Problem Solving — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Problem Solving


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. But for this one, I couldn’t wake up.

Here’s the syllabus for my recent refresher course:

  • Revamping my oldest daughter’s medications (always a joy…) because her moods had plummeted in recent months.
  • Repainting her room to cheer her up (and also as the next installment in the Reclaim My Home From Craziness project).
  • Working through her 2 week meltdown after I painted the room in colors she picked. Because attachment disorder is just like that. Even 8 years later.
  • Discovering that she’s failing math, after doing great until a month ago.
  • Realizing the math grade coincides directly with the moment the IEP team decided she was doing so well she could stop receiving pull-out support for math.
  • Living through hell every day because of the homework battle for said math.
  • Watching her self-esteem plummet, and friendships start to strain…. because of, you guessed it, the math.
  • Reinstating pull-out services with the IEP team today.
  • Reeling from the mind-numbingly easy change that seems to have instantly cured my daughter.
  • Feeling relieved (and I have to admit, a little annoyed) at the unbelievably perky child who’s replaced my brooding-for-the-past-month one.

It’s a class I have a feeling I’ll be taking over and over and over and over again as a parent of special needs.

You’ve probably audited this one more than a few times too. Who knows? Maybe we can get honorary doctorates in it someday.

One can hope, right??



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The (Not So) Fine Art of Negotiating With My Tween’s Bipolar

We’re getting ready to go to the beach. It’s New Year’s Day. (Yes, I know I’m lucky. Truly grateful!) While I’m packing, my daughter with anxiety disorder and Bipolar is escalating. She follows me around the house as I collect towels, bathing suits, beach shoes.

“You threw out my old swim suit?!” She accuses, screaming at me.

“Last time you wore it, I told you the suit was finished. It had holes.” I reply.

“It was FINE. And you KNOW it! You want me to look ugly and all my friends are going to laugh!” She yells.

(None of her friends are coming, but you and I know that’s not really the point.)

“I’ll talk to you when you’re calm and respectful, honey.” I remind.

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Soothing An Anxious Child

Some kids just pop out of the womb self-assured and confident. Mine, not so much. Raising 2 former foster kids, assurance is like a foreign language in their minds! It’s been a huge learning process for us to figure out what works and what doesn’t in helping them find confidence in stress.

And I know we’re not alone. It’s a tough world out there. All kids face stress daily! If they’re not struggling to pull themselves up as infants, they’re learning to hold a utensil, or to navigate social dynamics at preschool. Later on, it’s exams, hormones, and jobs. Their special needs add another layer to what’s already a learning process for us all.

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Homework Strategies for Moody Kids

A few weeks back in school and all the old frustrations are in full swing.

The pencil-breaking. The paper-ripping. The weeping. The gnashing of teeth. You’d think schoolwork was, in fact, hell on earth. But really it’s just hell to a child with a learning disability. Especially one that’s at the mercy of bipolar mood swings.

My 4th grader, on an IEP for auditory processing and working memory difficulties, made great strides last year with her resource specialist’s help. That was after 3 years of working with her on homework, only to have her shred her assignment and stomp off, screaming, to her room.

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New year to begin…

I know what your thinking…NEW SCHOOL YEAR?   How many days till school starts???  I have a friend that started counting the minute summer started.  I enjoy our homeschooling time together.  I love the beginning of a new year…the goals for the year, the dreams of what you want to work on, the reality of what will really happen.  The fresh Sharpened pencils, crayons (even though we have 12 boxes already), the paper, the books, the construction paper…the excitement…the adventures. 

This past school year offically closed today.  My son had his evaluation that we have to turn into our school system with our next notification letter for the upcoming school year. 

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Trusting Our Kids to Live Their Strengths

Sometimes, I’m amazed at my own craziness. Like when I plan to go to the store at the last minute before dinner with hungry kids and a child with SPD who forgot her jacket. Or when I go hiking in flip-flops….

“Mom! Are you okay?” My 4 year old yelled over the rushing water that pushed at our ankles.

She held my hand tight as we both struggled to find our footing in the freezing, stony creek. The torrent yanked off one of my flip-flops, then the other. I laughed so hard I cried at that point – at my own silliness in shoe choice that day and because no matter how stuck we were, we’d just have to get through it anyway.

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Would you let your child scale a mountain?

She grabbed the rock above her and pulled herself up. The water rushed cool and quick over our soaked shoes. Steadying herself, my 5 year old reached for the next rock a few feet above her. In the high altitude, we both breathed hard, but her determination pushed us farther as we climbed the waterfall together. Sun in our eyes, family far behind, we kept going until she sat and we both looked down into the valley below.

Letting Special Needs Kids Be Independent

Big Falls, Southern California's highest waterfall.

The whole climb, my heart pounded with the exertion… and with anxiety. What if she falls? Itchy socks throw her into a fit… what if she has a sensory meltdown way up here?

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Strange Milestones We Have Met

picture by JamesMalone via Flickr

Something strange has happened to my perception of childhood milestones. Perhaps because it took my daughter a little longer to meet many of them, I’ve sort of made up my own list along the way. It’s not that I’ve given up watching for the standard markers, it’s more that I appreciate events that other parents don’t give a second glance. Things like:

Learning to say no. Okay most parents recognize this one, but they aren’t necessarily happy about it. After months of echolalia – repeating the ends of questions instead of answering them appropriately – I was gleeful the first time I got “no” for an answer.

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Update & buying friends…

So here goes, today was the orthopedic appointment I talked about 2 weeks ago.  No surgery this summer, is what the doctor said.  But he may need it further down the line probably 2 more times.  I checked to make sure he wasn’t near retirement yet…he assured me he had at least another 15 or so years…OH GOOD, we’ll have aged out by then at our children’s hospital.  It also helps that this doctor makes me swoon.  (sorry, but it’s true).  He probably thinks, what is wrong with her, cause I always break into a sweat at his visits.   I really belive that his wife polishes his wedding ring every morning before he goes to work. 

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Leaping Past the Labels

Monkey is 8 years old and does back handsprings in my living room. Not my favorite place for that, admittedly, but considering as a toddler in foster care she was Failure to Thrive, and that she has Bipolar and Anxiety… I’m just happy she’s doing any leaping at all!

Overcoming with Special Needs

Labels can't hold back her heart.

Gymnastics and dance get her through life. When she’s mad, she dances like the Step Up movies – her own special mix of break dancing, gymnastics, and modern dance. It’s raw and beautiful to see her cope like that. To know that gymnastics has done for her what no medication has ever fully been able to.

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