Best Disinfectant Wipes

This is a sponsored post. Ideas and opinions are my own.

Now that we are in March and we are all excited for spring, there are a few things that we need to keep in mind.  We may be safely starting to host more people in our homes, having more play dates, and participate in more adult activities. Because many of us are still dealing with safety concerns and perhaps worried about disease transmission, it is a good idea to talk about disinfecting surfaces and doing it in a way that is not harmful to ourselves and those around us.

With this in mind, I decided to try Arm & Hammer Essentials Disinfecting Wipes.  Why these wipes in particular?  I really like to use cleaning products that either eliminate odors or smell good, but don’t act as a “cover” for bad odors.  I’m looking for a stronger odor-eliminating system.  I also prefer products that don’t contain harmful chemicals as I use them on surfaces that are touched by little hands and little pets.

I also prefer to use wipes because sometimes I carry items in my car that may need to be disinfected.  The wipes allow me to quickly and thoroughly wipe those surfaces and gives me peace of mind.  I love how easy it is to pull the wipes out of he container and how the shape of the container makes it easier to store.  When I’m on the go (and I’m normally on the go!), the best product is not only the high-quality one but also the product that is user-friendly.  With the Arm & Hammer Disinfecting Essential Wipes I’m covered on both fronts.

In terms of the particular fragrances, I really like both, Renewing Rain and Lemon Orchard.  They both have a citrus base scent even though the Lemon Orchard is much stronger.  I typically like “lemon” scents in my kitchen so using these two products in my kitchen (in particular the Lemon Orchard) has been a no-brainer.  I remember the day we started using these wipes:  As I was walking in the door from work, I could smell the citrus scent as I soon as I walked in the door, coming from the kitchen.  What a wonderful way to be welcomed in my own home!

But of course, you are not limited to your kitchen!  I use them to clean toys so that they are disinfected and cleaned in between uses, and to disinfect other surfaces, likes knobs and handles.  You can keep them in your car (as I do) or in your purse for when the need arises.  And if you clean your car with it, it will smell incredible when you return to it!

I definitely recommend Arm & Hammer Disinfecting Essential Wipes for your every day, quick fix up messes and for your everyday disinfecting needs!

Happy Cleaning!

Time for Spring Cleaning!

This is a sponsored post. As always, opinions and ideas are my own.

It’s been a long winter!  Personally, I cannot wait for the sunny days ahead, while I enjoy the sunny days we get here in New York in March.  March in New York is a mix of sunny and cloudy/rainy days, warm days and cooler days, and some other days that are downright cold.  But every year, when March comes around, the warm and cool mix reminds me of the task ahead:  Spring cleaning!

Typically, I wouldn’t get excited just because I need to do some cleaning. But there is nothing I love more than to take out my blouses, my dresses, my shirts, and short-sleeve t-shirts.  But of course, since I work with very young children and have pets at home, there isn’t a time when I check them out and I find them to be stain-free.  There is always a pesky stain here or there that makes my washing a bit more challenging.

As I mentioned previously (see my previous post here), I’m always on the lookout for good cleaning techniques and cleaning products because when I work with my little ones, sometimes things get messy.  I also love to recommend good products to parents!  Enter Biz and Kids ‘N’ Pets.  These enzyme-based cleaners make life a lot easier!

Why?  You may ask.  Although these products are designed to remove a variety of household stains, my problem usually lies in removing markers and different types of paint (did I mention I work with little kids?).  I also do occasionally need help removing grease and oil stains (I love cooking!), and food.  These issues can be compounded when you happen to miss a stain and leave it aside for a long time, as it happens to me sometimes.

Enzyme-based cleaners are not harsh or harmful to the environment.  They are an excellent choice if you want to use natural products and not use strong chemicals in your everyday wash.  In my case, I pre-treated shirts with Kids ‘n’ Pets Stain and Odor remover spray, and it helped me tremendously.  You can also use the liquid to boost your laundry detergent, to treat your smelly clothes before you put them in the washing machine, and to deodorize.

If you have little furry children, like I do (both dog and cat), you may want to use the spray to remove the odors from blankets or kitty litter.  I usually smell them more as the weather gets warmer, so having a spray bottle of the Kids ‘n’ Pets stain and odor remover is a great solution.

And don’t forget to check out the Biz Stain and Odor Eliminator for your wash.  If you have any clothes that look like they need a second wash, or whites that are far from whites, or any other stain or odor issue, give this enzyme-based product a try.  You will not regret it.

For more information about these products, check out their website, here for Biz products and here for Kids ‘n’ Pets. See their information about enzyme-based cleaning, and then try them for yourself. I started using them and I haven’t stopped. 

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Butterflies and Second Chances by Annette Hines: A book review

I recently read Butterflies and Second Chances, a memoir written by Annette Hines.  Annette wears many hats (wife, daughter, lawyer), but she writes this memoir as a mother of a child with a disability.  In a way, this is also a memoir for her daughter Elizabeth.  As I read Annette’s book, I was drafting my own memoir, and I could not help but notice how many parallels there are between her story and mine.  This holds true even though we had different roles in our families (she is a parent; I am a sibling), and we were separated by many years and miles in between.

Even though I noted some differences in stories, what stood out the most was the incredible similarities.  Annette evolved from being an “outsider” with little knowledge of what it meant to be part of the community of parents, family members, and people with disabilities, to being on the “inside.” She narrates with so much emotional depth how she became an insider after her daughter Elizabeth was born and medical issues began to surface.

Much like Annette, I evolved too, although my own evolution came much earlier in my life, as my brother was born when I was 7 years old.  I also became an insider little by little, learning more and more through the years, and adding my voice to the fight for equality when I became an adult.  Just like Annette, I remember the constant looking for answers.  My parents always had questions that mostly remained unanswered.

And much like Annette’s second daughter, Caroline, I felt like I was the “do-over” kid, even though I was born first.  In my case, I felt the pressure to be the “perfect daughter” all by myself, and I made sure that I would not give my parents the smallest headache.  I assumed that they needed a perfect daughter, an overachiever, a workaholic.  My long periods of perfection were accompanied by some periods of rebellion, which in retrospect were just a cry for help and my own way to show human needs.

Annette and I are also remarkably similar in our choice of loving partners.  We both married men who have supported us and provided the scaffold we needed in times of need.  In her memoir, Annette recounts how her husband stuck with her through thick and very, very thin.  I recently heard her say that she would “walk through fire” for her husband.  I remember thinking right at that moment that I would do the same for mine.

Annette’s career revolves around service to people with disabilities and their loved ones.  It did not start this way, but naturally, over the course of her life, service to the community became her profession as well as her life.  My own career and life are sometimes indistinguishable from each other.  I cannot divorce one from the other.  I have worked so hard to be an advocate that I can honestly say that my friends and family are advocates too, and many of them have chosen a profession of service to this community as a career.

Becoming part of the special needs community is a process, and no one is ever “done” learning better ways to be a full participant in this community.  In my own practice, I refer to the community as a big family, one that is constantly growing and extending its arms around the world so that we can all earn the respect that we deserve and claim our place in the world.  Annette’s focus is on building an ever-growing circle of friends, families, professionals, and caregivers, so that nobody ever feels that they must go it alone.

The parallels in our lives are so real and profound.

Thanks Annette, for allowing us into your life.  You made it easier for me to tell mine.

Get Butterflies and Second Chances here!

The Special Education Reform and Its Unintended Consequences: Part 2

The Special Education Reform as addressed by the New York City Department of Education intended to align process and policy more closely by emphasizing the core principle of the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) and asserting that every student with an IEP would receive instruction, to the extent possible, with their peers who do not have an IEP (see Part 1 here).  Furthermore, the NYC Department of Education emphasized a policy that would consider strong academic standards and scores.  At face value, this sounds like the right approach.  Who wouldn’t want all children to be able to learn together and with the highest standards, right?

The problem with this approach is that as I mentioned many times before, the NYC Department of Education targeted equality, but not equity.  What does equity mean, as opposed to equality?  Placing two students, one with an IEP that calls for a self-contained class, and another one without an IEP, in the same 25-student class, is equality, but it is certainly not equity.  Too many adjustments would have to be made in order to serve this student’s needs, and even then, it may not work.  The appearance of equality does not support the reality of what students actually need.

This is exactly what is happening in many public schools in New York City.  I am sure that this is also happening throughout the nation.  The rush to make the “reform” a place where ALL students get the SAME education on the account of equality has resulted in extreme lack of services and desired outcomes for students with disabilities.  When I was still working with the NYC Department of Education, I saw cases like this almost daily.  I was told by the powers-that-be that my role was not to place students in specific classes or even provide information regarding the school’s classroom provisions. 

Once, I was told that giving information to a parent with a child with special needs, who happened to be actively seeking information, was unacceptable.  “That information should have never left your mouth,” my immediate supervisor admonished.  My supervisors’ supervisor (the person who managed all field enrollment in the city), once toyed with the idea of banning access to the special education system to all employees, so that we could not “see” what kinds of services the students needed.  It was not our job, she said, to deal with the family’s need to have their child placed correctly from day one.  This was the school’s “problem,” not ours.  Therefore, why would enrollment personnel have access to this information? She concluded.

Many children with IEP recommendation go without their recommended services and their recommended placements.  The approach of treating every student the same does not translate into treating every student with equity, with the supports that each individual student needs in order to succeed.  Children deserve to have these services in place from the first day of school.  Letting schools “figure out” how they will service the students robs them of months, if not years, of a proper education.

If you have a child with an IEP and you feel that your child is not making progress, you are probably in this situation. 

If you want to know how to best deal with this issue, join our private/free Facebook group so that we can discuss this better, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for updated information.

Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

The Special Education Reform and Its Unintended Consequences: Part 1

Like you, and perhaps like many other educators, administrators, and parents, I was excited when the New York City Department of Education adopted the Special Education Reform.  At that time, I was working with the specialized district in the city, namely District 75, and I was seeing the influx of students whom I felt could have been given a better chance in a regular school, perhaps with supports, perhaps with a self-contained setting.  I was appalled at the numbers of students who were referred to District 75 daily.  So, when the special education reform became policy, I could not wait to see its results.  What I could not anticipate was how quickly I would get to see its unintended consequences.

My brother Fernando, whose LRE was District 75

For starters, what is the special education reform?  To answer this question, I am going to be specific to New York City, even though similar versions of this have happened everywhere in the United States.  The New York City Department of Education decided the citywide rollout of this policy would start in the Fall of 2012, with a partial rollout as early as 2010.  It entailed following the provisions of the law at its core, regarding diligence when applying the LRE (least restrictive environment) to placement of children in special programs.  At its heart, the special education reform “is aimed at ensuring that all students with disabilities are educated to high academic standards, in the least restrictive setting that is academically appropriate, and at the same schools they would have access to if they did not have IEPs,” as then-Chancellor Walcott said in a letter.

My brother Fernando, whose LRE was District 75

As I mentioned, this all sounds good.  After all, we are following the letter of the law and applying its provisions.  Right?  That’s what I thought at the beginning.  I felt that too many students were being recommended services in a specialized school that could be managed in a regular school.  But what happened after the beginning of the rollout (between 2010 and 2012), was that many of the students who would have stayed at their regular schools in self-contained classes (see the continuum of services here), were now being recommended for District 75 schools. 

Why was this happening?  Many of the psychologists I talked to told me that since their schools were no longer supporting self-contained classes (whether in elementary, middle school, or high school), they felt that the children they were supporting would be better served in a smaller class, even if that meant transferring them to a specialized school.  This was the opposite of what the reform intended!  I was appalled, but I was even more appalled at the fact that there were close to zero self-contained classes available for these children that needed them.

My brother Fernando, whose LRE was District 75

Over time, and while I was still working with District 75, we noticed that the influx of students who had specialized school recommendations waned a bit, and for me, this meant that perhaps students were receiving more accurate recommendations at the school level.  Little did I know what was happening on the other side of the fence.  Students in public schools were being recommended classes in their regular public schools, but the services were far from being accurate for the children they were supposed to serve.

Do you want to learn more about the special education reform and its unintended consequences?

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow and check out our YouTube channel and free/private Facebook group.

See you tomorrow!

Dr. Ingrid Amorini-Klimek.

Messy laundry? Try Biz and Kids ‘N Pets!

This post is part of the Biz Kids ‘N Pets sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the product provided by the sponsors.

You probably know that in my life as a special needs consultant I constantly get questions about many different aspects of parenting and especially regarding special needs parenting. Some of those questions can be quite complex but some of them are actually quite mundane, so to speak.

One of the issues that we normally talk about is how to teach children independent skills and keep them clean, or the house clean, or their clothes clean, at the same time! I’m sure that most of you already know the answer to that: Trying to do both at the same time is nearly impossible. So what do I recommend as a specialist? Let your child experiment with independent tasks and find a good way to clean the mess. There is just no other way around it!

Of course, I try to find ways to minimize the mess, using adaptive utensils, wearing a smock, or even trying to find cleaning products that will help parents deal with the mess so that I can get to the business of promoting children’s independence. I typically recommend products and use different tips that I have learned along the way to help parents clean the mess that we leave behind.

Enter Biz and Kids ‘N Pets. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to try them myself. Like many other people, at the pandemic’s outset, we adopted a puppy from a local shelter. He is a very active Australian cattle dog that needs a lot of activity and attention. He is also prone to messes! For months (since he was adopted basically, in March), we had been looking for a product that would help us get rid of some of the stains that still remained even after the constant washing.

My beloved puppy Ozzie.

See those blankets? We are constantly washing them, but we are not always successful removing the stains. We used Biz to treat the stains, and here are the results (before and after pictures below).

Before
After

What a difference! My husband also tried the Kids ‘N Pets to pretreat other stains, with similar results. These products are designed with the enzymes that are needed to remove a wide variety of stains. As they say, they don’t cut any corners with their products. These products are quality products!

So now, I have a new recommendation for the parents I work with: You can trust the effectiveness of Biz and Kids ‘N Pets. I am happy that I found this product and will continue to use it whenever needed (which is pretty often!).

If you want to find out more about these products, visit their websites here and here.

Happy Washing!

Using Behavior Charts to Prevent Tantrums and Power Struggles

How do I manage my toddler’s tantrums?

In my years of practice, I have been asked this question over and over again. And if you have visited my YouTube Channel, you have seen the recommendations that I have made. Now that schools in New York City are closed again due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in the city, this is a question that has come back with a renewed urgency.

Check out this video on how to stop tantrums and my course here.

How do I keep my children from fighting when I have to work from home?

One of the first tools that I suggest when parents tell me that they are having difficulty with their children at home, is the use of a behavior chart. At its core, the behavior chart is really a reward (reinforcement) chart that keeps track of children’s responsibilities at home and helps build responsible behavior. If you use this consistently, it really works!

You can find effective, cost-effective behavior charts here and here.

Don’t forget to leave questions and comments! Do you need a recommendation for a particular toy/product? Please let me know.

Cheers!

Dr. Klimek

The Family I Chose: The Gutierrez Family

“Friends are the family you choose,” my parents would often say when I was young.  As we moved to New York from Buenos Aires, those words became so incredibly real to me.  Being away from my relatives made me look for that warmth and closeness in other places, and as my parents predicted, I found it in my friends.

As a sibling of a child with disabilities, it was always my “job” to be guarded, and to vet every single person that we met.  This was a responsibility that I somehow assumed for myself and took seriously.  This meant that it was always difficult for me to have a large group of friends.  I always preferred a small, but remarkably close group.  I was always protective and picked my friends wisely.

My lucky stars must have aligned the day I met Nelly, a September morning in 1997.  I probably should also thank our daughters, Iliana and Carolina, for having sat together that day in kindergarten class!  Needless to say, that spearheaded a friendship that would stand the test of time.  But through all this time, there was something that really stood out about Nelly, who became like a sister to me, her daughters Iliana and Ivana, who are like my nieces, and their late husband and father, Anibal:  Their ability to understand my brother, love him for who he is, and the desire to be of service to those like him.

From left to right: Ivana, Nelly, and Iliana Gutierrez

I really have no words to express my gratitude to them.  They allowed their love for my brother to serve as a guiding principle in their lives.  I never had to pretend to be anything around them.  I could be myself.  I could express my doubts and my fears.  And most important of all, I could blindly trust them with my brother’s life.  After all, they designed their lives around children and adults with disabilities:  Nelly, Iliana, and Ivana all work in the field, in different capacities, and make a huge difference in people’s lives daily. 

From left: Ivana, Iliana, and Nelly

And when I say they make a difference, I really mean it.  They really, really do.  They all participate not only in their professional capacities but also bend over backwards to advance the rights of people with disabilities around the world.  They fight for access and inclusion in every area of life.  They do this because of their love, commitment, and passion for what is right.

Nelly and I

Nelly, Iliana, and Ivana, thank you for being who you are, and for your respect, love, and dedication.  I am proud to call you my FAMILY.

Unconditional Love

My list of angels and superheroes could never be complete without the special place that Omar, Daniela, and Martin, as well as their mom and dad, my uncle Pedro and my aunt Pierangela had in my life.  They are my cousins, but in reality they are so much more than that.  Truth is, I tried to write this piece so many times, but words are not enough to express my immense gratitude to them.

Daniela and me

My childhood and my life in general were simply made better because of them.  Around them, we were just a family.  We were not special, different, and didn’t need to be “accommodated.”  Life was simply life.  Love was simply love.  And my youngest brother with disabilities was their cousin too. They saw him for who he was.

Daniela and Martin

They presented a micro social experiment of what could be possible.  They presented an alternative. I felt safe.  I felt understood.  I felt heard.  And what’s more important, I felt that my little brother was a person first.  When I was growing up, it was not uncommon for people to see disability first, then, perhaps, the person behind it.

Omar and Daniela

At my cousins’ house this was not the case.

Daniela with my brother Fernando

To Omar, Daniela, Martin, and my late uncle Pedro and late aunt Pierangela, THANK YOU.

Daniela and Martin
Thank You!

Lola Koala Travel Adventures by Dr. Tinita Kearney: Children’s Book Review

September is Children’s book month and I’m so excited I get to review Dr. Tinita Kearney’s Lola Koala Travel Adventures!  This is a skillfully designed book, that takes children through the “Ws:”  WHO/WHAT/WHERE, and also helps them answer YES/NO questions.  As an educator, I know how much young children can struggle to learn these skills.  This is why Dr. Tinita Kearney (Dr.T), a speech pathologist by training, has focused on these language skills and has made them FUN TO LEARN.  Learning and playing are one and the same when it comes to young children. 

Question for the author:  What inspired your story?

Dr. T:  School year after school year I am met with a caseload of unique, eager-to-learn elementary-school-aged students with not-so-unique speech and language issues. And while a percentage of these students have difficulties that require intensive therapy (plus the dedicated involvement of the family and school team), a good portion requires much less involvement from me. It’s this group that I aim to help with my books–by empowering their families to build their language skills at home with consistent, fun practice and resources!

Ready to get a preview of the book?  Take a look at this lovely video of Dr. T reading to her daughter:

Lola Koala Travel Adventures

Looking for a way to teach your toddler how to answer the most important questions (Who/What/Where/Yes and No)?  Grab a copy of your book right here.  Enjoy!