Monday, July 31, 2006

ISAAC, day one

Yesterday I made my first trip to a foreign speaking country alone! I flew to Duesseldorf Germany in order to go to the International Society for Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) biannual conference. It has been interesting so far.

This morning there was an opening ceremony with some AAC users performing. They had a band and a black light show. I took a few pictures which I will post when I get back from my trip. It was really nice to see a variety of people of many ages performing together. Some needed help, some didn't. And they got to show off a more artistic side of themselves. The band was really interesting because the clients were using a lot of alternative access methods such as head pointers (they were a hat of sorts with a stick attached and use the stick to hit button/keys. One client used a pencil that she could grip and hold onto to play the keyboard. One guy also had really good rhythm and was dancing to the music as the performed.

The black light show was also really interesting. It was set to music and the performers used ribbons that showed up in the light to do an artistic performance. The pictures turned out really well but I can't post them until I get back. :(

The people here are also friendly. I hear a lot of American accents but others, too. The conference is far more laid back and practical in comparison to many that I have gone to. Tomorrow I get to go on a dinner cruise that was part of the conference fee! I also get transport as part of the conference fee, which is nice since it was 8.25 Euro from the main train station to the conference!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Challenges of Parenthood

When working with the children, a speech therapist has contact with schools and families. Most children have some type of annual meeting to discuss the previous year, progress and goals for the next year. In the U.S., this is called an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Some children in Ireland have these as well. During IEPs, parents sometimes talk about how things are going at home.

It is these times that I am struck with just how difficult raising a child with special needs can be. Some families use respite services. Respite is different in different areas but the idea is the same: give the families a break and some time to themselves. Raising children is a 24/7 job. Raising a child with a disability can be an incredibly intense 24/7 job. As typically developing children age, parenting can sometimes be less intense as the children can play by themselves. However, some children with special needs need 24/7 monitoring for their safety or their health. Parents don't get a break. The goal of respite is to try to alleviate some of that stress. However, my experiences as a respite worker were that the families never got as much as they needed, if the respite agency could find someone suitable to work with the family (respite workers got very low pay for the intensity of the job and there was really high turn over of staff in the areas I worked).

Other parents have talked about how difficult it is to take their children out in the community. They would love to be able to go grocery shopping with their child. As a respite worker, some families that I worked with never took a vacation. It just would have been too difficult.

What strikes me most working with children is the dedication of parents. Like the vast majority of parents, they want what is best for their children. However, they frequently don't know what that is or how to get it. What is best for their children also may not be available to them. They have professionals telling them to do this and that at home. They have other children asking questions about their sibling with a disability or acting out because they are jealous of the attention the child with the disability gets. Some parents can't sleep through the night because they have to check on their child. There is a whole additional set of worries. There are different joys. It is a different journey.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Street Circus

This week in Temple Bar there was a street circus "festival." I was really looking forward to it because I like watching circus performers/acrobats. However, the performances were only at lunch and dinner times. And you needed to get a ticket for the performances ahead of time. I was bummed on Friday evening when I found out that you needed a ticket for the formal performances and that there weren't street performers out and about. Today, we finally found a couple street performers. We still didn't go to anything that needed a ticket.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Today as I was waiting for the bus to go home from work, I noticed a Garda (police officer) had someone pulled over and seemed to be giving the person a ticket. When he was done and the driver drove off, the Garda faced the traffic for a few minutes and then stood in the middle of it to stop some cars. He waved to the one of them to pull over to the bus lane. Another car had stopped in the middle lane so this car had to get around them to pull over.

After a minute or so, the driver handed a card to the Garda and he seemed to be writing a ticket. Confused, I asked the lady waiting at the bus stop with me why the Garda pulled the driver over. She said that the car was speeding and it was the fourth one pulled over during her wait for the bus.

I asked her how the Garda knew that she was speeding since he didn't seem to have a radar gun. She said that they had something attached by their eye that tells the speeds. I am not sure that I believe her since the Garda did seem to be holding something. However if this is true, I am sure that police back home don't seem to be using this technology.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Recently I was waiting in airports and doing a bit of travelling. While there, I noticed that people tend to be friendlier while in the airport (or bus stations or train stations). Sure, some people are grumpy or stressed, but people talk to random strangers far more in an airport or on a plane than I think that they do in many other places. Sure, it can be awkward sitting next to someone for 7 hours without talking to them. However, in today's digital world, you just plug in your MP3 player, put on your headphones, play your video game, or turn on the portable DVD player and away you go: into solitude. It is quite easy to block people out, and yet people in airports often don't. They want to talk to the person next to them and hear their story, if only for a little while.

I have often wondered about why this is. Maybe it is excitement about being on holiday. Maybe they want to know who is next to them in case the plane crashes. Maybe they are bored. Maybe people have a desire to connect with each other and just don't make the time for it during the course of their daily lives. Maybe it is none of these or a combination of all of these. Just something to ponder.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Goodbye J

Today J left Dublin to move back to Boston. She has been my best friend here and the first real friend that I made when I moved over. The last year has been a roller coaster for her so here is a tribute to J's year in Dublin.

My Top 10 memories:
10. J getting so mad that she kicked a tree.
9. J watching my cat and dog for me all the time and spoiling Darshin rotten.
8. The St. Paddy's Day parade.
7. J's stories about her psycho roommate from Hell.
6. Stories of J's adventures of her travels alone around Ireland and Europe (espcially Cork and when she went to the Giant's Causeway).
5. Making dinner together at my place for the three of us and teaching J how to cook.
4. J living with us when she was homeless (twice in the year).
3. Venting about work and understanding each other.
2. J getting CDs from almost every live musician that she heard in a pub.
1. Drinking at the Porterhouse almost every week, sometimes multiple times in a week, and the interesting people that we met at the Porterhouse.

My favorite Porterhouse characters:

+ "Political Boy" The guy who insisted on talking politics to J even though she said she didn't discuss politics with strangers
+ The Germans who came over to avoid Carnival in Germany just before Ash Wednesday
+ The guy who read the paper while we talked and eavesdropped on us
+ The two bartenders who joke around a lot and flirted with J
+ Going with Cot and Ci and having a German guy ask John something in German

Good luck J and come back to visit!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Construction again

So, the construction by my apartment had stopped for a while. This evening when I came home from bringing Tiffin to the vet for her first round of kitten shots, I noticed that the road in front of my building was marked off and there was a no parking sign. Sure enough, at 9:30 PM the jackhammering started. I was hoping to get to bed early tonight since I have a really busy day tomorrow. Ugh.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Stinky Bus

The wheels on the bus go shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake shake shake
The exhaust from the bus go stink stink stink stink, stink stink stink, stink stink stink
The seats on the bus are grubby grubby grubby, grubby grubby grubby, grubby grubby grubby,
The people on the bus go sit sit sit (right next to you when they don't have to)
The drivers on the bus go "speed speed speed," speed speed speed, speed speed speed
Because the buses are always late late late, late late late, late late late
Then the people go, "get me off, get me off, get me off"
All through the town.

But seriously, I think I need a holiday.

I sat in the back of the bus on my way home tonight. I got a nasty headache from the fumes. The vibration of the bus when it was stopped also made my MP3 player sound funny. Like the music was on a record skipping.

While sitting in the back of the bus, I kept thinking, "I should move forward but then I'd have to sit next to someone." I really don't like sitting next to people.

Soon I am getting a bike and may use that for transport instead.