Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Really Hate it When He is Right...

As predicted by my husband, I have burned out on the twice weekly schlep to the Heart of Beaverton for Isaac to attend the adapted OGA and Martial Arts class. That, combined with various other therapies and special classes made me feel as if I should just MOVE to the suburbs and get it over with, but dammit, I just can't do it. I am an Urban Gal. I do not like spending quality time in the car. I am allergic to strip-malls.

All of this dark, gloomy weather has not helped.

So I have put those on hold and am looking for closer replacements. One possibility is the Lotus Seed, just one mile from my house. They have a Capoeira for Children class twice a week at a more reasonable 4PM-5:30PM, so we are going to check it out. And, no, I have no idea what that is nor does the name "The Lotus Seed" fill me with anything other than annoyance, but I will try to be open minded (can ya give me an "ohmmmmm"). Am not being very open minded these days. Much easier to be annoyed and grumpy.

Or maybe it is because until I recover from my pinched nerve, the Doc has me on muscle relaxers, and they are making me feel useless these days. Or maybe it is because for the life of me I can't find Harry Potter Lego sets on sale anywhere. Or maybe I am still traumatized by agreeing to go Black Friday shopping with my in-laws and having spent the hours of 12Am-6AM in various lines at Jantzen Beach has thrown me right off the holidays.

Yep. Need a drink (which I can't have because of the muscle relaxers).


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sensory Santa!

ASO just announced there would be an opportunity for kids on the spectrum to have their own Santa Visit at the Lloyd Center, on Dec. 5th from 8AM to 10AM.

The idea is that the kids will have the mall pretty much to themselves, and provide lower lighting and a calmer environment for those who are a bit sensitive or easily overwhelmed. Each family that attends will receive a free photo with the Big Guy himself.

Isaac visited a mall Santa once, when a little guy. But that was about it. My kids usually look on at Mall Santa Lands with wonder but I can never get them to join the Que to participate. Not that I blame them. I have a whole series of pics of me on Santa's lap looking a bit underwhelmed, wondering where my F%*#@g candy cane is. But we will go. If you too want to give it a go, contact Heather Munro at: hmunro@glimcher.com.

I stopped believing in Santa on my 8th Christmas, when I caught my dad putting together a dollhouse in the middle of the night, and he came clean rather then go into a production about being Santa's Helper. This is Isaac's 8th Christmas. I wonder, how will he take it? "You mean you've been lying all of these years?".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Special Education PTA: First Impressions

I left the meeting last night with two very obvious thoughts:

"They (we) need more members".
"They (we) need to meet more often to be effective and address all of the issues".

The topic of last nights discussion was "Conflict Happens", and there were a number of speakers from a variety of resources to discuss what a family can do when there is a disagreement with the teacher, school and/or district. A very good topic indeed. But damn, was it hard to STAY on topic for pretty much everybody. I could see some of the heads getting frustrated as we strayed from funding to class size, using the meeting as a forum to air frustrations. Does this happen at other PTA meetings? I have joined but never attended a typical PTA function. Is it because we just, as families with an IEP, have way more baggage then average?

Yes. But I also think there is one more factor: SEPTAP meets once every two months. How the hell can we maintain momentum and discuss issues when we meet maybe 4 or 5 times a year?
And of course we go off topic - when there is only a limited opportunity to discuss things, all of the crap gets laid out on the table despite best efforts.

So I joined SEPTAP, signed up for two committees (Hospitality and School Rep and no, I have no idea what they actually do), and am going to try to make a few suggestions to help. Like, informal meetings that meet once a month. And Social Skills groups that meet once a month at the grade school level to engage with one another.

Any other ideas? How about reaching out to the parents at the EI level, introduce ourselves, and make connections? We have been out of EI for over two years with Isaac and I just learned about SEPTAP.


Monday, November 15, 2010

SEPTAP Tomorrow

At Beverly Cleary school, 6:30pm to 8pm. It will be my first. Please let it be less rant-y then the MPAC meetings!

Question...is it BYOB? Can I bring a cocktail? Hell, even our Cub Scout troop parent meeting happens at Laurelwood Pub. It is not a bad damn idea. Hmm. Cub Scout troop - wow. I have totally deserted that activity this year. Am I bad for saying it was a little creepy and lame? Come on people, priests in Eagle Scout uniforms is just not right!

Why Can't I Be More Angry?

I Facebook-Lurked on a tirade today between two parents, one I know, one I don't know, but both with kids in Special Ed in PPS.

They were pissed (for lack of a better word). Yelling, kicking, screaming pissed. About lack of funding, about PPS seeking a maintenance of effort waiver from the Federal government because they can't meet guidelines, about available funds not being used for education but instead being diverted to lawsuits that fight educational demands.

Yeah, I know it ain't good.

Still, watching their angered interchange actually upset me. I felt...defensive. And no, I do not work for PPS.

Why were they so angry? I am all about expressing feelings, but this level of anger, as justified as it might me, really seems wrong to me. So I pondered and I wondered, all morning long. Why was I disturbed by this?

And then, as I picked Olivia and then Isaac up from their respective special Ed programs, smiled and chatted with teachers and aides, I finally figured it out.

Waste of energy. They were wasting energy, a nuclear amount. If one of my own kids had such a meltdown, it would inevitably end with a monster nap. How could we take this energy and put it towards something that they (and we) can actually use? I have met a few parents during this journey that have ranted in a similar fashion to me, and when I asked a few key questions, I had found out that as much as they love their kids and want the best, ranting is as far as they got in communicating their frustration to PPS. And if their ranting is anything like my husbands ranting at the Blazers during a game, I doubt it is every effective.

I just refuse to get that upset anymore. I did during (what I will start calling) the Roseway Incident, and man was that exhausting. It was not good. I don't think I can do it again so easily.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Been A Good Week

Oh, I love weeks like this.

There are weeks when AUTISM has been branded on everything we do, when Olivia cries at every peer encounter she has, when Isaac suddenly goes into orbit and anxiety colors everything hes sees some particularly horrid color of red. On those weeks I wonder when I am going to crack, if I need to put them both on meds and hide myself behind prescriptions and full-time ABA therapy.

Then there are weeks when we almost forget we are on the spectrum, when because of some cosmic balance all is well. No panic attacks. No spiraling. Actually, the whole month of August was like that (we also did not have school, therapy, or any other challenges).

But this week, this week of life as usual, was full of encounters and challenges and therapies, and we handled it very well. We, of course, since I am half of the problem at times (I get anxious myself, frustrated, or cranky sometimes when things go awry).

Olivia had school, and although shy-as-always, managed to go into the classroom with her head up and have a good day with her classmates. She went to a friend's bday party with 4 other kids and while shy and hesitant to join the kids, she slowly emerged from her shell and came to join the festivities. Afterwards, she could not stop talking about going to M's house and playing with her friends.

Isaac had his usual challenges, especially at recess with his CB class. But he started telling me about his day in detail, who did what, who got in trouble, who got extra stars, and what he learned. And just being able to get himself to share with me seems to have helped his anxiety from two weeks ago. He seemed satisfied that all was right. Then, on Wednesday, he attended his first Typical class in two years. Granted, it was music class, but he enjoyed it, it went well, and soon we will add PE and Math with the NT 2nd grade class.

So this week was a balance. We handled our ASD, managed it. Took a bit of control. Beat that bastard down, told him who was Lord of THIS manor.

I even met my own ASD challenge and came out OK. And trust me, that doesn't always happen. I met with our Developmental Ped this time re: Olivia. It is odd to lay it all out on the table. I saw all of Olivia's quirks itemized, and instead of wanted to cry, or even worse, tell stupid jokes to calm myself down (yes, nasty habit), I walked out of the meeting with Dr. G feeling pretty good.

Yeah baby - we got this.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

SEPTA meeting coming up: Conflict Happens: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

PPS's Special Education PTA is having a meeting at Beverly Cleary School in NE PDX, Tuesday November 16th from 6:30-8:00PM. As part of the general meeting, they will have a few speakers to help parents manage conflicts with a child's teacher, their school, or district. Diann Drummond will be one of the speakers, and she was one of my personal angels when Isaac was going through a pretty bad patch last year (bad as in Police, EMT's, and an expulsion hearing).

Yep, pretty bad.

I would recommend any parent whose child is in PPS or expects their child to join that party soon to come. This will be my first time as well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Trying

I have been fussing over my most recent posting for days now. Now, I am never the most eloquent of bloggers to begin with, but when I am truly stressed, I seize up a bit.

Isaac is starting to show real signs of anxiety at his new school. It was to be expected, and I have been looking for signs for the past 3 weeks. I like to live in la-la-land, and had hoped that we could skip this part of the new transition. And to give the kid some credit, the anxiety has been only slightly visible at school. Instead, home has been a mine field. He's been high strung, making silly demands, defiant, and argumentative. It is a departure for him.

So this is what I think it is. At school he has been surrounded by kids with their own behavior issues. Every day, he has to stop and remind himself to NOT push, to NOT get angry, to NOT freakout when someone else in his class is pushing, angry, freaking out. Yesterday he said one of the boys punched him in the stomach. "But it didn't hurt, mom, and I told Mr. K and (the boy) got a time out and no stars for the day". Oh, so proud. But all day at school he has to be on high alert, surrounded by kids who are fighting their own behavior demons. At some point, will Isaac crack? Is it too much to be in a CB class? Have I pushed him over the edge with the addition of Gymnastics, Karate, and Piano? WTF am I doing?

Then there is Olivia, who for no apparent reason (other than it is the fall, and she did this last fall as well), has decided that she does not like other kids near her age (older kids and her brother are OK). She runs behind trees, tries to hide under my shirt/skirt, and has socially shut down. Argh. When this happened last year, we finally had to pull her out of school and take a two month break (while Isaac was being home schooled having been kicked out of Roseway and awaiting a placement decision). Oh, fun times. This time, we are getting therapy and pushing through.

Argh again. Anxiety has been one of the biggest issues we have dealt with in our little ASD bubble. And it is not going to get any easier as the get older, is it?