Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lunch, jokes and missing teeth

    There's a reason why I sing the praises of Nixon's teacher's aide. This morning I asked her, at drop-off, if it'd be possible to get another copy of yesterday's chart. It was in his folder this afternoon!

    Pretty much what I had expected after 4 days off, plus a week of short days after a day off last week. He hasn't had a full day of school in over 2 weeks. His transitions were rough, he didn't want to do his work and was just being Nixon when his routine is messed up.

   ...he pulled it together today! He ate lunch in a separate classroom, instead of the cafeteria, because he was being too goofy. He had apparently started telling jokes and listening to jokes and got overly excited from this.
   It's actually not uncommon for jokes to get Nixon super excited. He doesn't really know emotionally the right response all the time, most of the time he goes very extreme with his emotions. It's hard for him to regulate his emotions after he gets too wound up. Removing him from the cafeteria was actually the best thing for him, as he pulled himself together the rest of the day. 

    Finally, after we got home and Nixon was playing on his tablet while snacking on his Poptart Nixon's loose tooth popped out! He said, very calmly, "My tooth fell out". I got up and went to the kitchen, getting warm salt water ready for him to swish with. He came over and said "Mom, you need to get that water ready. Make sure you make it warm and salty. For my mouth, and my missing tooth."
   I had to go into the bathroom with him, not because I was worried he wouldn't swish, but because there was a little blood and that tends to get Nixon really upset. I spent about 3 minutes with him, calmly telling him that the blood wasn't a bad thing and it'd stop in a few seconds. He was, surprisingly, fine with it all. This is the first tooth that fell out and didn't have the new tooth emerging from the gums already. This was his fourth tooth to fall out and his second top tooth. 

    I love his gap tooth smile! 

When Acronyms meet new places

   Part of every child's life is birthday parties. Neurological normal kids have no problem with these events and they love attending.

    Our lives, however, make it a little harder. There's knowing he's going to face overwhelming noises, have sensory overload from the sounds, more than likely at least one meltdown. Then we have to factor in that there will be limited routine and lots of chaos. While birthday parties are fun for most kids, for my little SPD, ASD, ADHD kiddo it can be exhausting.
    I don't try to avoid parties, Nixon's only had 2 invitations this school year and we've attended (or made plans to attend) them both. But it takes a lot of preparation, both for Nixon and me. I start by reminding him it'll be loud. I then let him know that he will have to let the birthday child open his presents, without Nixon's help. I have to let him know that we may eat first or play first, there's no real routine.
   The biggest thing I do for him is let him know that, at any time, he can ask me to leave or help him find a quiet corner. I also carry headphones in my purse, in case he just can't handle the noise. I try to make the car ride, to and from, as quiet as possible, allowing him to decompress immediately afterwards.

    For me, I make sure I have a BIG cup of coffee. I also pack my balls-of-steel because  I never know when I'll have to deal with an adult who doesn't understand Nixon's issues and tries to run his/her mouth. I've been lucky so far and never needed to use them, but with every event we go to, odds are eventually one day I'll need them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday still remains his worst day

   It's also becoming my worst day! I don't have his behavior chart to post here, because it was handed to me as I was going to his classroom. I folded it up and put it in my jacket pocket but it wasn't there when we got home...or in my purse....or in my car. It's just gone.

    Nixon started his day saying he didn't want to be in school. Then when it came time to leave he said he didn't want to go home. He did get 7 smiley faces.

    After school I took him to the group play that we first went to earlier this month. He was okay at first and then not so okay. He only wanted to participate if it was his turn. He even quit musical chairs because he wanted to play with scooters.
    I actually spoke to another mother there. Her son had Nixon's current teacher last year. She had a lot of issues with the school and the principal. So much so, that this year our school spent money out of their budget to send her son to a charter-like school. She likes the school and her son is doing amazing there, but it worries me that something similar may happen to Nixon because of his own issues.

   Finally, Nixon asked for some "awesome" hair today. I did the best I could, and he was super happy with it.

    I asked him after school, if anyone said anything about his hair. He said "Well, this one boy who was taking a poop in the bathroom, he said he liked it!". He also said some kids at lunch were talking about it, but he didn't elaborate.
   I took the time to let him know that he'll never please all the people all the time, so as long as he's not hurting himself, he should just focus on making himself happy. Things like haircuts and hair styles and other forms of self-expression, is what I meant. And I did clarify that to him.

    And let's hope that dangling tooth falls out soon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Last week got away from me, here's the 23rd's post

    Friday came and went, as did the rest of the weekend. Nixon's had Monday and today off from school, in-service working days for teachers. It's the end of the semester, which I guess these days are used for grading without distractions of kids in the classrooms.

   He had another great day. Even with his minor meltdowns, he's really reacting positively when given choices and consequences. 

    Our weekend involved a visit to a couple comic book stores. Saturday was a creator signing. We waited in line, Nixon was great because he had his tablet. When he and I were done, Mac was still talking to the creators and getting a sketch from the artist. There are times I have to remind Mac that Nixon's at his breaking point. Saturday was that day. All Nixon wanted to do was go look at the Big Hero 6 toys at the front of the store. Mac wanted him to wait until he was done. I finally saw how hard Nixon was trying not to have a meltdown (he was sitting on the floor, rocking side-to-side hugging his knees at one point). I snapped at Mac, I told him I'd take Nixon and he can do whatever he wants to do. 
   I'm not perfect, neither is Mac. But I go out of my way, often at the expense of my own interests and time, to keep Nixon from melting down. Mac's usually pretty good at the same thing, unless he's doing something he really wants to do or is super involved in something. Those are the times he'll expect Nixon to "behave" and those are the times we usually have a meltdown, with a side of Mac's frustration showing. 

   For the most part, the weekend was great. We watched a movie together Sunday night, because Nixon was off Monday we extended bedtime for him. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today he made choices based on consequences

    Nixon's all impulse and very little forethought. He's not good with consequences either. He knows his actions have them, but unless it's something he's really attached to, he's not overly focused on them.
    More on this later.
    Today, Nixon hardly ate his lunch. I asked him why and he said he was "too busy eating my Ravens colored (purple) Popsicle". I asked him where the Popsicle came from, because I do not pack those! He said "G let me have one. She got a prize and could pick 3 friends to have Popsicle with and I was one of her friends! I even got to pick the color and they have the Ravens color, so I chose that one."

   The most impressive thing about today's behavior chart isn't the 7 smiley faces, it's the note that he changed his actions when told about consequences! Earlier this school year he wouldn't have even listened when in a tantrum/episode. Today he did and he responded! With positive choices!
   I'm such a proud and happy momma tonight!

Wednesday seems to be a hard day for Nixon

   *I'm posting yesterday's chart today because last night I focused on family first*

   Another early dismissal day. Nixon was super excited yesterday when I picked him up because there were giant snowflakes falling from the sky!

   He had a mostly good day. He did have a minor issue, which happened during writing time. Nixon was getting frustrated during the assignment. He got up to go to the bathroom and on his way he swiped a crayon across another students paper.
   He got a break after this and did finish the class assignment, and apologized to the other student. It's frustrating because we know writing assignments are an issue for him, I'd expected his writing work to be done during his one-on-one learning time. If I see this again I will be calling the school and scheduling a meeting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Another great day....until bedtime.

    After having yesterday off for MLK Jr Day, today could have gone either way. But Nixon made it wonderful! His day started with a visit to a teacher who had brought in some hissing cockroaches, which Nixon loved! He even asked if she could bring in more another time for him to see. 

   He has early dismissal all this week. Some sort of end-of-semester break crap. Whatever, I pick him up 2 hours early every day this week. He was all smiles at pick up today.

    At bedtime I was checking on his fish. He has a Betta fish and 2 ghost shrimp. We thought one of his ghost shrimp died the first night we had him, but it turned out it had just molted its shell an hid for a day. 
    Tonight, I found that same shrimp, tucked in a corner and pinkish in color....on its side. This time, Midnight as he's known in our house, was really dead. I called Mac to show him and then we broke the news to Nixon. 
   Nixon was fine, but he after a few minutes he started bawling! We talked to him about death, told him his tears were okay and that it's okay to be sad. We shared things we liked about Midnight right before we buried him "at sea". Nixon was still crying, I laid in bed with him until he was asleep. 

    My heart hurts for him. I love him and hate seeing him sad. In the end it was a learning opportunity.
RIP Midnight (large one on the left)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"He can't tell time"

    Nixon and I had a regular morning. I almost overslept because, while I changed my alarm from the day before, I forgot to actually turn the alarm on. Thankfully, Nixon was already in med with me and kept reading the numbers off the clock to me.

    We got to school, on time, and I walked him to the door. We had our little talk (it is along the lines of: No spitting/hitting/kicking/bad language/running away or taking your clothes off. Be kind, use kind words, listen to your teachers, ask for a break if you feel overwhelmed, transition without fights), I got a hug and kiss before he ran over to see the teacher's aide. I left, hoping for the best.

    I picked Nixon up from school. He was all smiles and the aide was too. He had 7 smiles for the day, 15 minutes out of class and lost 10 minutes of recess (to do work he'd missed earlier). The teacher's aide told him he was losing 16 minutes of recess, but only set the timer for 10 minutes. Reasoning being, Nixon can't tell time but had acted badly enough that a time longer than 10 minutes of recess lost had a larger impact on his behavior.
   *Now, I should say this: Nixon is unaffected by losing recess to do work. He likes working in the classroom when everyone else is outside, as long as he gets some outside time. I've brought this up to his teacher, just letting her know this isn't an effective deterrent. The time from recess isn't a punishment, but it does help Nixon complete all his school work that day.*

  Overall, today was a vast improvement from yesterday. Here's hoping tomorrow is great too. He's got Monday off and 4-early dismissal days next week. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It was bound to happen some time soon


   This was yesterday's behavior sheet. Nixon had earned Lego time, which he was going to get today.
    Another 2 hour delay (weather again) and Nixon was in a great mood and ready to start when I dropped him off. He had a great morning, finished his work early enough to play with the Lego's before lunch time...and it all went down from there. 

   He could not pull himself together after having the Lego's taken away.  This is one of the roughest days he's had in quite a while.
    Today also happened to be "Welcome Wednesday", when parents are invited to have lunch with their kids at school. It's always chaotic and I never attend. My reason is simple: Nixon doesn't need me to come to school for 25 minutes and leave, it'd be difficult for him to adjust after that. I see him at home, he can have school as his time without me. It's not that I don't love him, I just want to keep his routine as unchanged as possible.  
   His day ended with the aide coming to get me to help get him out of the classroom. Nixon was refusing to leave, dead weighting and screaming. I walked into the room and he was sitting quietly next to his teacher, jacket on. He saw me and tried to hide inside his coat! Literally, pulled his head inside the chest part and tried to zip the coat up while he was buried in it. I stood back and let him do it. I wasn't talking to him yet.
    He finally said "Hi Mommy. I'm not going home today". I walked over to him, crouched down so he could see my eyes and hear me as I whispered to him. I don't yell at him in school (I'm not going to lie and say I never yell at him. I'm a parent and I'm not perfect, and this kid can push every button I have. Yelling happens). I did talk to him, very quietly, and asked him if he wanted me to "carry you like a baby in front of all your friends?", of course expecting him to say no. Instead he said yes. So I lifted him arm under his knees and around his back. As I'm carrying him his teacher stops me. Now, I'm trying to get Nixon out of the class without him screaming I'm not exactly in a place to have a conversation with her.
    But it wasn't awful. She apologized again, complimented me for being able to work with Nixon and manage to keep him from screaming (I want to get her ear plugs on some day, Nixon's pitch is evil!) and thanked me for the peanut butter glitter jar. The conversation wasn't as painful as I thought it may have been. 

   The only other awful (disgusting) thing that happened was, apparently, at one point during Nixon's afternoon he decided to pick his nose and try to wipe it on his friends. Of course, kids were laughing and Nixon kept it up until removed from class for a moment. This is so gross! Sometimes he just comes up with things, impulse actions, without any thought before acting. This is one of those things. 

    Just one more thing. I know the difference between Nixon having a rough "Aspie" day and Nixon just acting out to get his way. Today was an "Aspie" day. He came home, did a little reading and crashed in his bed for an hour-long nap. Exhaustion at the end of a difficult or bad day is the telltale sign that Nixon's behavior was more Asperger's issues than ADHD acting out.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Even when I have a mini-Mom fail moment, Nixon does okay

    Today's Tuesday, and it was a full day of school! Tuesday's also library day for Nixon's class. Normally I pack his book in his backpack the night before. I forgot last night. Normally, Nixon does this little OCD (obsessive compulsion disorder) check list every morning. He stands by the door and it goes something like this:
"Lunch paddle? Check. Backpack? Check. Sneakers? Check" and since the winter has started he'll sometimes add gloves and hat.
    The moral is we both forgot about his book. I remembered a couple hours later and immediately left to bring it to him at school. He had a good library day and I fixed my "mom fail" moment.

   I'm very happy to see he was offered some alternative computer learning during treasure time. That's always been an issue for Nixon. It's a big block of time with different learning stations, a lot of chaos and not very much learning gets done by Nixon. The alternative learning options are in his IEP.
   Nixon had a great day today. 9/10 smiles, no time out of class and a short tantrum, after treasure time which really isn't totally unexpected. He turned the whole day around and for that I'm happy.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What a Monday.....

   I'm just going to put this here:

   It pretty much speaks for itself!
   Due to weather predictions of icy road conditions, school was delayed 2 hours this morning. Nixon and I had a calm and low-key morning before we left for school.

   No time out of class and all smiley faces?! We're happy parents over here.
   I also sent Nixon to school with a calm down glitter jar, for him to keep at school. I asked him this afternoon if he used it today. He said "I didn't need to Mom. I never got upset!". I was not expecting that response.
   His aide said to me "These short days are wonderful for him". She's not wrong. 

   This week, if we ever have another full-day of school, they should start implementing the IEP. The first part will be Nixon's one hour in a smaller class setting for instructional learning. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ending the week on a high note!

  I love picking Nixon up from school and seeing him smiling big! I love when he throws me a  thumbs up as he's walking down the hall and sees me! I love these things and so much more on a good day.
  Today was that day.
   But not before I saw Nixon leave his class, with the teacher's aide, and head in the opposite direction of the exit. I figured they were going to the school store to buy something as part of Nixon's reward for good behavior. It's happened before. (Students at Nixon's school earn fake currency by making good choices or any other time the teacher feels they've earned it. The money buys stuff st the school store.) They came back and went back into the classroom. Eventually they came out of another classroom and headed towards the office. When the aide brought Nixon out she explained: Nixon couldn't find his fidget that he brought from home today. They checked a couple other classrooms before Nixon found his pocket!

   No time out of class and 9 smileys! The only frowny face is actually real easy to make sense of. They had an assembly with the entire kindergarten grade. It was loud and Nixon got very overstimulated. He told me he did ask to leave the room because he couldn't calm down with the class so loud.
    This is progress! Nixon acknowledged he was overwhelmed and realized he needed space and asked for it. After the first assembly at school, Nixon was out of class for a very long time and couldn't turn his day around. Yet today he recognized, verbalized and asked for time to calm down. This is HUGE! I could not have possibly been happier than I was today coming home after hearing this.
   What a great start to the weekend! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

An attempt at something different was done today

   Another 2-hour delayed start to the school day. Yesterday was icy conditions on the roads, to was below zero wind chill advisory. I told Nixon last night that we'd have bacon and eggs if he had another late start for school. True to my word, when Nixon came into the bedroom at 8:05am I got up and made our breakfast.

    I walked him to the school doors today. It was so cold that I couldn't send him out alone, it felt cruel.

   Not much to report today. He had a mediocre day.

    I didn't get told exactly what set him off, but after the 10 minutes out of class, he escalated back into more screaming. At this point, he was taken to the Special Education teacher's room. There he was given 2 choices (he chose to read the pop-up Cat in the Hat book). He spent 15 minutes there and returned back to his classroom.

    The aide mentioned something about him getting overwhelmed early in the day, but had no chance to elaborate. (She brings Nixon out a few minutes before dismissal. She has crossing guard duty and found it's easy for Nixon is he leaves the classroom with her. I've gotten used to getting to the door a few minutes earlier than normal dismissal times. It's really helpful because Nixon likes to run around if he doesn't see Mac or I waiting for him)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

...and then there's his teacher (UPDATE at the bottom)

    Nixon's teacher has a "vibe" about him. She's made comments before, along the lines of him "getting his way" at home or him "not used to sharing attention", and there was a "an only child, mmmhmm" when we first met. 
    I've grit my teeth and ignored them. I smiled when she said to to me "He's a totally different kid around you", on a day I was called in to help Nixon for a kindergarten-wide event. I don't know how to respond to that. Aren't most kids different around their parents? Maybe not always for the best, but most kids behave differently when their parents are around. 

    Today, while discussing Nixon's school behavior with the IEP board members his teacher made a comment about Nixon not acting out at home like at school. I told the board, it's difficult to hear Nixon being described as he's been since school started because it felt as though it was someone else's child. It felt as though Nixon had a "Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde" situation, except that I'd never seen the bad personality. His teacher said something along the lines of  Nixon "gets to do what he wants at home". It's not the first time she's made a comment like this, but I'm damned sure making sure it will be the last time I don't respond. 
   Instead of going off on her in front of the group and taking the focus off of Nixon's needs, I decided to write an email when I got home. I didn't send it right away, I let it sit while I took Nixon to a play group.

    Here's what I ultimately sent:

Dear Mrs C, 
    First, let me say I realize Nixon is not an "ideal" student. And I appreciate the patience you've shown with him and techniques you've implemented in the classroom to accommodate him.

   However, I was offended by a comment you made in today's meeting and rather than addressing it in the group setting, I felt I'd come to you one-on-one about it.
    I'm not sure how or why you've got the impression that Nixon "gets his way" at home, but that was the comment you made in the meeting today and I feel I have to defend not only myself but my family. 
    Your exact comment was along the lines of "...and he gets his way" regarding Nixon at home. Yes, Nixon is an only child but he does not run things. Have I made accommodations for him? Of course, but you as a mother yourself can't say you don't do the same for your own children.

    If I was a parent that allowed my child to "run things", I wouldn't be reaching out to all resources to get him help. I wouldn't be making doctors appointments and setting up meetings at the school for testing. I wouldn't even admit my child had issues. But I do and have accepted that Nixon is "that kid" for you this school year. 
    What hurts me, as a mother, is that I feel you've unfairly judged Nixon (and my family as a whole) because he is an only child. This is not the first time I've gotten that impression from you, but I'd like it to be the last. Nixon is a child with multiple disabilities but he is far from spoiled.

    I do realize this message maybe seen as confrontational and I apologize for that. But I felt it needed to be addressed and I'd prefer not to do it in a group setting, as I previously mentioned. 

Thank you for your time.

   We'll see if she responds. I've sent emails before and it's hit or miss for response times. I sent one in late October....I'm still waiting for a response. 
   I just couldn't ignore the comments anymore. I needed to say something and I had to be able to control my temper. Email was the perfect solution. 

   There was a (surprising) response in m inbox this morning.

Mrs. B,
I am so glad that you reached out to me to share your thoughts.  My intent was never to judge or offend you or your family.  In no way did I mean to question your parenting skills or to imply that Nixon is a spoiled child.  When I shared that Nixon gets to do what he wants at  home, I was just trying to point out the difference between a home setting and a scheduled, structured school setting with high demands.

I do realize how much you work with and for Nixon and really appreciate your involvement and support.  I am glad to be part of the team that is helping him.  He is truly a sweet child, and I do enjoy having him in my class.
Thank you,

IEP(C) meeting today....and I'll explain what that means.

   Today began with a 2-hour delayed start to the school day.  Nixon woke up and came into my bedroom asking me if we were going to be late. I briefly told him we didn't have to leave for a couple more hours because of the weather. I got some more sleep, and also almost smothered by Nixon who insists on kissing me in my sleep.
    We almost had another meltdown over snowball fights and outdoor recess but I defused it by reminding Nixon how cold and wet snow was. He'd asked for a snowball fight before school but instead opted for fake snowball fight. He grabbed a giant cottonball-like ball and threw it at me. Indoor snowball fight and we left for school.

    Our IEP meeting was scheduled for 1pm. Mac left work to attend this meeting. We finally went back to the meeting room just before 1:30pm.  We went over attendance, a bunch of faces and names I'm still learning.
    Our IEP started with a meeting in October (IEP(A)) to agree to testing and find out what kind of tests we were agreeing too, in December before the break we had a results meeting (IEP(B)) and today was IEP(C) the initial plan details.
   The plan will include: 1 hour-a-day outside of the classroom for instruction in a smaller setting, it'll include 3 hours in classroom learning with scheduled breaks and alternative (technological) learning methods,  he'll get time with the school psychologist for evaluations twice every quarter (this won't be the only time he sees her, but the evals are twice a quarter), he'll get an "adult aide" exclusively for him daily (this is going to be a change, since the current teacher's aide isn't qualified to be that assistant, so the school is searching for one now and the current aide will go back to being a classroom aide for 2 kindergarten classes. I can't argue this because there are requirements in place for IEP students and aides that need to be met).  There will also be an Occupational Therapist offering coping techniques to Nixon. So far these include a body sock, wiggle chair and a foam pencil gripper.
    Overall the meeting went well. I did push for the starting point of time out of his current classroom to be 1-hour a day not what was proposed 30 minutes a day. That was really all I was fighting for and they agreed. We'll have a review meeting in 45 days.

   And onto Nixon's Behavior Chart:
   Yep, that's 7 smileys and ZERO time out of class today! Yay!! He had a great day and I was so happy. He was even happier because he got his full half hour on his tablet!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Too good to be true, but.....

   Today was a rough one. Nixon woke up and it was snowing. The roads were crap and a lot of parents in the area saying school should've been closed. But it is what it is and I sent Nixon to school. I did cancel his afternoon appointment with the child psychologist. The roads I would have had to have taken to get him there were just total accident magnets. Since it wasn't a life or death situation, I felt there was no need to take the risk.

   Nixon, on the way out the door to school, says to me "Mommy, I can't wait for outdoor recess today!". I calmly warned him that there was a very high probability that was NOT going to happen today. I told him that again while walking him to the entrance.
   **By the way, the CUTEST thing happened as he was getting ready to enter school. Nixon's classmates H and A were getting out of their parents cars and walking into school when they both say Nixon. I heard, in the most adorable chorus, "Nixon! Hi Nixon!" and Nixon returning the gleeful greetings. He was so excited to see his classmates and they him.
     Nixon doesn't feel the need to make friendships. He talks about 3, maybe 4, classmates. It's a little sad, as a mom, to not have him asking for friends to come over and to be invited to a friend's house. But he'll get there. The awesome thing about Nixon (and some ASD kids) is he doesn't understand peer pressure. He doesn't feel the need to impress or be liked by his peers. The class tries to help encourage Nixon to "behave" (his teacher's words, not mine) when he's acting out and Nixon is usually non-responsive to it. Other times, certain students like to praise Nixon when he's having a particularly good day again without much of a reaction from Nixon.**

   Today was rough. Nixon found out, from the teacher's aide, first thing this morning that there would be no outdoor recess today. For whatever reason, Nixon had thought snow meant outside recess. He was in a funk for the rest of the day.
   Since he was expecting me to pick him up early for his doctor's appointment, even though I cancelled it, I picked him up early. 
    He did spend 20 minutes out of class. When the aide told him he was at 20 minutes, he said "Ugh fine, okay. I'll go back now. I don't want to lose more tablet time".  

    It's not overly surprising to me that Nixon had such a rough day. Despite my warning him there likely would not be outdoor recess, Nixon had it in his mind that he would get outside for recess. Finding out that wasn't happening was all it took for him to shut down for the day.

   Tomorrow's another day and another chance for smiley faces.

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's scary, returning to the daily grind

   Today was Nixon's first day back to school since Tuesday December 23rd. To say I was anxious the entire time he was in school, would be an understatement. Since the IEP process started, the school has only called me 2-3 times regarding Nixon. Lately the calls I get are electronic generated messages and two calls from the nurse. I still haven't changed the school's ring tone (It's from Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Welcome to the Murder" repeated over and over until I answer. It's meant to be funny, but it really identifies what every phone call from the school feels like).

   Usually, when Nixon's routine is disrupted it results in a lot of acting out and tantrums. It took him 4 days to get over the change after Thanksgiving break concluded. The first day back he was out of the classroom nearly 2 hours!

    This is today's behavioral chart. 
    I suppose I should explain this chart. It's Nixon's day at school broken down into 10 sections. This gives him a chance to see his progress and keep track of how close to a "reward" he is. The teacher's aide, who works almost exclusively one-on-one with Nixon, fills this out. She makes notes and counts the smiley faces. Smiles are good, frowns are bad and straight faces are neutral. After 6 smiles Nixon earns a reward, sometimes a bit of computer time in the classroom and other times Lego playtime.

   Today he was okay. He reached his 6-smiley face goal, but not without some struggles. He did have an especially hard time with Treasure Time (it's the bulk of the learning for the day. It consists of multiple learning stations with a group of other students. This time is Nixon's worst part of the day. It's too structured, too many changes and too much stimulation. He's gotten better, but it's almost a given that this will be a rough spot. The aide is wonderful at helping him complete these tasks but its not always without a struggle) which resulted in 17 minutes out of the class so he could calm down and regroup. He did eventually finish the work, as he usually does.
   He did have issues after recess, not wanting to come back in. And refused to participate in gym class. I'm not sure what that was about.

   Overall, compared to returning after a break off for Thanksgiving, this was a good day! 

   One new thing I'm trying, as motivation for less time out of the classroom, is time on his tablet. Every weekday Nixon starts with 30 minutes on his tablet. For every 10 minutes out of the class he'll lose 1 minutes of his tablet time.  I heard from the teacher's aide today that Nixon told her that right away and said "I can't spend more than 10 minutes out of the class or I lose tablet time!".

   We'll see if this continues to be a good motivational tool or not.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

In the beginning

   First an introduction:

   My name is Rea. I'm a mother to one awesome little boy, Nixon, he's 6-years old. I'm married to Mac, who retired from the Navy last June.

   Our life kind of changed in 2014. See, Nixon started Kindergarten and the issues that I'd been bringing up to our doctors since he was around 2, suddenly became larger and more urgent. Nixon was not adjusting to school, at all. He was the disruptive kid in class. His teacher called me on the first "preview" day of school. (It was a full school day, but only 1/3rd of the students attended. It was meant to give the kindergarten students an idea of what to expect when school started.) His teacher called to tell me Nixon sat on a table. And screamed at her. "NOOOOOOOOO!" when she changed the activity. I apologized and assured her I'd talk to him about it.
   When school started, the phone calls got more frequent. It was never anything like "he hurt a student" or "he's swearing", that was my consolation. But the calls were almost daily. I requested a meeting the first week of school. I got a meeting request a month later. After Nixon was suspended for a day. He had a giant meltdown and while no one was hurt, his actions did lead to the classroom being emptied of all students. He was throwing objects, not at anyone, but throwing them none-the-less.
   When the meeting happened, Mac and I both went to it. I went armed with an appointment with our doctor for a referral evaluation. A referral to have Nixon evaluated because I was coming to believe Nixon was on the autism spectrum. The meeting went well, except for his teacher who seemed to believe Nixon was an overly indulged only child.  

   The school requested to do their own tests, so that they can better help Nixon on an individual level.

    After all was said and done, and the test results reveled, our life changed. Nixon was found to be on the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and also sensory processing disorder (SPD). With these diagnoses, the school started moving forward to develop an individualized education program (IEP).

   This blog is going to be an outlet for me, a progress tracking method of Nixon's behavior at school and a way to show life doesn't stop when the acronyms begin. It's a struggle, seeing you child defined by acronyms and it'd be easy to let those define him, but those acronyms are not all he is.