Autism, Bullying, fine motor skills, homework, Special Education

Are YOU on the spectrum??

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If you’re a teen, young adult or parent of a child on the spectrum and you’re reading this, could you give me some advice?  M is in 3rd grade and so far… we’ve pushed.  We’ve pushed through projects and homework and presentations and school events (as he was able).  Now we’re really really having to push.  Homework is much harder, therapy takes more work, everything is so much more effort.  I don’t mind it, it seems to (slowly) be taking hold and he is indeed getting the work done, but it is truly a monumental effort on his part.  So my question is this.  Did your parents/caregivers push you “through” your school work and through your therapies?  Did it work?  Was it worth it?  Are you thankful or did you notice?

We recently had his homework load reduced to an “as he is able” basis.  Sometimes he can do more, sometimes he can’t.  It was like walking through molasses.  We received permission to use dictation software to help him with tests where writing was involved so that he could meet time requirements without worrying about his motor skill abilities.  He uses headphones to handle noise when he needs to.  He uses lists in his folders to remember what he is supposed to be doing without having to ask repeatedly.  The supports are helping.  I just want him to do the very best he can, but I don’t want to push him beyond his capabilities if that makes sense.  Any thoughts anyone?

I haven’t posted lately because ever since M had that verbal assault on the playground from a parent, mentioned in my last post, I have been rather shook up.  I am trying to come out of it.  There are other things to do – too many balls in the air to fixate on just one.  In any case, I may be a bit all over the place here.  Just hang on.  That’s what I do!

I would like Miss S to join Daisy Scouts next year, but there isn’t a younger scout troop at the school, so I am volunteering to be a Daisy Scout leader since I will no longer have any littles with me during the day.  I’m actually really looking forward to it!  I loved scouting when I was a little girl.

#BeFierce  #HangOn

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

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Autism, Bullying, Playground, Special Needs

Playground Antics

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I have got to grow thicker skin.  Or home school.  One of the two.

My boy M.  He gets the short end of the stick on the playground so often.  When he was younger, maybe 5 or 6, he would get pushed around at the park sometimes because he didn’t understand how to interact with children as well as others and sometimes they made fun of him.  He didn’t realize they were making fun of him and that made them mad!  So eventually they would resort to physical pushes and punches which he understood hurt, but not why he was being hurt.  Eventually he learned to push back and punch back.  It was a big milestone for him!  And also, the beginning of hard knocks on the playground.  He’s a kid, it’ll happen.  Well, in our “everyone’s a bully society”, the parents jump first and ask questions later.  I admit, I’ve done the same thing – we’re all worried about our own children.  Its a safety issue.  The problem is that many children never learn to fix their own problems.

I am so angry.  A dad on the playground today verbally assaulted M like he was an adult.  He was raving at him and M didn’t know how to respond.  He just started screaming.  He’s 8.  I RAN over to where this was happening and tried to redirect the man’s anger towards me.  The dad kept repeating himself over and over and eventually I said that we needed to either call the paramedics, an attorney or let it go.  After everyone calmed down we eventually had the children talk about how hitting was not appropriate behavior for the playground.  M apologized 3 times, tried to fist-bump and shake hands with the boy and the boy refused to participate.  Those are huge social milestones for M.  He even called the boy a “little dude”.  SO much progress.  In the end, it wasn’t the dad that went to the school to make a report.  It was me.  M is currently so afraid of the dad, he doesn’t want to go to the playground.  I am sure we don’t have all the information.  Still, stress.  Over a playground.  ::headdesk::

Ugh.  Its stuff like this that makes me want to home school.  Stupid politics.

Anxiety, Autism, fine motor skills, Special Education, Special Needs

If you’re not mad as hell, you’re just not paying attention.

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This week has been very busy and rather anxiety ridden for me.  You see the thing about having a special needs child is that you really need an amazing support system.  The other thing about having a special needs child is that you don’t always have the time to engage that support system.  So, I am the special needs co-chair on the elementary school’s PTA.  There were only 2 other special needs parents who attended the first PTA meeting of the year, and one of those was the other special needs co-chair!  The thing is that its often much, much more difficult to leave a SN child with a sitter if they have to be somewhat trained, experienced, etc.  Even if you have a sitter that can handle them, it can often be a challenge to leave for a variety of other obstacles.  For example, M wanted the sitter to help him with his homework, not me.  My answer, “No”.  M, “But whyyyyy?”.  “Because she won’t know which parts of your homework to push you to do and which parts you need some guidance with.”  It can be so challenging to figure out when they are being stubborn with a self-care (hair washing) or homework job (reading directions) and  when they simply can’t do it, re:  tying shoes, drawing detailed pictures for math).  I digress.  So, at the first meeting of the week I spoke up to get other SN parents involved in our newly formed parent support group for the school.  The second meeting, regarding the curriculum for the year, was done by grade level and because M has an IEP (individualized education plan), some parts of the curriculum are a little different for him, but still.  I was the only parent who spoke up concerned about the math portion.  There are entire Facebook groups dedicated to how awful our math curriculum is here.  Its time consuming, strays off topic and is harshly skewed toward children with certain motor skill and reading abilities.  In addition to the old school word problems, which while not my forte’ are certainly relevant for applying what you know, the children are expected to write descriptions related to most math problems and draw what I consider to be large, detailed pictures to go along with it.  M is really good at math and up until this point he has done amazingly well with his “drill” sheets of addition, subtraction and multiplication.  His teachers even started using it as a confidence builder for his reading, which due to his ASD is not at grade level.  He does math first, to build his confidence, works on his reading, and as a reward, gets to to some more math.  Now it seems they are taking that away?  I am SO angry.  Spitting fire angry.  I feel like the curriculum is taking away the one subject that M can relax with and enjoy and stretch his mind instead of struggle, and they’re making it another obstacle for him to tackle.  Because he doesn’t have enough of those with pretty much the rest of his life.  /sarcasm.  So I brought this up at the school meeting and the other parents looked at me like I had grown a second head.  Really??  You’re ok with this??  Have you seen the homework they’re sending home??  Its ridiculous.  G says that most likely those parents had no idea what I was talking about because…. they just weren’t paying attention.  They may not have needed to.  If you have a neurotypical child who can handle multiple skills at once and integrated learning in that manner then it may have just been one of those moments where you thought, “Oh, wow, they sure taught that differently in MY day”.  When you have a ASD child who has difficulty accessing the education due to a skill imbalance, its a whole new ballgame.  I understand the school only has 1 curriculum, but how is M  supposed to learn like that.  If he is unable to use his math skills because the math is being  integrated with reading comprehension and oddly, fine motor skills with the drawing, and it is combined with a subject where he is performing at a grade level or two below the math, what comes out in the mix?  Has he then lost all quantifiable skill?  How is it possible to accurately assess that?  So I’m mad.  And I’m not sure what to do.  I did have some good conversations with the SpEd teachers (2 of them anyway) about why this is happening, but its not making me feel any better about it.  I’m looking at alternatives.  I’m not just letting this go.

Be Fierce.  #GetMad

Kelly

#IamAFierceMom

Autism, fine motor skills, growing, SAHM, Shopping

That is not my favorite color!

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Did you know that they don’t make (most) boys’ shoes with velcro after size 3?  Nope.  Welcome to shoelace-land.  So with school around the corner, we were out shoe shopping today.  The real kind of shoe shopping – not the kind where you pop into Target for some flip-flops.  The children were measured for their shoes and are on average about a size larger than last year.  It took about half an hour or so for us to get Mr. A and Miss S all settled with their new kicks.  For M, however, the whole process was more difficult.  We learned that because of his new size, there aren’t anymore light-up sneakers.  *sad face*  It also means that there aren’t too many options with velcro.  (Where we were shopping, there was only one pair of velcro shoes and they were gray.  I think possibly he was personally offended by the color.  “That is not my favorite color!”)  Slip on varieties such as Vans were an option, but there were limited styles.  Anyway, we knew it was coming.  We knew that one day soon we would have to sit down and work with those motor skills on shoe tying.  I may order some of those little squiggly things that go in shoes instead of laces just in case, but we’re really going to work on tying shoes this week.

Initially, M wanted some red and blue Geoux sneakers like his brother Mr. A.  After realizing that they didn’t have them in his size, we checked the men’s department out for alternatives.  M was not thrilled. I was not thrilled.  The men’s department??  Really??  He’s 9!!  Still.  He has big feet.  He’s growing.  I can do this.  Ok, the men’s department it is.  They didn’t have anything that really looked like a boy, so we decided to break for lunch and go to another department store.  After a minor meltdown whereupon we nearly put that, “No Shoes, No Service” rule to the test, we had lunch.  At the second department store we  (again) explained to M that he couldn’t have light-up shoes anymore, they just didn’t make them in his size.  He was saddened, but he was coping.  Then we had to break it that there really was no velcro option available to us on that day except for the slip-ons.  He had a hard time with this one.  Mostly I think he felt like he was losing control of his situation.  He could no longer dictate what kind of shoe he wanted in terms that he understood.  We went through rows and rows of shoes.  This took literally all afternoon.  He was to the point of refusing to wear his own shoes that he had worn into the store, until we found new shoes.  We began to focus on colors and he decided that red would be his color choice because it was similar to the first pair he looked at earlier in the day.  We went through all the red shoes and eventually he reluctantly agreed to a pair of very red sneakers.  Fabulous.  The relief!  G and I felt like we had run a marathon.  We quickly changed gears and headed to a playdate at the park with friends.  The trials and tribulations of shoe shopping were quickly forgotten, but I did have to re-tie M’s shoes several times.  Gotta work on those skills.  One problem at a time!  Third grade here we come!

*side note:  Incidentally – Miss. S’s shoes….um, they’re musical.  I’m going to let that sink in.  ::::MUSICAL:::::  When you walk, the toes light up.  When you put the toes of the shoes together, they play music and the toes and heels light up.  Yeah.  We did not realize that until we got home.  I have to say, it was a little weird discovering that we had bought our daughter musical shoes.  I just don’t even know what to think.  I suppose it will add a new dimension to waiting in lines…

pTSA-20396289p275wMiss S’s musical shoes.

Twinkle Wishes by Skechers.  Photo by Sports Authority.

Be Fierce.  #dropthegrayshoes

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Autism, church, Food, Special Needs

“You know you’ve sworn off BAKERIES for lesser offenses..”

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This was what my husband said to me after tiring of hearing about all of our church drama.  I just stopped mid-sentence.  Um, yeah, but its a church, not a doughnut.  I do really really love gourmet doughnuts.  You may recall my post here where I just “lost it” while waiting in line at Bennison’s, a local bakery here.  Quick recap:  I have 3 children plus DH and myself, I spend a minimum of $18 walking into a bakery and usually its more if we get loaves of bread or rolls, etc.  Its hard for me to get there to begin with, what with all the wiggly ASDness and whatnot, and its usually a “treat” for my children.  I don’t expect special treatment, but I do expect to get my “turn” in line after I’ve been waiting there for ages.  In any case, I know what he meant.  “Leave the drama alone”.  Per our difficulty with our special needs child at church and other religious education goals not lining up, we have officially left our church and the notification e-mails have been sent and phone calls made.  Here was my original post about that.  I am more upset than I thought I would be, but I do think it was the right decision in the long term.  I am most sorry that I have lost a couple of new, but good friends from the congregation due to just…. drama I guess.  I’m not even sure what happened.  Here are the reasons we left the church:

  1. Our spiritual journey is not aligned with that of the church and we can’t in good conscience continue along this path of religious education for our children.
  2. Our children are getting older and moving into the “big kid” classes.  It is important to us to have a more structured environment for their religious education.  At this time the staff, model and  structure for caring for our ASD child does not meet our needs.
  3. We have felt that the church is becoming more and more committed to social outreach causes instead of nourishing the body and spirituality within the church.
  4. Along with ministering to those with regards to racial diversification, economic inequality and immigration reform, ministering to individuals with special needs and the families who care for them can indeed be its own method of “outreach” into the community and we would like to be in a place where this is more of a priority.

I was also especially hurt because our “spiritual journey” is pushing us in more of a conservative direction right now and its just not something that I ever thought I would be judged for.  We don’t all take the same path.

Anyway, I’m off to Hewn.  They have amazing croissants.  😉

Be Fierce.  #Dropthatdoughnut

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Autism, church, SAHM, Special Education, Special Needs

Closing one door, opening another…

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We have dealt with all manner of surprising situations since being blessed with our special needs child. Regularly and often we get to see just how strong and or talented or smart we actually are.  Our convictions and morals are put to the test on such a regular basis that we really don’t have the time to be “wishy-washy” on many issues.  We have to pick a side and just stick to it!  Sometimes of course, we make a bad decision or one that just wasn’t too smart.  We learn fast, pick up and keep going.  We are in the process of making the difficult decision of whether to stay with our current church or pull our family out due to lack of support for Mr. M in Sunday school classes.  We have not had good “long term” church-going experiences.  When we lived “in the city” we found a church close to our home that we loved and could walk to.  We loved the pastor, we loved the people, the location.  It was amazing!  Then we had a baby.  (dun dun dunnn)  Then the pastor left.  Then the personality of the church began to shift and many of our friends left.  Then we had a second baby.  (dun dun dunnn) The baptism of our second child there was so bad we still issue heartfelt apologies for it whenever it is brought up within our family.  He’s 7.  (wah wahh)  Then we moved.  We “church shopped” and found a church in our town that seemed to fit well with our values and our family needs.  We love the pastor and his family, the church is adorable and their children’s programming for little ones is lovely!  The problem is that for older children, the religious education is much more… fluid.  It isn’t a big program because the church doesn’t have a lot of families.  It is a very lean program and while they are willing to support Mr. M to some extent in his class, the special needs families are expected to do much of the heavy lifting with respect to teaching, classroom support and communication within the children’s program.  I hate to be the person that’s all, “this is too hard, I can’t do it”.  But… this really is too hard, and I can’t do it.  I understand that many people do not see all that I do within a school year or even over the summer, but I do a lot and I cannot take on any more responsibilities.  I just can’t.  So.  It is looking like we are going to be changing churches again.  I am upset.  I am upset for the children.  I am upset for me.  I am upset for DH because he finally found a church where he felt at “home”.  For the next 14 years however, its not just about DH and I, its about the 5 of us and what works for the 5 of us as a group.  I am constantly reminding my family (my own family mind you) of this when we come to visit for an extended stay in the summers.  My warnings go like this:  “Don’t forget that Mr. M can wander and he is sometimes difficult in large groups because of the sound.  You may have to repeat instructions to him umpteen times and still, we may not be able to do all the activities that your group does.  Miss. S is still a toddler and pretty much talks continuously unless she is asleep.  Mr. A can be very loud and hyper-active.  There are 5 of us!  That’s a lot of people in your house!”  This is my life.  This is my group.  We go as a package or we don’t go at all.  So… we’re looking at possibilities for our family to join a new church.  There is a church we have been “supplementing” our children’s RE programming with because they are a large church and have a much larger children’s program, so we will most likely end up there. They have more staff, more support and many many families.  They are used to children and they welcome them.  They have a school-age  mid-week “club” for kids and one for younger toddlers too.  They even offer a couple of camps per year.  The downside is that I don’t know that DH and I will fit in there as well as we do at our current church.  Oh well.  See?  This is where I get to test my convictions.  Do I really act as I say I do?  Well, yes, I do.  Or at least I try to.  I know in my heart this is the right decision for our family and well, at least we’ll have a common thread at the new church.  Its a start.  A new start.

Be Fierce.  #OpenANewDoor

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Anxiety, Children's Schedule, SAHM, Special Education

Please Cancel My Subscription, I don’t Need Your Issues

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Hello all.

Oh the playground drama.  ::::deep breath:::: Heavens.  Just gives new meaning to the phrase “Bless Your Heart”. I have this fear that someone else’s playground drama is going to leech out and attach itself to me or my children and then I will be involved in the drama and it will follow me around and cause me nervousness and make me an anxiety-ridden deer-in-headlights.  Did I start in the middle again?  Do you know what “playground drama”is?  Playground drama:  When the values of 100+ families who pick their children up from school (on the playground) clash, causing adults to argue with other adults or children alike, eventually resulting in angry Facebook posts, calls to the school and telephone-like rumors involving wildly outrageous tales and fire-breathing dragons.  I avoid it when at all possible.

I am overly sensitive about getting into rows with other parents because of my special needs child.  Its so difficult to find out anything that actually happened when an incident occurs.  In my experience, most parents of typically developed children begin on the defensive unless they know me personally, instead of relaying facts.  This makes it incredibly difficult when you have a child who can’t actually tell you what happened to them from their point of view.   You can see why I would be a bit jumpy around the drama.

I recently saw someone else having drama which was in our friend-group and I have since started taking my children to the other playground just to avoid the possibility of drama-contagion.  It wasn’t even happening to me, but it was close by.  Too close!  Also, it must be said, I believe that some of this may have to do with stress levels being unusually high with the end of the school-year approaching.  I seem to remember this happening the last couple of years as the end of school year got closer.  You’d think everyone would be too tired to argue, wouldn’t you?  I know I certainly am.  Soccer games, birthday parties, travel plans, extra-curricular classes, school projects and clubs.  I’m DONE.  Bring on the beach!!  Maybe my approach is too extreme.  I dunno, I generally do what I have to do to get through my day with the least amount of stress possible. If that involves switching playground sides, so be it.

*Oh no!  Is this in contrast to being fierce??  Oh, I dunno.  This marathon I run, its really about stamina.  That’s pretty fierce.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly