The purpose of the Erickson Learning Center is to help students of all ages academically, socially, and emotionally. We want students to be able to pursue different avenues to their successes and feel comfortable meeting new people and having unique experiences. We also want them to understand that each individual has his or her own unique learning style.
We specialize in teaching individuals with learning disabilities, A D H D, emotional impairments, mental impairments and Autism as well as working with many students who have no impairments. The subject areas that we teach are Reading, Written Expression, Mathematics including higher order Math, Science, Social Sciences, English, Spanish, German, French and many other subjects too. We have students from elementary schools, middle schools, high school, Lansing Community College, Michigan State University and those working on their GED, SAT, ACT, etc. We also work with adults who want to improve their skills.
ERICKSON LEARNING FOUNDATION FUNDRAISING EVENTS COMING IN NOVEMBER 2010. DATES FORTHCOMING...
Helping students reach their full potential through knowledge, caring and a positive learning environment
Siblings of children with disabilities experience unique challenges, opportunities
By Julie Holmquist
The dynamics of any sibling relationship are complex, but the mix of siblings with and without disabilities in a family can create a unique set of challenges for parents and siblings alike. Research has documented several concerns voiced by siblings of children with disabilities, including loss of parental attention, the need for information about the disability, increased care giving demands, and concern about the future. Yet research has also shown that these siblings have a unique opportunity to develop insight into the human condition, maturity from coping with their special needs sibling, appreciation for good health, and other positive characteristics.
The type and severity of the disability, the number of siblings, how far apart they are in age, and how a family deals with disability are among the many factors that can shape the experience of siblings. According to a 2006 National Adult Sibling study conducted by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Centers National Sibling Research Consortium, siblings of adults with disabilities are doing very well overall. In that study, siblings reported that as a group, they spend a fair amount of time with, feel very affectionate and close to, and have benefited greatly from their brother or sister with a disability.
Jodee Kozlak, executive vice president of human resources at Target Corporation, and her youngest sister, Amy Stapleton, would agree with that positive viewpoint. They share their perspectives on the impact a child with a disability can have on siblings.
Prepare for the best
Jodee was 10 years old when her brother John, at 15 months old, had a brain injury. He now functions at a preschool level. My parents were told that they couldnt predict anything about Johns future and to prepare for the worst, Jodee says. They said if you cant predict anything, then well prepare for the best!
Her parents philosophy set the tone for this big Greek family. My three sisters and I responded to John as a hero. I believe I was deeply influenced by my family and their viewpoint of looking at the situation as a positive one. You never give up, and our parents didnt give up on our brother. They believed in human capability and undying love, and being proud of John, not being embarrassed but celebrating his life.
That philosophy meant including John as much as possible in family life. It was very important to us as a group to include John, Jodee says. I remember taking him to the grocery store and the looks we got from people because of his unpredictable behavior. As a family, our response was to say, tough! We deliberately included him.
As the oldest of five children, Jodee had a different experience then her sister Amy, who at age 38 is only one year older than John. He was more of a playmate for her, Amy says, but she also remembers the public reactions to her brothers behaviors. I remember our parents taking us out to the movie theatre, Amy says, John was hyperactive and would make noises and clap his hands. I remember getting so upset about the way people looked at us
and wishing he had a physical disability so they would know.
Johns disability did not stop Amy from inviting her friends to her home, however. My best friends all just loved John. Even to this day they ask about him.
While both sisters remember their childhood years with John in a positive light, there were also certain restrictions and extra responsibilities that came with being Johns sister. For me it meant very much taking on additional responsibilities so my parents had time with John, Jodee says. We arranged things so we all had time with him and our mom would have a break. She remembers having to quit her first job so she could be home to care for her sisters and start dinner.
Im sure there were times when I thought, bummer, but we all did our part, Jodee says. As a family we came together and believed in the power of hope, love, and attention.
She also remembers her sisters feeling disappointed when they couldnt do something because of John but said they never dwelled on it.
Because there were four of us older sisters, there were two others who helped immensely, added Amy. Even though it was difficult at times, we all just naturally pitched in and shared in helping care for John.
During Johns middle school years, his bus trip home from school took one hour. I remember being at home after school waiting for his bus, Amy says. I couldnt be in after-school activities for that time period. That stands out. I had to be home to help get John off of the bus.
There were other inconveniences, Jodee recalls. Sure, there were places you didnt go or vacations you didnt take, and we really had to respect his routines. But our home was the hang out place for our friends that wasnt an issue. His disability was never something behind the scenes.
Despite these limitations and responsibilities, both Jodee and Amy attribute many positive character traits growing up with John. It causes you to be really resilient and less judgmental and gives you a wider scope of experience, Jodee says. Im just not fazed by things. I have a huge tolerance and righteousness that everyone belongs.
The time spent babysitting her siblings during her childhood, she notes, probably would have been her fate even if John had not been her brother.
We are a big Greek family, so we had grandmothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles around and in and out of the house all the time. As the oldest of five and often the one taking care of other cousins, I think I would have ended up in charge anyway.
Being Johns sister helped Amy be more accepting and to appreciate others who were unique or who were cognitively challenged. It definitely helped me to become a more patient person and also competitive in a sense, she says.
Both sisters remember how hard John worked, and how much he had to focus to accomplish something. Here was a person with a disability, and there was nothing stopping him, Amy says. Watching him encouraged me to try harder and not give up.
Amy believes that her parents were good at not letting Johns disability become an obstacle for their other children. She recalls the once-a-year vacations to places such as Disneyland that would have been impossible without respite care for John.
I did not feel like I had less attention, Amy says of her childhood. I almost felt that John being a special needs child pulled the family together.
Today, their 37 year old brother lives in a group home with three other men near their parents house and works five days a week. Every Sunday he visits his parents, and his siblings call or visit on a regular basis. Because John has a normal life expectancy and their parents are growing older, Jodee and her sisters are beginning to think about Johns future care. Just recently weve agreed that we need to get my parents out of the winter for a few weeks. They have been reluctant to travel because of John, but we are committing to taking care of John when they are on vacation.
Involve all siblings in family events and decisions.
Require the child with the disability to do as much for himself or herself as possible.
Recognize each childs unique qualities and family contribution.
Recognize special stress times for siblings and plan to minimize negative effects.
Teach siblings to interact.
SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS NEEDED
The Erickson Learning Foundation, Inc. is a private, non-profit corporation with 501(c) 3 status with the IRS. The Foundation is governed by a twelve-member Board of Directors and is administered by an Executive Director with a Scholarship Committee of three members. One member of the Scholarship Committee is from our Board. All members of the Foundation volunteer their time, including the CPA.
The goal of the Foundation is to grant at least 95% of funds received directly to needy individuals for scholarship purposes. Currently the Foundation is granting over 99% of funds received from donors.
This has been a very difficult year for the Foundation. We continue to contact people and companies for funding scholarships for our students in financial need. Please let us know of any sources of scholarship funds for our Foundation. Thank you for your support!
Its in Your Hands
Its in your hands- the knowledge key that must unlock curious minds. Young minds that love to seek and learn bright minds that yearn to strive.
Its in you hands- the knowledge key
That builds up self-esteem. Encouraging, motivating, giving of your time so that a child may dare to dream.
Its in your hands-and with that key be determined to give them your best
With leadership..inspiration and fortitude, yes, qualities that will withstand the test.
Branches and additional offices:
(517) 347-01222043 Hamilton Rd Lansing, MI 48906
(517) 789-7889211 W Ganson St Jackson, MI 49201
(517) 327-95064710 W Saginaw Hwy Lansing, MI 489172654