Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Here's to a Great Freshman Year

School starts here next week. The supplies are bought (well most of them). The clothes and shoes are ready. This year Roger starts High School.

We went to open house last night. So far so good. The school is huge but not unmanageable. We meet all of his teachers at his main school last night. He will be going to two schools this year because he was excepted into the informational technology program through the schools STAT program.

So far it looks good. All of his teachers are young which is a good thing. They are old enough to have been teaching a few years so they know how to control a classroom yet young enough to not be stuck in their ways and willing to think outside the box. Not one batted a eye when Roger said he wanted to use one notebook for all classes. It was OK whatever works for you. As long as you have your work no big deal how you organize it.

I had been in contact with the overall head of student services and she has always been on top of her responses to me. Today I heard from his case worker. She too is on top of things and knows where the anxiety is and will be sure to check in on him a bit more in the first few weeks.

I was probably most impressed by the history teacher. I'm thinking Mr. A may become Rogers favorite teacher. He told him a little about what they would cover. Also told him as long as he didn't say aliens built the pyramids he would do just fine. To that Roger said no the zombies did (Plants vs Zombie 2 reference). The teacher saw the joke in it. He even asked him what he wanted to do later and took the time to speak with each student one on one. Roger said he wants to go to MIT and the teacher said OK so you need to keep your grades up. We have tutoring in all subjects. Just remind me and I will get you set up with the tutors.

Roger has shown interest in a few of the after-school clubs. Forensics and Robotics to be exact. He also wants to try out for the soccer team later this year.

Even before school starts we have a great team going. So here is to a great freshman year.  We meet Lucy's teacher tomorrow night.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back To School Organizing

Not that I'm counting down or anything but eight more days until school starts again. Which also means time to get things put together around here. We have a area that bags and shoes go. I hate looking for things in the morning. An area to work in. Plus a book to help them organize their own stuff. So lets do this in pictures.

We have the computer area. They have a calendar, cork-board, and a plastic shelf that hols supplies they may need such as crayons, markers, and other homework supplies.

This is my notebook. I just used a leftover one from last year. I used to do one per child but that got to be to much. Inside I have dividers. One per child. This is where we keep all important info and classroom letters.

This is a old picture but it still works the same. All Ipads and phones go here. Book bags and shoes go under the bar. There is also now a tray on it to keep keys and what not that husband brings home.

This is the book the kids are using. There are a lot of great ideas such as how to organize a binder. Plus some stuff for their room.

I am working on changing things up a bit. With a new puppy in the house keeping shoes and bags on the floor is not a good idea. Of course I will update this as soon as I figure out what I am doing.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Teacher Letter

This is this years letter to teachers. For the most part it stays the same every year with just some minor changes. Last year the IEP team actually added the letter as part of the IEP. I still get the teachers emails and send it separate anyways. You can usually get email address from your schools site or ask your special education rep. They will be more than happy to help you. Last year almost every teacher emailed me back happy to have a little extra insight.

Here we go.

Dear Teacher,
We have set up this form letter to give to every teacher to help them better understand our son, Roger.  His IEP has all his testing and the education plan so I will stick to some things you may experience with him.   Roger has been diagnosed with autistic disorder.  The co-existing conditions that Andrew has are Sensory Processing Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Anxiety, Executive Functioning Disorder, a movement disorder, as well as a history of what we believe are absence seizures.   I just wanted to let you know a little more about him in writing and it’s easier than verbally trying to explain it all.

While these issues are complex, you probably won’t be able to tell anything is different, at least for a while.

Roger is a very smart child that pays attention to very small details and can get “lost” in the shuffle of daily activities.  Working together as a team with open and frequent communication is the key to helping Roger manage himself and find his place.

We have been working with Roger to develop self-help and coping techniques so that he can manage the over-stimulating and confusing world around him. This year we are hoping he begins to use some of the self advocating skills we have worked on, such as asking for help, knowing when he is overwhelmed and asking to leave to regain composure, and asking for clarification on directions.

Some of the things we have found that help Roger are:

One of the challenges with his auditory processing disorder is sometimes he does not always hear what was said to him.  Visual Cues are key:  Charts, Outlines, Graphics (Visual will always work better than auditory).  He will also jump into following directions as he thinks it should be done. A example from home is emptying the dishwasher, if he is told to empty the dishwasher he will, but he will not look to see if they are clean, so he will do as he was told empty the dishwasher but skip looking to see if they are clean first.

With The executive function disorder Roger has almost no organization. In the past, he would often forget his belongings and then later would “melt-down” over forgetting something.  He is determined this year not to improve on this.  Roger almost never relays information to me about his day and would never remember verbal instructions to be told later, using a planner has been a struggle for Roger.  He doesn’t know what to write down or how to write it down. Many times by the time he gets home he can’t read his own writing. We have found that by using technology such as his iPad he can place reminders in and use the alarms to remind him about important assignments. We have also found that using one binder for all classes rather than one per class greatly reduces the amount of lost or forgotten work. It also reduces the anxiety of trying to organize several notebooks. If he gets behind on assignments which he has done I ask that I am notified immediately preferably by email.  If I know about it at the start I can assist him in getting back on track before it snowballs into something that overwhelms him.

With the sensory processing disorder little things in the environment will distract him.  He does not have problems with the loud noises it is the little noises that affect him.  An example is the sound of pencils on paper. When the environment becomes too much sometimes he needs a short break to clear his head.

Some things you may notice are Roger has a few what we call tics.  He constantly has small movements, tapping legs, moving arms, and some facial and head tics at times.  He cannot control these movements and when they are pointed out they become worse as he tries to control them.  When he gets anxious or frustrated these movements also become more noticeable.  There have been a few occasions that this has looked like a seizure.  He has had extensive testing and does not have a seizure disorder it is just anxiety.  Usually removing him from the situation for a few minutes will calm him down and help him to regain his composure. Again the best response is to allow him to leave the room and regain his composure.

While he does not have a seizure disorder he does have a history of what may be absence seizures.  There are no movements with these. More often than not he will just have a blank stare, if he is speaking during one his speech will slur.  They are very quick and often not noticed by anyone around. He will get a headache after an episode and become very tired. He also will not remember what was being talked about or done. If he says he didn't hear you say something he may not have. We have seen an increase in episodes over the summer. He is under the care of a neurologist for this issue.
Roger is mild mannered.  He is shy at first and then he becomes very entertaining the more he opens up to people.  School can be difficult for him, especially the social aspect of it. One of the things past teachers have told me works well with him is when they saw he was getting frustrated to tell him to take a break and read for 5-10 min. He loves to read and it is comforting to him. He always has at least one if not several books in hand.

We appreciate your willingness to educate our son.  We are looking forward to working with all of you and having a great school year this year.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or if any problems that arise.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Transitioning to High School

It's official Roger is a high schooler. We received his schedule yesterday in the mail. The caseworker had already emailed it to me a day earlier. See he was out of town with his dad and we were unable to go to the allotted time to pick it up. I asked and not only did she let me know that yes all schedules were mailed out after the pick up time, but she went the extra step to email me a copy. 
So far so good. 

It gets better, we started the whole transition deal at the end of last year. This consisted of meeting with the high school, writing up next years IEP, and addressing any concerns. Roger has always played a full and active role in these meetings. After all he is the one affected most by our choices. He can tell us yes that works or no don't even try that. He can tell us what he wants.

One of our requests was to allow him to use the iPad as his planner instead of a paper planner. With the iPad he can set reminders for projects and well to be honest he can't read his own handwriting. At the end of last year we were unable to do this because the school just was not set up to support electronics. (they are in the middle of a big re-mod) When we got the schedule there was a notice in it that the school has now been set up to allow all students to bring electronics to b used a designated times at teachers discretion. I immediately emailed our lady and she was already in the process to set up a quick meeting basically to get the iPad in the IEP. That way it is seen as a tool not a toy by teachers. Her response no problem lets do it.

I also asked to change the wording in an accommodation because while we understand it means one binder for all classes some of the teachers may not realize this is what we meant. For Roger having one for all instead of one per class is easier to organize and keep track of. Less chance of lost or forgotten homework. Again she said lets do it.  She also made sure I had all the teachers email addresses so I can contact them before school starts. 

We have a little over a week left until school starts and all is looking good. The school is working with not against us. His schedule is just what he wanted. We are working on making sure is transition from one school to the other during the day goes smoothly. They really seem on top of everything and really want to work to help student thrive and reach their potential. I guess all I have left to do is to send out the introduction letter to the teachers. 

Monday, August 19, 2013


This keeps coming up for me. I am the mother of four children, two of whom are autistic. So what right. I'm just another mom. I'm just doing a lot of the same things laundry, cooking, cleaning, homework, etc... Many of the same things others do. Sure I have a few extra things like IEP's and more doctors than I can keep track of. That's not the point of this though.

The question I have is why am I held to this unreachable standard of motherhood where I cannot complain and laugh? Why does this standard only apply to two of my children? You see it is perfectly fine for me laugh and get frustrated with my two non-autistic kids but how dare I express frustration or laugh at something one of my autistic kids does I am mean and spiteful and a bully. See when the child is normal your just a mom when the child is special needs your a bully for the same action.

NO! NO! NO! That is not the case. I can laugh at something the kids do and not be putting them down. Guess what all of us parents do it. I bet when you were growing up your parents laughed at things you did. See this is what people don't get I'm not laughing at the kids. I'm laughing at what they did.

So why is it that if you have "normal" children it's OK to laugh, make jokes, and get frustrated but not for the special needs parents. You know there is this little thing that helps all of us parents get through parenting and some of the harder times special needs or not, it's a sense of humor. I'm sorry if I didn't get the memo that the day my child was dx I was supposed to lose mine forever and be a depressed martyr. That's not going to happen around here.

So the next time you feel the need to judge another parent for what you see as mean and belittling why don't you take a step back and think do you apply that to all mothers or just her?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Oh Respect, this is a fun one. Recently we have a streak of rudeness in this house. The kids think they should have what everyone else has yeah right. We get a lot of WHAT! When they are called. You know what it's all going to stop. I do not care what your issue is. ASD, ADHD, your just a jerk whatever there is no excuse for rudeness. There I said it. ASD does not mean you get to be rude. I was not allowed to be rude growing up. Guess what I figured out people don't like you too much when your a Jerk. SO time for us to step in.

Now we have a plan really we do. A couple really. Still working the details out though.

For the gimmes: Your going to start working. Each kid will get a small allowance amount based on age per week. You need to save your own money to buy whatever it is that you think I should just buy you. Here is the catch. There's always a catch, always. If mom has to do your chores you get a bill. Depending on what it is will depend on how much you have to pay me for having to do your work. There will be extra jobs that can earn you money. These are beyond the normal chores. My kids are just expected to do chores because they live here so no they do not get paid for doing what they should. If you choose to do the extra great but if not don't whine at me when your brother buys a new game he saved for and earned by doing extra work. 

Next up respect. They are going to have to earn time on video games, computers, etc... How are we going to do this. Mom is getting a jar of marbles. Each kid will start the day with x amount (we haven't deiced the number yet). Every time you are disrespectful, don't do as asked, or are mean to siblings you lose marbles. Some infractions lose more than others. Example bullying your sibling will cost you more than say whining about homework. They can also earn marbles for things like helping without being asked, picking up something that isn't theirs, etc.. After dinner we will see how many marbles are left in each jar. Each marble is worth a time amount say 1 min (we are still working this out). So if you have 10 you get 10 min of video game time. If they have all the marbles they start with they can have a total of one hour on the Wii, computer, or iPad.

I don't have a clue if this will work or not.We will try anyways. If it doesn't work try something else.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Toxic People

**** If you deiced I am writing this about you don't leave me nasty comments think about what you are doing or saying that would make you think that.********

We all have them in our lives. Toxic people! You know the negative ones who seem to always be in crisis. They don't seem to want to help themselves they just want everyone else to be oh poor you, you have it so hard. These can be people you know in real life, a Facebook friend, a Facebook page you follow, Heck even a blog you may follow could be toxic.

You know the ones. The vague status, just trying to get oh whats going on? Anything I can do to help? Sure everyone vents you have too but when it all becomes drama. It also becomes topic.

There are a few things I have learned in my time on this earth. If someone starts anything with I'm not asking for anything. Yeah that means I wont directly ask but if you happen to offer after I tell you my sob story I will not refuse.

When they complain about having no money and no job and well you know they are not even looking. Yeah they just want someone else to do everything for them. It's one thing to be I lost my job and this job market is so tough. I've been applying everywhere and now my bills are past due, etc... vs I haven't worked in years because *insert excuse here* now I can't pay my bills.  I'm sorry but if you are able body get your ass out there and get a job at least try, stop bitching because frankly I don't feel sorry for you. I know the market is bad I have been unemployed myself for five years. I keep looking. I keep trying.

Everyone has hard times. Everyone its ow you deal with them is what makes you toxic or not. Do you just bitch and moan, or do you come up with solutions. I have a friend whose husband lost is job recently. They have very little in savings and who knows when he will be able to find a new one. Sure she bitched a little about it, but you know what else she did? She picked herself up and said hey I gotta do something and is now looking to start er own furniture refinishing business. Will it work? Who knows. I hope it does for her but if it doesn't she tried. She did something she didn't make excuses and wait for others to swoop in and pay her bills and feed her kids.

I used to rent from a guy who didn't pay his mortgage for months. When the house went into foreclosure he was all wait what and really he expected someone else to pay it for him. It's not that he didn't have the money all those months he just close to spend it on other things and not his house.

A couple months ago my cell got shut off temporarily. There were people that were just I couldn't live without mine. Well when you have a choice cell phone or electric bill and food you pay what? What is your priority. Feeding your kids and keeping them warm and fed or having your cell phone.

Another positive example. I know of a person who lost everything. I mean everything her house, her car, all her stuff to a natural disaster. Sure tat takes a toll but she is also one of the most resilient people I know. She picked up what she could and just keeps going. Even though she doesn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out right now she still collected items for others involved in another natural disaster and took it to them. She took what may ave been the worst experience of her life and turned it into good.

I get it people have bad days, bad weeks, heck sometimes you just have a bad month. If all you can talk about is the negative well then you are toxic. I am starting to get rid of the toxic people in my life. No more listening to poor me for months on end do something anything. No more bullies, No more vague look at me, no more pay my bills for me. I am going to stick with the people who look to the positive.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I Got An Email From A Book

I ordered a used book from Better World Books. No big deal right. They do all this awesome stuff to begin with like every time you buy a book from them they donate one to a person in need as well. Yes people in need need books too. Anyways I got the conformation email from them that my order had shipped. This was not your typical we shipped your order blah blah blah snore email. This was all kinds of awesome. Here is the email: (I know its a form letter but still) .

(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note - it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)
Holy canasta! It's me... it's me! I can't believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I've got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can't believe I'm leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already - the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge - so many memories. I don't have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it's time to see the world!
I can't wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Jane Eyre (drama queen) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Jane was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol' brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?
I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I've had, I'm ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn't take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I've found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.
But hey, enough about me, I've been asked to brief you on a few things:
We sent your order to the following address:"
All the order info here.
Maybe I'm a dork but hey I thought it was a neat marketing plan

Saturday, August 10, 2013

School Board Committee Application Letter

I am one whom believes that to make the biggest changes you have to do something. Sometimes that means from the inside. So I can sit here and complain about my school district (by the way I love them no complaints here) or I can do something.

A couple of weeks ago the district announced openings on the school board committees. I checked it out and while it is not a paid position I decided I would throw my hat in the ring. Currently our election districts spot on the Special Education committee is vacant.

Part of the process is a application with a letter saying why you want to be appointed to a committee. With some help from some lovely ladies who acted as my editors I finally got my letter done. Thank You Stay Quirky, my FriendsHomestyle Mama, and Mamas Turn Now for all your help.

So here is the letter:

To the members of the The County School Board,

I would like to apply for the Special Education Committee membership for my district. I believe I am a strong candidate for several reasons:
        1. I have a great stake in the district as a parent of four children who attend County Schools, one of whom deals directly with the special education department.
2.      2.  As a special needs parent, I am actively involved in education at Children’s Hospital and with a program that helps first-year military medical students understand special needs in the home and the community.
3.       3. I have a professional history working with special needs students and adults. This background comes from my experience as a para-educator and as a nurse aide in my community.
4.      4.  I understand that every student is different and that each child may require different services, accommodations or interventions to help them reach their full potential. I also understand the need for our schools to stay within their budgets. I am certain that both can be accomplished.

As you can clearly see, I have both the skills and passion for this position. I believe I would be a great asset to the Special Education Committee for County Schools.  As a special needs parent, I know firsthand how the decisions this committee makes impact our children. If you choose me for this position, I will remain deeply invested and use my experiences and knowledge to help me make the right choices for our children, our schools and the community.

I hope you will find me a worthwhile addition to the committee. Please contact me anytime if you need additional information to help with your decision.
Thank You,

Contact info here                                       

Now all I do is sit back and wait.                                                                                            

Friday, August 9, 2013


Two of the boys had dental appointments yesterday to have fillings. Sounds simple enough right? Well not when they both have to be semi sedated (its like Valium) and one is a hemophiliac. Hemophiliac and dental work that's not fun. Now our dentist is awesome and takes her time to make sure she does not accidentally clip him. That could be trouble. SO the night before I got very little sleep. That's just how it goes.

We take the boys to the dentist which is about a hour drive. Really this office is that good. Typically they will only sedate one child per family a day but they made an exception because of how far I drive and husband took the day off work to help. We get there they take the boys weights and then give them the medication. This is where the fun starts.

This stuff works quickly in Roger and he hates the floatie feeling. So he gets a little agitated. His fixations get more fixated. Where I can normal draw him off a topic when he is medicated for the dentist you can not. He goes back first. About half an hour later they come to get Porkchop. AT first we were thinking the meds are not working for him. Then he stood up and lost his balance yep they are working. He is taken back and Roger comes out. Roger was very disoriented this time and very agitated. You know the moment the other mom in the waiting room shoots you a dirty look because your 14 yr old just took a swing at you. Yeah well I do and I got it on tape. Roger had asked that we tape him after so he could see it. (no I will not be posting any of the video) So yeah lady in the waiting room shut it you look like you have your own issues going over there with your kid who is not listening.

While Porkchop is back for a good hour, I have to keep Roger sitting. Yeah he feel out of his chair about seven times. Again other mom shoots the evil look. Really he's medicated lady. Deal with your kid who is dancing on the table (future job maybe). They come get me to get Porkchop as he needs to be carried. The dentist tells me he threw up all over her to start and is pretty sleepy now. We settle up and off we go.

Both boys slept all the way home. When we got home Roger went directly to bed and stayed there most of the day. Porkchop tried to eat some soup but ended up throwing up in his bowl. He finally got something down later on.

13 hours later they both were still medicated. Roger was awake and fixated on the Percy Jackson commercial. If you want to know they are messing up the story line from the book and that's just not right. He talked about that for hours. He also kept forgetting that he was eating. He would set it down and be what was I doing.

For the most part they were good when they woke up this morning. Roger is still a little melty but not to bad. They are both a little tired so we will just have a easy day again. Maybe I can catch up on the laundry now.