Here are some articles I found interesting from the last few weeks.
I related a lot to this article. Having taught (general ed) for almost a decade, I still knew next to nothing about autism.
Lego therapy seems like something that would be right up our alley!
This is Our Autism
Inclusive classrooms and language boosts I still have feelings of wishing we had just powered through with kindergarten and this article makes me think the exposure to 25 other kids could have been so good.
There will be no mainstream kindergarten this year.
The follow-up appointment with the psychologist revealed data that the language deficit is much greater than anyone realized. Our little guy has an above average non-verbal ability and a below average verbal ability. He would essentially require 1-on-1 assistance throughout the school day to be sure he would be able to understand directions/rules/expectations. This would not be an enriching school experience. The preschool apologized for not doing an updated language assessment sooner, and said they would have approached this past year completely differently had they known more about his language abilities. So, the bottom line: We have somewhat lost an entire school year.
Luckily, our son has a spring birthday, so retention (which isn’t really the right word, because he won’t be doing preschool again, per se) isn’t terrible. He will be back at his previous school and we are still formulating exactly what this will look like…but a specially designed program is in the works.
Luckily, we now have facts and data to show what areas we really need to work on. However, I personally have been feeling really scattered and unsure of what specifically I should be doing with him right now, though have been trying more and more to engage him and push him more in language and seat work kind of tasks at home. Overall, this has felt plain disappointing. It felt like we sort of had the school part figured out, and all plans were completely dismantled and there’s been this huge feeling of limbo. I also know that his knowledge and intelligence is way more than those tests could show (hello language deficit) and he is academically on par with kids much older with knowing things like addition, subtraction, and the 50 states.
His case conference, which was moved from May, was held last week to start being “creative” as the school put it, with his new school year plan. With 9 people sitting around a table, we came up with a shell of a school day and the teachers and therapists are still making plans for how that time will be usefully spent to remediate his language skills yet still keep up and hopefully expand on his current academic abilities. He will still have ABA sessions in the mornings and that therapist will go with him to his first leg of the school session each day. The school is also pushing our daughter to the afternoon session (she was asked to be a peer model) so the kids will get to be at the same school, at mostly the same time, and ride the bus home together. I do think this will be nice.
We left the meeting feeling a little bit of relief at least in knowing where and when to send our child to school. It is also very nice to know that he is still going to be in a loving and nurturing environment. These people are all very invested in him and want him to succeed. It has taken me over a month to really feel like I have mostly accepted this, though every time I pass the elementary school with its sign screaming “register for kindergarten” I feel frustrated or sad again. Once the school year officially starts next week, I’m sure it’ll all start to feel more normal.
Well, it’s been a full year gluten-free. We have had many moments where it truly seemed that it was working, helping, or whatever. A moment came, back in the fall, when we felt like “checking” to see if reintroducing would make a difference or not. Within one week, bad behaviors were ramped up significantly and he was completely out of control. His stomach seemed to be suffering as well. So we went straight back to cutting all gluten (which supposedly takes about 6 weeks to fully remove for your body).
Fast forward to now…there have been several “slip-ups” where he’s gotten some regular food item (and I am pretty sure that he was being given regular snacks at his summer camp), so it seemed like as good of time as any to dump the diet and see what happens. It has been a full week, there have been no dramatic changes in mood, actions, vocabulary, or anything else for that matter. So maybe we are ok. It would certainly help our budget to not have to buy specialty foods!
We were referred by the school district to a reputable private testing group to just be sure that we weren’t missing any little pieces to this puzzle. We were able to get in for appointments shockingly fast, which was great. This consisted of: a preliminary meeting with the psychologist, a 2nd appointment that included just our son being tested for an entire morning, and a 3rd, follow-up appointment to receive results and recommendations.
Hopefully there will be some good ideas that will be helpful and constructive as we move forward in the academic world.
Summer has been insane so far. I remember the kid-free days of getting a zillion library books and devouring as many as I could throughout the time off school (which was also my work for nearly a decade). This summer, we are filled with appointments, therapy, camp, swimming, parks, and family time. I filled up my gas tank 4 days ago and have driven over 150 miles just shuttling between camp, therapy, and appointments.
With all this busyness going on, we have started to feel concerned that we are putting too much on a child who is barely over 5 years old. He is exhausted, we are exhausted, and there is still so much that needs to be accomplished. We tacked on therapy sessions after camp hours all this week and next. So, all week, we have sent our son to special needs summer camp from 9-3, picked him up and gotten to him therapy by 3:30 to stay til 5. Camp has been amazing. Therapy this week has been ROUGH. Sleep has also been a little off. When he is so worn down, his sleep patterns tend to be more erratic. So, how much is too much?
There’s also all the time he is away. He gets dropped off and I feel so happy for him to be in a place he’s happy to go to, and I think of all the fun things he will do that day. Then the guilt creeps in. I feel horrible guilt that the other 2 kids and I have been able to do fun activities while he’s been gone at camp or therapy. Yes, he has fun at both of those places (for the most part), but I wish I were able to just have all of my kids home and do fun things together. He doesn’t want to go to the pool we joined, so we do that while he’s away. His diet is gluten free, so the rest of us went to a strawberry festival and got shortcakes because he wasn’t around. We went to the zoo and didn’t have to stand and watch the fish for a million minutes. I miss him in those fun moments and feel guilty that he isn’t getting a regular summer. But, truth be told, it is certainly easier to go places (whether fun or errands) when there are only 2 tiny bodies to worry about. There’s 6 weeks til school starts and I keep telling myself this will be worth it.
Most schools have some kind of intake evaluation they give to their incoming students. We were contacted last week by the elementary school to schedule a time for us to go in. Honestly, we weren’t sure how effective of a reading on C they’d get considering he doesn’t always respond to people who are talking to him or asking questions.
Getting in the building yesterday was a treat with all 3 kids and a Sit ‘N Stand stroller, but we made it….through 2 sets of doors, and then an elevator (have I mentioned this school is enormous?). C wouldn’t ride the elevator, so someone walked him up the stairs for me. He wasn’t very receptive initially, but did sit down. I walked in the room (even though I wasn’t supposed to) to tell him to listen and sit, and after a few more minutes, he did. I couldn’t hear anything going on once back in the hall, but the occasional “good job,” or “that’s right” kind of comment.
Twenty minutes later, one of two women who had been working with him walked him out. “He’s very high,” she told me, and I nodded back. “He was zipping through the words…I’ve only had one other child do that so far and he was way faster than she was” (Internal horn tooting going off in my brain at this time). I just said I hoped that we would be able to get the behavior part under control so that he can do the “school” part, because we know he’s so smart. She said,”You can totally work with this….He knows more now than some outgoing 1st graders.” Phew. I was certain he wouldn’t be able to show what he knew, but he did! Small victories….
I had a request by the director of the preschool (who I also learned that day is one of 2 special needs coordinators for the district…um, where have I been for the last 2 years???) to come in for a conference. She thought that having just the two of us sit down may help us regroup without everyone trying to give their input and opinions at once. I totally agreed.
We sat and chatted about how the next couple months would go down: the transition meeting with school personnel from the elementary as well as current teachers, summer upkeep of skills, ABA therapy, summer camp, etc. One of the things we discussed was that the transition meeting was probably a bad idea right now.
The idea of the transition meeting is to better plan out goals, the school day minute by minute, how long he will actually be in the school building, and I’m sure a lot of other stuff. There’s so much planned for the summer that we feel it could be shorting him to make plans for the kid he is right this minute. I also think that at the end of a school year isn’t really when teachers are getting all hyped about incoming kids. To these people who don’t yet know him, he is the unruly kid they may have seen on one of his visits or just what they can read on a piece of paper. Plus, he changed immensely over last summer, so who’s to say he won’t do something similar again? I wish I could take credit for thinking of postponing this, but it wasn’t my idea…I just thought of all these things after the fact.
We are so hopeful of all the possibilities for what growth we could see by August, but trying not to pin everything on it.