Friday, August 31, 2012

Scissors

Yesterday morning was the parent/teacher conference with Goofy's teacher. I'm not sure yet what I think about it. I'm thinking we're so not having the same conversation. She has no concerns about classroom routine or rule related behaviors. Um... that's because I worked with him on routines and organization until they were 2nd nature and we worked together to come up with a behavior plan that works... I tell you what, she's a genius when it comes to saying "no concern" in a thousand different ways. And while she's talking about the "behaviors" that are widely accepted as being "behaviors", I'm wanting to know about academic type related behaviors. The following directions, paying attention, blahblahblah. She says she has some concerns in that area but she is confident that the IEP will help with that. 
 
I'm frustrated at the wait for backup approach she's taking because I think we ought to do something about whatever we can do something about. Granted, whatever we come up with wouldn't be on the same level as the highly qualified, trained professionals but the Functional Behavior Assessment, the evals, everything that happens in this leg of the journey takes up to 60 days. 60. days. What do we do until then? when you need stitches do you let it bleed until the doc can get to it? NO! Slap a bandaid on that b*tch and THEN go find professional help! I don't want to have to wait, I want to DO something. I'm impatient like that. But, I can also understand how slapping a bandaid on makes the problem look a whole lot smaller than it is. If the evidence of the wound is covered, how can anyone know how bad it is unless they remove the bandage? Then I'm stuck in a cycle of constantly changing bandages with the wound never being dealt with. So, ok. I'll wait and see what happens at the meeting the 10th.
 
 
While my main concerns are language/auditory processing and FBA related, her main concerns are in the area of fine motor. Specifically, scissors. So, whatever. It's something I can do and so I will do it. She sent home a pair of scissors from OT. They have this spring thing that helps make cutting easier...
So, I set up a practice activity...
and gave him the non-specific,
overly vague direction to
cut them out and left him on his own to do so...

The next step was working 1:1, specific instruction, a visual/action model where I explain each step of what I am doing to complete the activity...
 

video

The results
 

 I didn't notice until watching it back that there's a difference in body posture and the angle we are holding the scissors. He's got his elbows out and up and the scissors are horizontal while I have my elbows down and in with the scissors vertical. We will address that in our next session :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parent/Teacher Communication... My wish list

Please, note that that up there says "My wish list". I do understand that there is another part to this equation and what I *want*, is not the final word or, possibly, may not even be practical from the teacher's side. I understand teachers have a job to do aside from coddling needy parents and I want to make this as painless for them as I would like for it to be for me but I have a job to do, too. Time is precious and needs to be managed wisely.

Teachers, SLPs, OTs, ABAs... if you have any requests, I would love to hear them. I'm always lost on what you all want/need to know from parent/teacher notes and how much space you need to work. Parents, I would love to hear your ideas.

Daily Notes
This year Alex's teacher is sending home a binder with daily notes. The notes cover everything from his mood to the date to the weather to what he did during the day to which therapy he had to what he had for snack and where it came from. The daily notes are good for telling me what Alex did with his time, the general information. I like this. I appreciate the information. It's the first thing I look at when Alex walks in the door. My only problem with it is it's dry erase. which means it's here today, gone tomorrow. There is no continuous stream of documented days. There are no hard copies to keep and refer to. Nothing to make notes on to explain the differences in moods/behaviors. For things such as trying to cut out milk, this sucks because I don't know for sure from an unbiased source how he is doing off of milk compared to on milk. At the bottom of the last page is a place for extra notes where they put things like "No BM" and "Good day!" and "Alex used a new word!" and "Saw the dogs today, he was a little rough but seemed to enjoy them!". For the love of Pete, in this section, give me something! anything! This section is for the "personal" messages. Show me you see my baby as more than just another face in a sea of faces. Give me something to brag about to my friends. I love being able to post "Alex used the potty!" "Alex requested 'bubbles'!!!" "Alex walked 10 feet unassisted and did not run off!!" "Alex didn't run from the room today!" I want to know "Alex was fussy today." "Alex took a nap." whatever, you want to say, whatever 5 seconds of the day caught your attention, please, share it with me in a sentence or 2 to hold me over until you have a chance to let me know a bit more.

Goofy gets a sort of daily note called a behavior grade. Also the first thing I look at when Goofy walks in the door. It's a piece of paper with a paragraph at the top explaining what this is and how it works, the bottom half is a list of the 5 days. Each day, he gets a number 1-7 and she jots down a quick note as to why he got the particular number. I sign, put it back in his folder and at the end of the week, I have a hard copy documenting the 5 days that I can staple to the work he brought home throughout the week so I can track his strengths/weaknesses/problem areas and have a clear picture of what he's doing. I love these daily notes, too.

Then there are the e-mails.
What I do not need is a duplicate of the daily notes, it's not efficient use of communication as a tool to meet our children's needs and is wasting the teacher's precious time, as well. I already have that information. In the e-mails I would like to know what I haven't already been told. These do not have to be daily.

If nothing exceptional happened, nothing noteworthy, I don't expect an email, just a "Good Day!" at the bottom of his dry erase pages is sufficient. Did he have a rough day? Why? What happened? Did he have a meltdown? What do you think triggered it? Is he extra sleepy? Did something noteworthy happen? Did he do something new? Is he working on something not specifically listed in the IEP? If nothing happened during the day, an e-mail once a week would be fine. Did he need a nap? How is his hunger throughout the days? Is there something he's struggling with? Is there anything I can do at home to help you? I may not be a highly qualified, trained professional but I can do what I can do to help. Is there something he's working on at school that he's doing well with and you think it would help at home or help him if we were using the same techniques at home? How is he interacting with others? Are there behaviors that are accommodated at home that are causing you problems at school like with stealing food from other kids' plates- which at home we were just moving kids away from him, at school that's not really an option. At school, he was throwing his cups, crushing the plastic ones. At home we had found that a solid glass worked best for him in deterring these behaviors. and, I would like to know how in the heck you are getting him to not only sit and listen at story time but to raise. his. hand. and participate!!!

For Goofy, I would like to know information that is not considered for the behavior grade. Did he have an exceptionally bad day? What happened? Is there something noteworthy to share? If not, weekly is fine here, too. How is he doing with the other kids? How is he doing paying attention? Is he being disruptive? Is there a particular work-related area he needs extra help with? What can I do to help you? to help him?

Team Meetings
These are supposed to happen every six weeks as needed, from what I understand. These are the times that all team members get together and discuss what everyone is doing and how they are doing it and how the kids are doing. These meetings make sure everyone is on the same page and is aware of what everyone else is doing and why. These sort of casual meetings are awesome for getting new information that no one thought was noteworthy enough to share because they didn't know they were rocking things I struggle with and I didn't know what information they needed that I wasn't offering.

IEP Meetings
These happen once a year. It's where everyone gets together and uses the information collected from daily notes, weekly e-mails, team meetings and day-to-day observations/documentation to decide on what goals will be appropriate for the next year and if there is anything new that has come up worthy of IEP level attention. As a fully functioning member of the team, keep track of what your kids are doing through these other means of communication, don't be afraid to speak up and don't be afraid to refuse "No" for an answer but have an option based on documented communication and your work at home ready so you get what you want. When I wanted bilateral integration activities added so that he could learn to put his socks on, they said no because socks couldn't be worked in as an academic goal and there weren't opportunities to practice it at school. HOWEVER, classroom routines ARE academic goals and hanging up his stuff and carrying his tray are classroom routines that require the use of both hands. win/win. both sides get what they want because both sides were able to use the previous communication and documentation to decide what feasible goals are and where to go from here. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The IEP in use at home...

One thing I'm not sure everyone involved in these IEP meetings and such (parents included) realizes is that having an IEP is not only beneficial for school but can be used at home in a variety of ways.

I use the ideas in Alex's Behavioral Intervention Plan on a regular basis, and, *shocker*, they work. If not the actual intervention, the attitude described. His goals, I may not work on the goal in the same way they have it worded in his IEP or use the same activities they use to teach him but I can take the ideas behind the goal, research other ways to accomplish it and use those in his routine or in interacting with him and playing with him. At home, he's not carrying his lunch tray through line or hanging up his jacket and backpack in order to encourage the development and use of bilateral skills but I know that's the reason for those activities and find other ways to work on it such as- playing catch, pulling his pants up, putting his plate in the sink, putting poker chips in a container, nesting objects, stacking rings... So, I'm working on the things his IEP suggests along with them working at school which increases the likelihood of him retaining the skills and the speed at which he learns them.

With Thing2, his IEP tells me where his difficulties are and suggestions on how to go about working with him on it in the stated modifications allowed him. 98% of the time that he needs help with homework, it's American History and English. Both of which require you to read for the answers or write extended answers.

With his IEP being in Reading Comprehension, I know one of the things allowed him is to have his tests read to him. For this, I thought the first thing I would try would be reading the chapter to him. Then reading the page. Then reading the paragraph. But that boy, I tell you what, by the time I got past the first sentence, he was off in space and had already forgotten what question he was listening for. It was BAD. So, now, I use something comparable to placing a sheet of paper over the irrelevant parts of the page. I absolutely refuse to give him the answer but I will do my best to make modifications for him so they are easier to find. I read through and find the paragraphs the answers are in throughout the chapter, I use a pencil to lightly outline the paragraphs and he reads through the shorter versions to find the answers.

With most of his other assignments, it was the directions that were the problem so I showed him how to split the directions up into several separate steps by underlining the request for action words. "Write" "Circle" "Find"... things like that. Draw a line, like a slash, between the steps of directions and do one at a time. Make a check mark beside each when you finish with each step so you know what parts are done and what comes next. Without his IEP, I would have been in serious trouble when it comes to homework. This also gives me ideas on how to communicate what I want to him. Now, in other areas, I know that I can't just say- go clean your room, go do your laundry, go get ready for school. He had to have it broken down into smaller, simple steps in clear terms. Because of the IEP, he now keeps his room clean and does his own laundry and mostly, doesn't even need to be waken up for school. Because the IEP taught me how to teach him, he is pretty self sufficient and I have less responsibility in caring for him.

I have high hopes for the Goofy one, too. Because he's not my only ADHD child, actually 4/5 are ADHD, I have a pretty good idea what to expect and I already have a variety of tools to try but his IEP will be specific to him. I won't have to try to guess at what's going on with him and try to guess at what will work. He's not bringing homework home yet but I worked with him over the past year trying to get him Kindergarten Ready after the Great Kindergarten Debacle last year and I think I may have a decent idea of what he's doing but things have changed a bit now that he's on medication and I'm not with him in the classroom. I kind of wish I could be so I could have an idea of what's going on so I know what to suggest but I'm not.

Yesterday, I think it was, Dr. School Psychologist asked me why I was wanting a Functional Behavior Analysis. I gave him an answer but it wasn't until today that I clearly saw my reason. I have a phone conference with Goofy's teacher tomorrow at 11am so I'm trying to make notes of the questions I have, the difficulties I'm assuming (in some cases I know) he's having, the reasons he *could* be having these difficulties and some suggestions on overcoming them. A Functional Behavior Assessment will do the exact same thing, except, it's based on classroom observation by a trained professional with minimal guess work and suggestions that will work for GOOFY. Then, I can take the professional's results and translate them to things I can do at home, ways to help Goofy in more than just schoolwork.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Juggling Alex and the Goofy one...

This morning I knew was going to be iffy. I made an appointment for Alex to go to the doctor this morning at 9:45 and I knew there would be no one home to help. I was hoping Alex would sleep until I got Walter and Goofy on their buses and threatened bodily harm to either boy who dared wake that sleeping child up before I was ready for him. Unfortunately, Alex woke up just in time for me to have to go outside. I turned on Care Bears, gave him some cereal in his room and locked his gate while we waited for Walter to get on his bus which is no big deal because I can run inside every so often to check on him. He was perfectly content to watch TV and munch that he didn't even notice I shut the gate so I don't know why I feel so bad about it. That's what the gate is for, right? Safety when he can't be within arm's reach? The Goofy one, I can't send him to the bus stop alone and I can't leave Alex home alone for the 10 minutes or so we wait at the bus stop and taking Alex to the bus stop is not even an option. We wait on the front porch or inside the front door depending on his capabilities that morning for his bus because we cannot stand at a bus stop for safety reasons. So, I decided since Goofy's bus comes at 8:36, right on the dot every morning, we would wait until 8:34 to walk down just to be sure we are actually AT the bus stop when the bus gets there. This is not the routine, this is not how it goes, this is not what is supposed to happen and why can't Thing1's new hamster watch Alex? Well, then, Gilbert will watch him. I try to explain why hamsters and cats cannot watch kids but end up promising that we will go to the bus stop early tomorrow. Those 2 minutes at the bus stop were the longest, most nerve-wracking 2 minutes of my entire life. I was so sure any second I would see Alex come stimming out that front door and right straight into traffic and there would be nothing I could do about it or I would be so busy watching for Alex, I wouldn't see Goofy do something stupid.

I rush home from the bus stop to check on my baby and he was still wrapped up in Care Bears, still munching away, still not even noticing the gate :) I call him to come get a shower and get ready. I tell him several times that we are going to see Dr. and he is going to look at his ears. The Dr. says he does have an ear infection- both ears. More so the right than left. This is the first time I have seen the Dr. since the DFS call and I was a little nervous about it. Where no one else's opinion matters to me, his does. I really like him, I respect him and I don't want him to think I'm not doing my job raising my kids. I'm not all that lazy and I do try my best. The few times he came over to our house, things were crazy and not really company ready because every time was a surprise and it was in the middle of insanity. He had a nice smile and cracked a joke about winning the lottery and shipping off Thing1 and his ex-girl so they can make each other miserable and leave the rest of us out of it. :) such a relief. He said since Alex was giggly and active, not showing any signs of discomfort, there was no reason he couldn't go to school so I picked up prescriptions and visit summary and headed that way.

I called Big D to let him know what was going on. As soon as I hung up, my phone rang. unknown number, *sigh*. I answer and it's just the person I've been waiting for! Alex's appointment to get tubes Friday is at 6:45am. This sucks. but there's nothing I can do about it right now, so I get all of the information I need, write it down and take Alex into the school. I have a list going in my head of everything I need to figure out, everything I need to remember and when I take Alex into the office, look up and see the Principal.

Now, I just told you about my feelings on the doctor but there are 2 more people that I care about the impression they have of me. There are a lot of other people in the schools and such that I like a lot and would like to at least present a competent front with but I really don't give a hoot what they think of me but besides the doctor, the 2 I really, really don't want to look clueless, confused, mixed up or inept in front of would be the Mystery Man and this Principal.

Soooo, after the morning we've had, running into the Principal isn't exactly a good thing. I'm not even sure I got one clear sentence out. Trying to keep track of Alex and everything I'm not supposed to forget, signing him in I forgot the date, had to search for where to put my name, I think I forgot to write his name and totally blanked on his teacher's name. from any year. which is better than putting down last year's teacher's or his Kindergarten teacher's name, I guess.

Then he walks with us toward the classroom and I'm trying to tell him stuff, babbling on jumping from one thought to the next, never finishing the one before. we get to whoever's getting Alex, I don't know who she was. just some random woman who took his backpack so I'm hoping she was the one i was supposed to hand him off to. She didn't look like his aide or his teacher but as confused and distracted as I was at that moment, it very well may have been his aide. I'm focusing so hard on remember ing to go back to the office to turn in the doctor's visit summary because I never remember to turn them in and really I don't want those darned letters to start coming yet, that I think I forgot to say goodbye to Alex. or any of them. BUT, I turned in the summary!!! Woo!

I get out of there (hopefully doing everything I needed to do) and head home. I called Big D because I am worried. I know! What a surprise, right? So, I'm worried because Alex's appointment to get tubes is Friday at 6:45. Two things I am hopeless at guesstimating are time and distance. I need exact info or I have not even the faintest idea. I know where we are going but I have no idea how far away it is or how long it takes to get there.

This does and does not matter all at the same time. The does matter part is time to get Thing2 and Walter up. What if I can't be here to make sure they get up? What if they miss their buses or something? The does not part is, it doesn't matter how early or late I have to leave, there is no way I can put Goofy on the bus OR get him off. and both dads bailed on me. I knew I couldn't get the Goofy one off of the bus but Big D said he'd ask the neighbor. Now that I can't put him ON the bus either, I am on my knees and begging Big D to take the day off because I don't know what to do. Alex HAS to have tubes. There's no question of rescheduling this appointment. He needs them. There is no one I can ask to help me with the other kids. I need him to, please, take the day off. Big D says no way, it's not going to happen. There is some sort of holiday coming up and the load is too heavy to take the day off. what kind of holiday happens in August that requires people to drink tons of alcohol? So, I'm wondering what I'm going to do now.

I think I'm going to have to keep Goofy home Friday. I can take him with me. I can e-mail his teacher and ask her to send any work he'll be doing that day home. We're going to lose a day of documenting behaviors and work stuff, which sucks but tubes are more important. I can ask Thing2 to wake Walter up before he leaves and Walter has a cell phone so he can call me, his dad, his uncle or the neighbor if he runs into any trouble. If I take Goofy's work with us, I can work with him on that while Alex is in surgery.

and then, in the midst of all of this, the School Psychologist wants me to focus enough to give reasons for wanting a Functional Behavior Assessment (here) for the Goofy child. Oh, the irony. Come on, now, you have to see the humor in that one :) So, I'm off to figure out why we need it.

A very productive day and lots of good news :)

So, yesterday turned out to be the most awesome day since school started! Well, aside from having to walk up onto the bus to physically drag the Goofy one off and listen to him tell me all the reasons I'm so unfair because he just wanted to ride the bus, she could have drove the other kids home first. and the fact that he went completely bonkers once we made it into the house and based on what I was seeing I was not surprised in the least little bit that he wasn't listening today, refused to do his work and had trouble finishing in a timely manner. and there was the point that I was helping Thing2 with his homework and Walter with his homework while the Goofy one was *literally* climbing the mother lovin' walls. and, there was the fact that Big D fixed supper early which meant it was time to eat before homework was done and Alex didn't want to eat with his plate in the chair because that's not where you eat, so I tried sitting it in the floor and he ended up dancing in it. with his shoes on.

BUT, it was still the most awesome day since school started! Well, there was the whole arguing on the way into the store because I want enough gas to take Alex to the doctor AND to school tomorrow and possibly enough left over to drop off prescriptions since tomorrow is the boys' last day on meds and I don't care if the little button does say there are 47 miles to empty. that little button could be a little liar. it wouldn't be the first time. Big D says that was a different car. I say that doesn't change the fact that it's the same person telling me I have plenty of gas when it is clearly on the red and the last 2 times I trusted that, I ran out of gas. Twice

BUT!!!!! It WAS the most awesome day since school started because aside from Big D, I was home alone. A-LONE. Do you know what that means? Maximum productivity :D

First, I called the doctor's office and since I made a list beforehand, I remembered which kids needed prescriptions and that Alex needed an appointment. and got them all.

and then, I called the diaper place because the diapers we got in the mail for Alex are youth small... not so small. more like you need grit, spit and a whoooole lotta duct tape to keep those suckers on. Luckily, the sweet sounding man on the phone says they have just the thing I need. Child large which is 65-120lbs and they are called "sleepovers". my first thought is areyoufreakinkiddingme!? That's what I asked for in the first place!!! But he is more than willing to change the next order so within a few days of September 20th, we will have the right diapers.

and then, I checked my e-mail and had a note from Alex's teacher :)

and then, I called Goofy's Counselor to find out what exactly was going on and things sound to be going as they should be. It was a team meeting, I didn't sign anything, the time started the first day of school and at some point before the 15th, Dr. School Psychologist will be calling me to set up a meeting.

and THEN, I get an e-mail. From. The. Principal.!!!! Gasp and swoon! Guess what she has to say...

Mac,
Counselor has been working with I-forget-what-he-does-but-it's-someone-important's office to get the 504 in place. She has done everything on her part and is waiting for approval from his office. I just spoke with Dr. Important Person myself and he is notifying Human Resources that he wants a TA hired until the SSD process has been completed.
As far as whether resource minutes would help him, none of that can be put into place until the evaluation process is completed and qualification is determined.
Most of your questions about his work were specific, so I will leave that to Ms. Teacher to talk over with you. The times I have seen Goofy, he has been well behaved; I'm happy to say.
The evaluation process is moving forward within normal time limits. The start date for your request is August 16th, the first day of the school year. Everything that should be done by now is done and the next person to contact you will be the school psychologist.
I hope this helps. As soon as we learn of the start date of a TA, we will let you know.

Thanks,
Principal


 
YAAAAY!!!! ***Hooting and hollaring, cheering and clapping and just for the heck of it, let's throw in a happy dance*** See? Now, didn't I tell you guys you were worrying about nothing? They've got it all under control. Ok, fine. so you all weren't the ones doing the unnecessary worrying but whatever. It does make a big difference when you are clear on what has happened, is happening and what to expect. Then you have a plan instead of all kinds of uncertainty.

AND THEN, ...you didn't think I was done yet, did you? I told you, it was the most awesome day since school started, didn't I? I believe I did. But, anyway, I got a phone call from the man of my dreams! He says we shall have a meeting on September 6th at 10:45am. AND, he says Goofy will have a screening with the speech therapist and he wasn't aware that I asked for OT and a Functional Behavior Assessment but he is ON IT. and since he is ON IT, he may as well ask if anyone's available the following week so I don't have to take the LD with me because the week of the 6th is the week I have the little tag-a-long.
 
AND THEN, mhmmm, MORE. I got an e-mail. Thursday at 11, I have a phone conference with the teacher.

Now to get ready for the meetings... note making, note taking, etc. If it's written down, you don't forget it :)
 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Deal With DFS

So, these past 2 weekends I didn't get to post pictures instead of words as I had planned to do to free up my time for fun stuff but things happen that need to be talked about. I posted a status about having DFS called yet again and I got a big response. Things along the lines of been there and others like that's my worst fear! So, I would like to address those comments.

oh, yeah. most of us have. Especially those of us with screamers who sound like they are being beaten within an inch of their lives or the ones with proprioceptive difficulties who end up with bruises head to toe looking like they've been beaten within an inch of their lives. or, it could just be family or neighbors who are angry about something or exes looking to prove something. I've had most of the above but luckily, mine's not a screamer.

Now, there's something here that needs to be said. Some of it is just complete bullsh*t like the exes trying to cause trouble or the neighbors who know your child is fine and just want to cause trouble or the family members who just don't think you are good enough to be raising your child, BUT, there's another side to that. How many stories have you read about parents killing their children or doing horrible things to them and no one stepped in to help? Why didn't they see? How did they not know? Now, surely, the family should have know something was going on! Where were the child's other parents? Why didn't someone do something? Right?

Now, these misinformed people who are unintentionally calling in bogus claims, they "see", they "know" and they are ready to step in and do something about it. How can you be mad that someone else is looking out for your kid like no one did for these others?

The ones who are purposely reporting lies just to cause you trouble? That works in your favor, too. When Alex's father's family kept calling things in, every time they reported and I was investigated, instead of substantiating their claims that I was a bad mother who was unfit to raise children, the investigation proved the claims were unfounded, there were no concerns and the kids were in a good home. Which one holds up in court? I got full custody, partially because of the overwhelming number of unfounded calls that proved- on record- that I was not guilty of the accusations.

The first dozen or so calls hurt. Very much, so. But first comes the fear. You are terrified that they will come in and find something, even if it's not what they were looking for, that will be grounds to take your children. You have DFS show up on your doorstep and your first thought is OMG, I'm going to lose my babies! What's going to happen to them? What am I going to do!? You start picturing everything you have ever done wrong, every single time you messed up, everything in your house that isn't just so and you are more scared than you have ever been in your life.

When they leave, either telling you there is nothing left to investigate or leaving you with a safety plan- which is a list of things to work on that they will come back and check- you are over the scared and at the hurt. You start questioning what you are doing and how good of a parent you really are, if you really deserve these kids. Why would someone do this!? Are you that bad of a mother, that bad of a person that someone would think your kids are better off without you? What did you do to someone that would be worthy of a DFS call? It had to be about the way you take care of your kids, right? That's the only reason they would call DFS. (HA! Little do you know right now, but you will learn) Is your house too dirty? Is there some truth in the allegations? You are questioning yourself as a mother, not questioning their motives behind the call.

This hurt is magnified when it's a mandated reporter. Someone who sees enough kids and families to compare you and your kids to that there *must* be something to the allegations. Which is not the case at all. There are specific signs they look for. The bruising, for example, needs to be in certain areas. The behavior changes, etc. The mandated reporters, such as school, nurses, doctors... know that there may be nothing to what they are seeing but you know the rule- better safe than sorry. If you are seeing what could possibly be signs, it's best to let someone who can check it out with a trained eye check it out. You report, it's investigated, either there's something going on or there's not and that's the end of it until the red flag signs come back.

Unfortunately, that isn't always the case either. Mandated reporters are people, too. Sometimes you get a mandated reporter who just has a hard-on for you. Like the counselor that is no longer at the Regular Elementary (Hallelujah, for that break!) who reported that my boys weren't on meds, Alex played with electrical outlets, Alex jumping off of (at the time) nonexistent bunk beds, our home not being "stable" (I assume because I wasn't married to Big D at the time), Goofy being on Walter's nonexistent computer all hours of the night, Walter and Alex not bathing for days at a time... I can go on but, you get the idea. and sometimes, the principal isn't even aware of what all is being reported. They assume it's just the bruises being reported until DFS asks them to take the personal aspects out of the hotlines and just report the bruising.

and that's when the anger comes in. The unfairness of it all because damnit, you're doing the best you can!!! You are doing everything the books, blogs, articles... say to do and STILL it's not enough!? Come on!!! and then you find out with some of them the children actually have absolutely nothing to do with the motivation behind the call and anger turns into fury. They would risk your children by calling in an anonymous accusation because they are mad at you!? seriously!? That's pathetic and cowardly and a very low blow. and then you have no proof who actually called and they can deny it but you know and there's not a damned thing you can do about it. *impotent rage*

This is what I have learned over the years and many, many investigations... DFS has a job to do. They just want to make sure the kids are safe and cared for. They do not have unrealistic expectations. Feed them, clothe them, make sure they have what they need and don't beat the hell out of them. Keep a sanitary- not spotless- house and make sure the kids are safe. Those are the expectations. Simple enough, right? They see enough of the real abuse/neglect situations that they know an unfounded call when they see one. Last night, I still had dirty dishes and the house wasn't spotless and I forgot to have a kid take the trash out so the trash can smelled like a dirty diaper. but the diaper was in the trash, not on the kid, the dirty dishes were evidence the kids were fed and the number of kids investigating the investigation explained the rest of the mess. The police walked in, looked at the kids, looked at the sleeping kids and asked who we made angry. The end. They aren't stupid and don't believe something just because it's said. That's what the investigation is for.

Every once in a while, someone throws me for a loop and I get an unexpected call and the questions start. Except at this point, the first question I ask is who I pissed off this time ;) 2nd, I wonder what the allegations are and if there's any truth to them because, let's face it, we ALL mess up from time to time. If it comes from an unexpected source, such as a mandated reporter- which is all they can tell you- that's where the hurt comes in because seriously, mandated? you must have really messed something up. But now, I know what to expect, how things go and that the calls aren't personal unless they are personal in the way of someone trying to hit you where it hurts. and then, that's just pathetic of them and a compliment to you all at the same time because they know your kids are important enough to you to be the place it *really* hurts.

So, I find the humor in the allegations. and sometimes the reasons behind the allegations, such as today's.

I know exactly where this call came from and it has absolutely nothing to do with mandated reporting, angry family members or conniving exes. well, *my* conniving exes. The call came in at 11:31pm when all sane people, such as myself (*snicker*), my husband and my brother are in bed and therefore, not in the process of getting anyone angry enough to deliver a low blow. which is also the time that Thing1 was being talked to by the police about some shenanigans going on with him, his ex-girl and her maybe-boyfriend or could-be-ex-boyfriend, hell, I don't know what he is. With these 2 boys and this girl it's like watching a freakin ping-pong game. But, anyway, That ended with the police being called on him and an anonymous hotline on us. So, 12:30am, I picked up my phone and told her the same thing I tell anyone else I have a firm belief in making the calls. You don't like the way my house is run, don't come over. You don't like the way I take care of my kids, don't ask me to babysit. You have a problem, deal with it, don't drag me into your crap. and that's just the way I see it. Your actions represent you, they say nothing at all about me.

IEP and DFS... damned alphabet.

So, yesterday, I sent e-mails. Alex's teacher answered pretty quickly, within a few hours with an e-mail that would knock your socks off AND a follow up. Goofy... not so much. I kept waiting. by afternoon, I was waiting with a suspicious glare on my face. Why has no one answered? The Principal never answers my e-mails, which like I said before, doesn't surprise me and makes perfect sense considering how busy she is. The Mystery Man always answers by the end of the day at the latest, usually within a short period of time of my sending the e-mail. The teacher shot a quick one out between classes last Friday and followed up Sunday evening. I'm waiting, not freaking out yet but I just have this feeling that I'm pretty much in over my head here. I think I may need to look into some local resources such as IEP Advocates. Alex has one but his is through the Regional Center but I haven't felt like I've needed her lately. Goofy doesn't get services through the Regional Center and I'm sure wouldn't qualify for a diagnosis as common and mild as ADHD. The Regional Center services individuals with Developmental Disabilities. So, screwed.

Big D and Thing1's ex-girl keep trying to tell me to send Goofy to Alex's school. They know what they're doing, blahblahblah. Now, first of all, could you imagine? Both of the kids I obsess over in the same school? Really? Are you trying to send the Principal to the nuthouse? and second, seriously? you think it's that easy? Just say "oh, just send him here" and he goes? Pfft. It took me 3 years to get Alex in this school! At first, before Alex even started first grade at the Regular Elementary I told them No, Alex is enrolled in the State School for the Severely Handicapped. He needs a school for kids with special needs. I was told that such a place didn't exist in the county. The county has the SSD and he will be in a separate class but not a separate school. It wasn't until he went to another school in the county that they suggested the separate school would be the least restrictive environment because he couldn't go to lunch, music, art, gym, all of his therapies happened in the class- he was isolated, cut off. Coming back to the Regular Elementary, I was told it wasn't that easy. This is where the FAPE section of IDEA becomes a pain in the ass. "Least Restrictive Environment". They had to have evidence that he would do better somewhere else so he spent another year there before being referred to the Special School.

From what I understand, which I'm questioning how much I can trust what I understand considering the origin of my understanding and the run-around they gave me last time, Goofy has to try the regular class. Then the regular class with supports *IF* he qualifies for supports. If he does not qualify for supports, there's a bunch of back and forth and paperwork and appeals and advocates and lawyers and independent evaluations that waste a bunch of time with no guarantee that he will qualify for supports in the end. If he does, and they don't help, he goes to part time in a SSD class/ part time in a General Education class. Then to full time SSD class with gen ed extras such as lunch, recess, art, music, gym and THEN consider alternative placement if that doesn't work. Which all takes an unbelievable amout of time to observe, document, etc... It's a Charter School which opens up other options, not that those options are really an option considering transportation is not provided and you already know how well just getting them to bus stops is going.

That's all way later on, though. You have to walk through the first several levels of Hell to even get to that point. The first being trying to get the effing 504 and wondering what the hell the hold up is and figuring out at which point I need to bypass the Teacher, Mystery Man and the Principal and contact the SSD Area Coordinator to ask what the hell is going on, meanwhile twiddling my thumbs, waiting to hear back from these 3 exactly why he doesn't have the 504 that was supposed to be in place the first day of school- by their word, why I haven't received any notices on upcoming evaluations and why the 1st meeting preceeding the IEP to discuss who, what, where, when and why hasn't happened. So, I'm *cough* slightly worried thinking of the possibilities that could be headed my way, until I get an e-mail from goofy's teacher where the woman went all formal on me and asked me to schedule a phone conference with her for next week and for me to contact the counselor for further information on the 504. I've got a four letter word for you that would go *swell* with both "formal" and "phone conference". Damnit, I struggle face to face, phone is even worse! and on the phone, I can't even schedule it for a Monday and take Big D with me :/ and I can't have Big D just do it by himself because we function better as a team. I have a clue what's going on and he keeps up with the conversation. I have a decent grasp on rights and such and he remembers what just happened when we leave. I am the bulldog, he's the golden retriever.

So, I contact the counselor and am told that the 504 is in central office waiting to be approved. She tells me that the IEP is waiting on the Psychologist and it may be weeks before I hear from him. WEEKS!!!! How can it be weeks!? Those aren't the rules! Are they not bound by the same rules, the same laws as the rest of the state!?  If you request an IEP meeting, it must be held withing 30 days of your request. It says so right (here) at UnderstandingSpecialEducation.com!!! How can it be weeks from now when I turned in the hard copy of the formal written request on August 2, 2012!? 30 days from the date of my request puts the time limit at September 1, 2012. NOT weeks from now!!!! Are the rules different for getting an IEP started? apparently so... according to the MPACT summary of IDEA...

Evaluation and IEP Timelines

The school district receives a written referral from the parent or others for an evaluation.

Within 30 calendar days the district will gather information and decide if the student should be evaluated for special education and related services. If the district feels an evaluation is warranted they will provide the parent with a “Notice of Action Proposed~ Intent to Evaluate”. Parents must give their written consent in order for the evaluation process to proceed. If the district does not feel that there is enough information to support the request for evaluation they will provide the parent a “Notice of Action Refused”.
 
 
When a parent is issued a Notice of Action Proposed~ Intent to Evaluate a meeting is held to determine all areas of concern that need to be evaluated. Typically it is at this meeting that parents give their informed written consent to evaluate their child. Once written consent is obtained from the parent, the district has 60 calendar days (§300.301) to evaluate the child and hold a meeting with the parent to discuss the outcome of the evaluations and determine whether or not the child qualifies for special education and related services. Once the district holds the meeting to discuss the outcome of the evaluations the district has 15-20 calendar days (S&I Manual 200.200a) to give the parent a written copy of the report.
 
 
If the team determines that the child qualifies for special education and related services the district has 30 calendar days (§300.323(c)) to convene an IEP meeting* and develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or make updates to the existing IEP. An IEP must be developed before the initiation of services. The IEP is implemented as soon as possible after the IEP meeting. (Typically 1-5 days)

 
Now, right here, I want to note that 30+60+30=120. So, when I mentioned the 120 days and the Principal looked at me like I was friggin insane to think this process takes 120 days and proceeded to tell me so in more polite terms, I WAS RIGHT! Just had to get that out there. moving on...
 So, Yeah. I don't know what we did at that meeting on August 9 but I didn't get the Notice of Action Proposed- Intent to Evaluate OR the Notice of Action Refused. I did get a Parent Referral Response Letter on the 504 which promises notification of a decision within 30 days of the district's receipt of the completed Form A, which I turned in on August 14th which gives them until Sept 13th. So, WHY would they say it would be in place the first day of school when they handed me the Form A to fill out August 13, 3 days before school started!? Aside from that, I have no notice. So, what the heck happened to the IEP? I specifically requested the IEP in the first place so that would start the 30 days for the Notice. So, what was that meeting all about? and if that wasn't the meeting, and they have to give me 10 days notice of a meeting... that puts us past September 1. None of this makes sense. Giving them the benefit of doubt because I'm not sure, even if the 30 days doesn't start until August 16, the first day of school, the 30 days to get the meeting and notice are up September 15. Who is running this show? The problem is, other than what I told you guys, I have no clue what happened at that meeting. I am 99% sure... 98% sure that I didn't sign anything. Either way, I would still get a notice of what's going on... and I didn't... because it would be in my folders and it's not. ...maybe the school needs a copy of IDEA timelines.

Right here is where I'm screwed. It doesn't matter if I can find the timelines, if I can read my rights, if I know how it's supposed to go... if I can't do a damned thing about it. So, now, my only option is to find a damned thing I can do about it. First I need to figure out exactly what is going on so I can figure out what the next step is. I talked to the Special Education Advisor who said the timeline starts when I turn in the request. So, now I need to find out what that meeting was all about and if I did or did not sign anything and I'm 97% sure I didn't... I *really* need to find someone to take with me to these meetings.

But, all of that's on hold until Monday, which is good because now I can spend my Saturday dealing with DFS over Alex's imaginary broken arm, the invisible poop on the walls and the kids never being supervised. *Never* is such a strong word... crazy people. On the bright side... *I*, for once, was not the one to tick someone off enough for them to call!!! WOO!  :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Finally Friday!

 
I've been waiting for this day all freakin week!!!
 
Not only because Saturdays are blessedly empty with no alarm clocks buzzing, no schedules, no pressure, no to-do list which will be nice but mostly because I have been trying not to pester the teachers and I really, really can't wait to e-mail them. I have the e-mails written, addressed and waiting. I had decided to hold out until this morning after I put Alex on the bus but I think a full week with only the sporadic "you need to know this" updates is enough space to not be hovering, right? Hours don't matter, just days. I can send a few hours early. Plus, the fact that I'm sending e-mails instead of finding excuses to take Alex to school has to be improvement, right? Yeah. Less of an In Your Face Helicopter Mommy, more of the Cool As A Cucumber Soooo Not A Helicopter Mommy. much.
 
Now, I've already told you how much I hate to be the CrazyMommy but, you know, sometimes you just can't help it! Sometimes you have no other choice. These are things I feel I am not out of line being neurotic about. These are things that are important.
 
With Alex, it's how he's doing. It's his well being and his safety and how he interacts with others. Everything else is just icing on the cake. With Alex, it won't be the end of the world if he never makes progress past where he's at... sad, hard to accept, but not devastating. BUT it's everything to me to know that HE is ok. I need to know how he is doing at school. The IEP, his goals, his progress, all of that is important to me but nowhere near as important as he is. I will do everything I can do to help him progress, I want practical goals. life skills. That's what I need for him, but above all, I will move mountains to make sure he is taken care of.
 
The Goofy child is different. my worry with him is academics. His "goals" are what I am focused on more than anything else because just as much as Alex's self care skills are his future, Goofy's education is his future. Even in Kindergarten. Kindergarten you learn skills, you acquire knowledge that you build on in first grade. What you learn those 2 years- 2nd, 3rd is added to it, then 4th, 5th. Kindergarten is the base of the pyramid and the more solid the foundation, the more solid the whole structure. It's a whole lot easier to add on than to go back and fix what wasn't done right the first time. Can you add without being able to identify numbers? Can you divide with never having learned to multiply? Can you read without knowing your letters?
 
So, I want to know how Alex is doing at school and I want to know how Goofy is doing at school. and like the introduction letters, since, like I said before, these schools and children are like comparing fire and ice, night and day, My Angel Child and My Demon Seed- it would make sense that, again, the e-mails would appear to be polar opposites as much as the letters I sent a few weeks back.
 
The downside of not hovering is I feel that I only have a small amount of time, a tiny bit of space to get the most important information so, so I don't just bombard them with questions, I address my top concerns with each child. That way, they are nowhere near as full of questions as they would be if I asked everything I want to know, everything I feel I've missed in my attempt to give the teachers room to work. Their first priority should be the kids, not me. I'm a close 2nd, I think, but I need to back up and let them do their thing first.
 
So, without further ado, Friday e-mails...
 
Dear Alex's Teacher,
I just wanted to check on Alex, see how things are going with him. How is he doing with His Aide? Has he made any "friends" yet, other than His Aide and other staff? Has he started working on his goals yet? Is there anything I can do to help? Has he started with therapy? Is he potty training? I gave up on trying over the summer, he doesn't seem to be bothered by the wet/messy diapers and doesn't react to a need to go so I figured he wasn't ready, even though he's worked on it during all of his school years. Saying a 10 year old "isn't ready" to potty train sounds weird but I'm looking at cues normally functioning toddlers give as a sign of readiness and was wondering if you had an opinion on it. Is this something we should be working on anyway or would our time be better spent focusing on other goals?
Thanks,
Mac.
 
This next one is a whole lot longer and more detailed because my concerns are in a different area and Alex doesn't seem to be having any problems yet that they would need suggested solutions for... *knock on wood*. If you are having any of these problems, I hope there is something here that will help you. If you have suggestions I don't mention here, I would love to hear them.
 
 
Dear Goofy's Teacher,
 
I'm just checking in to see how Goofy did this week and the status of his 504/IEP/Para.
 
noticed on Monday he had trouble following directions and Wednesday he didn't do a good job of waiting his turn to speak. Both Tuesday and Thursday he brought home a 7. I have to wonder how many times he was talked to before losing a number and how many behaviors he had aside from that. Is he really doing as well as the folder suggests?
Last week he brought home 2 bus worksheets. On one, he was supposed to cut out the pictures and paste them in order. He cut and pasted but definitely did not put them in order. On the second, he was supposed to cut out shapes and paste them in the corresponding spot on the bus. He cut paper and pasted a few onto the bus but it's not looking like he did what he was supposed to do.
 
On Monday's assignment, he colored the wrong parts of the picture and brought home a note that he didn't follow directions. I have to ask about Thursday's assignment... The paper he brought home had the correct answers... mostly... on the top he colored in the moon and 2 of the 3 stars with the letter M but he colored them in instead of drawing a line from the moon to the Ms like the directions say. On the bottom, he correctly circled all 5 of the m's.
 
From what I understand so far, he's having trouble following directions in a group setting. I know listening skills are a big deal and he needs them but I know he works well 1:1 and there's nothing I know of that I can do at home to help him with listening in a group. Is this something a Para can help with? Do we need to consider a different classroom setting? Would time in a resource room help?
 
Can the problem be fixed with something as simple as moving his seat closer to you? putting up open folders as a barrier around his table top work space to cut the visual distractions? With Monday's assignment, was there too much going on in the picture for him to listen to you, the things going on around him and find the parts of the picture he needed to find or was it more of an impulse control issue or willful disobedience?
 
On Thursday's assignment, there is no reason the top half should have been incomplete, he knows all of his letters and is good at finding them. Is the page too busy to focus? Was he in such a rush to get to problem #2 that he hurried through problem #1? Would simplifying the page by folding it and seeing only one portion at a time help him just see the one problem long enough to finish it? or folding it to make fewer items on the page at a time to search for a specific item, maybe using a blank sheet of paper to cover up parts to focus on smaller sections? When I folded the page for him at home, he found every single Mm without hesitation.
 
Whether these worksheets were designed to be graded or not, he seems to be displaying consistent failure to follow directions. I would really like to find solutions that do not involve increasing his meds. If we need to, we will but I would like to try the simple solutions first.
 
Do you know what's going on with the 504? Why it's taking so long to get set up? Any ideas on when evaluations will start for the IEP?
Thanks,
Mac.
 
 
 
Then, because Goofy was supposed to have the 504 in place the first day of school and still doesn't at the end of the first full week and because I haven't heard anything on the IEP I requested, I am printing out this e-mail and stapling it to this week's work so that I have an accurate documentation of Goofy's struggles, my communication with the school and the "evidence" to back up my claims. Since I cc'd in the Principal and the Mystery Man, I can be sure that they are aware of my concerns and their names on the printed e-mail is proof that they are aware. Not that they would lie about it, they're really cool people but better safe than sorry, right? Better to have documentation just in case you need it than to not have it and need it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's A Beautiful Morning

Today is a fabulous day! I woke up late this morning but still early enough that hopefully my brother wasn't all *that* late for work and was able to get Thing2 up in enough time to get ready and on his bus. While I was talking to my brother we found out the turtle was MIA. Since he was stuck in the living room I wasn't too worried and we did find him.

I walked outside for those first few minutes alone with my coffee, because you know you have to find the peace in the day. the good things that make you smile. The whole day isn't going to be easy so it's the little things that make it all better. Well, walking out there, I look up and see a car missing. I'm like... no way!!! really? So I back up a step and recount... 1, 2, 3... I look at the colors of the cars still thinking it has to be the lack of coffee. nope. I look at the less obvious places for the extra parked car, still thinking this can't be true... no car. Thing1's ex must have went home!!! Now, I like her. I do. She's pretty cool, she gives me space and offers to help any time she knows I'm struggling. I may disagree on the fairness of her staying the night in relation to Thing2 not being allowed to take his girlfriend downstairs even in the daylight and Thing1's other, newer ex-girl not being allowed in his bedroom what-so-ever while the ex-girl has the run of the house and I may question what our decisions are telling our boys but none of this has anything to do with the ex-girl as a person. and that baby is something special.

There for a minute it looked like they were moving back in, which my objection didn't much matter, Big D's going to do what he thinks is best and that's cool. I do for my brother, he does for his almost daughter in law. He deals, I deal and we'll all be fine. It may have it's rough spots and hard days but there is more than enough good to make it worth it. We love them so why not show it, right? I get upset and overwhelmed and feeling sorry for myself and thankfully, there is always someone who yanks me back :) So, anyway, no car. I get a break!!! I may miss her at some points (plural) today but I think I will enjoy the day instead of wondering where she is and why she's not here. Why worry about things you don't need to, right? Maybe she'll be back tomorrow or the weekend. definitely next week so... you know. whatever.

I get Goofy and the LD ready and head outside to wait with Thing2. I just have to say, I love that boy :) Then later, waiting with Alex. It's nice to sit here with them. It seems to be the only 1:1 time we really get and that time is really something special. Watching Walter walk to the bus stop with his friend... it all feels so normal.  Like a memory being made. When it came time to walk the Goofy child down, it was a new feel but not at all unpleasant. Rambunctious boys, bundles of energy, like puppies tumbling over each other in their excitement, the Goofy child and the Little Dementor race for the bus stop and the prize of the other boy already there.  Once the Goofy one got on the bus and was busted trying to sneak past the front seat, we headed home. Just me and the Little Dementor. He reached up to hold my hand and says "Mac," yeah? "I'm hungry and thirsty." oh, yeah? Then maybe we ought to do something about that. We crossed the yards in a comfortable silence, just me and this beautiful little boy and walked into the house where he got more Cheerios's and a glass of milk.

Whatever happens this afternoon, whatever happens this evening... it will all work out. Sometimes living Groundhog Day (here) isn't so bad :)

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday's words with walter

 Hey its a beautiful wednesday(: and i guess since i dont have a topic to talk about i am going to talk about my day .......... So i woke up , got ready for school , waited for my bus , and went to school . Now at school is where the real action of my day happens. I went to the band room to put up my insterment and i walk in put my insterment in my band locker and the bell rang i went to 1st period and i found out that my book cover is way to small for my social studies book. So i went to 2nd hour nothing huge same ole same ole ( boreing ). Then 3rd hour the action now starts ... i walk in right when i walk in i see the girl that likes me she says hey i said hey then she complumented me on my picture
this one < . And i said thanks then we had to take a test no biggie got a 100% . And we go to grab a paper and we go to grab the same paper and when our hands touched i smiled and she smiled ( im starting to like her back : D ) . Then i went to 4th hour litature nothing much had to scilent read but the book i was reading was AWSOME and the only thing i like about it is reading the parts that anthony say ( the book is love anthony ) and then the bell rings. I go to lunch nothing much just a same old boreing cafeteria. Then i go to 5th hour i kinda like it i kinda dont but i never liked math so yea ( the class was algebra prep. ) then i go to 6th hour P.E. and we do our streches and then the coach surprises us with 1 lap 2 mins or under and so i jog the hole way half way their i notice that i passed up half of the class its only me and my frend so of coarse hes bigger so he got befor me so i got 43 secs and it was ok. Then i go to 7th hour band yea it felt like 5 secs O.O lol. Then i go to adv their i meet the girl that likes me but it was ok then i came home rested fell asleep :/ ,did homework , went on the computer , went to jump my bike ramps then came in to write this . It was a prity ok day i just wish i can start it all over : D. Ok thats it but  next time i will ask you guys what to write about bye!(: .

               love,
                   the dashing walter  

Groundhog Day

Today is Wednesday. I know that because today is Library Day. Last night I was thinking it *must* be getting close to the end of the week but it's not. I think I need to work on my own schedule, change things around because what I'm doing isn't really working. I think I need to move more evening stuff to day-time stuff to make the use of my caffeine fueled energy more efficient. and to somehow work in laundry to get my loving husband off my back. If I give up my farm, I can get some other things done during the day. like getting ready for morning.
  • I get up at 5, um, -ish. I love the snooze button which is why my alarm clock is 30 minutes fast. which means it goes off at 4:30. hm. didn't think about that part... anyway,
  • if there's no coffee, I check on my brother. because, no coffee means he's not up because my brother loves me and even if he doesn't have time to get some himself, always hits the button for me to have coffee when I wake up but I just recently, as in yesterday, found out that just because there's coffee doesn't mean he actually left. oops. lesson learned.
  • check my e-mail, answer whatever I need to, especially the ones I didn't have the energy to answer last night in the fashion of putting together sentences that make sense, like teacher e-mails.
  • Check on Thing2, make sure he's up.
  • go back to my computer to check my personal facebook acct and my page
  • at 6, I wake Walter up,
  • shower the Goofy one,
  • Shower the LD,
  • give them breakfast,
  • hand out meds,
  • fix Alex's breakfast,
  • watch Thing2 get on the bus,
  • shower Alex,
  • feed Alex,
  • clean up the kitchen,
  • fix the Queen's breakfast, hoping and praying that someone else will have time to feed it to her.
  • put all backpacks out front, (Wed- pack the car for whoever isn't going to school)
  • put Alex on the bus and walk in to see this...
What happened? I don't know. Which kid did it? I don't know.

  • sneak outside for 5 minutes alone to smoke in silence,
  • clean up the bathroom,
  • make beds,
  • *or* feed the Queen if her parents had to get to work before they had the chance to feed her and put the bathroom and beds off until later.
  • take all of the kids out to wait for buses,

  • Put the Queen down for a nap,
  • sit the LD in front of the TV babysitter (judge away, I don't even care)
  • and write my blog post, work my online farm (hey, in THAT world, I'm awesome because my animals never die from neglect and I stopped planting crops because it's a waste of fake money since they always wither. From trees and animals, I'm a multimillionaire. mhmm. because I'm that good.) or just cyberstalk whoever catches my attention.
  • Wednesdays we go to the library for story time and to check out books as often as I can work it in. I plop the baby in her bed and beg for 5 minutes to pee and unload the car, I send the LD to watch TV, go unload the car and smoke a cigarette while I fill in new library times on my phone calendar and walk in to this...
and look over to see the LD happily munching on sugar coated raisins. one person, just one freaking person tell me I need to watch my kids better, I double dog dare you. and if my husband is dumb enough to say it again tonight, there will be no blog post tomorrow because I will be happily enjoying a 12 hour vacation in the nearest cell. I text my brother to let him know that I cannot promise his kid will survive the day. When I tell him exactly what he is looking at... he laughs!!! he. laughs.!!! and granted, I'm laughing too because yes, we did that when we were little, too. Those sugar coated raisins are yummy! but he's still cleaning up his own danged mess!

  • Get the house clean as much as I have time for,
  • take all of the kids to get the Goofy child off of the bus,
  • feed the little vultures,
  • clean what I didn't clean before,
  • sit down and play online whatever I want to do while the kids play or take a nap,
  • sit on the front porch and wait for buses, if naps are going on or parents are home, I take my book with me :)
  • text my husband begging for the words "on my way",
  • help with homework where I'm needed, check e-mail, sign papers all that stuff,
  • unload the dishwasher, clean the dishes out of the sink that always seem to just appear, sometimes with stuff growing in them- yuck- which are the ones that no one ever knows where they came from because no one ever puts them there.
  • Text all other parents just in case backup could be headed my way,
  • start supper, cursing the fact that the kids are trashing the house and there's not a danged thing I can do about it because I can't walk away from supper or we end up in the ER. and not wanting to risk it, I let the little girl rip apart the entry way. pulling phones off of the ledge (and listening to her dad freak out the next morning when he can't find his battery because he *couldn't* have chosen one of the dozens of other outlets in the house to charge his phone in) and pull backpacks off the shelf and scatter books and shoes and hats and gloves and let Alex throw whatever the heck he wants to throw while there is something going on in the living room- not sure if it's a fight or a game, it's hard to tell anymore.
  • set out breakfast bowls/pkgs of oatmeal, cereal boxes, night time sippy cups, bottle, make ahead whatever I can make ahead so they aren't always eating cereal and oatmeal (muffins from pancake mix are awesome), set up the coffee for tomorrow, down a good portion of my cold coffee that is my last cup of the night or I will never sleep and turn my alarm on,
  • let Big D take over supper while I lay out PJs, tomorrows clothes, check that everything is where it belongs, just to realize I am doing this so I can do the same things all over again tomorrow in a cycle that never ends. while doing this, since all morning activities have moved to the bathroom in an effort to teach modesty in common areas, start yelling asking who in the hell spit in the sink!? whoever it is has allergies and needs to take medicine for that shit, this is disgusting!!!! WHY the SINK!? there is a toilet not even a foot away!!!! well, at least it wasn't the kitchen sink this time :/
  • feed the vultures,
  • check e-mail,
  • go outside until 7pm,
  • start chores,
  • shut off unnecessary lights,
  • hand out PJs,
  • hand out meds,
  • put Alex to bed,
  • show the Goofy one the purple outlined squares on the calendar as proof that he does so have school tomorrow and I don't care if he doesn't want to go, it's outlined in purple, HE'S GOING.
  • wash all evidence of the day off of the filthy little girl before her parents see it and gladly hand her off when mom walks in the door.
  • go to clean up the kitchen and end up laying in the floor staring at the ceiling wondering how in the world I am going to do this tomorrow all the while wondering if I were to just stay there and refuse to ever move again if the kids might find their own way to bed...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Love Anthony By Lisa Genova

   "Olivia Donatelli's dream of a "normal" life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Understanding the world from his perspective felt bewildering, nearly impossible. He didn't speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony died.
   Now she's alone in a cottage on Nantucket, separated from her husband, desperate to understand the meaning of her son's short life, when a chance encounter with another woman facing irreparable loss brings Anthony alive again for Olivia in a most unexpected way. In a piercing story about motherhood, autism and love Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women on the verge of change who discover the small but exuberant voice that helps them both find the answers they need."

Lisa Genova is an amazing writer. She wrote Still Alice (which I haven't been able to read yet) and Left Neglected, which I *LOVED*, and followed that up with Love Anthony. I'm not any sort of professional anything, much less a professional book reviewer so I don't have fancy words to say how wonderful this book is, I don't have this amazingly worded review to offer but what I do have is a son with autism and a marriage with struggles, as I'm sure we all do. On these points, I can more than identify with these women.

It wasn't long ago that I was cursing Touch and declaring my eternal hate for Ernie's song, Imagine That!, because I have unanswered questions of my own about Alex's happiness, his ability to dream and what he wants in life. The questions Olivia asks are questions I ask every day about Alex, questions I'm sure you ask about your children. She shares the experiences she had with Anthony as looking back and understanding more than when she was in the heat of it. She puts my own thoughts, my emotions, the struggle to understand autism and purpose into words. Lisa Genova has a way of creating real characters who face real challenges, finding real ways to deal with them and offering them in a fictional story that you can't put down. This book isn't a book about autism, it's a journey of two extraordinary women seeking answers, just trying to find their way and find what they are looking for in each other.

As soon as I finished this book, I handed it to Walter. That's the highest praise I can give. I want him to read it because I want him to see beyond the autism to see his brother like this...

"I'm always hearing about how my brain doesn't work right. They say my brain is broken. My mother cries about my broken brain, she and my father fight about my broken brain, and people come to my house every day to fix my broken brain. But it doesn't feel broken to me. I think they're wrong about my brain." 

 "My voice makes screams and sounds but not words. But this isn't a broken room inside my brain. I talk to myself with words inside my brain just fine. I think I might have broken lips or a broken tongue or a broken throat. I wish I could tell my mother and father that my voice is broken but my brain is working, but I can't tell them because my voice is broken. I wish they'd figure it out on their own."

In the voice she gives to Anthony, I can hear my own little boy. The glimpses into the way his mind works, the things he thinks, why he does what he does, his view on his own life gives me a whole new perspective on Alex.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Effing Monday.

So, this morning started last night. I really, really wanted to watch Summer Slam 2012 with the boys but I had to get things going for the kids. Laundry is piled up because all week I didn't get to it. I'm working on laundry, getting kids set up for morning, getting them ready for bed and finally sit down to watch. As soon as I sit down to watch, Goofy decides he cannot sleep alone, even in our bed, and refuses to stay put. I'm tired, I'm cranky so I go lay with him. He's putting his foot down, he is. not. going to school. He's done with that crap. I remind him about his man-crush at the bus stop and he thinks well, maybe he will go see him. I'm not sure what time he finally went to sleep because I fell asleep watching Tom and Jerry. note: that's WITH 10 mg of Melatonin. The extra 5 was pure desperation on my part, the boy won't freakin sleep! and his doc said we could go up to 10 mg with no problems.

This morning, I get up at almost 5:30, I see coffee in the coffee pot and bless my brother for flipping it on before leaving for work and go down to make sure Thing2's up. I come upstairs and take my laptop to the garage with my coffee and check my stuff out. Goofy's teacher sent me the e-mail I was waiting for, there are some behavior concerns later in the day and she would like to get the adult help now and see what the IEP evals say before taking it away. She's taken some steps on her own, such as sending home the award. The award is something only he got as a sort of incentive to behave. a reward for good behavior with the implied promise of more if he will just be good and do what is expected. I e-mailed her back along with the warning that he's decided he doesn't want to go to school anymore.

I come inside and my brother pops up from the bed he and the LD share. Crap. I thought he was up and gone! He's upset that he's late for work, and takes off with no coffee. I go get Goofy and Big D wants to know why I'm getting him up so early. Because Alex's bus is the first to come, I need them all ready to go. I do easiest-hardest. That would be Goofy, LD and then Alex. Big D says the LD can just stay in bed, I don't need to take him with me. I should have stuck with the plan. I knew better than to listen to him :)

I get Goofy in the shower and hear the baby cry. I go to get her to take her to Big D while I work and open the door right smack into shock and dismay. Thing1's ex-girl is there. Not cool. I'm not happy but I'm busy and I need to get to it so I just shut the door and walk away. I get the Goofy one done and tell Big D that no girls need to be staying the night. He says she didn't stay the night, she came early this morning. Dude, seriously? You're going to stand there and lie to me? Whatever. I'm busy. So I let it go. for now. I go put Alex's oatmeal in the microwave and see Big D getting ready to give the baby a bath so I lay her stuff out and get Alex. By the time I'm done with Alex, the LD is awake. I knew he wouldn't sleep through this! I hand out the pancake/sausage muffins I made last night and feed Alex his oatmeal. Then, since I can't just walk away from the LD and I know he's going to want to go to the bus stop, I put Alex in his room to watch TV and get the LD in the shower.

At this point, God bless his little soul, the Goofy child wants to help me and gives Alex a pancake muffin and some milk. Syrup. and Milk. BM issues and extreme (for him) behaviors. Too late to stop it, I take the half cup of milk that's left away and trade it for ice water. but, too late. We go wait for the bus and the boy looks stoned. He doesn't want to sit and wait and tries several times to bolt for the street. He throws his toys and stims his way to the bus then stands beside his seat like he has no clue that the lady is trying to direct him to sit down.

So, I come in to e-mail a warning to his teacher. I'm having trouble e-mailing because there's an all out, no hold barred fist fight going down in the living room which ends with the LD biting the Goofy one. The LD gets time out for biting. While he's in time-out for biting, I go to clean up the bathroom and realize I have no freakin clue where Alex is and the front door is standing wide open. I'm freaking out, run to his room... no Alex! Where can I look!? Where would he go!? *flashback to 2 years ago when I seriously lost him for what felt like an eternity* Then I remember I already put him on the bus. duh. Whew. That was scary!

ok, get the rhythm of my heart back under control, The LD's out of time out, time to make beds. I asked the Goofy one to tell Walter to keep an eye on the time. When am I going to learn to watch my words with this boy!? He stood right in front of the microwave, never taking his eyes off of the clock and told me what time it was every 15 seconds!!! We start out to watch Walter and I can't find my cigarettes anywhere. I walk into my room looking for them and walk in on a whispered conversation that I want no part of. I don't care to hear what's said and I have no time for bullshit so I confirm that what I am looking for is not there and go on.

Big D went with us to put the Goofy child on the bus and we come home. I do some work on the house and when I have a minute and Big D doesn't seem busy, I try to talk to him. That didn't go well. at all. He ends up going to the store alone.

at 12:20 it's time to wait for the Goofy child. He comes dancing off the bus needing yet another reminder to bring his backpack. Inside, he runs off with The Little Dementor while I look through his folder. The first thing I see is the behavior report. 7 is a very good day. It's kind of hard not to get a 7 because you get warnings and such, so most kids get a 7 and then get to push the button on the lighthouse. My Goofy one? Nope. that boy steps to the beat of a different drummer. which happens to be louder than the teacher's voice. He comes home with a 5 and a note... "not listening today, but behavior was okay." Then in the other pocket is his completed work. Completed, which is farther than he got last year but his completed work comes with a note of it's own...

And so, this, at 12:30, is the last straw. I want so badly to quit this day. I can't fix this. How can I fix this? He needs 1:1 and I really, really do not want to home school. I can't go day after day with no breaks. I can't give him everything he needs here. He needs to be in school. I need him to be in school. So, last straw, I'm out front, the only place no one goes, the only place I can be alone just breathing with my MP3 turned all the way up, trying not to cry when Big D pulls in. and I end up crying because I don't know what to do.

I turned in the formal request for an IEP and a copy of his diagnosis, I went to the team meeting, I turned in the paperwork for a 504. I can help him do the assignments at home, I can help him understand what he did not understand at school but there is nothing I can do about listening skills in a group setting. This is out of my hands. The 504 is out of my hands, the IEP is out of my hands... now what? Watch him fail day after day until supports are in place? Watch him fall behind little by little and not do a thing about it? Big D thinks the solution is talking to Goofy and asking why he didn't do what the teacher said. Blatant disregard for clear directions is not the problem. Hearing, understanding and following through on spoken directions in a group setting is the problem. The assignment was listening skills, not coloring. His coloring wasn't the problem, his listening skills were. So, now what?



I *can't wait* to see what kind of note Alex brings home, I say, as the ** marks the sarcasm. Maybe we should just stay in bed tomorrow...