Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Hi to all my 7 or so readers! Sorry I have been very lax at blogging this week. I have a boss breathing down my neck so I really have been putting in some extra work time, which takes away from home time, and that really takes away from blogging time! I'll be blogging again, perhaps from Indy, where Casey and I are going today to celebrate the holiday with my side of the family. Bill is taking a trip to Oregon to visit his sister. We were all going to go, but the thought of dealing with Casey and his "stuff" on an airplane the day before Thanksgiving was enough to tell Bill to have fun and go on his own!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, well, you'll be just that less fatter than me by tomorrow evening!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A New Classroom = New Worries

Well, we finally got to "view" the classroom that they are considering moving Casey into. Bill and I arrived at the school about 9:30 to find a class of 10 guys and gals with 2 parapros and one teacher.

All the kids were sitting at different "stations" headed up by either a para or the teacher. They were quietly working and well-behaved. The room was very spacious since there were only 10 desks and a few station tables. Lots of informative stuff was posted on the walls (how much a coin was worth, actions that appropriate, actions that are not, calendar, schedule, etc.). After about 5 minutes of us quietly watching, and me taking notes, they all took a break. They were allowed a snack and some music was turned on, which caused a little impromptu dancing which was supported and encouraged by the staff. Others chose to go down to the "team" room to spend their break.

Then they came back and, and, and, they were just so GOOD. So well behaved. I was curious to know if the teacher might have slipped the children some sort of valium like drug before we came. There was not one meltdown, not one tantrum. Their classroom is connected to the library which was their next thing to do.

They all quietly disappeared with the paras and the teacher sat and talked with us for sometime. She asked what we thought so far, and told us somethings about how they work. It was all very pleasant and promising.

Being the conspiracy theorist I am though, I couldn't help but wonder if it was always this way, had their been some prep work? She did tell them at one point "You guys made me look so good today, you get a marble for the party jar!" whatever the hell that means.

So, you would think that I would be completely gun ho to have Casey go straight into that class if I could. But, me being the glass is half empty type that I am, really started to have my doubts about Case being in there. He has breakdowns, he is very, oh crap, I can't think, oh, impulsive. He does a lot of self talking, he doesn't listen well. I just wondered how well this could work for him.

However, I liked seeing the kids, after they returned from the library, sit next to each other and discuss the books they had gotten, sharing. I liked just in general that they talked and interacted at all. They all have different "disabilities" or issues, but somehow they all seemed to get along. I wanted to picture Casey in that setting, being successful, but I was having trouble doing so. Probably due to some scars from our first experience all those many 4 or 5 years ago when we tried to get him in a similar class and the whole thing was a disaster. But that was years ago.

There's also the issue of a discipline plan they are all on that I can't even begin to imagine Casey being able to follow and keep track of like the others do. Bill was really trying to be positive, saying he thought it was doable for him if modified a bit. I couldn't see it.

But I guess I won't know anything until he does it! We requested that he be transitioned dow to the room slowly if possible, maybe spend an hour a day, just to see how he does. The teacher there and his current teacher felt this might be workable and are going to look into it. I am praying they can make it happen, I don't want to just dump him in there after Xmas break.

So, we'll see. Something is telling me I need to have more confidence in my boy...............

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Have a Confession to Make

Bless me Father for I have sinned. It's been about oh, thirty years since my last confession....


No lie there! My Catholic upbringing has engrained in me a sense of guilt at all times. In this case however, I think my guilt is quite jusitified!

About a month ago a little brown bag came home from school with a note attached explaining that this was a science project given to the students and they would have a month to complete it. It entailed making a "car" out of the supplied items and then writing a report on it. At the time they were studying Newton's Laws of Motion.

Now, such subject matter is so above Casey right now. I always tend to think that we have Case in regular ed classes such as this particular science class, just to be around typical kids, and to learn how to be a student. And if he comes away with some knowledge, then all the better. His memorization skills are so excellent he actually does well on the written tests, because he memorizes the study guides, which don't veer too far off from the test material. But when it comes to putting the subject matter into practical use, he totally can't grasp it.

So when this project came home, and I read the instructions, I giggled a little sadly to myself, thinking, "There is no way he can do this.". Weeks went by with that stupid little bag laying on his dresser. He of course never touched it because he could read the note attached. He knew it was from school so it wasn't fun. I kept putting off even looking at the stuff.

I considered contacting his science teacher and asking her if there was a modified way to do this for him, but I didn't. I don't have an excuse, I just didn't. Towards the last couple of weeks, I considered pulling out all the stuff and encouraging him to work on it with me and see if little by little something could be accomplished (knowing full well it wouldn't happen that way either). More days passed, with the little brown bag just laying there, taunting me, reminding me of what he's not capable of doing, at least not now.

Maybe that's why I was avoiding it all together. Subconcioulsy I know he is not at a level of intelligence to figure out how to build a car. He's never even had an interest in cars, not even toy cars. He did have an interest in car dealerships and car insurance, but unfortunately, that wouldn't help him in this situation.

So, last night, the night before the project was due, I whined to Bill about it, I whined to Casey about it, I dredded even looking at the stuff inside. I finally poured the contents on the floor, which included film canisters, straws, bamboo sticks, clothes pins, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, and other asundry crap. The instructions said to use whatever you could but didn't have to use all of the items. I sat for around 45 minutes with Casey by my side, chewing on the film cansiter and straws, trying to configure a way to put stuff together to make a car that rolled. Finally I came up with this monstrosity


It rolled! I mean, it rolled. And Casey chewed on one of the film canisters. So, he was involved right?

Then came the report, rather indepth I would say. I won't go into detail but I let Casey type out the cover page with my assistance and then I typed the rest in a Casey like fashion. Bill hovered around trying to encourage me to do things more legit, saying he would explain the Laws of Motion to Case and maybe then help him write the report. "Yeah, good idea" I answered as I printed out my....Casey's report and shoved it in a plastic baggie along with my....his car. Bill is a much better person than I.

So, that's my confession. I did Casey's report basically and I made the damn car. I admit it.

Casey could not and would not have built a car. He would not have been able to! That's a fact. And the report was so detailed, I gotta tell ya, he couldn't have put much into that even with my help. But, now he had a car to take. I think they were going to have a race with their cars, and he would be able to participate. He had a report, and if he had to read it aloud, he had something to read aloud, and he might even understand it a little. Because of these facts, I feel justified in my deception.

I learned a lesson or two from this experience. Number one, don't wait till the night before a project is due to do it-duh. And number two, next time something comes up like this, I really need to touch base with his teacher and ask her to bring it down a notch or twenty, because my ulitmate goal in just about anything he does is to set him up for success and not asking for modifications did not do this.

Now, rehearsing with him to answer if asked "Yes, mom and I worked on it together!" is a whole other confession!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Week in Review, if Anyone Cares......

I was really trying to come up with something clever for my latest post, something informative or inspiring. But since my last post, nothing truly interesting or exciting has happened Autistically speaking for us. It was an extremely long and irritating week.

Let me preface things by saying that I don't like being inconvenienced, and this week seemed to be full of inconveniences.

Monday began with Casey's visit with his doc, which I blogged about. The visit itself wasn't so much an inconvenience as was the timing, and the drive. I made the appointment for 6:45 pm. What the hell was I thinking. I tried of course to change it when I realized my error but it's hard to change an appointment time on the day of.

Tuesday was really irritating because I had a gyno appointment and we all know how fun those are ladies! On top of that, I scheduled it midday, it ended up taking over 2 hours and my whole work schedule was a screwy mess!

Wednesday of course couldn't be free. Teacher conference at 6 pm. I also watched my friends 2 boys because the schools had half days. I really don't mind babysitting her kids, they are sweet and I think Case enjoys having them over, but it reminds me why I only had one child. The teacher conference was OK, and oddly seemed to circulate around the whole subject matter of Casey moving over to another classroom as I explained in another post. Weird. I am going to go and view the class next week and make my decision. I am leaning towards the change. That could be a whole other blog entry so I'll stop there. After the conference, we had a bit of fun while dining with my sister Sue and her hubby who were in town for his work. It was nice to sit and have a beer and some fattening grub and catch up.

Thursday by far was the most dreaded day of the week for me. I had to work with my boss and her boss, and I could go on and on about the stress and anxiety I felt all week prior, but I won't. I slept little the night before and when I did, I had dreams about not making it to meet them on time, junk like that, and then my alarm went off at 5 am. Luckily, my sister who was visiting was able to take Case while I worked which took a bit of the load off. I just so hate working with my boss and being watched over. One of the benefits of my job is that I never have anyone watching over me and I loooove that. So when it happens, it's extremely stressful and I just always feel inadequate. Add on my bosses boss into the equation, and well, my head just about explodes! Thankfully, my boss arrived alone, explaining hers left early! Yay, so now the day will only be half as bad!.....and it was, and it's over, and that's all I'll say about it.

So, Friday came and went with nothing big and that was awesome. I worked, my friend whose kids I watched picked up Casey so I could do so, I bought another Betta (shut up friends and family who make fun of me! I thought Gil was dying...he's not), and we went swimming last night and relaxed and it was like, aaaahhhhhhh.

I hope I don't have another week like that for a long time. I won't say "again" because I know that's just too much to wish for!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Awesomeness!

Please watch this. I'm not moved to tears much anymore when it comes to Autism, but I was watching this because it's not sad, it gives hope.

If they can have schools for the blind, and the deaf, then this kind of school in the piece should be the norm!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Uneventful, but Satisfying Doctor Visit

Last night we had an appointment with our doctor, who is sorta kinda a DAN doc. We started seeing him because we knew our insurance would cover it, and we have seen some changes in Case with his guidance on supplementation. We had gone to another awesome DAN doctor, but just that one appointment was over $700 out of pocket. Needless to say, we went with this current doc, since we could forsee each and every visit and consultation costing that much and more, with no insurance assistance in sight.

He's ok, sort of overwhelmed it seems, a little scary sometimes. But, I maintain that what he has suggested for us has helped Casey with his speech, eye contact, and focus (here and there). He's still Autistic, always will be dammit. But it's just like anything else, people take vitamins to stay healthy. They take Vit. C to prevent colds, St. John's Wart to improve their mood, calcium to strengthen their bones. Thusly, I see nothing wrong with giving Casey things that have come from nature, and not labs, to help him be the best he can be.

So, I think I've justified why we take him to this guy. I'm not about "curing". I am not Jenny M., although I wish I had her figure!

I told Casey about the appointment yesterday afternoon so as not to cause too much worry. He hates doctor visits (who doesn't?). He quickly told me then and throughout the time preceeding our appointment, that "this is not a check-up, no shots, no blood pressure check, no heart thing!". Yeah ok....

Anyhoot, during our appointment, Casey was very high strung, having a lot of anxiety. At our first appointment in June, blood had been drawn, a rather terrifying experience for him. On our second, the doc administered a b-12 shot on him, to see if we saw changes. We did. On the 3rd visit, he showed me, yes me, how to administer a b-12 shot and had me do it right then and there. All these experiences have added up to trauma for Case, and thus his anxiety.

The doc seemed tired, it was their late business hours day. We discussed a few things (one of which thrills me to no end, and that is stopping the b-12 shots to see if it's something else helping him that we have been giving at the same time). He said Casey had gained 7lbs since July (I didn't tell him I probably did too) but said his BMI was good. He grew an inch or so too, in 4 months. Scary!

Casey was spinning around on the doctors chair, one of those stool things with wheels. Suddenly out of the blue, he goes "I'm in the Olympics, and this is my sport!". The doc looked at me, and I him and we cracked up. Something in the doctor's face suddenly took on a happier feel, as if he felt something he was doing for this kid was working.

There were no shots tonight, no blood pressure taking, no heart thing.

And with that, he prescribed some new item to try, and our appointment was done, much to the joy and happiness of one little boy who was on his way to the elevator before I was finished paying my co-pay....

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Regression, or New Reflections?



I was recently discussing with my friend Rebecca how Casey is totally into The Wiggles again. Her own kids are 9 and 6. They like High school Musical, Hanna Montana, and Pikachu or whatever it's called. In other words they enjoy age appropriate entertainment. Ironically, she and her hubby had just been reminisicng about how much their family enjoyed The Wiggles oh so long ago. We had even gone together to see them live about 5 years ago. But when she brought it up to the kids, they looked mesmerized, with no memory of them. It made her sad. I jokingly said something to the affect that "See, ya need a kid with Autism so you can relive this stuff over and over again."

I have noted in reading blogs of other Autism parents that many of their older kids still watch videos that technically are way too young for them. For instance I know one mom who mentioned her over 10 year old child was really into looking up "Barney" clips on YouTube. Lately, along with The Wiggles, Barney has made a reappearance in Casey's viewing repertoire as well.

At first it bothered me a little. Barney seemed okay in the day, but wow, now when I watch, it hits me how, well for a lack of a better word, queer it is. The kids over act, the songs are irritatingly catchy and everything is just so" goody two shoes". The Wigglesare pretty goofy too, but the songs are way better, and it's a bit more watchable for me. It's almost that his sudden re interest in something that he liked when he was 3 or 4 comes off as a bit of a regression.

Watch ability aside, the more I am forced to watch with him so he won't rewind certain bits and watch the accompanying previews 30 times, I am struck by how really beneficial these videos could be in some ways to him. Barney particularly offers some very basic but steady lessons in social skills. The kids are always greeting each other appropriately, friendship is a focal point, politeness is always displayed. Heck, diversity is also huge in the Barney videos, which feature African American, Hispanic, and Asian children playing together in harmony. So, really at this point in Casey's young life, how can watching this be be worse for him than watching some silly episode of Hanna Montana where the kids are overly cynical, they're usually getting in trouble for humor's sake, and everything is as basically as unrealistic as the Barney videos anyway? "Age appropriate" doesn't always mean "appropriate", that's for sure!

Casey even asks me questions about the episodes, which leads me to think he is analyzing things more, getting more out of it.
He's noticing things, like that Gregg Wiggle left at some point, or that Barney isn't around when big people are in the scene. Wow, I didn't even notice these things really. I say anything that prompts a conversation has to be good. So, I say bring on The Wiggles, bring on Barney!

My kid, as do many kids with Autism, seeks out comfort and sameness, and I think in a way he finds both in these videos. But, I think he's also discovering more, and therefore, watching these again in my opinion cannot be considered regressive, but just, reflective!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another Soccer Season Ends

Casey has been involved in Topps Soccer for about the last year now. They have 2 sessions, Spring and Fall, and the Fall one ended yesterday. This is a pretty leisurely, purposefully unstructured team, which is a great thing for Case.

They simply bring the kids out on the field, do the warm up, and then divide them into teams and let 'em at it. Parents of course are encouraged to go on the field to help their kids or whoever might need assistance. Bill and Casey have gone this past session almost exclusively while I chose to stay home for a little "me" time. I figure it's good for them to bond over sports and Bill being a former Special Olympics coach (ironically way before Casey was ever in the picture) loves being involved.


We've seen Casey's skills improve over the last couple of months. He even got a little angry and talked some trash when someone kicked his ball out of the goal!
He actually tries to get in there and kick the ball. Often he gets lost on which goal is his or where he even needs to kick the ball, but he does have fun at least trying and the fresh air and excercise are always good things! He's number 10 there in the photo, doing his best! The cool thing is no one seems to care. It's all about fun!

At the end of each season the parents line up and form a tunnel the kids run through, and love.
Then they go and have a pizza feast. While they eat the coaches present trophies, which they get every time.







Case doesn't usually get too excited about this part, but this time, when his name was called, he seemed a little more interested, shouting something that I'm pretty sure he got from a tv show about "You deserve a trophy!".









And of course to top things off, the team posed for a group photo. By the looks of things everyone was pretty happy about their trophies! I'm really glad Case gets a chance to be part of a team, and I'm especially glad that with each passing season, being part of a team seems to mean more to him!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Recap

I got repremanded last night by a dear friend who has me on his RSS feed, because the other blogs he follows have 10 entries a day, whereas he's lucky to see one from me, every other day! Well Mr. DJ, I don't get paid to do this stuff like some of those fancy bloggers out there! So, I felt I better blog a little something about Halloween, since it indeed has been a couple of days since my last entry!

Honestly, it wasn't too exciting! Bill and I attended Casey's Halloween party at school which was cute, but thought provoking in an uncomfortable way (this will probably be fodor for my next entry). They made cookies and played games, ate cookies, and danced. Casey really seemed to enjoy it until he started saying he could hear voices of "Toy Story 2" in French in his head. I did a calming pressure maneuver on him and beat it out of there. I think our prescence was throwing him off a bit.

Later, we went trick or treating with some friends who live nearby. Case didn't really want go at first, letting us know he'd much prefer to stay on the computer. But once he got going, he had fun. His costume was perfect for the weather we had, and it was nice not to have to put a coat over it. He did a great job walking up and saying "Trick or Treat" and holding his bag open. His only downfall was trying to watch people's tvs if he could see them, but with a little prompting, he would move on. Due to some costume malfunctions (not my son's) we kinda cut things short and went back home. His dad, who had stayed behind to hand out candy, was ready to take him out too so they hit a couple of street blocks, bringing home even more fat inducing fun. Once that was over with, Casey was done. He didn't even look at the candy he gathered, just not that important to him! In fact, he didn't even eat any of it. Dad and I did, but he didn't...... Go figure.

And so, the evening ended with us and my bro-in-law sipping adult beverages and watching "Night of the Living Dead" and Casey happily ensconced in his room watching "The Wiggles". It was a quiet but satisfying Halloween.