Monday, February 14, 2011

Flexible Thinking

I started this post yesterday but just go around to adding the pictures! :)

Reece has always loved Legos. But she never had any interest in building according to the directions. She would open a box of Legos, dump out all the packages, and make her own creations. Not a big deal - I was just thrilled that I finally had a child who likes Legos! :)

A couple of weeks ago, she opened up a box of Legos from Christmas - a little car. But this time, she sat down with the instruction booklet and went to work! I asked if she needed help, but she declined. In a little while, she had built the car!

Let me just say that the fact that she can follow those instructions at all amazes me. If you've never used a Lego instruction book let me tell you, it is HARD. There are no written instructions. You are shown the number of a certain piece that you need and then there is a picture of what it should look like when you have placed those pieces. It was completely mind-boggling for me. Riley and I worked on the Harry Potter Hogwarts castle kit a few years ago and it took us forever because neither of us could figure out the diagram!

Yesterday, Reece decided to get out the house kit that she had received for Christmas. "I want to build the house." Yikes. This is one of the kits that she had opened and dumped to make a creation of her own. I had done my best to put the pieces in a baggie, but she had opened another kit at the same time and I wasn't sure if I had gotten the pieces into the correct baggies. I told her as much, and that it would probably take a very long time (using Hogwarts as my reference point LOL). She was fine with it.

6 hours later... she was finished! At one point, she asked if construction workers ever took breaks. I assured her that they did break to eat and to rest their brains. So she took a couple of breaks in that time, but not many. She proudly showed me her creation!

What she also wanted to share was how she had to "improvise". She couldn't find a couple of the necessary pieces. She told me, "At first, it made me mad. Then I took some deep breaths, and I decided to improvise." She looked in our big lego bin first to see if she could find the correct pieces, and when that didn't work she used similar pieces in a different color. Even with the improvisation, it looked fabulous!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rock and Roll dreams come true

Austin's band played their first public gig last night! He had an absolutely fabulous time! I couldn't believe how calm he was (I was a nervous wreck for him!!) - but he was simply excited, not nervous!
Close-up on the drummer!!
They have another gig in 3 weeks! :) He can't wait! He is also talking about them doing a "summer tour". Too bad none of them are old enough to drive, huh?? LOL

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Maturity

Two posts in one day. Well, granted the last post wasn't truly written today, so maybe it doesn't count. But anyway, I wanted to share something that happened today. I would have loved to have put this on Facebook, but I'm not sure Austin would have appreciated it! :)

The last two days have been very rough for Austin academically. He has been in a pretty good place this school year in general - positive and hard working despite his struggles. But the last couple of days, his math in particular has caused him some grief. He's been dividing with decimals, and it isn't really complicated as near as I can tell. But the idea of "repeating decimal" just got him worked up for some reason. Then today we started working on dividing decimals by decimals and he was very gruff with me, which is just not how he's been lately. During critical thinking, he got really mad at me and told me that he wasn't going to even think about going to college anymore. I IMed my dh at work and asked him if I thought perhaps Austin was nervous about this weekend. His band has their first gig on Saturday. Maybe the pressure was making him nervous? Also, this weekend marks the beginning of the Nascar season. While that's exciting, and something Austin has been looking forward to for months, I know from experience with him that even something positive can cause him to be stressed out and uptight. And finally, he got the all-clear from the orthopedist to play baseball this coming season - which is, again, good news, but might be a lot to process at once.

I began to play detective.

And then, right after lunch, Austin came to me and apologized for his outbursts. He said he is feeling overwhelmed, and a little frustrated, but he was sorry that he took it out on me. He said he hoped I would forgive him.

Wow! That was so cool! What a delightful display of emotional maturity. Sure, he may have had some trouble keeping regulated, but who doesn't at times? But to have the humility to come to me and apologize, recognizing that I was upset with our earlier interactions, and also to have the self-awareness to know what he was feeling - I couldn't be more pleased with how he handled himself.

Why do I do this?

I started this post 5 days ago and then let it sit for awhile. I think I'm going to go ahead and post it, though. The feelings haven't changed since I wrote it, though I'm not feeling as emotional about it all. It is what it is. We are experiencing a challenging time and I think it's natural to question the path we are on, especially as we face a looming transition - in this case, high school for Austin. It also helps that Reece is sleeping again - 3 nights in a row now after 2 full weeks of being up at night. In fact, it's 9:30 in the morning and she (and her siblings) are all still sound asleep! I even slept in until 7:30 this morning. (How funny... she's up now! Must have heard me typing about her!) OK, so here is the post:

The reason I haven't been posting much about our home education journey lately is that there just hasn't been much to talk about. I'm going to be very transparent here. That's one of my goals with this blog. Homeschooling hasn't been fun for a long time. Not even a little bit. In fact, I have found myself wondering lately why I even do it. This is our 9th year of homeschooling, and some days I wish we had never started. Lots of kids with autism do very well in public school. The only thing that prevents me from putting everyone in public school is the fact that the schools we're zoned for are poor performing schools. We can't afford private school. Then I start thinking I should get a job and try to move to better schools or put everyone in various private schools (since Austin and Reece couldn't get into the kind of school where I would put Riley, because of their academic challenges).

I know the pressure of high school coming this fall has taken a real toll on me. Austin is seeing a local homeschool consultant this week for the 2nd part of comprehensive testing. I am hopeful that she will be able to help me figure out how to get him through high school. And he likes her a lot. So maybe if she tells him that he will have to stay in high school until he can finish all of the math requirements, then he will listen to her. And I hope she will help me figure out how I'm supposed to do this. She is a Christian woman, so she will help me keep a proper perspective, and since she is a homeschool proponent, I don't think she will encourage me to put everyone in school. (That is the reason I'm using her, rather than one of the area psychologists.)

It's also been very challenging with Riley. She is head-long into being a pre-teen (she'll be 12 next month but she looks and acts like she's 14, at least). She and I butt heads from the moment she wakes up. She argues with me during her lessons every single time. I remind her that if she won't allow me to teach her, then she'll have to go to school. And I have to stay on her constantly to get her work done. I've been considering having her evaluated for ADHD. My biggest concerns are her distractibility, her impulsiveness (saying whatever comes to her mind without regard to anyone's feelings), and her inability to recognize when she is breaking the rules and/or being disrespectful. Other people have noticed these traits as well, and have commented on them.

Reece is so young still (chronologically and developmentally) that the biggest challenge is that she has nothing that she can do independently. She doesn't have that many lessons, and the ones she has don't take much time, but when I have two other people that I have to teach, and I can't just hand her something to work on, it becomes quite overwhelming.

That was all I got to write before I just had to stop. I'm not sure if there is anything else to add, really. It's a rough time. We'll do the best we can. :)