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Monday, March 29, 2010

March Report Card (First since December)

We got Aidan's report cards back today (he gets one for his autism class and one for kindergarten), and he's done great!  I figured you would all love a run down of his progress this year.

Annual Goal Progress Report

Goal: Aidan will select appropriate voice level when interacting with others with 90% accuracy by 4/22/10
  • Progress - 2 (Some progress made)  
  • Extent - 2 (Anticipate Mastery)
  • "Has made progress but on some days still has to be reminded."

Goal: Aidan will following one- and two-part oral direction with 90% accuracy by 4/22/10
  • Progress - 2       
  • Extent - 2
  • "Has done very well following directions.  When he does not want to he has to be prompted."

Goal: Aidan will exhibit appropriate social skills by controlling his excitement, using an inside voice, use appropriate social communication skills and will make and keep friends 80% of his school day by May of 2010 
  • Progress - 2
  • Extent - 2
  • "Has made friends in kindergarten.  Still has to be reminded to be quiet at times.  Will get upset if staff prompts him or shows him a sign to be quiet.
Goal: Aidan will demonstrate appropriate behavior by following 2 step directions, using an inside voice, remaining calm and will ask for a break/his music when he feels himself becoming over stimulated 3 out of 4 times by May of 2010.
  • Progress - 2      
  • Extent - 2
  • "Has done very well asking for breaks and his ear covers to get away from the sound before it gets too loud for him."
Goal: Aidan will improve his basic living skills by demonstrating the ability to fasten and unfasten hook and button closings on his clothes and by being able to catch a ball that has been tossed to him from a few feet away 3 out of 4 times by May of 2010.
  • Progress - 2
  • Extent - 2
  • "He is able to catch a ball and has had no issues buttoning and unbuttoning."


Kindergarten Report Card Assessment

  • S (Satisfactory - 80%-100%) - Identifies Letters: (they give a list of all the ones they expect him to know, large and small, but let's face it, he knows ALL of his letters little and big...)
  • S - Identifies beginning sounds: M, T, A, S, P, C, I, B, N, R, D, K, F, O, H
  • S - Recognizes high frequency words: I, am, the, little, to, a, have, is, we, my, like, he, for, me, (didn't know "with"), she, see, look, they, you, of, are, that, do, one, two, three, four, five
  • S - Identifies numerals: 4, 8, (thought 13 was 31), 1, 3, (14 was 41), 9, 15, 0, 12, 6, 2, 11, 7, 10, 5
  • S - Can count to 30 --- counted to 66
  • S - Uses drawing, scribbling, inventive spelling to express thoughts about personal experiences.
  • S - Spells name correctly
  • S - Handwriting: prints letters, numerals, and first/last name correctly
  • S - Understands relationships: Extends a pattern, rhyming words, opposites
  • S - Identifies coins: penny, nickel, dime, quarter
  • S - Obeys school rules
  • S - Uses good manners
  • S - Gives best effort
He also got an "S" in music and PE, and of course already knows his colors, and shapes.


So obviously we're quite proud of the kid.  He's so smart.  I worry that they'll want to send him back to Creekside to do Kindergarten again except in the mainstream classroom.  I really think that's a bad idea for a lot of reasons.  First of all, he's way too smart and too far along to do kindergarten again as his report cards show - he'd be terribly bored and would have poor behavior and attention span because of that.  Also, Creekside doesn't have the resources that Johnson does - they only have one special ed teacher and a couple of aides.  I believe Aidan needs to start out where he'll leave off this year, doing about an hour or two in the mainstream classroom WITH an aide and be in first grade.  He needs to work into a full day in the mainstream class with an aide, and then slowly have the aide with him for less and less time each day.  We'll have an IEP meeting at the end of April or beginning of May and you can bet your britches I'll be insisting that things happen the best way for Aidan to succeed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Routine Interruptions

This week I'm reminded of how tenuous Aidan's hold on a normal life is.  Before Spring Break he had sooooo many days in a row and was mostly really easy to deal with at home too.  During Spring Break other than the two of us getting on each other's nerves a bit, he still did great.  But when he went back to school this week the feces hit the air circulation device so to speak.  He's had two bad days in a row.  Yesterday he was hitting kids and throwing things at them and not behaving well in general.  Today he was talking back to his teachers and pushed one of his classmates in the hallway because he wanted to be the line leader.  Ms. Annie says that they're doing SAT's this week and that the mainstream kindergarten teacher was out today.  Yesterday Ms. Annie was gone part of the day on a field trip. 

Aidan isn't great at dealing with transitions or changes in his routine.  It's one of his weaknesses.  Of course, he can't let that weakness rule his life or affect his behavior forever.  He's got to learn how to be flexible and control his own reactions to the changes in his life.  The only way I know how to help him do this is with consistent consequences no matter what the reason for his poor behaviour is.  Yesterday I gave him a warning that if he had another bad day at school he would not be allowed to play with his DS today and would lose his allowance that he gets on Sunday.  He's been doing great with helping out around the house and keeping his room clean because he gets a weekly allowance when he meets the requirements for earning it.  I explained to him that school was another of his responsibilities and he had to be good there just like he had to feed the kitties and keep his room clean in order to earn his allowance.  Today when he had a bad day and was told he wouldn't be getting to play with his DS or get his allowance on Sunday, he whined a little but seemed to understand that his actions had consequences and the consequences were fair.

Figuring out how to handle (and help him handle) the major and even minor changes in his life and his routine is quite a hurdle to jump, but I think we'll make it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Autism Awareness Card

I designed these cards for those of us who know and love someone with autism and sometimes have to deal with the funny looks or the unwanted advice from people who don't know any better.  If you'd like me to make you some, let me know and I'll be happy to, I just have to buy the actual paper to do so and haven't gone to the store yet.  Of course I would replace my email address with yours.  If there's anything you think I should add, let me know (not sure where I'd fit it in, but I'm sure we'll manage).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's New?

Just a quick update on what's been going on the last few weeks in the wonderful world of Aidan:

  • Aidan has been spending as much as an hour at a time in the mainstream kindergarten class, with an aide.
  • Because of his difficulties focusing and remaining calm, we are considering whether he would benefit from ADHD meds or a change in his diet.
  • Other than the concentration and hyperactivity, Aidan has had a long string of great days at school and his attitude has been much more manageable during this time, which is a great relief and much more enjoyable.
  • Aidan's class has been practicing and preparing for the Special Olympics in April.  Because Aidan is not in second grade, he is not able to participate, and is technically not permitted to even go and watch.  Miss Annie (Aidan's teacher in the autism unit) spoke with the person in charge and got permission for Aidan to attend even though he is still not going to be allowed to participate.
  • A couple weeks ago, Aidan decided he wanted to be an Olympic ice skater.  Jeremy and I went ice skating a couple of times without him (don't want to break our own necks trying to keep him from breaking his), and then this past weekend we took him skating.  He did great - started out holding on the wall, then onto a traffic cone, then for a while he skated without either.  I'm so proud of him.  He wasn't sure at first, but has decided he wants to keep learning to skate.  He doesn't want official lessons though, he just wants me to teach him for now.
  • Today we discovered that Aidan has his first loose tooth!  It's official, he's finally becoming a big boy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ironic, but not in a good way.

Autistic Child Ruins Marriage He Was Born to Save (The Onion)

HOUSTON—With the challenges accompanying his developmental disorder widening the already vast gulf between his parents, autistic child Evan Thomas, 3, continued this week to destroy the failing marriage he was brought into this world to save.

Evan, who through the very act of being born was entrusted with the task of resolving lingering conflicts, soothing deep-seated contempt, and restoring intimacy to Mark and Sharon Thomas' long-strained relationship, has thus far utterly failed in his assigned duties, sources reported Monday.

"It's so much work taking care of Evan, and Mark just refuses to help out as much as he should," said Sharon Thomas, who endured a long, agonizing childbirth to put an end to the couple's constant bitter arguments. "It's so frustrating. I don't get any time to myself because Evan needs attention like 24 hours a day."

"I never asked for this," Sharon added

According to sources, Mark Thomas, 32, had always wanted a healthy, happy, completely normal son to provide a quick and easy fix to all of his marital problems. However, rather than allaying their trust issues and instantly making everything all better, Evan has reportedly driven a deeper rift between his parents by prompting fights about who is to blame for his condition.

"The doctors are constantly telling us that it's not anyone's fault, but if you'd ever met Sharon's brothers, you'd know that something's not quite right on that side of the family," Mark said. "We probably shouldn't yell in front of him as much as we do, but he doesn't really pay much attention and it honestly doesn't seem to bother him."

"In fact, nothing seems to bother him," Mark continued.

Although Evan was only diagnosed with autism six months ago, Mark said it was clear right after bringing him home from the hospital that something was wrong with their son, since their lives did not take a dramatic 180-degree turn for the better, lingering disputes did not just melt away, and years of underlying tension were only brought into sharper focus.

The child, who according to his parents rarely smiles or acts cheerful, has left many in the household concerned that he's not committed to mending the broken relationship. Moreover, during the past three years, Evan has reportedly done almost nothing to curb Mark's controlling nature or Sharon's cruel emotional abuse.
Evan has also failed to utter the words "mama" or "dada," thereby ruining any chance his parents might have had at forging an instantaneous, all-healing bond.

"Nobody told me I'd be so exhausted and cranky all the time," said Mark, who had anticipated that a son would create the mutual respect that his marriage has always lacked as opposed to making him feel overwhelmed and trapped. "Now, I just get nagged about never dealing with Evan after I bust my ass at work all day."

Mark and Sharon also complained that the highly structured schedule they're forced to keep to prevent Evan from "acting up" has severely strained their social life, causing them to miss a recent Super Bowl party at a neighbor's house that all of their friends without special-needs children were at.

In 2006, before giving birth to Evan, the awful couple attempted to salvage their relationship by purchasing an American pit bull terrier puppy. But the dog, who was reportedly a real pain to take care of, lacked the discipline to put in any work on their miserable marriage and always demanded too much affection.
Family members told reporters they weren't surprised Evan has not yet managed to transform the couple's dysfunctional marriage into a healthy and loving one.

"Oh God, they should never have had a kid," Evan's grandmother Janet Harmon said. "She should have gotten her tubes tied like she threatened to do in the first place."

Mark and Sharon said they were currently trying to get pregnant again in hopes that a new baby would take off some of the pressure of raising Evan all alone.

I love how many articles blame marital problems on special-needs children.  It's so painfully ironic.  Of course, it's much easier to blame all the problems in your life on a child who has no choice or control over it, rather than take personal responsibility for your life sucking so bad.  Grow up people.  Really?  I couldn't even find this article funny, it's just too true for so many people.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Autism is a Gift

I grew up watching and reading X-men.  In that world, humans had "evolved", via mutation, to another level.  Normal, unevolved humans considered the mutants to be freaks and disabled.  Because of their superhuman abilities the mutants often had a very difficult time functioning in the real world.

Sound familiar?

In that world, our children would be taken in by Dr. Charles Xavier and their abilities would be honed and they would be taught how to use them to change the world.  Their "sensory integration disorder" would be superhuman hearing and sight and touch and taste.  Their way of thinking in pictures or patterns would be such an assett and we'd see neat little montages of how their brains worked. 

Autism is not a punishment, a curse, a disability, a disease.  It is a neurobiological change to the human body and brain that results in a different or better set of abilities.  Our children don't think like us, they don't experience the world in the same way we do.  Because of this, we label them as "disabled" and give them therapy.  How can we take the knowledge that these children are different and possibly BETTER and instead of trying to change them and make them more like us, help them to take advantage of the way they see and think and feel?  The differences they could make in this world could be profound. 

Where would we be today with Mozart, Van Gogh, Einstein, Newton, Tesla?  They would likely be diagnosed with some Autism Spectrum Disorder today.  Perhaps that label should lose the word "disorder" and find another word that still sets them apart, just not in a negative way.  I'm not saying we shouldn't teach our ASD children differently - we obviously should! Just like we offer different opportunities to a child who is phenomenal at sports, and we put a child who is extremely gifted in the advanced classes, we need to make sure we're not trying to change our children to make them more like us.  Maybe we should be trying to be more like them?  Maybe we should change the world to fit them, instead of telling them they should change to fit the world.