Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘second grade

You know what I mean, that face. THAT face. The face that says “I’msomadIamshakingandoutofcontrol.” The face that you don’t want to see.

Well, I got to see it today. And so did a boatload of other school children and a handful of teachers.

First, let me preface by saying that I wasn’t sure up until 4-5 minutes before I had to leave, so to say I wasn’t really ready to leave the house was putting it mildly. No make-up touch-up, and I get to the parking lot and realize that omg I finally did what I always dreaded…forget to change out of the ‘never the house in these’ shorts, the pair with cut-off hems due to them hanging by a thread…unevenly cut off, I’ll just throw in. The sides don’t even match. And they’re wearing a little thin in a few places. But they’re so comfortable! I just plain-out stupidly forgot I had them on. You see where I’m going here, right?

Everyone always says to wear clean underwear in case you’re in a crash. Well, that wasn’t a problem, but the other truth people forget to warn their kids about is that the one time they’re least prepared to face someone of importance, or even anyone, they will have to.

This day is on the heels of standing at the gate to drop him off on Wednesday, in my Mercury Poisoning: Kid Tested, FDA Approved black t-shirt with a big hypodermic needle on it, with my son who was flossing his teeth due to a terrifying fear/anxiety that he was going to have to have surgery because two of his teeth were too close together and ripe for a cavity if he doesn’t floss. (I just realized I never blogged about this lovely memory. I guess I figure it will go down in infamy because I won’t forget the irony of it — me wearing a shirt that says Autism in big letters on the back, him flossing his teeth without a care in the world….and people understandably looking.)

So now that I’ve ramped up the suspense — I wait, and wait, and wait some more, and no ds. Finally, when the hallways are clearing out, kids standing here and there, no longer stampeding, I see ds tear around the corner from his classroom, hair flying. Oh how cute, he’s hurrying, he misses mom. Ha. Naive me. A second later I realize his face is bright red, and that sound I hear? It’s him screaming. (And yelling some words about his level of anger. I’ll leave that part out.) I grab his hand, try to talk him down, nothing. Back to the class we go, we can’t go home like this, especially on a Friday. It needs to be cleared up, for his satisfaction and mine, and the teacher’s, as I suspected he’d run off before he was supposed to, before the rest of his class. And I was right.

Long story short, he’d had another issue with a boy in his class. When this happens, he obsesses about the situation all night long, all weekend long. We’ve finally got him somewhat agreeing that he gets five minutes to rant (within reason) and then he has to move on with something else. We spent some time with his teacher, who is wonderful. I felt bad, I didn’t realize at first that I could have easily been expected to fly off the handle; with this being the first real issue of this nature, she had no idea of how I’d handle it. But, we’re a team, I really believe that, and working together as we did is so important. We left a while later, ds satisfied, a plan of action in place for him to prevent recurrence, and him having it reiterated that he can’t run off and has to communicate with his teacher when he’s having a difficulty.

So people keep asking me how his school’s going. I say good. Academically, he’s kicking some serious butt. He loves math, and his spelling also seems to come so naturally. In fact, he wants harder work, and his teacher’s going to help us on that. But is school really going good? I guess everything’s subjective. In comparison to what it could be, what it’s been at times in the past, yes, it’s going good. Is that enough though? I want him to have a good time. How do I make that happen?

On that note, I’ve got to go pack. It’s my birthday tomorrow, and my husband’s planned a getaway. I have no idea to where or what we’re doing, but I know he had me pick out a couple of bottles of wine, some CDs, and pack my bathing suit. Sounds good to me!

I picked up ds early from school to head to his regularly scheduled neurologist appointment. As we pull onto the carpool lane of the freeway, he begins to tell me a story that made me want to turn around and head back to the school…except I couldn’t, a neuro appt in a land far, far away awaited.

As close as I can understand, a group of ’20’ (maybe exaggerated in his head? maybe not?) kids put their hands over his eyes, covered his mouth so he couldn’t yell, and grabbed his arms, pulling him into the bathroom. He yelled to his friends, yet they did nothing. (He only has a few friends he plays with repeatedly, mainly one anymore, so this doesn’t surprise me.) He pulled away long enough to ask why he was there, and to let him leave, and they said “No, you’re in jail.” He breaks away again, gets out, and they try to re-catch him. He runs outside to the playground area, just running anywhere to get away, and two friends see him. Now, it must look fun, because they joined in to help him get away. They almost had him again, but when he ran far enough and his little friends were persistent, they left him alone. On a bad note, he doesn’t know who any of the kids are but one. On a good note, he doesn’t know who any of the kids are but one — which means they at least aren’t from his class.

Tonight is Back to School night. We will be setting up an appointment to meet with Admin in the morning. When he said “they took me into the bathroom,” I had to find a calm, discreet way to ask him where they touched him. I had to ask him if they ever used his name, to see if it appeared random. And I had to ask if he told anyone. He did, a playground proctor, and her words, per ds? “Poor kid.” Period. Nothing else was done.

But something else will be done. My son was dragged into a bathroom with strangers, against his will. Big deal or no, depending on who you are and how you look at it, he was taken somewhere against his will, people touched him, and he has no way of knowing if they’ll do it again. And no one did anything?

Mom’s unleashed. Admin will step in, I’m sure, we are blessed with a good team who truly care about ds, but he’s only in second grade. And I never heard of a group bullying incident like this.

I’ll update tonight, or tomorrow, depending on when I have anything to update with. Think happy thoughts.

Another year at the L.A. County Fair, another bundle of  money gone. More tired feet.

Another great visit. But, the stroller, lots of time to wander and not be in a hurry, and money to buy the snacks that keep him happy were the keys to success. If you’re going, stop by an AT&T store and get discounted tickets. You can keep the ticket stubs to purchase unlimited ride wristbands for $35. Well worth it. We spent 2-3 hours wandering from ride to ride. Ds only ran off once, in a major angry huff, when the ride guy (what do you call a person that scans the wristbands or cards when the kids line up for a ride?) couldn’t get his scanner to read ds’s band. Ds ran off, opposite direction. No clue to us, who couldn’t see him through the crowd, only dd standing there, already inside the gate, arms up with a terrified look on her face. I’m really glad I work out on a treadmill! ūüėȬ† It was hot, and I dashed really quick to catch him before he got too far, in the opposite direction, where we’d been standing prior to that particular ride. Between screams and growls and the word “cranky,” I got the story, took him back to the ride where dh grilled the guy (who ended up apologizing for the way he handled it) and instructed dd to let him get on first so that never happened again…and then I, of course, didn’t go more than 3′ away on any other ride!

He handled not winning the huge stuffed Pikachu in a game pretty darn well, though he did ask for it repeatedly. We shopped, and he had to have one of the wooden croaking frogs. If you spend any time at the fair in the Pavilions shopping halls, you’ll know what I’m talking about. (Don’t pay $120 for the jumbo one at the booth by the hot tub booth — there’s a place selling it for $20 in the Pavilions, bldg 3 or 4 I think?)

Dippin’ Dots were a new experience, one that really puzzled him. Round ice cream. Hmmmm. And he devoured a bunch of ribs. Devoured. And he seemed inordinately happy to watch dd get her eyes pierced with a third hole. (Was that a smile when she grimaced? Yes, I think it was!)

It was a good day. 10am-9:30pm, our shortest visit ever. No furniture, rugs or equipment to tote home, just various smaller items, including a bag full of Gamecube, DS and Wii games we found at a building in the back. Score! You can guess what he’s been doing since.

Tomorrow night is Back-to-School night. He’s very excited about us seeing his work. So are we! (Well, mostly..it’s only been 3.5 weeks, and I’m already there daily. Dh, otoh, hasn’t seen the classroom yet, and with an IEP coming up, I really look forward to him meeting the teacher. I think it’s critical teachers are aware that they have two involved, interested and cooperative parents.) School today was good again — he’s got a friend in his class, who also likes Pokemon, and, shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but a girl that he likes, and likes him back! Things are good.

It’s too early to say if it was a success — unless I define success by the fact he went to school, stayed the day without a call and I picked him up on at the same time as everyone else. It’s also possibly too early to say that I am worried about the rest of the year..or is it?

He was SO excited about today. SO. excited. In turn, I was really happy for him. Thrilled that he was so happy to show his friends his new rolling backpack (“My backpack is so cool! It’s worth $40!”) and the Rainforest Cafe lunchbox he saw back in June and had to have for school this year…even though I had concerns it wasn’t sturdy enough. He talked about making new friends, about playing on the playground, and the cool things he was going to learn. I had every reason to be optimistic.

He wakes up today,¬† a few minutes earlier than I told him he should get up and get dressed, but he was smiling, and completely dressed in the outfit he chose for his first day. (It was 100 degrees here today, but he had to wear the new ‘softs,’ his loose track pants that I happened upon last week at Target for $5, mainly for home wear because he loves softs.) The softs went with the new Pokemon t-shirt well enough, and he even accessorized, wearing his engraved shark’s tooth necklace. Things were looking good.

He eats breakfast quickly, and watches the clock all morning. We leave, early, only to find out that the whole school population had arrived early, and we were easily 1/2 mile down the block….past construction, dust, dirt, and lots of badly-parked cars. But that didn’t deter him. By the time we got to his classroom, he’d said hello to a boy from his class last year, and when I got in line to say hello to his teacher, I put my hand on his chest and his little heart was pounding so hard and so fast. (Wahh, first threat of tears for me, he was so nervous.) He finds the seat with his nametag, while I have “the talk” with his teacher…you know, the talk where you say “My son’s got special needs/autism, he should be fine but if not, please don’t hesitate to call or email me. I’m available any time you have questions, or you can ask the teacher from last year or the aide. Oh, and he’s got space issues, so you should probably watch to make sure he doesn’t feel his space is being invaded.” I then found him sitting at his desk, looking at the “About Me” page that every child had to fill out. Hug, kiss, and I’m off…no tears, just a little prickling in the eyes at what a brave, big boy I have.

Fast forward to minimum day pickup time. Again, everyone and their family was there to pick up their child, and the crowd at the gate (by the time I finally made it from out south 40 parking space) was a wall of people 25 thick. Out came the first graders, and despite the principal asking people to wait, many parents and older siblings decided that the ‘please wait 10 minutes before entering to find your child’ really didn’t apply to¬†them. (And I secretly wondered if these were the same people who’d triple-parked, parked at a 90-degree angle to the sidewalk,¬†or otherwise abandoned their car where it shouldn’t have been because they’re so important that they shouldn’t have to walk¬†as far as¬†we mere peons did.) Finally, my son’s teacher was visible, and I could tell very quickly that I needed to get through that wall of people, quickly.

If only that was so easy. I had to step over strewn backpacks, squeeze around¬†moving children,¬†while I’m wondering why people who’d already gotten their children were still standing there,¬†blocking the way. I got to ds relatively¬†fast, but he was already shoving through the remaining crowd to get to me, with anger all¬†over his face.

What’s wrong? What happened? “My lunchbox broke!”

For a split second, I felt so bad for him and wanted to rush it back to Rainforest Cafe and¬†demand that an¬†$8 plastic lunchbox should be sturdier. Poor thing doesn’t deserve to have such a prized possession break so quickly. But, no time for that — I had to deflect, re-direct, and get him to¬†realize that an irrepairable broken handle doesn’t mean the end of the world for the lunchbox. “After all,¬†it¬†goes from backpack to lunchbox basket, back to the basket, then the backpack, right?” Crisis averted. Tomorrow’s lunch is already in it, minus the special crustless sandwich I’ll¬†make tomorrow morning. Lemonade’s already in the thermos, and homemade cookies already bagged.

Moving on to discussion of the rest of the day. “It was pretty much bad.” Wow…where do you go from that? I asked¬†why,¬†knowing it would be a long list.¬†No one played with him at¬†recess. He didn’t have enough time to eat his whole lunch. He isn’t happy with his¬†classmates, none are his friends. And, he was bored. Really bored. Nothing to do. But, the saving grace? The same aide as last year! We’d seen¬†her in the morning, but I don’t think he appreciated her as much until the¬†day started. Bless her, she gave him water and snacks and that’s what he talks about being the best part of the day, how she ‘cares about him.’ Remind me to give her a hug and tell her again how much I appreciate her and her genuine concern for my little guy. You can’t¬†find people like her enough. Oh, and he likes his teacher, but she’s just part of the¬†package for now, it’s too early to see¬†what he really feels. (Should I be worried that in our two-minute conversation, when I tell her that no, thanks, I think he’ll be okay in any seat, but he has space issues…she says “There are 21 kids here…” I’m not sure if that was just a statement, or a teeny sign that my son’s going to need to conform and fit in? I am probably reading¬†more into that, but given our history, I am hesitant. Thank God, his teacher situation was wonderful last year, though we did have an aide have to be removed due to inappropriate behavior towards him…no, not *that* kind of inappropriate, just a woman who shouldn’t be working with special needs children if she doesn’t understand that with them comes behaviors.)

Anyway….I think the problem I’m having is that he was so excited, so prepared, and I of course want nothing but good for him. To see the littlest thing take away from the expectations he had? How do you avoid it? And when it happens, how do you fix it? It shouldn’t be so hard. It should be fun. He should just be a child.

Anyway, he’s happily playing upstairs now, Pokemon strewn all over our room, watching Tivo’d Pokemon episodes. We talked about lunch, making friends, the lunchbox, etc., so I have hopes that tomorrow will be a better day. Advance preparation is such a big help, and now that I’ve seen his class, teacher, class location, and schedule, I have a lot¬†more info with which to prepare him. Please, think happy thoughts for the little guy that he can fit in enough, but that the situations fits to him, too. I’m all for inclusion, but only to the extent that it’s manageable, fair, and makes sense. Sometimes accommodations need to be made, and sometimes those needs pop up out of nowhere.

Off for dinner…day #2 will come soon enough.


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