Friday, June 06, 2008

Alex Barton: Civil Case in the Works

Yes, the Bartons have notified the district that they intend to sue. The district has six months to respond.

I hope they win. I hope the District uses this as an opportunity to change their system and train their teachers. I hope they have to pay for Alex's psychological counseling and a new school placement, such as a private situation with full support. I hope they respond to the filing by clearly agreeing to do these things, and then following through.

The district now has a fabulous opportunity to right some wrongs. Let's see if they do the right thing.

Update: The Cardiologist

It's official, I've talked to the cardiologist about all those tests I took last week, and they are all negative. Stress it is. Oh, and avoid things that might aggravate it, like caffeine. Oh, and I gained seven pounds. Lucky me.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I know I get some spill-over readership from the medical blogs I read and comment on- thank for being here! I'd like to invite all folks interested, including you medical-types, to cross fingers, pray to deities, and otherwise think great thoughts for Niksdad, the dad of Nik and husband of my friend Niksmom, who takes his exam tomorrow to be an LPN. Here's rooting for Niksdad! WOO-HOO!!!!

Alex Barton update 3

Just some more stuff on Alex Barton, to make up for the gap of my other posts:

Alex Barton and his family get support.

An article about placement and LRE and the balancing act of figuring out appropriate placement.

An article in support of Ms. Portillo.

An interesting column about the heart of the problem.

Editorial about autism in classrooms.

There are several letters written to the paper, so you may want to put "Alex Barton" in the search box and take a peek!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Summer Begins

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A note on Andy

Some of you may remember that I have two sons. Joey is the autistic one. Andy is not autistic, but he does have sensory integration dysfunction (or sensory processing disorder, whichever you prefer). We have him in occupational therapy and in school, and he's made improvement.

He has now turned four, so it is re-evaluation time! We were hoping he was ready to come out of therapy at the end of summer. But it's a no-go. He's come out in the 25th percentile in fine motor skills, he's developed some new sensitivities that need to be addressed. So we're here at least through the fall. This makes Andy pretty happy, actually, because he gets to see his Miss Cindy that much longer.

With the 25th percentile, I could probably request special education again, but frankly, he's happy where he is and working with the preschool was like trying to get an alligator to ride a bicycle. If we are still here when kindergarden comes around, I might ask for child find again. Our kindergarden team rocks.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Moments to Live For

It is one of those moments. He had reached out his hand, and tapped me lightly on my head, pulling my attention from the computer screen to those eyes... sparkling with the devil in him. I like to think that glint is a bit of my great-grandmother in him- the one who teased her Methodist minister husband with her evening drinkie. Yes, there it is- that sparkle, that moment before he brings Mommy into the game, makes that connection, creates more joy in the world with wild giggles, all with one magic word:


Excuse me while I get to chasin' my boy.

To reveal or not to reveal: that is the question

When do you tell people your child has autism? How do you explain autism and being autistic?

Joey goes to Sunday School. We haven't gone quite as much lately, because the new building is full of new chairs and new carpets and all the sizing and chemicals that go with new carpet and new upholstery, and apparently I am allergic to it. But he goes.

There were multiple purposes for him attending Sunday school. Primarily, it provides him some religious instruction. That has become less of a reason because the instruction I have been seeing isn't what I was hoping for- it looks far more Baptist than Methodist, and we're a very Methodist family. It also places him in a "normal" setting with non-disabled children. That has gone OK so far; we met with his Sunday School Supervisor and the teachers last year, though this years' teachers haven't been as willing to be trained. Being pat of a church gives him a church family, and a possible support network as he gets older. Also, we have a "contemporary" service and Joey liked to go drum and listen to the music, which we also haven't done lately. When they moved to the new building, it really threw him off, and he's had to start from scratch in getting used to the room again. With my allergies, he hasn't had much opportunity, either.

The Sunday School is fairly informal, with children coming and going depending on whether their parents decided to go to church, including guests from elsewhere. There are regulars like us, and then there are other random kids that come and go, or new families who move in and join.

Usually after Sunday School, we go get some McD's for lunch and try to talk about what they learned-mostly Bible stuff (If you aren't Methodist, you might not understand why I find that interesting enough to note. In other Methodist churches, Sunday School consisted of using modern material to discuss Biblical ideas. You didn't learn the Good Samaritan, you learned stories about modern children who helped their families and neighbors in all sorts of [mostly mundane] ways, thus providing a model for appropriate behavior and values). The boys usually like being in Sunday School and are often in good moods after.

But not yesterday. Yesterday, when I dropped the guys off, they were in pretty good moods; but when I picked them up, Joey was "sad". His teachers said he had been sad all morning. As usually, they had no idea why. However, I had an inkling- a new child was in the room when I dropped him off, and when Joey echoed something at the child, the child had objected (Joey;s very into races and winning races this weekend, and the child told him point blank "But there's no race!" when Joey tried to include him.) From talking to Joey, apparently that was not the end of the incident, and his friend Lucy (a little girl who has been in Joey's Sunday School class for over a year now) intervened ("She played with me").

This is a problem we encounter more in Sunday School than I was originally expecting- partly from my own naivete. I have seen several children not only actively avoid Joey, but being encouraged to do so by their parents. When you mention that Joey is autistic, their faces go hard, and the avoidance is redoubled. Joey's old Sunday School teachers would regularly remind students about autism and that Joey needed do "do his own thing" like move around the room and write instead of draw. (These reminders also served to educate new class members). These teachers seem to want to ignore it. Their idea of inclusion is to simply treat all the kids the same, and since Joey is so "high functioning", hope that he blends in enough to be OK.

The result is that some kids accept him, especially ones that are used to him. And some kids think he's really weird, and avoid him. And some kids think he's so weird, they tell him what they think of his weirdness- and this makes Joey sad.

I think asking Joey to change and "be like everyone else" is unreasonable and undesirable. However, leaving him to the wolves to fend for himself against kids who have never dealt with a disabled peer is also not fair- not to Joey, and not to the other child. After all, when they ostracize Joey, they miss having a cool friend! Though I don't want Joey labeled and seen only for his autism, I don't want him to be excluded by his peers because of ignorance if I can help it. So which approach to take? Telling people he is autistic, or trying to let him "blend in"?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Singing his heart out

Just a few glimpses at Joey in his school Memorial Day concert. He had a wonderful time, loved the sining and signing, and did a fabulous job. I am so proud of my boy!