Remember there is always hope…

Last night the family went to the weekly session. We started working on the social deficit component in our son. Through our discussion the therapist presented our son with his perspective. The therapist told our son that he has a blind spot when it comes to connecting socially. In addition because it is a blind spot, requires more effort on our son’s part, that our son doesn’t want to put in that effort because it can be difficult. After our son hemmed, hawed and rebutted, at the end of the session our son finally admitted, the real reason he hasn’t reached out to make friends is he is lazy and it takes work to make new friends.

So, why am I happy about this realization for my son? I am happy because the light is on and now the work can truly begin. He may not be open to all our ideas but we can always bring him back to his words, “I am lazy…” Because these words are his way of realizing his blind spot and needs help!

I will keep you all posted!

First high school spring break – almost done with first year

Well my son experienced a pretty low-key but fun spring break. We have been seeing a new child therapist. The therapist was really alarmed by the fact that my son has decided to become a hermit. The therapist said that we need to have him reconnect with friends because he has a deficit when dealing with people socially. So, we lit a figurative match under our son’s bum to reach out to old friends and plan activities. He didn’t see friends everyday. It was more like every other day. What was the most fun for our son was when my husband took our son and a few boys to Magic Mountain for the afternoon too. All the boys had a blast!!!!!
The important part is that we gently encouraged our son to reach out and be social. Each time he always came home with a smile and enjoyed reconnecting with friends. Once he was in the car and relaxed, I asked him how it felt to reach out and hang out with his old pals. He said, “It really felt good and wasn’t as scary as I thought”. The lesson for us as parents, we need to keep the low-burning figurative fire under his bum so that he won’t return to being a hermit.
With this break and a few friendly get togethers, our son still scheduled in his math homework, violin and bass guitar practice on sometimes on his own. Boy when aspie’s relax, the light really shines around them and the handsome smile returns. :). Love my son a ton!!!!!

Sorry, I have been overwhelmed lately. Ahhhhh……

Wow, I have not written in such a long time. What kept me away? I am dealing with a bout of depression. It is not the type of depression where one can’t move physically. It is the type where you go about the normal routine sometimes with a smile, all the while, in your heart sits a stinging pain. The aching pain increases and decreases, but it never goes away. If you were on the outside and didn’t know me well, you would never know I was struggling. I am not searching for pity. That is not the purpose of this blog.

I am depressed over the mix of my class. There are some brutal behavior problems, as well a, children and parents who don’t value education. They would rather tell me how awful of a person I am for holding students accountable for their behavior and their learning. Then throw in my son who struggles with his aspergers, anxiety, and teenage hormones. Oye!!!!!!! All I wanted to do is run away and hide. I am still struggling with this depression, but I am forcing myself to sit here and write about it in hopes that my journey may help someone else who struggles with life’s crazy journey.

So, parents out there, it is okay to stick your head under the pillow for a bit if things become overwhelming. The most important part is that you resurface and take care of yourself in order for you to have the strength to handle the rest of the chaotic life.

So how did I start to pull myself out. Well, I had one of my good friends constantly tell me, “If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anyone else”. She the type of friend everyone should have. the type of friend who tells you what you need to hear and not only what you want to hear.
It wasn’t right away that I took her message to heart. As I drove by my gym each day on my way home, I heard her in my ear telling me the same thing over and over. Finally, I took the first step. I drove to the gym. Within a month or so, I pushed myself back into the gym at least four times a week. Now on Saturday, I have a great yoga class to help center myself. Then, I spin and imagine I am smushing melons under my bike wheels. I feel so empowered when I get off the bike. Even when I don’t have time for a class, a great hike or walk is refreshing. I use my friends advise as my mantra. It is really helped to put things in perspective.

I am sure I may be hit again by this paralyzing bullet train, called depression, but if I continue some sort of yoga and exercise plus FIND A THERAPIST, I know I will be able to handle my crazy life in a more healthier productive way.

I will post again soon. Thanks for reading!

Kill Them with Kindness Right?

My son failed his math test. According to the IEP, he is allowed to retake the test. However, what the RSP teachers don’t explain is that the child is supposed to request it. Okay, I understand wanting students to learn to advocate for themselves. I appreciate teaching this life skill. However, tell the parents of these spectacular children. It is part of my duty as a parent to support my child and explain to him this new process at his new school.

So, my son finally asks to take the test again. The RSP teacher said,”ok”. So, one week goes by and no retake. My husband and I email the teacher and no response. It has been over two weeks.

Finally today, I sent an email that was kind but firm. The email said. “I know it is a busy time, however we haven’t heard from you. We would like to know what is happening.” I think that is much better than what I really wanted to say.
Even though there is this one issue, these teachers are amazing. My son has made tremendous growth towards independence. I am so thankful to have them in his corner. Because I was gentle in my tone, I am sure this will remedy itself quickly.

Do’s and Don’ts for Back to School

Today I read an article on the Back to School Do’s and Don’ts written by By Jerry Bubrick,PhD. He is the Senior Director, Anxiety and Mood Disorders Center; Director, Intensive Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders Program.

Here are some of his suggestions from the article.

Get back into a routine. Change your child’s bedtime from 11 pm to 9 pm. Start waking up your child at school hours. Once they are awake, have your child complete the normal school routine: shower, dress, and eat breakfast. At night, the author suggests limit screen time.  All screens should be off one hour before bed time. In addition, Dr. Bubrick states parents should Shop for school supplies earlier rather than later.

The most important part of the day is to make sure your child fuels their body. Dr. Bubrick says we should be more aware of meals. Why is this important? Dr. Bubrick gave an excellent example. If your child ate at 1pm and doesn’t get home until 5pm, then he/she maybe ravenous and unable to focus on homework. In order to focus, your child will need a healthy snack and then after about an hour your child will be better able to focus on homework.

When asking about your child’s day, Instead of asking “Did you make any friends?” (this may cause embarrassment to your child), Ask “How was your day?” Or

“Tell me three things you liked about today”- I like this last comment. it allows for more conversation to happen. In the question, “How was your day?”, if your child is like mine, you will get the answer, “Fine” then the child will walk away. When you ask for three good things, there are always leading comments to make after you listen first to what your child has to say. You could follow with, “What made this good for you?”

Dr. Jerry Bubrick suggests doing a trial run in order to get off to the right start.

He feels, especially for the child who is very anxious, take a drive by the school, walk into the building and allow the child to become acquainted with the smells and sounds. In addition, map out the classes and know where the locker is located.

As a parent, he suggests not to be afraid of set backs.

He feels parents and the child need to “Temper your expectations.” The expectation of the first days being stellar is not realistic. It is important to let kids ease into it and have ups and downs.Remember as a parent, every two steps forward there is one step back.

As parents, it is important to help kids manage their commitments.

Usually the first week of work is slow. So it is easy to take on new commitments.However, Dr. Bubrick suggests to wait until mid October before signing up for new activities. This way you have enough time for adjusting the schedules

Furthermore, it is important for the kids to balance their lives so that they are not coming home at 9pm and then starting homework and then off to bed at 11pm.

Dr. Bubrick believes this leads to depression. He feels children over commit themselves with activities. It is our job as their parents to show them how to balance.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are your child’s best advocate. If you see a problem but the school hasn’t contacted you, you contact them.

I tried to properly  link the article.  I had a difficult  time.  If you copy and paste this link, it should take you to the original article.  http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2011-8-24-back-school-best-results

High School Orientation Day

Well Nolan had his first day as a high school student. Now, I understand that it is just orientation but I was excited for him.  He found a familiar face and off he went with a smile on his face.  I was less excited realizing that I am the mother of a high school student.

Stay tuned for new posts during the year. I also have a new book I am reading too. The book is called Look Me in The Eye  by John Elder Robison.    It might take me a while to finish but I will share some interesting tidbits as I read.

What Does Least Restrictive Environment Really Mean?

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/specialneedstalkradio/2011/10/27/your-special-education-rights-with-jenn-and-julie#.T7XRC7QAndY.blogger

Hello everyone!  I took some much needed “Me time.”  However, I am off work for the summer.  I am finally able to finish my article on Least Restrictive Environment.  I learned a lot by listening to these two amazing women: Jennifer Laviano, an Attorney and Julie Swanson a Special Ed Advocate.

Here is a summary of their discussion on Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

The history of these Special Education laws was to ensure these children have access to public schools and become part of the “fabric of the community” and not in a separate room or school. What LRE has become is a sword for school districts who don’t want to spend money on more restrictive placements provide the appropriate education for a child

The LRE definition is greatly misunderstood by parents and school districts.  There is both Statutory Language and Regulatory Language.  The Statutory Language and Regulatory language have similarities.  You are able to research the laws under IDEA 20 US code 1400@ sec.  The Least Restrictive Environment language is listed 1412.

The Statutory Language states that students with a disability are educated with students who are not disabled. The Regulatory Language states that each public agency must ensure, to maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are not disabled, unless the disability is very severe.

Basically, students should not be removed from the mainstream environment “to the maximum extent appropriate” unless the nature of the disability is so severe that education is not able to occur in mainstream.   The intent is to allow the student to be apart of the learning community and not being separated out due to the disability.  This is for public as well as private institutions.

Students with disabilities are entitled to a “Free and Appropriate Education” or FAPE.   If the student is successful with the accommodations, then this is the right environment for that child.  When the child is not successful, then the IEP team needs to discuss other options.   The LRE analysis should happen last after the discussion of what the appropriate program is for that child should be.   Then the team needs to make sure the program is appropriate program.  If the student can be kept in public school regular education class with supplemental aides and services with support and it is working, then that is the least restrictive environment.  When this is not working, then it is important for the team to go down the LRE appropriate environment.

However, most district are skipping the part where the district needs to add support in the form of a shadow, testing accommodations, etc.…and the school district feels due to monetary reasons it is easier to place the child in a special education, self-contained classroom.  The schools stop looking at what the child needs.  The school districts need to think out side the box and become more creative when looking at the best least restrictive environment.  So, the schools basically wants to place children in a self-contained classroom without looking at the supplemental support that could be provided for that student in order for him/her to stay in the mainstream environment.

According to Jenn and Julie, the State and Local agencies are required by IDEA to maintain a continuum of appropriate alternative placements.

Parents need to remember schools districts must provide FAPE under the (Individual with Disabilities Education Act) IDEA are required to provide an appropriate education.

Here are the ranges of the continuum. Think of it like a gas tank from Empty to Full.

1) The student is in a full inclusion, which is the regular education.  This is at the top of the continuum

2) The student receives Special Ed service as push-in as a service.  This means that an aide or teacher comes into class to provide services to the student.

3) The student must leave the class and be pulled out in order to provide instruction in another room.

4) The student spends more of his/her time in a different classroom than a regular education setting.

5) The student is being pulled out of regular education classroom and placed in room with students with disabilities.

6) The child is placed in an “out of district program.” This is a day program, private education school that is approved by the state.

7) At the opposite end of this continuum is either a residential or hospital setting.  The student is there for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Think of Least Restrictive to more restrictive like a gas tank.  Least being Empty, Most being full.  It is a “continuum” the analysis must be placed on the individual needs of the child.  Special education teacher can be push-in to provide related services or the students can be pulled out to provide services more restrictive.  It should be based on what the student needs not what the local district is able to provide.

It is important to remember that more restrictive doesn’t mean more restrictive for your child, it might be the correct placement.   The obligation of LRE should always be based on the child’s needs.