While preparing for the birth of our children, a parent naturally daydreams about what their child will look like, whether they will look like Mom or Dad, be a boy or girl, and to a degree express occasional concern as to whether the child will be healthy and typically abled.  The parent will daydream about days spent on the baseball diamond or fishing with their future son or dance classes and manicures with their future daughter. Heck, parents may even express in wonderment that they may be having the future president.

If a child is born with no obvious visible signs of developmental delay, the parents will continue to daydream about what their child will become as they grow.  Eventually, developmental or emotional delays that were brushed off as quirky personalities, shyness, cautious etc. develop into signs that a parent can no longer ignore. Eventually as the child grows a parent realizes how far they are behind their peers,and the cautious child who was taking their time learning to walk has motor skill delays, the shy non speaking child has speech delays, the quirky child actually has social adjustment and neurological delays.

This realization takes time to process. Parents have hopes and dreams that were shattered. The child they imagined is not the child they have. Parents mourn the child who they imagined theirs would be. I will emphasize that at this point, accepting that your child is not who you imagined is who HE or SHE is intended to be. They are their own person. Each an every child can and does learn and develop. Their development may not be on our timetable or at the level that we parents want them to perform at. The level of development and the amount there of will occur according to the child’s timetable and limits NOT the parents.

Many parents stand by in frustration wondering how they can help a challenged child develop new skills. First and foremost, we need to rid our minds of the word disabled. Perceive your child instead as challenged with the capability to be enabled versus disabled. The biggest gift we give our children is to step back and allow them to struggle a bit. Through struggles a child learns perseverance. Perseverance will fuel a child with the energy to work hard at developing skills and build self esteem. Our natural inclination as a parent is to swoop in and rescue a child when they struggle, cry, or attempt to give up because a learning experience has challenged them. As the parent of a young adult with learning disabilities I have experienced this feeling many times.

We cannot wrap our children up in bubble wrap for the rest of their lives. Children learn through struggles and challenges. as much as they learn from ultimate success. Unfortunately by rescuing our children we unconsciously condition them to be dependent on us. The ultimate goal must be to develop as much independence and skills as realistically possible. I cannot state how many times I have struggled with my own son and a child in the classroom as well who had a meltdown when I wanted them to do things on their own. I say pour your own glass of water, they say but I will spill it Miss Mari. I stand my ground with gentle acceptance. I let the child know that if he spills that it is only water and can be cleaned. Always resist the urge to “assist” the child when they have not done a task how we perceive it should be done. The end result is the child that holds up that cup of water with a grin on his face stating, “look I did it, and all by myself”! Priceless.

If a child struggles to put on their own shoes, they are giving you the sign that they wish to do so independently. Buy them Velcro shoes to make their struggle towards independence easier. If their motor skill issues keep them from independently making their bed, by a comforter that can easily be thrown over the bed without having to tuck it in.If their efforts appear shoddy, remember, the child believes they did a great job. Acknowledge their efforts by not correcting them.

Parents need to trust their own instincts in encouraging children to thrive. Believe in yourself. Please know I understand and would love to answer questions. I leave you with this thought. The baby bird doesn’t know it can fly until the mother bird pushes it out of the nest. The mother bird instinctively knows it is time to help the baby grow. The baby bird will flutter when airborne for the first time. It than instinctively flaps it’s wings and flies off. What more could a parent – animal or otherwise – wish for their child?

Remember, you have what it takes and don’t ever give up.

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more


– Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE


A Poem For Parents With Special Needs Children

This Poem Is For My Son Who Has Aspergers – I could not be prouder of the young man he has become – even  if I tried. :-0)

     My Flesh and Blood

God sent you here to teach me

Some things I did not know

Through different eyes I now see

Individual paths that we all go

You’re not what I had dreamed of

The young man I thought you’d be

But you no question I love

God chose you just for me

The struggles they are worth it

We climb mountains every day

Together a fire we have lit

We’re a team in every way

On the mountain we slip and slide

Sometimes I get morose

Although it is a rocky ride

A life I never chose

I couldn’t imagine my life

With out you by my side

We do experience much strife

It floats in and out like the tide

In the end it’s worth the work

A special young man you are

Special awe of you does lurk

You have come so far

I know that you will continue to grow

I never have a doubt

Whatever paths you eventually go

May be a different route

I’ll love you for whoever you’ll be

Though different from my view

For you a great life I foresee

It will be up to you

As you go through life and become a man

And challenges confront your life

Please always remember the words I CAN

They’ll help with your strife

Remember that I love you

I always will be there

If you ever feel blue

Remember that I care

The struggles they’ll continue

Of this I’m very sure

I know I cannot change you

I know there is no cure

God sent you here to teach me

Some things I need to learn

Through your eyes I see differently

The world that I discern

All though it pains me greatly

To see you struggle as you learn

The world you venture into

Must be achieved in your own way

I can not do it for you

Your own path you’ll have to lay

You’ll fall and falter make mistakes

In God you’ll have to trust

For you my heart does sometimes ache

But let you go I must

I’ll always be behind you to help you when you fall

But you must venture out now

Your talents you must use all

You will make it on your own

I’ll be your cheering crew

Through your life much strength you’ve shown

Remember I believe in you

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more


A Coke And Mentos Explosion – A Lesson In Chemical Reactions

Today I set out to conduct a science experiment. My goal was to introduce my young charges to the world of chemical reactions. I attempted to present an explanation in a format that five to 12 year olds would comprehend.   I prayed I would not lose control of the children. My other fear was not executing the experiment properly and making myself appear incompetent in front of the children.  The experiment consists of dropping a tube of mentos candy into a two liter bottle of diet coke. If all goes well, a six or eight foot eruption laden with mentos, coke, and aspartame would be strewn about the school playground.

I attempted this experiment in June of 2008. The resulting eruption was weak. The geyser grew to a mere two feet.  The children were thrilled with the end result. They were ignorant to the fact that the geyser should have been much bigger. I however, knew that I had failed. I strive for perfection in all my actions. The children were happy, but I knew I could have done better. I went home and researched my original experiment and found out I lacked a simple component. A plastic tube that slips into the neck of the soda bottle, a tooth pick is inserted into small holes on the bottom of the tube. The tube is filled with mentos. The toothpick stays in place to keep the candy from falling into the soda bottle. When the experiment is performed the tooth is removed. This allows the candy to drop into the soda bottle as I jump back.

In my original attempt, I merely opened up the roll of mentos and attempted to drop them into the soda manually. The chemical eruption takes effect as soon as several pieces of candy mingle with the soda. The ensuing eruption does not allow enough time to manually drop in the whole tube. Thus, I WAS forced to step back without dropping the whole roll in. I have learned from earlier errors as an educator. My style veers less towards being impromptu in executing lessons. I now strategize plane, and research my projects. This lesson was the product of a detailed plan. I purchased tubes on the internet, bought the appropriate soda. It had to contain caffeine to explode.

Now, on with a description of the afternoon, I went to work early. I set my tools on the table. When the children came in I wanted to be organized and ready to perform the project. I painstakingly opened up several rolls of mentos. I inserted skewers into the mentos tubes. My rationale was that they could be pulled out at a slower pace than a toothpick due to their length. I than proceeded to pick up my younger charges from the kindergarten. Seven five-year olds were lined up and taken outside to wait for the older children to arrive on the school bus.   The older children arrived. Everyone was excited about our afternoon’s activity choice. As I took a head count my excitement waned. I mentally hoped that my experiment would be executed as planned and keep the children engaged.

The children were instructed to go to circle time, but leave their coats on. Hence, we could accomplish the task of getting outdoors for the experiment in a quick manner. As we sat on the floor in a circle  I briefed the children on expectations they would need to adhere to during the experiment. I answered questions about why they would sit in a horse shoe outdoors a safe distance from the soda bottles. I explained that I wanted no one to get soda in their eyes during the explosion, nor have to walk around all day in clothes laden in soda.

The children were informed that if they could not maintain control of their bodies that they would be showing me that they were too irresponsible to be included in today’s activity. Repercussions were expressed. Children not capable of maintaining body control would be escorted indoors during the experiment. I told them that this was not a punishment but necessary so I could leave them under the supervision of another teacher during the experiment.  I do not seek to embarrass the children. I knew they were all looking forward to this activity and did not wish to be ostracized from the project. My prediction proved correct. Everyone maintained an attentive form and no one was excluded.

Upon finalizing my expectations, and what the experiment would consist of we ventured out to the playground. The children took their places without prompting. I set out the tools for the experiment and began the presentation. I used a form of scaffolding that I devised for projects like this. Some of  the children are extremely young so I described the chemical reaction as having a similarity to friends. Children choose friends that have similar interests. I set out a tray of water and added vinegar. I explained that since the water did not have chemicals the vinegar got along with it. I showed them the mixture and we talked about how no reaction took place.

I set that tray aside and poured vinegar and baking soda into a pan. The ensuing bubbling concoction received loud oohs and aahs. I explained that both vinegar and baking soda contained very different chemicals. I asked the children to visualize this as two children who don’t agree with each other. Now, the fun began. The soda was positioned with tubes in place. As I pulled out the skewers I had the children count loudly to the number three. The skewer was pulled out and I jumped back.  An eight foot soda laden geyser was produced. The children yelled “again, again”. I had planned ahead, produced two more bottles of soda and repeated the experiment.

The highlight of the experiment was the finale. I produced disposable cups and gave each child a cup of mentos laden soda. This memory will be imprinted in their minds for years to come. The smiles produced outweighed the effort to execute the project. That meant a lot to me as well. Another day has passed. Hopefully, I have instilled a new-found sense of curiosity about our world in the children. If I can send them on their way after having successfully gotten them to step outside the box I will have accomplished my goal as an educator.

Always remember, if learning is fun, children will love learning.:-0)

Mari N. M.Ed.

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more



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