Friday, January 31, 2014

What A Difference A Year Makes...

Friday, February 1, 2013
"I'm going to hand you the results of our testing, Mrs. Sassy Pants.  I think it's best if we jump to the diagnosis, so I don't keep you wondering the entire time I explain things."

**Take a deep breath; you know what's coming**

"He definitely is on the Autism Spectrum, specifically Asperger's Syndrome."

**I knew it--*it* has a name now.  Why are there tears coming down?  Oh my gosh, I can't make them stop.**

"Here's some tissues; take a minute & we can talk. How about I get your coffee for you?"

**What did I do wrong??  How did I not see the signs sooner?!  Where do we go from here??  Oh my gosh, she's still talking; I really need to focus.**

"Disruptive Behavior Disorder, Dispraxia, ABA Therapy, IEP at school, Behavior Plan, 299.80.  His brain is wired different.  You didn't do anything to cause this.  He is still the same Boy that you know & love; now we can continue to help him to become the best that he can be."

**Stop the tears; this isn't about you.  You need to be strong so that you can help him.  I love him so much!!  I know that this is somehow my fault, I just know it.**

Friday, January 31, 2014
Tomorrow will be the 1 year anniversary of the word Asperger's Syndrome coming into our lives.  Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Autism.  ASD.  The Spectrum.  These are words that we use interchangeably in our house. 

There is nothing 'wrong' with the Boy, his brain is wired differently.  He gets overwhelmed easily.  When he gets like this, he gets frustrated, angry, full of tears, & has been known to spit, hit, kick, & throw things.  We are working with his school & his psychologist to help him learn to be flexible & to use his coping skills so that he can recognize a meltdown coming on.  We want him to use these coping skills to help calm himself.

Wait a minute, the school didn't help him.....
Let me reword that.  His Principal, Resource Teachers, & the Autism Specialists did so much to help him.  They communicated with his psychologist so that everything could be a consistent as possible for this child.  They are wonderful people.  I'm guessing that when the Principal was a teacher, he was amazing; he cares so much.  The classroom teacher?  Not so much.  She told the Principal to tell me that she doesn't need anyone telling her how to do her job.  When the Boy started to get overwhelmed, she would immediately call for the Pricipal to take care of things , rather than follow the behavior plan.  I could go on & on, but I won't.  I'm not in the mood to be upset. 

I knew it was time to take him out of there & teach him these skills myself.  Yep, we just ended our first week of homeschool, & I am confident it was the right thing to do.  Don't get me wrong, I know that we are going to have days where I am going to second guess myself & he is going to hate my guts.  Still, just this week it has been such a blessing to know that the school wasn't going to call me to come & pick him up because they wouldn't follow through with the child's IEP.  I didn't have to worry about him being suspended because he kicked a teacher.  It was such a relief.

And then there's the other siblings....
In September, the kids' older sister who lives in Washington came to stay with us so that she could receive medical treatment for what we thought was a very bleak situation.  Without going into details, she was basically starving to death because of an auto-immune disease.  She could not hold food down, & was in the hospital & had many visits to the ER while here.  With a stroke of God's Grace, she was able to go home 8 days ago.  She is keeping food down, & her disease seems to be in remission.  We are so thankful that things are on the upswing & she can be with her husband & children.

Last week, things came to a head with the Girl.  We've had episodes of what is more than sassiness~this blog was named after her & her ability to keep her brothers (& parents) in line.  When I stepped back & looked at things, I saw a little girl who is very strong, but is just a little girl.  She has seen everyone else getting so much attention.  She has had moments of foot stomping, eye rolling, back talking, & fib telling.  When I spoke to her teacher, even Mrs. S agreed that the Girl is in need of some special time & attention. 

I felt horrible!!  Had I failed her too?!?!
No.  I had not failed anyone.  I recognized that there was a problem & decided to own it.  It was time to make date time with each of my children.  Alone time where they know that they have my undivided attention.  Yes, we can do this.  It's going to be okay.

So, what's on the agenda??
the Boy will have Social Skills Group with his psychologist on Tuesday nights (he loves being with the other children).  He is also going to attend Munroe Meyer Institute's After School Spring Program on Monday & Wednesday afternoons from 3:00-5:30.  He will get to swim, cook, play games, & other kid stuff.  The Girl is in Girl SCouts & will start selling cookies in a week, & will start playing volleyball at the YMCA this spring.  Little Boy???  Well, we are working on his speech & getting him ready for kindergarten in the fall.  He wants to start swim lessons again, so next session, he can strengthen his fish skills.

Life has gone on.....
Our world didn't end, it has just been the beginning of a new journey for all of us.  Mr. Sassy Pants doesn't say much regarding Autism; he takes my lead & listens.  BUT....when I am at my wits end after the Boy has had an epic meltdown, or I'm ready to poke some holes in a box so I can ship Little Boy to Illinois (my friend Allison says she's always wanted a boy), Mr. Sassy Pants knows when to swoop in & divert the attention to something else lighthearted.  He really is a gem, even though there are times I'd like to shake some sense into his head. :) 

My friends have been the best support system....
I have been so blessed to be surrounded by friends who have been there for me when I've need a shoulder to lean on.  I have the best Mom to be able to vent to & lean on.  And those brothers & sisters I've never met....
THEY live it.  They get it.  These people who I am in a private Facebook group with, have been my salvation.  I can be me; I can be ready to choke the living daylights out of a teacher, husband, & child, & they listen & don't judge.  Would they like me if they knew me in person??  Maybe, maybe not.  But I'm thinking yes.  We have this common bond.  We are part of a club that we didn't ask to be in, but we rejoice in having each other.

And maybe someday we will meet face to face....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dinosaur Eggs For Everyone...

As many of you know, yesterday was the first day of homeschool for the Boy & I.  I promise I will have a new blog post to share with you on Thursday or Friday (it's symbolic that I do it them; I will explain later).

Anyway, today's science project was to make dinosaur eggs.  Now this project is simple enough for a preschool child, so why would I choose to do it with my 3rd grade son??  Well, I wanted something that would awaken his sensory side (he has tactile issues with certain fabrics/textures; heck he wouldn't wear blue jeans for 1 1/2 years because the feel of the denim bothered him so much).

Our project involved finishing a discussion of dinosaurs that had been started at school, then to make dinosaur eggs.  I wanted to make three different kinds of homemade playdough with mini dinosaur figures inside of each 'egg'. 
Once the eggs are completely dry (this may take a few days), the Boy is going to don some safety goggles & a hammer, go out to the back deck, then he will "extinct" the dinosaurs.  Yes, we read about the probable real causes for the dinosaurs to become extinct, but this is more fun, don't you think??

I had a few requests for my recipes for the homemade dough, so I thought I would share with you.

The first recipe is a classic homemade recipe that I've used for years.  I used this one way back when I was a preschool teacher at a Montessori preschool when big hair, leg warmers, & jelly shoes were popular.

-2 cups all purpose flour

-1/2 cup salt
-2 tablespoons cream of tartar
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 big squirt of dish soap
-2-4 tablespoons glitter (optional)
-1/2 cup sand (optional)
-1/4 cup of coffee grounds (optional-I used the latter 2 because of the Boy's sensory issues)
-2 cups boiling water

*Mix all ingredients EXCEPT for the water in a bowl.
*Slowly add the boiling water & mix until it makes a sticky dough.
* continue to knead-the dough should become less sticky, but you can add more flour if you wish.
Two Ingredient Play Dough

1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup hair conditioner (use the Suave, not the Redken)
Food coloring (optional)

Basically, you have 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part conditioner for this one.  Add both ingredients to a bowl & mix; if it stays super sticky, just add a touch of cornstarch until it is the consistency you like.  For ours, I added some coffee grounds & did not add food coloring.

This 'dough', isn't so much as dough as it is a really cool looking/feeling rough modeling compound. 

-1 cup sand
-1/2 cup cornstarch
-1/2 cup alum (found in the baking aisle)
-1/2 cup water

*Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan.
*Cook over medium heat, continuously stirring until thick.
* Once cool enough to touch, add dinosaur figures & shape the 'dough' around it until it looks like an egg.

All of the dinosaur eggs are drying & the Boy is so excited to break them open.  the Girl & Little Boy have been begging him to let them break a few eggs. 

the Boy said he'd let them do it.  For a dollar each.....