RSS Feed

Category Archives: moving

Restart

IMG_3202

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.

IMG_2318

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.

DW aquarium

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.

oceanocean2

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.

wind

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.

Moving on

It has been months since I’ve been able to sit down and write. I feel awful because just as I was getting this blog started life got so hectic and my new outlet was placed on the back burner. So much to tell, but the condensed version is this: school for Bailey was MISERABLE. Our home life was MISERABLE. My husband’s job was MISERABLE. So we packed up and moved. Yep, call us nomads. This is move #4 in 4 years. But you won’t hear complaint one out of me. There is absolutely nothing about¬†where we were that I will miss. And we are all so much happier where we are.

My husband was offered a job by a former boss at a company in Philadelphia. This man is someone he admires, respects and generally likes. That is saying a lot for him as most people get on his nerves. He’s so much like Bailey. Or she is like him. Anyway, I am so happy that he has found a company to work for that holds so many possibilities for him. As hard as he works, he deserves to feel rewarded by his work.

On to Bailey, that school was just not working. She was drowning in a sea of kids and there were not enough life jackets (resources) for Aspies like her. She was expected to kick her feet and make it to the shore just like all the good swimmers (NTs). I was being flooded with emails of “issues” and “problems” but no one there had solutions. They had her IEP goals written up nicely, but no strategies in place to help her reach those goals. They would ask me to “talk to her” (insert hysterical laughter here) about her behavior. The last email I received from the teacher was her going on and on about how my daughter was being¬†“sneaky” about getting a ride in the nurse’s wheelchair because she complained of leg pain. One thing that is the truth about Bailey, when she feels any sort of pain, whether it’s level 10 or level 1, in her mind it’s ALWAYS level 10. She’s not trying to be “sneaky” or setting out to inconvenience anyone. Regardless, it became very apparent to me after that, and all the other emails I received from the teacher, for some reason this woman was taking my daughter’s challenges very personal and I had just about had it. I knew in my heart Bailey would never receive the little bit of extra understanding and compassion she needs at that school.

So¬†in a whirlwind of moving boxes and great timing, here we are. A¬†fresh start in southeastern Pennsylvania.¬†We are¬†unpacked, Easton has been at his new job since April 1st, and Bailey has been at her new school for one week. And both are happy. And that makes me happy. The school reminds me so much of the one Bailey attended in Ohio, and that is a really good thing. They have been nothing but warm, welcoming and so eager to help Bailey in any way they can. The special education teacher’s room¬†is right next door to Bailey’s classroom. The room has¬†a trampoline, a swing, and all the learning and¬†fine motor skill resources you can imagine. She welcomes Bailey to take motor breaks whenever she feels it’s necessary. There is a 1:1 para in Bailey’s classroom with her throughout the day. They’ve put Bailey in a social skills “friendship” group. They have been more than accommodating in every way I can imagine. After I dropped her off on her first day, I floated to my car with such a feeling of peace.

I can’t remember the last time I felt that way.

My hope has returned.