Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘asperger’s syndrome

First Grade

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First Grade

 

First day of First Grade, complete with social story in her hand.  First day for Pudding, at least- the rest of her classmates started last Wednesday, but we were still quarantined after the operation.  Though I’m anxious to know how her day went, I know she is in good hands.  Her new teacher emailed me to say she’d not only read my last post, she’d pinned it to her wall.

“We are all different and we all learn differently.”

Amen to that.  I’m glad Pudding is back where she belongs.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Feeling Included

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So today was finally the day.  My nerves have been wracking for weeks as I faced up to the challenge of public speaking.  I’d been asked to participate in a conference on international inclusion, and as much as my instincts have me running away from such opportunities, I decided to follow the example my girl sets me every single day: I got out of my comfort zone.

The conference had started yesterday, but Pudding was down with what turned out to be a double ear infection, so she took priority.  Spectrummy Daddy took today off work instead so I could still do my bit.  I got talking to the lady at the table next to me, a principal of an international school.  Before long she revealed that her daughter is also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and now doing really well- not just in college, but spending a year abroad in Paris.  I felt that feeling of connection that we spectrum parents always feel when we meet.  We’re never alone.

Part of the day the conference participants were divided up into groups to see learning support in action, but I wasn’t placed in  group, so I did the “mummy tour” of just the bits that were relevant to Pudding’s education.  I got to check out “Pudding’s office” which is also known as the sensory room.  There I learned how Pudding manages her sensory needs in school (just the same as at home, really) and the awesome Ms. B reiterated how much she loved working with Pudding.

I had a bit of free time, so I sat near Pudding’s classmates as they ate lunch.  The teaching assistant for Pudding’s class was there, and we’d recently discussed how she was hoping to continue as the teaching partner in her classroom next year.  Not only that, but she was fighting with a few other teaching partners who also had their eye on working with Pudding next year!  How far we have come, from schools that wouldn’t admit her and teachers who couldn’t work with her, to a place where she is accepted and loved for who she is.

Next I moved to Pudding’s classroom, where her teacher presented a slideshow of videos about Pudding and how our inclusion project is working out.  The video ended with one of Pudding’s classmates sagely noting that “she learns from us.”  It kind of sums up inclusion in a sentence.  What this little girl hasn’t realized yet, though, is that she is also learning from Pudding.

One of my favourite parts of the day was the student panel.   A group of middle and high school students talked about their experiences of inclusion: the diversity here included South African children on scholarships, as well as those receiving learning support.  These students were incredibly articulate, and could detail the many benefits they received from an inclusive education.  It was a showcase of all that is great about the school, and fascinating to me considering that not long ago some of these kids wouldn’t have even been admitted to the school.

And then it was my turn.  I’d love to say that I conquered my nerves, but that isn’t the way these things work.  I did, however, acknowledge those nerves- it is just part of who I am, and as I neared the end of my presentation, I found that the shakiness in my voice had almost disappeared.  I talked about our experiences- both positive and negative- with special education, I talked about how this school had initially rejected Pudding for pre-K, our conditional acceptance into Kindergarten, and the incredible successes we have enjoyed ever since.

Everyone at the conference responded really positively to what I had to say.  The director of the school hadn’t known that we were initially rejected from his school, and wished to speak to me privately.  He reiterated that the school was developing and learning how to really build a community.  International schools can only really do that when they’re allowing all of us to be part of that community.

It was time to leave, but not before more I met with more educators and faculty members who told me that our story further resonated because they too were parents of children with learning differences.  We are all connected, in some intangible way by our experiences.  Here in South Africa they call it Ubuntu:  a philosophy that can be summed up by ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’  I think these international schools are going to be whole lot better because of who we all are.  And including us- as parents to speak at conferences, and as children to be educated- is going to make them the best that they can be.

Wordless Wednesday 27 Feb 13

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It is Spirit Week at Pudding’s school, and today she had to dress up like what she wanted to be when she grows up. Rather than dressing like Hello Kitty for the third time in a row, I prompted her to tell me what kind of job she would like to do. See if you can guess what she said…

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 27, 2013 at 7:58 am

Easy

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I’ve got so much going on this week that I don’t have time to post.  But I’m such an excellent procrastinator, I’ll do just that.  This week, for instance, I’ve got a video conference tomorrow, a cocktail reception on Thursday evening, organise our family to fly out to the states on the weekend, and I need to draft the presentation for a conference upon my return.  Oh, and the thousand other things that I need to do in my job.  But I only work part-time (32 hours a week), so it should be easy.

And then there is the day to day dealing with kids with special needs.  Trying to eke out time with each to put what they learn in therapy to good use.  I’m effectively dealing with three different schools, and two sets of speech and occupational therapists.  Yet somehow I only have two kids, and their needs are comparatively mild, it really should be easy.

I was talking to a colleague today who said I make it all look so ‘easy.’  I had to laugh.  Of all the things my life is…easy would be the worst adjective.

I’m dropping balls, but somehow my juggling act keeps going.  I forgot that one of Pudding’s schools has spirit week this week, and I forgot to dress her up like a movie star on Monday.  Lucky for me that Hello Kitty is a movie star (shut up, she is!) and Pudding always opts to dress like Hello Kitty.

She is helping out in other ways too.  Taking on more little duties as I shirk them.  She has been making leaps and bounds with her reading and writing since starting in an inclusive classroom.  On Thursday Spectrummy Daddy and I will be taking her in to school for a teacher conference in which Pudding will demonstrate her progress.  

One thing I’ve made certain of, even as we get busier and busier, is that Pudding always reads her reading book from school every evening, then I read a story of her choice.  After she has finished, I comment on the reading log sent from the teacher.

I guess Pudding thinks that she’ll save me a job here, because tonight I went to write, and I found she’d already done it.  Her verdict on this book?  Easy.

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I don’t think any of this is easy, my love, but thank you for always reminding me that it is worth it!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I Can Cook!

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It was one of those lazy Sunday mornings. We were watching kids TV, a British show called, “I Can Cook,” in which a perky (they always are) TV presenter and a few stage kids make a meal together.
They make food together, and there is never any fighting or tantrums. Then they all eat the same meal and talk about how much they enjoyed it. They use words like “delicious” and “scrumptious” that make me think they are indeed child actors reading from a script written by a 40 year-old woman. But I digress.
Cubby was riveted as he curled up with me on our oversized bean bag chair. Pudding actually put down her iPad to watch. The presenter and child actors made it look so easy that they actually tricked me into thinking this was something I could do with my kids.

Pudding poking holes
A little later that day we’d collected all the ingredients to make cheese and vegetable pasties. I asked the kids if they wanted to cook like on the show, and was greeted with an enthusiasm rarely seen outside of all things Hello Kitty.
Cubby, my little literalist, decided he was going to be Arthur, one of the stage kids on the show. On I Can Cook, the presenter began by sprinkling some flour on the cooking mats for each child, as they carefully coated them in preparation for the pastry. We began by recklessly spreading said flour all over our clothes, hair, the floor, and even (in Cubby’s case) up his nose. We repeated step one, and this time I did not turn my back to put the flour away, and it mostly stayed on the table. Later I would come to regret not immediately putting the flour away, but I’d learn that lesson later.
Next came rolling out the pastry. In I Can Cook, each little chef has their own perfectly-sized utensils, and I think that is why there isn’t a blood bath on the show, which is my kind of reality TV. In our house, we have just the one rolling pin, which is great for adults. Actually, we may have a kids rolling pin that is gunked up from when I made play dough wrong and could never get it off again. But I digress.
Poking holes in pastryTaking turns is almost as difficult for my children as sharing, so here I knew I had no chance of success. But nobody was hit with the actual rolling pin, so we somehow made our way through Step 2. Simple step 3 was the not-so-simple task of gently prodding the pastry.
This time I had a fork for each child. What I didn’t have was kids with the ability to grade their pressure. Instead of gentle prodding which doesn’t quite pierce the pastry- fairy steps in the words of Perky Presenter- we made big giant troll holes, which we then had to reseal, roll out the pastry again, fight over the rolling pin again, and repeat. So eventually we kind of, in a fashion, sort of accomplished step 3.

Tearing Spinach
Foolproof stage four was ripping the spinach. Pudding loved this task- she loves a good rip. Cubby’s fine motor skills weren’t up to the task, and he very quickly tired of this job, trying to pass of whole leaves of spinach as ripped up. If this kid doesn’t become a lawyer, I’m not sure what he’ll do with his skills.
Then we get to the fun part: filling our pastry. I’d pre-made the ratatouille filling, so the kids just had to spoon it on, add their torn-up spinach, and sprinkle in the cheese. Cubby was good with all of this.
Pudding, however, does not do cheese. “You must not eat cheese, “ she likes to solemnly intone. Now she was faced with a dilemma: if she added the cheese, her mother would try to trick her into eating it, which she can’t do. If she doesn’t, she will miss the tactile sensation of (rolling, squeezing, and then ) sprinkling cheese, and she wouldn’t be making the pasties just like in the show. In fairness, we also hadn’t grown our own spinach in our hippy garden, or collected a salary for our efforts, but I digress.
She made the first one with no cheese, but then opted to conform to our pro-cheese agenda. I allowed this, against my better judgment, as I thought I was in with a chance of getting her too eat cheese. When will I learn?!
Of course, we completely overstuffed the pasties, but that was okay. In our house, we believe pasties come in all shapes and sizes. We’re rebels like that.
Pasties
In 15 minutes they were cooked, and 10 minutes after, I deemed them ready to eat. They weren’t. They were like molten lava inside. We all had burnt tongues that made us mad at pasties. But they were so “scrumptious” and “delicious” that we ate them soon after.
At least Cubby and I did. Pudding happily ate one until she encountered some cheese, then ripped them apart to try to pull out the offensive ingredient.
But, as Cubby announced just like those pesky paid-up members of Equity- “I Can Cook.” I Can! Even with my spectrummy pair helping out. And, you know, they tasted SO good that I might even do it again. But no cheese this time!

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So we might watch that show again. It isn’t as easy as they make it look, but we did have a lot of fun and practice some skills. Shame we didn’t have anybody filming though- our surreality TV is far more entertaining with a not-so perky presenter and the quirkiest of kids.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 14, 2013 at 8:59 am

Wordless Wednesday 13 Feb 13

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My Sweet Valentine

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 13, 2013 at 7:48 am

Mother Like Me

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After yesterday’s post, I had some people question why I didn’t react more to what happened during our flight.  It is a valid question, and one that had whirled around my own head ever since Saturday.  You see, my instinct was to protect my children.  Adrenaline was coursing through my system, and my body felt like it needed action.  My brain even pictured the various actions which would have satisfied it- all were physical, and all of them would have landed me in trouble with aviation security.  But I wasn’t thinking about that.

I was thinking about what the children would do if I raised my voice, or had a physical altercation, or even moved to argue face to face with the man in front.  Pudding had already had a meltdown over the change of seats.  A meltdown during which she became violent, briefly clawing at my face with her fingers.  Pudding is not usually an aggressive child, but she already felt threatened, and was lashing out. And this was with me being calm.

If I get worked up, if I raise my voice, if I give in to strong emotions, it is absorbed and reflected back at me by two people who need me to stay in control.  That isn’t to say that I never get angry, or I’m always in control of my emotions, but I do know that when I explode, so does everyone around me.  And I really didn’t need that.  Nor did the rest of the passengers crammed on to that painfully full flight.

Well, all apart from one, that is.

Before I actually confronted him, calmly, I’d spent several hours with Pudding and Cubby sleeping on me, peacefully oblivious to the barely-contained rage I was feeling.  Any parent who knows this forced calm- and I’m certain there are a few of us with children on the autism spectrum- know that this inertia is a hundred times more difficult than acting on our feelings.

We do it, because we can.  They can’t.

We can take a deep breath, calm ourselves down, refuse to let things escalate.  My kids don’t know how to do that yet.  They are learning, and like with many of life’s lessons, they need them modeled time and time again.  Even when there are jerks within hitting distance who totally deserve it.

Now, maybe you have children who don’t follow your every move, hear every word you say (even if they conveniently don’t pay attention at times), or detect every change in your pitch.  That way you don’t risk the same consequences.  Maybe you haven’t had years of learning to show Zen when you feel anything but.  I’m glad for you, and I’m jealous of you.  You don’t have to hold it all in until you find a suitable outlet.

Believe me, it gets hard, when you mother like me.  Certain situations are just harder.  But at least when the gory fantasies (I’m always like Buffy the Vampire Slayer in my daydreams) I had of what I could do when the plane touched down and the kids were handed off to the husband didn’t get to come true, I can always write about it here.

Because some how, some way, this stuff has to come out, if you are going to mother like me.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 8, 2013 at 6:01 pm