Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why Our New Dr Thinks I'm Nuts.

Also known as: Another miracle in our daily lives.

We had to go to the doctor yesterday - the kids and I are all sick.

I had to find a new doctor, and so I found an internal medicine and pediatrics place, so we're all able to see someone in the same building. It makes things way more convenient when you don't have to go all around town when you're sick, and when one of us is sick, all 3 of us usually have it.

I told the nurse JT has autism, and she said, "Just let me know if I cross one of his lines or need to do something different." WOW. She couldn't have said anything better. Seriously, I was impressed from minute one.

JT stood on the scale. He stood still while she got his height (this was not possible the last time we went, he was too freaked out by the sliding metal behind his head). We were able to get his weight on the first try. It's like he remembered that he couldn't wiggle or touch the walls (why it took so long last time). He didn't try either at all this time.

So we go back to a room, and he plays nicely while the nurse is having to enter information for all 3 of us. It's not a short process - there's so much medical history, etc that they have to enter.

The doctor comes in, and JT waits while he listens to Audrey's lungs and looks in her ears. She gets down, he says, "My turn!", jumps up on the exam table. He complies when the doctor asks him to breathe in and out. He lets him look in his ears like he's never had any issue with it.

At this point, unable to refrain, I say, "This is a miracle. You have no idea. 6 months ago none of this would have happened."

The doctor looks at me like I'm freaking crazy, and I explain he has autism and before he would have been out of control and unreachable. I think he thought I'd lost my freaking mind.

He was really nice, though, and I was really happy with the practice. Good to know we have a medical 'home' now, so when we catch more bugs we're set with a good doctor to go to.

To add to the miracle, we went to Walgreens afterwards, where there was a mixup with needing a different type of prednisone. It took my doctor 30 min to get back to the pharmacist, and again, JT was a rock star. No fits. He was very wiggly and spinny, but happy and he was very well-behaved.

I should mention our adventure started at the dr at 1:45pm, and we left Walgreens at 4pm. That's a long outing for the boring stuff we had to do for kiddos.

As for now, hoping the antibiotics and prednisone kick this plague out of the three of us!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear 2011.

Dear 2011,

I want you to know you've been my favorite year so far.

My daughter turned 7. My son turned 6. We celebrated 9 years of marriage. I turned 31. The Hubs turned 32. Nothing in there is spectacular, but yet we're here, we're healthy, we're a happy family... in this day and age, that IS spectacular in itself.

That's not to say it was all easy this year. We faced the biggest decision in regards to JT's autism and treatment that we've faced. We'd been avoiding it (they told me at his diagnosis he'd need meds... not 'he'll probably need meds', but 'he'll need meds'). Looking back, that was one of the hardest decisions we've made as a family. Medication is a serious subject. But I now know we undoubtedly made the correct choice for us. It has changed our lives.

We dealt with bullying of both Audrey and JT, and were happy with the response of one school and at least semi-satisfied with the response of the other. Either way, neither of our kids are tormented now, nor are they broken because of it. We've had some valuable discussions about bullying and what that says about the bully - and tried to set up a plan of action if it ever happens again. It happens far too often now, to far too many kids.

We've seen JT go from an entirely self-contained class to now only having two 'blocks' (social studies/science and english/literature) where he's NOT mainstreamed, and he has no aide - he's doing it all himself! He's made a real friend. He's gotten notes from kids at school. He's finding his place. He is one astonishing little boy.

Audrey's testing has shown that she's even smarter than we thought (which is pretty freaking smart). Her math benchmark was 100%. She was above grade level in everything. Her reading? At a 6th grade level. And this is a kid that will fight tooth and nail to NOT do homework or read... Thankfully, Captain Underpants (another 2011 discovery) is a new favorite - but she's almost done with the series. Frantically trying to find a new 'friend' for 2012! Her artwork has gone from 'that's cool' to 'that is AMAZING'. We have to get her in art classes, because for a child her age to draw with perspective and to be able to replicate what she sees so perfectly... she needs to explore that talent.

The Hubs got promoted. He's got an awesome store now, with great people. He's still good at what he does, and enjoys doing it. You really can't ask for more in a job.

I got a job (YAY Starbucks!). They helped me transfer, even though they didn't have to. I get free coffee. They have awesome benefits. And I get free coffee :)

As 2011 comes to a close, I can say we're in a really, really good place. Our kids are doing fantastic. We're doing fantastic. Our family is doing fantastic. Everything really did turn out okay...

So, thank you, 2011.

I can only hope that 2012 brings us more of the same :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Special Needs, Education and 'The Line'

This story recently has made headlines:
School accused of putting autistic student in bag

Basically, a teacher and aide took an autistic student, and as punishment, put him in one of those drawstring bags they have in the gyms at school, drew the string up and left him in there until his mom showed up.


You read stories like this one all the time. Autistic or other special needs kids getting restrained, secluded, bizarre punishments being doled out...

How does this happen?

I understand some children are hard to handle. They are not like 'typical' kids all the time.

But at what point do teachers, administrators, caregivers decide: THIS child is less than the other children.

Would a regular student EVER be placed in a gym bag, drawn up, and left in the hallway for their mother to collect? Then why is a special education student? Are they less human? Less worthy of being treated humanely?

Where is that line?

That line that says, "It's okay to do this to THIS student, but not THIS one." The line that is drawn somewhere based on 'normal' versus 'special education'. What criteria are used to decide that what is cruel for one student is not for another?

Do they not think that kids with disabilities have feelings? That they are aware?

Or are they just taking advantage of a child that can't fight back?

These stories leave me feeling disgusted at the systems involved. How could anyone possibly defend this? Would they put their own children in bags? CPS would remove them if they did, yet the schools are defending the abusers.

There should be absolute outrage over this. We got rid of corporal punishment in (most) schools, because it is a parent's right to discipline their child, and some consider it cruel. Who would NOT consider restraint, seclusion, tying a child up in a bag CRUEL?

So. Depressing.

If you have a moment, there is a petition on Please go and sign it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Papa's visit

My dad came to visit!!! He got here Tuesday, and sadly had to leave this morning. We wish he could have stayed longer!

While he was here, he got to spend a lot of time with the kiddos, and got to see them open up the Christmas presents that he and Ginny got for them.

The last time we saw him was August of 2010, so it's been way too long. He hasn't seen JT since he made his huge jump in progress. Last time he tried to keep JT, and the 30 minutes he had him were not good (JT screamed the entire time). This time he kept the kids several times for a few hours (I had to Christmas shop, work, etc) and they were both angels for him. Definitely made me happy to see that kind of progress! Not to mention the talking, conversing and interaction that he's capable of now that he wasn't before... Just a different kiddo!

I loaded him up with plenty of coffee before he went home (a pound a week is too much coffee for one person to drink!), so he might not sleep the next 6 months...

Monday, December 19, 2011

First babysitting adventure

Went WELL!!!!

The Hubs and I both had to work last Sunday, which meant the kids didn't have one of us to watch them. That's never happened!

When we moved to Charlotte, The Hubs told me he had an aunt here that was so sweet and awesome, and I had to meet her. He met up with her while he was here alone, and told me that his cousin (her daughter) was so sweet and babysat, and thought she would be awesome with our kids.

So, our kids stayed with The Hubs's (I guess OUR) aunt Cindy, uncle Jerry and (Z's cousin) Kate (awesome name :) ) - and they had the best time ever.

They came home so excited and happy, and they ate square pizza, went to the lake and (both kids) came home with painted fingernails (BOTH were so excited!)... Seriously, they were SO happy!

It is so freaking awesome to live close to family, and hopefully they'll be willing to babysit again for us.

Considering no one has watched the kids in 6 years, this is crazy cool!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

JT school update (it's long).

Well, we're closing in on two weeks of school here in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District. Crazy!

While I'm completely in love with this school district, it didn't start off so well.

Before moving here, the placement coordinator told me based on what I told him over the phone and via email, JT would be placed in a resource type setting for all academics and mainstreamed for all the other stuff - recess, specials, lunch.

So that's what I was expecting the first day of school.

When we dropped them off the first day, JT's new teacher, Mrs. G, picked him up in the office, and the secretary walked with us to take Audrey to Mrs. W's class. After dropping her off, The Hubs asked to just walk by JT's classroom so we'd know where it was.

So we walk down another hall, and the secretary says, "Here are the AU classrooms." I responded, "Okay, but where is JT's classroom?" Confused, she turned around and said, "JT IS in an AU classroom."

If you want to know what he AU program is, I posted about it here, but it comes down to a self-contained classroom that is NOT standard curriculum and kids CANNOT get a diploma if they are taught in that classroom. NOT. COOL. JT was on standard course of study/curriculum in Cary, and is so freaking smart it's crazy. There is NO reason he shouldn't be learning the standard curriculum. Obviously I have a big problem with JT being assigned to the AU program.

After Mrs. G talked to me for several minutes (and was very apologetic, although she had nothing to do with the placement), we walked to the office where the principal talked with me for several minutes. Let's just say that I was not a happy camper, and they were very aware. I was nearing tears and screaming, but managed to hold it together and get my point across very clearly.

7 minutes after I left the school, the placement coordinator was on the phone with me. Apparently he wasn't aware that JT was on standard curriculum (which is ridiculous, because if he WASN'T on standard course of study, it would be in his IEP, and he has no academic goals in his IEP because he hasn't needed them yet). He started out defensive, and I think we just realized we weren't going to agree. He closed by saying we were at a great school, and they would do great by my child. I told him his school district had already screwed my son, and that he had only been in their district 7 minutes, so I wasn't sure I was going to believe that.

Luckily, he was right about the school and the staff there. They are awesome.

They called me half way through the first day saying he didn't belong in a self-contained classroom all day. That he needed exposure to typical peers. Next day they put him in specials, lunch and recess with Mr. D's K class.

Monday, we had an IEP meeting. They want to add math into JT's time in Mr. D's class. Once he adjusts to that, then they will add in science and social studies. Last will be reading/literature. That's all that's left until he's mainstreamed. Crazy.

He's staying in the AU class as his base, but getting instruction in the other K class (so he's still diploma-eligible). If the regular K classroom learning style doesn't fit him, they'll defer to the resource room for his instruction.

But they're serious about getting JT into a mainstream environment a.s.a.p. Even though I liked our last school district, they couldn't compare to this level of commitment to get JT into a regular classroom.

I feel like our move was another step in the right direction. It seems like things happen for a reason, and I'm so glad we ended up here. I have a feeling JT is going to do some pretty amazing things here :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday, JT!

This post is late... We've been in the process of moving, and I haven't had an internet connection to post my regular corny happy birthday to my baby.

December 2nd marked JT's 6th birthday.

On JT's birthday, I look back at the last year, and all the progress he's made.

From 5 to 6, JT has had one unbelievable year.
-He potty trained (in one weekend, no less!).
-He started speaking in sentences regularly.
-He started Kindergarten.
-He made his first real best friend.
-His behavioral issues all but stopped.

There is really so much more, but 5 was an amazing year. I can only hope that 6 will be as good as this last year has been!

Happy birthday to my sweet momma's boy.