoke to her briefly yesterday.   Who knows?  Many folks have encouraged me to write a book.  I've been so overwhelmed with LIFE that at times the blog seems almost like a chore.  Plus I'm so not into trying to make things happen like this so I figured if  God wants me to, it will just happen.  So maybe this is it?  I don't know.....we will see!!!!
So as I said I'm waiting for Jon to have this procedure.  He has a lot of issues with his throat and swallowing, he has always had this, nothing new.  He has had to have his throat stretched out several times.  It's is some odd disorder that actually used to kill people because their throats would close up and they'd starve or aspirate....YIKES!  I can't think of the name of it.  But he also has reflux, and hasn't taken his meds like he should.  I worry about some serious things that the doctor warned him about years ago.  Hoping and praying that this will just be routine and I will MAKE him take his meds!!!!
So what happens with Jon is food gets stuck and just won't go down or up.  He has never had it where it has obstructed his airway, but that is a possibility that scares me.  Sometimes he can feel the muscles in his throat moving, it's odd.  Mostly it's been annoying for him and the rest of the family.  I can't tell you the times I've had to wait for him in restaurants while he was in the bathroom trying to get it up or down!
The funniest was at my 10th year class reunion, people still were kinda who they were back in high school and we all cared what others thought back then (not at all like my 30th class reunion!!!!)  Anyhow Jon got choked on a piece of steak and was puking or trying to puke it up in the bathroom.  He said he was sure the other guys thought that the preacher had had too much to drink LOL!   We had to leave early and were on our way to the local ER when he finally got it up!  
So I'm all caught up, loving the joys of real Wifi!  Not like ours out in the country!!!!!  This is the LIFE:)


  1. The alternative assessments are ridiculous. I work in Illinois at a school that administers them because we have to. Because of the eligibility of one of my students we had to give him the regular test with modifications, so ridiculous. He is completely non-verbal too and has severe behavioral issues. Way to encourage my students to have more. Wish I had parents like you that advocate for them not to take it!

  2. Oh I know the love of Linda Stewart. I live in Orange Co and adore her. I once needed her help when I lived in Seminole Co and she didn't care where I lived...she jumped in anyway. She is a wonderful person for sure!

  3. I have something called eosophinilic esophagitis which has the same symptoms as your husband. Could be the same thing?