Thursday, May 31, 2007

Water and Peer Pressure

We were invited to swim with the girls from Reece's ballet class today. I am sure I've mentioned this before, but these moms are the greatest! I was so glad they wanted to have a swim party... it seems so often you get close to people during the school year's activities, but then you lose touch after the class is over! All but one of the girls was able to come, and we had a delightful time. Siblings, of course, were invited. It is so strange to always be the one with the oldest kids! How did that happen? The next closest sibling will turn 8 in the winter, so he's close in age to Riley, and he's a ball player so he and Austin played well in the pool together.

Reece was really scared of the water last summer, and my goal for this year was to work on a little R-C-R (LOL) with the pool. I don't intend to push her, but I would like her to be able to handle being in the water. If today was any indication, it shouldn't be hard. She was IN the water all the way (in the baby pool), putting her face and her head underwater!! I was shocked! She had one meltdown when she got a boo-boo on her finger, and I thought we weren't going to be able to get it under control, but she did. I didn't push her, just suggested that she sit with me near the water until her boo-boo got better. She did, and ended up back in the water again. She's obsessing over the boo-boo a bit, but she was able to get her meltdown under control. We're going to get our pool passes tomorrow, and hopefully I will be able to keep her feeling secure in the water this summer if we keep going to the pool consistently!

The other moms were thrilled to hear that Reece is going to continue ballet, thus keeping our class basically intact! One family is moving, and the little tiny girl will not be moving up to Kindergarten ballet because she's only 3. It appears that all of the girls are also doing Kindergarten Tap, and the moms are begging for Reece to take it as well! LOL It sounds like such fun... and it's 30 minutes before the ballet class she's already signed up for. Then, we figured out that the class Riley would take for tap and jazz is the same class as 3 of the big sisters will be in (Since it's Riley's first year she would have to start in Primary 1, which is for beginners or First Graders). Well, the moms were then thrilled beyond belief that we would see them twice in a week! LOL It's hard to be liked, isn't it??

It is a good feeling, I have to admit. But I need to be careful about overscheduling us, not just with time but with finances. But Dang! LOL

Peer Pressure... it's not just for kids anymore! ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

R-C-R = Overwhelmed mama!

We had our meeting today with our RDI consultant to discuss the results from the RDA 1 and 2 with Austin and Reece. I am overwhelmed completely.

It appears that instead of working on 'objectives', we're still having to work on developing a mentor/apprentice relationship and doing Regulation-Challenge-Reregulation activities.

We got a packet of readings and did some of the activities that we'll do on Saturday with the kids. And I'm still overwhelmed. I don't know how I'm going to be able to figure it all out. Heck, I can't even explain it to other people when they ask because I don't understand it well enough myself.

Ugh.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

At World's End

Don't worry... no spoilers here!! Suffice it to say, it was INCREDIBLE! Oh my gosh! I can't begin to describe how awesome it was! I don't want to give anything away, so my review will have to wait for awhile (probably a month!).

I cannot WAIT to go back... probably Saturday evening when I take the big kids. There will be places they need to cover their eyes. If you have young-ish kids, preview it yourself first so you can judge the moments for yourself.

And to the idiots who left right after the movie ended: did you learn NOTHING from the first two movies?? Hellooo?? To those who are yet to see it: Stay until the credits finish rolling, please! ;)

Somebody please tell me there will be a Pirates 4!! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Recital memories




I think I'm starting to recover from the recital finally!


It was a lovely, but busy day. Riley did so exceptionally well, and she really loved all of the excitement of the backstage 'stuff'!


They also worked hard to make sure Reece was successful and comfortable... they assigned her class a waiting space out in a little alcove in the hall. It ended up being perfect. I was concerned about her running away, but the extra mom who stayed with the class just walked around with up and down the hallways. When I dropped her off, one of the backstage moms told me not to worry, that they would take good care of her. Then she went on to tell me how much she thinks of me and my children, and what a wonderful job she feels I do with them. I hugged her neck and just sobbed. I was emotional anyway, but then to hear her say that, especially when I doubt myself so much... well, shoot, I'm crying again just thinking about it! LOL


So it was time for Reece's class to come on stage. Reece walked out and looked absolutely terrified. Her teacher was at the end of the stage waiting to help the class through their dance, and Reece ran for her, saying, "I'm scared!" Her teacher hopped up on stage, stopping the show, got Reece comfortable and in her space, then hopped back down to let the music resume. (I guess it's important to add that this wasn't just a recital, but a ballet performance of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe... so to stop for Reece's class stopped the whole show). Reece did pretty well for the dance, running over to get the littlest girl in the class at one point when she forgot to come to the circle for their part. They had the adult ballet class come out to get the flowers when their dance was over! The flowers got a HUGE round of applause!


Right after Reece's dance, there is one more scene, then the intermission. Reece's teacher headed straight for me when the lights came up, and hugged me, and told me she thought it went so well! Reece didn't cry, she didn't run off stage, she ran straight for the teacher who she trusted to fix her feelings of being scared. Looking back on that, it's fantastic that she handled herself so well! She didn't feel competent, and she went looking for her dance master (in an RDI way of looking at it!). As I left the auditorium for a potty break, a number of folks came over to me and told me that Reece was so cute and she did very well! This is a very small dance school, and is actually made up of a number of families we did co-op with when Reece was a baby! So they've known her for awhile!


Riley's dance comes up right after intermission! She did SO well! She has such a natural ability for dancing! She remembered to smile, something I had noticed she didn't do during dress rehearsal. We were sitting on the side where she dances, and towards the end of her dance she noticed us and went "OH!!!" and grinned as she was dancing! LOL I hope that will be on the video because it was adorable!


The finale was cute... each class came out, bowed and moved back for the next class. When it was Reece's class's turn, they bowed, but Reece just stood there. One of the girls from her class walked up to her, put her arms around Reece's waist and said, "Come on Reece!" and backed her up!


It's so emotional to remember it! All of the worry is over, and I am so grateful for how much everyone came together to make sure Reece had a good experience. In fact, she had such a good experience, she wants to keep doing ballet!! I am going to encourage that, because I feel like this studio is a safe place for her, for me, for our family. And that is so important to me! And, of course, Riley wants to continue with ballet as well! :) I'm trying to decide if I can swing letting the girls take tap, too. It would mean 3 days at the studio a week! Yikes! Well, I have time to think about it! :)


Anyway, those are our memories from the recital! It was a real blessing!

Less than 48 hours!!


The powers that be added an 8 PM showing on Thursday the 24th... and of course, Jan and I snatched that up right away! We are both so excited! :) I just have to live through the day on Thursday to get to see my pirates!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dress Rehearsal Video --- Reece

Also, be sure to scroll down for video from Riley, and also for pictures of both girls in earlier posts!

Dress rehearsal video --- Riley

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dress Rehearsal News

Dress rehearsal is an exersize in exhaustion! LOL Riley was there from 12-9, and Reece had to be there from 2:30 and was done at 6. Everything went as well as you would expect from a dress rehearsal, and I enjoyed seeing all of the girls and boys in costume! Here are a few pictures:

Reece is the pink 'flower' towards the back, with her arms up! I was really proud of her when she was on stage. She was very nervous and scared when we got there, so I took her to her teacher backstage, like the teacher asked me to do. When the teacher brought her back to me, Reece was much more relaxed!
Here are the pink flowers doing their circle... Reece is the mammoth-looking pink flower on the right! See the little bitty flower to her left? She's a cutie pie, but Reece looks huge compared to her!

Here are the leopards who carry Aslan's crown and septor... aka Riley (on the right) and L. You may remember L from the "We Fall Down" dance that I had on video here.

Here is the girls' curtsey at the end... their dance is full of leaps and we weren't allowed to use a flash so most of the pictures are out of focus! :( I'm hoping to upload videos to youtube if the files aren't too big!


This is at the end of the finale.... remembering for whom we are dancing this program!


Reece struggled a bit, and ran away 3 times from her backstage moms. Another mom is going to go back and help out, in case Reece needs to get away from the commotion. I am so grateful that she is willing to do this. I feel bad since it's not me staying back there... but they all insist they don't want me backstage with Reece for her sake. They will call me as a last resort. Austin and I will be selling tshirts for the first recital (Riley's in that one as well)! It's going to be a very busy day tomorrow! I'll try to post tomorrow night how everything went! I'm not as worried as I was before dress rehearsal!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to my firstborn!


This is his 'preteen' look! ROFL! He's really eating this preteen stuff up!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Preteen

I cannot deny it any longer. I've been trying very hard, and it's easy during busy times like this!

Austin will be a 'preteen' in a few hours! Yes, my 'baby boy' turns 11 tomorrow!

It started to hit me when I was sent an email from my county's autism support group asking me if I would like to sign Austin up for the 'Aspergers Teen Group'. I assumed someone added wrong and politely responded that he was only going to be 11 when the group started. They replied that they knew that --- the 'teen group' includes 11-12 year old 'preteens'.

Then this month at respite, Austin was placed in the preteen/teen class. It's not so bad, until you see that some of the teens are bigger than my husband! Austin worried for about 30 seconds... long enough to see the Nascar playstation game in the corner. No worried after that!

And today I took Austin to get a haircut... his last time to qualify for a 'kid cut' since they are only for children 10 and under. Of course you must expect that Austin would never go for lying about his age to save me $2! LOL

And tomorrow he wants to go out for dinner, to a place where he knows the kids' menu stops at age 10. :)

I'll try to put up some baby pictures later tonight! But instead of focusing on my 'baby', I'm going to attempt to embrace my 'preteen'!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

RDA 1 - Reece

Well, color me surprised!! I had posted at the end of the entry about Austin's RDA 1 that I was anxious to see how she reacted differently to the activities presented to her. Because they are SO different, I was expecting a much different reaction! Well, I couldn't have been more wrong! I think I got a real picture of the meaning of "Core Deficits of Autism". (BTW, this is going to be my interpretation of some RDI concepts, so PLEASE feel free to correct me if you are an RDI expert and I'm misunderstanding! I am taking copies of my posts to the consultant when we have the meeting after the RDI 2, so she'll correct me then, but I want to make sure I don't mislead anyone!).

First of all, Reece doesn't have the maturity/experience to put on a 'brave face'. She is very much a 'what you see is what you get' kind of girl! I knew that part would be different! But most of the rest of the experience was very similar!

There is an activity where we are given a box of dress up hats. Austin showed very little interest in the hats, except to talk about what kind of hats they were. I would put one on and try to get him to 'play along' and he did it a little bit, but he wasn't interested. I assummed Reece (aka 'dress up queen') would be thrilled and go crazy with the chance to play dress up. Instead, I was surprised when she wanted me to label each of the hats, most of which she had never seen that kind of hat before. And when I tried to put some of the hats on and play, she got very disturbed. At one point, I put on a kitty cat mask and started to meow and approach her on my hands and knees. She got very upset and said, "Be mommy again!" By the end of the time with the dress-up stuff, she had put on the kitty cat mask and meowed herself, but it took a LONG time. I seem to remember reading something in the RDI materials about kids with autism not seeking information from novel objects and activities. I really saw that today! My dress-up queen was very disturbed by this novel stuff in this strange place.

The next part that surprised me was when we were given a box of little gizmos and gadgets to 'share together'. She got really wrapped up in the mini Etch-a-Sketch, just like Austin did! Unlike Austin, she would acknowledge me when I asked to see what she was making on the screen, but she really disengaged from me when she had that in her hands.

She also did much better on a 'building the house' (out of paper) activity that I expected! She was very happy with her creation and we had a fun little experience!

She was very big into control, just like I was expecting! During the drumming shared activity, she was very upset when I wanted her to follow MY pattern. At one point, she was so frustrated with me that she turned her body from me and started her OWN pattern and song!

She did not seem to have as noticeable a breaking point as Austin did, but there again, she didn't put on a 'face' for the consultant! She doesn't know to be any different than she is! She wasn't working hard to make herself look good! She did fine on the way home, though she did do alot more verbal stimming (singing) on the way home than she did on the way there.

I am getting very, very excited about starting on the actual RDI work! I am starting to understand more about the core deficits, or at least I think I am! Now I want to get moving on remediating some of these deficits!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

It's been a very nice Mother's Day! Austin has been excited all week because he figured out the perfect gift for me, and Daddy took him to get it yesterday! I've been incredibly curious, since he's been telling everyone about it!

He woke me this morning early and gave me my card. It features a picture of a very messy room. When you open the card, the message reads, "Just close the door, mom!" How appropriate! Inside the card was a $10 gift card to Target! He bought all of it with his own money. It was $12.78 total. I know this because he showed me the receipt! LOL

I hugged him alot and told him thank you. He said, "Seeing you smile makes my heart beat very fast!" which made me cry! :) He is truly a sweet boy! Riley gave me a big hug, and Reece gave me a kiss on the ear (after I promised not to look at her when she did it -- I guess Mother's Day is a bit overwhelming! LOL).

It's been a nice Mother's Day! I hope yours has been lovely as well!

Friday, May 11, 2007

RDA 1 - Austin

Austin's appointment went very well! At first, I was annoyed it was 2 hours long, but it ended up being for the best. He did super the first hour... you would have looked at him and asked "Are you sure he has autism?" He put his best face on and was great! Then about an hour into it, he started to fade and and the 'stuff' came out. At one point he asked to go to the bathroom, and after a minute or so of him being in there, these weird noises started coming out. It actually startled Miss Lisa! He was making 'baby' noises, and then he started talking to himself. By the last part of the 2nd hour, he was just about unreachable (which also served to confirm to me that homeschool is a good place for him. I can't imagine how he would be at school for 6.5 hours a day with the constant commotion).

She videotaped the entire session and said she was very pleased by what she got. I was pleased as well. I was going to be very annoyed if she didn't see what I see lol! I am also going to tell her about the ride home ---an hour discourse on Subway sandwiches and the "fresh and fit" meal he chose for lunch. UGH!

We got to Miss A's house to get the girls and Austin wanted to play their videogames but told me he thought that he should probably play with D (their son, who was on his team last fall).
But after about 45 minutes he came in and said "Mom, I just can't do anymore people. I need to go home!" I thought that was so eloquent!

Then we got home and took Riley to her ballet rehearsal (she's in a few extra scenes beyond her dance), and then I went to the gym while she was dancing. Now it's 9 PM and I'm finally home for the first time since 10:45 this morning! So needless to say, I'm not going to get my post up about what I bought at convention! I do have it started, and I'm sorry it's taking so long! LOL Please have patience with me!

Reece has her first RDA next week, and I can't wait to see how it's different for her! I'll be sure to post about it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What was I thinking?

We just got home from Reece's last ballet class before next week's recital. I drove home in tears. I'm not sure what I was thinking keeping her in ballet class. She can do the dance just fine. But when they don't make the last pose on the last beat she cries. When she saw her sister at the corner of the stage (Riley will be on stage during Reece's dance... they are doing a ballet version of Narnia), she ran over and gave her a hug. Her teacher asked her 3 times today to stay in the classroom at the end of class and she kept running out.

This recital is going to be a nightmare. Reece has to be backstage for a minimum of 4 hours during dress rehearsal, and another 3 hours during the recital. They asked me not to be a backstage mom so that if I need to come get Reece and take her out I can. One of the moms who will be backstage really likes Reece and has experience with children on the spectrum. But if Reece runs out in a strange building, what will they be able to do? Her teacher today was trying to be so patient, but she is also concerned about the recital. The teacher told me that she talked to Reece about not running away, but ::sigh:: that just doesn't work. If we could keep her from running away by talking to her, this world would be a fine place indeed.

I regret signing her up for ballet this year. I am having second thoughts about trying to find her a gymnastics class in the fall. She doesn't want to do ballet again, and wants to try gymnastics instead. I was thinking she could probably 'blend in' well enough that I didn't need to tell anyone about her autism, but after what I saw today, that will be impossible.

I cannot wait until this recital is over... only 10 more days.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Busy week updates!

I'm counting down to the end of the 'school year' and our busy-ness! Yesterday we went to Reece's end of the year party at preschool. It's hard to believe that she only has one more day of preschool ever. She'll be an official homeschool girl and I'm getting more nervous as the reality sinks in. There is a boy in Reece's class who was recently diagnosed with Aspergers, and I've been talking to his mom alot. She is putting him in full-time special needs public preschool (he turned 4 in the fall) even though she doesn't want to. She said she's too scared to not do it, since it's what the doctors and therapists all recommend. I've talked to her a bit about our homeschool journey but, truth be told, I'm kind of nervous myself. Reece has made a good deal of progress this year... what if that doesn't continue? Or worse, what if she regresses due to being at home? Homeschooling a child on the spectrum is definitely a leap of faith. I need to go spend some time reading Tammy's blog (http://aut2bhomeincarolina.blogspot.com/) for some reassurance! :)

Today we went to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra do a special performance for children. It was wonderful! They had sent a CD of the music they would be playing, so we've been listening to it for about a month. Each time the orchestra started a new piece, one of the kids would say, "Hey! I know that song!" Austin had not been looking forward to going today, since he saw the information that showed this was geared for PreK-2nd graders. He was offended that I wanted to take him to a 'baby thing'. He has been very sensitive lately about his age and size. On the way out of the performance he said that he thought it was great and he was glad he went! Everyone was very well-behaved, so that was nice!

On the way home, we picked up some plants for the teachers tomorrow. Reece loves flowers so much, and since Reece has really "blossomed" this year at preschool, it seemed appropriate! :)

I will try to get the details up about what I purchased at convention... maybe I'll be able to do that tonight or tomorrow night! :)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Convention 2007

I got home from the convention late Saturday evening. Despite feeling unprepared and discouraged before I left on Friday, I felt energized and renewed by the time I got home! My friend Jan and I got to the convention late on Friday afternoon and browsed around until it closed. Then we checked into our hotel and went to IHOP for a bit of supper. We returned to our room, got out the catalogs/books/checklists, popped the POTC movies into my laptop, and began to plan what we needed to purchase on Saturday! It actually went very smoothly!

Saturday we just woke up to the alarm clock, but just hung out talking for awhile before we actually got motivated to get to the convention! LOL We both commented on how much more relaexed it was this time. There was no mass confusion... just alot of looking and deciding if certain things met our goals and needs! It was really cool!

We stayed until just about the end of the convention, when our tummies were growling too much to ignore any longer! We drove home and hit the mexican restaurant, not realizing it was Cinco de Mayo! LOL The wait wasn't too terribly long, and we were so hungry the food tasted incredibly good! :) I went back to Jan's for a bit since her family was still away on a camping trip, and we got to look at her stuff a bit more indepth! It was nice to just talk with her, since we don't get alot of time to hang out together! And when the kids are around, we rarely get to finish our trails of thought!

I made it home around 10, and found out that it had been a rough day for everyone, but they all survived! It was nice to be home, and I am excited for the possibilities of next school year! I am also ready for THIS school year to be finished so I can begin planning! ;)

I'll try to post tomorrow or Wednesday about my purchases and what our plans are for next year!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

RDI begins

Yesterday was our appointment with our RDI consultant. It was an intake appointment, designed to get to know her, give her the kids' background history, and ask some questions. We were there for 2 hours, not including the hour drive there and the hour drive home. I was absolutely exhausted when I got back to where the kids were staying! It was a good appointment and I'm very excited to get started with the assessment process. Austin will be first, next Friday. Reece will start the Wednesday after that. We will be done with the assessment process (called RDA) in the middle of June.

I really like our consultant, and I hope the kids will like her as well. I am concerned that she is going to recommend medication for Austin's anxiety. She is a pyschiatrist by training, so I think they do rely heavily on meds. I am really frightened about the idea of meds for Austin. But then again, if we could avoid the sort of response to things like he had this morning, maybe it would be a great thing? It's confusing. I will be praying about it, but honestly, I wouldn't know if God was telling me something or not.

We talked at length about Reece's wandering/running away, and how that is a big thing for us. How frightening it is, and how it really impacts the way we can do things that are not in contained places. She asked if we had considered using a leash for Reece. Gracious... she's a 5 year old child! We used one for Austin when he was 18 months old and you wouldn't believe the comments we got on that. I can't imagine putting one on a 5 year old. I mentioned that we had a GPS system we used at Disney, and she recommended that we use it again. Yeah, I'm embarrassed to do that. I might need to overcome that. I'm not sure. We don't go around telling folks that Reece has autism, so it would be strange to have her hooked up at her age. But then again, she is wandering away alot even when I'm watching her all of the time. I look away for a moment and she's gone.

She also talked with me about Austin's test results from last year... mainly the IQ testing. She said when she watched his baseline video, she didn't feel like he presented as a child with an IQ in the low 80s. She told me his processing speed is so low that it has affected all areas of his testing ability. Not his intelligence, but his processing. So I've just got to keep this in mind. She said it lined up very well with how I report his learning at home: slow, much repetition necessary for success. Now how do I apply that? She mentioned the use of unit studies, but I just cringe inside when I hear those words or a description of that process. In my experience, unit studies are a watered-down education. Maybe I can utilize what I've learned in the way of classical education and loosely follow a history/science-led method and incorporate other areas into those topics. I don't know. I am a homeschooling snob I suppose. :(

Tomorrow is the homeschool convention... I will be leaving after lunch tomorrow. Am I ready? Not a chance. Usually I linger over my decisions, bordering on obsessing over them. I post like crazy on my blog about my goals, options, and choices. This year, I've been way too busy to do that. But I'll go anyway and have a great time! I'll be staying overnight and will be home Saturday evening. I am still looking forward to the convention, but I just don't feel as prepared as I would like to be.

I'll post when I get home! :)