Monday, May 24, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Farm

James' regular preschool is winding down for the school year. The teacher sent home pictures and art projects today. More than usual, because next year James starts Kindergarten and she will be at a new campus. Oh, don't get me started. I am trying to remain calm.

One of the projects caught my eye. What a great way to learn about farm animals, while practicing colouring and cutting with scissors!

I put this up in his bedroom and he immediately started paying with the doors. I'll bet there are some other themes that can use this technique -- a circus, perhaps?

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

Special Needs Blog Photobucket


Saturday, May 22, 2010

SOOC Saturday: James and His Teacher

James and his teacher, taken at his last preschool picnic earlier this month. Look at that smile! What a lucky guy he is.

How far he has come, and how far we hope he can go.

The Slurping Life is on the road. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday

And Gooooooooo Wil!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Preschool Teardown

Today I had my last regular progress meeting with James' preschool speech and language teacher. We covered his IEP goals and progress to date, as well as discussed how far he's come and what our plans were for the summer. I got weepy.

Especially after that, when I stopped by to say hello to his teacher at her classroom on her prep day. She was dismantling the classroom. How symbolic. Yes, there is one more week of school and yes, he will be doing a month of summer school. Not to sound too angst-y, but things will never be the same after this.

We are all moving on, moving up. I know this is a good thing. We've so worked and prayed and celebrated James making progress, and we want it to continue. But this was the start of James at school, and we've been with this program and these teachers for two and a half years.

I look back at pictures of James from soon after he started preschool to recent snaps. Such big differences, and he is ready for more. Here I am, coming to grips with the fact that things will be changing and gearing up to get up to speed with a new program and work with new teams.
James in 2008

James in 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Air Traffic

What did we least expect to see on our morning drive?

That's right -- a helicopter. James was delighted. He loves the airport, air museum, and machines that fly!

He can say the word "helicopter," with the "l" being a little weak, but in the moment of absolute excitement, it comes out "airplane!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Special Exp. / Wordless Weds: Simply Happy

I try to get James out in social situations and not let things keep us in the house. Last weekend, we went to our first swim meet as a family, to cheer our cousins. Sometimes the noise and crush of a crowd of people does James in. He is getting better and better at not letting it get to him. In fact, in the midst of all the cheering, splashing, electronic starting noises, blaring music, and PA announcements, he found several ways to just be happy. I love this guy!

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

5 Minutes for Special Needs

and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Familiar Place

Last weekend we visited a place that I used to spend a lot of time when I was their age in the late 60s & early 70s. My childhood house was lost in the Oakland Hills fire in '91. It felt strange to be in a familiar place with the kids, who were my age when I last visited regularly.

What did it look like to them? The views were mostly as I remembered them.

What will they remember from their summer days, 40 years from now?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Paints

Lately I've noticed a big difference with James' paint technique. He's gone from using his fingers and wiping them on his shirt to being able to hold a paint brush and use it correctly on the paper.

I notice that the hand that is not working gets drawn back behind his body. Sometimes in a fist and sometimes palm up, fingers semi-folded. I have been trying to help him place this hand on the table or paper, to provide stability. Sometimes the hand gets moved to the seat of the chair, and sometimes it remains on the paper.

Look at this -- I am so proud. He knows what colors he wants and where. James has painted a jazzy moose book, and I love it!

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for to explore and share in Magic Marker Monday.

Special Needs Blog Photobucket

Saturday, May 15, 2010

SOOC Saturday: Off the Map

This is what it feels like, sometimes. There's a road or a trail, complete with maps and guides. Then life/kids/autism happens, and we're off the map. Sometimes it's not good. Sometimes I see and think of things I would have missed, and my life is that much richer.

The Slurping Life knows how to get a new look at things in life. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday


Friday, May 14, 2010

How We Get From Here to There

How do I determine what is the best option/plan of action for James? Well, it's kind of like this:

Moving forward in time and roadways. Looking ahead, to the side, with one eye to the past. Trying to spot and analyze all the options before taking action. Hind sight is 20/20, and objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

All the while I am trying to safely transport us all from Point A to Point B, without crashing and avoiding things that might crash us (I wonder what the erratic blue van driver represents in this story, BTW, but I digress ...). The gas tank must be reasonably full, an itinerary tentatively mapped, and all seat belts must be fastened. Safety check ... and check, check, check!

Can we change course? Yes. Are their traffic jams? Inescapably. Do we exit the freeway? From time to time yes; sometimes, we even make a U-turn. Are there surprises? Oh yeah. Do I check my mirrors before making a lane change. Yes - ALWAYS!!!

The view at times can be breathtaking. The journey whitens my hair from time to time. The responsibility is heavy. The love is what makes it worthwhile.

While sometimes the process is tentative, it sure beats using a Magic 8 Ball, or tamely following the path of least resistance.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Everyday Lunch

Pardon me if I wax verklempt over the next few weeks. This morning James and I toured a kindergarten class that I think he'd do well in next year. It's just hitting me harder that we have only 8 more days of his preschool program with his regular schedule and teacher. Wow. Two and a half years has flown by so much faster than I ever dreamed it could.

To keep me from crying, I am trying to capture the everyday things I've come to take for granted that might disappear before I've realized it. Things like lunches. You are looking at James' average lunch. As he is a v. picky eater, this does not vary much. There is an extra milk and yogurt for his sisters' snack -- her lunch was up next to be packed.

James has taken this lunch bag, ice pack, and other items to school every day for over 2 years. He has gone from not being able to handle a spoon (let alone a squeeze-up tube), wiping large portions of his lunch on his shirt, and jumping up constantly to having nice table manners for a 5 year-old boy. A boy who can handle a yogurt squeeze-up. A boy who smiles over his cat cookies and says "No, thank you" when he is offered something new to eat.

I am trying to keep breathing over here. It's an everyday lunch. Still.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Special Exp./ Wordless Weds: Table Manners

See that napkin action? Nice!!

I had to get a picture of this: James, sitting calmly after dinner at a local restaurant. He had one bathroom break. He didn't slide off the seat to pool on the floor under the table. He didn't try to get out or poke at things on the table. James nibbled a new food. He coloured his kids' menu. He ate his ice cream with a spoon. And then used his napkin correctly.

I think of all the times we tried eating out as a family at the same location. We have not had such a quiet meal together dining out since he was little enough to be strapped into a high chair.

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Social Acceptance, Isolation, & the Big Picture

Here's a thought for today. I was reading The Mommy Blog and Mindy's post regarding the job description for Parenting (aka "Youth Manager Position"). It's very funny and well-written.

This main description caught my eye: "Responsible for managing mostly small humans (1 to 10 at a time) within the constraints of scope, quality, time, and cost, and working within established Child Protective Service policies and guidelines, to nurture and groom offspring for acceptance in society at large. Also, anything else the wind might blow your way."

Let's look at that phrase again: "groom offspring for acceptance in society at large."

Wow. That gave me a lot to chew on. Especially after dinner, when I spent a couple of hours at a parenting class for parents of special needs kids. And it brought to mind several things:
* My parenting reality is different from society-at-large
-- So what?

* Yes, I want James to be accepted by s-a-l (while maintaining his uniqueness)
-- Don't we all want this?

* My definition of society may not be James'. His world may encompass the same range of people and exposure to the world in general. Or it may not. Is that bad? I don't know. Would I be disappointed? Probably a bit, but definitely if James was unhappy.

Tonight in the class we talked a lot about the isolation felt by parents of children with special needs. How well meaning friends and relatives (and indifferent ones) just don't get it. How the little things can silently build up and start smothering you in depression, guilt, and loneliness. How those sideways, funny/startled looks you get out in public can just stab you in the heart and get to you.

In many ways, James is lucky. He likes other children and they like him. I hope this stays true for him all his life. I know he will have difficulties. He's already smarted a bit from been left out in a social situation. But I keep faith that our grooming and his sunny nature will make the social meshing a mostly positive experience.

The other thing I took away was that we are all parents and trying to do our best. I truly believe that all loving parents share many challenges, griefs, and joys. It was very good to have a place to unload and talk (and cry) tonight about some of the special needs-related things we'd been through.

I am reading that job description list again now, and find myself laughing at "Formal child development education and/or progress toward certification of competence (provided this takes place solely in your head and does not disturb other moms; they are very busy finding their own way, blindfolded and handcuffed, through a minefield in a blinding snowstorm. Barefoot.)" Aren't we all? Shhhh!

I may never get to some of those other bullet points with parenting James. For now, that's okay. As long as we're making progress and he's leading a good life I am hopeful for his future and our journey.

(PS: The sentence "Also, anything else the wind might blow your way" = priceless and oh so true.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Magnificent

Last week, James showed off some new, subtle skills during a craft project. He held his marker correctly, and knew what he wanted to do with it. Both of these things are new for me to see him do.

In honour of Mothers' Day week, the letter they  were learning was "M". Of course they got to colour it with markers. James felt the green one would be great. The only thing I did was help him pop off the cap. He looked excited to start the project, instead of his usual dreamy/thoughtful "don't really care" look.

And instead of wild circles that roared off the paper onto the table top or a hailstorm of frenetic dots, James decided to have fun tracing his hand. All by himself.

He enjoyed playing with what kind of lines he could make, and he tried to stay inside of the M outlines. Again, this is new stuff for him.

Marker tattoo lines? Cooooool!

As for me, I got a whole bunch of Mothers' Day presents early by just watching him that morning. Way to go, Buddy!

PS: We have exactly the same kind of hands. Comes from my father. How amazing is that? (Hint: very; can't tell you why)

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

Special Needs Blog Photobucket


Saturday, May 08, 2010

SOOC: Moving at His Own Speed

James loves getting to do his Kids on the Move class every week. I think it has actually helped him be more confident with his body. I got to watch him this week and was struck again by how James has his own way of doing things.

While he may not be hopping and leaping like the others, giggling and chattering with them, he is there and participating at his own pace. He is smiling and taking things in. Occasionally, he tries something different; something he's never done before. If he doesn't do it like the others or perfectly, that's okay.

James seems to be the type of person who enjoys the journey, moving at his own speed. What is so wrong with that? He is growing, doing, and happy. It's a refreshing change of pace from testing, quotas, and checklists.

Even though ther eis no post yet this week on The Slurping Life, you can still visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday


Friday, May 07, 2010

Pushing Ahead

So many little changes, adding up to a new phase. Over the last 2 days, the potty training has gone backward a bit and James has been falling down some more (not lifting his feet properly to get over a small curb).

But James has grown about a quarter inch recently and started to talk to us about things. No one else but his Dad or I could understand him, but he's starting to ask for things like wanting to hold on to a DVD case at bedtime or asking to go to our bedroom to ask Daddy to start his computer so he can watch Barney (shudder) on Baby Barney. Yeah.

And when he's not doing that, he's singing silly versions of the Happy Birthday Song to himself ("Happy Bir-day to ... Sox! Ooo live in de rocks ...") and being supremely happy.

I am also pushing him to do more like put on and buckle his seat belt, bring me dirty dishes at clean-up time, and find an activity to do (instead of verbal or wandering stimming).

Monday, May 03, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: O!

This photo does not do justice to the colours James painted on his letter O. It looks juicy, and full of light. He even added sparkle power!

I am glad to see James is using a brush sometimes when he paints. When he was younger, I'd have him out back in the summer, fingerpainting while just wearing a diaper. The resulting body art looked like a makeup job for Baby BraveHeart. I kid you not.

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

Special Needs Blog        Photobucket

Sunday, May 02, 2010

SOOC Sunday: He is Playing

James is playing this morning. He found two different toys and started to play with them. I am cheering silently inside: "Yes! Yesssssssss!!!!!!!"

This went on and on ... in fact, he's still doing it.

Why am I so excited? James is usually fixated on a video. He is typically passive about playing with things. I have heard about kids playing with Britex blocks, Kinex, and other building types of toys. James could not have been less interested in them.

Give him buttons to push and he'd be engrossed for 20-45 minutes. But this ... oh joy! When he gets over the initial fascination, I'm going to turn his sister loose on it with the wooden building blocks, and see what they come up with for the trains to drive through.

The best part? His dad found this whole box of used but perfectly fine Thomas Train stuff for $1.

James' Dad has a big grin on his face too today!

The Slurping Life is listening and looking. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday