Skill Development — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Skill Development



                               

Sorry I disappeared for a couple of posts there. We were traveling on the days that I was supposed to post, and although I had great intentions of writing something ahead of time…well, you understand.

We took care of my mother-in-law for a couple of weeks. It was easier in some ways, and harder in others. I see her declining ever so slightly. The good news is she is too confused to fight with us as much as she used to. The bad news is, she is very confused. First she was visiting at our house and she kept thinking that her things were missing because her brain was spending some portion of time telling her she was at her house. One suitcase full of clothes was not satisfying her idea of how much stuff she should have. Then when we took her back home and spent several days there she kept making reference to our house and “When were we taking her home?” I am grateful for the (more) pleasant time we had with her. I want my children to have good memories of her. These care-giving weeks just deplete my energy that much further.

Summer is hard anyway. The child is reverting to some very tough behaviors and I keep slipping in my attempts to address them, which doesn’t help. She is tired of being with her siblings, and in general missing the structure that school provides and I can’t. School is only a month away which seems both close and oh, so, far away.

The one highlight so far is that our family went to Legoland for a bit of a respite during our visit with Grandma. It was our first trip to a major theme park, and I admit I was nervous. I was particularly concerned that our boy might wander off and get lost. We practiced three skills related to that before we left. Every time we were out in public I had the kids practice “staying together” which was perhaps the most important thing. We also practiced standing still and calling to our family using our last name (‘cuz there are lots of mommies at Legoland). Lastly I had them practice asking for help from a safe person – an employee or mommy. The actual visit went really well. No one got lost, though there was plenty of opportunity, so I was glad for our skill practice. There were only a couple of long waits and only one of those was what I would call frustrating. I liked the fact that most of the rides there require the rider to actively participate – pedaling, pulling ropes, turning knobs, pumping, steering, etc. Most exciting was that one of the longer waiting areas had a Lego play area in the middle where the kids could go build things while someone stood in line to hold their place. The child was initially hesitant to go in, but when she did she actually “made friends” with a couple of the girls that were in there. They worked together to build a huge tower of Legos, and then knock it down. The girls she met were a little younger than she is, but I was so encouraged that her social skills were up to connecting with strangers and playing cooperatively. Those are the moments that really keep me going.

I hope your Summer is filling up with good memories. What’s your favorite memory so far?

a Lego model of the Millenium Falcon

The Millenium Falcon in Legos…and now I suppose I must introduce my children to Star Wars. They had no idea what this was all about.



                               

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Fixing the Unfixable

Apparently I have given the child the impression that this is what I am capable of. It was quite false of me to give her the impression that I can fix everything, and I am paying for it big time.

After lots and lots of temper-driven exchanges (and we both have hot tempers…sigh.) I stepped back and recognized the trend. Something will happen that I can’t fix:

  • She can’t go to the birthday party because she was sick the day before.
  • Her siblings are invited to something and she is not.
  • Plans are unexpectedly changed in a way that I have no control over.
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It’s the Little Things

My girls are suddenly into having pretty fingernails. They want me to use nail polish and make their fingers “fancy.” The four year old is particularly hooked on anything fancy and, in spite of her tomboy spirit the eight year old wants anything her sister gets – especially Mom’s undivided attention as I apply the polish.

Now when was the last time I took the time to make myself fancy? Let’s see…

  • I haven’t had a haircut in over a year.
  • Showers are still a rare and special treat.
  • Last time I had a real pedicure was almost two years ago.
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Pain Thresholds

The child has a very high pain threshold. She can run into a brick wall, fall down, get back up and continue on her way as if nothing happened. We theorize that her hypo-sensitivity to pain contributed to her aggressive behaviors when she was younger. I don’t think she understood that those actions were painful to other people because she didn’t feel pain herself. Just a guess.

It seems like this high pain threshold could be a good thing in some ways, but lately it’s getting a bit scary.

Minor injuries have been turning into badly infected sores because she doesn’t tell us that she hurt herself.

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As They Grow…

I am the first to admit that March 7, 2007, was one of the toughest days of my life. I sat, holding the baby that only a week prior was declared “mine” in a court of law, while a neurologist told me my son had a diagnosis that changed his life forever.

I felt numb. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt alone.

I bought chocolate. I bought wine.

I had to tell my mom…my best friend…my daughter.

All those years ago, I was sure that getting over the grief and desperation, and finding the point where I felt that I was educated enough to be an advocate was a huge achievement.

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When I Realized I Needed My Own IEP

Well hello there stranger! I’ve been MIA for a month and I’ve missed your posts and interactions. But as of today, I’m back, and can’t wait to catch up on some great posts here!

What have I been doing all this time? (Besides doing the happy dance upon the arrival of my new escape Kindle?)

I was apparently re-enrolled in Special Needs Parenting 101: Moving Forward Often Means Moving Backward. And it was like that dream I used to have in college – the one where I wake up in class on the day of finals and realize I didn’t attend lectures or read the book.

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Too Much to Ask?

I had a meeting today with various members of our support team at school. I was trying to understand more about what is going on with the child’s writing, and basically learned nothing. “She’s doing fine. Yes, we acknowledge the struggle that writing, and indeed any expression of language is for her, but she’s meeting benchmarks, or close enough, so…”

So basically she hasn’t fallen far enough behind to warrant further…whatever the next step would be. We have to wait until she’s flailing. Flailing is bad for this child…(well for any child, but this one tends to respond with physical aggression)…Why is this so hard to understand and avoid?

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Bite-Sized Homework

We’ve had our ups and downs with homework this year. Most weeks the child’s homework is a sweet routine of math drills and spelling practice. Since she thrives on routine more than even she would care to admit, this has been overall very good. Most days she can do her homework with minimal mom input, which is a good thing. The challenge then becomes some of the more extraordinary projects that come in and dislodge the routine.

Every five weeks they do a review spelling week, so instead of practicing spelling words we do a writing assignment. Usually they are short and seemingly simple: tell a funny story, explain how you drew something, write a letter…Working through these writing assignments put our “new” challenges into clear perspective.

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It’s POTTY TIME!!!!

A few years ago, I fell in love with Signing Time. Jack was struggling to do much more than scream and I was increasingly frustrated. In a last ditch effort, I bought some DVDs and prayed that he would communicate with me. Slowly, he began to sign (things like more and done) and I felt like maybe I could communicate with him.

That’s when I decided that I was going to stalk Rachel Coleman (co-Founder and general all-around awesome human being). I followed her on Twitter and began to join the weekly Signing Time chat (sadly, they’re no longer doing it–because it was SUPER fun!).

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Magical Moment

We were hanging out at the school playground after school the other day. This seems to be the best way to get some social interaction going for the child, so when it is sunny (frequently lately) and we don’t have something more pressing to do, we stay and play for an extra 30 minutes or so after school. This means my four-year-old twins are running around the school playground with other younger siblings through 5th graders, and I always marvel a bit at how easily they negotiate it all.

I was sitting in the shade chatting with another mom when I noticed another parent talking to the twins and a little girl similar to their age, plus an older boy.

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