Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Our Christmas of Giving

I was looking through our Christmas posts from last year, we sure were busy. Looking back I can't figure out how we had time to do all the things we did aside from basketball, scouts, and catechism. Last year was about celebrating our family and making memories; we finished our Fall Bucket List, started our Winter Bucket List, Christmas Around the World, and were working toward our 1000 Hours Outside.

This year we are more relaxed about the things we want to accomplish before Christmas. It was not planned, but this year is about giving to others. Joey and Jacob picked tags from the 'giving tree' at their school, and donated a crocheted hat and a crocheted throw blanket. Joey felt it was important that we donate a handmade crochet blanket. He says it makes you feel loved as well as cozy, to wrap up in a blanket that you know someone made with love; they feel like wrapping up in 'home'. Jordan donated a crocheted Christmas blanket to the Senior Living for someone who doesn't get many visitor so they knew some one was thinking about them this season.

We were even able to gather some supplies and hand deliver them to a few homeless guys. While I would love to say that we came to do this on our own, but it was my brother who actually found this need for us to help meet.

Here's how my boys came to be able to see the people we help by donating.

I should have been asleep, but I was scrolling through Facebook at 2:00 am and came across a post by my brother asking for donations of blankets. I questioned when he needed the blankets by, and he called me (yep, at 2 am). He told me that he needed them before he went to work the next day. On his to the store he came across a man who looked like he was down on his luck. After a brief conversation with this man, it was apparent that he was homeless. My brother invited the man to sit in his car and warm up. While the man was warming up my brother inquired as to how the man become homeless. This man's homelessness had nothing to do with being lazy or being addicted to gambling or drugs. He feel victim to circumstance, his house had caught fire and sometime after that his wife died, things kind of snowballed and he was left with nothing. Seems we hear so often that most homeless are drunks and drug abuser, my brother offer to by this man a drink. The man declined saying he doesn't drink or use any drugs, he would appreciate some food though. My brother offered to warm him up some cabbage rolls he had made for dinner and bring it to the man. My brother drove the man to where the man said he was staying. When my brother brought him the cabbage rolls, he asked what did the guy need, his reply was blankets. He has a sheet but could really use some blankets and so could the other 4 men that were sharing the same living space. My brother doesn't have money to go buy 5 or more blankets, so he reached out via social media. He was able to gather 3 blankets, and 2 pairs of warm wool like socks.

I let my boys know that we were going to met up with Uncle and drop off some blankets for some guys who were homeless. My boys set about making Christmas cards out of construction paper to give with the blankets and tossed a couple candy canes in the bag too. Joey had asked that we stop on our way to Uncle's and buy some tooth brushes, toothpaste, and shower gel.

At first my brother  wasn't sure how the men would feel about having all the kids by their "dwelling" and thought maybe we should leave the kids (my 3 boys and his son) in the van while we made our delivery. My boys were disappointed and wanted to be part of things. Once near where the men were staying my brother changed his mind and said to bring the kids. It was a bit of a hike from the car to where we were going and we wouldn't be able to see our cars from our destination. My nephew carried a container of hot chocolate that my brother had made just before leaving his house, each of my boys carried a bag containing two blankets (one I had crocheted that morning, remembering what Joey had told me weeks earlier about the comfort of handmade blanket) and the other things we bought.

As we were making our hike, I noticed that my brother had labeled the hot chocolate and had written the man's name on the bag he way carrying. My brother had told the man he would leave the bag of blankets outside the "door" of their dwelling if the man wasn't there. As we approached, there was a man who was heading out to collect cans who hung back to chat with us for a bit.

While my brother and I chatted a bit with these two gentlemen the boys, being curious boys, peeked around the dwelling. The men didn't seem to mind and answered the questions the boys asked. The men were grateful for the things we had brought. You could tell that it made their day they someone took the time to help them out. It made our day being able to help out.

On the way home, my boys talked about how bare the living conditions were and how homeless people just look like "normal people". Jacob and Joey both had the idea that all homeless people look like the "Bird Lady" from Home Alone 2 or had shopping carts overflowing with cans and their belongings. They were surprised that while these men didn't have many belongings, they shared what they did have with each other, like the blankets we brought and the hot chocolate.

I had a really hard time walking away without feeling like I should do more than we did. I know they must have more they need, but was at a loss for what else we could bring.

We help others, because we know how it feels to need some help

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Child, The Walking Alphabet

I love that I know my child so well that when we go to evaluation such as the on with the psycho-neurologist that there isn't too many surprises in store for me. The results of the screening done by the psycho-neurologist were pretty close to the finding of the screening done by the school. There were a couple things however that I was surprises by, like Joey is not nearly as impulsive as I thought.

Joey was inconsistent with eye contact throughout the tests. He was overly talkative, physical overactive (swaying in his chair, playing with paperclips and pens), and easily distracted (although there was very little in to screening room that could be a distraction). He tested slightly lower than grade level on his IQ test, with the exception in regards to language which he scored slightly higher than average. They noted the difficulties Joey had with fine motor skills. His scores were in the extremely low range, regardless of which hand was used. His ability to sustain attention was also in the extremely low range. Surprisingly his scores in impulsivity were within the average range.

Joey's behavior was also measured. He was rated as borderline clinical range for rule-breaking behavior as well as clinically significant for social problems, thought problems, attention problems, and aggressive behavior. On the subscale tests he was rated as clinically significant for affective problems, ADHD problems, Oppositional-defiant (ODD) problems, and conduct problems.

Sure makes it sound like my kid has a lot of problems, doesn't it! Joey's official diagnosis as it stands now is : Attention-deficict/hyperactivity disorder, combined presentation; Social Communication Disorder; Developmental Coordination Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, NOS; Disruptive Behavior Disorder, NOS
(NOS stand for not otherwise specified)

When we went in for the testing he only had ADHD and possibly Aspergers.
 The Psycho-neurologist did not rule out the possibility of Joey having Aspergers, he feels most of Joey's social problems are due to the severity of his ADHD. After addressing the behavior issues we can then re evaluate for Aspergers.

I was told to take out copy of the feedback report to the neurologist and she would determine what, if any, medication Joey would need. I tried explained that she had already told me that if Joey needed medication that I would have to get it through the psycho-neuroligist, he kind of fluffed me off and said that she would once she seen the report.

SO, Joey not on medication currently. He had expressed that he does not want to go back on medications of any kind. We're giving a go and if things don't improve I'll have to look into medications for him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tantrum Tuesday!! Not Very Christian of Them

Our church turned us away!!

Okay, that sounds a bit harsh, but basically that's what they did. We have been going to the same church for almost 6 years. We have tried a few different churches also, but this is our "home church". I have worked in the youth ministries, the boys go to Sunday School, Jordan is active in the youth group, and we try to make it every Sunday service. While some of us like our church more than others, it is essentially home. A place we go to worship God and fellowship with others. Over the years we have made many friends within our church and participated in many events the church has hosted. We love our church family.

Being a single parent means that the budget is usually pretty tight, but more so during the holiday. Over the past 7 years we have received help during Christmas from different organizations. The first Christmas after we moved out of my parents house a neighbor gave our local Lions Club our name to add us to the list of people who could use some help from The Untied Way. It was a huge blessing because I had lost my job earlier that year. The following year our name was again enter by a neighbor. The year after that I contacted the Lions Club and said we could handle Christmas on our own and thanked them for their help the previous years. While things were still pretty tight I was able to provide Christmas for my kids. The year my nephew lived with us our school entered our names for holiday help through "Holiday Heroes". It's like "Shop With A Cop", but the EMT and Firefighters shop with the kids. The boys loved it, they picked out gifts for themselves that would be wrapped as gifts from Mom. Last year we were on our own, and managed just fine. I had to get really creative with some of their gifts, but they loved what they received.

This year was the first year I had personally requested help for our family. Like many other people who are struggling I went a church. Not just any church, but OUR church. It would have been easier for me to go to a church where I didn't know anyone and confess "I need help". Instead I swallowed my pride and reached out to the ones I know. I mean this is our church family, family helps each other. I knew they had holiday help available because I have donated to it in the past.

We were running late for service, there were only a few people and only one greeter in the lobby. Ironically the greeter was the same person who welcomed us to the church 6 years ago. When I asked about holiday help he was excited to help us. He told me that he and Pastor had just been talking about how they wished they knew who from our congregation needed help. The greeter assured me that they could help us out and he would talk to Pastor.

The following week I stopped to talk to Pastor and mentioned how hard it was to reach out people I knew and let them know were struggling. I had asked about participating in "Gift-mart" then sticking around to volunteer at the event. "Gift-mart" is a program the two campuses of our church puts on for low income families. Members of our church donate items for the event and families sign up to come and buy the items at deep discounts. He told me that I could not sign up as a family to receive items from the event, but I could volunteer. That our campus hosts the event for the families of one particular local school ONLY. While they would like to help out more people the church was only helping out this school. I inquired if the church would be able to help out my family this year, and was told he'd have to see what they could come up with but surely they could help us.

This past Sunday, after Pastor congratulated everyone on how successful "gift-mart" had been. How thankful he was that we could help so many families that needed that little extra help this season. How excited he was that our event may be featured in our local paper. That he was very pleased that local families will be able to provide their children with wonderful Christmas. After service I stopped to talk to Pastor just to chat (like I do every Sunday on our way out the door) and he told me just as I was walking away that he was sorry that our church probably wouldn't be able to help us. That their focus was on the families from the school. To say the least, I was not real impressed.

To make the whole situation seem worse, that same afternoon I received a text from one of Jordan's friends asking about different (expensive) gifts that he could buy for Jordan. So our church of 6 years can't do anything to help us out, but here is a 12/13 year old boy asking to help out. He just wanted to make sure Jordan had a great Christmas. While I was touched by Jordan's friend's offer I could not allow this kid to buy things for my family. I told him the best gift he could give Jordan was to be a good friend to him.

*No worries, my boys will have presents under the tree. There are bought, wrapped, and tucked away until Christmas. While there may not be many there will be enough. They may not be expensive, but they will be treasured. God always provides!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

We Have A Plan!!

Last Wednesday I met with the school's principal, school psychologist, Joey's teacher, the resource teacher, and even the district's special education director. I've gotta tell you, honestly I was so scared to go into the meeting. I had done my research and knew what to expect. I had researched what accommodations and modifications may be helpful for Joey. I had already met everyone who would be attending the meeting, with the exception to the special ed director. What had me so intimidated was Joey's teacher. She has always seem stand-offish and I had some things I wanted to call her out on. I'm not really a confrontational kind of person, but there were some things I couldn't let go unsaid.

There wasn't much about the results of the evaluation and IQ test that I hadn't expected to hear. Joey is very smart, if you can get him to stop bopping around long enough to do the work. His spelling and handwriting were below grade level, but we already knew that. They had Joey's teacher address her thoughts first, as she had a limited time before having to get her class from art. She kind of gave off the vibe that Joey is the way he is, he'll always be that way, and there isn't much any of us can do the change that. Other than to list off the a bunch of negatives, she didn't have much to say. The Special Ed director and the psychologist tried helping her out by asking about various ways she may have accommodated Joey. After a lot of replies of "No, I never tried that.", "If he would just...", "That wouldn't work.", "If I did that I would have to..." It was apparent to everyone that other than get him a "bucket seat" the day before she hasn't done much to help Joey out. I was surprised when the psychologist started asking his teacher what she would want another teacher to know about Joey, I think she was shocked by this too. I knew she wasn't doing anything to make school easier on Joey, but to have the others realize that I wasn't just being a squeaky wheel over nothing was a huge weigh lifted.

Now was my turn to address his teacher. We (and by that I mean I) implemented, Joey needs to chew gum during class. That not only does it help stop him from chewing on pencils and his shirt, it helps him maintain his focus. I bought and sent in a pack of dye-free, sugar-free gum a month ago, there was only 18 sticks in the pack. Given that Joey should be using 1-2 pieces a day, I should have heard by now that he needs another pack of gum. Joey has told me that he has asked for the gum and she has told him no he couldn't have it. She told me that she only gives it to him when he asks and he hasn't really asked for it. It was the resource teacher that put me at ease and said sometimes when the kids know the option is available they don't need it, that just knowing it's there is comforting to them. My next concern was his darn spelling tests. As soon as I mentioned spelling tests she (the teacher) said "I don't mark him down for his handwriting errors." That's what she had told me before, but yet the 5 most recent spelling test I pulled out of my file (and many more like it were at home) had multiple words marked wrong because of handwriting. The special ed guy asked if maybe Joey could use an Alpha-smart for his spelling tests. Which gave me the perfect opportunity to mention, "Joey says that Alpha-smart is new and his teacher won't let him use it, because he may break it." His teacher just shook her head in disapproval. Again it was the resource teacher who problem solved with us, due to the way the spelling tests are set up it would be confusing for Joey to use the Alpha-smart. Special  Ed guy suggested that maybe the teacher could make a set up table on Joey's paper for him. She sighs and says she wouldn't know how to do that (of give me a break, I could do that and send it in every Friday), so the PRINCIPAL volunteered to print up a spelling table paper from Joey every week. By this time it was almost time for Joey's teacher to head back to class, so it was now or never time voice my major issues with his teacher. Joey loves hugs and cuddles, but can not stand being "restrained" even just holding his hand if he doesn't initiation it, will have him struggling to "get free". He absolutely can not stand that his teacher will put her hand on his shoulder to get him to sit down or refocus, she knows it bothers him and that's why she does it. If she touches his shoulder he will sit just to get her to walk away. I had to ask that she find a different way to redirect him, this instantly puts him in defense mode. I also asked that though Joey can be so frustrating that its infuriating that she not talk down to him, especially in front of the class. Telling him to put the pencil on the paper and move it and it may actually make words or pictures isn't helpful and doesn't send a positive message to his classmates about how to treat Joey.

After his teacher left, things progress more quickly as a plan was set in place. Joey would now take his spelling tests in the resource room every week. He would also spend the first and last half hour of the day in the resource room. That way the resource teacher could pump him up for a great day and could review how each day went. Joey would still go to the resource room during the day as needed as he has been doing since the beginning of the school year. The resource teacher is also going make 2 cards for Joey to bring down to room when he comes so both she and him know why he's there. 1 card that says "work", so they know he's there for a quiet place to work or catch up on his work. The other card will say "disruption", so she can help him decompress and refocus. The resource teacher says there have been times when Joey has come to her room all upset that he was in trouble again only to later learn that he was sent to complete an assignment. They are also moving his locker to one closer to the resource room, which will allow him an empty locker on either side of his, and he'll have more space. Joey will also see the school psychologist at least twice a month (maybe more) to work on his social skills.

Figuring out what accommodations were needed was rather easy. Most of the things from my list they already had on there. The few they didn't have, they added without much explaining from me. Most are standard things you'd expected for any kid struggling in school. Such as shortened assignments, frequent breaks, directions given both orally and written, seated near the teacher, allowing movement breaks, dictating his answers to a scribe, and use of a focus board/ study carrell. I was very pleased (however sad it needed to be in writing) that part of his IEP states he needs lots of feedback praise, especially from his general ed teacher.

After we had everything pretty much figured out, they called Joey into the office. He had been extremely anxious about our meeting and only got a couple hours of sleep that night. He walks in and plops himself in one of the chairs. Smiles nicely at everyone, they introduce him to the special ed guy as he's the only one Joey doesn't already know. They tell Joey that everyone has had a lot of nice things to say about him and how great he has been doing. Then in true Joey form, he asks the only question that had been on his mind, "So I am getting a different teacher?" There were a couple little snickers, before the school psychologist said that it's a good thing he brought that up that we still needed to talk about that. We gave Joey a general run down about what kind of changes where going to take place within a couple of days and seeing that he had physically relaxed we sent him back to class, with the promise that mom would let him know about the new teacher situation.

No new teacher (as of yet). The room I wanted to switch him to, has one of the few male teachers and is at its limit. The other 4th grade teacher has one of the only kids Joey gets along with in her class, and I'm afraid that it may put too much strain on the budding friendship if they were together the whole day, everyday. The principal said that it would be too much of a disruption to switch Joey's teachers, both in his classroom and whatever room Joey moves too. I offered to see how things go with the IEP in place for the remainder of the semester, but if there wasn't much improvement that I wanted Joey switched for the 2nd semester.

One of my concerns that wasn't discussed in detail is Joey's need for occupational therapy. The school is going to have their OT come in and evaluate Joey and see if he meets the school's criteria for the therapy.  Also the night before our meeting, I received a call from one of the therapy centers we were on the waiting list for and they finally have an opening for OT. We go on Wednesday for his evaluation there and should start OT therapy weekly soon after. I would love if Joey could be getting OT both at school and outside of school.

Everyone on our"team" brings something different to the table and see's Joey through different eyes. The general ed teacher, (boy, is she a piece of work) brings the view of how some of Joey's classmates see him. She sees him as the hyper, behavioral problem, who's mom wants special treatment for. Joey is just another trouble maker she has to deal with until the end of the school year. There is no way she is going to let this kid win, she is not going to do anymore than she has to for him. While saying I'm not a fan of hers is putting it (very) mildly, however she does present a great learning life lesson. I can get a clearer picture of what Joey's classmates may be feeling towards him. Also, I can enforce to Joey not everyone is going to like you, but you still have to figure out a way to make things work.

The resource teacher, seems to understand the challenges Joey is facing. She is in tune with what may work to help him, rather it be to help calm him down or help him refocus. While she "gets him", she lies down the law and does not allow Joey to make excuses for his behavior or allows him manipulate her. She has also been the "middle man" for the past couple months. She's the one who helps me better understand what Joey is like in the general ed class.

The school psychologist is unbiased in her observation of Joey. She sees that he has many issues to work through and many more behavior issues to work through. She also sees that Joey is used as a scapegoat. The other day on the playground she was watching Joey interact with his peers. Currently Joey is working on not chasing kids on the playground. After Joey came to say a quick hello to her, she sent him to off to play. She watched him play parallel with a group of girls. Then shortly after watched as Joey started chasing the girls around the playground equipment, these are some of the same girls who complain to the lunch aides almost daily about Joey chasing them. A quick reminder from the psychologist, in which all she did was call his name, and Joey smiled apologetically and stopped chasing the girls. It took the girls a  few minutes to realize that Joey was not still behind them, and they looked confused like "Where'd he go?"

The principal, I'm not real sure his role at this point. I think of him kind of the a guard dog. I know I scared him a bit when I requested an advocate be present at our first IEP meeting. Also that a couple months into school I sought him out to see about a change in teacher. I think he's there to keep the Mama Bears in check :)

I wanted to include about our visit to the psycho-neuro, but this post is much longer than I anticipated. I'll have to write it another time. My kiddos are begging for dinner :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Update on Joey

I have been meaning to sit and write another update on what has been going on with Joey, but things keep happening and I push off the post so I can include everything. Well, this won't have everything included in it, as I have his first IEP meeting on Wednesday and we get the feedback from his psycho - neurological evaluation on Friday, but this will catch everyone up some.

A few weeks ago I was helping out in the boys' school's book fair. My boys were so excited I was there and could spend their lunch breaks with them. Halfway through the week Joey asked me to go outside for lunch recess with him and I told him I really needed to get back to the fair, I wish I would have went to recess with him. After being back at the fair for about 10 minutes I see Joey walking down the hall crying, he should have been at recess. When I went to see why he wasn't on the playground, he told me that he had to sit in the principal's office and wasn't allowed outside with the other kids. According to the story Joey told me he was chasing some girls around the playground and the girls collided. Both girls and two of their friends told the recess aid that Joey smacked one in the face and punch the other one. Joey does have his moments when he'll strike out, usually at his brothers, but never a girl. After the principal couldn't get Joey to change his story and confess to hitting the girls, the principal called the school psychologist in to get Joey to "tell the truth". Usually if you confront Joey a few times he'll back track and tell you the truth (if he is lying). The principal also pulled me from the book fair for a meeting about the zero tolerance policy. During our meeting that lasted over an hour Joey was left sitting and crying in the office thinking he was in trouble. The principal confessed that no one really knows what happened on the playground, for no adults seen what happened. They had 4 girls saying assaulted two of the girls and only him saying he didn't do it. They needed to have something to tell the parents of the girls, should they call and ask what was being done with the brute that targeted their sweet little angels. The school's solution was that Joey really should lose his recess for the remainder of the week, but due to his issues that they would allow Joey to have his 20 minutes of recess by himself after the other students have had theirs. They figured Joey would be more of a behavior problem if he was not able to release his extra energy. They called Joey into our meeting and explained that he would still have recess, just that he would have to have his by himself for the safety of the other students, but that he was not being punished. Sounded like a punishment to me, so for the next two days I met Joey on the playground so he would have someone to play with (seems it wasn't a punishment). I'm sorry, but no child is going to burn off energy playing by themselves. Joey still stands by his story that he did not hurt those girls; I believe him. This wouldn't be the first (or last) time Joey got blamed for something by his classmates, just so he would be told to stay away from them because he's weird.

During our meeting the principal and school psyc. advisedme that Joey needs to be on medication. They went so far as to recommend two medications that are not stimulants, because I told them (repeatedly) the stimulants don't work for Joey. It really irks me that these two people (along with his teacher) who have known my child for mere months think they can diagnose and recommend medications for my child. The school psychologist also mentioned that some of Joey's issues and aggression may be coming from home and the way his brothers interact with him! I'm trying to keep in mind that I'm "working with" these people to help my kid, but sometimes....

I said it in my last "Joey update" and I'll say it again medication is not ALWAYS the answer! I just had a conversation with the boys' doctor about the school's push to medicate Joey. There are many cases where the schools will not allow students back into class until the parents have the child on medication. So the parents put their kid on the meds the school (where no one has a medical degree) have told them to and the kid gets into the classroom and stabs the teacher with a pencil, when previously the kid was not violent. The side effects of these medication affect people differently.

I'm not ready to resort back to medications. Joey has been doing better physically without them. He actually can fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time and sleeps uninterrupted during the night. He has always had an appetite, but now he is actually gaining weight. He has been on medications for 5 years and still had the same behavioral problems he has now. Granted he sat still a bit more in class, but he wasn't retaining any of the information due to be exhausted from not sleeping. I'm looking into alternatives to medicines. When he was first diagnosed with ADHD I was told our option was medication. Now I know better, I have seen changes in him (as well as my other boys) from removing food dyes, that I didn't even know about until 2 years ago. Which got me thinking what other options are out there we haven't tried. I'm not saying that if he needs medications to help him function that I won't give them to him. I just want to run out any other methods before saying medications are the answer for him.

Two weeks ago I was a gas station and noticed a business called Life Balance across the street. Thinking it may be another place to try to get Joey in for his occupational and behavioral therapies I stopped in. (He's still on waiting lists at two different places) Turns out they do therapies, but just not the kind I thought. They are a brain balance center. While the receptionist explained how they go about balancing one's brain, I started thinking this is too good to be true. It's the simplest thing, my kid sits and plays a video game, reads a book, or whatever, and they put headphones on him. Through the sound waves and some computer it will find what ever imbalance my kid has and will corrected it by making the brain connections that his brain isn't doing on it's own. Here's the catch, it only has an 80% success rate and most people need 12-15 sessions. Each sessions is $100, and most insurance companies won't cover it!! I have heard some about Brain Gym sessions that are all over the place, my friend's son's Choi class offers them to their students. So there seems to be some science behind why this may work (some, but not enough for $100 per session). I vowed to look more into it.

That very same day, I came across a book at the library about brain balancing your child with ADHD, ADD, or Autism. The books claim was it could cure all this things and more. I didn't quite believe that it was going to cure Autism or ADD, but it was an opportunity to get a better understanding of this brain balancing thing is about. I've gotta give the author credit, it makes logical sense that in theory this could work to some degree. I filled out all the checklists and had Joey do the assessments. I figured we'd give it try, after all it was a library book and we could try it for free. While the theory behind it makes sense, some of the exercises don't seem like they would help much other than to get my kid doing regular exercises. How doing 45 sit-ups in a minute in going to balance my kid's brain is beyond me. While others I can see the connection to why they may "balance" my kids. I did learn some interesting things about Joey I never thought check, like his sense is smell is off. Which explains why he will eat weird concoctions of foods or eat just mustard if its on his plate. He's sense of smell effects the way foods taste. There are a series of exercises to do to strengthen his little sniffer. (Actually those exercises were a favorite amongst all my boys.) We are two weeks into the exercises the book recommended for Joey per the results of the checklists and assessments, the book says that he should be mostly if not completely "fixed" by the end of 12 weeks on the program. I'm not expecting to this thing to work as it claims, but it's worth a shot to see if there could be any improvements on Joey's behavior. I'll keep you updated on how well balanced our brains get :)
Joey can now after two weeks identify 9 different smells while blindfold when held 6 inches away from his nose. He has very recently started trying small amounts of new-to-him foods, and liking most of them. Otherwise I have haven't noticed any changes that make the think this could be the Holy Grail for Joey.

A week ago was suppose to be our first IEP meeting and after sending a email to the school psychologist, we decided to push back the meeting until after our neurology appointment. Our IEP was for 10:00 am and the neurology appointment was for 2:45 that same day. I had made phone calls the week prior to the neurology appt. to make sure that the feedback from the psycho-evaluation would be sent to the neurologist by our appt date. I was assured that the results were completed and would be available at our appt. Long story short, the results were not sent to the neurologist and Joey and I wasted over an hour for nothing. Only good thing that came from the appt was the Neuro. told me that she would not prescribe any medications for Joey that if I wanted him on medications I would need to go through the pycho- neurologist. SO when the school called about rescheduling Joey's IEP and if I received the results of the evaluation and were they going to medicate Joey again. I could tell them flat out the Neurologist would not medicate him, and they backed off about when I was going to get him back on his meds. :) Seems Joey is not going back on medications (at this time) it didn't matter if we went ahead with the IEP before hearing the results for the medical evaluation that was done and could just base Joey's plan off what the school concluded. However, depending on what I learn on Friday from the psycho-neurologist I may need to set up for another IEP meeting.

I am excited and scared about our first IEP meeting. I am so very ready for us to figure out what will work for Joey to get more out of his school days. I've nervous because this is new to me. I was part of my nephew's IEP team when he was in my care, but his accommodations and goals were clear and easy to address. Also I knew my nephew's teacher (they were fellow staff members and we had been in the school for 6 years) and they were willing to work with me (and Matthew). Joey is a bit more fuzzy when it comes to seeing what will work for him. We are still relatively new to the school district and the school itself. So far this year I haven't seen much in the way of open communication or willingness to assist Joey from his main classroom teacher. In the last 10 years (since Jordan started school) this is the first time I have encountered a teacher that willing to work with me. I do have my list of demands....I mean, my requests for modifications and accommodations ready for our meeting.

Side note:  His teacher is still marking spelling test wrong due to handwriting issues.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Making Slow Progress

A real quick update on Joey. We were able to get into the Nureo-pychologist's a week earlier for his evaluation. So this past Tuesday he took his two hour "test" with only a 2-3 minute break after an hour. After his evaluations I asked him what kind of things he was asked to do and he couldn't remember many of them except the last one which was really fun. He said most of the things were fun things like using only one hand to put small pegs in a board or word associating. Twice I could hear him from down the hall when he had a melt down. The first one had to do with stacking blocks a certain way and he just couldn't do it, he said there weren't enough blocks to make the pattern (I think the point could of been to see how he would react when things didn't work out the way he thought they should). The second melt down was because he was asked to do a handful (maybe 12) math problems and he simply refused to do them because he doesn't like math. From the sound of things there was a stare-down between the evaluator and Joey for about 5 minutes before he caved and worked the problems. We have an appointment for a month from now (that was the next available) for the feedback on the evaluation. I'm surprised on how long this process is taking, the school year is going to be halfway over before we figure out what is the best ways to help him.

The school has also begun their evaluation on him. I thought I would hear from the school as to when they had planned on preforming their evaluation, I found out when Joey told me he was pulled from class for a 40 minute block for "testing". I'm interested to see the difference (if there is any) from the school's multiple 40 minute sessions and the doctor's 2 hour session. Joey is getting pulled 3 times a week to head down to complete 40 minutes of testing each time.

Class time is still a struggle for him. He's still feeling that his teacher doesn't like him and just wants to make him miserable. Seems he's not happy in class he's making the teacher not not happy by being defiant, just to be defiant. He is still getting sent to the resource room everyday mostly during math. We are still getting stacks of homework sent home daily.

Homework takes up a good part of our evenings anywhere for 2-3 hours. Mostly because he'll write in any answer just to be done and can spend some time outside. When we come back in I check over his work and we end up reworking the all the pages. He knows the material, he just doesn't want o be bothered with doing it. Even though this "routine" is very time consuming and a pain in my backside, he is doing the work without much complaint. The last couple nights we have been working on math homework half hour to an hour past bedtime. I think we found the key to making math a bit easier on him (although it's more work on Mom), I rewrite every problem on graph paper so he can properly line up his numbers. On a page with 16 problems he was getting 11 of them wrong and the teacher would send it back home for him to redo (You know, during all our spare time). With the way he writes you can't really tell which numbers your working with and which ones are to be added/subtracted. He can't read his writing to tell me if the number is really suppose to be a 0 or a 6, and neither can his teacher. We have been working on slowing down and making sure numbers and letters are formed correctly (or close enough).

I started referring to his homework as a party one night just to get him to want to do it. I think I made doing homework to much fun because when I pick him up he'll inform me that 'We get to have a math party and a social studies party today!' I'm glad he has a better outlook on homework, but honestly I would love if there was one day, just one, without any homework. I have set up a couple bribes to encourage him to get his work done in school, he hasn't earn any of them yet :( I have come to accept that there will probably be homework everyday and math will probably be a page or two of it, but if we could just get to where that was his only homework I would be thrilled.

So much energy goes into getting Joey's assignments completed and to get his behavior under control that it makes it more difficult to have time to spend with the other two boys. I know from when my nephew, Matthew, was living here and the effect of so much of my attention going to correcting his behavior, helping with his assignments, and sitting at his therapies that it really took a toll on my boys. There was (and still is) A LOT of resentment there. I'm trying to make sure that doesn't happen this time, but it is a very hard juggling act. Jordan and I still have our hour a day before the boys get out of school for just the two of us. I play with Jacob during our 1-2 hours after dinner before Joey and I to recheck his homework. I try to make sure that I have time with Joey doing non-homework related things. I feel like there just isn't enough hours in the day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recap on Our 1000 Hours Outside

Get ready for a photo explosion!! Yesterday was our last day to reach 1000 Hours Outside within a year. We didn't reach the goal but I'm proud of the amount of hours we did get outside. When we first heard about the challenge from our friends at Homeschool Camper we thought "we've got this one in the bag, we spend tons of time outside", turns out 1000 hours is more than we thought. Our grand total was *DRUM ROLL* 782 hours!! The arctic temperatures this past winter really played a part in keeping us indoors more than we would have liked. Other than when it was too cold to even think about being outside we got outdoors as much as we could.  Back in March there was a week we got absolutely no outside time for a whole week. Our best week for getting outside was in the beginning of July when we logged a whopping 43 hours!

Here's a look how we spent some of those 782 hours :)

 October 2013

 November 2013

December 2013


January 2014


February 2014


March 2014

April 2014


 May 2014




June 2014


July 2014

  August 2014

September 2014