Sunday, August 30, 2015

First week of First Grade is in the books!

  Nixon's first day of school was Monday. Last Monday, August 24th. I had done the shopping for supplies, gotten his new backpack, packed his lunch and we'd even had an open house at his new school. He was excited. I was unbelievably anxious. Nixon was also riding a bus this year, something he was super excited about.

   Monday morning came, far too early in my opinion but my coffee maker was preset and brewed when I got up, Nixon was dressed and waiting for breakfast when I opened my eyes. I got up 2 hours before his bus was coming to give us plenty of time to get ready, without feeling rushed. When his bus came, Mac and I walked him to it and said our goodbyes. I did not cry.
   No really, I did not cry! We were all ready to put last year and his former school behind us.

    Nixon's attending another public school but in a special classroom, specifically for children with special needs.

    The first day, after school, the classroom social worker called to say Nixon had a good day. He tried to escape the class to avoid the work, at first, but by the afternoon he was responding to the token reward system the classroom uses. He needed a few reminders to use his indoor voice but otherwise he did very well.

    The rest of the week went much the same. A couple more phone calls, one was regarding an incident with Nixon and another student in the cafeteria Nixon told me about and I wanted to double check if the classroom staff were aware of it, and the second was about Nixon's first trip to the nurse resulting in an ice pack and a quarter-sized bruise on his arm after a bit of roughhousing with a classmate. Both phone calls the social worker informed me Nixon is making wonderful progress, quickly adapting to the routine of the classroom and no longer attempting to avoid his work like he had the first day. He's quickly earning his reward tokens.

   I couldn't have been more relieved! Given the gut-dropping experiences from last year's school phone calls, being called and hearing his doing great is taking some adjusting.

    I'm also navigating another new territory as a parent: bullying and name calling, from the outside in.
    Nixon came home one day and said "there's a bad boy in my class" and proceeded to tell me, the boy was having what sounded like a meltdown after lunch time. Nixon had plenty of these last year, lunch was a constant sensory overload for him. Nixon told me "the mean boy stepped on me and then started to cry and yell".
    As calmly as I could, I reminded Nixon of his actions last year, from being in the cafeteria. I reminded Nixon of the times I had to go to school and help him calm himself because his teachers couldn't. I told him, "Nixon, you weren't being bad last year and your classmate wasn't bad or mean today. His brain just couldn't take anymore but he, maybe, didn't know how to ask for a break. He's not trying to hurt you on purpose, you were just kind of around when he hit his max limit. But he's not any more a bad or mean kid than you are or were last year. He, and you, just kind of sometimes need breaks but don't always get the warnings from your body before your brain needs a break. Just like at home, Dad and I give you space to recover when you've had enough, make sure you respect your classmates space and let them recover, okay?"
     Friday, Nixon says the same boy from earlier in the week, was called a "crybaby" in class by another student. I asked Nixon if he called him that. Nixon said "No, but I did laugh because it's a funny word, he was crying but he's too big to be a baby" (he's such a literal thinker!). We had another talk and I asked him to be kind to all his classmates and to stand up for the ones who need a voice, like the one being called names, because everyone needs a friend.

    Overall, his first week of school was pretty darned great! No referrals, no letters home, no trips to the principals office. I call it a success!  

My baby waiting for his bus on the first day of school!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

With coping skills and techniques come some amazing moments!

    Life keeps moving forward, no matter how many times I reach out and try to find the pause button. Nixon's had 3 meet and play sessions with his ABA therapist. They're building a relationship that will expand to more demand-based play. For now they play games and sports during the sessions. Nixon gets frustrated but his therapist works with him and Nixon responds.
    One of their session days, our community was getting the weekly lawn care done. It wasn't safe for them to be playing in the yard while the yard guys were mowing, especially because there's always stuff in the grass getting tossed up by the mowers, so I suggested bubbles on our balcony for a bit. However, again lawn guys mowing, I offered Nixon his headphones to help cancel out some of the noise from the lawn mowers.
    This is what that looked like:

    Nixon also had to go to the dentist last week. That was...not fun. His dentist is amazing! She was wonderful with him, very patient and understanding of his autism diagnosis. I brought my ever-growing bag of tricks, which now also includes a weighted lap pillow, which in a former life was a pillow pet. (One night, a zipper, polybeads and my sewing kit made it all happen)

     The end result of the trip was a cleaning, some fluoride, and learning that all future treatments beyond cleanings will be done in a hospital setting under sedation. That is, Nixon will be sedated, not me, though after last week's visit I wouldn't be against a mild sedative for myself.
    Unfortunately, Nixon also had an abscess that had drained itself naturally, but his dentist wanted to treat him with a round of antibiotics to be safe. This is for a couple reason but largely because Nixon never mentioned any pain in his mouth at all, and having had an abscess once myself I'm amazed and shocked by that. He registers pain differently which makes treating some ailments harder, like an abscess. He was given amoxacillin in addition to a second, back-up only fill if needed, prescription. Why? Well, I have an allergy to both penicillin and amoxacillin, and my dad has an allergy to penicillin. Nixon's never been on either (never needed one before) and the doctor was understanding of my concerns.
    Yep, he had a reaction to the amoxacillin. It started with a stomach ache and the next dose he had a couple blisters form around his mouth, but it took him being on the medication for almost 3 days before the reactions started.
    Thank gods for that second prescription!


     Mac was off this weekend and thanks to a good friend who adores Nixon, he and I had a date for the first time in months. And it was lovely!
     Today we had a family date. We went to the Brick Fair in Virginia, not a Lego sponsored event, but lots of Legos there! 
     Nixon was good, he had a few issues mostly waiting in lines or trying to see displays when people wouldn't move. He did get upset when we were asking him too many questions (we were trying to give him options for items to purchase for him, but it was too much for him). He always managed to stop himself before he got too upset. He'd refocus on something else and deescalate. And in the end, he decided when he was ready to go and asked if we could leave now. 
     We left. 
Trying to amuse him while waiting to get a clear spot to view the moving setups.

Trying so hard to keep it together while waiting to go into the bounce house

Nixon bolted from me when he saw this! 

Sliding a block down the ramp in the play area

Good night kisses for my boy, BeBe in hand and fingers in mouth.