Friday, February 23, 2007

I've Been Meaning to Write...

...but life just keeps happening around me and not leaving much time to breathe. I've been meaning to write about the things that have been coming home in SmallBoy's notebook, good & bad. I've been meaning to write about Girl's latest round of injuries (none due to her insane sports schedule, believe it or not). I've been meaning to write about LargeBoy's first "big purchase," and I don't count the iPod, since that was gift money. I've been meaning to write about the new paint job in the house so that we can jack up the equity and hopefully get a good re-finance rate. I've been meaning to write about how North Country is just crashing onto the scene. I've been meaning to write about SmallBoy's sleepover, when his bestest bud, PQ, stayed, and how the whole social thing played out. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK....I've had a lot to write about, but no time. When I manage to find the time, either someone else is on the computer, I'm insanely busy at work, or my laptop is busy crashing for the 10th time in 4hrs (no virus, it just hates me).

Let's start with SmallBoy, though, since he's the important one in this whole posting. I've mentioned before what great success we're having with the notebook that we're using to communicate between school and home. It's been helping all of us - SmallBoy, the teachers, and us, of course, to keep track of SmallBoy's comings and goings, send suggestions back to the teachers, send notes from J the Fabulous OT, etc... I've made smaller, one page, mini-notebooks for the teachers that he sees for the specials - music, art, Spanish, computer, library, gym. It truly is an amazing tool and I can't believe it took so long for me to pick up on it.

Every once in a while, though, I seem to be unprepared when the notebook comes home saying that SmallBoy had a bad day, even less prepared when he's had an awful day, and just dumbfounded when he's had an atrocious day. Why? Don't know. Last week, after having just a terrible week or so prior, due to schedules, Ex being a schmuck, SmallBoy feeling under the weather and just down on himself in general, the notebook came home and I was prepared. All week I had read about the difficulties that he had been having and sending the notebook back the next day with my tips and bits of SmallBoy wisdom. I didn't expect this entry to be any different than the rest, but was hopeful for something good. HA. I wish I could quote it verbatim, but I don't have it in front of me, but the premise was this: the teachers were chatting and thought that perhaps SmallBoy could also have ODD (for those of you not in the land of abbreviations, learning disabilities, and spectrum disorders, who just happen to be popping by for the first time, ODD is short for Oppostional Defiant Disorder). She asked if this is part of Asperger's, if it is something completely separate, etc. I've gotta tell you, I had that same, WTF moment that I had the first time the school suggested that there was something "wrong" with my child.

ASD, yes, maybe even a little ADHD when his engine gets really revved, but ODD???? Knowing now, from experience and learning, what I didn't know back then, I tried to push out the immediate reaction and attempted to look at it from the teacher's perspective, and consider everything that's been going on with SmallBoy. He's been melting down more frequently in class, especially when he has to make corrections or is overloaded on directions, etc...He's been not "showing respect" to the teachers in the school by speaking to them as he would a friend or a brother & sister when he disagrees with them. He's been melting even further if the teacher gets a little frustrated when he tries to leave the room during the middle of an assignment or classroom project because he's melting down. He's being loud and vocal in his objections to things. He's getting up from his seat and moving around more frequently. He's JUST NOT getting it with some of his assignments and getting upset by that.

Ok, I could see some of his behaviors mimicking those of ODD, but these behaviors are not exhibited outside of the school, and if they are, we understand why he's doing what he's doing and act appropriately, in ways, I suppose, they can't (or won't) at school. Don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking against the school or the teachers, I adore them, they're doing a wonderful job, and were it not for the notebook going back and forth, this situation could have gotten MUCH worse. I knew, again from the experience and scads of books that I've read, that ODD was NOT what we were looking at. The teachers happen to be with SmallBoy for some of the things that set him off the most - FRUSTRATION: due to comprehension issues with reading, due to not knowing how to handle his own disappointment, due to not being able to self-manage a meltdown, due to not being able to sit still, due to his need to be perfect to be "accepted," (gee, I'm pretty sure that I know from whence THIS came, Ex's lack of acceptance of him because in his eyes, SmallBoy is less than perfect?).

I wanted to be certain that I wasn't seeing this with the eyes of denial, as I did initially with the "something's wrong, we need you to have SmallBoy evaluated by the school district," conversation, so when we went to OT that night, I talked to J about the teachers' thoughts. She completely disagreed with the idea of ODD, but agreed with me, that yes, indeed, the teachers are with him for most of the things that will "set him off." She offered suggestions to the teachers, (ie: visual directions on the board in addition to oral directions to the class, allowing him to leave the classroom to a predetermined spot in order to self-manage a meltdown with the caveat that he must ask permission first, and a few more which I'll expand on in another post), and to us on helping SmallBoy learn more self-management techniques.

I am very pleased to report that since this "conversation," things have been better for him. Granted, he's still forgetting assignments, still having outbursts, etc, but he's learning to manage them MUCH better. One such instance happened just last week at an all-school mass. It was a LONG service and, in addition to the homily, there was an additional speaker. A 45-minute long mass is difficult on ANY child his age, especially when expected to act in a "proper" manner, but put this on an ASD-er, and then add an extra 15minutes for a speaker and the scene is set for trouble. Well, our SmallBoy, bored off his rocker with this ridiculously long service, let it be known that the speaker was taking WAAAAAAAAAYY too long! Everyone, of course, turned around to look and, instead of freaking because now everyone was staring, he used that moment of embarrassment (or the "oh-shit-moment"), to self-mange and compose himself. I have to applaud him for that! Since then, he's been fantastic! I'm SO proud of him.

To finish off his "lovely" week, SmallBoy had his "bestest bud" sleep over on Friday night. PQ is SmallBoy's rock and helps keep him on an even keel. He's a truly wonderful kid, we adore him! SmallBoy, as excited as he was about this sleepover, was off in SmallBoy Land. Oh yes, the boys definitely played together for quite a while, but when SmallBoy got bored, that was that. He would go off in another room and hole up with his GameBoy. PQ tried, I tried, PC tried...we all tried to get him to participate in fun things with us but all he wanted was his GameBoy. Perhaps this was his release for all of the stress from the week, because normally, he will come out of SmallBoy Land to hang with PQ and his buds, especially if it's on his turf. Not this time. He'd come out if he felt like it, or if they were playing the Game Cube, but other than that, it was a battle.

The next morning started off very well, the boys got up and played and were happy as clams. They discussed going out in the snow, since we had TONS of it outside. They played video games until I told them to stop. Yeah. That's when it got a little hairy, again. I asked them if they'd like to come and help me make breakfast, to which they both boisterously agreed. They wanted scrambled eggs, and we were going to make biscuits - something quick and easy, and something fun and tactile. I made the eggs and had the boys do the biscuits. Well, this time, SmallBoy was so upset with me for making him come and participate and turn off his game, that even the sensory that he loves so much of handmixing the biscuit dough and squishing it and getting it all over his fingers, was just way too much, but we got it done. It was time to roll and cut. I figured this would be fun, and it was. Each boy took turns rolling out the dough and using the glass to cut the biscuits. We got the biscuits out of the oven just in time for PQ's mom to arrive. We sent them on their way with half a dozen steaming biscuits fresh from the oven and all was well. SmallBoy, after PQ left, was totally bummed that his bestest bud was gone. Though I see this on a regular basis, I'm constantly amazed by the fact that, though SmallBoy wanted more to play with his GameBoy or Game Cube independently, and only interacted with PQ minimally, that he missed him so much when he was gone. What are friends for, though, right?

Ahhhh, m'ijita, my wittew goowah, Girl, in all her glory has managed to injure herself not once, but twice in different parts of her body over 4-day span. This used to be a regular occurence when she was little; we had a pool going on the block to see how many times in one summer she could skin her knees - no, seriously, we did. This time was beyond knee-skinning, however. This time, she was going for something big like "contusions" (she's rather fond of those). That's my Girl!

It all started on Friday at Mission Day, the school fair that benefits the Ursuline Sisters Mission. This is a big deal at school, and, being in 8th grade, it was her last one. She went all out. She won the "sacred" goldfish (long standing tradition - ring toss game, I think), and won a white cake, with chocolate frosting, topped in snow caps candies!! YUMMO!!!!! As the storm on Tuesday had dropped quite a heavy blanket of white fluffy snow upon us (not to mentione dropped the temperature quite a bit), the ground, as you can imagine, was quite frozen. Girl, SmallBoy, & Snood were getting a ride from Snood's father and, on her way to the car, she slipped. In the process of falling, she dropped the cake (which was saved by Snood's father, who would never let anything bad happen to chocolate), and tried to stop herself with one arm while attempting not to drop the goldfish bags. Let's just say the goldfish was in one piece.

(Update: I am now starting day 2 of this post) I was hopeful, when she called me at work and told me she fell, that she had just banged up her funny bone, because we all know what a sting that leaves. Those hopes were dashed when she delivered the next line, "Well, I can't really move it, and my arm is hanging funny." Thankfully I was at the end of my work day, so I bypassed my workout and went straight home to don my Dr. Mom hat. Her arm was definitely hanging funny, but I'm fairly certain that was due to the gigantic swelling of her elbow. She was able to bend it up and touch her shoulder, with pain, mind you, but she could do it. That pretty much quelled any worries I had about it being broken, but you never can tell. I thought about taking her for "just-in-case" x-rays, but they would have been fruitless with all of the swelling. Instead I plied her full of Ibuprofen and the heat/ice treatment and just made her rest. I kept her home from softball practices all weekend, and, thankfully, there wasn't much in the way of basketball. Within a couple of days, the swelling, and the pain, had gone...

...just in time for the 8th grade ski trip. Yep. I said "ski trip." This was a MUCH anticipated trip that had already been cancelled once due to the freezing temps with an even more freezing -30degree windchill. Fortunately, the two week span allowed the sun to awaken from its winter slumber and force its way out from behind the dreary gray winter clouds to warm the earth, or at least out little part of it, to a beautiful 35degrees. The ground was covered with many more inches of snow due to a massive snow storm earlier in the week (see pic at right), and the kids were more than willing to get up at the crack of dawn on their day off to hop on the bus at 6:30 in the morning. They skied all day, somewhere up in Wisconsin or Michigan and finally called around 8:30 that night to say they were almost home, exhausted, but exhilirated. When I spoke with Girl, I asked how the trip was. Her answer, "Well, mom, the first two hours were great, but I hurt my ankle and spent the rest of the day in the lodge. I'll tell you about it when I get home."

My immediate thought went to how lucky she was that she hadn't broken her elbow a few days back, and that I hoped we weren't tempting fate. After hobbling through the door with PC & ET, we did the ibuprofen heat/ice thing (again) while we listened to her tale of woe. The story began with her all so brief lesson on the bunny hill. She quickly ascended through the ranks and graduated from her 20minute course with flying colors. Next she moved on to the beginner hill, which she conquered with ease. Feeling bold, as she is want to do, she took to the intermediate hill. She was cruising along, and was almost to the bottom when IT happened: her ski fell off. Thankfully, she was pretty much at the bottom and was preparing to stop anyway. Unfortunately, the lack of ski left her a little out of control and as she tried to stop, she tumbled into a woman who had already finished the hill. If someone had a video camera, this would have made perfect fodder for AFV, as, after Girl fell into the woman, a classmate came down the hill and fell onto them. I'm not going to get into how rude and uncaring the ski patrol guy was because that's another story, but we'll just leave it at the fact that he was a very incondsiderate jerk who told my daughter that he could have her thrown in jail for being out of control on the ski hill...even the woman she fell onto was defending her.

ANYWAY, of course she did something in the fall to injure herself. We're still not quite certain what it is, but she wasn't swollen this time. Perhaps x-rays would have been helpful, but, nah. We think that she pulled a ligament or something. Thankfully, some pain spray and a couple of really hot baths helped to work this out and she was back at basketball practice the next night. Wearing the Smart Mom hat this time, I intercepted one of the coaches who, thankfully, had already heard the story, and let him know that she was insisting on practicing, but not to let her run. She's fine now, just home with the flu, or something normal like that, now.

LargeBoy - my child is growing up on me. Many moons ago, he played the cello and has since abandoned it for the bass guitar. He is quite accomplished in his songwriting (and novel writing), and has also taken up the acoustic guitar. Taking after his mother and step-dad, he and his buddies are working together to write music (I'm beaming with pride). LargeBoy's had a few issues with his bass, as it's old - I bought it used for him in 2002. It finally cashed out on him last weekend while he was at his friend's house writing. He called me and said, "Mom, is it ok if I buy a new bass? I've got the money, and I've already called the store and they've got one for $500, one for just over $200, and a couple for $99. I'm not even thinking about the $99 ones and I can't afford the $500 one. So, since I have the money saved up, can I go buy it?" We had a conversation about what he was saving the money for, originally - and is still saving for, an Outward Bound trip, and came to the conclusion that, well, it's his money, and he can spend it as he chooses; that he won't be going on the Outward Bound trip for at least another year or two, and that gives him time to save up again. For the most part, just the fact that he called me to ask my permission to make a major purchase, even though it was with his own money, showed me how incredibly responsible he's getting. He'll have no problem saving up the money for his trip! I'm so proud.

I was hoping to have the pictures of the new paint job that we did up already, but they're still in my camera and my laptop is just being stupid, so I haven't loaded them, but I promise I'll try real soon. The colors are fab!

Finally, the band is just bursting out into the world right now. This is keeping us oh so busy, and we're loving it. We've been writing, recording, promoting and haven't had a whole heck of a lot of time to do much else. We put together a demo of a few of the songs we've written, and a couple of cover tunes, and made a fabulous, professional looking insert for it....just tickles me pink. This is so much more than we ever got done with the previous band - and North Country's only been together since January, really. We've received airtime on a few internet stations, including the Susie Doo & Mandy Too Show on Thursdays 1:00 on HomeGrown Radio. Next week we'll be doing a live interview on the airwaves between 5 & 7 CST. See the widget in my sidebar for more info. I'm blanking on the station's .com, but I'll have that and post it ASAP. AND, if you haven't already, click on the little box off to the side here, to listen to our originals. We're extremely pleased with them. The most recent, Pick the Tune, was written by our bass player on Feb. 12, recorded on Feb. 13, and given to his wife as a Valentine's gift the next day. Click here to find out when and where you can hear and see North Country. I can't begin to tell you how incredibly exciting this is!

In the meantime, since I've "talked" your ear off, I'll post this and go back to doing my day job (since I'm sitting at my desk in my office on company time).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Family of 5 Autistic Children on Extreme Home Makeover

I read this through my myspace site and wanted to share it with you.

Also, thanks so much to the outpouring to my previous post. Cherie was quite thrilled by all of the responses and support from the community. You can check in on her blog to follow the progress of the IEP, as it was rescheduled (which seems to be the way IEPs go). I'm so very proud to call all of you my friends.

Now, check out the bulletin below!

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
Date: Feb 13, 2007 3:38 PM

Family With Five Kids With Autism: Extreme Home Makeover Feb. 18

Next Episode: Sunday, February 18, 8/6c "O'Donnell Family"

The only documented family in the U.S. with five autistic children will receive a much needed home. Country music star Trace Adkins performs at a benefit for the family. Click here for more info: Family of Five Autistic Children on Extreme Home Makeover

Friday, February 09, 2007

For A Friend in Need

Hi my favorite sources of support and sanity! I have a friend from my myspace site, Cherie, who is in need of some advice. She lives in Ontario Canada and has a sweet little 4/5 y/o boy named Aidan. He's on the spectrum. Mom is making no headway with the schools and is pleading for advice and suggestions. I'm reposting one of her myspace blogs here and asking for your comments and ideas which I will, then forward on to her (unless, of course you have a myspace account - then you can reply directly to her myspace blog).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - 8:02 PM
It all begins... I knew the day was comign but didn't expect this...

This is going to be a long blog, so grab a cup of tea and sit back.

So this is where things are at:

Aidan attends nursery school three mornings a week for two hours at a time. During this time the nursery school has a schedule and Aidan has done really well in learning how to do all of these activites and transition from one to the next without much difficulty.

The children have 30 minutes of free time a day and during this time Aidan is given about 5 activities to do. Even if he hates the activity he iss till forced to do it. This is something I was not aware of, and it was also not shared with me until today that Aidan was literally having meltdowns after he was being forced to do these things i.e. a puzzle.

So Friday afternoon their is a case conference regarding Aidan being held at his nursery school. At this time his preschool resource witll be there. (This person goes into the nursery school and works one on one with Aidan once a week, and gives the nursery school directions on ways to help Aidan etc... p.s. might I add this woman has been working with Aidan for 1 year now and has done no training with autism...)

Aidans SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) will be attending to give the nursery school different suggestions on how to promote communications with Aidan and activities etc. to keep him using speech. (This SLP has only seen Aidan 3 times and that has been once a month and nothing hands on has happened with her. So I have demanded more one on one speech therapy with Aidan once a week, instead of this once a month for an hour crap.)

All nursery school staff will be present (3 of them) They are great ... really! I swear to god they are all Mary Poppins. Always happy and cheerful... kinda makes me sick haha.... no really they are great.

Anyhow... Aidan SSAH worker (Special Services At Home.... same a s Respite just more hours and she does what I need her to with Aidan. Currently we get about 12-15 hours a week, and we have been concentrating on socializing Aidan out in public, swimming and any activity I feel he needs help with i.e. crafts, task completion activities...etc.)

Of course I will be there as well. I guess I am having a bit of a bitch fit right now, because Aidans Preschool Resource worker has a horrible habit of trying to run the show. It's like she assumes I cannot do it. Trust me, this mamma can more than handle it... infact it is always me giving the sugegstions or getting the tools... I am his advocate. Now I am silly to even say this because we all do this so you know... but these people just don't get it sometimes.

It is important to point out that the Preschool Resource works with all children from all different areas... NOT specifically children with Autism... infact on her caseload,...she has maybe 2 out of 50 that have autism. Ya seriously. She also has not educated herself with autism, learning tools or ways to help Aidan so she in turn isn't able to give those suggestions and advice needed to the nursery school because she doesn't have the training to do it. to me it seems like she is using all methods to teach Aidan... sorta seems like treating a broken leg with a bandaid... She just doesn't have the training necessary. Also being as this is a rural area 2400 people... my options of switching her is pretty limited.

So the preschool resourse phones me at home today to say, "I think we need to video tape Aidan, and send that video in to have him re-evaluated for IBI / ABA" Ok... now in Ontario, Canada only those children who are on the severe end of the spectrum even qualify and Aidan was diagnosed as being mild. Aidan also is past the stages of IBI / ABA and the entire PECS program because he is so verbal, he makes requests, he knows his ABC's, 1-20, Colours and is able to put a few 2-3 word combinations together.

Aidan was seen and assessed by a child psycomotrist (who only deals with autisitc children). I phoned her today as she is the one that the Preschool Rescource wants to haev the video tape sent to. She was as angry and appauled by the suggestion as I am. She said, "Cherie, no matter how many times this child is assessed... he will never be severe... and he defiantly will not benefit from IBI / ABA because he is past that... the skills taught using IBI / ABA ... He already has those skills."

It seems like Aidans Preschool Resource is seeing IBI / ABA as the be all end all therapy to cure this child and that is just not the case. She drives me crazy. I have had to limit her time around me because she seriously makes me want to beat her. I realize that a large portion of her clients parents, ... do not know who to contact or what services to access. A lot also are not really great parents and lack skills, like the ability to do laundry, wash a floor or cook. These are all areas I do NOT need help in. This she knows.

So back to the Nursery School and Preschool Resource. So I am being told when Aidna is at the nursery school that they are having a hard time transitioning him from one task to the next and that he is having meltdowns, or it is taking two of them to physically move him to the next activity.

What are your thoughts???

I am thinking...

1) He isn't getting enough 1 on 1

2) He is being given to many options and is overwhlemed

3) Aidan is being forced to do activities he hates (don't get me wrong of course he has to be pushed and forced to try new things but is in necesssary every morning that he is there??)

4) 3 mornings in a row Aidan has cried when I have dropped him off... this is something that he never did before... why is he doing this???

Again we have a meeting Friday so any imput you could give me or suggestions... hit me with them, because I want him to continue at the nursery school but I also want everyone else to get it together and put some emphasis on Aidan and the fact that he does have autism..... nott hat autism is everything but he does have it.

Ok... what has worked for you guys???

I feel lost...

Gees I hope this makes sense... lol

I know you guys are full of resources & suggestions. This is what I wrote in response:

Hey Cherie -
First, I want to applaud you for YOUR restraint for not beating the crap out of that woman! Secondly, I also blog at MommyGuilt with a group of wonderful parents of kids on the spectrum. These people are from around the globe, from different population sizes, different school systems, etc... I urge you to also pop over there and start reading and checking out their blogs. A couple of bloggers you should check out are Kristina, whose Charlie is more towards the severe end of the spectrum, andKyra, whose 5 y/o "Fluffy" has Asperger's. Both are fountains of knowledge on programs, schools, resources, helpers, etc. Pick their brains and tell them I sent you.

Extremely important:-YES, YOU are Aidan's advocate! You know what strategies work best with him. Try to, without seeming on the defensive, push this to the teachers, perhaps by writing a "manual" or an "about me" from Aidan - I'd be happy to send you a couple of the ones we did for SmallBoy. Also, very important, especially if the school staff seems to feel the need to take charge of the meeting and push you off to the side. See if the psychomotorist is available to either attend the meeting, in person or via conference call.

In answer to your questions:
1) He isn't getting enough 1 on 1 - Probably not, but from the way it sounds, it's because the school, as we all say, doesn't "get it." They need education from YOU on the best things to do for Aidan.
2) He is being given to many options and is overwhlemed - Absolutely. I hate to use this analogy, but it might be the simplest for the teachers to's like when your computer is taking too long to process your commands and then overloads because you keep pushing the buttons over and over trying to make it respond...Same theory in play here.
3) Aidan is being forced to do activities he hates (don't get me wrong of course he has to be pushed and forced to try new things but is in necesssary every morning that he is there??) - No, it's not necessary, especially at his age. If they could choose, say , one activity a week to have him work on and let the other ones slide for that week, then perhaps he could slowly be worked into them. Also, if the teachers help him do the activity in a "fun" a way that they are doing it together, that sometimes helps. Look into RDI (Relationship Development Intervention). That sounds like the track that you guys should be doing, particularly if he's well past ABA and is verbal.4) 3 mornings in a row Aidan has cried when I have dropped him off... this is something that he never did before... why is he doing this??? - It could be a number of things: stress, anxiety in anticipation of being made to do something he doesn't want to or doesn't understand.

Oh and back to the meltdowns: If those teachers had any clue, they'd understand that he's in nursery school and he's on the spectrum....of COURSE he's going to have meltdowns. What you need to do now is find a plan to help him work his way out of the meltdowns, either on his own or with their assistance.

Check out my MommyGuilt blog and get in touch with some of the wonderful people on there. They'll give you some guidance and some suggestions. They're great great people.

She needs your suggestions. Thanks guys!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Little Drummer Boy

Thursday and Friday gave a different appearance to my living room. Drums, obviously, recording equipment, etc....The band was doing some recording for our site and for a demo. Needless to say, things were a little different. As you can see from the pics, we moved the coffee table into the tv room and landed ET's drum kit smack in the middle of the front room. We dropped in microphones, recording equipment, chairs, wires, guitars, and all of the necessaries, all of which required precarious stepping when maneuvering through the room. I was hoping that this wouldn't throw off the rhythm of the Not-So-SmallBoy. Oh it certainly did not. He was LOVING having all of the music in his house. He tried out the microphone, helped us check levels and popping p's, come to think of it, checked out the recording equipment, watched with great intrigue as the recording was done. We were a tad concerned, since the mics were live and we were recording in the living room as opposed to a quiet little studio somewhere, but everyone kept their noise to a minimum and we were fine (except when PC was dancing and none of us could hold back our laughter).

We watched as SmallBoy took "notes" on the recording board - lots of buttons, lights, sliders, and dials. To observe him, one would think that he was taking mental photographs of the board so that he could sit down and operate it after just one lesson. He was so intent, hovering over the board, trying to glean as much knowledge as he could. It was amazing. His eyes were ablaze in wonderment and focus...oh yes, he was incredibly focused, especially as he watched our friend, Colondo - who was recording us, use the board. I've only ever seen him focus like this on video games, it was amazing. Oh, you should have seen him. But it was the drums that drew the most interest. I've already got a baby grand piano in my living room, I hope this is just a passing thing...or do I?

It was with the same focus and hunger for learning the recording board that he listened and watched ET show him what to do on the drums. ET showed him how to hold the stick properly, what part of the cymbals to use, how to use the high-hat and the kick pedals, what the snare is for, and away he went. He was happy as a clam. He PLAYED...he didn't just bang away hitting random drums. He was making rhythm This child has never played the drums before and it seemed almost natural to him. Sure, ET kept guiding him, but everything ET said, he absorbed, like a sponge, and applied. He wanted to play those drums all night. He was doing great!

"What a great resource," I thought to myself. A new tool for OT, perhaps? Could this be something to help when his engine is too high, and to help him with the musical blood that runs through his veins to reach its potential? Hell, he can sit down at a piano and make music - he can't play, per se, but he can find chords and patterns that make musical "sense" and that sound good together. He's got a knack for this music stuff. I know they say that kids on the spectrum tend to be really good in areas of music/math, and SmallBoy most certainly is. Hmmm....makes me wonder....should I get him a small drum kit for his room? A drum pad crossed my mind, but it won't be the "same" for him, know what I mean? Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Notebook

No, not the movie, sillies, I'm referring to the communication notebook between home and teacher. I have spoken about it before and how helpful it has been. I encourage all of you, especially if you have difficult time getting information from the teachers/school - for whatever reason - to encourage its use. We don't have it mandated by an IEP plan, we just do it because we don't always have time to chat on the phone each day. Mrs. M writes to me each day, just a blurb or so if it's easy, and a bit longer if it's been a rough one, then I respond with what we've done in response to her entry, and add in if he's having a high/low engine morning, what might have happened at home since coming home from school, if he's frustrated over homework, if he's not feeling well, get the idea. It's an invaluable tool for us.

The notebook is not without its downside, however. Ocassionally, SmallBoy, having had a particularly rough day, will go through the notebook and scratch out (with pencil...LOL) what the teacher had written in the hopes that I won't read it. He'll also forget the notebook - although, I've decided that's not always intentional since he has difficulty remembering to bring home lots of things. Other times, I'll send it back and it won't get to Mrs. M. What particularly gets me, though, are the times when we've had a week of "Great day today," and "Wow! SmallBoy worked himself out of a meltdown and had a fantastic day," and then get one that says how he got upset and refused help and melted because he couldn't understand the assignment, but wouldn't listen when the teacher explained....

I know, we all have them and they're so much fewer and farther between, but it's like we had finally picked up speed and then SLAM!, right into the wall. We work through them, we write our stories, have our discussions, and all comes out in the wash. It seems though, that I have a much more difficult time getting past these than does SmallBoy. I suppose it could be that I see the progress and the great reports and I get this motherly feeling and, perhaps, false sense of security that all is now on the right track to be right with the world and then, when it comes to a halt - or at least a temporary slow-down, it throws MY rhythm off. Perhaps it is because there are SO many other stressors in my life right now - ok, well only a couple, but they're pretty big stressors. Perhaps it is time, like J The Fabulous OT told us last night, that SmallBoy learns how to deal with these things on his own for times when we can't be there to help him out or when no one around him is really quite sure what to say or do to help him when he's so far gone in one of his meltdowns. Perhaps I need to let go. Perhaps I need to start my own notebook to SmallBoy:

2/2/07: Mom had a rough day today. Making lots of phone calls about stuff that gets me frustrated. Had a minor meltdown, but took a big breathe and focused and pulled out of it.

Hey, you know? That sounds like good idea - then HE has some idea of what WE are going through and HE can write back to us:

2/2/07: How about a squish, Mom? Will that bring your engine back to just right? My engine was too high today and it needs to come back to just right, too. Had a good time at the volleyball game (teachers v 8th graders), but had a bad time in Social Studies, or something to that effect. Ya think?

I'd love your feedback on this Parent/Child Communication Notebook idea.