Wordless Wednesday, November 2,2011

Today  I Chaperoned a field trip for my Youngest Daughter’s class….

For a few precious hours it was me and her….

No competing for My attention,

No big sister,

No big brother,

no meltdowns,

no autism….

Today it was me and my babygirl steppng back in time….

Today was…..

Priceless!

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looking back, and moving forward

Today we reached a milestone….Dak’s graduation from Elementary school. It has been a bittersweet moment for me. As I got Him dressed for school this morning in His black dress pants, dress shirt and tie, My mind wandered back.  After He got on the bus this morning, I cried. I had held the tears back before He left…He HATES it when mommy cries, even when it is happy tears like today. How Grown up He looked this morning all dressed up!

This was my facebook status this morning; Had to fight back tears this morning as I put Dak on the bus!!! He looks so grown up in his dress pants, shirt and Tie. 9 years ago He started school at 3 years old,when we heard the words “Your son has Autism”, today he graduates from 5th grade and says goodbye to elementary school, moving on to Middle school. It has been ( and continues to be ) a long, bumpy road, but wow is it worth EVERY step!

I thought back to when He was 18 months old, and his speech screeched to a halt. I remembered the almost daily fight with our pediatrician at the time. I smiled as I remembered how the hearing test referral landed on the early Intervention desk instead of the hearing clinic ( some called this a Mistake…I don’t believe it was).

I remembered His first day of school, at 3 years old…shortly followed by an educational diagnosis and the words “Your son has Autism”, and the mixed emotions that followed. The relief in the knowledge that I was not a bad mother, it was not all in my head, there really was something going on. The grief over shattered dreams for my only son, the realization that he may never do certain things. The acceptance that while he is different, He is NOT less. He is not broke, He is just wired differently did not come over night. I cried, I got angry, I screamed, I researched, I fought, then I let go and gave it to God. When I did that, I found a deeper peace than ever before.

I cried as I remembered the First time he said “Mommy” at 4 years old. I remembered how hard it was on him when we moved, and changed school districts, and he went from pre-school Monday through Fridays half a day, to an hour, three days a week. I winced at the memory of kindergarten, at how hard the transition to all day Monday through Friday was on him after getting adjusted to an hour three days a week. I remembered standing toe to toe with the principal at the school where he attended kindergarten, telling her to call my lawyer after she told me to keep him home because he didn’t “belong” in her school, and her apologizing the end of that week.

I thought about all the meltdowns, all the rough days. I smiled as I thought about each of the teachers and aides along the way, who have made such a HUGE Impact. Who have helped him begin to open up socially and verbally. I smiled as I remembered the phone call from his kindergarten teacher “did you know he can read?!?!” He had taught himself on the computer, but NONE of us realized it!!!

I thought about how much I have learned along the way. IEP’s, PECS, , Social Stories, weighted blankets, what works, what doesn’t work. How to tell he is reaching that boiling point, and when possible, avoid a meltdown. Words like meltdown, Elopement, Pica, echolalia. He teaches me more every day. He reminds me to slow down, to enjoy the simple things. Walking this journey has brought me closer to God, strengthened my faith, taught me how to turn the other cheek, lessons in forgiveness and unconditional love. It continues to show me the power of prayer, the best, and the worst in the people around me.

I know Middle school, and his teen years will bring new challenges, new experiences, and I will face each one as I have in the past, Head on. But for now, today, I am relishing in the moment, celebrating the fact that we did it! We got through elementary school!!

Autism Awareness~30 Days of snapshots: Day 5

Having a rough morning this morning. It STORMED here last night, Thunder, Lighting, wind, Rain…the works. My son does NOT handle this type of weather well…so needless to say, it was a sleepless night. Getting Him up for school this morning was a fight. He Cried all the way into school. when I asked what was wrong He said ” I Crying” When I asked why, He said ” I sad” when I tried to find out what was making Him sad he said “I crying”…..and round and round we went. Upon arrival at His classroom, He continued to cry, but His teacher took over, coaxing Him to stay, telling Him how much fun was planned for the day, His tears continued to flow, and it took everything in me to walk back to the parking lot, leaving Him there. I cried all the way home, my heart hurt, but I know school is important, so here I sit.

I say all this because todays focus is on the teachers, the people who love our kids when we send them off away from home, to school….we trust our precious gifts to them and they give SO much! They have a classroom of kids with special needs, and still they give, they know each child’s quirks, they deal with meltdowns, show compassion, and take the time to call on both good days and bad days. I dread those bad day phone calls, but the “He had a good day today” calls and notes, the “Guess what He did today?!” notes…

These are people who “Get it”

They understand the value of  every small accomplishment, from a complete sentence, to potty training, Hugs and eye contact, to making it through a whole day without a meltdown.

 

They plan Christmas parties, and play games….

They take time out of their Saturdays to come watch a Baseball game ,

and get how special it is to watch Him play ball….

They give Hugs, and High fives…

(and I know I have more Photos somewhere…..but if you could see the Stack of discs sitting next to me on my desk, or if you know me you KNOW how much i like to take photos , so…yeah. LOL)

Here is to the teachers in my son’s world, who with your commitment, patience and care, have helped me open a window into His world. When he started school at the age of three, almost 9 years ago, he was completely non verbal, eye contact was non existent, and hugs? FORGET it! His social skills were non existent, and His sense of danger was no where to be found. With the help of some amazing teachers, He is now talking, yes, there is a lot of echolalia, and sometimes He seems to be speaking His own language, but its SOMETHING! I can now let Him out in the yard to play with His siblings and friends ( yes I said FRIENDS!) and he will LISTEN and not take off into the street ( Most days)

THANK YOU!

 

School Uniforms….the answer to what?

warning…Parental Venting session in progress….

It’s that time of year again….My kids have 11 days of summer Vacation left. and This means the annual ritual of shopping for school supplies…Paper, Pens, Pencils, Crayons, Back-Packs, new shoes…you get the idea. To add to the madness, Our school district in all its knowledge has decided that ALL schools will be going to Uniforms This year…..I would Only be buying school clothes for One, not THREE if it were not for Uniforms…but nooo I get to add pants, and shirts, and belts, and in three different codes for three different schools no less.

What really bothers me though, is that I disagree with the Uniform concept. Not for any religious reasons……but because I work Hard to encourage my kids to be INDIVIDUALS…to maintain their creativity, use their imaginations….to not follow the crowd….I dont want three followers….the whole just because everyone else is wearing that doesnt mean you should be wont work anymore…..the schools have turned our kids into clones….and why? because Parents dont care enough to watch what their kids are wearing? because little suzy is getting picked on for not having designer jeans? because Teachers are tired of enforcing dress codes? probably all of the above……Parents as a whole have stopped caring what thier kids are doing….when I was in school the biggest problem was kids skipping school….now our kids have to worry about getting stabbed or shot AT SCHOOL! what changed? well….we took prayer out of school….we took the Pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem out……we took away art, and Band, and other creative outlets….( ok not in EVERY school) but as a general rule….what matters most to school boards is test scores…..not what the kids actually learn….it doesnt matter that kids are all INDIVIDUALS….and not EVERY kid is a good test taker…some are visual thinkers….all we care about anymore is keeping up with other countries…and that means better test scores….

we have become so fast paced….most homes…both parents work…or single parent families…well yeah of course the parent has to work…..nobody has time to raise their kids….so we let the schools do it…and they are turning our kids into non thinking test taking clones in matching clothes so that nobody gets picked on……guess what….newsflash…uniforms are NOT the answer to bullying…kids are going to establish a pecking order one way or another…used to be Jr. High….a few slams into lockers…fights in the hall….then we were friends…the pecking order was established…end of story…yeah, I was one of the ones getting pushed into the lockers..I was the new girl in school in 7th grade…Jr. High was not easy…but I survived…I learned problem solving…..and I didnt take a gun and shoot anyone.

when a 2nd grader doesn’t know why Veteran’s day is a Holiday….or a kindergartner doesn’t know the pledge of Allegiance…or the National Anthem…it makes me wonder…what are we really teaching our kids…..This summer, I took my kids home to Upstate NY to visit my parents….and while up there….we did a Revolutionary war History tour with my oldest daughter who is going into 8th grade…what shocked me was how little she knew about how our country was founded…things I remember learning in like 5th grade!!! Thankfully, as My mom said, My kids are fortunate to have parents who take the time to fill in what the schools DON’T teach…to enforce work ethic, Manners, and to encourage them to STILL be kids once in a while…your only a kid ONCE…you CANT go Back…EVER….why do we rush todays kids to grow up so fast? Can’t we let them enjoy their childhood and stop stressing them out over test scores and make learning FUN again?

some kids learn math by doing art…some through Music….some by following a recipe or a sewing Pattern…not all learn by boring repetition of addition Tables…you tell me Math is important…and I agree whole heartily….but there is more than one way to skin a cat…..which brings me back to uniforms….what will they really solve?  are we creating a new generation of people who can think for themselves? or a generation of people who will do whatever they are told, without question….without thinking? do we want our future leaders to be drones…..or leaders?

If you read this far….yeah I know…my thoughts are all over and random….this was more of a rant than anything…..but the fact is our education system is broken…..it has been for some time…we took a wrong turn when we shut God out…and things have been going downhill ever since……Our schools are where the foundation is laid for the future….and if the foundation is broken…..then God help us all…