dyspraxia

All posts tagged dyspraxia

Like Sands Through The Hourglass…

Published May 16, 2018 by sarcasmica

So are the days with our kids.

That’s what everyone likes to say. Hell, I say it to new moms. It’s unavoidable and it’s all true. It’s true that when you are on the other side, time has flown. It’s also painfully true when you are in the thick of it, time stands still some days. It’s all correct.

My son is on his 6th grade camping trip. This is day #1. He is also turning 12 in less than a month. These milestones echo the countdown of adulthood. Moms of boys graduating high school this month are sure to “tsk” me and tell me how fast it all goes by and to cherish it.  Right now I can’t imagine it going any faster.

I don’t know if it’s because he’s my first, my most challenging, my most colorful, but his infancy, toddlerdom and elementary ages were painfully slow. Painfully.     S   l   o   w    . I’ve blogged/complained/bitched/moaned enough about the trials and tribulations. Very little was exaggerated. I knew nothing about how to raise this child until I was raising this child. We learned and figured most of it out together. What I didn’t know, I faked pretty terribly. I feel like his whole life aside from, you know, keeping him alive, I’ve been waiting for him to grow into himself. He was not a baby who enjoyed being a baby like his sister. He was not a toddler who managed his world. He did not tackle boyhood with fervor and tenacity. It was more triggers and anxiety. Colic and helmets. Physical therapy and occupational therapy. Medication and testing. IEPs and sensory challenges.

Finally, at long long last, my kid has become who he is. This sounds completely insane, but I’m curious if other moms out there understand this at all. My son was always somehow both emotionally far beyond his brain and miles behind his emotions. His reasoning was miles kilometers ahead of his age at the same time he also managed to be underdeveloped with his feelings.

Now he has arrived at himself. Things make sense for him. He is the closest to emotionally mature a 12 year old male human can be. He’s not a breath away from drowning anymore, he’s actually paddling the raft…. sometimes in circles. Sometimes the oar isn’t in the water, but he is controlling his own trajectory. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch. It’s still scary and new and unsure at times, but it is so cool to see him as the whole picture and get glimpses of how the future might be for him.

For the new moms out there, don’t be too hard on us when we tell you how fast it goes. We say it with the understanding of how slow it is for you right now. We wont take it personally when you scoff at our cliche sentiments, I promise 🙂

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Alien Evolution

Published March 24, 2017 by sarcasmica

Driving my son to fencing practice last night, he began talking about civilization. At first I thought it was just iPad withdrawal, but turns out he was going somewhere with it.

I have to paraphrase here because honestly, I wasn’t actually listening in the beginning. I tuned in off and on and it went something like this

“…. where we came from…”  “… like from another planet, because there are a lot of planets and we still don’t know everything that’s out there…”  “.. how I got here. I just wish I knew where we came from, you know?”

This was obviously the answer portion of the show.

“You mean like reincarnation?” (a topic of discussion last week)

“Yea.. sorta… but like where people came from. I wish we knew how we got here.”

How can he not know this at 10? Have I been that negligent that these basic concepts were left out?

“Honey .. we know where we came from. There has been lots and lots of science that tells us our history and how we got here.”

silence…. which, if you live with a ten year old boy who plays Minecraft and video games, you know this is not usually a positive reaction.

…. ?? hello?

And it dawned on me that he didn’t really want to seem out of the loop, but since it is a huge loop, more of a sphere, I delved into the very limited information I have on the topic. I was cursing myself for not paying more attention in Ancient Civilization in high school.

We talked about evolution. We talked about early humans. We talked about evolution and early humans. This somehow segwayed into a conversation about language. He wanted to know how language becomes established. Thankfully this I had slightly more information on based on having a near certification for Interpreting.

I explained how language is an ever-evoloving thing. There is no set permanent language because it’s constantly reflecting society.

Language is a result of the culture that establishes and uses it. Think about the word “Cold” or “snow”. Do you think Alaskans have more words used for that or Arizonians? We went on to discuss how the culture determines the usage and rules of a word.

He was still spinning on the fact that words are still being created. “Can I create a word?” “Only if you can find a massive group of people to all use it the same way you do, and then they influence and cause millions more to use it all in a common way.”

“Take ‘Selfie’ for example. This was not a word before smart phones. There were people flipping cameras around to take photos of themselves, yes. I was/am a master at this. It just didn’t have a name until people began using smart phones, apps, taking pictures of themselves en masse. Instead of always saying ‘I’m taking a picture of myself.’ it evolved down to just a single word. A word everyone uses for the same thing.”

We talked about how words get added to the dictionary every year because society and culture is always finding a new way to describe something. We talked about certain things being invented long ago that forever changed society. Fire. The wheel.

It was quite a cerebral conversation for a non-college educated mom and her ten year old son.

And this, my friends, is what can happen when you travel without an iPad. (because your son lost privileges due to behaving like a rabid beast every morning before school)

Don’t get me wrong, this conversation could have played out in a million ways. 999,998 of them being about Minecraft in one way or another. Also, I could have tuned in and out of whatever current story is being written in his brain. This one time it was educational and interesting and I actually found a topic I didn’t have to bullshit my way through entirely! SCORE!

 

Convos With My Kid

Published January 8, 2017 by sarcasmica

I’ve told this story out loud to a few friends, but I realize I better “write it down” before it’s completely lost in the ether and out of my brain forever.

The day after Christmas I took my son to Target to use a gift card
(Side note: Never rush to Target the day after Christmas in the hopes of finding anything on the shelf. It was and empty anti climactic exercise in futility)

Anyway, on the drive my son asks “Mom, why does the Christmas song say ‘you better not pout, you better not cry’? What’s so wrong with crying?”

Me in my head: Wow. Did that just come from my 10 year old? Ok, don’t eff this up, woman. Wake up! Answer the boy!
“Well that’s a really old song. Up until fairly recently the general consensus was that children should be seen and not heard. If a kid was crying, grown ups didn’t want to hear it. This was the case when I was a kid, too.”

Kid: “Hmm.. that seems really sad because then kids must have felt they couldn’t just be themselves.”

Me: “You’re right, that is pretty sad. Parents talking to their kids and asking about feelings and having conversations about what you want and feel is a fairly new concept, buddy. Do you think Grandma talked to me about feelings?”

“Uhh, no.”

“Because there weren’t open honest conversations, lots and lots of people grew up not talking about certain things because they didn’t want to make their parents angry. They had to hold in a lot of things. Think about all those kids who knew they were gay but couldn’t tell or were afraid to tell their families. There were a lot of kids who got kicked out of their house, people whose parents stopped speaking to them.”

“That’s really sad, mom. That must’ve been terrible for those kids. I can’t even imagine that.”

We went on to talk about why calling people ‘gay’ as a negative thing is not acceptable because of how brave and courageous people actually are. We also talked about how stifling these kinds of conversations can be and what it can lead to – depression, running away, etc etc.

Then my son asks, “Mom, so how were you able to be a different mom than your mom was?”

“Well, I took the things that I thought were really great and tried to do that, and the things I wanted to change for you and your sister I changed.”

“Mom, I’m really glad you changed some things.”

“Thanks, buddy. I’m glad I did too because we get to talk about this kind of stuff.”

And my mom heart yet again grew three sizes. This boy surprises me, challenges me and my patience, but his brain is a wonderful thing. Some say his challenges make our life hard and I have been known to call him ‘difficult’ and he is. But it’s moments like these that remind me it’s for a reason. Kids can be amazing.

It took taking a class to open my eyes to the need of communicating with my kids. While I can certainly appreciate the ‘seen and not heard’ mentality so much gets lost with that. I’ve been able to help my kid understand his body and mind better because we have conversations when lots of people think he should be left in a time out and ignored because “that’s the consequence”. I think this is especially necessary for kids with challenges and issues. My kid knows he has ADD, but he knows what that means. He takes medication for it, but he knows why, and he is part of the team that made the decision to do it.

Time outs and consequences do have their place, but only if you remember to help your kid through their feelings. Feelings are confusing and frustrating and hard to manage. Without a road map, how would anyone get anywhere? Think about how many adults are in counseling to handle feelings. I wonder what that looks like if you’re given some guidance early on as a lot of those feelings are forming. I am sure to be open about my own feelings in front of my kids. Do they make me cry with frustration and anger sometimes? Hell yes. Do I hide that? Hell no. “This is what it looks like when you treat people that way.” Do my husband and I have arguments? Yes. Do we still love each other? Yes. Is it okay to have different ideas and opinions and still have a great relationship with someone? Yes. I like to think my kids have seen this.

In the same way we show happiness and love, we also have to show anger and sadness. We have to be honest about being confused. We have to let them know mistakes are not exclusively a kid thing. There’s no shame in showing the kids your cracks…. wait, that came out totally wrong. Please don’t show children your crack. DO show them that your armor isn’t impenetrable. Strength is only dependable when you see what it grew from. Also, they know when you’re faking it. Don’t you remember being a kid and having to endure one of the countless “How is school going?” conversations and just knowing the grown ups that were faking it? Our own children are even smarter than we were, so give them credit for it.

Just remember, if all goes according to plan, these are the people that are making the decisions about your care and treatment when you’re an old fart. They will have their fingers on the cord when the doctor asks if it’s time to pull it.

(A note to my mother who I know reads this blog: This is in no way a knock on your parenting. You did what you knew how to do and I certainly do not find fault in the lack of “feelings talk”)  🙂

 

Good Enough

Published November 21, 2016 by sarcasmica

It’s that magical time of year again for the new IEP. (Individualized Education Program)

We’ve had multiple meetings every year for five years now – not including all the nightmare meetings during preschool and kindergarten- and I still dread them. I still loathe them. I’ve gotten better at managing my eye rolls and sighs, but it’s about as fun as a cavity.

I’m comfortable in my status quo, introverted, head-in-the-sand demeanor so sitting in front of a panel of experts regarding education and how to apply it to my ADHD/Dyspraxia kid is uncomfortable to say the least. Discussing his goals and expectations for his upcoming year is just not my idea of constructive conversation. Just do what teachers are supposed to do. Educate him. Is your classroom environment not working? Change scenery. Use your degrees and certifications to find a way to assimilate him into a regular 5th grade classroom. Done.

It’s gotten better, admittedly. Since putting him on Concerta his scores and ability in the classroom has exploded much to all of our amazement. Reading through his assessments right now still stings a bit. I’m not in tears like I used to be, so that’s something.

Sitting here waiting to go to this meeting is a bit like waiting to see the principal. To top it off, there are three new people working with him so we get to all sit and behave like professional adults…. not my forte.

So deep breath, swig of caffeine, and a bite of chocolate; me and my big girl pants are headed out to defend the educational rights of my child one more time.

Squeaky Wheels

Published October 26, 2016 by sarcasmica

Today I get to brag a little. Today I got an awesome email from one of my son’s teachers saying he is now working at grade level math.

Grade level.

For anyone new to my drama asylum  blog, my son has never been at grade level. He has challenges associated with Dyspraxia including ADD and sensory issues. Last year we were shocked to find out he is above grade level at reading, but everything else – writing, comprehension, math – was below. At least one grade level. He has had an IEP (individual education plan) team since first grade and we’ve been at this school since 3rd grade. 3rd grade was not a good year. It was a crappy teacher, it was a new campus, new principal on campus, it was a hard transition. The team confronted me with testing results similar to a kid with ADHD before we had gone down the road of diagnosis. The teacher was pushing for outside homework help, and the principal flat out asked in front of the entire team after revealing the similarities between my kid and an ADHD kid if I was going to medicate him. Not a good start with me.

Fourth grade had a great teacher who was very encouraging, if overworked, slightly uninspired, but very compassionate and supportive.  My husband and I decided to tiptoe down the terrifying road of medication. After a year of one-on-one assistance for our son, he was still unable to focus and follow through. Since school help gets no better than one-on-one attention, we had to do something for him.

The medication road is a very bumpy, dark, judgy road riddled with potholes and caution signs. It became overwhelming and we felt defeated more than once. I found people who understood the path and asked questions, confided, and shared stories. It made it easier. It made it so that I could continue until we found the right formula. No one really explains how difficult it is to come to the decision only to find more road blocks and let downs with failed prescriptions and wrong dosage and suspicious side effects. You work so hard to be okay with allowing your child to become dependent on a synthetic drug that you can’t help but have immediate assumptions. When the first doesn’t work, you doubt. When the second doesn’t work, you worry and doubt.

We lucked out and did the work and stuck with the program until we found the right combination. Today was the payoff. Last week I asked the new teacher for an idea of how the year was going. Did he still need the aid in the morning to help him stay on track for the classroom routine? Was he still relying solely on the teacher to reinforce the task schedule? Was he still sitting idle if not directly prodded into doing something?

No. I was told he was a pleasure to have in class, he works alongside his peers, he was an independent fifth grader who was giving no indication of drowning.

This took a minute to sink in.

Today another teacher wrote a followup regarding his math work and how he now just works on the assignments the rest of the class gets at the same time. Along with writing tasks, what he rarely does not complete in class, he will take down to the support center but all classwork is at grade level.

This could not have come together at a more perfect time. He transitions to middle school next year and the thought of my kid keeping track of six different classrooms, six different subjects and work and teachers was/is terrifying. It’s less so now.

On the way out of school today we ran into his fourth grade teacher. I stopped and with my son beside me we told her, “He’s at grade level math now!” She appropriately praised him for his work but then turned to me after thanking her for her help last year and said, “You know who really helped him, right?” I responded, “Well, he’s done all the hard work.”  she smiled and just looked at me and said, “True. But you know who really made it happen for him? You did. The squeaky wheel gets the job done. You did a great job for him.”

I held back my initial answer of “medication” but that isn’t true either. She’s right. If you can get over the resentment and anger and frustration of having to fight for your kid in an arena where you really shouldn’t have to, good things can happen. If you can get through the humiliating, frustrating, heart-breaking meetings where all you are told is deficits and fight for everyone to see the positive and ability, you just might get through and effect change for your kid.

This is not to say he will never again struggle. He surely will. That’s what growing is all about. Now I have faith we can overcome the next struggle because he is a whole, confident, capable boy who has a team of people who have no choice but to believe in him.

 

 

Thanks, Teach

Published June 11, 2015 by sarcasmica

This summer I’m going to be positive. I’m going into it with high hopes for lots of family bonding time with a backdrop of rainbows and dew covered roses. You know whyyyyyy? Because summer means no homework. No paperwork forgotten in backpacks and then forgotten to turn in. No permission slips or book reports. But most of all, no IEP meetings reminding me my kid needs special attention. No head-tilt nodding when i’m explaining that I actually believe my kid is doing much better. No concerned frantic pencil scribbles in the midst of a meeting because some new issue has popped up.

No reminders my kid is negatively different than his class.

Instead, we are going to revel in the fact that any and all activities here at home- and anywhere we decide to venture out to- will be perfectly fit and tailored to each of my children. My kid is set up for success here at home and with me. … well … until he pisses me off, that is. Then it’s just barking orders. But for the most part, there is nothing here he can’t do.

I’m happy to have my kids around, and at least for the first two weeks, I will build them up and vocalize all the great things I notice about them. So thanks, Teach, for giving me the opportunity to take center stage and let my kid shine. And no, we will not miss you. Unlike the last three teachers my kid has had and been sad to say goodbye to, and written cute little cards for, and picked out thoughtful gifts for, you did not quite make the cut this year. Your effort was lacking for my son. I’m tilting my head to the side and gravely nodding my head at the thought perhaps, if you work hard, you can find the ability to measure up next year for the next class you get. From where i’m sitting, you might need to be put on an ITP – and individualized teaching plan. You need some goals yourself. You need to learn to look, peek, squint even, outside the box. The box that is your classroom where a majority of kids are privileged. Kids who have not had any life challenges. Kids who have not had to learn and form skills and personal growth from life experiences. My kid is a rock star who, despite moving four states in five years, has managed in each one to make friends. To care about each one. To still go out and put himself out there to be accepted. My kid has met countless faces of grown ups who work with him and each time put him out of his comfort zone with care and love. They all managed to get results from a boy who does nothing but challenge those around him. That’s his role here, it seems. He will push and pull and twist every button you’ve got, but with the charm and smile and heart that you will find yourself laughing along side. You might, Teach, learn something about yourself once you set some expectations that go beyond working with kids who have zero challenges or issues.

And maybe, just maybe, next year if you get a kid who has for whatever reason not met all standard goals walking into your room, you might be able to remember that you once had a kid in the same situation. You let other people deal with him. You let other people build him up. I hope you take the next opportunity presented in the form of a kid not  perfectly formed and already succeeding to dig in and do the work with so you can find out some wonderful abilities I know you must have.

Excuse me now while I go stock my liquor cabinet in preparation for summer break.

Cheers!

The Other Side

Published March 18, 2015 by sarcasmica

I went to a support group tonight for parents of special needs kids. I sat across from a set of parents just starting out. Just getting through the trenches of post diagnosis, and into that great vast barren beyond of “now what?”. I feel for you. I see you and your smudged eye make up, your mussed hair, your general aura of “Holy Shit” and your tired eyes and I wanted to tell you that you’ll get through it. You will. If I did, anyone can.

Having a kid who is not typical is overwhelming. Having a kid who is just left of “oh, I know why that happens” is exhausting and frustrating and beyond reason. Being a parent of a kid with seemingly no answers to daily/hourly struggles and battles is soul crushing.

Getting a diagnosis or a reason is the key to heaven, my friend. For me, once I found that puzzle that appropriately labeled all the pieces that make up my kid and seeing a title on the box was the biggest relief of all. I had a “why”. I had something to point at and say, “THAT is the reason.”  I’m not crazy! I didn’t imagine that all of this is not normal.

Once I had a name, I could research. I could question. I could ask. I could verify and compare and discuss. I had power. I had something controllable. My kid’s tantrums were not in any way controllable, but having a sensory diet list was.

My kid falling down on the floor was less confusing and scary when I had a reason for it.

My kid screaming at the top of his lungs while punching and kicking was not at all acceptable or reasonable, but understanding the trigger that led to it was empowering.

Talk to people. Ask for help. Talk to anyone who will listen and it will get you farther. I would not have a starting point if I didn’t honestly and openly go to my friends and talk about my child’s behaviors and tell them truthfully what I was feeling and thinking.

Be open. You will always receive more when you are open versus being rigid in what you think you know and will accept. When your ship is sinking, recognize a life line for what it is!

For me there was nothing more healing than sitting across from someone with papers that declared a higher education looking me in the eye and saying, “Being a parent to that child has got to be hard. I can see how difficult and challenging and exhausting that must be for you. No wonder you are overwhelmed! Look at all you have to cope with!”

It’s like giving someone a full breath of air after breathing through a straw for two days. .. or eight or seventeen depending on your level of suffocation.

Someone once told me that each parent is given their child for a reason. There is a reason that soul was given to you. I truly believe this. It may be gut-wrenchingly hard and swallowing-cut-glass painful, but find a reason and stick it to your forehead. You can be this person’s salvation if you dig deep enough, drink heavily enough, and find ways to laugh and do it often… preferably in the company of sane people.

There are days when you never ever think it will ever change or get better. There are times when you think this will be it. Your brain is definitely going to now self destruct.

It wont. It doesn’t. You go to a dark room. You close the door. You get into the fetal position. You let a few tears burst from your eyeballs, you might even rock back and forth. But you find the strength after five minutes or an hour or three days to get up, and go back into the fray. You will find something that sparkles in your kid when you least expect it. Hold that thought close, and find a way to help your child work through their own mind. You can do it because you were chosen to, and you have the ability to.

While you feel that you are sinking in your life as a parent, please know that others are there beside you. We feel for you because we live it. You are not alone and no you are not the world’s worst parent. You are the most amazing parent for that little bugger because you are there. You are still fighting. You have not given up and after some time, I promise the rewards will rain down upon you.

These days in the eye of the grocery store tornado will pass. These years of limited expression and quick tantrums will pass. Those fucking fours will become fives, and then more mature sixes, and sevens. Time and patience are the least of your abilities and end of your sanity, but if you hang in there it will get better. I just wanted you to know that I see you. I was there. I understand the mind melting chaos of all of it. Every aspect. Friends, family, school, IEPs, therapy, insurance, siblings, behavior charts, stickers, birthday parties, all of it. I made it and I even like my kid!

My kid is his own case. Every kid is different, diagnosis or not. I just want you to know that after almost two years of independent O/T, three years of IEPs, three schools, one marriage counselor, parent counselors, seminars and 8,277 boxes of kleenex, my kid is a loving, logical, manageable, self-regulating, fairly typical eight year old boy who loves Minecraft, doesn’t get out of his bed 28 times per night after being tucked in. His nosebleeds are no longer the life altering event they used to be and he has friends who love him and a family that wants to be around him.

His Dyspraxia/Sensory Issues/ADHD/Depression no longer scream his introduction. They are a quiet background to the person we were able to help him become, and continue to help him strive to be.

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