Monday, March 26, 2012

We interrupt our previously scheduled programming…

Just over a week ago I wrote A Rightful Life, A letter to Omaha. It began:

Dear Omaha,

Have you ever had one of those days when you realize just how blessed you are? Sometimes that realization comes amidst the strangest of circumstances, like today when I read the article about the Levy family of Portland, Oregon.

Ariel and Deborah Levy won a $2.9 million lawsuit on Friday, March 9th, for what is being coined as “wrongful life.” The problem is, in a nutshell, their daughter was born (with Down Syndrome). Had the prenatal testing done its “job,” Levy’s daughter never would have been born.

The folks at the Omaha World Herald blogsite Momaha showed an interest in my editorial and pursued it further. I was excited and passionate about this subject which focused not on the Levy’s so much, but more on our community and the Madonna School. My article went on to share that:

In two separate articles, reported that “Professionals have told the Levys that she (their daughter) will likely never be able to live independently, or earn a living.” And also that the Levy’s worry she won’t get the attention she needs in school.

It’s a shame for the Levys (and maybe even the insurance company) that they don’t live in Omaha, Nebraska. Because in Omaha we have a variety of resources for families with special needs children, particularly one called the Madonna School and Workshop. The Madonna School’s mission is to help each child become as independent as possible, from the youngest child still learning to communicate to the high-schooler starting in the life skills programs. And the transition program works with students, families, and businesses to develop job skills and facilitate placement of the Madonna students in safe and productive work environments.

The following 250 words or so talked about my son, about the Madonna School’s influence, and about how I feel sorry for the Levys who see their daughter’s birth as “wrong” because I am sure there is nothing wrong about the life of their four year old.

Things went well between the editor and myself, a publication time was set and final edits were made and then I got an email that said:

“I showed the piece to my editor and We worry it doesn't give enough details about your life. Could you tell us the ups-and-downs of having a special needs child? When did you find out? Were you tested? What was your initial reaction? When do you get most happy/frustrated? Insight into your life I think will help the readers understand the struggles and joys of parenting?”

My head spun a few times. Are they serious? Sure! I’ll just sum up these complex issues and emotions and drop them in with a few key phrases into this piece. Sigh. Welcome to publication and editors.

So the next few days involved another re-write by me, further questions about Marcus, and a further writing done by the editor until finally - we have a guest blog! Whew. It is a bit off the path from my original intention, but I do trust the editors that it will serve a greater audience (and thus a greater purpose) with the revisions.

SO - the final work is here:

Thank you to the Omaha World Herald for giving this attention

I hope you check it out and feel free to comment or share on the Momaha site. This is your opportunity to share your Madonna experiences with the city of Omaha.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Music and Madonna Students

Guest Blog by Music Therapist and teacher Mary Lynn Bennett

Music therapy acts as a catalyst, a motivator, or a carrier of information. Sometimes it provides a newly discovered pathway for learning and retrieving information. Music therapy makes a difference for Madonna students. Music Therapy is the use of music by a trained professional to positively effect change in non-musical behavior. Sometimes this change affects a social behavior and sometimes the change is in a skill or ability. Madonna School’s music therapy program is 3 years old and has come a long way in three short years.  

The first time the middle level classes tried a folk dance we looked more like bees swarming around a clover patch than dancers. The goals for the students were to stand in a line, listen and wait for directions, to follow the step-by step directions and to cooperate with a partner appropriately. In preparation for dancing, students clapped to the music, they played sticks to the beat, they walked to the music, they clapped hands with a friend, we made one line and then two, then walked four steps and met in the middle. We walked back 4 steps and we repeated this sequence. All hands were on deck as the teacher associates and I directed traffic like air traffic controllers and I slowly called the steps.

link to the official
Madonna School Website