Monday, April 30, 2007

April is Autism Awareness Month

As I did last year, I will be keeping the Autism Awareness Ribbon at the top of my blog for the month of April! Please scroll down to see new posts! :)

Goals 2007-2008

Austin (5th grade):
1. Autism Remediation via RDI therapy. Specific Goals TBD after assessment.

2. Writing - Compose an organized, coherent paragraph. Complete the planning, rough draft, revision, and final draft stages in writing. (If this becomes comfortable, begin to work on a multi-paragraph essay format)

3. Math - Long division. Enough said! ;) (Jump into fractions after division is mastered!)

4. Reading - Recognizing gaps in meaning while he's reading. Checking when he doesn't understand either because he cannot read a word or it is not in his vocabulary. Using word attack skills and/or dictionary skills to determine the meanings of those words, to aid in reading comprehension. Begin to develop written narration skills, incorporating the writing goals.

Riley (3rd grade):
1. Math - Mastery of multiplication tables, and quick recall of related division facts. Application of the 4 operations.

2. Writing - Compose an organized, coherent paragraph. Complete the planning, rough draft, revision, and final draft stages in writing. Develop speed and accuracy with all writing (copywork, dictation, etc).

3. Geography - Learn the location of all 50 states.

4. Reading - Goal for mom: try to keep up! ;) Begin working on written narration skills.

Reece (K5 - first of 2 Kindergarten years):
1. Autism Remediation via RDI therapy. Specific Goals TBD after assessment.

2. Reading - Learn to read 3 letter words and apply that ability to reading real books (not just reading the words in isolation). Begin working on narration skills.

3. Auditory Processing - Work to head off any potential problem areas. Use Earobics 1 to determine if there are any specific areas that we can be working on.

4. Math - Writing numerals. Use manipulatives to explore addition and subtraction.

5. Writing - Learn to write numbers and lower case letters.

This is what I have so far! I didn't have as much time over the weekend as I would have liked to work on them. But I'll keep tweaking them as needed. Mostly I needed a general skeleton to go by for convention purposes. I have most of my planning done, and I will try to post that here before convention. We are down to the wire on getting our Mission Previews done for the intake appointment on Wednesday, so that's going to be taking most of my time today and tomorrow.

Edited to add goals for mom (old woman lol):
1. Slow down the pace of my communication. I noticed during the videotaping for the baseline that I talk so fast and so much still! We've been working on this for nearly a year, and while my use of declarative language has improved, I am still just talking everyone to death. I know that Austin especially is a slow processor, and I don't give him enough time to think before I'm moving on to the next thing.

2. Determine what needs to go in our schedule. As part of our intake appointment for Wednesday, she had us actually make a spreadsheet of our schedules. It really makes it clear that we have alot going on. What can go? I know baseball season skews it a little bit, but we really do have packed lives. I'll be interested to hear her thoughts on Wednesday about this.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Countdown to convention

This time next week I will be packing up to go to the state homeschool convention! I think this is the first year I have felt so completely unprepared! I need to make a list for myself so I can figure out what I need to buy, but first I need to work on those goals for the kids. I have determined to focus on goals rather than on specific curriculum!

Wow, it's much easier to just focus on curriculum! LOL

Check back for my goals by Monday! :)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Field trip troubles

It's been a week to remember at the Black Pearl Academy! We've been on 3 field trips since last Friday! I can't remember a busier week! We've been to the zoo and the aquarium, last week we did the animal refuge place. This week we've also had preschool, finished our testing, done ballet for both girls, played a baseball game, gone to AWANA, had muffins with mom at preschool, celebrated finishing the ITBS at IHOP, and also managed to get a little school work done!

But the field trips were complete trouble! I decided that we were going to finally see the baby Panda at the zoo awake, by going in the morning. We left early and got to the zoo at 10:30. Little did I know, but to see the baby panda we have seen 3 times already, you now must have a timed ticket. You can BUY one of these online. Or you can pick up a first-available ticket for free. When we arrived at 10:30, the first available was 2:15. UGH. We went to have lunch with daddy at work, and came back. But lo and behold, baby Mei Lan was.... asleep. We did get to see her face at least. We will try again in May.
We did get to see something we've never seen before. An elephant was getting her pads of her feet cleaned out! That was very interesting! The kids asked alot about how they can tell if she is angry or happy!
Because everyone was so good and didn't get freaked out over the change in plans... before we left to go home (6 hours after we had left home for this 'quick' trip to the zoo), I bought them frozen treats! I am a good mom! ;)
So then Tuesday evening, I read online that the zebra sharks at the aquarium have had babies. It was a neat article with children giving their impressions of the babies. So I decide we're gonna haul down to the aquarium and see these little fellas. When everyone woke up on Wednesday, I announced the change in plans! We got down to the aquarium a little after 10:30, and upon arriving, immediately asked where we could see the little guys.

Guess what? We CAN'T see them. They are in a special area that is only accessible by the school groups and behind the scenes tour groups. GRRRRRRR. I tried to convince the docent that we were, in fact, a school group! ;) She didn't buy it! Again, all of my children were very cool about the entire thing. We decided to check out our favorite animals and take time to do some sketches for our nature notebooks. Even Austin sketched for the first time without freaking out over his drawing skill (or lack thereof)!

I also got to see all 4 of the Beluga Whales in the tank at the same time! I'm not sure if you can see it below very well, but it was so amazing! I could sit and watch these creatures allll the time!

So, it wasn't a perfect week, but it was fun and exciting! We got some school work done, since we were in the car quite a bit! But mostly we were out socializing, getting alot of new science knowledge, and learning that it's most important to CALL before we hop in the car for a field trip! LOL

This picture below has nothing to do with field trips, but I took it this week as well! It was so delightful to peek outside and see my girls 'reading' side by side! It made me so happy! Now to get Austin into that picture! ;)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

One more month!?!?

Can you believe it?? It the midst of all the self-doubt, worrying over the rigor of my home education program for my children, worrying about starting the RDA process with the children, trying to plan for next school year and the homeschool convention coming soon --- there is a beacon of hope and light!

Pirates 3 comes out in a month from today!! I couldn't be happier or more excited! This is a summer like no other for a movie-lover like myself!

Now, if I can just make it through the next month! ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A busy Tuesday

We had quite the active day today! Reece had preschool, and the big kids finished their ITBS testing! We mailed off the materials back to BJU, and now just await the (non-surprising) results! We got my nephew a birthday card and gift card, then headed over to the preschool for Reece's parent-teacher conference. It went very well... Miss Angie really does care alot for Reece, and since she's been her teacher since Feb. 2006, she's been witness to some of Reece's biggest growth and development progress!

After that we went to Riley's ballet class, and then came home for a bit of rest before Austin's ballgame. Austin was starting pitcher for the game, and though the team lost, he did not get hit in the face with the ball! YAY!! He had a rough first inning, but came through the next 3 innings and did well! Our bats were not hot at all, which was tough! Austin walked once and struck out once. He hit one ball that went foul that would have been an out of the park home run had it stayed fair! And a player from the other team came over and told him that he was a very tough pitcher to hit! So that made him feel great!

Here is the latest picture of the eye... it's looking much better!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Badge of Honor

Well, his nose is back to normal... and his eye is getting black! I guess that's what happens when you stop the ball with your face! Don't let the picture fool you either! He is thrilled to be showing this beauty off! LOL It was his idea to take the picture!

And I've noticed an interesting trend. We had to tell the story a thousand times at church this morning, and every man said, "Wow! Cool, buddy! Way to go!" and every woman gasped and asked me if I was planning to let him continue to play baseball!
Austin's feeling OK... he said it's less sore than it was yesterday! It just looks bad... and it's going to look worse before it goes away, I'm afraid!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stopping the ball...

... with his nose!! OUCH!

Austin had a ball game this morning, and he was playing shortstop. A hard ground ball was hit his way, and he stopped it all right. It bounced right up into his nose! It happened so quickly: the ball was hit, Austin moved into position to catch it, the ball took a bounce, hit him in the face, Austin fell down to the ground.

We put an ice pack on it right away, and he sat out the rest of that half-inning. But it's gonna be ugly! Here are a couple of pics I took when we got home:

Ouch! Ouch! OUCH! He's fine though... he got 2 solid hits today even, which was great because he's been in a bit of a batting slump! And he's still going to a birthday party for another friend on his team this afternoon!
Oh, and he told me it could have been much worse. I asked him how, thinking he's talking about a broken nose, or it hitting him in the eye.
"It could have gotten past me, and gone into the outfield. That would have cost us at least one, maybe two, runs!"
::sigh:: Yeah, that's exactly what I was worried about! LOL

Friday, April 20, 2007

What a Fun Friday!

Today we decided to go to a place we hadn't been in at least 5 years! It's an animal refuge/rescue place where you can feed animals that are both in and out of cages or pens! The last time we went there, Riley was a toddler and she screamed so badly because the animals were coming up to her, we had to immediately leave! I was afraid Reece would react the same way, so we hadn't been back! But I was ready to give it a shot, and I'm glad I did. We were also very lucky to be joined by some friends who we don't get to see very often: A, and her children T and F! :)

The kids loved feeding peanuts, carrots, and corn to the animals. There were deer walking around and right up to us! There were also squirrels everywhere, peacocks, goats, and chickens. In cages or pens, there were sheep, bears, bison, owls, and so many others that I can't remember. There was a rabbit area where you could go in and pet the rabbits! The girls especially loved that!

Here are a few pictures of the kids feeding the deer!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

RDI Parent Training

I've never been accused of being anything less than transparent, so I don't suppose I'll start now. There were some good and some bad things about yesterday's training and I'm going to share it all. This is likely going to be a long post.

We were the first couple of four to arrive. There was another couple who have a little boy, a female pedatrician and her mother (her husband was out of town) who have a boy who's a few years older than Reece, a couple from the same neighborhood as my friend H who have a teenage daughter, and then us. All of the children are high functioning, PDD-NOS, or Aspergers.

We started off by introducing ourselves and then went right into an overview of autism and RDI. This is where it all went wrong for me. It came with this statement, which I am desperately trying to understand:

This was on one of the power point slides about the proposed pathogenesis of ASDs:

Threshold of neurological vulnerabilities leads to:
Breakdown of parent-child continuous feedback (Intersubjective Relationship), which leads to:
Loss of Dynamic Learning Opportunities, which leads to:
Failure to Develop Dynamic Intelligence and Motivation, which leads to:
Neural Underconnectivity, which contributes to:
Failure to develop Dynamic Intelligence and Motivation

Now, to quote Barbossa, thems mighty big words, and we're not but humble pirates here at the Black Pearl Academy. But it hit me as placing blame on us as parents for the kids having autism. I asked more about it from the consultant and she said, "It's not your fault. You didn't know." Well, to me, that's not absolving anyone of responsibility.

I'm going to pause here for a moment and explain something: when Austin was a baby and toddler, my mom used to tell me that the reason he had such a hard time with change and doing things differently was because I had him on a schedule. A schedule meaning I fed him at the same times and put him down for naps at the same times, and because he didn't sleep well out of the house, I would come home for naptime. Mom said it was because I did this, that was why he didn't sleep well away from home and why he resisted change. As he got older, I was given a number of parenting books, esp. from people at church, and people would say if I would do this book, Austin would act right. As he got even older, and was still having tantrums, people would tell me that 'their husbands would never tolerate that'. As if we did. Lots of blame... if I was a better parent or if I did things better, he wouldn't act the way he did. To say it hurt, is an understatement. As I've realized over the last 18 months or so, it has shaped and defined how I see myself as a parent. And when the doctor diagnosed them with autism and declared "It's not your fault" it was the beginning of trying to see myself as not a failure as a parent.

So then, we start this training... what I have been having in my head as THE ANSWER... and now they are telling me again that it's my fault. It was hard to focus on the rest of the training with this in my head. I mentioned it to the consultant and before we left yesterday afternoon, she encouraged me not to see it as blame. When I got home last night, I emailed a friend of mine who is very active in RDI and has been working with a consultant for years, and she tried to explain that it didn't mean blame. Russ tried to explain it to me, too. (My friend A has been helping me today too, and I'm starting to see it in a different way, but I'm still not all the way there).

After the run-through of the RDI terminology, we started working on our "Mission Previews" which is a snapshot of how we would like to see the kids in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. We only had time to work on the rough draft for the first one of Reece. We'll complete these during the assessment process.

She introduced the concepts of declarative v. imperative communication, and we practiced these. This was pretty easy for us, since we've been working on that for a number of months already. Then we moved on to a few concepts that I had read about on the RDI message boards but had not understood very well: scaffolding, framing, and spotlighting. We will learn more about those things after the assessments, when we start workng on the objectives with the kids.

It was alot of information, and even though some of it was familiar to me, it was still overwhelming! It seems like so much to learn and how to make it happen naturally and in our lifestyle seems like it will take forever! I am not very creative at all when it comes to finding new ways of doing things, and that will be a challenge for me: taking a concept or objective and finding a way to make it apply and be meaningful to Austin or Reece. I guess that's what the consultant it for! ;)

They have an RDI parent support group once a month, and she said that a few months ago they took all of the kids bowling together! I hope we'll be able to make it to the support group a few times. The consultant told me she would put me in touch with a few families who use RDI with two children, so I can find out how they manage. She didn't mention putting in me in touch with a homeschooling family, so I assume I'm her only one. I have a feeling that she's either not well-organized, or she just has so many families she's working with that she's overwhelmed. The consultant in training we will be working with said she would email us last night to get us started on finding times to do the assessments, but so far, I don't have any emails from her. And it appears nobody watched the baseline DVDs we worked so hard to get out. I'm trying to be patient and laid-back, but I will have to mention this if it continues. Also, we didn't get any time alone with the constultant or the CIT who we will be working with. I only spoke with the consultant alone for a few minutes after the meeting was over, to give her the kids reports that she wanted. That is when she encouraged me not to dwell on the whole 'breakdown in parent/child relationship' thing. She has still not charged our credit card for the deposits though, so I'm just going to assume she's not well-organized/busy. That will be really hard for me! LOL I can understand busy, but this is her job! I can't understand not well-0rganized! ;)

So overall, I would have left feeling better had it not been for the beginning part. I plan to look over my notes this weekend and try to get working on these mission previews. I'm hoping that it helps me get passed the upset, and focus on what I still think could be a really good thing for my kids.

Smart girl!

Reece was looking out the back window this morning, into our backyard. (For you folks in the cold north, all of our plants and trees are full of leaves. We had lots of flowers out there, too, until last weekend's freeze). I walked up beside Reece and said (in a very non-RDI way), "What are you looking at?"

Without a beat, she says, "I'm looking at the botany!"

That girl cracks me up!

P.S. I will post about the RDI training later on today, I promise!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

RDI parent training

We went to our parent training today, and my brain is very full right now! I will post more details later on this evening or tomorrow, once I've had a chance to process all of this information!

We are going to be working with a Consultant in Training, who happens to be a mom of a teenage boy with Aspergers. I am looking forward to her unique perspective as a mother of a child on the spectrum!

The consultant will be contacting us this evening to get the assessment part of the process underway. She indicated it would take around a month to get the assessments done. I am not sure if I'll need a month per child, or if we'll try to take care of both kids, or what.

Overall, I am very excited and anxious to get started! I'm feeling a little nervous about my ability to add this responsibility. I may have to drop some things to make room in our lives. That will be difficult, but I'm sure we'll work it all out!

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Me too!!"

Today's attempt at education had me both excited and nervous about next year when Reece will be a Kindergartener and home full-time.

Excited: We just started the Botany curriculum from Apologia's Elementary Science program. I read the first few pages outloud and asked the kids to tell me what they remembered. I started small because I want this to be enjoyable and successful. Both of the big kids told me that "Botany is the study of plants" and "Biology is the study of living things". I said that was great and to go write it down for their botany notebooks. They zoomed off, announcing they were going to write it in cursive (Riley is finishing up her cursive instruction and Austin's been starting to be more comfortable using his cursive in everyday writing). Reece jumped up and said "ME TOO! BOTAMEE!!" And she ran to the kitchen table and grabbed up a pencil! So I took a piece of paper and printed in all capitals: BOTANY. She copied it and shouted "More!" so I wrote BIOLOGY and she copied that and shouted "More!" so I wrote PLANTS and she copied it too. Then she wrote REECE at the bottom and ran over to show me her paper! She wanted me to put it up on the display rail with the big kids' work! :) That was alot of fun!

Nervous: Reece was making alot of noise today (she's still doing the vocal stim thing), and it was really causing Austin alot of distress. I need to make sure I have a classical music playlist on his mp3 player so I can grab it up and let him block the noise out with his headphones. But at the time, I wasn't thinking clearly. All I was thinking was, "This is never going to work next year!" LOL And then Reece grabbed up the decorative scissors I had out for her to practice cutting designs with, and she ran over to Riley's desk where Ri was copying the 2nd half of her composition, and Reece sliced a piece off of Riley's paper. Then while I was putting the laundry away, Reece got out the markers and drew on my new table (thankfully it wiped off nicely). I know she was wanting attention and I gave her some (read 'Fancy Nancy' to her twice, and also did a reading lesson), but I do have other things I need to do sometimes! ::deep breaths, deep breaths::

There are only 8 more days of preschool for Reece! YIKES!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Decision time!

I had given myself the deadline of April 15th to figure out a plan for school next year, and the day has come! So, as a measure of some sort of accountability, I am going to spell some of it out here:

We're going to spend this coming year studying American History. Now, I know that sounds very familiar if you've been reading this blog for over a year! LOL But this year we're really going to do it. I'm not going to be using a curriculum or a plan or anything. I have the Landmark History of the American People and the DK Children's Encyclopedia of American History already, and we're going to use those. We're also going to use the library, and we're just going to have a fun trip through the history of our country! :) It won't be perfectly lined up, and that's perfectly OK!

I don't have the rest of the details yet... but this gives me a good starting point. I'm trying to keep in mind more overall goals for the kids, rather than focusing on which curriculum, if that makes sense. It's a bit harder this way, but I think it will be more helpful for me than to buy curriculum and just use it without focusing on what my goal is (and my goal can't be to have Austin complete a 4th grade grammar book if he's not going to understand it lol).

*** Now, if a money tree plops into my yard.... I reserve the right to dump everything I just typed and buy the Calvert curriculum for all 3 children! ROFL Just kidding... maybe! ;)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Our first evening of respite

Tonight we decided to take advantage of a respite opportunity that is offered by a local church. Since we don't have any family nearby, dh and I don't get to go out very often. We usually go once a year, when my mom can keep the kids for a few hours. It's just not nearly enough! This church started offering this free program once a month, and we decided to give it a go!

We just got home, and I couldn't wait to post about our experience! The program was so well-run, and everyone was as nice as they could be! We were handed an envelope when we checked the kids in, and I assumed it was an advertisment for the church. But when I got to the car and opened it, I was surprised to find a $25 gift card to the movie theater! My husband and I just stared at each other for a moment in disbelief!

They serve dinner for the kids, and when we picked the kids up, they told us that they had had Burger King! That really shocked me! When the menu said hamburgers, I assumed it was cafeteria-style mystery meat. Not saying BK is much better, but at least it's on my kids' top 3 list!

Each of my kids was in their own age-appropriate room, which was very nice, esp. for Riley. Reece had to be in a moderate autism room, because she's a runner. I understand that it has to be that way for her safety, and for theirs. She can truly get away so fast (she did today at the ball field). There was a police officer present in uniform with a marked car, which made me feel safe for the staff and kids.

When we arrived to pick the kids up (30 minutes early), the staff greeted us and asked if we had a nice time! When I told them it was wonderful and that we hadn't been out since last summer, they were very happy and seemed geniunely pleased that they could offer this time for us. We were given a goodie bag of candy, and an advertisment for some upcoming church activities where they will have special needs child care! The kids each had a wonderful time (well, Reece said she didn't but she always says that... I peeked in on her before I opened the door, and she was building blocks!).

I'm so glad we went, and we'll be making this a regular monthly event! It was fantastic! Also, I will be keeping this church in mind for next fall, when our home church won't be able to offer us anything for Reece to do during the worship service or SS hour, and they won't be accepting of her in the adult worship service.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What a FUN Friday!

We had a fantastic day today! First, we went Strawberry picking this morning! It was the perfect weather for strawberry picking - not too warm, not too cold! We had alot of fun, and within 40 minutes, had two wonderful buckets of yummy strawberries! The girls have eaten nearly half a bucket, and I have some to go in the freezer for smoothies! I can already tell we'll have to go back another day to pick some more!

We had taken a picnic lunch to share with our friends, but they removed the picnic tables from the strawberry patch. So we headed to the park near my house! While the big kids were exploring they came across some goose eggs:
Then we met a man who was sailing a remote control sailboat on the water. C, the oldest boy in the R family, went over to talk to him first and we followed behind. This kind man let everyone have a try at sailing this boat! It was so nice, and I couldn't help but ponder the 'socialization' that my kids were getting!
Here is the sailboat... found out later it cost $1000! I'm so glad nobody dropped the remote control!
We also saw a herron, and I hope I'm spelling that correctly. You have to look closely in the middle of the geese and ducks to see the bluish-gray bird with the long skinny neck! He was so interesting and we got some great pics and video of him!
We also saw lots of baby ducks and the kids all played for hours on the playground! It was a lovely way to spend a beautiful Friday in the spring!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

ITBS, Day 2

Today went smoothly, overall! Austin did pretty well on the spelling portion, and on the language tests (capitalization, punctuation) he made similar mistakes to the ones he makes in his daily work. I know that if I pointed them out, he would realize the mistake and correct it. But for some reason, he just doesn't make that connection during the work. I'll be interested to see where he scores on spelling. It was his highest score last year, and this year he seems to have done the best on that section so far. I didn't look at the other reading comprehension section... I'm sure there won't be any surprises there either!

Riley was funny during her tests. She just cannot stop gasping when she finds the correct answer, or answering out loud after I read the question. It cracks me up! And one time she was looking for missing punctuation and she said, "There it is! You taught me all about that during Grammar!" as if now there is some validity to what I've been trying to teach her! LOL It would be hysterical to see her taking this test in a room full of other children. I wonder if all homeschooled children are like this on their first time. I only know how it was when I took tests or when I administered tests to my 2nd graders. They knew the 'routine' and were quiet. Riley gets bored of listening to the instructions... I can remember being like that myself! I just wanted to get on with the test! LOL

I probably won't post any further ITBS updates unless something funny happens! It's been alot better to take it more slowly this time than we did last time. Nobody is getting worn out. Also, Riley's test has to be read to her for the most part, and I don't think I could handle reading any more of that than I have to! I don't remember that from my teaching days, but it's been a good many years since I was in a classroom! ;) We have 3 more days of testing, but it will be spread over the next 2 weeks. Next Tuesday, we have our RDI training, so we won't be doing any testing that day. Nana and Papa will be here to watch the kids, and take Reece to preschool and Ri to ballet. I wouldn't want to add anything else for them!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

ITBS Day 1 report

We started our annual ITBS testing today. It wasn't supposed to be annual. The laws of our state only require it every 3 years starting at the end of 3rd grade. But about a month ago, Austin asked if we were going to do that "Iowa thing" again and Riley begged to be included this time. So I figured what the heck... it'll be good practice!

I decided to spread out the testing over more days this year. Last year, we did all of Austin's testing in 3 sessions. This year, with Riley's testing having to be given separately, I didn't think I could get it all done in 3 sessions. I was correct. Riley's takes a painfully long amount of time because of the reading I have to do for the questions. Next year, she'll take the test that's in the same format as Austin, and I can test them together.

So we did 2 sections today, and it went smoothly. It appears Austin will do about as well as he did last year, which is not very well. He is positive about it though, and I guess that counts for alot. So far he has done the vocabulary and reading comprehension sections, which he struggles with daily anyway. He has another reading comp. section to do in our next session. I'm not quite sure how to handle knowing how he does on standardized testing. I don't think it's a lack of test-taking skills. Some of the words I thought he should know, he didn't. And yet he surprised me with a couple of words that I didn't realize he knew! I guess I'll wait until his results are in and see if he at about the same level as his last testing, and decide if I need to do anything differently.

I glanced over Riley's test and she's doing very well. She missed one question because she wasn't paying attention and I couldn't read it again, and then she missed one that I know she knows. That's always so frustrating! LOL But she's overall doing as well as I expected her to do, so far.

We'll be testing every preschool day in April, except for next Tuesday when I'll be at the RDI Parent Training. Mom will be here to take care of the children, and she is planning to scrapbook with Riley. :)

I'll keep updates coming for the ITBS testing!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Austin's new friend

Austin made a new friend on this season's ball team. D is also homeschooled, and I don't know if that is what makes the difference or not. But D really seems to like Austin and actively looks for him after the ball games. (When the game is over, Austin loads up his stuff and heads for wherever Coach has the team meeting, then he heads to the car. It's just what he does. He's not trying to be rude, it's just what he does). They have this little handshake/salute thing that they do, and they even do it during the game. D usually plays first base when Austin is pitching, and after he strikes a runner out he looks to D to do the salute.

You can't really see it very clearly in these pictures, but D is much bigger than Austin! D is much closer to Austin's daddy's size than to Austin! This picture below just makes me so happy... I have no idea what they were talking about, or if Austin was carrying on a conversation in the 'proper' way or not, but this was a neat thing to see.

So you see why, when D invited Austin to his birthday party, I had to let Austin go, even though it was the evening of my own birthday. As it turns out, Austin was the ONLY friend D invited! They went to a place called Jillian's, which is Chuck E Cheese for adults! It's noisy, chaotic, semi-dark. Daddy went with Austin to 'hang out' and since Daddy is the baseball coach, it didn't seem too odd. Austin had alot of fun, according to dad, and handled things well.
I hope we can stay in contact with D and his family after the ball season is over. They seem to have alot in common. They have 5 or 6 children in their family (I lost count!), the baby of the family being an adorable girl. His oldest brother is 16 and went to school for the first time this year --- the brother's name is Austin and he drives a Ford Mustang! D also plays the drums, like our Austin. It's kind of freaky to be honest! D seems like a really nice boy, and I hope to encourage the friendship!

Friday, April 06, 2007

She's a little runaway

Yesterday we had to go to the store to buy a present for a party Austin was invited to. (More about that in another post later) I lost Reece at the store. I was paying, she was there, then she wasn't. ::sigh:: It was so frightening! The store was very busy because of Spring Break. Thankfully, it wasn't a very big store, so I sent Austin in one direction and Riley and I went in the other direction. I found her with a mom and baby, asking if she could go home with the baby. Goodness only knows what that mother must have been thinking!

This is officially one of the biggest regressions I think Reece has ever had. She hasn't wandered away this much in years! (This is the 3rd time in the last month that she's wandered away dangerously) I cannot trust her for even a few seconds without my hand on her. And she is constantly making noises with her mouth. It's driving me absolutely insane! Austin has always done alot of verbal stimming, but having Reece do it, too?! Ugh! And when we're in the car and they are both doing it? I think my sanity is literally at stake!

When we got back out to the car yesterday, I told Reece (in the most declarative language I could manage) that I was so worried about her when I couldn't find her. And that it is important for 5 year old girls to stay with their moms. She replied with, "I'm a bad bad girl!" ::sigh:: You know, I have really worked so hard to not make the same mistakes I made with Austin. We really disciplined him hard when he was this age, trying to make him stop doing the things he did which we now know are part of his ASD. I have always felt like that really caused many of the anxiety problems his has now, and how he internalizes any criticism or discipline as an "I'm bad!" sort of thing. To hear Reece say that yesterday just crushed me, and made me extremely frustrated and feeling like I want to give up. Is there nothing I can do that will help?

I am trying my very best to stay positive and remember that the ASD doctor told me not to be so upset during these times of regression. He encouraged me to look at them as periods of reorganization that everyone has to go through in order to make progress. But I just saw so much progress right up through her birthday! It seems like after her birthday, it all just fell apart!

Well, I'd better go... I need to work on the video stuff for the RDI consultant. I'm going to work on Reece today, and then try to work on Austin tonight after Reece goes to bed!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Now look who's not sleeping!

That would be me, unfortunately! The night before last, Reece slept through the night! She was up last night for a few hours, but so was I, so it doesn't truly count!

The reason I'm not sleeping is I got an email from the RDI consultant we're starting to work with saying she needs our baseline videos ASAP. I haven't even been able to find a camcorder yet, let alone start accumulating the 40 minutes of video per child. So last night dh and I were up until 1AM researching camcorders. We found a good one (we think) that will do what we need it to do (we think!), and I'll go this morning to Walmart and purchase it.

But all night I'm running through my head what on earth I'm supposed to video. The guidelines are vague at best: nothing involving their obsessions, needs to be interactive, at least 10 minutes with each parent. Oh and it needs to be in an area with minimal distractions. Um, we are a homeschooling family of 5 in a 3 bedroom 1450 sq. ft. house. I have school desks in my kitchen and a mini-trampoline/OT area in my living room. There are no areas with 'minimal distractions'! My guess is that I'll have to make that area be the living room, with the TV off, of course. I'll work on getting that cleaned up today, too.

As far as what to video, I'm more at a loss for Austin. For Reece, I'll get her doing some jumping and see if she will reference me while doing it. I also want to get some of her playing with Riley and playing alone. Also will get her drawing a picture on the white board. She's pretty easy. Austin's much more difficult - he doesn't play and never has. Toys don't interest him. I could try to get video of us playing a board game, maybe without words? And we do this blanket folding thing. I'd like to get footage of him pacing the house, since that is something that he does alot of. And he plays pretend with the girls, mostly outside, so maybe I could get some of that? I'm just really not sure. I don't think she wants footage of him playing baseball, but it might be good to compare his sense of competence on the ball field compared to other areas of his life?

So this is why I haven't slept... I feel the weight of this on me and I am already overwhelmed before I've even begun. Let's don't even mention the video-editing and burning process that I know nothing about.

I am very anxious to be able to work with an RDI consultant! But I'm already feeling like I'm in over my head!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sweet Dreams?

Well, here we are.... Reece isn't sleeping again. It started innocently enough when the Daylight Savings thing happened (which correlated to my being out of town). Reece was taking longer and longer to fall asleep. I kept getting her up at her regular time, hoping to reset her body clock. It didn't help. Now she's getting up in the middle of the night again for a few hours at a time. One day last week, she was so tired she fell asleep on the way home from shopping at Target after lunch. That night she slept through the night, but that was the last time.

Last night I decided to keep track:

She slept from 11 PM-approximately 2:30AM. I say approximately because I woke at 2:30 to find her lying with us wide awake. At 4 AM she fell asleep. She was up at 7:30 AM for the day. It's now 8:30 PM and she's nowhere near being asleep. She's in her bed, but not sleeping.

Let's see... that's 7 hours of sleep if she was asleep until 2:30 AM. For a 5 year old. Not enough. And it's starting to show with her behavior. Heck, it's starting to show with MY behavior. ::yawn::

She's been sleeping through the night for nearly a year. I NEED her to sleep. Please pray she will start sleeping through again!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Autism: Would you know if you saw it?

Austin, almost 11 years old, diagnosed 2006 with Aspergers Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism; loves baseball, engines, Mustangs (the car)

Reece, just turned 5, diagnosed in 2005 with PDD-NOS; loves princesses, horses (especially palominos), and drawing pictures