Monday, June 28, 2010

Focus on the Positive

What are your child's STRENGTHS?

I can remember being asked this question by the
Early Intervention team that would come to our
home to work with Matthew on therapies when he
was younger. Matthew is my child and he has
Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum.

One of the questions they would ask me periodically

"What are some of Matthew's strengths?"

I would nearly stop in my tracks and have to shift
gears. This question was actually difficult for me
to answer because my mind was always caught up in
all of his needs and challenges and I was focused
on everything he needed help with and his therapies
and what he wasn't able to do.

I would literally have to REALLY think hard just to
come up with one or two of Matthew's strengths.

I thought it would be fun to share what our kid's
strengths are in an effort to get to know them a
little better and to help focus on what they are
good at and what they CAN do.

I invited parents in ACC support groups to share
their child's strengths and I received a collection
of wonderful stories that I am thrilled to be able
to share here with you.

My son's strengths are 1: he is amazing in an
emergency situation which is crazy since he
has low fustration tolerance in other areas
but if there is an emergency he takes action
and helps out!
2) He is funny as all get out! He can make a
total stranger smile with his sense of humor.
3) He is very creative and a fantastic actor.
4) He is loyal to the core to his friends.

My son Shiloh is 9 years old and has complete ACC.
He is an amazing artist and can draw anything he
sees a picture of without tracing at all. He loves
math and is actually working above grade level in
math. This year, in our state's standardized testing,
Shiloh actually received a medal for getting the
score of proficient with distinction on the Math

He has a giving heart and is always willing to help
those in need. He packed up many of his favorite
toys to send to Haiti after the earthquake and wanted
to send them right away to the kids who may have lost
their toys.

He has just learned how to ride a two-wheel bicycle,
and is SO proud of himself. He often asks me to come
out to the drive to watch "how fast" he can go. It's
amazing that he's learned to ride a bike and we're so
excited to do family biking trips now.

Nikki is 3 and her strengths are. . . . .

1. She is consistently happy 99.9% of the time.
2. She has the BIGGEST smile in Wisconsin! :) We call it
her "Movie Star" smile.
3. She is absolutely fearless! Had her first aqua-therapy
session last Tuesday and she was ecstatic in the water!
She'd never been in a large pool and it didn't concern her
in the slightest. She was dipping her face in, splashing. . .
the whole works! :)
4. She radiates this peace and love to everyone (no other
way to explain it). People get drawn in by her and then
she's got them hooked! :)
5. She learns very quickly considering her challenges. If
you show her something, she will try to do it.

My daughter Brianna is 2 1/2 C-ACC

1. She is very good at out-running mommy and daddy.
2. Especially good at picking fights with her big sister
then making up .
3. LOVE, this little girls main strength is LOVE she
loves EVERYONE (I swear she hugs strangers in the Market
and Target lol anyone).
4. Is super sneaky at trying to crawl up the stairs
behind mommas back.
5. Learned to throw a ball more than 2ft away from her (yay).
6. She can sign about 20 American Sign Language words.
7. Brianna speaks about 8 simple words (super adorable).
8. Gives the strongest sweetest hugs.
9. Always has the strength to overcome all her health
10. Another major strength is her self happiness (this child
can really entertain herself and loves it.
11. Strong YELL and LAUGH you can hear this boo screaming
and laughing down the street!
12. Her strength to overcome her fears (such as walking over
grass barefoot, and riding the carousel and dumbo ride at Disney) she now loves both.
13. Putting herself to bed in her crib, self comforting.
(Major plus for mommy and daddy).
14. Being the greatest sweetest sister to Hailey and daughter
to the hunk and I :)

With much love,

Her mommy.

Hello Everyone!
This is such a great posting!

Hunter is 4 yrs old and his strengths are:

He is a happy, sweet and affectionate little boy!

He is starting to go poopy on the potty and making an
effort to do it all by himself!

He is very caring and empathetic to his younger brother
and others!

He loves to play and watch sports (EVERY SPORT!)

He knows his numbers, letters and colors…..and he likes
to count and wants to know how to spell words.

He can ride his bike with training wheels.

He can get dressed by himself (most of the time)

He loves Irish/Scottish music and he really likes to
sing along.

He can turn on the Wii by himself.

He can cut paper and is working on writing.

He just accomplished getting his face wet in the pool

My child, Matthew, who has complete Agenesis of the
Corpus Callosum is very happy all the time. People
who don't even know him often comment about that.
He smiles all the time, laughs a lot everyday and
he is very social. Matthew loves to be around other
kids and watch them play.

Matthew is very good at using the computer. He is
also good at using his touch screen augmentative
communication device (DynaVox V) and he can find
anything he wants to say using memorization to find
the exact screen that has what he wants to say.

Matthew can throw and catch a beach ball and other
small, soft balls very well and he loves to play ball
with his Dad.

Matthew really likes to play with remote control cars
and can do it by himself when the remote only requires
one hand.

Matthew can ride an adaptive trike really well by himself.

Matthew loves music. He plays his casio keyboard. He is
involved in a music therapy class where he gets hands on
to different musical instruments and he has been making
music on a cello. He has actually been holding the cello
and using the bow to move back and forth across the cello

Aiden (17.5 months) can run and bend down and
pick up toys, he is great at puzzles and knows
which direction books face and pages should be
turned! He gets mad when they are upside down!
Aiden can play the keyboard... He puts one finger
down at a time, plays a chord and looks up and
stares as if he is listening very hard... Also, he
loves to throw... Everything and can throw small
objects into buckets and he sings, in rhythm, to
his favorite songs using the sound "ah"! He loves
this old man, Dinah won't you blow, twinkle twinkle...
Oh and he loves the 50s song "mr lee". Except we sing,
" mr A! And he sings in tune to the circle song by
10,000 maniacs! He loves it! Also, in the pool,
while holding him under the arms on his tummy, he
kicks his legs! Oh, one more thing, he can drink
from a straw and understands everything you say
to him!

Erika 3, is a very fast learner!! She was in a
contained classroom this year, and doesn't need
one next year :)

what a great idea

Grayden is only a year old but his strengths are:

1-make you smile at first look at him

2-reminds me how to laugh daily (he is always being silly)
which makes me laugh

3-just adores his older sister

4-says mum mum dada and baba not specific but love to
think it is

5-has almost convinced my husband to buy us a dog because
his keen interest in them

6-is sitting independently working on getting into a
sitting postion

7-lifting up on his arms wanting to move

Most of all the happiest baby in the world he truly is
a joy

Trevor is 14 1/2 yrs old.

He can ride an adult trike. He can swim underwater.
He is the friendliest teen you'll ever met. That
smile will just melt your heart. He knows most colors,
all letters, some numbers. He can write his name and
some basic information. He can work his TV/VCR. He
puts his clothes on/off independently. He can play
simple games on a computer using a mouse independently.
Excellent hearing.

Just a few of his strengths.......

Right off the top of my head, here's a list of
my child's strengths.

She has a fine sense of humor.

She can play piano, including ragtime and 7-page
sonatinas. She also is good at playing duets and
accompanying others.

She trains and shows dogs, and has reams of ribbons
and shelves of trophies to prove it. She also did
well in the past showing cats and guinea pigs.

She does nice counted cross stitch and makes beautiful
beaded snowflakes.

She's an excellent swimmer, and also kayaks and
cross-country skis.

She's something of a computer whiz, having taken
a number of classes and also maintaining Facebook,
MySpace, Dogster, and Catster pages on the web.

She knows how to download music to her computer
and iPod.

She has good taste in friends.

Her softball skills were good enough to win her a
spot on her 8th grade school team.

She's a hard-working student, with wonderful study

She's a great writer, speller, and editor.

She knows more about dog breeds than anyone I know.

She remembers everyone's phone numbers.

She's a conscientious driver.

She plays a mean game of Mancala, Scrabble, or
double solitaire.

She has always had a good eye for putting puzzles

She is a great volunteer for her dog rescue group.

She had a part in every play her high school performed
(and she was the only student to do so).

She saves money (and never fails to save me when I
need to borrow some).

She knows a lot of Spanish, and did extremely well
with a year of it in college.

She has a good vocabulary.

She's kind to animals.

I feel really blessed that before Emily was born
I had been doing energy work. I do acupuncture on
animals and studied the Silva method (similar to
The Secret). Those things gave me the right mind
set to help Emily. She signed her wants & needs
beginning at 9 mo. She knew about 100 signs by the
time she was 1 1/2 yr. She walked independently by
33 mo. She traveled to Phoenix, AZ (from PA) on her
1st plan ride at 11 mo., to Hawaii at 1 1/2 yrs.,
Disneyworld at 2 & 4, Bangkok, Thailand at 3 and NYC
at 4. She met 2 of my heroes: Kim Peek & Temple Grandin.
She speaks in short sentences and understands
more than most people realize. She has an amazing
personality and draws people to her like a magnet.
She was like a rock star in Thailand. She showed
compassion for pet owners during in home euthanasias
beginning at 3 yr. She shows amazing compassion for the
animals too. She understands the concepts of many
medical procedures and can bring equipment & supplies
on request. She loves swimming & horseback riding.
She's an avid Penn State football fan - attending most
games since before she was born. She's a brilliant and
amazing girl and the only thing to limit her success is
up to choices. I call her Einstein and always remind her
how smart she is. In 21 years I expect to see her accept
her diploma from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine...
that is if that's what she wants. Our kids have limitless
potential. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

My son, Alex, 13 years old, who has complete Agenesis
of the Corpus Callosum is very happy most of the time.

Alex is very good at using the computer & playing video
games. Alex was 1 yr. old by the time he showed interest
in the computer. I think he just loves all kind of

Alex can throw and catch any kind of balls. He is in a
swim & bowling team with special Olympics. He is a very
good swimmer. His PE coach tells us that he is a good
athlete; participates in all the sports the class offers.

He participated with his school team in a high jump
competition district wide. His final jump was 4’5” I

Alex can ride a 2 wheeler, since he was 10 yrs old.

Alex loves music. Any kind of music. When he was a
little baby I use to calm him down with lullaby’s &
classical music. Now he loves to listen to his church
CD’s and he sings along with them. Alex was in the
choir group at Church. Now, he just likes to attend
the summer choir group and special singing occasions
during mass.

My son, Jon, has the following STRENGTHS.

1. good lookin
2. Sexy bod -- 5'5" , thin
3. likes to run -- will escape if doors are not locked.
4. uses a fork and spoon to feed himself
5. is happy most of the time -- smiles a lot -- hums happy tunes, and laughs out loud at funny things.
6. can ride an adult tricycle (with adult supervision)
7. Most of the time obedient to instruction
8. Assists in dressing himself
9. enjoys musical toys, audio and CD cassette players (some toys not age-appropriate for him but satisfying never-the-less.)
10. can spend hours focusing on musical toys while multi-tasking with the VCR and watching TV at the same time.
11. Can do the following tasks at his office either independently or with supervision: stuffing envelopes, sealing envelopes, putting labels on envelopes, stapling, typing addresses on envelopes with a programmable typewriter (wheelwriter 5), shredding paper. He is a bulk mail specialist and gets paid for his work.
12. He assists with setting the table at mealtime and clearing the table with supervision.
13 He has good eye-hand coordination at catching and throwing balls. (and other objects)
14. He can swim independently in both shallow and deep water
15. He can "work out" at the YMCA on cardio equipment with supervision.
16. He uses sign language -- about 300 words.
17. He can make his wants known with gestures and sign language.
18. He assists with some household chores.
19. He can ride a horse with a lead rope and loves it. He has excellent balance.
20. He has participated in Special Olympics in the past.
21. He has pretty good finger dexterity and can easily flip light and fan switches.
22. He is able to swallow pills with no difficulty.
23. He has excellent rhythm and possibly perfect pitch.

My son (Kenny) has ACC, he is 4 years old and his
strengths amaze me everyday. He is very talkative
always friendly (never meets a stranger). He loves
playing with other children and for the most part
is very happy. He tries to do everything himself
and does not appear to be afraid of anything. He
is very very loving and always worries about me
(his mom) and his family. Kenny's learning ability
is always growing and surprises me constantly and
he loves singing songs. His favorite is Going out
with his Boots on, and he is always singing parts
to some song that he likes or makes it into what
he wants it to say.Music is his outlet and when he
gets frustrated music helps him. He is normal for
the most part and he is my blessing in disguise.

  • My son Jess loves music and is happiest when he is
    controlling the CD player like a DJ and singing or
    dancing along to songs. When he was learning to
    speak, he was only able to say a portion of each
    word. But music was one of the first he felt he
    needed to say. We speak mostly Spanish at home
    so I can still remember Jess excitedly saying "Ca"
    for "mus-i-ca.".
  • Jess also has a fantastic memory. He loves to play
    a memory game with his huge box of sports cards.
    We cover up the players name and he tells us who it
    is. He has hundreds of cards (baseball, football,
    soccer and some basketball) and he is rarely ever
    wrong. Actually, we can cover up a major portion of
    the picture on the card and he still knows who it is...
  • Jess has always liked books. He enjoys going to the
    library and is always ready to sit down and read with
    someone. Even by himself, he reads aloud (he doesn't
    know how to read silently) or copies the text into
    his computer.
  • He loves to be with people. And although he still
    hasn't developed a social form of conversation (he
    mostly asks questions or keeps repeating something
    that is important to him), he loves to talk.

  • Noah's strengths:

    He can be a very loving boy who tells his Mommy he
    loves her many times a day. He is concerned about
    his family and their well being. He is already
    showing signs of concern for his sister who is 7 wks
    pregnant, and taking care of the baby. He has always
    been very active, and his gross motor has been at or
    above age appropriate. He loves sports, especially
    basketball. He can even finger roll . He road his bike
    a total of 6 miles yesterday with his Dad. Which I was
    amazed by, I did not know if he could do it. He loves
    to swing on our swing set, and swim in our pool.
    Although he may have his limitations, I expect greatness
    from him just as I do my other 3 kids. Greatness being
    whatever they chose to do in life. To do it well and be
    happy with themselves and their life.

    I've been thinking on this and I have come up
    with a list of Logans strengths. (4 1/2 years old)

    -He can mimic silly voices really well
    -Logan can get the TV and DVD player going by himself
    (I'm still teaching my parents, haha)
    -He can throw an object with speed and precision
    95% of the time
    -He is willing to try anything at least once
    -Logan gives the best hugs and has such a sweet smile
    -Logan is very empathetic towards others

    Thank you all for sharing your childs strengths,
    this was a good idea!

    I look forward to hearing more about all of the things
    that each one of your kids CAN do and I welcome your
    input to be added here if you would like to share.

    You can click on "comments" and give your input or
    you can e-mail me directly: and I
    will gladly include what you have to share about your
    child's strengths to the top of this page.

    What are YOUR child's strengths?


    1. WOW Sandie these are great... it is so nice to focus on what our kids CAN do. Reading these made my day! Perfect for when I am having one of my "down days" to come back to and read every child's CAN DO's :) HUGS Araceli

    2. Araceli, Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a nice comment and also for sharing your daughter, Brianna's, strengths.

      I am very happy and thankful that so many parents, like you, are sharing their child's strengths in such inspiring and encouraging ways.


    3. What a wonderful and inspiring topic idea. Thank you, Sandie, for encouraging us to look for the positives and the strengths in our ACC angels. Hugs, Grannadeb

    4. Deborah,
      Thank you for your sweet note. You are very kind. I'm so glad that you like the idea. I truly hope that it will encourage other people to focus on the positive and on the child's strengths. *Hugs*


    5. I am a newly diagnosed parent of the most wonderful, sweetest, caring, and genuine little boy with Agenesiss Corpus Callosum. Today I saw the light! (8/25/10) I saw a different side of my little boy! Your blog has opened my mind to a new way of looking at him. I am covered in guilt for not seeing this earlier (he is now 8) but I also feel a sense of relief knowing what direction to now head with him. I now see that what he does and his behaviors are NOT purposeful.
      Thank you for having such a wonderful outlet for parents with children who have ACC. I am grateful.

      To add to your post on strengths - I am going to tell you what I see today that if it would have happened yesterday I would never have seen it. Because my focus was not on the strengths.

      I see....
      A heart on his sleeve, a twinkle in his eye, a bounce in his step and a mind full of imagination.
      As I sit here and type my son is making his halloween costume out of printer paper. He carefully and patiently measures each piece and cuts them out. He colors them with a Chocolate scented marker and then tapes each piece on to his body. He just appeared behind me in full costume. He is a "Werewolf named Sparky" complete with ears, nose, claws and a tail - all made of paper. AND he is HAPPY!

    6. Heather Gosen,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to share such heartfelt feelings and for your very nice comments.

      I am very thankful to each one of the parents who shared their child's strengths here and I love that the stories that those parents shared are the inspiration behind your newfound focus and perspective of your own child.

      Thank you for sharing such a wonderfully positive story about your very creative son. I loved reading it. :)


    I am very interested in reading your comments and
    look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.