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Category Archives: low self esteem

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted. All I can say I’m sorry folks. Our lives were upheaved again last summer and I have just stayed buried since. In a nutshell… things were pretty good in Pennsylvania for everyone except my husband. He took a new job, we moved to Florida in July, and I am now homeschooling Bailey. I decided that plopping her down in school #4 for grade #4 was not in her best interest because it has taken its toll on her (me too for that matter), so here we are.¬†Summer break is here and I finally feel like I have time to sit down and pick up where I left off with my favorite “me” thing… writing about Bailey! ūüėČ

So far things have gone pretty well. We are in a house, which means no more worrying about disturbing the neighbors with her yelling or stomping or flopping around and having to redirect her to her trampoline or closet. Ironically she is quieter here that she ever as been before. Go figure.

We successfully made it through 4th grade with all limbs attached (hers and mine!). I’ve never wanted so much to be great at something as I did her “learning coach”… and I don’t think I’ve ever had a challenge so scary and so exciting¬†at the same time but that I so looked forward to every day. There were days I was gung-ho¬†and ready to ride up on my winged horse, daily lesson planner in one hand and MagnaTiles¬†in the other,¬†and there were days I was reduced to tears. It can be maddening trying to teach a child as strong willed, sharp, and unfocused as Bailey.

Of note: Bailey did finish¬†the year with straight As! I feel like I earned those As just as much as she did, so yes, I’m patting myself on the back! I truly believe the one-on-one lessons made a world of difference in her learning this year. She’s always done well in school, but I’ve felt like she has gotten lost in the classroom. Her mind would wonder, she would perservate on what toontask she¬†would¬†perform when she got¬†home or if the part in her hair was a perfect straight line, and she would miss¬†the math teacher explaining a new concept. Having that one-on-one time with her was absolutely wonderful¬†and we could spend as little or as much time on a concept as she needed. By the time we hit the 3rd quarter of the school year, she was doing a good deal of independent work and I could step away. It has been good for both of us, her learning a little more independence.

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Other¬†great achievements that Bailey has made are (sort of) learning to ride her bike (she still uses one training wheel) and she recently learned to tie her shoes. Some fine and gross¬†motor skills have always been a challenge for her and anytime I would bring up either¬†subject in the past she would go into panic-mode. She tends to let the fear of failing or the results being less than perfect stop her from trying certain things. I willed the patience to ooze out of me with teaching her both things (and believe me it took an army’s worth) and she finally did it. With both things she began with the panic and resistance, and when she saw that I was staying calm and quiet and ignoring her fit, she decided to let herself try. I could definitely see when it clicked and she was very proud of herself. I’ve decided to look into finger “exercises” I can¬†have her do over the summer to help her improve her¬†fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. It seems like such a little, insignificant thing to most people, but when you see your 10 year old child struggle with something so minute as tying a knot or putting toothpaste on her toothbrush,¬†you do what you have to do to help her¬†figure it out.

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We’ve gone on many outings since we’ve lived in Florida: to the beach, where we started a seashell collection and she was more content covering herself up with wet sand than anything else, the zoo, the aquarium, and the mother-of-all-places, Disney World. It was her first time and she’s had a blast each time we’ve gone. The girl is absolutely fearless when it comes to those rides and I struggle to keep up with her. As long as I can remember she has sought out any vestibular stimulation she could get herself into, and the roller coasters and drop rides are¬†absolute heaven to her. Forget the character shows and meet ups and autographs (although I have managed to get her to humor her mom who is a big kid at heart to take pictures with Chip & Dale and Pluto), nooooo, she wants to go straight to the Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.¬†I truly believe she is part shark… if she’s not moving with viciousness she’s not breathing.

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Her quirks and behavior can still be a challenge a big chunk of the time, and I still find myself having to apologize to the outside world for this or that, but we have made great strides in handling those challenges or being proactive so to avoid them altogether when necessary. I do occasionally see some behaviors that deep down scare the heck out of me because they could¬†possibly turn into something destructive¬†the older she gets, like picking at her pinky toenail until it¬†comes off, scratching a mole on her face until it bleeds because it’s “bothering her being there”, or the fact that she will hit¬†herself when she’s realizes she’s made an error in judgement. At this point I treat this behavior the same as if she has done it to someone else… She’s not allowed to slap the neighbor boy in the head so she’s not allowed to slap herself in the head either, and there are consequences if she does. I’m not sure how long that will be effective though. But for the most part her angry outbursts and lashing out has improved greatly over the past year. The last really bad outburst that I remember completely exhausted me and I clearly remember what it was over. I call it¬†“The Multiplying Squirrel Catastrophe”. Sounds funny, right? Yeah, it wasn’t. A post for another day.

She still stims quite a bit but it’s definitely less noticeable than it has been in the past. Or it could be that it’s so normal for me and I really don’t notice much of it until we go out in public and I sort of see her from the eyes of others who don’t know her. I wonder what they must think of her and then I remember I don’t care. Not usually anyway.

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Bailey has made friends in the neighborhood which has been wonderful and terrible. It’s been great to be able to witness her interactions with her peers and to help her when she needs a nudge in the right direction. It hasn’t been all roses though. Another post for another day.

She’s made so much progress over the past year that I have found myself trying to push her even further. I know the older she gets the harder it’ll be to find resources for her so it would be great to get her to a point where she doesn’t need them and she can manage herself just fine. So I try to prepare her just like any typical mom has to prepare her¬†typical kid for the big, bad world. I just have to use different means and modes to do so and sometimes it takes her longer to learn.

So that is the last year in a nutshell. I get a lot less free time, a lot less sleep, a lot less time to work on my own classes, and a lot more worry! I will manage though. We moms always do.

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Tales of the 3rd Grade Nothing

Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote here. I keep hearing that Steve Miller Band song in my head. I sort of expected writing over the summer would be difficult having Bailey home all day long with me. I find that it is extremely difficult for me to sit down and concentrate long enough to write something meaningful when I’m constantly up and down and up and down with her. Besides I try to use that time with her for one-on-one as much as possible. Then school started and I’m sure everyone can relate to it being an extremely hectic time. Then comes IEP planning and meetings and in-between emails and discussions with teachers about this and that. My days somehow have just gotten filled up with busyness. And some days they get filled up with laziness, when THINKING is the last thing I want to do. There are other days when I want to sit down and write but I feel like nothing but negativity would come out and I just don’t want to put all that out there. Maybe I should, maybe it would help… but I just haven’t wanted to dwell in it long enough to sit down and write about it.

Our summer was short and sweet. I tried to plan a fun outing once a week. For the most part I succeeded. A trip to Longwood Gardens, a tour of the Herr’s Snack Factory, a day at the pool, things like that. Bailey really thrives when we do things like that together, just me and her. She loves exploring new places, learning new things by doing, and being in wide open spaces. There were days when Bailey got in my bed in the morning and we snuggled and played computer games together. Days when we didn’t emerge from my bedroom until well after noon. Those were awesome days too.

I was very optimistic about 3rd grade because she had a great couple of months in 2nd grade after we moved here. She was happy to walk through the doors everyday. When I picked her up I heard stories of her great successes throughout the day. She honestly enjoyed school again. But from the time I dropped her off for Back to School camp (a 3 hour camp getting to know the teacher, classmates and classrooms) in August and she would barely acknowledge her new teacher, my optimism slowly started to roll downhill. She has fought me tooth and nail on just about everything that is school related. She has been extremely defiant and disrespectful to her teachers and her aide, she resents the fact that she even has an aide, and she pushes away most attempts by her peers to be friendly. She has become more and more aware of her differences and resents herself for every single one.

Bailey’s self esteem has gone downhill as well. While I may go a week without hearing the negativity, there are very long stretches of “I hate my life” “I hate myself” “Everyone thinks I’m stupid” along with many others. I honestly expected this. But years down the road. Certainly not at 8.

My biggest personal struggle in all this is I feel like we are pretty much in limbo. Again. Bailey isn’t receiving any services outside of school because we were pretty confident that they just weren’t needed. We’re way past the early intervention resources. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Bailey would be as far along as she is today had it not been for the intervention specialists working with her in Kindergarten and 1st grade. But we’ve reached a point where new challenges are popping up. She’s changing, her view of herself and the outside world is changing, what she’s experiencing is changing. Her peers are starting to pick off the differences they see in each other. Bailey’s quirks are under the microscope. I’ve determined that right now, at the very least, she needs some sort of therapy to continue teaching her coping strategies. I also need help with teaching her the skills to cope with what comes her way. She still needs constant social coaching. And she definitely needs someone, other than her mother and father, to help her see what a wonderful kid she is. But, we are in limbo. I don’t feel confident enough that we’ll stay put long enough to start a relationship with a therapist due to my husband’s job situation. She’s been uprooted and plopped down so much over the past 4 1/2 years so how can I introduce her to someone, to expect her to develop a trust with, only to say ‘we’re off again!’ Not only that, I want so badly to get her in music lessons. I think she would absolutely thrive with it. But with not being sure what next month will hold I feel like I would be starting something that can’t be finished. At least not here. I’ll either shell out a lot of money that will be nonrefundable, or she’ll have a wonderful instructor who we’ll have to snatch her away from again, or the lapse in ending here and starting up wherever we end up would cause her to lose interest.

Now you know why I haven’t been too keen on getting on here and spilling all this out and dragging you all down with me?

It’s not all bad though. Bailey has days that are a great success. She has short-term and long-term goals that she works towards and is a part of the process in picking her incentives. She helps to decide what “signals” she can use with her aide when she needs some space or a break. She is making great strides in group to build her conversation skills. She had a recent playdate that was a success. She is becoming more aware of other people’s moods depending on their facial expressions (huge!). She has also begun to show genuine empathy when she sees someone is down (again, HUGE!). I have no doubt that she has always felt empathy but knowing just how to show it, as with most aspies, has been a challenge for her. She’s gone from the 5 year old that would blankly stare at me for a moment while I was sobbing then leave the room or laugh hysterically if I accidentally hurt myself, to the 8 year old that sees the distressed face of her aide and asks if she is the cause of her not-so-great day or runs to put her little hand on my back after I’ve slipped down the stairs (again). There was also the other day when I picked her up from school and she proudly announced that she was going to try sitting on the other side of the car. This was a really big deal since the seatbelt goes the “other” way and feels so weird to her. After a little squirming and protesting she settled into it for the 8 minute car ride home. She isn’t interested in trying it again any time in the near future but I have to give her a big round of applause for stepping so bravely out of her comfort zone. So, it’s not all bad or a bunch of “nothing”.

Oh! And on a personal note, I’ve gone back to (online) school! I’m working¬†to get my Human Resources degree, which is the field I was in before Bailey was born. I was good at it and had successfully earned my PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification. Then I had her and everything else melted away. ūüėČ I figured it was time to start doing something big for myself.

So there it is. The good, bad and ugly of my absence from my blog. One thing I do know is I do enjoy writing even if I’m not great at it. It helps “get things off my chest”. It helps me stay connected to people who are going through the same things. I promise myself I will do better at setting aside this time for myself and anyone else who wants to listen.