Monday, February 17, 2014

Gathering Information and Documenting Concerns

Our Review of Existing Data meeting is scheduled for February 24 at 8am. These next 2 meetings are make it or break it meetings. That means time is running out and I don't have time for games, I need 1. information, and 2. documentation.

In this 30 day stretch I have done way too much pestering. Lord knows it's not any more fun for me than it is them. I made a few more requests for records. There is a very nice man I have been working with in the administration office. He's trying so hard to be nice and helpful and encouraging and to show me that we are a TEAM (all together, you know. not a team within a team.) and I really like him and I appreciate the help but there's not a chance in hell that I'm going to trust his word.

I made a few more requests for records phrased as reminders. He finally said he mailed them. Well, since the last 6 of my requests went through his office and I had to ask again a week after filing my second formal written request, I went ahead and asked the superintendent for the information I needed to take the next step. It started out good. I simply asked for information on how to file a complaint and who to file a complaint with. I was careful not to give any details because I didn't want this to be considered a complaint. I have an entire contact log and such to include in my actual complaint. Then he said he was going to ask the very nice man about my concerns. Now, you know I have a freaking lot of concerns, so the very nice man probably wouldn't know which one he was talking about unless I gave a specific concern. So, I gave a specific concern. Next thing I know, the very nice man is calling me. He really mailed them. They may not have gone out in the mail the day he said they would, they may have gone out in the mail today, but he really mailed them. Then the superintendent e-mailed me back with nonsense. Like, I didn't make as many requests as I said I did and the very nice man mailed Goofy's records days ago. The responding e-mail was not one of my best moments. Really, learn from my mistakes here, please. Keep your cool. Stick to the plan.

Next, I have already found out how RtI works in other schools, but I still don't know how it works in the Goofy Child's school. I've been told what it's NOT, but not what it IS. I've been told that it's helping Goofy but not how. These are answers I need before the RED meeting. To get those answers, I went to the source- the person who is responsible for the RtI portion of the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, the Assistant Superintendent.

The answer is exactly as the principal said- it's like RtI, but it's not.

They have the academic model that is just as Missouri's DESE said- the tiers, the assessments, the probes, the interventions. it's all exactly the same... except that it's only for reading and math. The Goofy One's remedial reading is an intervention and based on the time he spends in remedial reading, he would be between Tier II and Tier III, very close to Tier III. BUT, they don't have to tell us that it's RtI, they just have to say he's in remedial reading. As long as we know he's getting an intervention, their asses are covered. Who cares if we don't know what that means? if we don't know what RtI is or that the RtI tells us that our kids are at risk or close to being at risk, or on the very edge of being referred for evaluation? We don't need to know that. We're just the parents. They have credentials. Nasty, but true.

Not that any of that matters anyway, because the other school district's statement that RtI is the basis for your child's referral is "misleading" because this school district uses the severe discrepancy model to diagnose learning disabilities and that is not in any way at all waiting for them to fail because they have RtI... which leads back into the circle and I still don't understand it's purpose relating to special education or how it relates to the evaluation process at all because it's not considered in the evaluation, which makes me feel that it's irrelevant.

anyway, That's the academic model. The Goofy Child is getting remedial reading- what it is and what it isn't isn't really the point, the point is the other side of the pyramid. The behavioral model- or, anything that isn't math or reading. They don't really have that. They only kind of have that. There's no way to monitor progress on the behavioral model because AIMSweb doesn't have those questions. I, personally, think this man ought to go talk to Alex's teacher, she's well prepared to answer any questions he could have. Then there's the handwriting. AIMSweb can't measure handwriting skills, either. Yes, there are things that can be measured such as spaces and grounding and letter size... but those aren't standardized tests. It would be up to the teacher to monitor that.

I covered my eyes, took a breath, and asked a straight question- so, your RtI is not going to help Goofy with the troubles he's having? and, #RESPECT, I got a straight answer- no.

As much as I respect the man for answering me honestly, I want to scream. I want to know what they are going to do to HELP my baby. If he doesn't qualify for an IEP, then what? In their current system, he falls further and further behind until he fails enough to qualify for help. and that's not a "wait to fail" model? and then they wonder why entire schools fail.

Alright, so I have the information I need. Here's another piece... you cannot testify at a due process hearing. Your documentation testifies for you. If it's not in writing, it never happened. I have a problem with meetings. A big one. I am easily distracted and follow their lead from topic to topic- not on purpose, but you know... oooo, shiny! I get lost, forget information as soon as they say it, and I have hard time with notes. I make notes and later look at them... wtf is that!? So, I started making my notes beforehand in blog-post format. I make my list, document the information I found, and then use credible sources for supporting information. This weekend, it was a why Goofy should be evaluated. I listed the things I am looking at, split it into Reading, Writing, Listening Comprehension, and ADHD. The ADHD was split into sub-groups. I listed my concerns and backed it up with quotes from evaluations, including their evaluation from last year. At the end, I included what my friend stressed was a vital ingredient... "Based on the information I have available, even with accommodations from his 504, he is still falling behind and it is becoming increasingly apparent that the ADHD, reading, writing, sensory and auditory processing issues are impairing his ability to access the curriculum and to receive meaningful educational benefit from classroom instruction." I also made sure to note that the assistant superintendent acknowledged that their RtI model would not help Goofy with these problems and why, and then I told them if there is anything else I need to consider before the meeting, any additional information they could provide would be appreciated. I sent it to several key people, assuming it would be shared with team members as needed. As well as having my questions and concerns out there for the team to consider and answer, my concerns are documented.

One week to go. This week, I'm working on my formal written request to get evaluation reports before the Eligibility Meeting.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Good News!

I've spent the weekend working on unpleasant things that must be done and now I'm ready for the AWESOMENESS.

One day recently, the Goofy Child came in from school to find that he couldn't play his game after his dad had promised he could. You can imagine what happened. But in the middle of all that screaming and crying, the Goofy One turned to me and said through his tears, "Mom, I am so disappointed! I was supposed to be able to play the game and now I can't!" YES!

Talking to his teacher the other day she told me that a girl had hit her head on a locker, Goofy asked her, "Are you ok?" PROGRESS!

Tonight, I helped Alex up out of his seat to go to the bath. We turned around and tripped over each other while he desperately tried to not step on the cat. HE SAW THE CAT, PEOPLE! and tried not to step on it! On purpose! WOO!

That is all. Thank you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In a world where you can be anything....

Be yourself. This is an inspirational quote pasted to the Goofy Child's wall because I want him to know that he is someone worth being.

There was a time that getting Alex's report card would bring me to my knees. A time that just getting those few pages of words would be enough for me to have to take a day away from blogging and social media, away from my phone, away from the world to just cry. I would cry for days. It was awful.

Then one day, I realized I was reading Alex's report card and it didn't hurt. Not that his report cards have changed much, he's still working on the same types of things, the kinds of things that make you recognize that young children are still zipping through developmental milestones that Alex hasn't reached yet. He hasn't changed much, but I have. I worried about his quality of life, the things he would never be able to do, the life he would never have... until the day that I looked at his life from his point of view, until I saw him for the happy person he was, content with his life. I know we still have rough times ahead. Eventually, his peers will be going to dances and finding girlfriends, and hanging out at the mall, driving cars, getting married, having babies... when those times come, I'm sure there will be the pain of what-if or what-should-have-been. but for now, he's happy. which is everything I want for him.

Next year he's due for his three year eval. I'm not looking forward to that. As much as I am ok with where we are and where we're heading, those evaluations are not something I want to face. Seeing your baby broken down into various percentiles... if he's lucky enough to rate in a percentile... is not a fun thing to see. I hate to say it, but with any luck, we'll just do a review of existing data because this time I already know, as perfect as Alex is, he hasn't made significant progress. I already know what those papers will say and I already know that I can't. But if we do, I already know the pain will come and the pain will go and life will go on the same as it always has.

What I did not expect, what I didn't know, what I never considered was starting all over again back at the beginning with his brother. Been there, done that, learned the lesson, right? No. That's where I was yesterday. I don't want to see anyone, I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to be alone in my sadness.

I got the Goofy Child's records. 

1. I got all of his papers from Parents As Teachers which reminds me that where we are now is not because I didn't pay attention or because I was too wrapped up in another kid to see what was going on with my baby. I did get help. I did everything I could do. Parents As Teachers told me he was fine. and I'm sure he was, I didn't see a problem until school.

2. I got new AIMSWeb data that says the same as the old AIMSWeb data, just more current.

3. I got 1/2 of a page of teacher notes with the teacher's concerns noted:
  • Difficulty/unwillingness to follow instructions
  • Difficulty in unstructured settings
  • Limited or inappropriate social skills
  • Difficulty with task completion
  • Not motivated to do his/her best
  • Home concerns
#6 is to be expected, but the first 5 are a knife through the heart. Yes, I already know and I've been screaming it for going on 3 years, but school says he's "fine." No matter how sure you are, there is a small strand of hope that you hold onto with a sort of desperation, Please, God, let me be wrong. I was expecting to find something that explained why he was ok, something that backed up their opinions. Instead, I look at what small bit of information I was given...  and I wonder, where is the fine? Where is the typical? Where is the not uncommon? How can he be fine with all of the concerns I've had for years printed right there in black and white, in the words and check marks of someone else?

and I retreat into that place that only Alex's report cards could take me.

Standing at the back window, my forehead on the glass as the kids quietly keep their distance to let me be, listening to my music, lost in my head, lost in my sadness. Not knowing a way out, and not knowing if it's worth fighting.

 
 
Yes.

I take a shower and pop some Tylenol PM to keep the nightmares away. I get up this morning and put my big girl panties on. I can do this.

I walk into the elementary, and am met by the principal. She wants me to know that she sent the Goofy One's Think Sheets home like I asked. This is a surprise, I thought that request was ignored. I asked her about the home concerns because I can't fix it if I don't know what it is. She's shocked. She doesn't understand why there would be home concerns, nothing was ever brought to her. There is nothing in his file, she said I have everything that is in his file but she'll try to get that information.

I was in the school to meet with the counselor, who invited the teacher, thank God. The counselor is nice and all but the teacher has kids Goofy's age and older, and the teacher doesn't seem to think that everything is a parenting issue. Some are typical, but some are not. They sat down to help me fill out the parent concern packet she sent home so that maybe this time I wouldn't rate Goofy in ways that I read over at the end and be all- who is this child? That's not what I said! It was nice, this cooperative attitude. This easiness. I want to hope that the hard is over... We didn't get all the way through but I think what we did finish was an accurate representation of his strengths and areas of concern.

I saw a new picture of my boy sitting at this table. Some of the comments about the things he does, his view on things, the way he sees stuff... I see his brother. I listen to her talk and I hear almost the exact same things Walter's principal had to say about him- he sees things differently. Understated confidence. Not needing to be part of the crowd but accepted by all groups. He's not a leader, but not a follower, he follows his own path. I look at Goofy with new eyes and see bits of his brother. I look at Walter and I look at Thing2 and I look at Thing1. I see a lot of the same. I think back on recent conversations, a shocked and almost horrified, "Mac! What would people say!?" or a censoring, "no one else said that." or a dismayed shake of the head because they know there's no use in arguing and I wonder... how much of that is my influence? That's giving me an awful lot of credit for my boys' awesomeness but I know that they see what I do and hear what I say and know what I stand for. They know that I'm not shy in the standing when it's needed but it's rarely necessary. I take this new look at my boys and I'm surprised at what I see. I don't see concerns, I see boys being what they believe. I see boys who are not afraid to not follow the crowd. I see them being everything I wanted them to be. I see strength, not concern.

This is something to hold onto. This is the person I am working to get help for. I won't give up... even if the skies get rough... God knows he's worth it.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To


 
Also known as War.
 
 
video

Kind of.

We deal the cards evenly among the players.

We each lay a card down.

If his card is Greater Than my card, he gets both cards.

If his card is Less Than my card, I get both cards.

If his card is Equal To my card, we have a war. We each lay 3 cards down face down on top of the Equal cards, and one card face up. If his card is Greater Than, he gets all of the cards. If his card is Less Than, I get all of the cards.

To keep the game short, we only go through the cards we were dealt one time. If the number of cards in his pile is Greater Than, he wins all of the cards. If his pile is Less Than, I win all of the cards.

Friday, February 7, 2014

TGIF: a week in review.

I've been gone, I know. Right off the top of my head, I can't remember the last day I posted but I've been busy... SHOWERING! every day. Yes, that is as awesome as it sounds. For those of you who haven't gotten to that point yet, I am so sorry, I don't mean to rub it in. but please, be happy for me and let's hope it continues.

I do have some good news. I went principal hunting today and found one I was looking for. Remember Thing2 has a thing with his principal? Well, not so much. The principal is just playing. Trying to soften the blow of enforcing rules. He completely misread Thing2 as one of those kids he can jokingly blame because it's obvious that it's not him or something like that. Thing2 is not that kid, lol. I didn't tell him that Thing2 is still pissed at his Freshman Teacher for farting beside his seat because he's convinced she was farting AT him and it was totally on purpose. Oh, man. That still has to be my favorite of all his grudges. I'm still laughing. oh, my belly hurts. ok, so, the rest of the year should be a good year. Things will just click right into place and Thing2 never needs to know I chased his principal for any reason other than to explain why he was late. *fingers crossed*

and, this one 10 minute conversation has put me completely at ease about next year. I'm familiar with at least one of the secretaries now, and this principal is awesome. Thank God. I do still need to find a *cough* reason to talk to that new counselor, though. She's going to be an important one. I have no clue what I'm doing in this school or how to help Walter in high school since most of my high school days were spent not actually in the high school.

and then the conversation turns to Walter. (speaking of searching out principals.) Walter is having trouble with tests. awesome. What do you even do about that? I have no idea (this is me asking for suggestions if you have any, please.), so I e-mailed his principal. I love this man. He asked questions, I answered questions, he went silent. I like that because we can get to the point and when the point is done, I know he's doing something. I don't know what he's doing, but it's something and he will let me know.

Alex is wonderful. Since the semester started, all of his behaviors have been averaging 0. Yeah, that's not a typo, ZERO. Hopefully by the end of the year, we will collect enough evidence to keep someone again next year. Well, and maybe he will actually make real progress. Maybe even meet a goal, that would be nice. but mostly the keep someone thing. and through it all, I thank Jesus that he is never leaving this school and we will have mostly the same people until the end of days. (that is a dare for anyone to try. we ain't leaving.)

Goofy... OMG. that's all I got as I sit in the corner, rocking and pulling my hair, contemplating hexes. (Robin, you still got that voo-doo doll?) Good Lord, what does a woman have to do to get some freaking records!? ***disclaimer, I'm totally being a bitch as I blatantly paraphrase everything following this disclaimer*** Oh, you wanted records? My bad, that wasn't clear in your formal written request... either one of them... I can absolutely bring them to the meeting.             or, I could mail them if you really want. and this is me, not amused and reminding myself that my kids are extremely high maintenance and I can't afford even a mini-vacation right now.

I did finally get some data at that first meeting. "Oh, he's fine," they say. "Maybe the problem is you," they imply. Yeah, well AIMSweb says different. AIMSweb says,

  • Oral Counting- average- continue current program.
  • Number Identification- well below average- begin immediate problem solving
  • Quantity Discrimination- average- continue current program
  • Missing Number- below average- further assess and consider individualizing program
  • Letter Naming Fluency- well below average- begin immediate problem solving
  • Letter Sound Fluency- below average- further assess and consider individualizing program
  • Phoneme Segmentation- above average- consider need for individualized instruction
  • Nonsense Word Fluency- below average- further assess and consider individualizing program
I'm sure I'm misunderstanding and it's not as bad as it looks and it's probably just ADHD.

Wow, that spiraled quickly, didn't it? Ok, change of subject, my boys. Oh, my boys. Walter came in one day recently and says, "Mom, I want a haircut and I don't want Dad to do it. Last time Dad did it, the kids called me Dora and said I had a bowl cut." Reflex, I start singing, "Doo-doo-Dora, doo-do-do-Dora, Swiper no swiping, SWIPER NO SWIPING!" Alex laughed, Walter was not amused. But Goofy was. I forgot all about it by evening until Walter walked past us in the kitchen and Goofy started singing, "Dora the EXPLORER!" I started laughing so hard, Walter gave us both a dirty look and I think he actually cursed at us as he walked away. haha, and the superintendent thinks I have no idea how kids talk :) not that I'm harassing him. at all. nope. never. moving on...

um, then there was this morning. I had started wondering again if I have lost my mind. If the Goofy Child can actually do more than he does and if his problems are all in my head or all in my parenting.(yeah, you know. you do it, too.) I was pouring my coffee, thinking over things when the Goofy One yelled at me that I just had to see this! It was a Minecraft video, of course. I'm watching to see what is so awesome, when he points and says, "LOOK! It's the Arch of Libery!" the what? "The Arch of Libery, look at it! It has 60 windows." Oh, I love that boy. The Arch is in St Louis and has 16 windows in each side of the observation deck. The Statue of Liberty is what he was looking at- and it has 25 windows in the crown. True story, google it. But good to know Auditory Processing is fine and Number Identification is on target. Oh...wait... fuck it. I quit this post. Thank God it's Friday and summer is just 4 short months away.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Shame of Addiction

There is a man standing on the ledge of a building. He knows and fully understands the consequences of the fall he's contemplating. What you don't know and fully understand is the path that brought him here. You don't understand that the thought of his body mangled and broken on the sidewalk below is nothing compared to the mangled and broken soul he is carrying around with him every day. The thought of the fall is not as scary as the thought of living another day with this unbearable burden. You step forward with something to say and his eyes lock with yours as he waits for you to speak...

Humble said it.
A Sweet Dose of Truth said it.
Russell Brand said it.
and now I am speaking for our children.

Child 1 had already been trading her sexual favors for her mothers drugs before her mother talked her into shooting up for the first time at 13. Custody battle ensued. The wild ride that was her life lead to her slipping Oxycodone into her teacher's drink as a desperate cry for help. This act got her into a special school, one she lived in for more than a year. When she got home, she was clean and sober. She got a job, she was buying a car. She had plans and dreams. At 16, she died in the middle seat of a pickup when her aunt was too drunk and had too many pills in her system to stay on the road.

Child 2 lost his sister when he was 13. His life up until this point has already been crazy. Going to live with his dad, he lost half of his siblings and his entire life as he knew it. Losing his sister, he lost his world. By the end of that year, he was sexually active, always stoned and drinking on a regular basis. He entered his first rehab facility at 15.

Child 3 had a good family life, but she suffered from depression. She met Child 2 at one of their AA meetings.

Child 4 was a mess from the start. I wouldn't even know where to start with the family...he was expelled from school for having drugs on school property.

Child 5's mother was his supplier and was nice enough to supply his friends, too.

Child 6's mother was a raging alcoholic. By "raging," I mean being a huge embarrassment and blaming her failures on him. Every cruel word and every slap pushing him to be the "problem child" in school. The weird clothes, the weird hair, the weirdness that was his defense to keep people away so they couldn't cut him even more and so they wouldn't see the humiliation that was his life.

and then there was my friend Zach. Sweet, beautiful Zach. When Zach was 4 years old, he lost his father. His mother slipped into depression, not leaving her bed for days. Zach climbed the counters to search the cabinets for food. Zach's mother cried and told him how sorry she was. Zach went to live with his grandparents until he lost his Grandma and then it was just Grandpa and Zach. Zach didn't have friends in school. Our lunch hours were spent standing side by side in silence on the edge of the crowd, just watching. Zach ended up in prison over DWIs and drug use. He was clean and sober, he had plans and dreams. When he left that safe haven and got back out into the "real" world, he ended up back where he started. I said, "Zach, what are you doing?" He said, "Mac, they are my friends. They are here." No one else cared. Just these people who were right there where he was. People who understood and didn't condemn him for his past. I got a Facebook message a few months ago that my friend had died from an overdose.

...when you look into his eyes and speak the message you stepped forward to share, what are you going to say? Are you going to shame him further? Add to the burden he's already carrying? Tell him that the decision to jump would make him stupid or #dumb? Are you going to label him as "not bright" or a "great example of poor decision and ignorance."? Is that going to encourage him to step off of the ledge in the direction that will lead to more shame, more judgment, more heartache... or in the direction that takes him to blessed relief from the unending pain?

You cannot shame our children into sobriety. You cannot call them stupid or dumb and expect for that to fix the problem. For some, this is a way of life. For others, this is a way of coping with life. Instead of pushing them farther toward the edge, why not hold out your hand and tell them, "I see you. You are worth more than this. Life is unfair but I believe in you." Our children will soon be adults. With this as with everything else, Early Intervention is key. You cannot model the example of judging someone for the choices they make or the choices they never had and then two tweets later say not to judge anyone because judging someone says more about you than them. Our children will follow your example before they follow your words. In the words of a very wise woman, "Shame is not a good way to convince a kid that they should make a different decision. Shame is more likely to lead to suicide and drug use than "peer pressure"." In 140 characters or less, you can teach our children to shame the ones who are already shamed, or you can encourage them to help solve the problem by offering friendship and support. #makegoodchoices.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Low Functioning NT

I've been seeing a lot of memes around Facebook about "Low Functioning NTs." It's usually about someone's stupidity or inability to... do anything, really. It's supposed to be funny. It's not.

My son is low functioning. Whether you like the term or not, it is what it is. Whether you use the term or not, it is what it is. Changing the words are not going to change the facts.

I see the memes and I get pissed off. My husband is so stupid/retarded/low functioning he can't put his laundry in the hamper. Really? That's ok?

Alex works his ass off for every skill he has. I just posted a video last night about how hard he works to use a fork and even that is partially to mostly hand over hand. Your husband is so stupid that he can't do any better than Alex?

Don't be too hard on the poor low functioning NTs, they don't know any better. Cut the poor retard some slack.

There are bound to be some Low Functioning NTs at the IEP meeting. Just pat their head or something. Speak s-l-o-w-l-y and don't hold their stupidity against them. It's not their fault they are lesser beings.

Low Functioning NT is the new retarded. You really think using one as an insult is any better than the other?

No, I am not trying to compare low functioning people with intellectually disabled people or saying one is better than the other. What I am illustrating is the relationship between a word that is universally hated and a term that is becoming universally funny as hell.

I'm not laughing.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Forking Around

My baby the Rock Star.
 
 
video


Don't mind the mess, it's just one of those days. :)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Doing It Right

When it comes to my boys, I always feel like I have to work harder, be smarter, do more. If they are not making progress, or making enough progress to reach my expectations, then it must be because I am not doing enough or I'm not doing it the right way. It has to be me. I am their mom, you know. It's my responsibility.

At some point you have to realize that you are doing everything that you can do.

Last night, while roaming Facebook I saw a post by Autism Discussion Page about Compensating for Executive Functioning Issues. Now, first of all, if you are not already following him- go do it. He's awesome and has lots of great information. In his post he explains,
"People with executive functioning issues usually have difficulties in the areas of attention, impulse control, working memory, planning and organizing, monitoring one’s own actions, and multi-tasking. Neuroscience is in the infancy stage in the area of brain plasticity, and strengthening the wiring in the areas of the brain that have weak connections. So, for individuals with ADD and ASD, most strategies have focused on finding ways to compensate for those weaknesses; building in strategies to work around the issues."
He goes on to give examples that include making modifications to the physical environment, task modification, and building individual coping skills. He talks about making habits and using visuals to develop strategies to compensate for our weaknesses. "To compensate for weak executive skills, we usually need to provide the function “externally” to substitute for what the brain cannot do “internally”, until we can teach an “automatic routine” (habit) to take its place." All things that we are already doing.

I watch my time with the Goofy One, and I see all of the work that we do.

In school, he's in a social skills class for classroom behaviors. They model the correct and incorrect behaviors, role play, and talk about what was done well and what they could work on next time. At home, we use Minecraft and Minecraft videos from TheDiamondMinecart to figure out what are and are not appropriate ways to interact with your friends. (Warning: he does use some dirty words. It doesn't bother me or Goofy but if you care about that sort of thing, he does use some here and there, even though he is pleasant to listen to.) We are still working on how one person can say these words in this way, and another person can say the exact same words in another way and only one is ok. We watch movies and talk about what is going on, predict what we think will happen, talk about why things are funny, how people might be feeling and how that leads to their actions. Last night, it was Ice Age- Diego was a very interesting one to talk about. Talking about why the humans murder mammoths and tigers... not so much fun... but, if I had explained it in the way that DiamondMinecart killed the clones to get the Legos, that may have went over better. I'll have to remember that next time, lol.

He goes to Occupational Therapy every other week, practices writing his spelling words every night, and draws pictures all the time. We put puzzles together, and do various hand strengthening exercises with that balloon filled with sand and play-doh. He's changing RtI classes from classroom social skills to one that works on handwriting skills.

The school sent home flash cards for sight words. I taped the ones he's already mastered to his wall to help him build confidence in his ability to read by seeing how many words he has already learned. We have been working on the flash cards he hasn't mastered a few at a time throughout the day. His teacher sends home printed out books for him to practice on and for 10 minutes every night, he reads those books. Some he can zip right through, those are good for confidence. Some he stumbles through and doesn't always get it just so but he tries. Some, I have to read to him. But for 10 minutes every night, we read. He reads on Minecraft. He searches youtube for his own videos. He's moved on from searching "CAT" to "Minecraft" and "KRAKEN" and "ZOMBIES" he doesn't get the words exactly right but he gets most of them close enough that he can find the video he wants. Well, not Kraken. But his dad couldn't find that one, either. Dad's like, "a what? what is that?"

Minecraft is also helping him with following directions and sequencing. First you do this, then you do that. You need this, this, and this to make this thing you want. First you have to find whatever and whatever, then you can make whatever. See? I know that has transferred to real life because he totally "teleported" the "clones" of his wall decorations to my door while I was sleeping. Every exact copy, I kid you not. He has visual schedules and routines, we've created rituals to make habits to get shit done. Everything has a place, and he knows where that place is and can follow his visual schedule with no problem. He still needs constant supervision and for the parts that don't have visual directions, has to be talked through step by step but we're doing it.

We have behavior charts and he rocks the rules, but there are places that rules don't apply like, you can't yell at your friends. If you yell at your friends, you have to take a break from the game and then comes the screaming and crying and head banging and YOU'RE SO MEAN, YOU SHOULDN'T TALK TO YOUR KIDS LIKE THAT! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO LOVE YOUR KIDS! or when he's promised that he can watch a certain video after we finish homework and a little someone X's off the video before he can watch it and we start with the screaming and crying and collapsing in the floor and OMG, it's NOT FAIR! YOU SAID...! NOW I CAN NEVER WATCH IT AGAIN! See?

I figured out that I'm not lost. I can't find a direction to go in because we're already there. We are already doing everything that we can do. We are already working on everything that we should be working on. The right and wrong of the methods we use are nothing but opinion, the fact is we are doing it and we're doing it our way. Considering Alex seems to know it's Sunday because he's chanting his version of "school bus, school bus, yeah, yeah, yeah," doing his stim-dance and trying to repeat my "tomorrow." I'd say our way works.

Goofy needs help, but it's not at home.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Procrastinating.

Apparently, we must have figured some things out at Goofy's meeting, because yesterday my e-mail was flooded with information.

I don't even know where to start with this child. This boy has issues. All I can say is at least he's fun. Over the years, it's been suggested a time or two.. *cough*or 20 ...that the Goofy Child's issues are parenting problems. Now, here's the thing, the boy definitely has parent parenting problems. I won't argue that, there is an awful lot of guess work and googling in my parenting strategies... but not everything is a parenting problem. Oh, he can't independently dress himself? maybe he likes you being there. Yeah, you don't know me very well. I'm a busy woman, you know. I have candy to crush and farm plots to harvest and Rancid Raccoon is not going to defeat himself, I don't have time to wait on kids hand and foot. I can promise you, there is no way in hell I'm doing anything I don't have to do.

So, the boy's working on a lot of things and I can't even pick one to focus on. What's the priority? What is he already getting "enough" help with? Should I focus on the troubles he has at home, self care, behavior, socialization, handwriting, reading...? Where do you start? I don't even know. We've been doing this and that for years- googling and guess work, remember? but now that I am finally getting real information from real professionals, I don't know which one to start with. Plural, of course, but if there is one thing Alex's school taught me, it's this- prioritize and focus on the few. Alex has fewer goals than he's ever had, but he's making more progress than he ever has. Just because something is not listed as a goal does not mean it can't be worked on or isn't being worked on. I guess it's easier with Alex because Alex already has an IEP I can follow.

So, I'm stuck. Where do you go when you are both procrastinating and looking for inspiration? Facebook, of course. Facebook has everything. I love my newsfeed. and that's where I saw it, "His report card came home today. Yeah. I will just sit here and beat myself up for being a crappy parent now." *fist bump* hell, yeah. Right there with you, sister. I saw someone else respond, "Look in the mirror, see that woman who has fought for her son every way and every day? no fails here" true enough, I guess. Reading on, they start talking about setting realistic and attainable goals. Oh, shit, I say to myself, They're supposed to reach the goals!? Alex is in 6th grade and I think the only goal he has ever met was "move limbs to aide in dressing." and here I was celebrating the fact that his report cards now say "progress." Hm, ok. so, I need to set attainable goals for the Goofy One. Alright. Yeah, I'm still stuck. SMART goals. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic/Relevant. Time limited. Ok, I got that, but where to start...? You make big goals based on present levels, make small goals to get to the big goals. Present levels are based on the areas you're looking at. Fuck. right back where we started.

At least this year is going to go on forever, right? Alex has the perfect teacher, Goofy has the perfect teacher, Walter has several teachers I adore... it's a good year. We'll just stay here. procrastinating. forever.

Thing2 and Walter come in to burst that bubble. Walter wants me to approve his schedule for next year, Thing2 has yet another story about his principal- the principal who hates him and yells a lot. The principal that more than once I've thought of visiting but didn't want to step on my husband's toes since he's the one who deals with that school. and something tickles the back of my mind... Principals are trading places. the Senior Principal will be the Sophomore principal and the Freshman Principal for Walter's last name. No, God, you can't be serious, right? please tell me you're joking. God doesn't answer. I look at Walter, "That's not..." it is. And now, here I am hyperventilating over changing staff. In January. 7 months before it even happens. None of the second grade teachers filled out their profiles, and Alex's school doesn't even have profiles. Although a fun distraction, not helping me figure out what I'm doing with Goofy.

Well, we have 30 days before our next meeting, I might be able to get some ideas there and both the Area Coordinator and the counselor sent information on in-home therapy. The kind that teaches you how to parent or something. I'm seriously thinking about that one. They might be able to give me a direction to go in.

For this weekend, I'm taking some time off. My entire plan for these two days is to enjoy my kids.