Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Shopping, Nerd Style

If you are anything like me, you like some of what your kid receives for Christmas to be educational.  I like to call it "cultivating my nerd".  The way I see it, Isaac's going to be the one picking out my nursing home some day.  The better the job he has, the better off I am.  Ok, that's only half of the reason I like to buy or request educational gifts for him around the holidays.  The other half is because if there is a way that I can make school and learning easier or more fun for him, I'm going to do that.  Kids, especially those with quirks, have enough to deal with when it comes to school.  I can't be there for the times when his friends decide to gang up on him on the play ground, but I can give him a boost academically and maybe free up a little energy to deal with social issues.  So without any further ado, here is your holiday shopping guide for those of you who are also worried about your future nursing home.

Chunks is a word building game- great for learning sight words and beyond.
Math Dice, Jr. for making addition and subtraction automatic and fun.  This will be in Isaac's stocking this year.

Spot It! Not only a good stocking stuffer, but also a travel-friendly game that helps work on matching and PAYING ATTENTION!  My distracted five year old will be pulling this out of his stocking this year, too.

And if you're really holding out for a future engineer, you can't go wrong with the nerd-tastic gift my husband picked out for himself Isaac: an Erector set.

Happy shopping, my fellow over-parenting friends!

Monday, October 22, 2012

IEP: Kindergarten Edition


Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
      Listen to the DON'TS
      Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
      Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
      Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Isaac and I read this poem before bed last night, and I took it as a good omen for today's IEP and re-evaluation meeting.  I'm glad I did.  I have never, NEVER walked away from an IEP feeling good before, but today it actually happened.  The school psychologist started things off on a good note by telling me that Isaac cooperated for her portion of the evaluation and that his IQ is in the "high to superior range for his age."  Well, I don't know what parent wouldn't love to hear that about their child.  She went on to say that while he does struggle with getting distracted, it is not in a range of abnormal concern or enough to be able to classify him as having ADD or ADHD.  One less label and one less concern.  They will continue to support him in this area, however, by having him sit close to his teacher during work assignments and augmenting tasks for him to help him focus better.

Also, according to the re-evaluation results, Isaac no longer needs to be pulled out of class for speech and occupational therapy!  He has caught up enough in those areas and tested well in them.  He is even correcting his own mistakes with holding scissors properly, etc.  The special ed service woman will still check on him 5 times per marking period to make sure things are in place to help him function in the classroom, and help with transitions- such as the transition to first grade next year.  There wasn't even talk of that being a "maybe".  It was apparent to everyone there that he will be headed to first grade on time.  The whole meeting was a big I TOLD YOU SO to the principal, who was there taking notes, and to her credit looked pleasantly surprised and happy about his progress this year.  I know she meant well at the beginning of the year when she tried to convince us he didn't seem ready for kindergarten, but I will say to other parents out there what I always say- go with your gut and push back where necessary.  If I had listened to her at the beginning of the year, Isaac would be home coloring in the next room with his above average IQ and being taught by a less than great homeschooling mom (me) rather than by a great kindergarten teacher like Mrs Glenn.  By the way, he had a near perfect report home last week, and a decent one this past week.  Very different from the beginning of school in which all the bullet points on the report sheet were highlighted as areas that needed work.  Isaac is, in all the ways that matter, a pretty typical kindergartner.  I really couldn't ask for more.

So how did I celebrate such a good meeting?  With a trip to the grocery store, a dark chocolate Milky Way bar, and telling off the rude, rich woman who was snotty to my poor cashier for accidentally charging her twice for something.  Life is all about the quiet riots, and occasionally about the louder ones.  Stick up for someone in your life today- be it your kid, or that sweet cashier at Target who often works 12 hour days.  It's always worth it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Growin' up

Oh, life.  You know, we're all getting older and all that.  Some of us are getting older faster than others.  I had an appointment this week with a vein specialist.  Yes, you read that right.  This twenty-seven year old is getting surgery in December and January on her VARICOSE VEINS that are not working properly.  I am still planning to run my 5k next weekend, but not holding myself to any speed goals this time.  Good thing I ran out on Tuesday and got a new tattoo, or the surgery news would have had me spiraling into a deeper circle of early-life-crisis.  I recommend impulsiveness to all mothers as a legitimate form of therapy, by the way.  I don't care what this rather large tattoo on the inside of my left forearm is going to look like at 80.  Right now it makes me smile, run a little faster, and feel a little younger.  Worth every penny.

Isaac, too, is growing up.  Just tonight he chose one of the Shel Silverstein books on his shelf for bedtime for the first time.  He didn't care that they weren't filled with colorful pictures, the poems cracked him up.  He also informed me that he is officially done playing with his toy kitchen.  This is not news to me, since it's been months since he's touched it, but it just drove home his new level of boyhood.

Likewise, I had a phone interview with the school psychologist yesterday for the autism part of Isaac's re-evaluation.  It felt good to be able to say, "Oh, that used to be a problem, but not so much anymore" so many times.  It also made me laugh when she told me that Isaac said he didn't have any friends and didn't want any.  I know what that was about.  She pulled him out of class, out of his routine, and he was searching for the quickest answer to get him back to where he was "supposed" to be.  I'm sure he was grumpy about it, too.  The truth is, Isaac has friends.  In fact, he even made a valentine for a girl in his class on the first day of track out break.  He wrote, "I love you, Joy" on it all by himself and cut it out into a rough heart-shape.  He brought it to her on Tuesday, along with some Space Angry Bird drawings for his teacher.  He learned how to spell and call me a b-o-o-b from a boy in his class.  Although I wasn't impressed at the time, I realize that all this is NORMAL and I'm grateful for that.  Now I just have to find the motivation to sit down and fill out the SAT sized packet for the rest of his evaluation.  You would think I was applying for citizenship by the size of this color in the dot test.  Ah, more wine, please.

Part of me doesn't care if his diagnosis changes from PDD-NOS to Aspergers.  Or if he gets labeled as having ADD while trying to function in a busy classroom of 20 kids.  We will keep doing what we're doing either way.  Trucking on, being surprised, being proud, and most of all, being absolutely in love with this little boy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A good morning update

This morning during breakfast Isaac said, "I wish other people had the same stuff as us."
    "What do you mean?" I asked.
    "Like the stuff in our kitchen.  Some other people want the same stuff and don't have it."
    "Oh, do you mean people who don't have very much?"
    "Yes, I wish they had the same stuff as us," he said.
    "That's why it's important that we share or donate things when we're done with them."
    "Yeah, like my baby toys."

I'll stop there.  An abstract thought about "other" people?  Out of the blue?  I do believe this boy is growing up.  I didn't even know these things were, or would ever be on his radar, but I'm glad they are.  If Isaac struggles socially, at least it's not in the area of empathy.  That much we know.

Isaac is on his first break from year round school right now.  So far, he's filled his mornings with doing homework out of a workbook and drawing lots and lots of pictures, writing words, etc.  And he's done this all on his own.  There are some great things about having a routine monster, even if I have to hear him ask about school several times a day, every day, until he goes back.

It's finally cooling down here in North Carolina and starting to feel like fall.  I can tell this because I suddenly feel as though it's my job to get as much sleep as possible.  Had we a berry bush, I would probably be grazing, storing up for winter.  I hoped being a little further south would keep me from my usual tendency toward hibernation this year, but it doesn't look like that's the case.  At any rate, I will keep running and getting ready for the 5k race next month.  So far, thanks to friends and family, I've raised $275 for the Autism Society of North Carolina.  Thanks to all who have donated!  If the rest of you could just pray that the old legs hold out til then, it would be greatly appreciated.

If you're reading this, I hope your morning is filled with hot coffee and sunshine.  Here we're settling for hot coffee and gray skies.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Running for autism

A lot of people have been complaining since I deactivated my facebook account recently.  While it touches me that so many people are sad to miss out on connecting with me that way, I have to say that I have not regretted the decision in the least.  That is, until tonight.  There are a few reasons I decided to be done with facebook for awhile, the biggest being that I was a little sick of networking aka stalking people from my lonely, little hut in Apex.  I have a lot of time on my hands, folks.  Isaac is in school six hours every day, five days a week.  That's a lot of time to be living.

When we moved to North Carolina in April, I told myself that there were three things I wanted to do when Isaac started kindergarten: be more disciplined with exercise, writing, and keeping up on housework.  It's Friday night and my laundry and dishes are caught up, my dog is walked, and I'm currently writing a blog post to all of you.  Oh, and I accidentally ran four miles today.  Accidentally.  Ran.  Four.  Miles.  I had no idea until I mapped my route on the computer this evening.  Which brings me to why I'm slightly regretting having deleted my facebook account.

I have signed up to run the 2012 Triangle Run/Walk for Autism on October 13th and I have a goal of raising at least $75 to benefit the Autism Society of North Carolina.  I would love to surpass that goal. Facebook would be a great way to rally some sponsors, but I'm just too stubborn to give in this soon. Hey, you would be, too, had you accidentally ran four miles today in your free time.  So I'm posting the link for pledges here, in my other online community in case anyone is feeling so inclined to help me reach my goal.

The first and only other 5k race I've run was the Lap for LAP Repite in Lansing- a care center offering services to families with children or adults with special needs like autism.  I think it brought us some good karma for when Isaac was diagnosed with PDD-NOS about one year later.  I'm really grateful for the services we received to help Isaac on our journey.  I just want to pay it forward with something a little more active than a facebook post.  3.2 miles and $75 should do it.

If you would like to learn more about where the money goes, you can visit the Autism Society of North Carolina's webpage.

Thanks, friends!

Monday, August 27, 2012


Isaac turned five today.  I know it's cliche to say, but I really can't believe he's five already.  I know this would be an appropriate time to get misty about how fast life is flying by with this very special boy, but the only thing I'm sad about is how much closer I'm getting to thirty. Ha!  In all honesty, Isaac just keeps getting better with age.  His little personality is getting bigger.  His sense of humor is impeccable.  And he's just a lot more fun than that baby and toddler that didn't sleep through the night or talk or even look at me a lot of the time.  He gets stuff.  Isaac over heard Andrew and I talking about Neil Armstrong's death the other day, so today while Skyping with his grandparents he decided to start a conversation on that topic.  "Did you hear about that space guy who died?  That was sad."  I kid you not, that came out of my five year old's mouth.

Also, I'm really glad that I can finally buy toys that have no purpose other than being toys for his birthday.  I am no longer constantly thinking about sensory input, learning skills, etc.  Here he is playing with the new cement mixer truck we got him for his birthday.  (Ignore the blinds ruined by our very naughty dog.)  Pinto beans from the bean box double as concrete to be churned and pushed down the chute.  He doesn't need a whole sensory room anymore and all of his toys have been downsized to fit into his bedroom.  Life is simpler at five, and for that we're all grateful.

Don't get me wrong.  There are still plenty of things we are working on.  A mainstream kindergarten class of 19 has proved a challenge for Isaac.  There is currently a packet sitting on my coffee table waiting for me to finish filling it out so that Isaac can be evaluated for ADD.  Hey- we knew this day was coming.  I'm realizing how much we're used to his quirks and compensate for them.  Just the other night he was getting ready for bed and I told him to go pee and get in bed.  He pulled down his pants, stood in front of the toilet, looked up at the lights above the sink and said "Oooh! Let's count those lights!"  and totally forgot what he was supposed to be doing.  The fact that I was still standing there after I told him to go pee proves that I had a feeling he might get distracted and need a reminder.  Compensating is automatic for mothers.  I think he'll grow out of it, because Andrew and I were a lot like this as kids, but our great special ed service lady just wants more info on the best way to help him function and get the most out of school right now.  Fair enough.  I'll take it.  PDD-NOS, ADD, or whatever else gets slapped on a paper about my kid for school purposes has very little to do with who and what he is in our lives.  The word for that is: Everything.  We love you, little man.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Bullying

It is no surprise to me that Isaac is sometimes, and will probably be in the future, the target of bullying.  I've seen him be singled out on the play ground by other kids- whether they sense something is different about him or not is immaterial.  It happens.  It shouldn't.  End of story.

For the past week or two I've noticed that Isaac has come home with red marks on his cheek every so often.  Today he came home with red cheeks and a scratch on his neck.  I asked him what happened and he told me that a certain classmate has been hitting him.  I asked him if he was playing or if he was doing it to be mean.  He said he was doing it to be mean.  I asked him why this kid has been hitting him- if he had hit him first or back.  Isaac told me that he doesn't do anything to him except say "no thank you" and walk away.  I asked if he had told his teacher that so and so has been hitting him and he said no.  Trust me, I think he handled it perfectly on his own, however, if this keeps happening like it has been, the teacher needs to know.  Little Mr. I Think It's Ok To Hit Other Kids isn't going to learn that it's NOT ok without some guidance.  One time occurrences are bound to happen and don't need to be tattled.  Repeated offenses are an issue and a symptom of something more.  Bullying.

There is a new parenting trend out right now that I find interesting.  It's the "let them work it out on their own" trend.  While I think this has some merit, I think using this as the only means to have your kid learn socially appropriate behavior is negligent at best.  Because guess what guys?  At the end of the day, whether our kids turn out like little ass holes or compassionate citizens is on us.  It's. On. Us.  I'm not saying that every parent with a bullying kid has learned that model directly from their parents, but I am saying that if you have a five year old and they are already showing consistent bullying tendencies toward their peers, it's because you let them.  I don't think it would be fair to say this about toddlers.  Toddlers have a lot of stuff going on.  But by kindergarten...

Yes, kids do need to learn to problem solve on their own and not be little tattle tales, but they also need some guidance in order to do that.  Never looking up from your book or your conversation at the play ground is probably not enough guidance.  Not having consistent conversations about how to treat friends and classmates is, again, not enough guidance.  I am no super mom, and Isaac is not perfect, but with a little effort we've managed to raise a mostly sweet kid.  Not a kid who goes up to other kids at recess and starts punching them for no reason at the age of five.  Five.  Get that through your head.  What is sixteen going to look like for that little boy or girl if this is how they interact with kids at the age of five?

I'll tell you.  He's going to look like the 18 year old who thought it was appropriate to put his hand on my leg and say sexual things to me as an elementary school kid just to make his friends laugh.  She's going to look like the high school girl who pulled my hair until my head almost bled just because I was fat and she assumed my parents made more money than hers.  He's going to look like the kid other parents don't want their teen to hang out with.

It's on us, friends.  It's on us.  The "boys will be boys" attitude doesn't sit well when you're the mom of a kid with special needs who's getting hit on the play ground several days a week.  Sits with me like oil and water.  Are you raising a bully?  You might be.  Pay attention.