Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Playing Around

For someone who does not like the noises of stove fans, hair dryers, or a coffee grinder, he can sure get a lot of inexplicable enjoyment from sonic-ing about!
It's the 11th Doctor's. I love the Captain America t-shirt too.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chores on a Summer Schedule

With summer and increased time at home during the day, I am ramping up again with Chores. James has a few standard chores to help keep the home running. I've come up with lists but they tend to fade out of use after a while. Plus every time our schedules change, chores change. It sounds trivial, but it's not when therapy sessions and special routines to accomplish what many do without thinking means changes often result in Stratego/Jenga like juggling sessions. Things tend to get left off now and then.

I started with simple cards that could be put into pockets when the chore was done, as this mirrored what was done in their classrooms. I periodically surf the web and Pinterest, looking for additional ideas. Currently I think we are in synch with this Daily/Weekly Chores chart, and the blog post that accompanies it is very useful as well.

Image of downloadable chart courtesy of Living Well Spending Less.
This week James is also going back to earning iPad time for making bad behavioural choices (our current GoAnimate and pants-pulling issues). I had him help me pick the plums in our back yard, both our of the lawn and storing the ones I picked into a basket. He has a hard time staying outside because of the flying insects, but we continue to expose him to various outside sensory issues, hoping that repetition will help ease the anxiety. And, I did need help!

About half an hour's picking. And no bad behaviours happened.

What do you use to help keep chores on track?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Reading Program 2015!

Regular school's out! We've hit 100 degrees and the days are long. It's summer! Our Sonoma County Library has another wonderful theme for summer reading: Every Hero Has a Story:


For the first time in years, I got both kids to sign up the actual first week of the program. Yay, progress!! James went up to the Resource Desk and asked to sign up. He filled out his entire card as directed by the librarian and filed it away on his own. I am celebrating this independent accomplishment with mental high fives and whooping and a "nice work!" out loud.

I picked out a book for James, and then he picked one out for himself:


Minnie and Moo Go to the Moon was my choice, because it was silly and a non-threatening gateway book to reading. James pulled out Brickbeard's Treasure and gleefully waved it around. On we read!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reading Ignition App

This year, we finally acted on the reading app information that the school sent home in James' backpack for months (maybe even back over a year), and we are so glad that we did. The note was to let us know that if we had internet access at home, James could logon and use the reading program offered in the Special Day Class. This is a good tool, because while James can read and spell really well, his comprehension is not very good.

The learning system is called Lexia, and despite severe budget cuts that have plagued California public schools for as long as my kids have been school-aged, the Special Ed teachers have so far been able to make this program available for the kids.


James really enjoys playing around and finishing modules, spelling words, answering questions, filling in gaps, and using prefixes/suffixes. The exercises come at a topic from several different angles so that James is left with a multidimensional understanding of reading that was completely missing before. He sees Lexia time as a treat.

We just found out that parents can purchase a Lexia license a year at a time. Yes, we are now looking to budget for that too.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sports Challenge

James needs more regular exercise. He has low muscle tone to begin with. His extreme weight loss last year has made his already skinny frame more frail. He is also growing like a weed.

Because James is happiest in a familiar environment that is quiet, and happiest yet when online, incorporating physical activities are tough.



At school, James will use a foam football to interact with other kids and toss the ball around. His adaptive PE coach has been super encouraging him to jump rope with others and his regular PE class had a great week of bikes. James' sister takes him on walks around our neighbourhood or to a local park. I try to take James with me on weekly grocery shopping runs and swim play sessions at the pool.






James's Dad gets him out to parks and took him to the always fantastic Wonder League baseball program. This year saw some wonderful changes to the program, including earlier start times, warm up practice, and great groups of Buddies for all the players. While James was reluctant to play at times, he loved the attention. He started switch hitting and running after grounders. He actually started to hit pitches near the end of the season, and the week cheer section showed up, he ate up his personal rooting section as he rounded third base.

I wish we could find a local, affordable sports activity for him that he would enjoy. It's always good to have options outside the Xbox.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

And ... Boom! It's Summer

Well, the last 2 months just flashed by. New crisises. New accomplishments. Heart aches. Transitions. And a truckload of paperwork, appointments, meetings, and IEPs.


Welcome to Summer 2015! Less worries on the childcare front, but plenty of stress to go around, none the less. Some summer programming. Some prepping for the school year to come.
  • Summer school is back, and it's returned to 5 days a week, instead of 4 like last year. I am actually happy they are not doing the free breakfast or lunch, as (1) James did not eat the food and (2) it created so much noise in the outdoor eating area that he went to pieces. 
  • We are going to try group swim lessons again with our local Parks and Rec -- I have really missed that summer tradition of me waiting poolside during the swim lessons. 
  • I've also signed him up for at least one week of morning session of camp (Wacky Water Week) through Parks & Rec. This is the last year he can do this, so it's bitter sweet.
  • Plus: Bike camp at Sonoma State University, through United Cerebral Palsy! James did a good job two years ago and hopefully this year will be just as great.
Meanwhile, things to work on: One is related to Behaviours. Namely, pulling down pants. James keeps doing it. We are all on him about it, trying to not browbeat him. We've pulled consequences, time outs, wearing belts -- it's not working. And the Behavourist our HMO assigned us? Worse than useless. Another exercise in extreme frustration and mental torture via email, paperwork, and endless intake sessions capped with "sees no need for behavioural intervention at this time."

The pants down activity is the latest in the saga of Can't Wear Jeans or Pants with Zips & Snaps, colliding with ongoing toileting issues. Huge win: regularity is the new norm! Not so great upshot: obsession with toileting and the bathroom. And pulling pants down.

I am looking forward to a break from the school grind. My work schedule has shifted, so that I am off by 2:30 in the afternoon. It feels like I am getting a summer vacation this year, 3 hours a work day!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

World Autism Day 2015

This is my seventh year of participating in World Autism Awareness Day. It's been over seven years since our son was officially diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), about a year after I started worrying something might be going awry with our son's development.

The last year or two have been especially wearing: special meetings, constantly out-thinking the Box, the Man, the big A, the System, the Specialists, the Bureaucracies ... the economy (and our income) taking a nose dive ... serious health issues from all sides that just keep coming ... and being an older parent to begin with. It's all starting to tell on us.

Dealing with Autism, it's a Life Journey. We all have them, true. This Life Journey with Autism is intense and unrelenting. I just have to think about the top struggle recently to get our son to deal with the literal ins and outs of eating recently that had gone from okay to life-threatening over the course of a few short months. How to balance that constant worry and focus with the other parts of life and other family members.

It makes the little things in life so important.

Its so easy to get caught up in the iPhone, iPads, hair styles, and movies. The vacations, the selfies, the food photos in social media (raising my virtual hand here) ... they are fun, and fun is needed in life.

The little things ... rare quiet moments of connecting with loved ones and good friends - in spite of everything tough. That is an achievement. Something to savour. Ten quiet minutes in the garden. Watching your child succeed against all odds - not in a 4.1 kind of way, either. Reading a book on their own. Exploring their world with enthusiasm and confidence. Completing an assignment on their own with their class. Being handed a dandelion to wish on. Having your sleep invaded because someone had a bad dream and can't let go until they curl up with you for a bit. Funny random songs and dances. Hugs, when I least expect it and totally need it.

They are all still there and possible.

Have courage. Have hope. Consider the little things. Consider others, with a more open mind.

Our world can sure use it.