Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Graduate



It's hard to believe that seven years of elementary school (plus two years of preschool) have passed and my little boy has officially graduated from elementary school.  Groupings can be set up differently in special education schools. However, with his current K-5 school's closing (they are merging with the middle school program of the same collaborative and both will be in a new building),  there was a natural emotional closure for Andrew.

The program, which Andrew attended just this past year, is staffed by good people who do exceptional work.  However, it wasn't the right match for him.  The students there were obviously more cognitively impaired.  Andrew had exactly one friend there, and he grudgingly admits he is going to miss her.  I will miss her daily afternoon waves and Andrew-reports, too!

Andrew's new school offers a more appropriate and consistent peer group.  Hopefully, he will flourish socially and emotionally and not witness anywhere close to the level of maladaptive behaviors he did this year.  It was getting old to hear every night which kid got restrained or put in the "timeout room".  Of course, I hope and pray Andrew stabilizes in the new environment (which is pretty touchy-feely and child-centered), and he won't be the kid who needs the physical behavior management.

Happy Graduation Day, Andrew! I am so incredibly proud of all you have accomplished and love you very much.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get

First, the AUTISM update.  Both Pathways Academy and the League School are interested enough in Andrew to want to meet. A social skills group is starting next week.  Additional home ABA hours are being put into place.  There is finally some light at the end of the "school/IEP hell" tunnel.

I feel like all I blog about are my kids and our family, my work (in broad terms), juggling both well or not-so-well, health-related issues, or, more recently, domestic violence and its devastating impact on my family, how it immobilized my self-esteem.  I am not an expert in sped advocacy, know as little as possible about DCIS on purpose because I don't want to know more, have learned way more about DV than I wanted to over the past 4.5 years, but just might reach "expert-level" when discussing my own children.

Life has taken my family on quite a journey the past 14 years.
  • Having a critically sick child in the ICU at 3 months, subsequently being diagnosed with a disorder of energy metabolism no one has ever heard of, now struggling with finding her place in this world
  • Bringing a little boy into the world who was "off" from the start,  subsequently diagnosed with autism
  • Giving birth to a beautiful premature daughter (finally a baby brown like me!) who I swear we did not name after a character on "Clifford"
  • Finally, welcoming a baby girl in 2002.  An easy nurser who is "Mommy's Girl" in every way, who grew up to struggle with reading and writing and friendships. 
We've mourned a church and its judgment, after we mourned the loss of our intact family, through divorce.  Both my ex-husband and I have dealt with the euphoric highs and the devastating lows of what both seemed to be very abusive or controlling relationships with others.  Sadly, some amazingly good friends are no longer in our lives.  Thankfully, we have gained some wonderful new ones.   God how I miss our boring "4 bedroom house, cul-de-sac, big yard, swingset, playdate-filled, Sunday mornings spent at church, good friends to have "adult/mom" time with a few times/week, putting kids on the bus in the morning, running around to gym and swim class" existence.  It was mostly predictable and, while we didn't have a lot of money, we had a lot of love in our family.  We cared a lot about friends and our communities (school and church) and helped wherever it was needed.

Families break apart for a lot of reasons- affairs, love that didn't stay, different visions, inability to cope with things like autism (sorry, never considered that one a gift).  You move on and want to be happy.  You want your kids to be happier.  You want to do everything right.  You want to date and find love again.  You're told you deserve to be happy.  And sometimes you fail at it all miserably.

May this evening have moments of peace and comfort in it for all survivors- and their children.  I am holding my kids close tonight.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The word I didn't want to hear

A mother's love is bigger than autism!!!!  What Andrew needs for school is due to autism and is  beyond your control as his mom.   You have done EVERYTHING a mom can do to help him be the best he can be.   What he needs now educationally may be very different from what he needed when he was younger, and may be wholly different from what you envisioned for him  but is in NO way reflective of your doing or not doing something and is what he needs at this moment in time.   I think you are on another "journey to Holland" as he enters his teenage years and the road will be clearer with time.   Just continue to do what you have done which is love him as only his mom can!

Above is the reaction of my best friend to my report to my friends about Andrew's IEP meeting.  Our special education director put (temporary) residential placement on the table as an option. She did it with kindness, I started to cry, and haven't really stopped since.  We're also looking at some other private schools (The May Center/Woburn was not a good match for Andrew, the team agreed), increasing home hours, and trying to collaborate with DDS/DMR and CBHI (Children's Behavioral Health Initiative).  We talked about an in-patient hospitalization to deal with meds if the aggression and anxiety continue.

Note to all parents seeking private placement: I am the idiot parent who was holding the card to the May Center and threw it away.

No one pushed or pressured me to make a decision. Now, to figure out next steps...