November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving



Today is Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for.  My youngest child, Kiera was hit by a car at the mall this week.  She is absolutely FINE! (Will post the details later)

So much to be thankful for.  Counting my large blessings and my smaller blessings... so many!

November 16, 2010

Home School Meet-up Day

Today was the bi-monthly Home School - Meet-Up.   It always clarifies why we are doing this and how awesome it is.  There were 5 or 6 families today.  The plan was to work on their "thankful trees".  We had made Halloween trees in October and this was on that theme.  They took a branch, put it in a modge-podged bottle and write what they are thankful on paper leaves, then hang them on the tree


After this we were making Christmas/Holiday cards for soldiers.  http://www.redcross.org/holidaymail
We used scrapbook paper/card stock with Christmas prints.  They printed the message on white and white lined paper and cut it and glued it inside.  They came out great.


After all the crafts, the kids went out to play in the playground.  Always so great watching them.  Great group of kids, great families.  Good times.


November 13, 2010

Saturday!

Today was a nice slow Saturday.  We had pre-bowled Kiera's league bowling with friends on Thursday.  This meant that we didn't have to get up early and bowl with the league.  We both slept in till 10 am!  Truthfully, I have not been sleeping well and really could of layed in bed all day.  However, anyone with a child knows that that just isn't ever going to happen. 

We had a late breakfast and this rolled right into school work.  We don't usually do school work on weekends, but if she wants to, who am I to say no?  So two hours later I forced her to put it away.  This makes me chuckle.  Stop doing school work you darn kid! haha!

We finally got dressed.  I had zero motivation but it was so nice out.  Kiera chose the playground/park.  Given her choice of playgrounds she chose the one by my house.  She played there having a blast "look at me mommy!  Look at me Mommy" for a good hour when I suggested we try a different playground, since this one was empty ( no other kids)

We headed down to "Rotary Park".  It is a big playground and usually lots of children.  Usually on a Saturday parents are with their kids and watching them.  Today was an experience.  There were 3 children between 10 and 13 years old.  The boy ended up punching the girl in the face.  The Dad made him "drop and give me 50" as in pushups.  Ok, maybe that's the punishment they use.  But then he ends up kicking the kid and laughing!

At this Kiera commented that "The daddy kicked the boy - Oh no!" So we went over to the sand area/ volleyball area.  This was fun and we ended up playing in the sand.  From there Kiera wanted to go to the "children's garden area."  Next I suggested a walk.  We began walking on the trail and saw a sign saying the name of a "brook" by way of a trail.  The trail was marked with bright orange markers on trees.  So we played the game of following the orange markers.  Kiera really enjoyed this.  At one point there were a bunch of boulders and Kiera wanted to climb.  She loves rock climbing.  Here's a couple of pics.


 It ended up being a really nice day.  Spontaneous activities.  No stress, no rushing.
This was followed with some time in the backyard at home.  Raking leaves, jumping in leaves, and finally a leave fight!  Fun times.

November 12, 2010

Grown Children

I'm having a challenging situation with one of my older children.
I don't get it.  We went through a rough patch, I want to say a year ago.  Maybe even EXACTLY a year ago.

Up until the last two weeks I thought our relationship was probably the best its been.
There were little conversations, plans to get together.  Just a really good place.  Then out of the blue it changes.  No answers to texts or calls. 

In retrospect I guess in a way I had a warning.  Little things.  More falling back with a person from their past that not only treating them badly but drags them down.  I then find out they are with that person again.  The old behaviors start. 

Maybe I am over analyzing.  Yes sometimes I do that.  I try to figure out if its something "I " did.  Truthfully we can't let others blame us for their issues.  It's hard --mommy guilt seems to never end.  I understand my mother more now, rest her soul!

So what to do.  I'm a planner.

Well for starters I didn't wait to hear what "their" plans are.  I set Thanksgiving dinner time.  I set the afternoon activity I plan to do with Kiera.  I set the day I must know if they are coming or not.
 Now we shall see come Sunday what happens.  That's the day I NEED to know by.  

I should pack Kiera up and leave for the weekend of Thanksgiving.  I think it may solve a lot of this waffling BS.  I hate drama.  I don't allow drama to affect our lives.  Yet when its our own kids...what to do?! 

November 10, 2010

SNOW!

We woke up Monday to SNOW! 
Naturally we had to alter our schedule.  Kiera was anxious to get outside in it.  It wasn't a lot of snow, and the temperatures rose so that the snow didn't last more than the one day. 

This is one of the nice things about home schooling, taking advantage of spontaneous fun, mixed in with learning.  We talked about temperature and how cold it has to be for it to snow.  Talked about rain, snow and the seasons of fall and winter.

After a cozy treat , we used this as a jumping off point to do some creative writing about snow!

What a wonderful life.   

November 3, 2010

An unexpected occurrence

Today was a good day.  Morning started out with a coffee playdate mid-morning.  Kiera was able to complete all her "core assignments" prior to leaving.  This earned her a "break" while at the coffee play date.  This earned me some "adult talk time". 

Sometimes with Autism you have so many good days, good experiences that it can almost make you forget the "difficult times".  Just when you forget them, one seems to occur to remind you, that Autism is still there.

We frequent this coffee shop.  They have a small toy area with toys that Kiera enjoys playing with.  Often she ends up sharing with another child, and most of the time does well.  I can reign her in and give her something else to do if it doesn't go well.

Today there were quite a few tears.  Usually I see what makes it happen.  I often can intervene and prompt or redirect and use it as a teaching moment.  Today I may have been distracted enough by enjoyable adult talk to not see that and by the time I realize something is wrong she had tears.  This happened a few times.  I tried to use the usual approach of putting it in her power to "get control of her emotions".  Today she was already too far into the tears to get an answer "on the spot" of "why".

It happened a few too many times.  We finally ended the "visit". 

We left and proceeded to the library where Kiera was "perfectly in control of her emotions".  She followed all the rules, did her math work, chose her movies, read books to me and even played with two different children sharing appropriately.  I enjoyed this, but it left me wondering.

In retrospect my first thought was perhaps it was the weekend "gluten infraction" in her diet that had her emotional.  Secondary it may have been as simple as her walking in to see friends and the toys all over the table.  I probably should of sat her at the two seat table to have her cookies before playing.  She had been doing so well for weeks I thought nothing of it.  Maybe the "confusion" led to frustration and frustration for her leads to tears.  She typically recovers quickly, but once recovered if something happens again to frustrate her often there will be more tears.

Tonight in discussion about what happened,  she said she was frustrated.  Not sure if she really understood.  I think it was a combination of confusion (things quite different) along with frustration perhaps.

Times like this remind me of the challenges and make me a little more thankful for all the good times she has had.  Yesterday, Tuesday, she interacted and played well with other home schooled friends over a 2-hour period.  She played well with quite a few children, with prompts as I sat quite a long distance away.  She didn't have any tears and would follow the reminder when given without any frustration.

The situation today still perplexes me, because she has been spot on all the rest of the day.  I can only say maybe confusion/frustration over her usual "coffee shop" experience may have been the main culprit of the tears.  Maybe this is a good social lesson for her and next time she will do better. 

It's a reminder no matter how well they are doing, it doesn't mean "situations" won't happen in the future.  We used today's social situation as a discussion point tonight.  Came up with some things we can do differently in the future.  Baby steps in regards to social skills.  We've come so far, but have so much farther to go.

Life's lessons for her......... and for me!

October 27, 2010

URI Speech evaluation

Recently two friends referred me to URI for speech services.  I figured it couldn't hurt and I made the calls and set up an "evaluation".  Kiera has been in speech since she was 20 months, so about 7 years.  She had been with her speech therapist in the school system since 2005. 

At 9 years old, and after all the "problems" this school year with the school, I really felt like we needed a change. Unfortunately the evaluation wasn't what I expected.

In preparation, I answered questions from the grad students (speech) 5 times over the previous week for a total of an hour or so.  I also copied all of Kiera's records since 2005 to include speech evaluations, speech progress reports and speech summaries, psychological evaluations, cognitive evaluations, and even the neurological evaluations.

When I got there I answered another 45 minutes of questions, repeating some of the same answers.  I started to feel like maybe they were questioning home schooling and tried to tell myself , certainly that isn't the case.

I was able to view the last hour of the evaluation, which took two hours with NO breaks for Kiera other than 2 minute toy breaks, and only 2 in two hours.  IN fact they would tell her she could play toys, she would take them out and soon as they were out her time was up. 

It also was completely auditory, even though I told them she was 150% visual learner.  They had her sit and read her a story (no pictures at all).  The grad student read it fast and with no real fluency or intonation; basically monotone.  She read as if she was hurrying through the material.  I don't even think I comprehended what she was reading half the time.  She then was asked a question and had to point to a picture.  At one point she figured out the answer was on the other side of the flip chart so started trying to "see it".  Quite intelligent if you ask me.  They didn't take into account any "processing disorder", there was no time added in.  Everything was a "rush" through the material type affect.

At one point I was told they would want me to "show them" and bring in some of her work.  They kept asking about "school plans" and IEPs, even though i clearly explained we home school.

Next week is the follow up and I plan at this moment to attend, but I'm mixed on if I will.  I received a call today to schedule ANOTHER evaluation.  I stopped them and asked WHY we are doing another evaluation?  This is supposed to be speech therapy and after 2 hours solid with her they should know what she needs and a plan.  I was told the grad students thought of "another" test they can evaluate her with.
My gut is saying forget it.

I did call our CEDARR center today and asked if they knew of therapy.  They suggested perhaps in house.  I explained I want someone to come in, get a feel for where she is at and come up with a plan for speech therapy.  I should get a call back on Friday on this.  If they come up with a plan, I probably will drop URI.

Kiera did have frustration and some tears with the last evaluation.  She would say "I am all done" after the first hour and a half.  First, that was great that even though frustrated she could express in a clear sentence that.
I felt they ASSUMED a lot about autism, but didn't know a lot.  They kept saying "these kids" this or that.  Lumping them as a group, versus an individual child.  I hear that phrase a lot.  These kids do this or these kids do that.  Kiera is nothing like the rest of her "ASD" friends.  They aren't the same.  The are individuals with different weaknesses and different strengths.

Tomorrow I will be talking to her old private speech about what I / we have been going through.  She's willing to help out however she can.  I'm so stressed out that I'm not sleeping.  I'm on a fact finding mission now.

I just want someone to come in and do their "professional" job , not come in and have me teach them.  That shouldn't be too much to ask.  I'm solid on my home school choice.  I don't need any approval or permission.  I know she is progressing rapidly.   I don't want to be an ambassador for home schooling.  I don't want to waste any more time repeating myself.  Just come in and do the job you are hired for.  Don't worry about the rest.  Something I learned is "I" will be the one managing an adult child with Autism if I fail.  All these "professionals" won't be there.  I will.  You can bet  I'm making sure I do everything to get her to independence.

October 20, 2010

New Neighbors

I like people.  I like neighbors --if they aren't too close!  We live in a duplex.  It is a really nice, newly renovated duplex.  We like it out of all the duplexes we have lived in.  We have lived in 3 in the past 13 years and ALL on the same street!  {giggle}

The new neighbor is a young girl with a 2-year old.  I recently found out its her first apartment.  It was cute seeing her all excited.  They aren't completely moved in yet, but much noisier than the last person who had two teen boys.

The nice thing about this duplex, is there is a hallway/stairs that kind of separates the units.  This is good because in the previous two duplexes, there wasn't and well it was like you were living with your neighbors and you heard EVERYTHING!

Hopefully as we adjust to living next to each other, we adjust to each others schedules and that they aren't too loud or have loud friends.  I would estimate she is about the age of my oldest child and I know how noisy that age group can be 27-30ish.

I will end by saying, when a neighbor moves out --you might be glad, BUT be careful the next one could be worse.  Here's to hoping this one is "quiet"  

October 19, 2010

Terrific (but BUSY) Tuesday

Cloudy, then sunny, then cloudy and a bit chilly great Tuesday.
Today was our home school group meet up at Peace Dale Library.  Always a fun "Social " time (oh that darn "S" word!)  Today was game day, but there were also crafts.  Kiera did some of both.  It seems the snooty library lady didn't like kids being kids.  Note:  we were in a large room solid closed doors in the basement!

It was great despite the snooty old lady.  Followed the fun games and crafts with time at the playground.

Hit Staples in Westerly -- 2 workbooks for Kiera for $3.00 (large savings off retail).
Kiera has been eating up workbooks and worksheets.  Supplemental stuff.  Exciting to watch her choose "math" which was previously the one subject that caused frustration, anxiety and tears.  Now humming, singing and doing her worth.

Followed this with a trip to Shaws for some steak.   Found a pack of 6 tender medium steaks for 23 CENTS!  Yes CENTS.  Crazy.

Home to a call from the URI Speech with lots of questions.  The clinician wanted to know our "home school plan".  Rolling eyes.  Okay, okay.  There isn't a home school plan.  We learn, we live, we learn some more!  Yes I have curriculum but it is very eclectic!  I follow with the state standards but we also school with "mastery" (unlike the public school that just "moves on" through the curriculum.)   If it's not mastered, we don't move on but go over it and over it.  Sometimes we move on , but then backpeddle to see what was retained. If it wasn't retained we again review , practice and practice and practice.

I hope I am not going to be annoyed with questions about our curriculum.  I'm going to dig out the 3 sentences the last superintendent used.  We use multiple sources and not text --blah blah blah ...

Overall a great day.  Now I have to dig out all the speech records I have.  Emailed the sped director to try to get a summary from the old speech therapist. (Would rather pull my own teeth than deal with the public school EVER again)

Time to dig through the files --wish me luck!

October 18, 2010

Welcome

Welcome to a blog about living and learning
You will find things about living and also about learning (including our home-school journey)

Pull up a chair and join us on our journey.