Friday, August 27, 2010

WHOOPS! Time Change for OGA Social Group!

Sorry folks. Need to read my emails more carefully.
THIS SUNDAY's OGA Social Group is from 10AM-12PM,
NOT from 9AM-11AM. The new earlier time will not start until September.
Sorry, folks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

OGA this Weekend!

Oh, and a reminder to all interested parties - the OGA Sensory Playgroup meets this Sunday at a new time of 9AM to 11AM. Yes, it is way out in no-mans land, and a tad early. But it is so worth it. Follow OGA link to right of page for more information...


So our little impromptu Sensory Preschool, so idealistically put together after the sudden death knoll of Edwards, is caput for now (and for very good reasons, logistics being the least of it). So my slacker approach to finding Olivia a new program (an approach made up of me sitting on my butt the whole month of August and being optimistic), hasn't really worked out that much. My second approach is luckily very similar; sitting on my butt for the whole month of August and then scrambling something together in the first few weeks of September. Go team!

My lame excuse of there not being time to visit other EI programs between the announcement of Edwards and the end of the term still holds though. I will visit them after the start of fall term, once the panic attack of Isaac and Alameda subsides a bit.

And the panic will likely be minor (again, did I mention that much of my approaches revert to optimism and occasional bouts of denial?). Isaac is a Pioneer graduate, but the Pioneer team will be in control of the transition to Alameda for the first few weeks.

The first few days, he will be at Pioneer. Then, over the next few weeks, they will work him into his new class, attending part-time at Alameda with one of his aides and making sure that any issues that come up are managed before the Pioneer staff release him to Alameda.

Can you imagine? If our beloved Ms. Holly, Ms. Amanda, or Mr. Brian were able to attend the first week of classes for out little ones who are all in flux right now. Can you imagine what the success rate would be for all of the Ruby's, Tessa's, Ellie's and Olivia's out there?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Free Zoo Event for Special Kids

Free VIP Safari Evening!

The Oregon Zoo is inviting children with disabilities and chronic and terminal illnesses, plus their immediate families, to a free evening as a Zoo VIP on Wednesday, Sept. 8th 2010 from 4pm to 8pm.

As a part of this special event, participants will receive:

Free admission to the zoo and free train ride.
Animal contact with a variety of zoo animals at the Family Farm.
Special performances of the popular WildLife Live animal show on the main stage.

To RSVP to this event, please give your first and last name and the number of family members to the Swindell's center (503-215-2429) or RSVP's will not be taken after Sept. 2nd. Please contact us early!

(we did this two year ago, it was actually quite fun)

And Now for More of the Same...

Summer is already almost over, and now we are already gearing up for the fall and Isaac's transition.

This should be interesting, and worth noting here in this blog for anyone who is interested. It will be a tale of failure and recovery, hopefully. But we are not there just yet.

Right now we are finally having a normal summer vacation from school, as short as that might be. Swimming lessons, afternoons at the park, trips to Grandmas. In this short month off of school, we get to be as normal as anyone else.

Well, almost. There is some anxiety, and not a little regret. But to ease the next few weeks, I have written down a list of goals for Isaac's move back into a typical school, and a list of goals for us at home (Poor O, I will get to her in September - in the meantime we are playing CandyLand 4 times a day and making cookies). First on our list goals at home: make a solid base of friends for Isaac. He has moved around too much. It is time to set roots down again in our neighborhood.

The list for school is lengthy and I will put down a few points:

What are MESD's expectations for Isaac in the next year?
What are my expectations of the class and teacher?
What is the teaching style? How does that match his learning style?
How do we teach and encourage Self Advocacy?
How can we use his strengths? How can we smooth over his weaknesses?


Where's the nearest bar?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Have Autism

Back from out little away time FROM the kids, oh I love them but it is so nice to sleep and eat and watch a movie again, minus the being-a-mom part. I slept 8 hours. IN A ROW.

I have been wanting to talk about The Talk for awhile, but have been so distracted by school-dramas. So I am putting a blip out there to see what comes back.

I had thought that the biggest talk I would need to have with the kids before releasing them into the world would be about sex. Discovering our sexual selves is such a paradigm shift in our lives, right? Colors the world with a different palate, especially how we see ourselves.

But how do you tell a child that, according to the rest of society, they are NOT NORMAL? There is no health issue or physical disability that shouts it out, and using Isaac as my context, he looks just like everyone else. We do not hesitate to discuss his ASD around him, but have not really sat him down and said, "You have Autism".

To him, THIS is normal. Finding out that this isn't, how will that change how he sees himself?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finding Miss O a New School, Part II

So I have come to a bit of a decision. Enough to get us started, anyway.

I made a list of all of the things, knowing what I know now, I would have done differently with Isaac, school-wise. To this list, I added my school goals (read - "dreams") for O.

MESD and PPS have a policy of putting kids in the "least restrictive environment" possible. But that didn't work for Isaac. It should have been the other way around. He should have had time to adjust to a restricted (but academically typical) Kindergarten, then slowly moved into a typical room.

So although O is a different kid with different needs, there is no way a "sink or swim" methodology is gonna cut it. PPS does not like this way. It is more expensive, I am sure, but also PPS gets a little ding on its record when a child has to be in a restricted environment. Does not work with their Inclusion Model. I will fight, bitch, moan, and manipulate to get this. I have learned all about that damned squeaky wheel, and am bitter that PPS has made me so freakin' noisy.

Back to this fall, and EI. We are not starting in September, unless by some miracle we find the perfect private program. In the fall, O and I will visit a few programs once week one has passed and calm has settled. I am not going to rush to make a mistake - O is just too sensitive. She even became overwhelmed at Edwards around Halloween 2009, and had to be pulled for two months while we worked with private therapists. If none work, that's OK. We will also be visiting private programs and go on waiting lists. Unlike so many other parents, I have one resource I can use - time.

So please, please let me know how your kids are doing in the fall. What do you think of Grout after two weeks, one month? How is Childswork going? Sharing so others can learn is the idea here.

Kids are leaving for grandparents in two days. Then 6 days with hubby doing nothing more than road trips to Eastern Oregon and the Wine Country. Will load up on Pinot. Might go to a movie that is not in 3-D.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And Now Back to Child #1...

Transition Meeting #3 with Isaac's teacher at Pioneer. Should be the second to the last prep meeting before the Big One with his new teacher at the end of August. Am I ready? Of course not. I was going to do that today while O was at school, but was wrapped up in more Edwards-talk with parents and teachers. Then there was a promised few hours this evening, but I was happily distracted by husband's suggestion of sitting in the Beer Garden at Amnesia on Mississippi (my mom is in town, yeah grandma!).

In all of this chaos, must remember to sit in a beer garden surrounded by hipsters and Irvingtonians slumming it more often!

That's all for tonight. Back tomorrow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Land of the Lost

It is not just the words of concern, or the expressions of confusion and anxiety. It is also the body language. Shifting back in forth, listlessly meandering around the hallway, not knowing what exactly to do or to say. Parental Zombies.

The latest refugees from the PPS Cost-cutting Pograms.

For some it just SUCKS in a big way, as they scramble to find another preschool for the fall term, mere weeks away. And for those who know, most decent schools have been full since sometime in Feb/Mar. And then there are those of us (and I do mean "us") who are trying to avert an all out crisis. Sticking our little ones in an overcrowded EI class somewhere else just really isn't much of an option.

But I have complained about that enough already here.

Need to get practical. Where to send little Miss O.

One option under serious consideration is a private preschool, with supplemental visits by a "community-based" educator, a specialist who comes in and provides speech and OT, a few hours a week. There is, of course, EI at another school, but I have already gone over why that isn't going to happen (I know, famous last words). And then there is Home School, with the same community based educator as the private option. Not so great of an option when one of our focuses is socialization.

So, breaking it down. My short term goal for Little Miss O (LMO) is to increase her socialization with her peers, as well as adapt her independent ways to fit the structure of the classroom. Academics are in there too, but I can work on that from home. I can't provide the other goals for her by home schooling.

So, home school off the table. Now the other two.

EI in a public school would help her with the structure piece, but due to size, over-crowding, and an MESD system in flux as they attempt to implement the Inclusion Model, it may be so over-whelming as to shut LMO down socially (this has happened before, so this is more than speculation). But, on the other side of the coin, maybe I am underselling her, maybe she just needs a little push to break through that boundary and succeed. Am I being over-protective? Helicoptering in a little too close? Isn't my long term goal to move her towards a typical school experience?

Hmmm. Private Preschool it is, if I can get her into one. Or, maybe...

Many of her classmates are attending both. A few days here, a few days there. Is that too much transition (she seems ok with shifting gears most of the time)? Test both models, see which one she flourishes in.

All parents are afflicted with the same thing - Parental Guilt (goes along with being a Parental Zombie sometimes). Oh, the guilt. My daughter is in the living room now watching Wow Wow Wubbzy, I am probably killing off her brain cells at this very moment (and she is eating chips - hey, they ARE organic). I am sure there is a circle of hell set aside for parents like me. I am second guessing every move I make, hoping to God she doesn't end up on Oprah talking about how I ruined her by putting her in the wrong academic program (wait, Oprah is retiring, right?). How if I had just put her into THIS school, or got her a few more hours of THIS therapy, she would not be a drug-snorting former boy-band groupie with a serious stimming habit.


So, if you have seen any of my other posts, you might now Isaac academic history has him labeled in our home "Hurricane Isaac". That soon-to-be second grader is packing some serious baggage. Dude has a PPS rap sheet! I have asked him what he remembers from Sabin, from Roseway Heights (he doesn't recall Jason Lee Elementary at all). He remembers his friends from Sabin, especially Jackie. At Roseway, he wondered why he couldn't go back, that he didn't really like Chase and Kevin, but otherwise, he doesn't recall any of that unpleasantness.

If you ask Isaac about school, what kind of student he is, none of that matters. My little Buddhist is living in the here and now. He knows he likes school, has friends there, likes his teachers, has fun with his social skills aide, is really good at math, and always gets 100% on his behavior/IEP goals sheet. He is confident about Second Grade, and is excited about going to a new school in the fall (but more excited about having August off).

Basically, he has moved on. And if EI (dear god, NOT at Roseway), even part time, does not work with LMO, then we will cut our losses and move on. Because, at this age, my kids do move on, and maybe testing those waters just a bit at this age isn't a completely bad idea.

Yeah. I know. More Famous Last Words. I am full of them of this week.