Thursday, September 30, 2010

At least I'm not alone

I went to visit Rachel's class today. There were a few things I was hoping to glean from this visit. First, I wanted to check up on her and see how well she was doing (reports back are always so positive). I wanted to see the differences between how she behaves and works at school versus at home. And, most important, I wanted to feel out the question of her placement following her scheduled IEP meeting next month.

The visit went really well. She didn't see me there at first and I got to observe her at play working at a bead table (pouring on/into her teacher's hands and into her own). It was a nice sensory exercise -- made sounds and had a different texture. And she looked like she was having a lot of fun. Then she went back to the table to go back to work. Shortly after getting to the table is when she noticed me. She's doing 15-17 tasks between motivational activities, which is MUCH higher than when I visited her last year (at that time they were just increasing it from 3). Her teacher informed me that this number is MUCH higher than the other students in the program. The fact is, they still aren't sure of how high she's ready for. They are continuing to increase it. And, because of that, she's just flying through the programs.

After I was there for a little while, I asked the teacher whether she felt that the committee was going to try to remove her from CAPP and transition her to PEP (probably INC). This was a question I was afraid to ask. She gave me a very quizzical look and asked me for my opinion on the subject. I wholeheartedly told her that I feel she needs to stay where she is -- she's doing great and we shouldn't change that. The only reason I called for the meeting was to update her goals. I swear, I heard a sigh of relief from her -- she agrees with me. And, apparently, so does the person who will be running the meeting (the school's liaison to the Autism Office). I was warned that there will be others present who feel that she SHOULD be transitioned, but at least I know, going into the meeting, I'm NOT alone in my thoughts on this subject. I don't have to convince EVERYONE. I may not have to convince ANYone as the others in the room may do that for me. This makes things much easier as I go into the next few weeks preparing myself for this meeting.

Her teacher did explain the consequences of keeping her in CAPP for another year, because there are trade-offs that need to be considered. CAPP really doesn't work on any academics -- it's pretty much a behavior and language-based program. Also, the program is 1-on-1. When she goes into kindergarten, the lowest ratio she will have is 3-on-1. And if she's ready to be placed in a fully-mainstreamed kindergarten classroom, I know that Daniel's class is 16 kids with only the 1 teacher. She needs to learn how to work with others, and CAPP doesn't focus on that goal.

There are ways around those issues. There were 2 students during the last school year who spent a portion of their days in the mainstream pre-K classroom. Now they're talking about extending that to the Kindergarten classroom. But because of the nature of kindergarten versus pre-K, it is an entirely academic program, with minimal play opportunities. But we can work out a process of mainstreaming her over time. Right now, the goal is to give her more reasonable goals, at her level. If I need to schedule another meeting in 6 months, or even less, to work out a plan, then so be it.

So, suddenly, I'm not so nervous about this upcoming meeting. I'm still a bit apprehensive and am not sure what to expect. But not having to worry about having Rachel's placement changed takes a HUGE weight off my mind and allows me to focus on other things. I still need to think about what I want to include in her goals. I also need to think about what I feel she needs to work on and determine the best way to make things happen. I also need to make sure that I don't OVERthink this, as I have a tendency to do.

But it looks like we're going to remain with CAPP for Rachel -- just as it should be.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time For Work

Well, Rachel's next IEP meeting has been scheduled -- we're having it on October 18 in the morning. Now I need to prepare myself for what's coming.

The first thing I need to consider is "What can I expect the IEP Goals to incorporate?" I was surprised at the last meeting to see so many basic "life skills" making up much of the goals, so I'm working under the assumption that we can continue to include those. That being said, we need to work on FOOD.

Rachel is, well, let's be "politically correct" and call her "determined". What that means (in reality) is that she's STUBBORN (just like her mother). She STILL refuses to drink milk from an open cup (but will gladly have milk from a sippy cup, or juice from an open cup, so it's not like she's not capable of handling a regular cup). She REFUSES water in any container. This behavior isn't limited to just drinks. If there is a food she doesn't desire, she won't touch it. At dinner, the only things she will eat are hot dogs, peanut butter on crackers (but she won't eat the cracker), and, well, lately, THAT'S IT!!!!! Sometimes we'll give her some cheese, but normally she has that for lunch. This is unacceptable. She won't eat any meat (other than Nathan's or Hebrew National All-Beef Hot Dogs [yes, my daughter is a hot dog snob and will only have those specific brands]). She won't eat any vegetables. She's even starting to get picky about fruit. We know she's hungry because she will voraciously eat a preferred fruit when it's put in front of her (after we give up on dinner "proper") and she will gladly accept a reward of a goldfish cracker or two (when we shove a piece of chicken or fish into her mouth). On the plus side, she won't spit out undesired food. But the only way she'll eat it is if we shove it in her mouth and wait there until she chews and swallows. This isn't the right way to treat a child. But we've done everything else we can think of. We have to consider her nutritional needs. We need help.

I'm going to visit her at school on Thursday, and while I'm there, I'll stay for lunch. This will do two things for me -- first, it will show me how cooperative she is during school lunch times (since lunch is the one meal she will consistently eat, even for us at home). Second, it will allow me to see what the other kids are doing and what the teachers/paras are doing to ensure they are eating properly, and maybe I'll get to see how FAR they will go. I don't know if it will give me solutions, but it may help me shape the goals I intend to add to her IEP next month.

I would also like to work on her imaginative play and social skills. She will do something during a task if she's asked to, but I don't know if she is actually engaging in "pretend play". It's also hard to judge what she does when she gets home from school. She's so tired after a long day that she is no longer willing to "work". I'd really like to see this skill begin to take shape, even if I don't see much of it at home.

At this point, I'm not so worried about her learning her letters or her numbers. She knows those already and can recite the alphabet both forwards and backwards. She can also spell (approximately) 15 words on her own (but she likes to have each letter repeated back to her). She is constantly asking how to spell words she isn't familiar with the spelling and that number continues to rise. I also suspect she can read many words, but I don't have any proof of this.

I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again. Rachel needs to remain in CAPP. I'm hoping that, since she's been so successful in this program, this will be a non-issue. Why would they change something that is working so well? I'm hoping they don't take the "less is more" philosophy too literally.

I just suppose I need to get my research hat on. I need to learn exactly what is expected at these meetings so I can come in fully prepared and be the best advocate I can. Hopefully, by the time we have Simon's meeting in November, this will be easy since I'll already be a bit more prepared. And, since I hope to include some of these things in his list of goals, I'll have a better idea as to how this should be done.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Going a bit off topic -- The Power of Music

In late July, I read an entry on the Laurie Berkner Band Blog and it talks about the magic of music. A paragraph there reads, "We want to know if your kids have any "magic songs" - what songs make them feel happy, special, and/or magical inside, or calms them down? What song is a "must-have" in the car? What about at bedtime? Bath time? Etc." (full article at Ever since reading this, I've been thinking about it and how it relates to each of my 3 children. Now the time has come to put some of these thoughts here.....

Probably the earliest songs that we sung to our kids to calm them down that they reacted positively to were songs that we made up our own words, or at least modified the existing words to ones that seem to fit the moment. For example, I sing the "I Love You" song, usually to Rachel and Simon (until recently) every night before bed. It's sung to the same tune as "Are You Sleeping" and it's sung through 3 times -- it mentions each kid's name in each of the three positions and when singing it to only Rachel and Simon, I'd switch the order daily as to who's name went first. We also sing "Go To Sleep" (Brahm's Lullabye) with a slight modification to words that Kevin made up for Daniel when he was a baby. The words to both songs are below.

However, there have been many other songs have also done the trick. For Daniel, the first one was probably children's song "The Ants Go Marching". He always enjoyed anticipating the next number or the rhyme or performing the motions. But when he was about 16-18 months old (or so), we discovered "The Wiggles" on Playhouse Disney. This was a HUGE introduction for him for many many many songs. His favorite song, from that time forward for probably close to a year, was "Rockabye Your Bear", by The Wiggles. He loved the song, in any form that it was performed. It would be a direct performance on the screen, or at a "Wiggly Concert", or it would be sung by myself or his Dad -- any way he'd get to hear that song, it would be a hit. He also discovered "Can You Point Your Fingers and Do The Twist". This one didn't have the same impact right away, but he loved to dance to it, and after Rachel and Simon were born, Kevin would sing it while putting Rachel and/or Simon in their carseat, Daniel would dance to it, and it would keep them all entertained (which makes it the first comfort song for Rachel and Simon).

Then, when Daniel was just over 2.5 and the twins were about 10 months old, we discovered the Laurie Berkner Band, by recommendation of a friend of mine. We started seeing her performances on (then) Noggin's Move To The Music that was sometimes tacked on at the end of a VOD Blue's Clues (Daniel discovered Blue's Clues just when I stopped working). The two songs that kept coming up were "Under A Shady Tree" and "Googleheads". The kids liked "Shady Tree", but "Googleheads" continues to be an ABSOLUTE favorite of Rachel's. As soon as she hears it coming on either Jack's Big Music Show (which the twins LOVE) or just the next song playing in the car, she starts shouting "EYES"!!!!!!!

We have also used songs to help Rachel get through tasks that she doesn't want to complete. I will sing a song to her and when the song is over, the job is done. The most popular ones for that is "I'm Not Perfect" or "Mister" (both LBB songs) but we've done several songs by The Wiggles in the past as well, and it's usually while I'm combing out her hair. She knows to anticipate when I'm getting near the end and we always end these songs the same way. I've also started using this technique sometimes when she's sitting on the toilet -- she needs to try until the song is done. Then she can get up and play. It's helpful to get her to stop rushing which often leads to accidents.

Simon is the most interesting one of the three when it comes to music. From the time he was about 4 weeks old, we noticed that he responds to music. My parents stayed with us for a week to help me make the adjustment from being a mother to 1 to a mother to 3 (my in-laws were here the week before) and also just give me some extra hands to help as I recovered from the c-section. My mother noticed one of her first days here that he would quiet down if she started to sing to him. It didn't matter what. Just the sound of a melody was soothing. Consequently, I've been looking into music programs for him starting this term, whereas I'm waiting a little longer for the other two -- if he is so responsive to music, we should be using it. Unfortunately, most programs I've found for preschoolers, much less preschoolers with special needs, meet during the day, while Simon's in school. So, I'm trying to do things on my own and will look for next term. I can only imagine how wonderful that outlet would be for him -- and it would be so nice for him to have his own special way of expressing himself.

Rachel and Simon's newest "magic song(s)" are both by the Laurie Berkner Band. The first one is "The Goldfish Song". This gets sung EVERYWHERE -- at mealtime, while waiting for the bus, while getting dressed, in the tub, on any little whim -- the only place I don't let them sing it is at bedtime. They both love it. Also, for the last two weeks or so, I've replaced the "I Love You" song with "Moon Moon Moon". The strange part is, the first time I sung it to them, I realized about halfway through, I didn't know all the words (or tune) if I wasn't singing along with the CD. So, I made it up. I was mostly wrong, but that doesn't matter -- I have to continue singing it just that way. Funnily enough, when they hear it the correct way on the CD, it doesn't phase them. That's Laurie's way and Mommy sings it Mommy's way at bedtime. No worries!

But all 3 of my kids love to sing along with music whenever they possibly can. Sometimes they'll do it at the top of their lungs. Other times, in a high-pitched monotone. Sometimes with the dancing. Sometimes while they are simply lying in bed. But they always want to hear it.

It's just the "Magic of Music".

I Love You Song (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping") (sung 3 times, each time moving the names around so that everyone is first, middle and last name recited once)
I love Rachel; I love Simon
Yes I do; Yes I do
I love Daniel too
I love all of you

Go To Sleep (Brahm's Lullabye) (name order switches nightly)
Go to sleep; Go to sleep
Go to sleep Rachel and Simon
Go to sleep; Go to sleep
Go to sleep both of you.

You've had a busy day
And you should be so tired
I hope that you're sleepy
And that you're not wired.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's that time again.....'s on. We're unofficially scheduled. Rachel is about to have another IEP Meeting. The tentative date is October 18, in the morning, and we're going to discuss her goals. It's only about 6 weeks before her existing IEP expires.

I'm almost as nervous about this meeting as I was about the one on December 1 last year. And this time, I requested it!!!! I'm afraid their going to try to take her out of CAPP and put her in PEP-INC. If that's true, it is something I need to shut down right away -- she has been unbelievably successful since January 12 (and before). I attribute MUCH of that to the program that she's currently enrolled, i.e. CAPP. If they remove her from the program now, what's to say she's not going to experience a significant regression?

The "problem" is her annual goals -- she's pretty much achieved them all. We want her to continue to grow. We also want her to work on some things that were not considered particularly important 9.5 months ago. Did we not put enough expectations on her last year? The fact that she nearly reached all of her goals was apparent to her ESY teacher in July -- that was after only 6 months of the program. Do we need to make the goals more aggressive? Or do we simply need to be prepared to have multiple meetings in a single year? There are families, I know, that have nearly monthly IEP meetings in order to address their kids' needs and evaluate their progress. Are we going to be like that for her?

And, as is often the case when I have to do something for one twin, should I consider doing this for Simon as well? He has NOT come close to achieving his goals and his meeting is due on or around November 30. But there are things that I would like to reshape. And, also unlike Rachel, I'm not always 100% certain that his placement is correct. Would he be doing better if he were at CAPP? I don't think he's ready for PEP-INC though. Would he be better served with me requesting a meeting sooner rather than later?

I guess the thing is, I'm not sure how a follow-up meeting is run, and sitting here right here and now, I feel totally unprepared. Is it just reviewing the goals, or is it more like the initial meeting where much time is spent determining eligibility for an IEP? Will they argue placements with me, or will they agree with me that Rachel is where she belongs? If they don't agree with me, how do I convince them of the truth (in her case) that I'm right? But I'm getting ahead of myself. I just need to get myself prepared for her meeting, not worry about Simon until after it's over and then I can be sure that everything is exactly the way it should be. Just hope I can get some sleep so I CAN work on being prepared.....


I just need to remember; the most important goal for me at this meeting: RACHEL NEEDS TO REMAIN IN CAPP!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

We put it off long enough..... it's time to go again. I hate doing this. I always put it off for as long as possible. But it's getting out of hand. We need to do this. It's becoming unruly. We were supposed to go last week, but illness got in the way. Yup......It's time for Simon to get a HAIRCUT.

Simon has NEVER liked to get haircuts, but it wasn't so bad early on. Unlike with his older brother, we started with the buzz, permitting the stylist to use the clippers (for Daniel they were only allowed to use the scissors for the longest time). But the experience has been getting steadily worse. I'm not sure if it's just that he's getting bigger (consequently stronger) or if he's becoming more afraid of the situation, or something completely different. But now he HATES getting his haircut. And when Simon HATES something, we try to avoid it as best as possible, which may not be helping him much.

We used to go to a place in the local shopping mall specializing in cutting kid's hair called Cartoon Cuts. But, we went one day and the person who ALWAYS cut his hair was gone. Then the next time we went, the store was gone. We had to find somewhere else.

There's another kid's haircut place not too far from here. I had taken Daniel there once before, before we moved 5 miles further up the road, called The Yellow Balloon. They were OK, but I really preferred the way this one person at Cartoon Cuts did the kids hair and the extra travel distance was enough to push me towards the mall, so we hadn't gone back for a while. That is, until this summer when Simon needed a haircut and that was the only place I could think of to take him.

I sit in the chair holding Simon tight, keeping my arms around his so he can't squirm away (despite his many attempts at it) and the stylist gets started. She goes as fast as possible -- trying to be done within 5 minutes, tops. Then, when it's all over, Simon gets a handful of Goldfish crackers (or whatever else is handy in the huge backpack I carry with me when I go anywhere with any of my children), I'm wishing for an aspirin (for the headache) and an icepack (for the bruises), and we head home.

But he looks so much better (once he's calmed back down), as you can see in these pre-post shots.

There's got to be an easier way. I know it. I just need to find it. And before Simon gets much bigger and stronger. He's quite violent when he feels trapped.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sick Sick Go Away!!!!

Well, it's 8:08 on Thursday evening, all three kids are asleep, and I'm sitting down to blog again. Of the 3 times that Kevin has traveled since we've become parents, this has been by far the most difficult. Every other time, there has been something else to keep my mind off of things, or help from friends. This time, there isn't much of either. Don't get me wrong -- if I asked, I know my friends would step up and help me in all and any ways that they were able to. But we've been dealing with a bug in this house that I can't risk exposing them (or, in many cases their kids) to, so I haven't asked for the help. Rachel was sick on Friday night/Saturday (Kevin was still home to help me deal with that one), Simon got sick Sunday night/Monday, and at around 12:45 today, I received a phone call from Daniel's school informing me that he was crying, complaining of a headache, and had a fever of over 101, so I immediately picked him up. Of the 3, he seems to have the worst -- he's actually vomited once (the other two never did) and he just seems to be much more miserable. There's very little I can do about it. If he's still feeling so badly in the morning, I'll call the pediatrician to be sure that it's nothing that requires antibiotics (he has a history of strep with minimal symptoms).

The problem is not having to take care of the kids. I'm a parent and I do that willingly. I miss not getting the break when he would come home around 5:00 or so, but I know it's only for the week. It's not even that terrible dealing with sick children. I'm lucky (I think) that they've spread this out and I've only had to deal with one ill child at a time. The real problem is I need time to recharge my energy, best done when I don't have to take care of any children. In theory, I'm supposed to have about 6 hours Tuesday-Friday to do just that (Simon gets picked up at 8:45 and gets home at 2:45 -- he's the last to leave and the first to return home). It's closer to 4 hours on Mondays (since Simon only has half-days on Mondays). Those 6 hours would allow me to de-stress a bit. I'd have an opportunity to get together with a friend or two, go to a MOMS Club meeting, read a book, play on the computer, with minimal demands on my time.

Instead of 4 days for the week that I'm on my own, I am getting one day of that break this week. Simon was home on Monday. There was no school on Tuesday (which I did know about when I was thinking through the week). Thursday, I had to pick Daniel up early and take care of him this afternoon. And tomorrow, he'll be home again, regardless of how he's feeling in the morning. Granted, taking care of Daniel this afternoon required me to listen to 2 hours of Phineas and Ferb while he vegged in front of the television while I ate my lunch and ran around ready to catch the next vomit wave while trying to clean up the first one. Also, I had to get in touch with a neighbor Mom to inform her I couldn't pick up her son to bring him home from school since Daniel was sick.

The other problem this week is the lack of sleep. Simon's sleep habits have gotten better since he recovered from this latest bug, but he's still capable of leaving his room at will. I am noticing though, that he's staying in his room until after 5am and, if he's up in the middle of the night, he's gone back to crawling into Rachel's bed and going back to sleep. This brings us closer to where we were about 2 weeks ago, which is a relief. It's still not perfect, but it could be so much worse.

I'm just looking forward to Kevin coming home Saturday afternoon so I can run away for a few hours on Sunday and do something that has NOTHING to do with responsibility. I'm not sure when I'm going to get that chance (we have to do a Sam's Club run [we're running out of EVERYTHING] and Daniel has his first baseball game in the afternoon), but I will find it. And Kevin will have to deal with this bunch for a bit while I take the time to de-stress just a bit. Not sure how, or what I'll do. But it will be SOMETHING.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another one of "THOSE" weeks....

Kevin is traveling this week. He was supposed to do this trip when we were in Connecticut, but it didn't work that way (the actual trip was postponed). He left early Monday morning and should be home before dinner on Saturday. Here it is, Tuesday night, and it feels like he's been gone for a month.

In all fairness, nothing has gone according to plan. We weren't anticipating Rachel being sick this past weekend, leading to Simon being sick Sunday night-Monday. We weren't anticipating sleep issues resurfacing and me going on 11 hours of sleep over the last 3 nights combined. We weren't anticipating Daniel's baseball practice to not be at the bottom of the hill, or the timing issues of getting him to his gymnastics class on Wednesday, which has led me to cancel the class this week. We didn't realize that Rachel's Back-To-School-Night was going to be on Thursday evening which I will have to miss. And Kevin didn't realize (until much later) that the kids would be off from school (scheduled) today for the Primary elections.

But we made it through today. We went to a new playground (for us) that wasn't fenced in, and, even though Rachel liked to leave the playground itself, she always returned when called. Simon was a bit daring and was climbing the structures that I would never have thought he would have had the nerve to try. He did fall once, but then 15 minutes later, was back up there to try it again (only fell once -- the following 2 attempts were successful). Daniel had fun being social with existing friends who we had met there. Then, when it was time to leave, there were no tantrums. I took advantage of another mom I know being there and was able to load them into the car one at a time and they were surprisingly cooperative. YAY!

I'm just exhausted. I was so tired last night, I woke at 1:30am with Simon asleep next to me in my bed. I missed him knocking down the gate to his room. I missed him running in. I missed him (I'm sure) climbing over me to get settled in the position I found him in. But, unfortunately, he's started needing me to stay with him when he wakes during the night, and this has been happening multiple times during the night (4-5 times on each of the last 3 nights). He needs for me to stay in his room, leaning on his bed. As soon as I leave, if he's not fully asleep, he follows me back to my bed within 5 minutes. In one night, I pretty much undid 16 months of sleep training. I'm hoping that, now that he's no longer sick, we will find ourselves back to where we were before this bug took hold. Because, now that he knows how to get out of his room, I'm not sure how we're going to retrain him.

I just need a LOT of sleep.....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Simon, go back to sleep.......PLEASE!!!!!!!!

We've had problems with Simon's sleep habits on and off since he turned 1 year old. The first year, he was the easier sleep twin and would sleep through Rachel waking during the night. He'd often sleep all the way through -- at worst he'd wake up once around 3am (with Rachel) for a quick snack. Then everything changed.

Suddenly, Simon didn't want to sleep. It would take him forever to fall asleep. Then he'd wake up several times and I'd be in his room for what seemed like hours every night. He'd take long naps that I would have to end so that we'd have a prayer of him falling asleep at night again. Then, at the urging of others, we forced the issue and taught him to put himself to sleep when he was about 27-28 months old. It would take him (what seemed like) forever (an average of an hour a night), but he'd do it. We also started making him go back to sleep by himself if he woke during the night, which happened nearly every night for about 5 months (starting last August). Then he turned 3, lost the nap, started his new school program, and things finally seemed to get better.

I had been warned that this may happen, from the time we started receiving services. Some autistic kids are fully awake in the middle of the night and are loud, rowdy, and seem ready for the day. These cycles can last a while. We had one of those for those 5 months in the latter half of 2009 -- he would wake up between 4 and 4:30 and if we were lucky, he'd fall back to sleep around 5:30. I had also been warned that this is the type of behavior can resurface periodically. I know someone who has this with her own son and, when these cycles happen, she stays awake listening to him every night. The only 2 positive aspects of these behaviors in Simon is (1) he doesn't intentionally disturb anyone else -- I'm usually woken up by him, Kevin will sometimes wake to his antics, but the other 2 kids will almost always sleep through it and (2) he does this relatively late (currently in the 5am hour, historically starting in the 4am hour). Because of that, I've been able to justify keeping the twins together in the same room for the time being. Simon will occupy himself in his own room, playing with the few toys that are left in there, walking around, opening/closing the closet door, knocking down the glider chair that his Dad sits in to read their bedtime stories, etc. We periodically discover something that he has learned a new destructive way to manipulate, and we do our best to fix it (i.e. bungee-cord shut the dresser drawers so he can't climb in). He's actually destroyed the screw holes in the door frame for the hinges on the door to his bedroom already so that we cannot hang the door, so we've been using a gate in its place.

Now he's discovered how to remove the gate, which means he no longer stays contained in his room. He will pull down the pressure mounted gate, climb over it and come running into my side of the bed, so proud of himself for figuring out how to get around that last obstacle. If I bring him back to his bed and leave him in his room, he'll just come after me, pulling down the gate once again if I put it back up. I can't stay with him in his room or I'll be taking that step back. So, for the last 2 mornings, I've been letting him climb into the bed with me. This morning, when I got up to get ready for my day, giving up on the possibility that Simon might fall back to sleep, he followed me, realized I was boring, and went into his brother's room to play with the toys, thus waking him up. This is what I'm most afraid of. If I can't keep him contained in his own room, what's to stop him from waking the rest of the family, or getting into trouble in a room that isn't set up for Simon's mid-night antics?

Additionally, this morning was earlier than yesterday (5:30am yesterday, just before 5am today). This is probably my first clue that we're working our way closer to the 4:00am wake-up time from last year, and our new cycle of this behavior has begun.

I need to stop this. I need to stop this now. I can't do this for the next 5 months. I especially can't deal with this right now when Kevin will be gone for 5 nights for a business trip next week. I have to figure out how to get Simon to go back to sleep quickly, in his room, and stay in his room. NOW!!!!!

If I don't, I AM GOING TO LOSE MY MIND!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Take 2

Today's the day. Rachel starts school. She has been so patient last week -- I think she thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with me, but she still missed getting on the bus and traveling to school. She wanted to see her teachers. She wanted to learn. And, most of all, she wanted the strict routine that the program provides, with all of it's predictability and curveballs. So, when she woke this morning and I told her she was going to school, she was a VERY happy little girl.

Breakfast went like normal, but, as was the case when Rachel and Simon turned 3 and started to take the bus to school, the bus came earlier than I was prepared for. The driver and aide informed me that the time had (yet again) been changed -- the letter I received from the transportation office said the pick-up time was 8:06 -- the time on their sheet was 7:55 (it was 8:00 last week when I spoke to them when they dropped Simon off early last week, and of course, no one thought to inform me). So, I rushed to bring Rachel to the bathroom and put on her shoes, neither job had been done yet. When we stepped outside and she saw the bus waiting for her, she was so happy, she couldn't get on the bus fast enough.
I went back inside to deal with getting the boys ready for school and all was going as normal. As soon as Simon's bus left, Daniel and I would get in the car and I would drive him down the hill to make it as likely as possible that he would arrive to school on time. Then, at 8:30, the doorbell rings. The first thing I'm thinking is that Simon's bus is there early as well, and the driver made some changes to the route to help me out. But it's not the driver -- it's our neighbor who has a son in kindergarten. She and I spoke briefly about the possibility of her driving Daniel to school in the morning and I would bring her son home in the afternoon. She was asking if I was still interested. YES!!!!! So, we quickly finished getting Daniel ready and he was off!!!!!! Then Simon's bus arrived on time and he was off for his first full day of the year.

Now we have a very livable solution to one of my biggest concerns early in this school year. Now I can focus on everything else that's waiting for my attention.

Rachel's first day went very well. The notes from her teacher mentioned all the positives and that they are trying to determine how much she's retained over the summer. I think they'll be very pleasantly surprised at her growth and not surprised by any of her regressions.

I called the Autism Office to ask about scheduling an IEP Meeting for Rachel -- according to her ESY teacher, she was getting very close to achieving many of her annual goals. I also have a few goals I'd like to add to the document to address issues that really weren't pressing last December that are becoming more important to us now that other things are so improved. I heard back from the school later this afternoon and they've asked if we can hold off for a little while until they determine whether and (if so) how she's regressed since the end of ESY (5 weeks ago). I do know there's been some regression (as expected), so I suspect we'll probably have our annual meeting close to when it's due. But at least now I've put in that request and made it clear that I have some concerns.

So, now school is on. We all have to get used to our new routine. Based on how things have gone over the last 10 calendar days, I doubt that's going to be a serious issue. I have a good feeling about things right now, for the first time in quite a while. It's a nice feeling.

Monday, September 6, 2010

About to try again....

.....well, tomorrow is Take 2 at the First Day of School. This time I'm CERTAIN that all 3 kids are supposed to be in school for the full day. I've checked. No excuses. Simon has his first "Full-Day", and Rachel has her TRUE first day. Daniel even has his first "homework assignment" due. No more dress rehearsals. It's really here.

One neat thing, and an added bonus of having Rachel start a week later than the other 2, is that Simon's bus driver/aide in the afternoon is the SAME PAIRING as for Rachel in the morning. So, on Friday, we had her get on the bus when Simon was dropped off to meet the two of them. This went well. Hopefully, this will help her tomorrow morning. Not that getting on the bus is a problem for her. She LOVES that part of the day.

So, for tomorrow, I'll put Rachel in a pretty dress (but probably a different one than last Monday) and get ready to put her on the bus. I'll get her lunch together. She has the same teacher as last year (unsure of the paras at this point) and she's really excited about seeing "Ms. Suzanne". And I've already contacted the teacher about an incident that happened earlier this summer (the allergic reaction that happened at her camp), so she's aware of it. [that reminds me, I need to schedule an appointment for her to see someone when Simon's in school].

So, all the things I had planned for last week will now be done during the short 3-day week this week. I'll get my day off tomorrow (mostly) and be able to relax a bit and catch my breath. Then I'll try to get my bearings and get ready for the semi-calm insanity of catching up on everything that I've fallen behind upon, including house cleaning, reading and research. But the time will be mine, which will hopefully allow me to have the patience to deal with my three loveable monsters when school ends each day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What a Week!!!!!

This week has been, well, we'll just call it a week. A comedy of errors and flubs. A week of insanity. A week of changes. Like I said, we'll just call it "a week".

I'm still not sure what happened on Monday. I thought I was fully prepared. I had pulled everything together by Sunday evening. Yet, on Monday morning, it all fell apart when the word came down that Rachel didn't start school for another week. She was the first one scheduled to leave. When that didn't go as planned, it just set off a series of errors that just seemed to snowball all day long. I guess I should simply say that I can't handle being wrong-footed.

By Tuesday, things were a bit better. My self-pity had resolved and I kept my existing plans, with a few modifications. Taking Rachel for a coffee visit with a friend at Starbucks isn't exactly an easy thing to do. But, it worked and I was able to stay for a while. And I think she had fun too. And the rest of the week continued in much the same way. We took care of some things that need to be addressed. And we had some fun along the way. But we also had some disappointments.

The biggest disappointment is the delay of dance classes. We have been members at The Little Gym of Germantown ( for nearly 3 years, since I stopped working outside the home. Rachel and Simon started taking classes there about 2 years ago (we had to take last fall off because of our unpredictable schedule [among other reasons, autism being at the heart of it]). Ever since she started, she has wanted to be a part of any dance class she saw. She would run into the room and we would have to drag her out kicking and screaming. So, in the spring, when they told us she was ready for a non-parent assisted class, we figured that the time would be PERFECT to enroll her in dance. When the schedule came out for the fall, we were concerned. There was only one class that would work around her school schedule. But we signed her up for it. The first (and last) class was Thursday evening. Only 3 little girls were enrolled, and they need a minimum of 4. They knew there was no available dance class that would work for her, so we switched her back to gymnastics. And we'll try again for the winter/spring session (the classes are 20 weeks long).

Next week is a new week. After the 3-day weekend, the school year begins in earnest. Full days for both of the twins. Daniel is already into the swing of things in kindergarten. Things continue to change. Our children continue to grow. And we never know what tomorrow will bring. But it's always an interesting challenge.