Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Today is my 40th birthday. And what a day it's been. A day of meetings. A day of activities. And a day of reflection.

It was a year ago today that I first announced I wanted to become a parent advocate. I still don't fully know or understand what that means, other than trying to help other parents find the best solutions for their children and help them achieve placements allowing them to get them into these programs. Well, I don't know how to do that, but I spent the year giving my advice to people who are trying to find solutions. And I hope I did it in such a way to give them the tools to help them find what they need. And MCASA (Montgomery County Autism Society of America) has allowed me to put the phrase "Parent Advocate" on my business cards based on the information I provided them with regards to my activities. So, I would say I have successfully achieved that goal. This is what I thought about when I found a few minutes today.

But that's not what today was about. Today was about being busy doing things for my kids. It was about being a Mom to 2 children with autism and their neurotypical very busy brother. It was about making sure that I was able to give them everything I could.

The day started with spending much of the morning in my Daniel's first grade classroom. I am typically there on Tuesday mornings, giving the teacher an extra pair of hands. The kids are engaged in independent learning and I help answer their questions or help them figure out how to do their assignments. It's quite fun and I look forward to seeing them progress as the year goes on. I spent most of my time today working with one child in the class and hope that he will benefit from that one-on-one work. And doing this had another benefit -- it gave me something to think about before heading over to what was worrying me most about the week. Rachel's IEP Meeting.

Because when I left Daniel's classroom, that's where I headed next. I ran home to let Domino run around the backyard and grabbed a quick lunch at home before heading over to Rachel's school (but of course made a quick stop at Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte on the way). And I arrived there about 10 minutes early. That's when the nerves really kicked in. I knew 4 areas that we needed to address......(1) OT (Occupational Therapy) -- she really is quite behind here and refuses to do any art projects with me including basic coloring and even when she DOES do this, it's rushed and her grip is more of a grasp rather than the pincher grasp that she needs to have. (2) Her behavior issues at home (specificially, her violent tendencies towards Daniel when Simon gets upset) even if this is difficult because they don't see this at school. (3) Her integration into pre-K. This has (temporarily) been put on hold, but there are 3 children that are doing this and they will be continuing to practice until the pre-K class is ready to resume for these kids. This is expected to resume on November 1. (4) Kindergarten placement.

Overall, I think we had some good answers for these questions. They didn't see as much of a problem as I did with the OT, but that's because Rachel is willing to do these things at school. They gave me some ideas how to get her more willing to do these tasks for me, and they did make sure that the OT goals were comprehensive. They also don't see the behavior issues I described, but they did listen and will try to incorporate some lessons to help her in these areas.

The only one of these 4 that I was disappointed with the results was the question of her kindergarten placement. I was hoping they were going to make a preliminary placement decision for her. I realize it's too early in the year to make a definite placement decision, but I'm concerned about there being space in the program I desire for her if we don't, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, reserve her spot for next year. They however, informed me that they will find room for her in the closest location for the program that she is assigned. I REALLY want to see her in our home school with opportunities for integration with typical classes and I really want her to be with this particular teacher. I need to figure out how to make sure that happens. Right now, I'm not sure how best to do that, or if I'm sitting here worried about nothing.

But I survived her IEP Meeting.

I even survived picking up the boys from their respective schools, even through a pretty significant Simon meltdown.

There's still one more parenting event left today.....taking Daniel to his nature walk with his Tiger Scout Den. He is looking forward to this, even though I'm not. And it went reasonably well....the kids all had fun and the walk was short and sweet (and a bit dark). They discussed what they saw and I just looked forward to getting home and having no more responsibility for the day.

So, tomorrow I can relax. Tomorrow I can sit back and enjoy coffee with a friend. Tomorrow I can celebrate. Today, I was what I always wanted to be....A BUSY Mom!!!!!! What better way to spend my 40th Birthday!!!!!

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