Saturday, July 16, 2011

Boys in the Summertime

Boys in the aviary at the Richmond Zoo.

Boys and tigers at the Richmond Zoo.

Feeding the giraffes.

Joey discovers the budgies.

Andy thinks budgies rock, too.

Discovering our inner Storm Trooper.

Joey loves riding animals.

Andy decides horses are OK.

A dream for Joey: meeting Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Andy's dream come true: meeting Captain Rex!

Joey still loves barrel rides.

Andy on the slides.


The boys really liked holding them, and no one got burned!

Andy discovers a snakeskin on our nature walk.

Joey even liked the nature walk. This was unusual; he's usually not a fan of walking around at Grandma's and just looking at stuff. He especially liked toadstools.

Andy finally dives off the board at the pool.

Checking out tractors at the Caroline County Fair.

The boys liked the tractors, and being allowed to climb on them.

Playing in the corn: a sensory paradise.

Joey and Andy decided riding together was awesome.

They even hopped in the same bumper car, because it's far more fun with two!

Life is good. Happy summer!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Difference Expertise Makes

Our ESY started on Monday.

ESY is "Extended School Year." These are the services Joey receives during the summer from the school system because having an 11-week break in services turned out to be a bad idea, even in the eyes of the school. When we first got ESY, it was one of the Holy Grails of Special Education here. The school personnel fought us with everything they could, and I am still convinced that preschool ESY is a Holy Grail in this system. Which is, of course, stupid. Many special needs kids require year-round schooling to retain skills. I think it would be a good idea for non-disabled kids to have year-round school to retain skills. But that's another post.

Last year, the summer was a disaster of epic proportions, leading to a school year disaster of epic proportions. Joey was anxious, depressed, wild, angry, and a general mess all year. The school personnel were not properly trained to deal with his needs, or understand his disabilities. The result was a lot of bolting, acting out, and general display of Unhappy Grumpy Anxious Depressed Joey.

Then came Monday.

We jumped up and down and stomped our feet and screamed and fussed in our way, and the school decided to put Ms. H and Ms. Macy in charge of Joey's ESY this year, and Ms. H will be managing Joey's school program come fall. Ms. H and Ms. Macy know Joey, they are well acquainted with autism and the needs of autistic students, and they are both talented educators. Does it make a difference? Oh, hell yes.

Yes, we started the first day with a bolt. We had prepped Joey for the return of his beloved Ms. H and Ms. Macy, and he was so eager to get to school- something I had not seen in a year- that he bolted down the street to get there when the bus was a little late. This morning, I made him wait at the door. He stared out of it, saying, "Bus! I am waiting for the bus. Where is the bus?" until it arrived, right on time.

And when he had gotten off the bus the last two days, I saw someone I haven't seen in a year: Happy Joey. Complete with words to tell me about his day, and who was in his class, and that they played games, and he saw "the twins and Jack-Jack" and wanted to go visit them this afternoon ("Let's go see Aunt Christina and the Twins and Jack-Jack, Mommy! After the pool!"). Happy boy telling me where he wanted to eat lunch and tidbits about his morning (he's still not good at self-narrative, but he's trying!) and missing Andy and wanting to get a shovel at the dollar store and we were going to the pool after lunch and... babble babble babble, happy babble of a happy boy.

That, my friends, is the difference a little expertise and understanding makes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Considering experiments

When Joey was very little, we tried out a gluten-free, casein-free diet. We ended up with a very hungry child, especially since his diet wasn't terribly varied to begin with.

Now that he is older, and we are experiencing an increase in behavior issues, I am considering a cut in the gluten again. The thing about cutting gluten is that if I do it right, it can't hurt him; and if he's sensitive, we should see a difference in behavior or mood, or even weight, which would be a signal to us to go more drastic. It isn't like Joey needs to be eating a ton of pasta and bread, anyway.

Our doctor, clever person that she is, made a pretty big deal about wanting the boys to eat lots of fresh foods, especially vegetables, at their last appointment. We are, of course, going to cheat and remind Joey that the doctor's orders are to eat more fresh veggies. He's been very rule-oriented lately, so this may support the effort.

In the meantime, I think I am going to be at the farmer's market more often, because fresh veggies don't keep too well, especially in summer heat. Next week is Andy's "Mythbusters Camp" so a new diet experiment should fit right in!