Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Battle Interuptis

I am exhausted and rocking a major headache, so I will give you all a brief low-down on our school district meeting and go to bed.

Essentially, here's what happened. The entire team (Birth to Three, Three to Five, and the Head Honcho) came to the house and we all sat around the table and pow-wowed. The Head Honcho came out strong and a wee-bit hard-assed, and if I was anyone but me I might have caved at that moment and laid down like a rug. She informed me, with a lot of academic high-flalootin programy wordage that they are not required to provide the same services during the summer, they are not held accountable to the Least Restrictive Environment requirement, and that what they have to offer is good enough. Now, this is not what I have read, or heard, and I have done some research....

I didn't cave. I am not sure I came out swinging, but I do believe I made my point clear: J-man greatly benefits from where he is, will not benefit from moving his services to that location, they cannot provide what he needs there, he does qualify and should be able to get services where he is at. I explained that while I understand they don't have the program he is in during the summer, they should. And that, given his unique needs and situation they should make an exception to the hardcore position they have, since what we are asking serves him best and the other option does not.

My hubby popped in and provided our united front, plus a steely eye and presence that says "we mean business". Plus a few well placed (yet polite) words.

She didn't cave.... exactly. What she said was that she would "look into" whether they could make an exception for J-man for the summer. She needed to "consult with others" and will get back to me "soon".

So where does this leave us? Not sure. I know that if they turn us down our next step is to go into mediation with the Department of Education. While we did not out-and-out say we would take it that far, I am fairly sure she got that vibe from us. And we would... in principle alone. However, I find it utterly amazing that we might have to go there.... for 3-4 visits over the summer??? Really??? Don't they have better way to spend their time? So, I am hoping that they can "work something out" so we really don't have to make a mountain out of molehill.

Link UPDATE: For those of you interested, this is a wonderful commentary: Into the Mainstream

Friday, February 19, 2010

Books, I love. And Books I love.

Books. I love books. I always have loved books. As a kid I used to go to great lengths to read my books: under the covers with a flashlight, in the car, in the bathtub, at the movies. Yep, my mom will still tell stories about how I used to bring a book to the movies because... heck.... what else is there to do before and after the movie? And what if the movie is boring?

Exactly. I was... am... a complete, total, 100% geek.

Before I became a mother, I dreamed of reading aloud to my children. I would read my favorite books from childhood... the Little House Series, James and the Giant Peach, Winnie the Pooh. We would snuggle together in bed and stay up far too late reading stories. I would cave into all their pleas for 'one more story mommy'. A love of reading would flow into them from me, and we would share this one thing always....


J-man won't let me read to him.

I tried to do books at bedtime. I would try and read the words (think board books, people) and point to pictures, and he just wants to turn the pages or look at the pictures. I would just try labeling and he would sometimes watch me, but never expresses real interest. I am sure it is a language issue, plus a processing issue, plus another way to have my heart break. But, he is only three... so there is hope.

However, onward.... to books I love.

My Top Books From 2009

Ok, so this list isn't books published in 2009. Just books I read and really, really liked in 2009. Note: not all of these books are high falootin, fancy shamacy books. Some are just great trashy reads, some are brilliant works of art. I will try and distinguish them for you! Also note... they are in no particular order of greatness. I am not good enough to rank them!

1. Schuyler's Monster by Robert Rummel-Hudson. This wonderful memoir that has really affected me. Touching, funny and entertaining at the same time. See my "review".

2. This Lovely Life by Vicki Forman. This memoir just took my breath away. See my "review".

3. The Mercy Thompson Series by Patrica Briggs. Ok, so the previous 2 books are writing masterpieces. This series is just plain old Brain Candy. But really good brain candy. Pure candy, 100% no nutritional value whatsoever. Think Twilight, but good. Oh, and this is actually a series of 4 books, so it is kinda a cheat... but whatever. Paperbacks are cheap.

4. No god but God by Reza Aslan. Ok, complete geek book. In essence this is a book about the history and explanation about the Islamic faith. I picked this book up after I saw the author on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I found this book very interesting and well written. This is a book for the person who just would like to know and understand a little more about evolution of today's Islamic faith and how it effects the world today.

5. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. Whereas #4 is a serious exploration on Islam, this book isn't nearly as serious. And yet, it is. The author essentially attempts to live the Bible as literally as possible for a year. It is very funny, interesting and educational. I laughed and learned at the same time.

6. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Lovely novel, just lovely.

7. My Baby Rides the Short Bus by Yantra Bertelli, Jen Silverman, and Sarah Talbot. This is a wonderful collection of short stories and essays from parents with special needs kids. These stories are NOT the "chicken soup for the soul" type of stories, but are hard and real and filled with truth. (Confession: I think I actually read this in January 2010. Oh well)

So if J-man can't appreciate my love of books right now, maybe you can enjoy it a little.

(oh, and if you have any recommendations... pass them on!!!!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

On Meetings and Other Battles

So apparently I am going to become "that parent".

Let me start with the story, and then move on to the rant. It'll be a little more coherent that way.

A few weeks ago we met the J-man's new teacher and speech therapist from the school district. Over the next few weeks we are going to lose Ms Kristin (much to our deep sadness), and Ms Becky and Ms Jane will be working with him at his preschool. Of course, Ms Kristen has set the bar shockingly high, but I am going to remain hopeful that his new teachers will be as excellent.

During this initial meet-&-greet with the new folks, the subject of J-man's ESY (Extended School Year) eligibility came up. Essentially, ESY is summer school in 'special ed' language. And yes, the J-man qualifies. Apparently, however, they do not provide the community based services in the summer like he is getting now. The only way he can get any coverage of either speech or teaching is if we enroll him in their multi categorical classrooms.

Now, we have already addressed the issue of the multicat classrooms. We toured, we considered, and we rejected the idea. The reason he is enrolled at his current preschool is because we believe, strongly, that typical-developing peers are a tremendous benefit to our boy. He has been hugely successful in this environment, and the idea of putting him in an environment that is exclusively with other special needs kids (many of whom have significant behavioral and language issues) does not jive with our goals for him.

Now, the rant.

See, this all goes back to the idea of Least Restrictive Environments and Inclusion. In a nutshell, inclusion is the ideal in which all children learn together, regardless of disability or ability. According to Wrightslaw, the Individuals with Disabilities and Education Act states that the Least Restrictive Environment policy says that school districts are required to educate students with disabilities in regular classrooms with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.

Dan Habib eloquently deal with the issue of inclusion for his documentary Including Samuel.

I highly recommend this documentary (check out your local PBS station for viewings!)

Now, the issue of inclusion is a thorny one. I know this. Inclusion is difficult to start, requires lots of teacher training, good classroom supports, and a commitment from all involved to make it work. It isn't always easy. Another documentary series, Educating Peter (and later, Graduating Peter), highlights both the challenges and rewards of inclusion (another series I highly recommend).

I believe that whether or not inclusion is appropriate for a child is truly on a case-by-case basis. However, I also believe that.... done well... inclusion should absolutely be the goal for the vast majority of children. And for the J-man... well, this is a no-brainer. His current achievements in preschool, with appropriate support, is crystal clear. Hands down, inclusion is the only way to go. He needs typically developing peers. They help him learn. It is essential.

So now, we get to have a meeting with All-Powerful School District people to argue about getting him some summer service at Jack and Jill. Have I mentioned that we PAY for him to be in preschool... a lot of money...? And we are only talking about 3-5 one hour sessions over the summer to address issues and help him maintain skills?


So I get to be "that parent", and see if I can convince them that his least restrictive environment IS preschool, and they do have an obligation to continue his current programming. Wish me luck, because GEMM might have to peek out on this one.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bad Days

Like everyone, J-man has good days and bad days.

And like everyone, I have good days and I have bad days.
Lately, my days have been on the darker side. I am not sure if it is because of the winter blahs or if the everyday grind is starting to get to me. What I know is that I feel sad a lot, I feel frustrated a lot. As J-man develops more vocalizations and some awareness of the need to communicate, he has also developed more temper tantrums, more outbursts, and more stubbornness. Ooooh, he knows how to push buttons.
For example, today, after a series of outbursts and general crankiness from the boy, I was in the kitchen doing my least favorite chore ever (dishes) and J-man.... for reasons only he could possibly know... climbed on the table and proceeded to dump the entire package of Goldfish crackers on the floor. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't that big a deal. But like an open wound that just keeps getting poked, my patience just fell apart. After what could be termed a complete parental temper tantrum, the J-man and I were both crying. We spent the next half hour making up and snuggling on the sofa.

I am just plain tired of dealing with his delays. I know that other mothers could call their 3 year old to dinner and they would come. They can get their own shoes, own coat, with requests from their mommies. J-man.... no way. Sometimes he seems deaf, and he seems to have zero desire to please me at all. Other mommies just don't have to work this hard all the time, do they?

I don't know how to redirect, regroup, refocus. I feel stretched thin as tissue paper, and more fragile.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mother Words

Ok, so this is totally off topic, but I just had to share.

I am taking a writing class. Yes, me... a writing class! Why, you may ask?? I have no idea!

Actually, that is not entirely true. I think I have found a lot of solace in writing this blog, and I just want to be better at it. I have no great aspirations of writing an Oprah Book Club best-seller (Hey Oprah, call me *wink wink*), but I like the idea of treating it more like a craft. I'd like people to enjoy my stories and get something out of them.

The course is called Mother Words and is taught by Kate Hopper. Check out her blog here.

Anyway, I may plop a few of my attempts at "real writing" here. I would love feedback if you have the time!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The road is long

J-man has been going to his new speech therapist for nearly one month. Not long, to be sure. But his mouth has been moving more in the past few months than it ever has, making attempts at sounds and words every day. So our new therapist has had some of the best exposure to his new 'skills'.

I asked her yesterday if, given her experience and what she now sees J-man doing, if she thought Apraxia was the right diagnosis for him.

She said yes. Most definitely.

Of course, we both agree that it isn't the end of the story.... there is more going on that just apraxia. But getting a definitive diagnosis of apraxia has been hard because up until a few months ago, he wasn't making enough attempts to say anything. Now, however, she can "see" the oral-motor sequencing problems.

There are days, when J-man is trying hard and doing good, when I feel like maybe we will see the end of this road sooner rather than later. And then there are days... like today... when I just can't imagine how we will ever make it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Happy Birthday, baby boy!!!

Welcome to Three!

According to everyone who is anyone, Three is suppose to be a Big Year. I have high hopes for Three. I think Three is gonna be Your Year. I don't exactly know what Three has in store, but I see great and terrible things for Three. I am excited for you and the magical Three.

So Welcome to Three.

I love you more and more everyday.



View My Stats