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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exhaustion, confusion, and just trying to find a path....


It has been one of those weeks, where I try to stay positive, and try to look forward to a better tomorrow, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other, but it is hard to stay on that narrow way this week.

I am tired--physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally--just...tired. 

This month has not gone at ALL the way I had anticipated when the month began....

I was so excited about Josiah starting Kindergarten and being in with mainstream peers...and it has been a nightmare--not that he is not trying but that the expectations of him to be able to just jump right into the mainstream classroom knowing exactly what to do and how to behave, in with kids who spent all of last yer together in that school in pre-k, preparing for this year when he was in a different school, different setting, and not preparing specifically for this classroom all last year, well, lets just say I believe a teacher has not grown nearly as much as she thinks she has over the past 20 years.  It is still the need to have children who fit only into the round holes that match the pre-set curriculum, and all other children just do not belong.  Not that she has said that, but even in a meeting today, as nice and open minded as she was trying to be (and I DO believe she IS trying) it is obvious that she just struggles greatly with any child who does not quickly fall into the little round hole so that the class can go as she wants it. Up until today I was leaning more towards the idea that it is old crap (which I mentioned in an earlier post though did not go into specifics) that had made me nervous for him to be in this particular classroom.  But after today, it is becoming clearer that it's not all me.  On the whole the school personnel are working VERY hard to try to understand Josiah and the web of his issues (there was yet another comment about how she understand his physical issues completely--which to me shows how much of an uphill battle this is going to be as he is a whole person and his physical issues directly and indirectly impact his behavioral issues, so if you can't open your mind enough to see that the two are related, then NO you do NOT understand his physical issues completely!)

Maybe it was a mistake to stay here.  Maybe it was a mistake to try to mainstream Josiah in Kindergarten--academically he is totally getting the work they are doing--reading sight words, understanding basic concepts, knowing his letters and numbers and the sounds the letters make.  But they have focused so much on writing, and he can NOT write anywhere near to the degree that the other kids can--and it is NOT for lack of trying.  He tries so hard at home to write, and we do hand over hand, and he WANTS to write, but his CP and the very delayed gross and fine motor development that is required for writing creates a huge obstacle for him.  I have spent so much time over the past three weeks analyzing, studying and trying to figure out how best to help Josiah and to give suggestions on what they can do to help him adjust that I feel like my brain is going to explode, if my heart does not first.  Yes his behavior is way over the top, much worse than I ever expected--so either I totally was not paying attention to what Prospect told me (though they were completely confident that he would shine in a mainstream environment if he had a 1:1 aide to support him (both for physical and behavioral stuff), so I don't think I missed anything), or Prospect completely downplayed or did not consider his behaviors to be so over the top, aside from the three that are addressed in the IEP.  OR, that the classroom spent so much time focusing only on his physical issues, that they completely neglected to consider his behavioral issues and how to deal with them at a level that he is able to comprehend and manage.  Square peg----round hole-----square peg-----round hole

"behavior is not my strong point..."  said by the Spec Ed teacher whom I love and who has always been good with the people that I love that are behaviorally challenged--she worked well with my brother, my nephew, and my older son Gonzo.  And yet for some reason Josiah...who has always been far easier to deal with than any of the other three boys I mentioned, has challenged her.  I just do not understand what is going on with him, what a night mare this is turning into....

I have also been trying to find a larger place to live, preferable a single family house, and there is just SOOOO little around here for rent.  With the refund check I finally got, I thought it would be such a great thing to pay off some bills and then set myself up with living expenses paid for a few months while I build up either my babysitting or my writing into an income that can take over when the refund cushion is depleted.  But I am just running into walls.  The couple of places I have found that  would allow the kids to have separate bedrooms (more on another day on why that is becoming a necessity more than a want) do not want me to be doing childcare, even when I assured them that I would be buying renters insurance and a liability insurance that covers childcare providers.  Then I have to wonder, if they don ot want me to be caring for 3-4 children during the day, why would they rent to someone who has two kids of their own.  It's not like there are going to be 20 kids there or anything.  So I have one more feeler out there about a house that is technically for sale, but has been empty and on the market for over 2 years, and maybe they will be interested in renting it to me.  So it is kind of a cold call, but we will see.

However if things do not start turning around for Josiah soon, if he does not get a handle on how he expresses his frustration and get some self control and start following the rules more, I am thinking we may not be living here all that much longer anyway.  I won't move Gonzo from his school program at this point though, so unless I can be assured that he would be able to stay in the program he is in, I do not know how we could move even if they move Josiah to a different program.  But it does not make sense to stay if neither of my children can attend the local school.  I may be jumping the gun, but frankly, I was blindsided by all these problems, and they are so reminiscent of Gonzo's steps into Kindergarten, where in the end we got a call from someone we knew who was subbing there who witness him being mistreated, and later confirmed that from other people who worked there, but NO ONE would come forward against that teacher when we asked if we could put their name a the source of the information.  So we had to file a lame report with the school about what we were told, and took G out to home school him the rest of Kindergarten.  I do NOT want Josiah going through anything like Gonzo did, and while I know we are in a totally different setting, totally different region, and totally different set of circumstances, I still feel a bit gun shy.  I am beginning to hate kindergarten for kids with special needs.  Even the second time around, it is still such a shock to go from a preschool where the child is cherished and their education was more individual in nature to the grand demon of public school where the individual is not cherished or upheld, and everyone has to be crammed into very specific parameters.  Not all teachers are like that, I have met and am friends with many who are not like that, but alas none of them live anywhere close to here.  And given how Josiah has been acting, I doubt they would find him much of a  picnic in their classrooms. 

Honestly, underneath all of this other stuff that I write about, I feel helpless. To the point that my insomnia is making a comeback and I find myself close to tears way more often that I ever let anyone know. I hate feeling helpless--and it comes out as anger and incredulity, frustration and God knows what else, but deep down, the real problem for me is that I see my child struggling, in a sea of strangers who he does not know or trust and who do not know or like him, and there is nothing that I can really do about it.  I can talk until i am blue in the face, give suggestions and pointers and try to understand what they are going through and try to help them understand what he might be going through....but in the end all I feel is helpless, unable to give my son the great and wonderful experience that Kindergarten is supposed to be.  I don't know what to do...I don't know what the right thing to do is....I don't know what path I am on, what path I have set my children on, and I feel so incredibly alone....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

School (old fear dies hard), work and possibly moving to another rental?!?

So I have not really written in a few days.  There are a couple of reasons for that:  First of all my (MY) computer (the wonderful laptop I got for Christmas from K (my best friend for the past 19 years)) is back at HP for some repairs, still under warranty luckily.  So I have been using A's computer, as A is not using it, as there is neither Internet, nor a phone, at my father's house and A is still living there (though I went with A yesterday to see A put down a deposit plus rent on an apartment which will be ready in mid-October or November at the latest--yippee, more stability for my kids as we can get them on a consistent schedule with specific times and space where they can spend with A, and more chance to relax my tension for me).  So that laptop was here as A is here much of the time.  But A's computer is ailing, over the past year and a half there are vertical lines that have slowly been moving up the screen.  You can still see everything fine, but the color is subdued.  So for writing and such it is fine (thought watching netflix on it is not so good).  However, lately the cord has been iffy--it only connects some of the time, and about 5 days ago, stopped working all together.  So I have been using my ancient desktop, which is slower than death, has about 17 quarantined viruses on it, and that I use mainly for the kids educational and fun computer games.  It is a lesson in patience, and practice in grace to use the Internet with this computer.  As it can take 5 minutes or longer to open a web page, or to switch from one email to the next.  So I have not had the time to write much lately.  So my freelance writing this month is likely to be a big fat $0, as I can't do the work fast enough to ensure that I will get the research done and the articles written within the deadlines, so I have not been able to accept any assignments, which is annoying. 

I have written a little bit about the kids schools and my concerns, especially about Josiah (Gonzo seems to be doing very well so far).  He is trying so hard to find his place, and it is really stressing him out.  He is exhausted by all the walking that he is doing, going from room to room and doing stairs, and is so confused by the many, many differences in rules, expectations, and basic interactions that he encounters in the public school Kindergarten as compared to the protected, much safer feeling he got from the more lenient and accepting private special needs preschool that he used to go to.  I see him visibly relax once he has been home about 15 minutes, and feels more at peace.  It is GOOD for him to be learning a more age appropriate level of group interaction, but it is not easy for him.  The exhaustion on top of that from so much more physical activity adds to the stress, but is also very good for him.   His braces seem to be putting a LOT of pressure right above his ankles though, the new hinges (same custom bracing just new hinges, that were put on and ready just before school started don't seem to fit like they used to.  I think I will give Glen (his orthopedist) a call and get Jos down to Saratoga to ensure that they are oriented right.  Overall though, even with as much walking and such that we did this summer, he is walking more on a daily basis at school than ever before.  HE is doing great with it though.  I got an email from his PE teacher earlier today.  I hope she will not mind if I copy it here:

"I wanted to let you know that Josiah is doing a nice job in PE class. We have been working on various gross motor skills (galloping, skipping, hopping, jumping etc) as well as doing some movement education. Josiah has a very positive attitude and is able to participate in all activities. He is even trying to hop while using his walker. Other students (K and 1st have PE together) are glad to be his partner when we pair up for activities. I appreciate Josiah’s effort and his personality. I find it comical that he refers to me as “The Announcer.”  "

This email really made my day, as he has been having a rough time of it in the classroom.  They have a red, yellow, green light motif for helping kids (and their parents) gauge their behaviour.  His first two days, he had a red light, the 3rd day it was yellow, and last Friday it was green--yippee!!  This week, Monday was a red light (he even hit and swore at the Sp Ed teacher, who is one of the kindest people I have ever met).  Then Tuesday was a green light, nearly PERFECT day.  Then today was a red light.  Today he was not feeling well.  He woke up with a cough and a stuffy nose, and while he seemed tired, he seemed otherwise okay, so I sent him to school.  But his assistant said that he was really irritable all day and wanted to be held (which usually means he is not feeling well).  He seemed to get worse as the evening wore on, so he is coming down with something, and I noticed he is having difficulty swallowing, so I think his throat is sore.  Even now I can hear him coughing.  I have checked on him a few times since putting him to bed and he is sleeping restlessly. So he is definitely coming down with something.  I will be keeping him home tomorrow so that he can rest, which means no aquatic PT either as that is now on Thursday evening.  He is supposed to have dental surgery next week (this nemesis of a surgery I have been working towards sine July 2010), but if he has a cold or even the hint of a cold, the pulmonary doctor said not to chance the anesthesia (which I totally agree with given his lung issues).  So unless he makes a spectacular overnight recovery, I believe we will be canceling next week's surgery, which means another 4-6 month wait, as that is how far out they schedule dental surgery for that office.  In some ways that may not be too bad, as he has to go under general anesthesia (GA) in October for a 3 hour MRI of his brain, as the neurosurgeon wants to evaluate how the fluid is moving through his brain as there is the possibility that his hydrocephalus may not be as stable as we thought.  So that will give more time between going under GA, which might be safer for him. 

I have something to admit, something I am a bit ashamed of--I have to fight myself hard everyday over old preconceived notions about his teacher and assistant, based on experiences from nearly 20 years ago.  I pride myself on having an open mind, being patient and kind, and on giving people the benefit of the doubt, and on the desire to forgive people for the mistakes they have made that have hurt me (either directly or through hurting the people I love).  I have found that I have a box of old memories, crap that happened 16-20 years ago in regards to these two individuals that are now such an intregal part of my sons life (the old issues are not related so two separate issues with two separate people).  I have found that I have to keep checking myself to not let my hurt and fear from those long past experiences cloud my vision and my interactions with them today, in the here and now.  I am ashamed to admit that I have held on to old crap, and am seeking a way to forgive pain that is two decades old so that I can see clearly now and be able to give them the benefit of the doubt as they work daily and intensely with one of the most important people in my life, my beloved Josiah.  So please take my fears about Kindergarten for my son with a grain of salt and know that I am struggling with separating old from new.  And say a prayer for me that this will be a growing experience for me and my spirit as I learn to let go and forgive old grievances....

 Overall though, the kindergarten teacher and his assistant (as well as the other people he works with) have been trying very hard.  They are definitely not used to a child with his special needs --both physical and behavioral.  And many of his behaviors stem from three sources--1) according to the tests done last spring, he is functioning (emotional, social, behavioral) on average at a 24 month level but with some ares much higher (good old standardized tests--make NO sense for a child with brain damage, they only give truly useful information about neurotypical children)--which I had missed when talking with the social worker who did the assessment, as they told me he is doing fine and should do well in Kindergarten with a 1:1 (I just reviewed his IEP again last week); 2) his physical impairment has left him unable to do some of the things the other kids are able to do (write independently, color in the lines, drawn simple shapes, etc...) so he is Very frustrated and I think embarrassed (given the way he hides his face when he is asked about it) that he can't do it, which leads to acting out, trying to be the class clown, or being outright defiant and contrary (I used to call Gonzo my contrary canary, but that can go to Josiah now); and 3) He has Gonzo as his primary kid role model, and he imitates Gonzo's behavior to a "t", something I have tried to talk with him about, and to ask him to watch the other kids and try to do what they do, as it is a great group of kids he is with in Kindergarten, and I think he can find good peer role models there, whereas his brother is NOT a person he should be imitating or learning habits from.  

Added to his issues is the fact that the kindergarten teacher is not known for her empathy towards kids with behavioral issues (told to me from other soucres more current than my own memories), and I really try hard to give her the benefit of the doubt that she has grown and matured as an educator from the time that I knew her when she was just starting out and my youngest siblings had her for a teacher (I am 9 and 12 years older than my two youngest siblings, so I was nearly an adult when she was my brother's Kindergarten teacher).   I also have a bit of a knee jerk reaction from the experiences we had with Gonzo in Kindergarten (totally different school district over 3 hours from here), which resulted in my pulling him out and homeschooling the second part of Kindergarten (back in our old town). I do not want to homeschool either of the kids, as I really believe that peer and social interaction is vital to their development, and learning to trust and rely on other adults is beneficial to their ability to reach outside themselves and their family for new experiences and growth.  However in Gonzo's case he was actually being both emotionally and physically mistreated (we heard from multiple witnesses, none of whom were wiling to speak out publically on that tyrant of a teacher or cross her as those who had suffered greatly I am told).  So to protect Gonzo we home schooled him for that second half of Kindergarten, and he did great.  This is a different teacher, but I remember clearly some of the things that occurred with my brother and my sister, who at the time were small, young, scared children dealing with the breakup of their parents (something that Josiah and Gonzo are still going through as A and I are still getting settled into our new roles--it takes a few years for life to be stable again after a break up of a family), and the instability that brings.  And she had no understanding or compassion for what the kids may be going through emotionally or any understanding that some acting out is because the kids already have stress they are dealing with and when they are trying to conform, but not doing it fast enough or well enough for a particular teacher, the stress becomes more than such a young child can bear.  SO while I am sure this teacher has grown and matured in many ways as an educator, I am beginning to wonder if she has learned to have compassion for kids who have struggles that are bigger than trying to figure out how to spell.  Josiah has SO much on his plate before he even walks through the door--his physical limitations, his newness to this strict of an environment, his struggles with a very challenging brother at home, his struggles with the shifts his family has had over the past year and a half with the separation of his parents, AND facing a Kindergarten curriculum which for some reason appears to be difficult to adapt to his physical limitations.   I know they are trying--trying to meet him where he is, trying to help him find his place in this new world of Kindergarten, trying to figure out how to bring him into the fold and help him find more positive ways to express himself--I DO know they are trying.  It is glaringly obvious thought that they are very unaccustomed to working with children who have special needs, as they do not have the patience that is learned from working with children who take longer to do everything.  They want him to adjust as quickly as a typical child adjusts, and that is just not possible, life is slower for him, his brain is damaged, it needs to create new pathways as the inate pathways were destroyed during and soon after birth for so many things, not just his motor development.  Laying new neurological pathwyas takes time, compassion, and repetition. 

Hopefully THEY will allow HIM to teach them a few of the life lessons that he has taught so many people.  Hopefully they will have hearts and minds that are open enough to receive the gifts that he can bring to them as they work with him.  Hopefully they will find the patience (also called long-suffering, which I understand now) that can be shared and beneficial to all of their future students.  Hopefully they will see the diamond in the rough, and be able to nurture and teach him and his classmates.  I would love to say that week two has been great, and while I definitely feel better about it than week 1, there is a learning curve--both for him and for them--that is undetermined at this time.  I will keep praying, keep communicating, and keep working with him (and them) to help there be more consistency between home and school, so that he can learn faster.  He is a resilient little boy, and I want him to grow and shine.  I do not want to see his spirit broken like my sister's and my brother's were at such a young age.  His spirit can shine, and I have to both protect him AND give these teachers the benefit of the doubt, that 20 years CAN make a difference, and that they now know how to build children up into the students they want to see, rather than tear them down so they submit to what they are told.  Good old Harry Chapin's song, which has the following two lines (in different parts of the song) ..."Flowers are Red, green leaves are green, there's no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen....{story here}....There are so many colors in the rainbow, so many colors in the rising sun, so many colors in the flowers, and I see every one....".  I just keep praying that these teachers see the rainbow and teach the children to see the rainbow, rather than insisting on red flowers in neat rows....

Well, enough about fears, both new and based on really old crap that I did not even realize was hanging out in my subconscious memory...on to a more pleasant note.  I have found a steady source of income that allows me to be there when I need to for my kids and has some flexibility built in.  I am doing child care again.  As per NYS law, I can only have 2 kids (other than my own) in my home with the legally exempt approval I have.  To take more children I will have to go through the process of becoming a registered daycare provider.  This is something I have thought of doing for a long time now, especially since I WAS a daycare worker and nursery school teacher in CT for 5 years in the 1990's.  So I DO know what it i is like to care for multiple small children, and I actually do love it (thought it is exhausting).  So I called the Childcare network today and am getting the ball rolling (takes 2-6 months to get licenced).  My apartment is really rather small, and with my two and the two I am watching now, it is rather crowded.  I did talk to my landlord today about it, and he has some concerns but is quite willing to work with me on it.  He and I are both concerned about the neighbors who rents the other half of the duplex, an elderly couple who may not like having multiple kids around.  Which would be a problem.  I did tell the landlord that I am also considering finding a larger place, a single family home, which would allow me to set up and provide a better space for a daycare.  He does not have anything available and thanked me for letting him know that I may be moving.  Overall, he was very supportive either way, which is good.  With the two I have now, I have the 2 year old 27 hours a week and the 6 year old after school for a total of 10 hours a week.  I make about $100 (I know, it is really low, but around here, people really can NOT afford more).  So I figure that if I have 4 children over 25 hours a week, I can bring in about $300 a week, which will be enough to live on.  If I have time I can continue with the freelance writing (or just go back to free writing), and do little jobs on the side to have additional income.  That would be my best bet.  I have called on a 4 bedroom house that is for rent, and am waiting to hear back from the owner as to whether they would allow me to run a family home daycare in their rental (I would pay the liability and daycare insurance of course).  If they are willing and accept me as a tenant, then I will be able to get the business up and running faster, which would be good. 

So if anyone wants to send up some prayers, please do so, for Josiah's kindergarten to work out well all around, for Gonzo to continue to do well in his schoool setting, for me to be able to let go, for provision for my family (I would be grateful if you can donate even a quarter or a dollar to my family's basic needs if you wish by clicking on the box at the top of the right hand column), prayers for finding the right space for us to live and run this daycare center, and prayers that everything falls into place as it should.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What a week!

Well, the first week of school has been interesting.  Gonzalo is doing very well so far.  I have noticed as the summer went on (both while he was in summer school and during our weeks at home afterwards) that he seems to have gained some maturity and is gaining an understanding of the fact that to make friends he has to treat his peers with more respect.  At school so far he has had a really good week.  He has also discovered reading for pleasure, which is something I have been trying to cultivate for him, as I know how great it can be to enjoy, learn from, and lose yourself in books, especially as a stress control method.  I am looking forward to him being in the same classroom with teachers who know him well, know his triggers, know the signs that he is heading for trouble, and know how to work with him to help him keep himself under control so that he can enjoy life, enjoy school, learn, and move forward.  His teachers care, and that is vital to him being able to be successful and grow in positive directions.

Josiah has had a rough start to Kindergarten, as I mentioned in my previous post.  I have had a rough week too, because I know knee-jerk reactions will not help anything, and keeping my head about me when I feel things are not being done in the best way for him.  He is my baby after all.  We had the same types of issues when Gonz went to kindergarten.  Children with special needs present issues in a variety of areas for a variety of reason, not just their primary area of development that dominates their special needs.  And even teachers with some experience with children with special needs have to take time to learn about and adjust to a new child, even if they have had similar children before.  As Kindergarten marks the year when a child goes from the child-centric, super supportive of the individual environment of a special needs preschool (like both Gonzo and Josiah had for their 3-5 year old ages), it is a shock to enter mainstream (or in G's case integrated) public school kindergarten, where it is class-centric, group focused, not focused on how to best educate and support each individual child.  So he needs time to learn how to be an individual that is the member of a group.  The great learned institutionalism that dominates our modern society.  It has its place, but it also alienates people who are amazing, intelligent people, who just do not conform well to the expected tacit rules.  Josiah will adjust, he has a personality that really does want to fit in.  I think it will get easier for him as he gets used to how things work, and I hope that the daily communication between the school and myself will make it easier for them to learn how to help him, and for him to learn how to help himself. 

Starting school each year, especially when the kids are changing schools or dealing with new people who have expectations that the kids need to adjust to, brings me back to my wondering how to help the kids find the balance between being part of a group (institutionalism) and staying true to who they are (individualism).  I have trouble striking the balance sometimes, though am normally successful at it.  My basic core values and the basic expectations of this culture have a lot of overlap, so it is not so difficult.  My father has trouble conforming and fitting in, not so much with the general culture, as he is shining, happy, and in his element when surrounded by college professors, graduate students, and other people of intellectual focus (like when he used to be in groups of my old friends or when he goes and visits my sister -- who is a college professor now).  He more has trouble with this small town, isolated, rural culture that does not have much int he way of intellectual stimulation or philosophical discussion.  So he is fairly reclusive, spending most of his time doing his own things, socially visiting with his few friends who ARE more intellectual in their focus, and reading.  I have been back for two years and have really not established any friends here.  For the same reasons, and for the additional reason of the fact that raising two kids with special needs makes it difficult to cultivate new relationships with people.    How do I help the kids stay secure in themselves, knowing how amazing they are and how incredible they are now and how incredible they can be as they grow and learn, AND help them to find ways to fit in, to look to their peers to learn how to behave in a way that is acceptable to the group mentality, to grow in ways that are respectful to others and seen as respectable as well?  Often, i go back to our ideas of starting our own school, that takes them child-centric focus of the preschools for special needs kids, and implements it in a K-12 school open to ALL children where the gifted and talented and the "regular kids" and the kids with special needs ALL get individual education plans, and can grow and learn together without the regimented institutional quality of the public school system....I need to find a philanthropic investor......

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

School Began...

Josiah's first day at scholl was, well, difficult.  Indian Lake does this great first day celebration thing for the first couple of hours.  Not so great for kids with special needs, but a great community buiiding, all school, VERY activity packed morning that parents and community can attend as well.  Poor Josiah was totaly exhausted and overwhelmed when I left at 10:30, which is when the classes enter a more normal kind of routine.  He had a couple of complete meltdowns in the afternoon--He was exhausted (mentally and physically) by all the comotion of the morning (he is used to a calmer, single room (they did everything, even meals, in their room at Prospect), more protected environment).  He was overwhelmed.  And I really should have arranged for him to start with a half day.  He did like school, but by the time he got home he had circles under his eyes--and he had gotten 11 hours of sleep the night before!  Today is a more normal routine, and should be more to his pace of life (though I am not sure, I sometimes forget how slowly we take life in a house with two children with extra needs--though I also perfer the slower pace of life where you can actually ENJOY and savor experiences, like father like daughter I suppose). 

I really do think that if he can get use to the pace, he will flourish. He will enjoy being able to go to various specials outside of the room, but the school is not handicap accessible (weird in this day and age, I know) and has stairs everywhere, so he is having a lot of challenges (which is good in many ways, but tiring), but can not use his wheel chair if he gets tired because there are no ramps or elevators. He is doing great with his walker, and is working on using stairs, though I wish he were a little further along with that, but you take life as it comes, he will master stairs with assistance soon, and maybe move on to stairs unassisted at some point in the future. As much as I would like him to be able to take adavantage of the wonderful small class size (7 kids in a public mainstream Kindergarten with his academic focus), and the fact that this school truly values each student as an individual and I have seen how much they try to do all they can for each child to help them and thier class as a whole be successful, I am beginning to doubt my decision about not moving to a more handicap accessible school district. 

I am going to give it a couple of months and see how things work out for him, as I really do think that, oddly, Indian Lake can offer him the best chance to be embraced by a community of his peers, challenge him to rise above his disabilties, really help him gain confidence (not that he really lacks it now) and support his academic, social, and cognitive development.   Hopefully he will be able to adjust to the environment, and just as importantly, they to him.  Some people still try to make round pegs out of kids, and to do so, you lose over 40 % of the non round peg kids--the ones who can't be forcibly jammed into the round holes. MAybe he can change the round pegs a biut and give them more freedom. It is great for the other kids to be able to gain the knowledge now that people are people, regardless of abilities, skin tone, or background.  So many studies have shown that typical kids who are educated with non-typical peers, are more compassionate, more understanding, more tolerant, and more successful in their adult careers, as it broadens their minds to have friends who are different than they are.

On another note, aside from a slight miscommunication in the timing of Gonzo's bus pickup, Gonzo seemed to have had a fine first day of school.  I am hoping tha having him have teh same classmates, teachers, room, and routine that the had last year, will really help him keep his behavior more well contained, and will encourage him to progress more academically and find great pleasure in his acheivements.  That is my hope for Gonz for this year.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The fair, school shopping, and tax returns

Wow!  It has been over a week since I last posted.  I think this is the longest I have gone since starting this blog.  Okay so, the fair was GREAT!!  I had the most fun at the fair that I have had in years.  The kids were interested in so many things, which was great, and my sister and her two kids were with us for most of the rides so that G could go on some rides that J was too small for, and my sister's daughter and J could go on some smaller rides.  The kids also really enjoyed the shows (jugglers, magic, and puppet) for the first time, really paying attention to them.  And as always the animals were great.  This year J even reached out to pet some of the goats and sheep (previously he was too scared of them to touch them), and they asked all sorts of good questions, especially Jos.  It is amazing how much the difference between age 4 and age 5 is in that regard, he really has developed such a wonderful and genuine curiosity about the world and what he encounters, and is not shy at all about asking questions.  I actually budgeted correctly for the fair, brought a jug of coolade for the kids and prefilled water bottles for me, so that we did not spend stupid money on beverages which are horrible overpriced.  We had fun eating some traditional fair food, and had a set budget for games (and I carefully led them to games that they win a nice prize every time for about half of the ones they played).  And they are getting big enough to ride some of the rides I used to love as a kid, which was great to watch them enjoy them.  So, the fair was GREAT even with a drenching downpour we got caught in that required a full change of clothes and the purchase of some disposable rain ponchos (so that we did not have to do another clothes change as it was rainy much of the day).

Then this week we have been getting ready for school which starts next week.  We finished off the Dr. appointments with a trip for J to the Pulmonary doc and then the next day a trip to the dentist.  Both kids have freshly cleaned and polished teeth to start school.  AND Jos FINALLY has a date for his dental surgery (a project we have been working on...long story...since last July).  So September 22nd he will go in for dental restoration surgery and finally get his teeth fixed!!  I am glad it is finally getting done, I am NOT however, looking forward to anesthesia.  But, he will be okay, just his lung issue make me very nervous with the anesthesia.  But anyway aside from a couple of harder to find items (like new socks for under Jo's AFO braces), we are all set for the start of school on Tuesday.  Gonz will be in the same self contained classroom out of district this year as he was last year, he is technically in third grade, and does grade level or above work for most subjects, but need the extreme structure to contain him so that he can focus and be successful.  He is in a classroom that covers grade 2-5.  And he will have most of the same teachers and assistants as last year (most of the same kids too).  His only change will be a different one to one.  So I am looking forward to a better school year fro him this year as they already know him--his strengths and weaknesses, his cues for when he is nearing a loss of self control, and they know what works to help him maintain composure and also how to handle things in a positive and firm way when he dos push over the limits.    His big change will be that he will be riding a bus or van down instead of having me drive him.  But he will be the only one who goes at that time, so the peer-peer problems on the bus will not be an issue.  Jos is starting main stream Kindergarten, which will be good for him but will be quite a change.

On one more note, a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, after months of waiting and dealing with an IRS audit, I have finally gotten my income tax return and just in the nick of time.  Now I can pay rent a head a couple of months, get my heat paid ahead, and be ready for winter.  So if my freelance writing income is not quite up to par yet, I have a bit of a time cushion to continue finding some more sources of income to make ends meet.

Thank you God for providing exactly when I need it.