Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You say Good-Bye, I say Good-bye

My young man has become very dependant on his schedules. Where he goes and when is very important for him to know up front. Every trip is planned out on his picture schedule, the number of pictures dependant on the number of steps to get to the final destination. Preparation to leave the house is to become another picture schedule since he now believes if you have your jacket and shoes (on or just carrying them) you are ready to go, regardless if you have any other piece of clothing on.
At school after I leave he is a different kid, closer to the one he was at home half a year ago. He barely speaks and does not express his wants. It was baffling at first to find out that the speech therapist at school had a goal for him to make 2-3 word utterances, while his out of school speech therapist is working on getting him to answer questions. It is a different world for him at school with overly busy walls, and children that he has no interest in.

I prepare the picture schedule with the PECS appropriate for each step;

Car, when we get in the car with seat belt on he removes the card, places it on the backside of the board and I prompt him to tell me where we are going next.

School, When we're parked I come to his door and he removes the card.

Office, We must sign in at the office every morning, this is the step that has caused the most trouble because at first he didn't want to go in, and then his bravery got the better of him and he decided to explore. This was fixed however with a "Don't get yourself in trouble, Connor." Yeah I couldn't believe that stopped him either.

Connor's class room, this is the last picture on the schedule. I had first tried to include a picture of a person waving "good-bye". I thought this would let him know that I was going to say "Good-bye". This backfired, upon seeing the goodbye card he grabbed his things and headed to the door.
The other obstacles in our way of completing the Office to Connor's classroom step is the occasional teacher and or therapist in the hall. To Connor this makes no sense what so ever. They are to be in the classroom, they do not exist anywhere else. The first sighting out of the classroom caused a meltdown in the hallway leaving me wondering how in the world I was going to get around this. Connor fixed it himself, now when he sees them in the hall or out the classroom he averts his eyes and does not respond to them. Yes, I'll have to come back to this one and remedy it.

The teachers and aides have always asked what they could do to help and have been most helpful, even adding the picture schedule to his IEP. However follow through has been hit or miss, causing them to have to deal with a meltdown in the hallway. They had left the classroom to go to the library, Connor is used to the idea that if the class leaves the room they go to the gym, lunch, or home. Not being shown a picture of the unexpected library before hand left him unprepared.

When talking to the aide and asking about using the pictures she told me he hadn't needed it as much since he got used to the normal routine. I was glad her boss was behind her listening to the conversation. The aide is the sweetest lady but she needs to be pointed back into the right direction occasionally, as do we all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Respect and value

These two simple things are something I never really thought I had to worry about when it comes to Connor. He is sweet, endearing, funny, just one of the best kids ever put on the planet really, when you come right down to it. Or is that only in my eyes?

I am sure this Mom from my state thinks the same of her 8yr old boy. Educators trusted with his well being while at school obviously do not agree. If you respected or valued someone you would never lock them in a closet sized room.

My own Mother was so upset by this article that she woke me up bright and early on Sunday to make me read it. I don't know what is worse actually, the terrible situation this innocent young boy was in, or the dimwitted people that have posted comments on the article. Things that translate into; "That boy was making it difficult for the precious normal kids to learn. He shouldn't be allowed to be there." or "So what? He was being difficult. Teachers don't have enough resources to deal with that.". The resources these teachers do or do not have is not this little boys fault nor should he be kicked out of school because people believe the normal children should come first.

HBO recently aired a documentary called 'Autism the Musical'.
A Mom in the documentary made a comment that I really identify with. She said she could use the moments when people stare or make rude comments to enlighten them and get the word out but she could not make them respect or value her daughter. How true is that? Even though people are informed about the condition they fail to see that the person has a mind, thoughts, feelings, etc. The thought that the person they are smirking at may have intelligence totally eludes them. One comment made on the article about the little boy makes this quite clear, "If he wasn't taking anything in why have him in there? Put him in a class with other kids like him."
I will not even start on that one because I fear I will be typing all day.

The comments weren't all bad, but there were enough to put me up on several soap boxes, they were all mostly to do with autism so maybe you would say I was on several spectrums of soap boxes. Funny enough a little post about "special needs Moms" not having anything better to do than to stir up trouble (are freaking kidding me?) made me realize that was my new label.

I am a special needs Mom. I clean, cook, clean some more, taxi children to school and therapies, try to be a decent wife to my husband, make sure everyone in the household is healthy and happy, between all this I scramble for a moment or two to breath, find a second or two for me. But for all this I have no life and must stir up trouble where ever I can and put my poor child on display, it's quite sad really.

I know I don't have to worry about this sort of thing happening to my kiddo, but know this. If I found out someone locked Connor in a closet I would not be as calm as this lady and just sue the school. I would never have the chance before the person who locked him in got to sue me for bodily injury. OK stepping off my many boxes for the moment. Happy Hump Day!