Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kindergarten Shouldn't Be So Hard!

Today, Ballerina had a doctor's appointment.  It was a scheduled thing -- nothing (in particular) is wrong.  But the appointment was over surprisingly early.  So early, in fact, that I dropped her off at school before heading home.

When I dropped her off, I had a conversation with her classroom teacher.  She had taken a video to show me of Ballerina in the kindergarten classroom.  It was a video showing me her standing in front of the class, using a pointer to point to each word, and she was reading a story.  When her turn was over, she sat on her square on the carpet.  She actually SAT there.  For nearly 5 minutes.  She REALLY sat and behaved.

Unfortunately, from what she says, this is NOT typical.  She has a tendency to want to jump from square to square.  She has a hard time focusing on what they are talking about in the classroom.  But she's making an effort.  And she has made some friends in there as well, who help her when her behaviors start to pop out -- they remind her (nicely) to sit still and to sit "criss cross apple sauce".  And, at home, she likes to talk about "Jessica" and "Maya" and "Mason".  Apparently, every day is their birthday (according to Ballerina).

So, now we are getting closer to making the placement decision.  As I've said in a previous post, I have signed her up for Kindergarten Orientation in May, where I'm secretly hoping she will display all of her behaviors (but I'm not going to help that to happen).  I am also going to visit her next week when she's in the kindergarten classroom, to see for myself how she is doing there.  I realize that her behavior will be different when I'm present, but perhaps I can make myself "invisible" until she is done.

Ballerina's placement meeting is in just over a month.  In that meeting we will be determining whether she will enter a typical kindergarten classroom or an Early Learning Center (special education) classroom.  As I've mentioned several times before, I really would like to see her in the special education classroom at the start of the year and then work her way into the typical classroom as the year progresses.  I just sent a lengthy note to our contact in the Autism Office for our schools detailing my concerns and outlining my plan for integration.  I feel like I need to make sure they know my feelings on this subject because when we sit in that meeting, it always feels like the decision has already been made.

I really want to do right by her.  And I believe I know what that means.  I just hope I'm right and that the "powers that be" agree with me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Potty Training Success

Nearly 2 months ago, we took the leap and decided that it was time for Music Man to be potty trained. We knew he was ready and we knew he was capable. We just had to show him that we were more stubborn than he was and teach him exactly what he needed to do. We were only concerned about urine at that point. We would deal with the rest another time.

Well, since that nightmarish weekend, we have seen complete urine success! He has had maybe 3 accidents in the last 6 weeks, and most of them were overnight. He's been so successful that slightly over a week ago, we offered him a choice at bedtime -- underwear or diaper -- and he chose the underwear (I was TRULY surprised by that). And, like his twin sister, he has not yet wet the bed.

But we were still cleaning him up daily with every bowel movement. I had been trying to think of what to do to teach him that this also needs to go into the toilet. But, unlike the way I urine trained him, I wanted this to be something that HE initiated.

Yesterday I saw my opportunity. He had "assumed the position" while playing in the basement. I called him over and told him it was time to "Go Potty!". Well, he ran into the bathroom and I followed (normally I allow him to do this on his own). I pulled down his pants and told him to sit down. He REALLY didn't want to. "NO SIT DOWN!!!!" he cried out. But I told him it was OK and gently pressured his shoulders so he was sitting. Then I told him to push (and put some pressure on his stomach to move things along a bit). An amazing thing happened. He started to push! And a few seconds later, we both heard a distinct "PLOP" as he had successfully pooped in the toilet!!!!!

He got rewarded. After cleaning up I told him that it was his turn on the computer and let him play there for quite some time. I kept going over to him and giving him a "High Five!" and just in general praising him. When Dad came home (about 45 minutes later), I shared the story with him, and he praised Music Man as well!

So, now we just need to keep it up. I'm hoping that, now he's experienced what it's supposed to be like, he'll put it all together (with some encouragement). We may finally be done with Music Man's Potty Training!!!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Been A While

It's been over a week since I last posted. Since then, I've survived Spring Break (well, most of spring break), check-ups, and a birthday. Yup....Big Brother turned 7 yesterday. Now I'm trying to get my head back on straight (and have been for a few days) and get things back to "normal".

I think I'm going to talk about Ballerina this post. We started her on a new medication during the break. We learned recently that she has another condition known as POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). We learned this a while ago when, while during a doctor's visit, her heart rate jumped from 88 when sitting to 140 when standing. Additionally, this may also explain some of her other medical issues that we've been seeing since she was an infant.

So, while she was on break, we began this new medicine, hoping that we would see some changes in her behavior (after all, how compliant can you be when you're dizzy every time you stand up, right)? Well, we didn't see much there. We also restarted the Focalin on Monday (the day before she returned to school) so we could see how the two interacted. It seems like the two don't interfere with one another (something we were told to watch for) which is a good thing. But we (unfortunately) haven't seen any positive behavior effects as we were hoping would happen.

I signed her up for Kindergarten Orientation to take place at the beginning on May. Originally, I was told that she didn't have to attend, but we have since learned that if she is going to be placed in a typical classroom, this would be beneficial for both her and the teachers. Since we won't know her placement result until after orientation, I felt signing her up would be a wise choice. I'm actually hoping that it doesn't go well. The Learning Center teacher will also be present evaluating the students. I'm hoping that they will see that she belongs in the Learning Center and not in a typical classroom. Is it wrong to be wishing for such a "failure"?

You see, I still believe that most people in that room (her IEP Meeting to determine her placement at the end of May) believe that she should be placed in a typical classroom. But we are still seeing so many behaviors from her. And she typically regresses during the summer (not major regressions, but enough to qualify as one). If she is placed in the Learning Center, she can adjust to the new school and we can take our time acclimating her to a typical classroom. Additionally, she will have the resources of the Learning Center at her disposal should things go badly on any given day. If she behaves badly during Kindergarten Orientation, I think that I will have an easier time getting the other participants to agree with me.

But I won't do anything to help ensure such a result.

Am I wrong to hope for this for her? Am I holding her back?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

AWE-tism Awareness

Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day, and the Autism community was all ready. We had blue lightbulbs, we had blue hair, we had videos, we were ready.

I never left my house. All day. I spent the morning finishing a project that I had started over the weekend and just didn't have the energy to take these 3 kids somewhere since they are all home for spring break. Big Brother went outside to play for a while and the twins stayed inside with me. We didn't do much (other than fight), but we did it in blue clothes. We did it with my blue hair. And we watched my video (the project I was working to finish).

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

You see, Autism Awareness Day (for now, at least) only seems to affect those who see autism every day. The families and the professionals who work with these children. No one else really seems to notice that the incidence rates are going up every time you turn around. Realize that in 1985 the rates were 1 in 2000, 1 in 88 (1 in 54 boys, 1 in 252 girls) will be diagnosed on the spectrum by the time our children are 8 years old. This is more than children to be diagnosed with diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and down syndrome -- COMBINED. But if it doesn't affect someone, they may pay some tribute (wear blue when reminded, for example), but then allow it to disappear unnoticed. And I know that's true.....because that was me a few years ago.

World Autism Awareness Day, 2012 may now be over, but it's still my job as a parent of children on the spectrum to keep pushing for awareness. April is still happening and I will keep pushing hard throughout the month, but when April is over, Autism doesn't simply disappear. I hope that those who don't see Autism every day will start taking the initiative and will continue to ask questions and will keep a watchful eye on their own children to catch signs early.

Because until we find the cause, the rates will continue on the steep incline we've been seeing these last few years.