Taking the Scenic Route

Saturday September 8, 2007

8th September 2007

Saturday September 8, 2007

Zora needs to leave the house every day to be happy, so tonight Daddy obliged with a trip to the grocery store.

Zane had no problem with her leaving for a bit.

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8th September 2007

Saturday September 8, 2007

Took a break during Zane’s haircut to relax

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8th September 2007

Saturday September 8, 2007

I made a protected post tonight, so if you are subscribed you will need to log in to see the new entry.

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8th September 2007

Saturday September 8, 2007

This is staying protected until after the IEP meeting.

I realized today that I have been stuffing a lot of feelings, red flags and instincts about the whole school thing down.  After long and continuing discussions with Zach, and some long questioning of Zane, we are seriously thinking of pulling him from school. 

The reasons are long and complicated, but it comes down to this:  There is no way they can meet his needs and he will actually learn anything there.  There is a huge probability that it will turn him off from ever going to school and totally kill his love of learning. 

He is already showing signs of depression.  He is weepy, starting to meltdown and tantrum easier, and says he hates school.  When your child doesn’t talk much, but communicates clearly that he hates school, it is time to listen.  I knew that there were problems.  The newness and excitement have worn off and he is already starting to cope by refusing to participate (although I have been able to get him to comply, it was becoming increasingly difficult and I have had to resort to bargaining with him for even simple things, something I loathe doing).   When he does participate, he is already starting to give wrong answers, followed by an “uh oh” and giggling.  I can tolerate and appreciate what is happening, a teacher would not.

The work is so very, very below his level it isn’t even funny.  It isn’t even remotely at his level.  What little learning that is done could be accomplished in about 20 minutes at home and the rest of the time is largely organizational.  There is no talking, to the point that the kids have to learn sign language so they don’t “interrupt” the class.  Kids get in trouble if they don’t sit cross-legged with their hands in their lap and not wiggling.  They are told not to sing “too loud”.  When they stand on the rug, they are not allowed to touch each other.  They are made to wait until all the class is quiet, hands either behind their backs (if standing) or folded in front of them (sitting) and all looking at the teacher before she will begin any kind of instruction, and she stops if anybody relaxes from that.  It is more than should be required of typical kids.  I would have done miserably in her classroom.  Instead of reading, they spend endless time coloring things, and sometimes she wants them to color carefully, and sometimes she says to do a quick job…it is confusing even for the typical kids. 

Rug time is too much for him.  Even if he was sitting on my lap, snuggled with me, with me doing joint compressions and giving constant feedback he wasn’t coping well.  He is a pretty compliant kid, but was starting to cry at having to sit for so long, and I know that if I wasn’t there he would never have been able to cope at all.  It was asking far too much, especially when there is nothing that interests him being said. 

The most challenging assignment so far was to draw a picture that describes how many beads were in a jar.  Not “write the number” or “count them”, but to draw it.  (the “right” answer was to draw six circles.)  Then she shared everybody’s answer with the rest of the class.  They are working on recognizing letters.  They are reading excruciatingly boring books at a very slow pace.  They are doing things to demonstrate the A-B pattern over and over and over again.  He is told to draw a certain way, and the drawings are all critiqued in front of the class.  There are worksheets that have things to color, and then cut out, and then glue.  It is the same theme, repeated several times a day, and it is so boring. 

When they move from class to class, they have to line up, face forward, in ABC order, be quiet, put hands behind their back, and walk quietly without touching anything or saying anything.  If they do, the line stops.  If there is another class that hits an area first, the line stops as they wait for the other class to pass.  They wait in hallways for the next class to let them in. They wait, they wait, they wait some more.  They are never allowed to talk.  If they do anything wrong, they are given either time on the bench at recess, lunch detention, or time out in the classroom, depending on the offense.  Detention, for kindergartners.  wuh. 

Lunch time is a horror.  Besides the food being horrible, everything is prepackaged, laid on a styrofoam tray, with a package with a cocktail straw, little cardboard napkin, and a spork.  (the flimbsy spork is hard for me to use, almost impossible for him)  Uncrustables (pb&j, formed in a circle that you find in the freezer section…something I have always made fun of but have eaten at every lunch there because it is the only even remotely palatable thing), grey-colored “rib” sandwiches in a package, pizza pockets in a package, corn dogs, fruit cocktail (that takes a lot of convincing that it is actually fruit to get him to try it), and then things like goldfish crackers, teddy grahms, waffle cookies, potato chips, all in their own little packages.  You are handed a throw away tray with a stack of packages on it that you throw away at the end of the meal.  The worst part is that if I send his lunch with him, he is required to stand in a different line and wait for his class (little to no guidance) and then after the meal he has to be able to go all the way across the playground to put his lunch box in a barrel, and then go back to the playground without direct supervision.  It is too much for him to manage. Oh, and they are only give about 10-15 minutes to get all the packages open and scarf down the food.  Most days I am ripping into my little milk carton as they call our line to get up and dump our trays, and I am eating as fast as I can.  Zane has had to stay in the room a few times just to finish his pb&j, and that is with me prodding him to eat faster. 

The only times I see him perk up are in PE class and music class.  He says he likes those classes.  I am going to try and arrange for him to participate in those two classes, get him speech and occupational therapy, possibly bring him for recess, but dump everything else and homeschool (or e-school, which is offered in this district) everything else. 

Instead of requiring communication, which is what he needs, he is told to be quiet.  Instead of the socialization he needs, the kids are reprimanded for socializing.   If he goes to a room where he is encouraged to do those things, he will be with peers who also aren’t able to socialize or communicate well either.  He won’t have any typical peer models. 

At home, we can teach him what he needs to know.  We can suck it up and find a community for him, there is a good homeschooling community here, and if we get really serious about it, we can find a church that would be a good fit.  It might not be Mennonite, but we can find something that is close enough, that has a solid community where he can make lasting, consistent friends that won’t change every year.  We won’t have to watch him be so tired for the therapist that they are spending valuable learning time trying to get him to “wake up” so he can participate.  We can schedule therapies at a pace he can manage, and get memberships to the children’s science museum (which we love), and try and find a way to pay for a Y membership and participate in the classes for homeschoolers there.  (abundant)  

This is a community that is really set up for homeschooling, but I was scared that I would never be able to meet his needs as well as a school with trained professionals could.  I was wrong.  I would have to be the laziest parent on earth to do any worse.  If I can have the self discipline to deal with potty training for 5 years, even with a weak stomach, I can handle this.  There was so much more that we were doing than we realized.  It is so engrained in how we interact with our kids that it probably won’t even be that much of a transition.  I know I can’t be perfect at it, but now I also know the schools aren’t either. 

I also came away from the time at the school with a deep respect for the people who work there.  “Underfunded schools” was little more than a political phrase.  I’ve seen the impact first hand.  I have seen good people in incredibly challenging jobs doing the absolute best they can with what they have.  I don’t know if I could do it.  The needs are so diverse and so great I can’t imagine the strength it would take to go back, day after day, year after year, and face it.  I have been so insulated because the therapy places I go to are filled with parents committed to their kids, committed to them emotionally and educationally and I feel so inadequate next to them.  I am starting to see that maybe I am strong too, maybe I can do this.  I hope so, because Zane needs me to.

Oh, and as a side note, Zora is NOT going to that school.  Come hell or high water, she will go to one of the private schools here in town.  There are several good ones.  I might even be putting her into one this fall for a few hours because she desperately needs more social interaction than I can ever give her and I am going to need some quiet, “nobody clinging to me” time to homeschool Zane.  She is, without question, the polar opposite of Zane in her social requirements.  lol.


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6th September 2007

Thursday September 6, 2007

In the TMI dept, one of the reasons he went through more diapers today was that I caught him in the middle of pooping and took him to the bathroom.  He had a little bit of poop attached to a buttcheek and not attached to the diaper yet, so I helped him get on the potty and encouraging him to “push poop out of his butt”.  lol.  He was grunting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his tush got wet he was so “in” the potty for a bit in his effort.  Well, no new poop came, but the poop did finally fall off of his buttcheek.  I cheered.  He got a big grin as I pointed at the poop in the potty.  It was, literally, the first time ANY sort of poop or pee had made it directly from him to the potty.  EVER.  It wasn’t the ideal, but hey, I’ll take it.  Maybe it will help him.

Then, being me, and being a little sick myself, I puked as I tried to wipe him.  Luckily I hit the sink, but the uncrustables peanut butter sandwich and chocolate milk weren’t setting too well with me anyway, and the amount of snot in my stomach just made for a really queasy stomach.  Only I would still be puking with diaper changes after 5 freaking years of doing it.  geez.


edited to add…before I get any questions, NO, I am NOT pregnant.  I just had the period from hell last week, so don’t you be gettin’ ideas.  Just sick.  lol.

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6th September 2007

Thursday September 6, 2007

He did pretty well at school today.  He did the testing for the OT, and he will probably qualify for at least one pull-out a week of OT.  He also started the IQ testing.  Unfortunately, he started getting tired and he pooped.  I already went through 3 diapers that day and didn’t have any more on me, so I asked if I should take him home and bring him back to continue testing.  She said that he was too tired anyway and she didn’t want to continue testing, and the teacher happened to be walking by (the class was in PE) and said it wasn’t really worth it to bring him back and to just go home and let him rest.  As it turned out, it was good that was the arrangement.

Got home, noticed he felt a little warm to me, and Zach felt him and was alarmed.  Took his temperature.  It was 103.9.  Dang!  I must have a low degree fever myself because he didn’t feel THAT warm to me.  (I am also coughing and have sinus drainage and feel pretty crappy, but better than I have for a while).  So I called the doctor that Zach & I went to instead of his regular dr. in Newton.  He was fine with bringing him in (only a few blocks instead of 20 miles, and our car is cranky with a wimpy A/C).  He had an ear infection and his lungs were a little congested.  We got antibiotics. 

I like this doctor.  As usual, one of the first things I asked the receptionist before bringing him in was if the doctor was comfortable with autistic patients.  (I want to know up front, and the tone of voice usually tells me more than the words).  She had an enthusiastic yes, no problem at all.  She wasn’t kidding.  I found out during the course of the exam that his 18yo nephew has autism, so he was very familiar with not only the medical issues, but the possible quirks (like the difficulty in medicating him and not being able to hide medicines in anything).  At the end of the exam, after talking to him some, I knew I wanted to continue coming to him for the kids, and said that I would make another appointment to discuss some other issues, including getting him caught up on his vaxes, but I didn’t want to do that today.  He immediately reacted to the vax comments with “there is no way I would vaccinate him right now anyway”.  I smiled, and told him that I really appreciated that and it was a big deal to me because another doctor had tried to coerce me into getting him vaxed when he was sick and I was absolutely opposed to it.  My instincts kept getting confirmed, over and over, that this guy was going to be a good match to our family.

I feel sort of bad for the other doctor.   I really like her a lot and her staff has been wonderful (which can make or break a doctor’s office IMO), and truly, I would have never even looked for somebody else if our car wasn’t so icky and she took adults (because we need drs. for the grownups too, and a guy that does the whole family is just really nice).  I will go back to her if my initial impressions prove to be wrong, but I sorry to leave her practice.

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2nd September 2007

Sunday September 2, 2007

Still here, still sniffling.  Zora is playing the snot version of midas the last few days.  (everything she touches turns to snot).

I got a Palm Pilot thing to put in all the massive number of phone numbers, my ever-complicated schedule, all those scraps of paper everywhere, and when I get a memory thing (like my camera has…in fact, I might have to steal my camera’s for the time being) I can scan in all of Zane’s paperwork, evaluations, and all that other stuff people want to see for therapies, plus a running list of IEP goals/ideas/things I want to try to get for him in it.  Instead of carrying in a 2 foot tall pile of notebooks, I can have the stuff in my hand.  That is nice.  And I even went and bought a nifty new thing called a “purse” that they make to put these things in.  (I was a die-hard “If I can’t fit it into my pockets, I don’t need it” who was carrying grocery bags with me to hold diapers, books, knitting, and other things people normally put in purses)  I even got a little wallet thing to put money in, just in case I happen to run across some that needs a home. 

So, I am spending an inordinate amount of time entering all the data into the Palm.  All of my lists were printed out on MS Word documents, which is not a database like Outlook, so it can’t just be uploaded.  When I did load MS Outlook (default email and calendar program) in my computer to see if I had anything on it (I am a Eudora Pro girl and haven’t used outlook in years) that could be transferred to the Palm database, I discovered a bunch of names I didn’t recognize, my best friend and her family was listed with her ex (were divorced before Zane was conceived) and the few people I did have addresses on were now living in different states.  So, it wasn’t much help.  lol.  It is a fun little gizmo and it will be a huge help to me being a little more organized.

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