Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Updates :)

This fall, Audrey will be starting gymnastics and swim lessons (to get her proficient in Olympic strokes in preparation for swim team in Spring).

JT will be doing some sort of martial arts.

Add to it a crazy grad school schedule (did you know that 12+ hours of study is the norm per week for each course? That means I will be spending 24 hours a week on classwork!) and TD and 1st grade and we are going to be in for a wild (but fun!) ride.

I've completed my first week of classes, and I will definitely be challenged by my schoolwork. However, I am VERY excited to get started. The material is so interesting and fun to me.

In other news, we got the kids' teacher assignments today.

Audrey's class seems to be very TD (gifted) oriented, which will be awesome for her.
JT's teacher is new to the school. She has a double Bachelor's in elementary ed and special ed (awesome). She has a Master's in Literacy (double awesome, that's where he really struggles!).

It should be a wonderful school year for all of us!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New beginning... tomorrow!!!

Tomorrow is the beginning of my Graduate career.

I am SO excited to start on my MAT in Special Education. SO. EXCITED.

For 5+ years I've been saying I want to do this, but never had 'the right time'.

The right time is here, and the hard work begins!

Cross your fingers and send positive thoughts!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My amazing daughter, the environmentalist.

image found here
Audrey is Audrey.

I've never met anyone remotely like her.

She is strong willed, stubborn (okay, like me) and very determined to make this world a better place.

Thursday, walking into Target we saw a ton of paper trash along the sidewalk into the store.

As we're walking in, she starts picking it up.

I'll admit, my first reaction was, "Audrey, put that down. It's trash." I may have been slightly mortified she was holding trash.

She responded, "It's trash that doesn't belong here. I want to make the world a better place momma."

{I should mention here that trash is one of her big pet peeves... she is so concerned with the environment and animals.}

You can't argue with that.

As I approached the trash can at the entrance of Target, I had also picked up a ton of trash to toss in. Audrey had more. We couldn't get it all, but we grabbed what we could.

The bigger story is the people who were right behind us. They were fairly close; close enough to hear our discussion and Audrey's insistence on bettering the world (and to hear my nervous giggles about picking up trash).

As we walked in, I turned around and watched as they dropped handfuls of trash in the bins.

They smiled at us and nodded. They were doing the right thing because of my 8 year old.

She makes me a better person. She makes strangers better people.

She is amazing Audrey.

I am so blessed.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

10 Things I've learned raising JT.

1. Try.
    You never know unless you try something. Think a movie would be a disaster? Yes, he has ADHD, but it might work!

2. Try again.
    Don't let a single failure hold you back from trying it again. Just because he couldn't do it yesterday doesn't mean he can't do it today. You never know when that miracle is going to happen, so keep trying. So the first movie wasn't an overwhelming success, but movie 3 was absolutely perfect, just because you took him to 2 more movies! He loves them now, and begs to go. You just never know!

3. Believe in the good.
   There are news stories, personal stories everywhere about how widespread bullying and mistreatment of kids with disabilities are. Within reason, though, you have to trust the people that care for your child, the kids that are around your child. In the few years JT has been in school, there have been more kind people by far than people who don't care (and I can't think of one that would want to 'hurt' him in any way). Human nature appears to be far more kind in JT's schools than the news makes it appear around the country.

4. Let him fail.
    There will come a time when you won't be there to catch him. Yes, it will break your heart if things go wrong (and here's a forewarning... at least in social interactions, it WILL go wrong the first few times at least). But he needs to learn. And fail. He will pick up on what he needs to move forward to make the next time more successful.

5. Listen closely.
    Even before JT was verbal, he was communicating all sorts of things with me. His body language, his eyes, his mood... if I 'listened' closely, I could tell something was wrong. When he gets upset now, his verbal language decreases and I have to read his body. It's amazing how well you can read someone when you're really paying attention, even if they're not saying a word.

6. Keep going.
    Some days it's just putting one foot in front of the other. Progress seems slow, or, at times, you feel like you're moving backwards. Trudge on, because it's the only way to keep going.

7. Have patience.
    Autism is trying on its' best days. Keep going, it will get better.

8. Find people you trust.
    A good teacher is important. A good doctor, too. These people are key in JT's treatment and progress. Don't discount their worth. And when you get good ones, don't let go.

9. Stay calm.
    The biggest lesson I've learned from JT? His mood matches mine. So if I'm stressed out an angry, JT is stressed out and angry. If I'm calm, he is perfectly amicable. It's all in how you present a situation. You can teach better ways of coping without him getting in 'trouble'.

10. Have fun!
      Above all, he is just a kid. He wants to play, have fun and just be goofy. Put that first. He will only be a kid once, and you'll never get it back. Enjoy it while it's here. It's hard to not want to try to play catch up 24/7, but it's not worth it. Have faith progress will happen, and let him enjoy himself like other kids do.

11. (Yes I realize that's over 10) Don't forget the melatonin.
      This is JT at 12:30am. Full moon, PLUS Z forgot to give him his melatonin. Don't forget the melatonin. Ever.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

hopeful parents 8/10

JT doesn't perform on command.

Most kids, you can ask a question and get a serious answer.

Not JT.

You ask a question, you may get a serious answer... but if he knows you're really depending on it, he will either give you gibberish or (most often) the exact opposite.

This creates big problems, obviously.

He won't answer serious questions his doctor has. That teachers have. That therapists have.

Right now, his school team goes by what they know he knows (that sounds confusing)... he was promoted to first grade based on the end of year tests not on how he performed that day, but what teachers had heard him do consistently throughout the year.

But looking down the road, how is testing going to go? The grade level tests that require performance snapshots of a single day on a specific test?

What then?

What happens when 'we know he can' isn't relevant, and 'he didn't show us' is the response instead? Will he be underestimated?

Then there's the whole 'high school diploma' thing... he can't take 'modified' tests or he can't graduate with a diploma (instead getting a 'certificate of attendance').

'But he's capable' isn't a valid argument if he can't SHOW he's capable on demand.

Casts, food, and progress!

This has been a great week at the Duzan house!

Quick rundown:

  • Audrey got her cast off! She is super excited.
  • JT ate well this week. He had chicken nuggets (the freezer kind), which he hasn't eaten in a while. He had hot dogs. He even ate 3 bites of a grilled cheese - this is HUGE. He even said he likes grilled cheese today. He hasn't eaten a grilled cheese since we tried the GFCF diet and he responded by going from the worlds best eater to the dilemma that continues. HUGE. And today... a freaking cheeseburger. He was EXCITED TO EAT A CHEESEBURGER! Again he only ate 3 bites, but he liked it!
  • I was able to negotiate those 3 bites without using a reinforcer or bribery (ahem... Positive reinforcement). He did it willingly!
  • I was able to vacuum without a huge freak out, also by negotiation. I asked him beforehand this time, and he wanted the door shut to the room I was vacuuming. I am really happy about this one!
  • JT is subtracting... In his head... Up to 20 correctly (and further up its just that he messes up his tens!). He just came in my room and was like, "10 take away 3 equals 7. 8 take away 2 equals 6." I thought maybe he had just memorized those 2 problems, but nope... He stops and thinks for about 3 seconds (so cute) and gives the answer. Way cool!
  • JT is attempting to spell things. All summer he's been asking us 'How you spell _____?' Now he will start spelling it on his own. A HUGE start to the whole 'he needs to learn to read' thing!
  • I'm not sure how to explain this, but JT is conversating better and better as the summer goes by. His speech (the /f/ in particular) is getting way better, too.

Just a little over 3 weeks until school starts. Craziness!