Thursday, November 01, 2012

Making Plans in the Shadow of the IEP

So we have an IEP next week to "address" Joey's recent ISS and the issues around it. In other words, a new FBA and BIP, lots of nodding, probably some Scolding of the Mom for being a helicopter parent who won't stand for her child being "disciplined" and for spoiling him, some smiles and nods up front while heads are shaken behind my back, some genuine attempts to help Joey frustrated by attitudes and misunderstandings and some outright sabotage. I'll witness teachers trying to voice realities and being shot down by admin and "support personnel" who have little or not real contact with or understanding of Joey. There will be desires to scream, throttle, and cry. Just the way I want to spend an afternoon. Perhaps I should bring cake.

In the meantime, I was in my mom's office today. We haven't been in there much lately, as the contracting we do is between-jobs (we finished one project, and are awaiting the next project to start up... provided the right person is elected president and continues to fund the project at all. Yay.) The office is actually quite large, as we used to have several folks working out of it. Now we get a break on the rent, since I think the building manager breaks out in a cold sweat with thought of trying to re-rent it. Besides, we're quiet, we pay on time, and right now, we aren't even really there. When we do appear, we are pleasant and have plenty of new gossip to share in the main office. Perfect tenants.

I have a room converted for my new Etsy business, we still have our main office, I have one room as storage for for stuff from the old shop and for packaging and shipping supplies. We have a front room sublet to another little business that is also quiet and rarely present. There is one room left over, which was originally JoeyAndyDad's office, and then it was supposed to become my office- but Mom and I figured out we worked better when we were in the same room. So right now, it is filled with the computer modem-router-stuff-I-have-no-idea-what-it-is-but-it-blinks, my desk with a scanner for scanning in our old family photos, and... stuff. Old computer books. Old merchandise from the old shop that never sold. Some old display pieces that I don't even know why we moved. Some spare chairs. Six tubs of toys from the boys' rooms that need to be gone through and thinned. You get the idea. A room filled with hoarded crap.

I have big plans for this room.

Once I get the crap cleared out and the blinky boxes in some kind of ordered cabinet, Ill have a nice, clear room, of reasonable size- bigger than the rooms at Joey's speech therapist's office, and they get all sorts of stuff done in there, and the materials to do it with stored in there. It would make a lovely homeschool room. Should we, you know, need one.

I could move the desk to the window, so we'd have space to spread out to do larger projects and games. I could get a smaller table area together for seatwork. Perhaps a nice comfortable area for a computer, and a reading corner. I could set up a bookshelf for the latest books on our latest learning themes, and have a small cabinet for supplies and materials. I could fill one wall with bulletin board, to post up our latest work, and maybe a board about what we were learning. I have plenty of friends who also homeschool, so finding a group wouldn't be too hard. We'd still have speech therapy and occupational therapy. Taking Joey places 1:1 would be mostly do-able. With a spare set of hands, I would probably be able to bring Andy in on it, too- though he'd probably be happier at school, where he has friends and a life of his own that is pretty successful, overall.

Funding this project would be the hardest part. I would obviously have to give up work hours, perhaps even a whole job, because not only would have Joey to attend to all the time, but I would need all the time I could lay hands on to teach him. Speech and OT still must be paid for, perhaps even more so, as we might need to increase the time at private practices to make up for lost school services. Plus, I would need more supplies and resources for teaching.

If I can get this room cleared out, I have this option, whatever sacrifices would need to be made to choose this path. In the shadow of a desperate IEP, it would be an anchor to keep despair at bay. To be able to speak from a place of strength and choice is far better than a place of panic and resignation. To be able to stand here and say, "My child will get what he needs in order to access his education" knowing that he will not be sacrificed, that may be what we need to get through a meeting without, you know, throttling anyone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Best. Halloween. EVER.

This afternoon was the school parade. I dressed up and headed over to see my Squirtle and Luigi show off their costumes. They were adorable. Joey was especially cute- he almost walked by me, but recognized me at the last minute... "Mommy! You're a witch!"

In fact, he had no clue I was going to be a witch, because when he left for school, I had no costume. I got our porch ready in record time, and realized I had time to make one, and a need to go to the fabric store to get Joey a mustache. A few yards of different sparkly webby fabrics and a couple hours later, and bingo! Witch costume to go with the awesome hat my mom bought me.

We've found a little niche in our neighborhood. A family around the corner has kids a little younger than mine, but in terms of interests and energy, they are a total match. And they LOVE Joey and Andy.

The mom is Italian, and so she is discovering American holidays. She did a great job with decorations and dressing up, and getting into the holiday spirit.

Better yet, they decided to have a little Halloween party. Her kids came around the corner to invite my kids! They were so excited- their first Halloween party! The excitement of having friends around the corner who make effort to invite them over and get excited to see them was already the treat of the year- but to be invited to a real neighborhood Halloween party was the best.

And the kids enjoyed it, too.

Pizza, cake, and offers of beer (I didn't take the beer because we still have trick-or-treating ahead of us) is an amazing thing. Seriously.

Then it came time to go out and raid the neighbors for candy. Andy realized he was going to get to go with his friends, as a group, and he was beside himself with happiness. Adults stationed up and down the street, plus two adults with the group, plus me... heaven opened and shined upon our town. Even better, as Joey started to lag, one of the adults turned and said, "Don't worry, you guys take your time, I've got the Squirtle!" Andy didn't have to chomp at the bit waiting for Joey, he could just go with his friends.

See, this family, though their kids are not special needs? They get it. They understand that kids have different needs and stages and development, and that you do what is needful for each one. And they think Andy is awesome. And they think Joey is awesome. And what is super awesome, is that they are absolutely right.

And they get it not just with my kids, but all the families of the neighborhood. They are glad to have everybody tumble into their house and enjoy themselves, and be together, and be themselves. They wouldn't have it any other way.

So Joey and I got to do what Joey needed- methodical house-to-house, with prompts as needed and a few moments to talk with each person. Joey loves to tell each person he visits something- commenting on their pumpkins, or that Halloween is fun, or that Luigi is Mario's younger but taller brother, or... each time, not just "thanks, bye!" but an attempt to connect. And thankfully, everyone in the neighborhood has learned to just take it in stride. Even the new folks- college kids that change every year, or new houses we hit- they all were patient and happy to meet Joey. Not a single one tried to dismiss him or hurry him off their porch this year. Not. One.

How awesome is that?

And when Joey got tired, I walked him home to Dad and Grandma, and then went back to get Andy from the house around the corner. WE stayed and let him play for a few minutes, and I talked with the adults for those few minutes. You know, adults. Grown-ups. With grown-up conversation. It was awesome.

So this definitely wins best Halloween ever.

I think the kids enjoyed it, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We Survived Sandy

We've been busy preparing for Sandy, getting together a response letter to Joey's principal, and otherwise trying to stop running in circles like a beaver in a lumberyard. Oh, and it is Halloween. Yay!

We survived with our power intact. Sending prayers to those north of us who were not so fortunate.