Saturday, September 11, 2010

Andy Finds His Game

Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting ducks in a row

If I was the kind of blogger that let language fly, I would be doing it right now. For about a page and a half.

Instead, I am scheduling another IEP meeting and arranging to dispute and appeal a disciplinary write-up. Joey had a sub this morning- both of his teachers needed to be at an IEP meeting for another child- and he ran into trouble. I cannot figure out the trigger, but he went into fight-flight, and couldn't get out of the room. So he melted down. Apparently it was somewhere between an 8 and a 9. He was sent to the office and officially written up, meeting with the vice principal some time after they managed to calm him down.

We're going in breathing fire.

When Joey has a meltdown here, I can guarantee you, I made a mistake. I failed to do something he needed, and I usually know better. I miss his cues, and he goes into tailspin. I raise my voice or use a trigger word (such as "quickly"), when I know I shouldn't. I fail to de-escalate a situation. I am the adult here, that is my responsibility.

If you think I'm going to hold the school to a lower standard- people who are supposed to be trained to deal with disabilities, including autism, on a far more formal level than I have been- you are very sadly mistaken. And you do not send a child to the office because you made a mistake.

In getting geared up for the battle, I found some helpful war paint to apply. A nice set-up for a chart to clarify the issues and how I am seeing things from this end. If you are headed into an IEP, you might want to check it out: Organizing Your Concerns.

Meanwhile, get out the drums. Mama Bear is getting ready for the battle ahead.

Week One, Almost Done

Good news- Joey is cheering up. As he figures out school is not like the summer program, he's really perking up. Yay!

We are taking Stimey's homework strategy and putting it to good use. It works perfectly (so far). I recommend it.

This morning I am snuggling my cat, then the plan is to clean the front hall, nap, cut some quilt squares, nap, lunch, nap, bake cookies, nap, then squish boys when they get off the bus. How's that for a rockin' day?

UPDATE 3:14pm. JOey had subs in his class today, and melted down- so they sent him to the office. GAH!!!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First Day of School 2010

The bus was twenty minutes late.

I return from the hub-bub of excited parents and new kindergardeners, the din of fall meetings after summer vacations.

I enter the house, silent and still with no boys to bounce about.

I am still haunted by the words he wrote in his notebook to his teachers:

I have bad energy today I'm sorry

Why am I the one with butterflies in my stomach on the first day of school?

Post Script: Joey is on his beloved same bus with the driver he's had since he was 2. He was really happy to see her, and to see something familiar to start school.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Yes, We're All Different

Tonight's story for Joey was Miss Rumphius. In case you are not familiar with the story, which I recommend, Miss Rumphius decides there are three things to do in life: see faraway places, retire to the seaside, and do something to make the world more beautiful.

The idea is to get kids to think about life and how to make the world beautiful. Joey, however, was more interested in the "seeing faraway places" part, and we talked about how Mommy had been to India. He was interested enough that I dug out a couple of my photo albums, but they weren't as interesting to him. Andy, however, popped in when he saw I had pictures, and was fascinated.

We looked through the pictures, then I settled him into bed, and he started asking lots of questions- about the pictures, and the sculptures there, and the people in the pictures. He wanted to know if everybody there was brown. So we talked about melatonin and how different people have different skin because their ancestors adapted to where they lived, and people who lived in sunny places needed to be darker, and we came from the north where it wasn't as sunny, so our skin is lighter. And we talked about tanning in the summer. And we talked about how people are different, simply because that is how they were made.

So he wanted to know other ways people were different.

"Well," I said, "we all like different things. Like some of us like peanut butter, and some of us don't."
"i don like peanu budder," he affirmed. "Wha else?"
"Well, some people are short and some are tall. That is just the way they are made."
"Yeth," he agreed. "An sthome kids are fastht, and some isth swow." I nodded. "I run fastht."
"Super fast," I agreed.
"An Joey isth diff-er-en."
Pause. Was this about to go where I think it is going to go?
"How is Joey different?" I asked.
"He no' like over kidsth," Andy frowned.
"You're right. We're all different. And Joey is different." Andy still frowned. "Joey is autistic," I added.
"Wha's 'ausisdic'?"
"It means he thinks differently than you do. He sees the world a little differently. And he has more trouble talking than you do." He still frowned.
"Wha do i have?" he asked, and I shrugged.
"Nothing. You're just not autistic." He still stewed. "Well, let's think of it this way. Most people have brains like... say, toasters. And they make toast really well. So your brain is a toaster, and it makes toast."
"Okay," he accepted the premise uneasily.
"Well, Joey's brain is more like a hair dryer. It heats stuff, and can even make toast, but it is a lot harder for him, because he isn't made to make toast, he is made to dry hair. And we need dry hair, so it's a good thing he's here." Andy frowned. "And some of us are ovens...."
"Wha's dat?"
"An oven? The thing we put cookies in to bake them. But not the best for making toast." Though I suppose that depends on how you like your toast. But let's not confuse the poor lad.
"And some people are... clothes dryers. So they can heat things up, too, but they do better drying clothes than making toast. But most people are toasters, and the world is geared to making toast." Yeah, I fumbled it. Just shoot me already.
"Thas funny," he giggled, thinking.
"There's lots of ways to be different," I offered as explanation. "And it's a good thing we're all different. It makes the world interesting. Things would be pretty boring if we were all alike. Some people like animals, and some like cars, and some have blues eyes, and some have brown. What color are your eyes?"
Instead of answering, he put a finger to one of my eyes.
"Yes, you have the same color as mine. What is it?" He signed blue, and looked tired. "That's right. Because that is just the way you are made. And handsome!" I kissed him, and he snuggled in, and fell asleep.

I have the feeling this is going to be a regular bedtime conversation.