Friday, May 13, 2011

Its that time of year again...

It's time for the IEP ambush again, I mean annual review.

I know the receiving school wants to bump my son over to a different self-contained class. We all agree he isn't ready to go back to a regular ed classroom (espeically his one class per grade overcrowded classroom at the home school). The receiving school, my advocate, and I all agree that my son was mislabeled as a ED/BD. The only one who truly believes the statement is the one who created the self-fulfilling prophecy--his home district case manager.  Then again her one report was dated 3 weeks before she did her observations... 

I have no idea who is coming, she won't tell me.  What else is new? For now the meeting is Tuesday. It shall be interesting. At least I know most of what hsi current out of district teacher and social worker have to say.  The main issue I have with the receiving school is that their OT is not trained in sensory processing disorder and related needs.  She has no idea how to work on touch seeking, sound avoiding, strangely distractable kids on the spectrum.  Ironically his classroom teacher "gets it".  She realized I'm not making excuses for my son but trying to offer explanations for his actions. This way if she knows why or when he does certain things, perhaps we can prevent them from happening.  I used this analogy: my son likes to spin until he is beyond dizzy, it is soothing and he feels better. However, it doesn't mean that if he is in the middle of a math test and  gets frustrated that he should get up and start spinning...

I am already having stomach pains about going to the meeting.  His case manager scares me.  At least my advocate is supposed to be there with me.  She's good (and she is not afraid of his case manager as she has worked with her in the past) and she knows the law, even if the case manager tries to skirt around it.

I don't need the extra stress. Especially since I have the junior-high drama to deal with at school from my allegedly adult classmates.  Seriously, certain people really need to focus on their own lives and issues rather than gossip and tell tales (embellished with false statement & comments misheard when eavesdropping) about others.  As an adult I understand that it is likely a sign of weakness, jealousy, and/or simple lack of manners.

I know deep breath.  I had no idea she'd bump the meeting up a week earlier, especially since the original date that worked for "her" was 2 weeks away. Of course she knows that I am unavailable in the morning so she is certain to schedule the meeting then so we can play the rescheduling passive-agressive of her.  Honestly, having just completed my psychiatric/mental health nursing unit in school, I'm almost looking forward to the meeting just so I can tick off the defense mechanisms and personality issues. 

I just wish I had more time to prepare...but of course if my availability changes I'm the negligent parent that won't cooperate wth the "school district" representative..

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My (nearly) Wordless Wednesday

I was having a really bad day. I had just lost my job through no fault of my own (it was a temporary position that was "promised" to become a permanent full time job, ultimately due to fiscal constraints my position was eliminated).  I was a bit frustrated, tearful and upset, especially since I took a 20%+ pay cut and the week before told that the initial approvals to turn my position into a full time job were completed. (Worse they had me come in on a Monday morning when they knew on Friday to have me work a few hours only to tell me that my job no longer existed.  The LEAST they could have done was to tell me on Friday, especially since my son had off that Monday and I had to make child care arrangements!)

Being a concrete literal child, little boy blue just wanted to make me happy. So he peeled all the googlie eyes off a Halloween project and decorated. Called out (trying not to giggle too much) Mom, come here! Of course I had to smile--who wouldn't?

A new approach for honesty...the "bad erase board"

Wow! My last post was nearly 6 months ago.  Life has been hectic and stressful.  I was very active in clinical rotations and specialty classes. (I ROCKED my Psychiatric Nursing rotation. Highest grade in the class on my final--and highest average in the class. Perhaps it's my experience living in a world of nutty people (myself included) plus as the mom of a special needs child that helped me to comprehend the abstract concepts in mental health nursing.  Because of The Coffee Klatch I had a better understanding of other conditions like bipolar disorder, childhood issues like conduct disorder, and Tourette's Syndrome.)  I have suspected for a long time that I could make an awesome nurse. I stayed away for eons because of my sister.  She's 14 months younger than me and I am utterly convinced she came out of the womb with the dream to become a nurse.  (She is now a nurse educator and a pediatric nurse practitioner)  We had sibling competition (aren't you the little sister?) throughout most of our school career, it was alleviated somewhat when we moved since she had more teachers that never had me as a student.  I just didn't want to get in the way of her dream.  She's now 300+ miles away and well established in her professional endeavors.  Now it's my turn...and I'm loving it!

On to the present...
So like many other mothers of 8-year old boys, I've been having issues with getting the truth from my son in a timely fashion.  While my son is rather concrete and literal, he has a hard time telling me the actual truth. It's not as much lying as either not responding or forgetting to tell me something like how there is a stinky mess in the kitchen that he needs help cleaning up....(you have NO idea!)

Having a child on the spectrum, I know that traditional methods don't always work for my child. Yelling doesn't work. Most "punishments" are either not appropriate or ineffective.  Since we are Catholic, and my son is working on his 2nd grade Sacraments this year (even though he's a 3rd grader) most of the year for his 'punishment" I told him he had to apologize to God. He'd sit in his space and say the Act of Contrition (aka the "I'm sorry prayer").  Don't laugh.  He was rather proud when the director of CCD came to his class and he was one of a few children in his class that were able to recite all his prayers from memory upon request.

I didn't have to yell, I got a time out and he practiced his prayers.  Plus I used it as a tool to teach him about the abstract (especially to a literal child with Asperger's disorder) concept of Reconciliation.  He asked if he could "confess" to God instead of telling me what he did.  Of course I said yes, and I stayed out of sight.  I found out what I needed to know as he felt the need to talk out loud to God.  He was proud to make his first Penance in March.  This practice.prayers & confession worked great for both of us. He practiced, got used to telling someone what happened in his day, I didn't have to yell or get stressed or get upset (mom got a time out)

More exciting he's making his First Holy Communion this Sunday at Mass.  But of course change is inevitable, while he's better at apologizing this method is not working anymore.

In come my new 'invention'....The Bad Erase Board.  Sometimes we just want to erase our mistakes and either start over or move on.  This is my son's opportunity, at least in our house, to do so.  The Bad Erase Board is a dry erase board.  My son (sometimes with my help) makes a list of what went "bad" for the day whether he didn't try his best, he was silly at inappropriate times, he wasn't nice to the dog, he was late, was crabby or grouchy due to tired,...whatever.  We talk about better choices that could have been made.  We talk about how we can make things better (such as writing an apology if warranted). We may practice how to do things better (such as not doing an assignment because the set-up is different than usual...instead of shutting down actually letting the teacher know that it's harder for him to complete since he's used to having two pages instead of one page that he has to constantly flip over for reference.) Then he gets to erase the board. Erase the "bad" of the day. And he literally starts with a clean slate in the morning.

(How about that for using idioms and expressions?) The physical act of erasing the bad at the end of the day is a visual reminder that we make mistakes but we can fix it. We can start each day off new and happy.  I'm trying to show him that because one day was hard and frustrating by talking about it we can figure out ways to make the next day a better day.  Since he knows that amnesty can be given if he volunteers information on the Bad Erase Board, he's more likely to tell me about certain incidents he might otherwise keep silent about.  Such as "borrowing" some cookies from the kitchen and hiding them behind the table next to the front door. We can clean up the evidence before the ants come for a visit.  Previously I might just not find out until the ants come a marching...

Now if I could just figure a way out to get my son to be more efficient, life would be grand.