Monday, May 31, 2010

Picture Perfect, Or Maybe Not!

Please, please, please...if you haven't voted in Scholastic "Parent and Child" magazine's blog contest yet, please do so! The voting ends this Friday, June 4th. To vote, simply click on the picture on the left. That will take you to the site. Thanks much!

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog!

We gave our daughter a camera for her 6th birthday. She had been wanting one for a while. It's digital, so she can upload the pictures on the computer and has software to do different things with the photos, such as use them as parts of other art projects. She's really creative and talented with what she does with the pictures, in my opinion. She also takes pictures of the craziest things. Oftentimes, she'll snap pictures of her dinner or try to capture a frame off of something she's watching on TV. She'll take pictures of her toys when they're at weird angles.

She doesn't take many pictures of people, however. I think she only took one picture of me and has only taken a few of herself after she had lost a tooth. Actually, she only took those pictures because the tooth fell out during the night, and she couldn't find it, so she wanted to put the picture under her pillow for the tooth fairy (I later found the tooth on the floor by her bed, so she didn't need those pictures any more).

I asked her why she doesn't take pictures of people, and she said that people do not inspire her. I can totally understand that some artists like to build their art around things other than people. Ansel Adams loved to photograph nature, for example. But I still can't help but think her autism affects her perceptions and what inspires her. While I'm very happy she has found a really cool way to express her creative side, I'm still kind of sad that she doesn't find people inspirational.

Maybe this will change as she gets older. Or not. As long as she's happy expressing herself the way she does, I suppose I just have to accept it for what it is. And who knows, maybe she'll become a famous artist known for not having people in her art. Hey, a mother can still dream, right?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy 101 Sweet Friends

I was given this Happy 101 Sweet Friends from Jen at Happiness Through Humanism .

I'm now supposed to write 10 things about me and pass this award on to 10 other bloggers! Well, I'm going to break those rules. Having received 2 other awards in the last week, I'm getting awarded out, so to speak. I think the bloggers I love are also getting tired of me passing these on to them! LOL!

So instead, I'm going to say a few kind words about Jen. She's a prolific writer who specializes on the topic of Humanism. She's also a very dear old friend. I've known her for about 19 years! We met during our single days while contra dancing. To do something like contra dancing in Los Angeles pretty much means you've embraced your inner nerd. But I think of us as the coolest nerds you'd ever meet. We were both 2 of the younger dancers at the time, both cute, and both fabulous dancers! So, naturally, we became really good friends. We also got into Cajun/Zydeco dancing and swing dancing. We had a blast dancing all over the place during that time!

Our days of dancing together ended when Jen turned traitor and left Los Angeles for Florida! Luckily, our friendship survived this move.

We're both married now and don't talk to each other as much as we used to. She started blogging WAY before I did, and I think she's tickled pink that I've started blogging too! It's given us something else to discuss with each other and be nerdy about! Please check our her blog! She's a fabulous writer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Crazy Busy Day!

Not to keep nagging, but please, please, please vote for my blog in Scholastic "Parent and Child" magazine's blog contest. You'll find the picture of it on the left. Clicking on it will take you to the link. Voting ends on June 4th. I so want to win this contest!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog...

Yesterday was one of those crazy, busy days! I left the house at 7:30 am and didn't get home until 4:30 pm, but I didn't get a moment to myself until 9:30 at night! Whew!

It was mostly fun, though, so that's cool! I met up with some other moms to see the 9:30 showing of Sex and the City 2, as I blogged about on Wednesday. After that blog I read the reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, only 14 percent of the reviews were positive. That's awful! Also, a lot of the reviews complained about the movie being 2 hours and 20 minutes long. That's way too long for that type of movie--or any other type of movie for that matter! My excitement quickly turned to dread. I really hated the first movie, and I didn't want to hate the second one too.

Well, no worries! I ended up enjoying it. Was it a great theatrical experience? Not by a long shot. It didn't even come close to its greatness as a TV show. But it was a fun, lighthearted romp that I enjoyed with the other moms I went with. There was one really great scene with Charlotte and Miranda having a heart to heart talk that did have me laughing and crying. Actually, the whole theater of women seemed to enjoy the movie also! If you do choose to see it, go with a pack of female friends and go with low expectations! Then have a good time!

After the movie ended, I had to rush to my daughter's school to get her. They had an early dismissal. We didn't leave the school, though. I had to attend the parent volunteer lunch. The teachers and other employees at the school all contributed to a really lovely potluck lunch for the parents who volunteer at the school. On the one hand, I thought it was a beautiful gesture. But, on the other hand, I feel that we shouldn't be rewarded for volunteering. We should just do it. It's the place where we trust our kids to stay safe, grow, and learn. I feel we can't do ENOUGH to support our school. I've been absolutely ecstatic about my daughter's year in kindergarten, and I love the school so much. I count my blessings that we got so lucky with our neighborhood public school. The parents really should have prepared a potluck lunch for the teachers and administrators! They are really fabulous!

After that, we had to rush to my daughter's speech session. She's in a session with one other boy. The speech therapist works on their conversational skills. These two kids meshed so well from day one and did a great job with improving each other's conversational skills. Unfortunately, yesterday was the little boy's last session. My daughter only has two more remaining herself. So, it was kinda sad. We hope to have some playdates with that little boy over the summer.

Who knew that a stay-at-home mom could be so busy?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award.

Again, if you haven't voted for my blog in Scholastic's "Parent and Child" blog contest, please do so. Voting will close on June 4th. If you've already voted, thank you so much!

I've been bestowed with the Versatile Blogger Award by a couple of my blogging friends. Both Mrs. Mayham at Mothering Mayham and DysFUNctional Mom at Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional were kind enough to give me this award. Check out both of these blogs! They're great!

The rules are that you're supposed to share 7 things about yourself, then pass on the award to 15 worthy bloggers. I'm breaking with the rules. I recently shared 10 things about myself, so I'm not listing another 7! Also, I'm passing on this award to only 3 women. But these are 3 very special bloggers who are REALLY versatile! They are wonderful women who write amazing blogs! If you don't read their blogs already, you really need to!

First off, I'm passing this award on to Cheryl at Deckside Thoughts and Kim at The Courageous O'Connor's . Both of these women were kind enough to blog about me being a finalist in the "Parent and Child" magazine contest to encourage people to vote for me. They did this on their own initiative. I thought this was incredibly generous and if this doesn't show how versatile they are, I don't know what does!

I also want to bestow the Versatile award onto Jenny at Jenny Matlock. Her blogs always make me bust a gut! She's so funny! But she's also incredibly sweet and truly versatile. I messed up big time on her site by not participating in something I had kinda committed to. Did she get mad at me? No! She was incredibly generous in spirit and extremely understanding and kind. And for that I'm eternally grateful.

When I started blogging back in February, I didn't know much about blogging. I pictured myself sitting in my home, typing my deep thoughts and raking in decent money from ad sales. It seemed lucrative, but isolating. Actually, the opposite is true. Blogging is not at all lucrative--until you get a decent number of followers. But it's not isolating at all. There's a whole community of bloggers out there who support each other and cheer each other on. It's an amazing community, and I feel very honored to be a member of it!

Blogging has been a ton of fun, and it has forced me to be a bit introspective--something I find incredibly difficult to do!

Thanks for the support, ladies!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Sisterhood

I don't mean to sound like a nag, but if you haven't voted for my blog yet in Scholastic's "Parent and Child" top blogger contest, please do so! I'm going to need every vote. They're not showing who's winning anymore, but in my mind's eye, I'm losing and need lots and lots of votes! Thanks much!

Not back to the regularly scheduled blog...

I'm so excited because I'm going to see the new Sex and the City movie tomorrow! After I drop my daughter off at school, I'm going to hit the 9:30 am showing. I've already bought my ticket because I wouldn't be surprised if it's going to be really crazy at the theater.

What I'm excited about most is meeting up with some other moms! I don't even know these other moms that well, but when I do see them, I have the best time with them. I know them through one of the agencies that provides autism services to my daughter. On my daughter's journey, I've really enjoyed meeting the other moms who have children on the spectrum. They tend to be really fun and REALLY enjoy their "me time."

I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that there's a sisterhood among the moms who raise kids on the spectrum. We don't judge each other or each others children for one thing. We can be totally honest about our frustrations and depressions and the other moms totally get it. We can talk about our joys and triumphs that other moms may not really appreciate. But the other mothers in the sisterhood would! For example, if I told my friends who have neuro-typically functioning kids that my daughter initiated play with her friends, they wouldn't exactly start giving me high fives. They'd probably politely smile and say, "That's great!" and be a supportive friend. But if I told the moms in the sisterhood about that, I guarantee there would be whooping and dancing and true celebrating! It's a beautiful thing!

Only moms of kids on the spectrum know what it's like to feel like you're walking on eggshells all the time; that any moment a huge tantrum can erupt over literally nothing! Only moms of kids on the spectrum know what it's like to feel the judgment of other moms staring at them while this is happening, know that their abilities as a mother are being questioned and doubted. Only moms of kids on the spectrum know what it's like to have your days filled with different appointments: speech therapists, occupational therapists, behaviorists, social skills classes, among many other appointments. I could go on and on!

I guess that's why I feel so comfortable around these other moms I hardly know. Why we can laugh and cry so easily together! Tomorrow will be about having fun and forgetting about tantrums, and other issues for a couple of hours. Here's to the sisterhood!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mixed Bag

Wow! The Scholastic "Parent and Child" award is in full swing! If you haven't voted yet, please do so! I've been trailing in second place all day long. What an awesome contest though! I've had about 5 times the normal amount of traffic on my blog and have met some new people! So, even if I lose, I still win. Nevertheless, vote if you haven't yet! LOL!

My daughter has been quite the mixed bag lately! She's been doing amazingly great in some ways and has totally regressed in other ways. On the positive side, her social interactions have been really great! She's been doing a great job of playing with her friends most of the time. She's very engaged and attentive and doesn't stray away in the middle of a game. However, she's really regressed with her rigidity issues. She'll get really upset if even minor things don't go her way! It's so depressing because this was an area she has made such great strides in! Luckily, she's been doing better the last couple of days, but I'm not ready to declare victory yet in this area!

The other area that she's a mixed bag in is how she can be so darn smart on the one hand, but can't answer really simple questions on the other hand. This past weekend, she amazed me with how smart she is. I know, I've blogged about this a time or two (or 50 times) before, but she seems to know things that a typical kindergartner doesn't. She did three things that amazed me this weekend.

The first happened after we were done watching The Wizard of Oz. She was commenting on how the beginning part had no color. Then she corrected herself and said, "Actually, it was sepia-colored." Quite frankly, I only knew about things having a sepia tint about 8 years ago. I asked her how she knew that, and she answered that she was playing with different effects on one of her software programs. When she picked the sepia effect, it looked just like the color in the beginning of the movie. This blew me away!

The second smart incident happened at Chuck E. Cheese. She was attending a birthday party there, and we had to leave so she could arrive at her gymnastics class on time. She didn't want to leave and was on a verge of a tantrum. I was trying to get her to pick some toys with the tickets she earned during the party. She had exactly 100 tickets, so I was trying to get her to pick a toy from the 100 ticket case so we could leave quickly. She was being stubborn and complained that she didn't like anything she saw there. Then she noticed toy bugs that were in the 10 ticket case. She decided to take 10 of the toy bugs. I said, "Great, let's go!" It wasn't until we were halfway to gymnastics class that I realized she essentially did division in her head to come up with the number of bugs she could get for her 100 tickets.

The third smart incident happened later that night. We were having dinner when she looked up at me and said that 10 minus 11 was negative 1. I asked her if she learned that in school. She looked surprised and said that I had taught her that. I vaguely remember introducing her to the concept of negative numbers about 6 months ago or so. I didn't think she understood it or even remembered it.

So, after she so effortlessly shows me how smart she is, I'm always gobsmacked when she can't remember such basic things as who she played with at school, what she had eaten at lunch, or what the teacher taught that day.

How can somebody so smart have problems remembering the mundane, yet important information that we all must remember to get by in life? I wish I knew how to fix this challenge!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vote for Me!

I'm so excited to announce that Scholastic's "Parent and Child" magazine is having a top blog contest. Out of over a hundred submissions, they narrowed the finalists down to 18--3 in each category. My little blog, which I started this past February, made the final cut in the Special Needs category! Yay!

But now I need your help. The winner from each category will be determined through a voting process from May 24th to June 4th. To vote, simply click on the Scholastic picture on the left. I can sure use any support I can get.

The winning blog for each category will be featured in the August/September 2010 issue of "Parent and Child magazine." Over 7 million people read this magazine each month. Being featured would surely increase my readership.

I'd like to thank anyone who participates in the voting process! I'd also like to thank Scholastic for sponsoring this blogging contest and for choosing my blog as one of the finalists. I truly feel honored to be nominated.

Thanks again!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beautiful Blogger--That's Me!

Jen from the King and Eye hosts a meme call Blog Gems where we air a post from our archives. Our task today was to find a post that shares something about ourself! This post is from May 22, 2010 where I very quickly (and rather uncomfortably) shared 10 things about myself for the Beautiful Blogger award.

Thank you, Rachel @ Sew Ambitious for this wonderful award! I really appreciate the kind thought.

Now I'm supposed to share 10 things about me!

1. I have the world's biggest sweet tooth.
2. I love watching shows about the paranormal on TV.
3. I'm very sarcastic.
4. My husband is the sweetest thing.
5. My daughter constantly challenges me to be the best mom I can be, which isn't easy for me.
6. I have a hard time coming up with 10 things about me.
7. I sometimes want a Mom's weekend out! LOL!
8. I love fried chicken, although I rarely indulge.
9. I think Chuck E. Cheese is a big rat who needs to be exterminated.
10. I hate summer heat and am not looking forward to 100+ temperatures.

I'd like to pass this award along to 10 other beautiful bloggers:

1. Kristin at Adventures of a Betty Crocker Wannabe
2. Holly at 504 Main
3. Libby at 5371 Miles Away
4. Shannon at Green Monkey Tales
5. Natalee at Raising Normal Kids
6. Diva at The Bipolar Diva
7. Shell at Things I Can't Say
8. Charlene at The Balance Beam
9. Cheryl at Deckside Thoughts
10. Amy at Coffee Lovin Mom

Check out these women's blogs! They're really great!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I've Got My Hands Full--Literally!

My daughter has been doing so great lately with her social interactions. For the last couple of weeks, she's been very social and has been able to play with her friends for an extended period of time. It's been really great to see! However, she's also been getting more rigid lately. She's been having a harder time leaving activities, for example.

The other day, she was playing at her after-school program. Most of the other kids had already gone home by now. I went over to tell her it was time to go, but she refused to leave. In these cases, I've been instructed to try to give her a sense of control by giving her options. So, I used my standard, "You have a choice. You can leave by either walking with me or by me carrying you. It's your choice!" She always responds with, "I pick neither! I'm staying!" Then I say, "Okay, it's now my choice, and I choose to carry you!"

The problem is that she's getting to be a big girl and is getting too heavy for me to carry, and she's well aware of this! As I'm struggling to carry her to the car, she seemed really delighted with herself. I think she's discovered that my carrying-her-to-the-car days are numbered. I also think she liked hearing my moans and groans as I struggled to the car.

The next day during her bath, I tried to talk with her about her rigidity and how she needs to go back to being more flexible. "Maybe you should stop asking the question," she said. "What question are you talking about?" I asked. "You know, the question about whether I want to walk or be carried!" When that girl is right, she is right!

It still doesn't solve my dilemma though. And I'm not just talking about how to get her to the car when I can't carry her. I'm talking about how do I stay ahead of her intellectually. I don't think I can or ever could, for that matter. She's a smartie! I guess you can say that I've got my hands full figuratively too!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do We Tell? If So, When?

The TV show, Parenthood, was great again! On the Asperger story thread, the protagonist lead family, The Braverman's, were participating in Autism Speaks' Walk Now for Autism to help raise money for autism. Max, the 8 year-old son with Asperger's, was really excited about doing this. He blurted out something like, "It's great to help those kids with autism!" For some reason, his comment caught everyone off-guard. Did they just assume he knew he had it? His parents did realize that they may have to tell him about his autism someday. This is an issue that every parent of an autistic child wrestles with: When and how do we break this news?

One inadvertently funny scene was when the parents were discussing this issue while Max was in the next room. The actress who plays the mother, Monica Potter, tends to emote really loudly, and she was in full loudness during this scene. She was practically yelling out, "How do we tell Max that he's autistic?" I was expecting Max to yell from the next room, "I have WHAT?" I mean come on, he has Asperger's, he isn't deaf! Alas, Max didn't hear them so they had to figure this situation out. The mom consulted with the psychologist who had diagnosed Max to get his input. He stated that now is not the time--it'll be too much for him to digest. He went on to say that they'll know when the time is right because Max will start asking questions about why he's different from other kids. It seemed like pretty sage advice.

Our plan right now is not to tell our daughter. My husband is even going to start boxing up our books on the topic because he doesn't want our daughter to see books titled, "Parenting Your Asperger Child," "The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, and "How to Cure Your Child's Autism through Sarcasm." (Okay, I invented that last book, but maybe it's one I should write!).

We're still hopeful that eventually she'll be off the spectrum entirely. Studies have shown that a small percentage of kids (about 10-20 percent) do leave the spectrum by just doing behavior therapy. These kids tend to be smart, show great progress by age 7, and have fairly mild autism in the first place. Our daughter seems to fall in this group, so we're hopeful. However, if it turns out that she stays on the spectrum, I might take the TV psychologist's advice to heart. Hey, sage advice is good even when spoken by a fictional character!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sarcasm 101

I am a sarcastic person. I mean a REALLY sarcastic person. I can't help it; I just am! When I was pregnant, my husband and I always joked that our unborn daughter had better have a good sense of humor if she was going to survive with us as parents. This "sense of humor" included having to put up with sarcasm.

Unfortunately, one trait of people who have high-functioning autism or Asperger's is that they can have a really hard time distinguishing when somebody is being sarcastic. They can be very literal. For example, if you ask an Aspie if the cat's got your tongue, they may wonder if you think that a cat ran off with their tongue somehow.

To help my daughter out in this area--and because I just cannot turn off my sarcasm--she has gotten pretty good about figuring out when I'm being sarcastic. She doesn't always succeed. There was the one time that I was commenting that she was the most beautiful girl in the world, and she laughed and said, "You're being sarcastic, right?" I had to tell her I wasn't--that she really was the most beautiful (I would have thought she would have known that one!).

But overall, she understands when I'm being sarcastic. Like the one time we were driving around and a car drove recklessly right in front of us, forcing me to slam on the brakes. I quelled the urge to mutter a four-letter word and instead loudly said to myself, "Good driving, mister!" My daughter said, "You're being sarcastic, because that was not good driving!" Yay! I'm hoping this will carry over to her conversations with other people so that she can understand that not everything that people say is what they actually mean.

I guess being sarcastic serves a very important purpose in my daughter's development. So, I will continue on with my sarcasm. In fact, maybe I need to be even more sarcastic!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sex and the City!

The Sex and the City movie is coming out soon. At first, I wasn't getting excited, but now that's starting to change. I was a huge fan of the TV series. It was fun and hilarious. I was single during most of the show's run, and I felt I could really relate to some of the aspects of the show--though not all (not even close to all the aspects of the show! hehe). The character I related to the most was Miranda. I was really sad when the show's run ended. There aren't that many TV shows that entertained me the way that show did. It was great to see 4 women struggling with the dating scene in New York. Now, I get my Desperate Housewives fix which is kinda like a married-with-kids version of Sex and the City. Okay, it really isn't, but it can be entertaining also, even if it doesn't make me laugh out loud quite as much.

When the first movie came out, I was really excited about seeing it. However, the things I read in the reviews didn't bode well for me. Many of these reviews stressed that the movie was "dark." It also didn't help that the critics didn't like the movie that much. Oh well, what do they know anyway? I was now a married mother to a beautiful girl who was just diagnosed with Asperger's. I could use a little escape into the fun world of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha! Wow! I thought the movie was just awful! It really was dark. I did not wait 4 friggin' years to see a dark Sex and the City! And when the movie tried to be funny it failed miserably. Sorry, I do not find Charlotte battling Montezuma's Revenge in Mexico to be funny. I just don't.

That's why I wasn't initially interested in the upcoming movie. However, after reading articles about it in my Entertainment Weekly magazine, I'm finding myself getting excited about the movie. For one thing, the movie is supposed to be light and funny! Yay! For another thing, like me, the women have generally settled down into domestic bliss. However, they do get a break from their day-to-day lives to go on an exotic trip together where Carrie runs into somebody special (yay!). I like that the women's lives are mirroring mine in terms of settling down with a couple of them raising kids. I also like that they are going to somewhere exotic where they can relive some of the fun away from their everyday lives. This will bring the best of both worlds. So, I'm hopeful this movie will work for me!

Maybe if I want to relive the glory days of the show, I should watch the DVDs I have of it while drinking a Cosmopolitan and wearing my most expensive $80 outfit! It really was an outstanding series, and I don't watch the DVDs like I should!

I also suspect that the character I'll relate to the most while watching the latest movie will be Charlotte. I understand she's not being as fulfilled being a SAHM as she thought she would be. It'll be interesting to see where they go with that storyline. What character do you relate to the most?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mother's Instinct

We had the IEP today and my brain feels like mush right now. I feel the meeting went well in that the school she's at is on top of things and is caring. However, these meetings are so emotionally draining because you hear about how many difficulties your child is having. Initially, we had to fight for services. Actually, we had to fight because nobody else thought there were any problems with her! They couldn't imagine her being autistic.

We didn't seek out help for our daughter until she was 4.5 years old. I started noticing issues with her a year earlier. But when I raised questions with her preschool teachers and school director, everyone commented that she was "fine!" "She was just off-the-charts smart!" or "She's really creative." We also heard that she'll catch up on her development milestones that summer! It took a full year for me to listen to myself instead of what others' opinions. Even then, it was a bit of an uphill battle. The school district psychologist was about to deny us services based on her in-office assessment of "She's the best kid in the world!" Luckily, a case worker stepped in and convinced the psychologit to observe my daughter at her preschool. It wasn't until then that opinions on my daughter changed, and she was given services for autism.

Along the way, I've heard other moms question whether their child needs help. Other moms will usually chime in with a "He's fine! All kids do that!" On mom internet boards, I see the same thing. A mother posts concerns about her child or will post concerns a teacher raises, and everyone chimes in with, "She's fine!" or "What does that teacher know? She's not a psychologist!"

My advice to any mother who feels something isn't right with their child is to get them assessed pronto! I think a mother's instinct is often dead on! I really wish I had listened to my inner voice years ago. Now I look at my daughter and wonder how any of us missed seeing her autistic symptoms that were present for so long. When I hear stories of teachers giving feedback to parents that something might be "off" with their child, I feel envious that our teachers didn't feel anything was wrong--or feel comfortable enough to broach the topic.

Early intervention is key. The earlier the child gets help, the better able they are to improve their skills to function in the world. Those precious preschool years should not be squandered if at all possible.

If you feel that something is off with your child, my advice is to get your child assessed ASAP! It can really make a difference. I've seen some amazing success stories! I'm banking that my daughter will be one too!

Friday, May 14, 2010

IEP Meeting Coming Up! Yikes!

For my readers without special needs kids. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is essentially the contract between the school district and the parents on what goals we need to help the child work toward and what resources would be given to meet those goals. Either the school or the parents can initiate the IEP meeting if either party feels new goals and services should be added. Otherwise, everyone meets annually toward the end of the school year to develop the plan for the next school year.

When you first get into the special needs world, the school district gives you a brochure about the IEP process. It stressed that the parents are an equal partner in the process. I remember picturing a room full of people amicably discussing what the child's needs are and laying out the best plan of action to address the needs. The way I imagined it, everyone one was supportive and helpful.

The reality can be quite different, especially in these tight economic times. Last year, we had to endure two IEP meetings at the school where my daughter attended public preschool. This school was not our home school, and my daughter was only attending their preschool for less than one academic year. The first IEP meeting we went to really caught me off-guard. We had already had our initial IEP meeting at the district level and that meeting went fairly well. Everyone was pretty congenial, and the meeting went fairly close to how I imagined it would. It still was a horribly painful meeting. At its best, it's awful to talk about how your child is falling short in areas and needs extra help.

Now, the IEP meetings at my daughter's public preschool were pretty awful. At the first meeting, we were trying to get speech services and occupational therapy (OT) for our daughter. The school had done assessments in these two areas and were arguing that the assessments showed that our daughter didn't need services in these areas. Her speech assessment did show above age-level vocabulary and sentence construction, but horrible conversation skills. Nevertheless, they told us services weren't provided for conversational skills and denied her services. We did get these services through an appeal process called Informal Dispute Resolution (IDR). I'm still confused why we just weren't granted the services to begin with and were essentially lied to.

The OT assessment didn't show any shortcomings period, so no services were granted. The school personnel first attacked the independent psychologist's assessment that we paid for which recommended some OT. They argued that the psychologist couldn't possibly know our daughter better than they did. Next, they implied that we should get our daughter to a medical doctor to address our concerns. This implied that they were suggesting medicating our daughter so she could attend to classroom instruction better. It was just an awful experience.

So, we're having an IEP meeting at my daughter's home school this coming Monday. This meeting will be to determine what services she'll need for the first grade. We love this school and have been actively involved with the school, but it will be the first time we'll have an IEP meeting here. We know, and are on good terms with, the teachers and professionals who will be at the meeting. I think they really "get" and appreciate both my daughter's strengths and weaknesses. So, I'm very hopeful the meeting will be constructive and successful and hopefully more respectful than it was at the other school.

Nevertheless, I'm a nervous wreck about it! Send good thoughts!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Belated Mother's Day Part 2

On my previous post, I wrote about my remembering my mother (see here). On this post, I'm writing about how I celebrated Mother's Day!

In past years, my husband made a really big deal out of Mother's Day. He really spoiled me. He'd get me flowers, take me out to dinner, and give me really nice, over-the-top presents. And you know what? I really deserved it! Because I'm now a stay-at-home mom who doesn't earn any money, I tend to not spoil myself much. Also, taking care of a child who tantrums a lot is hard and depressing! The presents made me feel appreciated.

This year, Mother's Day was different. My husband still spoiled me with flowers and a nice dinner out. But he didn't buy me any extravagant gifts. I did, however, get the best present of all! My six-year old daughter took the lead this year in making my Mother's Day special. On her own initiative, she made me two cards! She used some of her allowance money toward buying me a wonderful journal so that I can record my mommy experiences. And best of all, she promised to be perfectly behaved that day. And for the most part, she was! She had one moment where she started to cry and when I reminded her what day it was, she quickly wiped her tears off her face, put on a smile, and said,"Oops, I forgot!" It was fantastic!

I can not even begin to relate what a big deal her gift to me was! For one thing, this past year wasn't filled non-stop with tantrums. Oh sure, she still has them, but they're much rarer now. She used to have about 3 a day, and now she maybe has a biggie every month or two. But I was so impressed how she really worked hard to make me feel special this Mother's Day on her own! This, I'm sure, is a big deal for any mother. It is amazing when the child who is doing it has autism!

One cute story that happened on that day, happened in the car ride on the way home from dinner. My daughter started telling us about something "yucky" that happened at school the previous week. While they were getting the classroom ready for Open House, a boy in my daughter's class kissed her! My husband asked, "Where did he kiss you?" My daughter gave him a confused look and said, "In school!" I just had to relate this story, even if it didn't have anything else to do with the post. It was just so darn cute!

One not-so-cute story happened earlier that day after seeing the movie, Oceans. This is probably too much information, but I went with my daughter to the restroom. I REALLY had to go--I was stuck watching a movie about water on a full bladder--and my daughter was stuck hanging with me in a small stall because I don't like to leave her out of my sight. After finishing up with the paper work, but before flushing, my beautiful, pink Coach purse (okay, that was my only splurge to myself after becoming a mom) fell partially into the toilet. Yikes! I tried to clean it off with soap and water, but my husband made me keep the beautiful purse in the car trunk on the way home. I wiped it off with disinfectant when I got home. My husband still wants me to throw the purse away! Not on your life, mister!

So, I was very happy with my Mother's Day celebration, all things considered! I hope you enjoyed yours too!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sweet Award

What a sweetie that Kristin at Adventures of a Betty Crocker Wanna Be is for passing this "Sweet" award on to me! I love reading her posts each day. She always makes me laugh.

Here are the rules of the award:

Make a post about the award including the picture and mention the person who gave it to you.

Put the award on your blog.

Let your nominated 10 know you've awarded them by leaving a comment.

So, here's to 10 wonderful ladies, who's blogs I look forward to reading each day.

Happiness through Humanism

Deckside Thoughts

Me Daily

Meet Chaz

Autism Interrupted

The Courageous O'Connor's

Tara's View of the World

Soup Baby

Raising Complicated Kids

Lamb Around

I enjoy reading their blogs each day!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

I hope everyone had a great mother's day! I sure did and plan to blog about it the next time I post. My blog today will be about my mom who I was thinking about a lot yesterday.

My mom and I had a good relationship--not great, but not bad. After becoming a mom myself, however, I really began to understand and appreciate her more. Unfortunately, my mom died when my daughter was just 8 weeks old. I feel like I missed out with bonding with my mom over motherhood. I'm sure it would have been a rocky path at times. I know my mother would not have approved of us getting our daughter assessed for autism. I do think she would have changed her mind when she saw how my daughter blossomed after we started the different therapies. When I was going through the stress of my daughter lagging behind in certain milestones and dealing with her endless tantrums, I really missed not being able to call my mom for support. It was actually a surprise how much I missed her just when I needed her the most!

My mom did get to meet my daughter before she died. It's actually a pretty amazing story, and one I plan to tell my daughter when she's older.

My mom was planning on visiting me when I delivered my daughter to help me during those first hazy weeks. But health issues started to crop up with her, and she needed to go to various doctors and to set up some surgeries to address two health issues. I was also having issues with my pregnancy and needed to deliver my daughter early see here). After the dust settled for us, my mom was able to fly out to visit with my daughter for a few hours before she had to fly back home to have her first operation. As luck would have it, the day she was able to come was the first day my daughter was home from the NICU. My mom was a huge help that day, and it was great visiting with her.

My mom's first operation was a huge success, and we were all very hopeful that the next one would go as well. However, after being home for a week recovering, my mom became very ill from a totally new problem. Once the doctors at the hospital determined what was wrong, they stated that she was terminally ill and didn't have much time left to live. My mom didn't want me to make the trip, since my baby was still very young and still having some health issues. The rest of the family really thought I should make the trip, so we went. I spent long hours in the CCU's waiting room during this time. The CCU had strict rules: only half hour visitation with 2 people every 2 hours. When I saw my mother, I knew the end was near. I could hardly recognize her! She was herself though! She took one look at me and said, "Thank goodness somebody in the family finally lost their baby weight right away!"

The next day didn't initially go as well. She was in and out of consciousness and seemed to be sleeping more and more. The doctors said that she would continue to go downhill from there. They tried to explain her options to her, but she couldn't stay awake or alert long enough to tell them what she wanted in terms of the medical intervention (or non-intervention). It was up to my dad, who did not want to make these decisions.

Then the miracle happened. My mom came to and asked the nurse if the baby could be snuck in. She wanted to see her. The nurse said it was against rules, but that we could sneak her in for a few minutes. So, I went in to visit my mom with my new daughter. My mom loved the visit! She perked up and became extremely coherent. She even looked better. Actually, she looked like herself again. It was amazing! We met with the doctors to see what had happened. They said she was still dying, but to appreciate this gift.

We did! My mom was able to make the decisions on her course of treatment. She was promptly moved to a hospice where our visiting time wasn't restricted, AND I was able to have the baby there the whole time. I had always thought of hospices as dark, dreary places. But this place was great! The staff was friendly, and they did everything in their power to make my mom's last days as comfortable as possible. They gave her a room with french doors to the outside to allow me to bring my baby to her room without going through the rest of the hospice. They washed my mom's hair, and my cousin--who is a fabulous hairdresser--styled my mom's hair. She looked beautiful. After seeing my daughter, she lived another 4 days. This might not seem like much, but she was really coherent and alert 3 of the 4 days. It took the onus off my dad, and it was time she got to spend with all of us--including the baby.

The doctors never could explain what gave my mom the extra time. According to their medical knowledge, she should have just have continued to have declined and spent more time incoherent and unconscious. I really think my daughter gave her the reason to live a few more days. I will always be thankful for these extra days.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast!

My daughter was home sick yesterday and today! At first, I always feel bad. I feel bad that she's not feeling well, and I feel bad that I have no "me" time (mom of the year--hah!). But then, I kinda enjoy her sick days. I don't have to play drill sergeant hustling her through her day. "Eat your breakfast quick--we have to leave in 2 minutes!" "Put that book down, and get your shoes on!" etc., etc., etc.

My daughter's regular days are just crazy. Her kindergarten day goes from 8 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon. On a couple of days, she goes to an after-school program with a behaviorist to work on socializing with her friends. By the time she gets home, and her behaviorist leaves, it's already 6:30 at night. By the time she is done eating her dinner and doing her homework, it's time for bed. Her other days are pretty crazy as well!

So her sick days are nice time-outs from the craziness of her schedule. It's when she can spend extra time playing on the computer and watching movies on TV (even if it's stupid movies like that last Chipmunks movie), and she can just spend time playing.

Today she seems to be feeling much better. Her fever is gone, she says her throat isn't hurting anymore, and her appetite is back. But the biggest indicator that she's feeling better? She's complaining that she's bored!

Let the craziness begin again!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Open House!

Last night my husband and I attended our daughter's very first open house in elementary school. Her kindergarten teacher put the kids to work. All the kindergartners had makeshift clipboards (cardboard with a clothespin) that had their tour-lists attached. This list had every bit of work that the children had displayed throughout the class. As the children showed us each item, they had to take a highlight marker and cross the item off the list, then go on to the next item. They were all very excited, yet business-like, as they moved their way down their lists. It was very cute and exciting all at the same time! I was also impressed with how the teacher did absolutely nothing! She made sure the kids did all the work. She complimented each child as they turned in their clipboards, and posed for pictures then, but otherwise, she empowered them to do it all! We really loved this teacher and hope our daughter is as lucky with getting awesome teachers each subsequent year!

I was also impressed with how friendly the other kids are with my daughter! She is well-liked by her classmates and by other kids in the school. I hope this continues as well. While my daughter is VERY high-functioning with her autism, she still can be quite a bit different than the other kids. So far, either the other kids don't notice, or they just don't care. I'm assuming it's the latter, and I'm hoping it continues through her school-life.

After we saw all of her cool work and the snails, caterpillars, and sprouting beans (or non-sprouting, as is currently the case), we meandered to a first grade class to check out what the work is like there. Now the particular class we visited is known as being the advanced first grade class, but yikes! I was blown away by the level of work being done in that class! It looked on par with work I did in the fifth grade! It was pretty mind-blowing. I don't know if my daughter will be placed in the advanced class next year--or if there even will be an advanced class next year (we have a new principal, so we don't know how she's going to arrange the classes), but I'm a little nervous. My daughter is extremely smart, but it might be challenging getting her to perform at that level. Or maybe not--she's never ceases to amaze me!

Monday, May 3, 2010

When Did I Get So Old?

Last night, as I was washing my face, I noticed I had a lot of gray hairs. I was shocked to see them all. Oh sure, I knew I had some gray, but not to this degree. Yikes! When I mentioned this to my husband, he stared at my hair and said, "You do come by them honestly!" While I'm sure it's true that the last couple of years helped to add gray hair and wrinkles (yes, I have lots of those too!), I can't help but think my age isn't helping. I'm going to be 45 years old soon. I remember how old my mom seemed when she was 45. She was so ancient! How did I get so old? How could the last 25 years go by as quickly as they did? It boggles my mind!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do some research and find out what things were invented after I was born. Some things are not surprising, some things are! Here is an abbreviated list:


--Air Hockey



--Cordless Phones

--Space Pens

--Compact Discs

--Food Banks


--Hand-held Calculators


--Wide-body Aircraft

--Heimlich Maneuver

--Personal Computers



Wow, now I'm really depressed! I think I'll go hit up Denny's Senior Menu to eat away my depression. Wait a minute...I can't order off that menu for another 10 years or so! Yay! Maybe I'll just go to Trader Joe's for some two-buck Chuck (their $2 wine). They sometimes even card me! That would definitely cheer me up!