Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Understanding

written by Lexi at Mostly True Stuff

Imagine your child has a pet. A pet they’ve had for years and are deeply attached to. Now imagine your child losing that pet. What would happen? Wailing? Gnashing of teeth? Would the loss of such a pet mean that the child couldn’t, understandably, even make it through a school day because of their insurmountable sadness?  

Now imagine that happening every day. Sometimes twice a day. This is what happens with Casey’s Angry Birds plush toys. He’s obsessed. He usually has one that is the focus of his entire being, but if he’s home, he’s you can find him surrounded by at least three or four of them. The minute one goes missing-and it happens all of the time-Casey’s black and white thinking won’t allow for calm. The bird is gone forever.  He can’t think clearly to retrace his steps to find where he carried it off to. In his rage, he usually blames Abby. Abby’s not always innocent. She enjoys trucking those birds around, too.  Lance and I spend a great deal of time searching for Angry Birds.

That’s what the last two days have been. Casey lost his Bomb Bird, pictured here in better times (he’s the black one):
angry  frustrating damn birds
He also lost the “Boomerang” bird, but that wasn’t the focus of his sorrow this time. The loss of the bird mirrored the sorry of losing a beloved family pet.  He wailed. Deep, heartbreaking sobs. We assured him that we’d find it, but it wasn’t enough to settle him down. I heard him up talking several times during the night, and he was up for the day at 4:45.

The morning went fine, but by noon, I got a call from the school saying that Casey was too sick to stay. We’ve had colds running through the house, so I imagined one was coming on when I went to get him. He seemed so out of it. As I was talking to his para, he slumped down on the floor and leaned his head against the window. I watched as he stared off into the distance. He was still. Casey’s never still.
- See more at Mostly True Stuff

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hey EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, here’s how you IEP…

written by Lexi at Mostly True Stuff


I’m pretty sure the Devil had his hand in the inspiration of having my kids’ Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings just five days apart. It’s the only way in which I could explain it. In so doing, it made it REALLY EASY to compare and contrast what works and what doesn’t work.  Abby’s IEP did. not. work. I wrote about it last week.

Casey’s IEP? Totally worked. So, here for you educators, you district representatives, you therapists…how to make an IEP that works.

Surprisingly enough…most of this you can find in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), but whatever. That’s in tricky legalese, which is the native tongue of Satan himself.  It’s also not laid out in an easy to read list.
  1. Work with the parents on IEP goals before the actual meeting. If the child is coming from out of district or if an IEP needs to be changed at all, talk to the parents about why those changes should be made and have the data to prove it.
  2. Find a time for the IEP that works for everyone and give at least a week’s notice. The notice should be in writing and should include everyone that will be at the meeting.  At this time, be sure to give the parent a copy of the Procedural Safeguards and explain to the parent exactly what those are.
  3. Make sure the parent has a copy of each team member’s contact information.
  4. Give the parent a copy of draft version of the IEP a couple of days (at least) before the meeting so the parent can have time to go over it, compare it to the former IEP, and note any questions or concerns.
- See more at: Mostly True Stuff

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Exploring Feelings: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Manage ANGER" review and giveaway!


Kids with autism often have difficulty appropriately expressing and understanding their emotions.  This is definitely true of Danny.  Whenever he is feeling a strong emotion, no matter if it's good or bad, it seems to impair his ability to communicate.  This is an especially big problem when he's angry.  So, when Future Horizons offered me the chance to review "Exploring Feelings: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Manage ANGER" by Tony Atwood I was excited.

This is a workbook and program to help kids with Asperger's, High Functioning Autism, or PDD-NOS learn to deal with their feelings, most specifically anger.  Atwood collected a series of 6 sessions which can be used with groups or individuals. The sessions are very thorough, and each session builds on the previous one.   Atwood helps kids understand what makes them angry, how their body responds to anger, and how to effectively and appropriately deal with the anger when it comes.

I'm really excited about this program because it seems super easy to adapt it to a family group activity so Danny doesn't feel like it's just more homework.  There is also much attention paid to developing tools to deal with strong emotions, like anger.  

I especially like the lesson where Atwood has kids think of a TV, book or film hero who has felt angry.  He asks them questions like:  Why did he/she feel angry?  How did they cope with the feeling?  What did they do or think that stopped the feeling from becoming too strong?

We haven't tried implementing these lessons yet, but my plan is to try them out this Christmas vacation, when we have some more free time.  If you're concerned about how your child deals with anger or other strong emotions, I would recommend checking out this book.  The way the lessons are set up really get the kids thinking about their feelings and how to control them, and it's all done in an interesting way.  I am so excited about this book!


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If you are buying this book from Future Horizons (which I highly recommend), you can get 15% off and free shipping if you use the code PH.  Remember, the 15% off applies on anything you purchase there, no matter how much you spend.  It's a great deal!


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To enter the giveaway just leave a comment here or on our facebook page telling me why you'd like a copy of the book.

This giveaway is only for residents of the US and will end on Wednesday, November 13 at midnight.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Manning up




Last night at the pool, some kids were picking on Danny. I don't think Danny even realized they were being mean to him, but I couldn't ignore it.  It wasn't too big of a deal; I confronted the kids in an appropriate manner and it ended.



Though it was minor, this incident has been nagging at me for the last 24 hours.  I can't stop thinking about the little jerks who teased Danny; I have written letters to their mothers in my head, I've gone over the interaction, changing my words so that those kids would miraculously understand, and like, my son.  I stopped myself at least a dozen times from posting something about the incident on Facebook; as much as I craved the validation, I knew I should let it go.
   




But, I can't seem to, because it's not just this one incident.; there have been others, including some involving the same kid. Also, I can't stop thinking about the future;  I've been consumed by thoughts about what lies in store for my almost nine-year-old son.  Danny's autism makes him very vulnerable.  He doesn't always realize when someone is being mean to him.  





I worry that he'll be bullied.  I worry people will be mean to him; I'm terrified he'll be rejected and heartbroken by his peers.  





I'm sure you all know exactly the kind of worry I am talking about here.
  


No matter what I do, I just cannot seem to shake this anxiety; it has been eating away at me, coloring every interaction and relationship Danny has.





This morning, as I tried to rouse my kid from his deep sleep, I had the urge to keep him home from camp.  Though the incident did not happen at camp, I wanted to keep him close.  I wanted to know that I was shielding him from whatever might happen out there in the big, scary world. 


I know that protecting Danny from everything is not an option.  It's not even possible, and it's definitely not in his best interest.  I reminded myself of this and of the fact that Danny is tougher than he seems. But as I sat in his bed, looking at his peaceful face, I thought, I'm not cut out for this.  I can't handle it.  I cannot possibly deal with watching my son hurt or mocked or bullied.  I just can't do it.  How will I ever manage it?  It will break my heart.




 I sat there quietly crying, and that's when it hit me.





This isn't about me.  This is about Danny.  




 Sure, it hurts me when Danny is picked on, but if I focus to the point of obsession on how it makes me feel, I won't be able to help him.




 It occurred to me that I should man up, that I need to develop a thicker skin, because when Danny does come home hurt, I cannot break down. I have to stay strong for his sake, for all three of my kids, actually.

It doesn't matter how excruciatingly painful it is to watch my kids deal with challenges, I don't have the luxury of retreating to my bed and burying myself in escapism reading, though I have to admit I've been trying that method more than I should lately.  





I have to stop my self-indulgent freak-outs (and if that means I need some medicine, so be it).  I have to figure out how to let go of the anger and the fear, or at least get it down to a manageable level.


And I definitely have to quit obsessing over what might happen, because it's ruining the good moments.  





Because you know what else happened last night at the pool?  Danny showed me that he has somehow miraculously taught himself how to doggy paddle--with no lessons or instructions.  This is the kid who still cannot tie his shoes,  the kid who took forever to learn how to pedal a bike.  





Danny was so proud of himself, and I was proud, too, but instead of basking in the glory of such an amazing accomplishment, I let a couple of brats overshadow our excitement.  I let that one small incident consume me so that there was nothing left in my heart or brain to focus on how much fun we had.  I almost let those kids' actions ruin the entire night for me.

I'll be damned if I give any small-minded bullies that kind of power again.