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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So What's the Problem?

Blue got a signature in his folder yesterday from his teacher which read, “Put his head down on his desk. Asked him to stand, shortly after, he left the room for 4 minutes.” I read this and think, I guess he needed a break. So what’s the problem? 


When you have autism often makes your mind wander. This is probably in part a defense mechanism when you need to shut the overstimulating world out.  So if there are a bunch of things going on in the classroom that you would not prefer to be a part of, or that are bothering you, every once in a while you will need a break. Otherwise you will probably loose it.

O.K. so he probably should have let the teacher that he needed a break instead of just walking out.  Blue's explanation made sense to me. "When you need to go to the bathroom, you are permitted to take a bathroom pass and go, so that's what I did."  Sound like a little mixed message?  If you mix the message, your average child will take the route of the message that works for him. An Aspergers child is very literal.  Once the rule is written in his mind, he follows it.

I think the teacher was a little unhappy that he really did not appear to be paying attention before he left the room.

This education system of expecting everyone to be the same and follow all of the idiotic rules just kills me.  Ever heard the term, "Don't sweat the small stuff?" Save your disciplinary measures for things that really matter.

Why does it chap my hide every time someone other than myself disciplines my children? I know it's a necessary evil. I can't be there all the time. I can't save them every time they fall. I just wish that sometimes they would cut them a break when they are doing something related to their disability. A kid starts to feel bad about himself when he's in trouble all of the freakin' time! I fully realize that if I intervene every time the teachers do something stupid, my voice will not be heard when it really counts.

So for today, I will have to take the advice that I always give my children, "Just let it go." At least for today.

So Whats the Problem?

 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bedtime Blues -Morning Fuse

      Living life with my children is never boring.  I mean it may not be what I feel like doing all of the time, but at the very least, each day brings a new challenge, a life lesson to be learned, or an exercise in humor.  The past several school days, Kendal has been pushing the limits on just how late he can be without completely missing the bus.  It's an uphill battle to get him out of bed. I've gone the nice Mom rout of bating him with a hot breakfast.  I've tried the mean mom route of waking him with cold water sprinkled every so gently on his face.  I've gone somewhere in-between having the dog to kiss him awake. 

     He is 14 but I swear in some ways, taking care of him is harder than the 10 year old.  His behavior is often mirrors the behavior of a toddler.  I mean I have to damn near walk him through every step of getting ready daily.  If I don't pay attention, he'll go climb back in bed instead of getting dressed and brushing his teeth after breakfast.  I swear he does it just to get my blood flowing! He wants me to blow a fuse, a gasket, something! He loves to see me react...or rather overreact.  At least it's attention right? 
     There is also the "it's time for bed routine" that we have to go through every night.  Bedtime never changes on school nights, yet he acts like he's totally surprised and generally pissed off that we have the audacity to tell him it's time for bed.  "I don't see the point in going to bed at 10 o'clock! I'll be fine in the morning.  Why can't you just let me go to bed at midnight?" Now he knows damn well this is not going to happen, but we have to hear the nonsense every night.  
     Don't let him be seriously into something on his computer.  Then it's World War III when we tell him to shut it down.  Now all of the Asperger's books and his therapist says, "Give him a warning thirty minutes before bed that he will have to finish up what he's doing."  It doesn't matter.  We still have to go through the screaming tantrums at 10 o'clock.  
     So I'm tired of it! I tell him he's going to loose 15 minutes of time every time I have to repeat myself when telling him to get ready in the morning, or to go to bed at night.  I give him plenty of warning, but he will still start a project at 9:30, and then tell me, "I can't save right now."  He acts totally pissed when we tell him time is up.  The result --he ends up loosing an hour of time the following day.  When we follow through on this...there is of course a battle.  He's bigger than me and outweighs me by oh 60 pounds or so.  Therefore, I have to send in the reinforcement troops (Big Bad Dad).  He goes through his motions as usual, yelling, screaming, "It's not FAIR! I don't want to go to bed!"  He says everything he can short of cursing us out, which his dad says he can't wait for him to actually do it so he can show him exactly who the alpha male is in our house!

     I am pleased to report however, the next day, he got his ass up and out of the house on time, without incident and has continued to do so for the rest of  the week.  He has also gone to bed on time, still grumbling, but doing it nonetheless.
     Positive reinforcement is all well and good, but sometimes when dealing with the negative, you have to resort to the negative.  Remember in school, a negative plus a negative equals a positive?
     I must say, that as a reward for being ready for school on time, I have allowed him to check his YouTube account in the morning once he is fully dressed and ready to walk out the door.  This is positive reinforcement or bribery (you choose).  Now I can look forward to the next battle --not wanting to get off of the computer when the bus arrives. 
   Life is grand at the Weaver House!  



Monday, October 12, 2009

Rainy Days and Roadblocks

     So this entire weekend was rainy, gray and colder than it's been so far this fall.  It's the kind of weather that makes you want to stay home, cuddle up underneath the covers, watch movies and eat comfort food.  That is of course, unless you have kids like mine.  I did my share of laying around, mostly trying to keep a headache at bay. I did have leisurely coffee, while doing internet shoe shopping and a little reading. In between refereeing the havoc that is my home-life. 
     I wanted to go see my friend in Houston, but escaping requires a get-away plan and my plan had too many roadblocks.  The first road block was needing to get my oil changed at the dealer and having them look at my 'service required' light.  There was a block of cars in the express line, too long to service before the work day ended.  Then there was all of the fighting that went on Saturday night.  No...I'm not talking about the siblings fighting.  This time it was father and son.  Son's computer was screwed up and father blamed said screw up on son.  Son rather loudly disagreed and tried his level best to wake me up while I was napping in an attempt to get rid of my headache. Son was at the point of wanting to move out of the house by the time I got up.  Of course, he has no clue, or no place to go.  Who would put up with him without killing him besides his family?
     "That's not fair!" I hear him yelling to the top of his lungs.
      "If you wake up your mother I'm gonna knock you in the mouth," says dad.  (Too late...I'm already awake from all the freakin' screaming. How valiant, I think to myself while laying in the darkness of my room where I am hiding, but not sleeping.  He's trying to protect me.  He's trying to allow me to rest.  Whereas son, could care less that I am resting.  He only cares that Dad is being unfair and mean!  Dad really doesn't have much patience when it comes to his son.  His son drives him crazy with all of his white noise, constant complaining, repeating himself, teasing his brother and constantly asking for more.  No matter what we give him, he hardly misses a beat before he is asking for something else.
     The bottom line is...I don't want to take both boys with me because it will not be relaxing at all.  I feel too guilty to leave the one at home who is the biggest pain in the ass, because Dad just may "knock him in the mouth".  He won't really, but it will not be fun for either of them.  How can I leave them both in misery together and go gallivanting off to Houston to have fun with his younger brother.  Younger brother can behave himself well enough when he is alone.  He also gets along famously with my girlfriend's children.
     I try in futility to get Dad to promise me that he will speak softly and carry a big stick, if I go.  He can't make me any promises, at least not any promises that will remove the guilt from my leaving.  I know that if I leave, I will get countless phone calls.  "Mom...Dad's being mean! Mom -when are you coming home?  It's not fair? Why didn't I get to go?  I want to see the girls too!"
     The truth is, he would be bored after he showed them his videos on YouTube.  He would be teasing and taunting his brother like he does every day.  He would get off on some tangent about how unfair it is that he doesn't have everything in the world that some other kid has!
     When I woke up Sunday morning to the rain I settled on that being the final roadblock of my trip that wasn't meant to be.  I wish that I was one of those Mom's who could walk out the door and not look back, and not pick up the phone.  Sometimes I am that mom.  On this day, I was not.
    

Monday, October 5, 2009

    Last week I had an ARD (admissions, review, dismissal) meeting for my son at the middle school to release him from a basically remedial math class and place him in a regular 8th grade pre-algebra class. Last year we placed him in the resource class because he was having such extreme difficulty getting the regular work load completed.  Part of the problem was that he was so busy fighting the change to the new school, the new program and the new teachers.  He didn't have enough energy left to complete the copious amount of work.  I think there was also a degree of reluctance on the staff's part to cut the assignments down to a reasonable amount.  His IEP (individual education plan) requires that work be given to show understanding of concept, so in other words if he can demonstrate that he understand the concept with 10 problems instead of 50, allow him to do the 10 problems. That wasn't really happening.  They would still give him say, 30 or 40.
     The staff this year seems to be completely in sync with what his needs are.  They are more than willing to make the appropriate accommodations so that he can be successful.  Last year was more of a power trip and that didn't really work for anyone.  His main tracking teacher this year seems to be designed for the job.  She has the kindest, most peaceful tone and demeanor.  She is able to communicate with him without being antagonistic and overbearing.  So far it seems to be working.
      My son was asked to give his opinion on how things are going so far this year -how he feels about the change in classes, etc. He did an impressive job at presenting himself.  He spoke clearly and effectively.  Although he did not give much if any eye contact, his demeanor was pleasant.  There was no frowning or sullen facial expressions.  He told us that he would miss his resource class, the teacher and the friends that he's made in there.  He will of course miss the fact that the teacher allowed him to show the class the videos he makes and uploads onto YouTube.  He told us that he feels like he can make it in the regular class as long as there isn't "too much work".  He also expressed his feelings about where he would like to go to high school.
      I was flabbergasted! I was like, "Who is this child? And what have you done with my son?" He was not the boy who that very morning and every morning before then angrily chants, "I hate school! School sucks! I don't want to go to school!" Apparently by the time he gets there he completely changes his tune.  Apparently he shows up as this alien child, who gets his work done and is respectful to his teachers.  He's not walking around frowning all day. His new math teacher complimented how well he's already picking up on the concepts that others haven't gotten that have been in his class for weeks now.  He also complemented him on taking the initiative to apologize after a misunderstanding. "He's a joy to work with," says another teacher.
     So when he comes home, again I praise him for a job well done so far this year in school and for doing such a good job in the meeting.  Then I ask, "Why can't I get some of that same respect here at home?" To which he rather pragmatically replied, "Because, I don't like your policies."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Confessions

     I confess that I am horrible at being consistent.  The only thing I do consistently is take care of my children, my husband, my dog, my plants and my home. Well, I guess I am also a consistent daughter who calls her mother on a regular basis.  She is my reality check, my friend, and the person in the world who knows me best.  What would I do without her? Now that I think about it, I am also a consistent sister and friend to the people in the world that I truly connect with, so I guess I should stop beating myself up.  I suppose these are fairly admirable traits.


     I must also admit that I am not always consistent with disciplining my children.  I have many excuses for this.  For one, I often find myself trying to balance out their father who I think is a harsh disciplinarian. He says he's just being a "man".  The way males think is so weird...but whatever.  I am often too sympathetic to their plight. I remember when I did the same sort of things when I was a child. So when my son comes to me and says, "I'm sorry mom I broke your mirror,"  I remember my mom going ballistic when I broke something, or spilled a drink on the table. Therefore, I simply accept his apology and tell him to stay out of my bathroom or just have him make his best attempt at cleaning up the mess.  Sometimes, a spill is just a spill...a simple accident, other times it's not paying attention.  But is either of them a crime that calls for making them feel like a complete idiot.  They get enough of that from strangers, mean kids at school, and yes...often from teachers.  

    Speaking of teachers -I confess that I almost told my son that one of his teachers could kiss my...(yes I left the a word out).  I don't care for her style.  I don't like the way she treats my son. Furthermore, I don't trust her and I really don't want her having any influence over him.  Teachers are not absolved from being abusive. I had him removed from her class.  Unfortunately, he sometimes has to deal with her at lunch or on the playground.  She's probably one of those conservative, far right-wing Republicans who wants to teach everyone about 'self responsibility' which is not completely a bad idea.  However, most extremist come to the table with a skewed point of view.  They often can not see beyond the perfect world they live in. They don't realize that everyone doesn't come from the same place, or have the same experiences...that the playing field is not always balanced.  My son comes from a place of being a black child in a white world and to ice the cake, he has a disability that some people can not see, and others wish not to recognize.  Asperger's syndrome is high functioning form of autism.  Just like God, just because you can't see it, doe not mean it doesn't exist. (But that's a whole other rant for another day.)



     I am also extremely inconsistent with taking care of myself. I continually put my self on the back burner.  I'll get to me later.  I must take care of everyone else first.  Often, there just isn't anything left for me.  This would include my writing career or lack thereof.  One of the most pertinent facets of being a writer is doing it everyday or at least several days a week.  I will let laundry, cooking, husband, children and my dog call my name, when I should be listening to the little voice inside of me that says, "You should be writing right now." Even as I write this I am fighting the urge to get up and curl my hair, and wash my face to be ready for a meeting I have at my son's school. 
     "Dear lord, I thank you for the blessings of this and everyday.  Thank you for the things that I am good at and help strengthen me in my areas of weakness, for there are many.  Help me use my life in your divine order to help others. May your will be done -I hope that includes helping me to be more consistent with my writing  where I can share my experiences with the world, in hopes that my words can touch a life, make it better, make someone laugh or at least let them know that they are not alone."
     -Amen