Friday, February 01, 2008

A Lovely Visit

So I plunked myself into Joey's classroom again this morning, and started asking lots of questions... like, what's ESY going to be this year? And what will next year look like? And what goals should we be considering? And nosey stuff like that.

So we had a lovely little talk about such things, and I am happy to report that Mrs. H is on the same page we are about planning for Joey and what he needs. She also thinks the ESY worked, and not to break something that works. And more time in the inclusion room next year. And his reading is fabulous. And he's fabulous. And lots of other details I don't usually discuss here anyway. You know, school stuff. Educating the child. Keeping him engaged and challenged. He wants to read on the second-grade level next year? No problem. Needs more help in science and social studies? No problem.

Sitting with Joey in circle time, he pulled my head over to him and played with my hair. Playing with my hair is new. He really needs something to do with his hands while in circle. He is doing lots of first-grade reading activities and writing. It sure is nice to be included in his little world, pulled in voluntarily and see his grin when he knows I am there with him; to be pulled nose to nose to that grinning face by little hands, and told, "Hi, Mrs. Guyton!" with such love and pride. I only hope he knows that's nothing compared to how proud I am of him... how much I love him.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Upcoming triennial

In the good ol' Commonwealth, every three years, whether you need it or not, unless it is absolutely obvious what the outcome will be, in which I suspect they just don't bother to invite the parents, you have to have a meeting to re-determine your child's eligibility for special education (Yes, Ann, I did look into what I had been told, and from the regs, I would say the triennial is required for all sped kids... anybody find where it might not be? Long story of how I was told "obvious" cases don't require a triennial). Ours is scheduled for Feb 22. I plan on coming fully armed, just in case.

We have been really happy with Joey's teachers this year, but our past history of meetings in this system has been less than satisfactory. I have no clue whether this is going to be a pat on the head or an ambush. I alerted our private SLP and OT. Should I call Kluge and get a new letter? Are there private educational consultants I should be consulting? Should I try to drag something in writing from our ABA therapist?

Because the facts we are facing is that Joey could not go into a classroom without support. He can't communicate effectively. He can't socialize effectively. He'd drown.

When we started the school thing- three and a half years ago now- we thought he'd be going into an inclusion room by now. Now our goal is for third grade. And we're wondering if we won't be sliding it to sixth grade. We know so much more about autism and about Joey about the pervasive nature of his disabilities (and his abilities!). We're gearing for what we expect to be the next big battle: what to do with a child who is both special needs and gifted? How do you deal with a kid who academically is leaving everyone in the dust, but who needs the support to get through the labyrinth of simple social interaction and specialized testing? The special ed systems around here are all set up for mental retardation, for kids who need social supports and academic remediation. It is definitely not set up for Joey. Kids are supposed to be reading by the end of kindergarden, not the beginning... and not in special ed.

One good sign is that this teacher is asking whether we think Joey is going to need ESY (summer service). Although we know this may just be a way of feeling us out in order to try to put together a rebuttal, but these teachers seem more interested in Joey's progress than that. You just don't know. In the past, it was used to block us as much as possible, so we have to be prepared. Brush off the latest version of PowerPoint...

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Strike Against Disney

ABC is airing a new show with a first episode that implies a link between autism and vaccines. The co-creators say they'd be upset if people stopped vaccinating because of the show... talk about waffle-waffle. If they were so concerned, they would never have written it. If they believe vaccines cause autism, why are they saying they are concerned?

And if they don't pull it, guess who isn't going to buy any more Disney products?

How was your day at school?

Today was a strange day. Not bad. Strange. Joey didn't have school- teacher workday.

Andy did.

So Joey and I took Andy to school this morning. We then went for a swim at the gym, which was a lot of fun, and then we returned for our Andy.

Andy's class wasn't ready yet, so we stood there a while with Joey's chorus of "where's Andy?" continuing from the morning. When the door finally opened and the munchkins were released one by one, Andy rushed out with a hug for his big brother. They walked back to the car, hand in hand.

Overheard from behind:

"How was your school, Andy?"
"Fine. We saw bears!"
"Did you play with friends?"
"How was your day?"
"Good. We saw bears, and lions, and dinosaurs!" (Small boy signs "bear")
"Did you have fun?"
"Yes. Dinosaurs!"

I am currently nursing a scraped lower lip. If anyone finds my teeth, please mail them to...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

13 Secrets

Part of the point of this blog is to help parents get away from the fear factor of having a child diagnosed with autism. So I would like to take this opportunity to point readers in the direction of "!3 Secrets Parents Need to Know" over at Wrong Planet (guest written by Autism Diva.) Its a good read.


I've been pecking at my recipe site, so I thought maybe I'd draw y'all's attention to it to fish for recipe ideas. Remember- no tomato. :P And No bread would be good right now, too.

Cooking For the Kids

Different plans

My back yard is not really set up for the wild play of small children. Yes, there is a sandbox, and toys; but there are also roses, shrubs, bulbs. There is a yard, but also plantings. The fence needs replacing. The gates need replacing. I wish the boys went out more, but is it safe?

See, the original plan was to spend more time at Grandma's, who lives in the house I grew up in. I spent endless hours out in the woods by the river, rushing through the trees, dipping fingers and toes in the water, pretending to be fabulous creatures and people on wonderful adventures. I climbed trees, ate blackberries, and napped on the goatshed roof. We dug up old glass from a long-burned and gone homesite and pretended to be archaeologists. We swung on vines (poison ivy vines, by the way, and never got a bump until I was in college) and pretended to be Princess Leia being saved by Luke Skywalker. We dripped soft sand through our fingers and pretended to be overlooking new realms and mountain ranges- mostly inhabited by unfortunate frogs that fell to our grasp.

When Mom rang the big shipbell mounted on our porch, it was time to come in. Without a second thought, we stopped what we were doing and trudged back from the green banks of the river and up to the house, to reality again.

If I set Joey loose in the woods, would he return with the sounding of the bell?

I am hoping that there will be a day when he will be able to handle this idea, and return safely to my waiting arms. But that day is not today. Today we still need fenced yards and set limits. We need defined spaces. It was a huge deal the first time I let the boys into the back yard and remained in the kitchen. I watched through the glass door as the boys played. I noted the need for a lockable gate.

I see other children Joey's age wandering the sidewalks, or roaming the connected back yards. We have taken to seeing Joey's schoolmate, Dexter, and that street is full of children who think nothing of roaming between yards all up and down the street. They are free, because they are also reigned. When Mom sticks her head out the door and calls "Dinner!" down the street, her children come. The first time I saw this, especially with the age of the children, I was awestruck with fascination: to watch those little darlings come popping out from yards and- by themselves- safely cross the street and return home, motivated only by the promise of food and prompted by a single call. It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen.

One thing I fervently hope for Joey is- if not independence- at least freedom. I want him to be able to walk down a street and come home safe. I want him to be able to visit neighborhood friends, without even giving it a second thought. He should be able to walk to Dexter's house- all of two blocks- and play there all he wants, then bring Dexter back to our house for some more fun.

But first I need to replace the fence. And the gates. And get these boys outside, so they have their roots there.