Monday, January 31, 2011

Me, Schmee...

Am half way through a glass of wine and just realized that, wow, I haven't eaten anything today since a Special K breakfast bar at 8AM. So am half way through my FIRST glass of wine and feeling as if I just polished off my third. Yeah for the cheap date!

Mondays are interesting. They are the most mommy-abusive of the week. Getting ready for school, drowsy kids, rush rush, running around, therapy in the afternoon for one, a new martial arts class for the other, husband working laaaate, and once again I have forgotten to think about the basics. You know, like eating. And the sucky thing is that I am not even getting a benefit for ignoring myself. Saddlebags? Check. Pouchy tummy? Check. 'Cause when I do remember to eat, it is crud food supplemented by the occasional V-8.

And the closest thing I have had to a fruit today is the fermented grape in my drink. Yum, but feeling a little loose and blurry. Fun when it is a Saturday night with the girls, not so fun when it is bath time. Dear God. Will I end up a story on the Nancy Grace Show? "Mommy Drunk and Blogging while 8 year-old Drowns in Shower"?

Hey, it could happen.

So I am not doing the best job of looking after myself. But the kids are sleeping through the night, are doing well in school, are have success in their various therapies, they are pooping (hey, you know how important that is in the ASD world), I have two more weeks to prep for the first of this years IEPs (and yes, there is always more than one per child in my world) and it is my hubbies turn to read to the kids at bedtime tonight. Will finish my wine and stop bitching.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To IEP or to IFSP: That is the Question!

So O's transition meeting with MESD and PPS is coming up, and the discussion on the table (okay, on my side of the table), is whether or not my soon to be 5 year old is starting Kindergarten in the fall (the "where" is on the back burner a bit, but could be stoked at any minute).

So I am working on the Pros and Cons.

Well, she is almost 5.
She is very verbal.
She is catching up academically.
She is almost potty trained.

Oh God. Wait. My "Pros" list is starting to sound like a "Cons" list. Will start with the Cons.

She is still prone to toilet accidents.
She still has a hard time in a group of over 5 kids.
She can only identify some numbers and letters, but we suspect she knows more.
When overcome with social anxiety, she hides in a corner of the room.
She needs to be monitored, will sometimes take off.
She has a hard time sitting in circle time.
She is so freakin' tiny. She is still wearing 3T's, and weighs 32 pounds soaking wet.

She is getting better at ALL of these things.

Miss O is having fewer accidents. She is starting to articulate when she has to use the bathroom. Now, O is very comfortable with her small class and is starting to actually make friends and have reciprocal interactions. Her anxiety keeps her from telling us all she knows ("I don't know, what is it?" is a common response, even to topics we know she knows), but she does learn things. She no longer hides when she enters her classroom, although we still have to coax her out in public, and she now knows that she can't take off on her own, although we still have to practice this. And she sits in circle now, but only just.

So there are pros wrapped up in the cons. But she needs more time and maturity to get there and have success in K.

And there is a little parent-guilt. When we were sitting in Isaac's first IEP meeting, all so optimistic about Isaac's transition from MESD to PPS, I think we ended up pushing a kid who just wasn't ready. I am terrified we will do it again.


I need wine.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Welcome to IEP-land. The Sh*ttest Amusement Park in the World!

Ok ok ok. Exaggeration.

Or is it?

There is a House of Mirrors, where you think you have agreed on a clear path for your child but end up cornered between IEP goals and limited staffing.

There is the Haunted House, where the (budget) slashing might be metaphorical, but no less bloody.

Of course, right past (we'll do it) Tomorrow Land, is Fantasy Land, where you actually understand what all of those percentages and minutes on your IEP stand for.

Lastly, there is The Big Scream, IEP-lands famous roller coaster, where in-between wanting to scream at PPS for forcing your child into an environment you know will not work, you feel like losing your lunch from the stress of it all.

And the price of admission is your heart, your soul, your pride, your dignity, your sanity, but hopefully not your childs' future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Good Friend Stars

Isaac can be a good friend. He is sought out in his class by others to sit next to, to play with. Isaac can be a great friend, when he likes you. If he doesn't like you, he can be a real sh*t head.

That is what we are finding out. Now, I never ever ever thought of Isaac as the Innocent One, or the Victim, or then anything else then what he is - a young boy. They can tease, they can be sneaky, they can play favorites. And in a typical world, that is just being a boy. Not great, but expected.

But in a class of social and behavioral issues, this is a hot topic and currently causing all kind of problems. These days, if we are not calling for an FBA (functional behavior assessment), or an expulsion hearing, it's all manageable. Still, I feel terrible that Isaac is part of what is causing stress in G (and it is a two way street I've been told, but at least I can run a detour on my end).

So, we are creating a Good Friend Award for Mr. Isaac, with the stress on stepping out of our comfort zone. Being a Good Friend to someone we like is not hard, but being a Good Friend to someone we have a hard time with (say, like my Sister-in-law, who I snapped at and made cry earlier today - yes, I apologized and made up for it, but am still feeling horrid about it) is being a really Good Friend, and will be rewarded. If he can be a Good Friend so many times in a week, he can pick something from the prize box. Will see how it goes...hey, at least this particular behavior might not be from his ASD. He might have just inherited being a sh*thead from me...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Your First IEP

On Tuesday, Jan. 18th, SEPTAP will focus their general meeting "Writing Effective IEPs". 6:30-9:30, Beverly Cleary School. Highly recommend anyone with kidlets entering into K this fall to try to attend or at least to touch base with a parent who has been through a few IEP's. 'Cause, folks, I could have used it myself when I was sitting down with the crew to write up the first one for Isaac.

Not that it was such a bad thing. We were surrounded by so much great feedback, such enthusiasm for Isaac's mainstreaming into a typical class at Sabin, and they were saying everything we wanted to hear. "He'll do great, with just a little direction. He will just need an aide for the first few weeks, just for the transition. There should be no problems at all. We will discuss all of this with his new teacher weeks before he actually starts." Like a virgin being deflowered, we were hearing all of the stuff we needed to hear to get us to cave in with a smile.

And so it started. Within 4 months of starting in K, things got rough. And you all know the story. 4 schools in two years. An expulsion hearing. A stint at Pioneer.

It made me sit down, with 20/20 hindsight, and ask what we missed. What we missed was so f*cking huge as to be an embarrassment.

First: we allowed Isaac to attend a school (our neighborhood school, which is Sabin and has a growing good reputation and engaged parent population) that lacked any real special ed program. What it had was one person in a K-8 program who specialized in reading problems in typical kids. And she tried to get him discontinued from spending time with her because, I realize, she was not equipped to handle an ASD (or much else, for that matter). When problems started to arise, the school was not able to handle it.

Second: we were not fully informed of options. I did not even know about CB programs until his K teacher mentioned them, 5 months into the school year. CB programs are offered at some, but not all or most, of schools, and are equipped to handle issues as they arise and even recognize them before hitting boiling point. And, good luck finding info regarding these classes through PPS. They don't easily offer up info, but dammit, if I had pursued options in that first IEP meeting, there would be no way I would have let Isaac attend a school without one.

Third: I was too easy giving up my game face in that first IEP meeting. We both wanted to hear that Isaac was a star, that he was going to do fine. I did not ask "What will we do if things go wrong? What is our plan?"

IEP's are chock full of details, broken down into so many minutes of this or that shall be given per month to whatever. WHATEVER! Main question I will ask regarding O's first IEP is this: What are her support systems? Who will be there to catch her when she stumbles and I am not there?

Friday, January 7, 2011

On the Other End of the Stick

So part of the Dark Days of Isaac last year was that Isaac was being aggressive with a classmate that he was being teased by. This aggression lead to a behavior plan and eventually to a his expulsion hearing, and attendance at Pioneer. So we know all about aggression, all about how hard it is for the child and his/her victim.


Now, Isaac is getting a new perspective. He is the victim of the aggression of a classmate at Alameda, and how he has handled this has been wonderful and heartbreaking.

G (the other boy), has a hard time. He has a hard time with impulse, controlling his feelings, and competition with other kids. You can see him struggling with it, and man, do I feel for him and his family. His mom has admitted that this continues at home, and maintaining friends and having play dates has been nigh impossible, and so exhausting that she has just stopped for the time being. The teachers are aware of it, and trying to manage it and keep Isaac and G separated as much as possible.

But they can't always be at a distance. This has been happening for a long time, and for the most part Isaac keeps away from G (and he is so proud of this - Isaac of last year would have hit back without considering the consequences). But since our return from Winter vacation, it has gotten to him. He has not hit G back, but instead has responded with tears and anxiety, announcing today that he "didn't want to go back to school until G goes away!" He is beginning to crack a bit, and our concern, and one that we shared with his teacher, is that he might lash out and end up back in a bad space.

What to do, what to do. What G really needs is a few months with with Mrs. Heidi at Pioneer, but there is no way I can say that to anyone. None of my business, right? Argh. Will have to contact Ms. Niki and ask what she thinks.

Bedtime Conversation with Eight Year Old...

Isaac took some time last night to tell me what he would and wouldn't do if he was another person...

"If I was momma, I would have 100 TVs in my room (He begs, but I say no every time).
If I was daddy, I would make 100 computers (daddy is at Intel).
If I was (aunt), I would never be cranky.
If I was (cousin), I would never be a brat.
If I was (grandma), I would never cry (this was a shocker, will need to talk to her soon).
If I was G, I would never hit.
If I was J, I would be smart.
If I was R, I would eat all of my food
If i was D, I would not tease R."

And so on. I have to say, I was amazed. I kissed him goodnight, and wished him sweet dreams.