Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Progress Meeting (The Good Part) November 17, 2016

As soon as we walked into the classroom for our meeting with Jays teachers, their eyes lit up.  That immediately made us feel good.  We had barely gotten our hellos out of the way when his math teacher said, “Oh my gosh.  I just have to tell you, we LOVE Jay.”

I giggled.

His language arts teacher chimed in.  “Oh yes, he’s awesome!  We love him and all the kids love him.  They just flock to him.”

 

This, my friends, is a great way to start a meeting.

 

They talked about how stylish he is. (He often wants to dress up for school and will wear bow ties and button up shirts).  They told us about funny things that he does and says throughout the day.  The most recent being that he took a break from playing at recess to announce to the teachers that he had come up with 3 rules for what they should not do while at school.

  1.  No drinking wine.
  2. No touching dead things.
  3. No cutting your own hair.

 

Everyone agreed that those were solid pieces of advise.

 

Of course we had to talk to about the challenges he faces – Mostly test taking.  We talked about his reading comprehension level and his newly discovered appreciation of math.  We talked about his ability to keep up with the pace of the class academically and about what the upcoming state tests mean for him should he not score well.

 

I am just so grateful that we have the people in our lives that we do.  They not only want him to do well, but they are willing to do whatever it takes to help him.  They believe in him!  This is a blessing.  They communicate openly and respond quickly to our emails or phone calls.  He is happy at his school.  I would argue, that him feeling comfortable and supported is more important than the grades on the report card.  You cannot have learning if there is misery or contention.

 

For My Enjoyment October 11, 2016

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Special Needs Kids — The B Side @ 9:05 am
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This is a purely selfish post.  I assume most people will not be as amused by any of this as I am.  If this were back in the day when people kept photo albums, I would put these pictures there and that would be it.  Now, I get to put it on my blog for posterity sake.

 

OK, so here goes.  Below are 3 pictures that I took of school work that came home in Jays school bag.  Each of the 3 sheets shows his answers – Which while they are correct and I am so proud of how well he is doing in school – Was not what caught my eye.  My boy illustrated his work.  I will go on a limb and say he was probably the only kid who did that so I hope it brought some cheer to his teachers day when she checked it.

 

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In the above picture, the drawings that I am particularly fond of are the “wonder” and the “cricket”.  I also got a kick out of him drawing a Christmas tree for “marry”.  I am guessing that he thought the word was “merry”.  I do kind of wish that he had drawn something for marry.  I’m interested to know what his idea of marriage is.  What the picture doesn’t show is that he had erased the E in sundae and written in a Y.  Most likely because he didn’t know what a sundae was and thought there had been an error.  The E was put back in it’s rightful place and he drew an ice-cream cone.  So funny!

 

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In the above picture, I like the untied shoe lace but mostly, I am in love with the attention to detail.  Notably, the light on the dentists head and the closed eyes as the person uses the napkin.

 

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In the above picture, he not only drew pictures for each part of the compound word, but then also one for the compound word itself.  I love how he drew “soft”, and I am sort of relieved that he didn’t know how to draw “birth”.  There’s time to get to that.  The birthday hat took me more time to figure out than it should have.  My absolute favourite though, is the sunburned person.  You can see the dark colour and the heat radiating off them.  It’s fabulous!

 

 

 

Science And Music? What? September 21, 2016

Sitting around the corner and listening to Jay study science with *Shaunie.
He’s learning it folks. About condensing, melting, freezing, the physical properties of matter, atoms, molecules etc.
He’s learning science!!!! At grade level. It’s not easy for him but he’s trying so hard.
He may not get an A on his test but he’s really learning and I couldn’t be more proud.
I made the mistake of thinking back on when I never in my wildest dreams could have ever imagined this. I couldn’t have imagined anything even close to this.
I don’t have the words to explain this feeling.
Too emotional.

 

 

That was my Facebook status the other day.  Our beloved Nanas commented that she always knew he’d get here.  I can’t say the same thing.  I always had high hopes for him.  Of course.  But I’d be lying if I said I always knew my son would be in a general education classroom studying the physical attributes of different kinds of matter.  I dared not assume that he’d ever be able to answer the question “What is an atom?”  Yet, that’s exactly what was happening.  

I had to dry my tears when I heard Jay get up and I realized he was making his way to where I was perched on the stairs.  

Later in the evening, I lay on the couch with him for a few minutes.

I wished him luck on his upcoming test and asked him if he liked science.  He said yes.  I asked him about math and reading.  He said they were OK but math is hard.  He said he prefers science to both math and reading.  I asked him what he thinks about his art class.  I wasn’t surprised to hear that he LOVES art.  

Lastly I asked him about music class to which he said “It’s loud in there and makes my ears hurt.”  

Jay doesn’t have a lot of sensory issues.  If he did have one though it would be related to sounds.  He’s not a fan of out-of-tune singing for example.  I asked him if he’d like me to talk to his teacher about music class.  I told him it was possible for him to do something else instead.  I thought for sure he’d take me up on that offer but instead he mulled it over for a minute and then said “No.  I will stay.  I think I can handle it.”  

These types of back and forth conversations will never NOT be a miracle to me.  

I am blown away by this child.  

 

September 4 years ago, I published posts where the big news was that Jay sat and listened to his first story.  I published posts where Jay was getting kicked out of 2 different social skills classes.  He wasn’t yet reading.  Heck, he wasn’t yet speaking in sentences.  Not even 2 or 3 word ones.  He definitely wasn’t able to take any kind of standardized test at school.  He was in an autism class where they were just trying to get through the day without anyone getting yogurt dumped on their head.  

Before bed last night, I hugged him tight and told him how amazing I think he is and how brave I think he is.  He shrugged me off.  He doesn’t get it.  To him, I’m just a Mom being mushy and weird.  That’s alright.  He doesn’t have to get it.  

 

To all the families who are currently where we were 4 years ago … I know it’s rough.  I know everything seems impossible or implausible.  I know all you want is for your child to say your name.  You don’t even know what your baby’s voice sounds like.  How can you think about science or music class?  Your brain is full – And tired.  I know you want one night of uninterrupted sleep.  You’d do anything to be done with diapers – After all your baby is now 5 or 6 or 10.  If you could just get them to eat 1 new thing you’d be happy.  You’re not asking for much.  It doesn’t have to be cauliflower.  You just cannot make ONE MORE grilled cheese sandwich.  But you will.  Cause that’s all your kid eats.  You don’t want to hear other people telling you to stay hopeful.  You sure don’t want to hear about how their child is also a picky eater.  You don’t want to hear about the things you should be doing or what worked for their neighbours kid.  You don’t feel like you are doing anything right.  You don’t want to fight with schools or insurance companies anymore.  You just want things to be easier.

My God, I get it.  

But hang in there.  It may not happen at the same rate as my son or anyone elses son.  That doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that you don’t give up.  Keep looking.  Keep trying.  Keep working.  Keep talking.  There’s no magic pill or therapy or device.  It’s HARD.  It’s ok to cry.  But just keep keeping on.  

ASSUME THAT YOUR CHILD CAN LEARN.  ASSUME THAT THEY ARE HEARING EVERYTHING YOU SAY AND ARE AWARE OF EVERYTHING YOU DO.  ASSUME THAT THEY ARE BRIGHT AND CAPABLE.  

 

The reward just might be your kid acting like it’s no big deal that they know what the volume of a mass is because in their own matter of fact way they will say “Yeah, I’m smart“.   

 

Let’s Focus on Focusing February 5, 2015

I haven’t written about Ace having trouble with paying attention in class for a while.  That may lead one to think that it’s no longer an issue.  One would be wrong.

 

Just as he’s done since kindergarten, Ace has a really hard time sitting in class and listening to instruction and then doing required school work.  He’s in the 3rd grade now.  It’s only getting harder.  We’ve tried a reward system, a punishment system, and a getting him involved in the solution system.  He sits as close to the teacher as one can get without sitting on her lap, he gets frequent breaks, he gets modified work and extra time and he sits exams in a “quiet room”.

 

He still struggles.

He gets distracted too easily.  He loses focus.  There’s too much talking; too much fidgeting; zoning out; butting in; getting up; silliness.  Did I mention talking, fidgeting and zoning out?

Due to all the “not paying attention” the kid is all but failing social studies and he’s getting mostly C’s in everything else, which is not even half way decent.  To get those not great grades, it takes A LOT of time and effort from multiple people (me, his dad, his teachers, his therapist) and we all think he’s capable of much more.  We know it’s hard for him.  Sitting still and all.  We are not trying to minimize that one bit; but we do think he can try harder to stay focused during class time if he really wants to and if it’s something that he’s interested in.

 

We kind of hit a brick wall.

Inevitably the topic of “Does he need to be on some sort of medication?” comes up.

I hate that topic.  I hated it 2 years ago when it first came up; and I hate it now.

 

I called and now we are on a Pediatric Neurologist appointment waiting list.  I don’t know what that eventual appointment will lead to.  I don’t know what I want it to lead to.

 

Then … Ace’s school schedule changed.  He no longer has social studies – the bane of his classroom existence.  They will now do science.  He is SUPER EXCITED about doing science.  That has always been one of his favourite subjects.  He says it’s not boring like everything else.

Also, his class began using a new online math program for homework instead of paper worksheets this week.  He LOVES it.  He says it’s fun and he now breezes through homework and looks forward to the next nights assignment.

 

Immediately I began thinking about ways to make reading fun for him and I reached out to his teacher to see if that was something we could incorporate into his day and have less sheets of paper for him to do his comprehension assignments on.  She replied to my email in less than 2 hours and she was fully on-board.  She forwarded me a link to some appropriate reading and comprehension online games that she can track and that he can use as part of his homework and she will cut out some of the other things that he normally would be expected to do.

 

Our hope is that if he can find school work to be fun, he will be more inclined to pay attention in class.  I have no idea if it will work.  But it’s worth a shot.

I am so grateful that he has teachers who are willing to work with him and to do whatever it takes to make him successful in school.

 

Let’s see how the next couple of months go.  *fingers crossed*

 

Ace’s Start September 19, 2014

Third grade is off to an up and down start for Ace.  In one week the teacher sent 4 notes home.  She’s not required to send notes home.  She does it when there is something particularly good or bad to report.  2 of them were good (yay!) and 2 of them not so much (boo!).  One day he’s doing well with his school work and participating in class and giving “knock her socks off” explanations to math problems.  But … the next day he’s playing with toys when he should be listening and he’s running in the hallways when he knows that’s not allowed.

 

This is pretty much the same type of situation we’ve had since kindergarten.  He manages to get decent grades but he doesn’t listen.  He needs constant reminders to pay attention and to put things down and to stop the talking but he’s sweet and kind and funny and caring which makes him a joy to have in class.

 

At home, getting through home work and reading and studying is a TASK.  I’ve had to get a lot more strict about it and there has been a fair amount of yelling which I wish wasn’t the case.  He hates it.  I hate having to lay down the law like that on him but it’s for his own good.  I’ve tried to get a little more creative in order to help him but it still kinda sucks the life out of us every evening.  When he gets the good grades we all feel good though.  That’s the pay off.  It is what it is.

*It’s taken me a few days to write this post.  So now I need to edit it to add that there have been random evenings where everything goes perfectly smoothly.  The boys come home, take showers, eat dinner, do homework without any fussing and they’re relaxing/playing by 7:30.  That’s my dream for every day.  Why that doesn’t happen every day I don’t know.*

Ace goes to an after school program and even though he doesn’t get it all done he does start working on his homework there.  I was proud of him when I heard that he asks to go to a quiet room in order to do his home work.  It’s hard for him not to get distracted when he’s in a room full of other kids.  I’m really proud of him for taking that initiative himself.

 

In non-school-work news … He signed up for his school chorus.  I love my boy and to me he’s the most handsome, smartest, kindest, sweetest, wonderous thing ever … BUT … the boy CANNOT carry a tune.  (I’m assuming they don’t care about that at this age.)  Not only can he NOT carry a tune.  He does NOT carry a tune LOUDLY.   It will be interesting to see how this chorus thing goes.  He’s excited about it and I’m encouraging him all the way.

 

In true Ace fashion, he’s ALREADY lost a jacket.  He got ONE wear of it.  Last year he lost 4 sweaters, 2 jackets, his lunch box (at least 3 times) and several hats/scarves and gloves.  That’s ma kid and did I say I love him?  Although I won’t tell him this, he definitely gets that “losing things” trait from his mom.  It wasn’t until I started having to pay for my own stuff that I became way more careful.

 

So there you have it.  We’re managing.  Sorta.   I suspect that the rest of the school year will go this same way.  Bumpy but not unbearable.  Infuriating but exhilarating.  Busy but fun.  Tiring but OH SO WORTH IT!!!