Thursday, March 25, 2010


I've started reading a really wonderful blog titled "MOM-Not Otherwise Specified." As I'm new to blogging, I hope I'm not breeching etiquette if I post the link to one of her blog entries here. This is just such a perfect way to describe ASDs, I had to share.

A hair-dryer kid in a toaster-brained world

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gotta Take the Bad With the Good...

Addi was tested for preschool today. She'll enter the 3-year-old Montessori program in the fall, if she gets in. Depends on how many spots they have and how many 3 year olds signed up. She's so ready for school. She's outgoing and sociable, and she's pretty much potty trained, except at night. She still has an occasional accident, but I have no doubts she'll absolutely be fine by August. It's only half a day, or I wouldn't send her. Dylan will be in Kindergarten all day, and I think it'll be good for her. She charmed all of the teachers, who couldn't get over how cute she is. And she informed me that Newberry Elementary is now her school, not Connor's. What a little diva she is! When I was putting her to bed, we were talking about her day, and I said, "Addi, you had a pretty good day today, huh?" And she said, "YEAH!" LOL

After storytime at the library today, I took the kids to the park since it was such a nice day. And since it was such a nice day, it was pretty crowded. All the kids played nicely together, though, and I thought things were going pretty well. Then I heard a parent yell at Connor. Apparently, Connor thought the boy needed help on the swing--he was young, probably about the same age as Addi--and Connor was going to push him. The mom, of course, was afraid her son was going to fall out of the swing, and she might have thought Connor was some bratty kid who was trying to take his swing. Connor became very upset, though, and he had to do his breathing exercises to calm down. I talked to Connor and gently reminded him that next time it might be a good idea to ask, "Do you want me to push you?" A few minutes later, I went to talk to the mom and let her know that Connor wasn't trying to be mean. And for the first time EVER, I pulled the autism card. I let her know that Connor has autism and didn't know he should ask first. She was very nice and understanding, and I'm sure I would've reacted the same way had the situation been reversed. But man, thinking about the look on Connor's face and how hard it was for him to calm himself heart just aches for him.

And so I can end this on a positive note, Connor was given extra recess time yesterday. One of the boys in his class had resource during recess time, and Connor's teacher chose him to stay and play with the boy for a few extra minutes. He was so excited about it, and I could tell when he was telling me about it that he was very proud. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

ASDs and 504s and IEPs, oh my!

This is my 6 1/2 year old son, Connor. The photo was taken on Christmas morning 2009. The kids had opened all of their presents and were starting to play with their toys. In the photo, Connor is stimming. It's what he does when he becomes anxious or overly excited or overstimulated. I didn't intentionally try to capture him stimming. I took the photo because he's playing with one of Dylan's gifts. I also took a picture of Dylan playing with one of Addi's gifts, and one of Addi playing with one of Connor's gifts. I liked that they were all playing with each other's brand new Christmas presents, and no one was screaming or snatching toys out of hands, yelling, "That's mine!"

Connor has been on my mind a lot lately. Something is going on with him, and I don't know what it is. His meltdowns are becoming more frequent. His teacher has noticed him stimming more at school. He has been increasingly inflexible at home, more demanding when he can't have his way about something. I feel like if I just knew what it is, I could fix it. But maybe there's nothing to fix. Maybe there's no one big thing that has triggered his behavior. Maybe this is just life with Aspergers.

When he had a psycho-educational evaluation last March to see if he qualified for special services, he was doing extremely well. Academically, he's never had any difficulties, so it wasn't surprising that he was a little above grade level. He seemed to be getting the sensory stimulation he needed from the Montessori environment itself. His visits with Dr. Lesley had paid off in that his social skills were improving. He had even started playing with the other children sometimes. It was no wonder that he didn't qualify. So he was given a 504 plan instead of an IEP, just a few accomodations that he needed in the classroom: lined paper, fat pencils, that sort of thing.

He's not doing as well now. He tells me that he feels weird. Other kids want to know why he "does that" with his hands, and he wants to keep it a secret that he has Aspergers. He refuses to do 15 minutes a day of writing because he says his hand gets tired. Yet he draws all afternoon long. He comes home and screams at Dylan because Dylan doesn't want to play World 4-5 on Super Mario Brothers eight times in a row. Now, in addition to his hand stimming, he stims vocally, making these noises that remind me of street rappers. One of the parents in his class heard him and made the comment that Connor was "be-bopping" and that maybe he'll be famous one day. I faked a smile.

At that meeting last March, Connor had not yet been diagnosed with Aspergers. That would not come until two months later, during the last week of school. His diagnosis at the meeting in March was still PDD-NOS. After he was diagnosed with Aspergers, the Hall Institute recommended he have an IEP. I didn't push it, as he seemed to be doing okay with just the 504. Now, I think I need to ask to have him re-evaluated. I'm not sure if I can do that, but I really think he needs more than the 504 can provide him with. He needs OT. He needs a quiet place to go when things get to be too much for him.

Not for the first time, I want to pull him out of school and keep him from having to deal with being different, but I know he can't live in a bubble for the rest of his life. I've had parents of severely autistic children tell me (in online forums) that I'm lucky my kid can communicate, lucky he can tell me he loves me, lucky he's not locked away in his own world. Maybe I am. But is he? Is he any better off, being aware of the fact that he's different? Wanting to fit in and feeling like he never will?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Interesting Correlation

I'm finding that there's an interesting correlation between my developing education philosophy and my parenting philosophy. After completing a chapter on education philosophy in one of my classes, I have to say that I identify more with student-led teaching, specifically progressivism. In parenting, I strongly believe in attachment parenting, child-led weaning, positive discipline, no spanking, etc. I just thought that was kind of neat.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Where does the time go? Each day, I wake up and have all of these wonderful Waldorf-inspired ideas about activities to do with Dylan and Addi. We'll read some fairy tales, recite some daily verses...maybe I'll print out some coloring pages to go with the fairy tales, or maybe we'll do a craft. We can dress up with the play silks and costumes and act out the fairy tale, and maybe we can play a game, too!

Then I start doing my schoolwork, to get it out of the way so I can devote the rest of the morning to the kids. :::sigh::: By then, we're lucky to get through reading the fairy tales before it's time for lunch and then time to pick Connor up from school. I give Connor some downtime, then let him read to me and try to decide if it's worth the battle to get him to do his daily 15 minutes of writing (but they tell me he doesn't qualify for OT...yeah, whatever). Time for dinner, baths, and bed, and I realize I never got around to that craft project.

I try to assuage my guilt by telling myself that I'm doing this for them, that we'll all be better off after I graduate. But I still feel like I've let them down, a little. I fantasize about homeschooling, then I head off to bed, grabbing a little precious sleep before I get up and do it all over again.