Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘moving

Paper Weight

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Two weeks until our big move, and I’m in the midst of what is by far the most laborious task of moving: sorting out the paperwork. This time around is extra challenging. Previously when we’ve moved, our air shipment has followed us around a week later, and the rest of our belongings our shipped after 2-3 minutes.

This time though, we’ll be heading to the states for two months, and even after we arrive at our next post, we can’t receive our belongings until after we have been accredited…some 4-6 months later. Which means we could be looking at 8 months without the filing cabinet that purports to document our lives. 

So you see, the challenge of forgetting to put the right piece of paper in our luggage could be pretty critical. The problem is, paperwork is never critical until you don’t have the right one. Marriage and birth certificates are always essential. As is my naturalization certificate and our immunization records. Do I really need that reference from 10 years ago? This paperwork is taking up too much space in our already crammed luggage, and weighing us down.

And then the most critical, but cumbersome paperwork of all: the kids’ psycho-educational reports and school paperwork. Five years and two kids is easily filling two boxes, and yet, hardly capturing them at all. Because what kind of evaluation can ever capture their joy, resilience, sensitivity, and adventurous spirits? Qualities that aren’t necessarily required in the classroom, but certainly are helpful outside of it.

As I read through Pudding’s past reports, one thing keeps striking me. Each contains a sentence along the lines of “…doesn’t reflect an accurate measure of cognitive ability.” And yet, international schools, not bound by law to accept children with disabilities are always searching for those cognitive skills as evidence that a child can measure up to their peers academically. It is the reason we keep testing- to check that we are not failing her, tweaking her supports and interventions as necessary.

But if they aren’t an accurate measure…aren’t they just paper? Weighing us down.

A few weeks ago, we got some different results. Pudding’s support teacher administered the Woodcock Johnson III. A useful measure for us, because she has had this test before, and comparing Pudding to her own self has always been more meaningful than comparing her to her peers- at least in terms of deciding if our interventions are working as hoped.

These new results, however, show a dramatic improvement in her written language skills. Her mathematics and calculation skills are average, but compared to her peers she shows superior academic skills when it comes to reading, writing, and spelling. 

And these results are truly amazing, more evidence that inclusion (with the right supports) is working for her. Evidence that we need to have, in order to convince international schools that she has a right to be there.

But they also add to the confusion. How will we support these strengths as well as her weaknesses? Or were we somehow already doing that without trying? Who knows. It is hard to think about these things without it adding to this constant weight- which always feels more burdensome at moving time- are we doing the right thing?

Like every other piece of paper, it captures just a tiny aspect of her. It is no more a description of her than anything else that goes in the filing cabinet. One interesting fact to add to the others, just like that her birth certificate is written in Luxembourgish.

While we ponder on the data, I’ll do what I have to with this the same as most of the other papers- scan it and save it in digital form. That way we can keep it, consider it, yet not let it weigh us down.

 

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 17, 2014 at 9:53 am

Worried

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I’m not worried.

Pudding is coming up to the last month of Kindergarten.  She has been supported, praised, held and loved.  And now it is time for her to move up to first grade. 

I’m not worried.

She has made friends, in her own way, and those kids have accepted her and liked her.  Perhaps some will stay in the same class with her.  Maybe she’ll make new friends.  I’m not worried.

Her current teacher is arranging for us to meet the next one.  She will prepare social stories and prep Pudding , and maybe even the new teacher, as best she can.  I wonder if she is worried.  I’m not.

Just as we’re looking at the next step with Pudding, our eyes are also a little further on the horizon.  It isn’t just next year we have to plan for, in the same school, but our next move.  Our next country.  Maybe even a whole new continent. 

And still, I’m not worried.

Because I know she can do it.  I’ve seen her, time and time again rise up to new challenges, and develop resilience, confidence, and the skills she needs to succeed.  I know now, I know, that with time, supports, and preparation, she is equal to anything.

I think I knew it even before we moved to Johannesburg- this was just testing our hypothesis.  Being prepared to run other experiments if we didn’t succeed the first time.  Knowing that there is always another way…we just had to find the best way, for her.  And we did.

And we will again.

I’m not worried. 

I’m grateful.

I’m experienced.

I’m prepared.

I’m ready.  Just like my girl.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Home

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Pudding has settled in incredibly well to our new surroundings.  We live in a very small community with just 4 other houses, and now everybody knows her and Cubby.  Of course, it doesn’t take long to get to know someone when they ring your doorbell, and march into your home uninvited when you answer the door.  If ever I forget that Pudding has no concept of boundaries, I’ll just wait for one of the neighbours to let me know.  It won’t take long.

When the Consul General and his family first arrived here, their residence wasn’t ready, and they had the pleasure of being our neighbours for a few weeks, which meant an intimate acquaintance with our daughter.  She liked to call on them, do a tour of their house, check on the cats, then leave.  Living with Pudding, I forget how strange her behaviour must seem.  This tall preschooler who invites herself into your home, but refuses to speak or look at you.  Fortunately, they took it in their stride, and even told me how charming they found her, which is very diplomatic of them.

Another colleague of my husband and his family live directly across from us.  They’ve probably experienced the most visits.  Pudding has taken it upon herself to invest in the welfare of their pet rabbits.  They even have the grace to extend an invitation to let her feed her furry friends, which is nice, but unnecessary.  Pudding would gatecrash anyway.

Another house has a family who are based at the Embassy in Pretoria, they too have experienced a Pudding tour.  I thought about apologizing to them for the impromptu visits, but one day I was typing away at a blog post and I turned around to find their 3 year-old standing behind me.  I’d say we’re pretty even.

And so the remaining house.  Until this week it had been unoccupied, but the couple who live there returned home.  I met with the husband and we had a brief chat about our little community, and England as we’re both expats.  I awkwardly mentioned about Pudding’s habit, and again, he was kind enough to say it wasn’t a problem.  We’ll see if he continues to say that for the next three years.

Add to this cast of characters the housekeepers, nannies and guards who appear to be enchanted by the troublesome twosome.  They accept her endless quirks without question.  She is free to be herself, which is usually an atypically social and giddy girl.  After a school day of targeted therapies, Pudding is ready to let loose, and I let her.

If you were to ask me, I’d say that exploring her environment is a necessary step for Pudding to feel comfortable in her new environment.  A comfortable Pudding is a child who is ready to learn, develop, and show us what she is made of.  I wonder how this move might have gone had we lived in a less welcoming (and forgiving) community.

So my girl is currently free range, and I don’t think she has ever been happier.  Because we happen to live in this incredibly supportive community, I’ve allowed her all the freedom she desires.  One day there will be boundaries to learn.  One day there will be appropriate social conduct lessons.  But for now, there is freedom, and a strong feeling of home- even if not all those homes are our own.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Imagine

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“Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man.”

Imagine, John Lennon 1971,  © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, EMI Music Publishing

Imagine is one of my favourite songs.  If I try hard, I can imagine no religion, and no countries, and yes- the world might just be as one.  But, dreamer that I may be, I still get stuck on no possessions.  Last week the rest of our possessions arrived from the US, and materialistic as it may be, it is good to be surrounded by familiar comforts.  Even though we donated or cleared out a lot of our belongings before we moved, there is still so much stuff.

Spectrummy Daddy is allotted a day (or two) to be at home to meet the packers and check that all our belongings our returned (no mean feat when dodging pirates and hijackers), which is awfully nice.  What you don’t realize though, is that it takes way more than a day to unpack, sort, and put away for an entire household.  So I’ve been going through the remainder of the boxes.  While I’m not finished yet, we’re getting there.

My husband is sentimental, and a collector, which is an awful combination for a nomadic lifestyle.  I’ve gone through box after box just incredulous at the kind of things he still keeps.  There is this whole other life- which makes no sense, because everybody knows his life only began when he met me!

But when you look at our possessions, it appears that the reverse is true.  There is hardly anything that belonged to me before we got married.  No photos, no correspondence, only one book compared to dozen after dozen of his- not even including the ones we put in storage.  If you were trying so see who I was before I was a diplowife, you’d struggle to find anything.

When I left England, I only took with me what I could carry, which amounted to one large, and one small suitcase.  Mostly filled with clothes, which no longer fit.  There is a whole lot of my present surrounding me, but nothing of my past.  My mother did bring me some photographs one time when she visited, but they were mostly of my brothers. and in her words, “it doesn’t matter because you all looked the same as babies.”  Thanks Mum!  But really, it doesn’t matter, because the things that are most important to me can’t be put inside a cardboard box and shipped around the world.  John Lennon had it right.

Perhaps because I don’t have too much to be sentimental about, I’m kind of ruthless with purging our house of unnecessary items.  I need to maintain a balance.  You see, if I get homesick, or nostalgic, I can turn to Facebook or Skype and reminisce.  But I’m not sure how this process works for Pudding, who struggles with making connections with others.  For her, those possessions might really be her world in a way that I can’t imagine.

When we first moved, including the time we were in temporary accommodation, Pudding held on tight to her two favourite toys: Abby Cadabby and Kelly doll.  If they went out of her sight, even for a moment, she would panic.  As she became more settled, she felt less of a need to carry them around- to our great relief, as there is no American Girl store here to replace Kelly doll.  Now that the rest of her toys are here, she has felt the need to play with every.single.one.  Perhaps play isn’t the right word…her belongings have been touched, worn, tasted, observed, sniffed, rubbed, sat on, rolled on or placed on top of her.  For a multi-sensory girl like ours, she needs to possess the things that are important to her.  It isn’t enough to see them, or remember them.  She has to experience everything about them, and that way they exist for her.

So now that everything is all around her, Pudding’s world is back in a way that makes sense to her.  I wonder if her playthings might be the very things that help her to connect with the world, and give her some grounding.  Unlike as is suggested in the song, I imagine that her possessions are the very things that give her peace.  In this house, we’re always open to giving peace a chance.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Wordless Wednesday 05 Oct 11

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Going through all these...


I find lots of these. Cables and wires from three different continents, and no clue as to where they go!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 5, 2011 at 8:04 am

Honeymoon

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Though it pains me to write it, the honeymoon is over.

Yesterday Pudding had her first day of evaluation at an early intervention/ school for children with autism.  To say she didn’t want to go is putting it mildly.  Her big eyes filled up with tears as she begged to stay at home with me.  It was hard to ignore, particularly as I’ve seen such growth in her by staying home with me.  Like a new bride, I was focusing only on the good, and turning a blind eye to anything that interfered with what I wanted to see.  I’d been awake since 4 am, dreading the end of our sheltered time away from the outside world.

When it came time to drop her off, she was clinging to me, alternately screaming and pleading to go home with me.  I felt a weight in my chest as I struggled not to cry myself.  In the short term, the easiest thing would have been to carry her out of there like I was Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”  But life is not like Hollywood, and a child with autism needs therapies.  I can’t give her everything she needs, though I wish every day that I could.  Nope, this isn’t the movies, although Pudding would have looked very cute in the sailor hat.

I collected her, and she rushed to get her backpack and then led me away impatiently as I tried to get a feel from the therapists about how her day had gone.  At home, she was a bundle of anxiety and hyperactivity.  We saw a return of old behaviours that I felt were left behind- mouthing inedible objects, picking at her skin, and climbing on the furniture.  Although I caught her in the act with the latter, right before dinner time she climbed again, and a nasty fall left a gash and bump on her forehead.

Once upon a time Pudding was quite oblivious to pain, and she still recovers well from little bumps and scratches, but this one was bad.  She was crying in pain, her little heart was racing and everything was just too much.  I cleaned her up and dressed the wound.  After a few cuddles, she was ready to venture downstairs for dinner (with the understanding that there would be a cupcake for dessert).

No sooner had we made it downstairs, than she started screaming and ran upstairs.  When she finally managed to speak, we learned that her distress was brought about by the arrival of a new vacuum cleaner for the house.  I was incredulous.  We’ve dealt with her fear of hoovers.  I’ve been able to vaccuum with her in the same room for a long time.  This was still new in the packaging- it had never been switched on.  We were hurtling down a backwards slope.

I hid the offending item, and after much reassurance that it was gone from the house and would never be used in her presence, she eventually came back downstairs and we got through dinner.  I’d felt sick all day, physically upset at the change in Pudding.  My sunny little girl once again plagued by anxiety.  I didn’t want to go back to real life, but it was already over.  There is more work to be done, and the gown and veil would just get in the way.

Then this morning she woke up….fine.  After a brief attempt to let me know she wasn’t going to school today, she nonetheless got ready, and helped pack her lunch bag.  She said nothing on the journey there, but when we arrived she went straight to her cubbyhole, left her backpack, and went to join her class.  No fuss, no drama, no tears.  There was even the tiniest smile as she began her day.

The honeymoon might be over, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a happy marriage, even with ups and downs.  We’ll enjoy the good, and support one another through the bad, and when this tour is over, we’ll be stronger and closer than ever.  You never know, sooner or later we might even get a second honeymoon.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 25, 2011 at 4:11 am

Destination

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Pudding gripped the GPS in her hands as one would a steering wheel.  As she drove around the room, she tilted it this way and that, turning corners.  Finally she parked on the chair beside me and said,

“You have reached your destination.”

This entire imaginative play scenario was devised by Pudding without any assistance.  Inventing, using her imagination, making toys out of ordinary objects has increased leaps and bounds since we arrived here.  With most of her toys and playthings on a ship heading this way, Pudding has had to find new ways to entertain herself, and she has stepped up to that challenge in an amazing way.
Naturally, I had been concerned about what would happen to Pudding and Cubby’s development when we moved.  With their environment completely altered, with their routines destroyed, with no school, no therapies, I feared their development would stall- or worse- go into reverse.

But from her why questions, to playing with her brother, to imaginative play, Pudding is going from strength to strength.  And Cubby?  Cubby is just happy.  I never thought of him as being unhappy until I witnessed the change in him since we arrived.  He is bolder, more chatty, and excited.  He is interacting more with both children and adults.  We signed him up for a football class (or soccerball as he would have it) and though he was by far the youngest child there, he surprised the coach and the other parents with his ability to follow directions and cooperate in a team.

Spectrummy Daddy is enjoying getting back to what he does best, and is happy to trade in the hours of commuting by bus and metro for a short walk home.

And me.  We hired the housekeeper who worked for the family who lived in our house previously, and she now bears the brunt of the housework.  I’m free to actually enjoy my kids.  Currently without school or therapies to get to, we are just  enjoying our time together without having to be somewhere else.  I feel lighter and happier.  I’m even making plans to join the gym once the kids are at school in the mornings.

Everyone has noticed the change in me.  I feel that for the last couple of years our family was stuck in an endless traffic jam.  We’ve taken a detour on the “road less traveled” and we are finally able to get our foot down on the accelerator.  I’m warned that this is the honeymoon period, but my actual honeymoon only lasted 5 days, and here we are after 3 weeks, every day I feel happier and more settled here.

We haven’t yet reached our destination.  But for the first time in a long time, I feel like we’re really getting somewhere.  I can feel the sun on my face, and the breeze in my hair, and I’m enjoying the ride.  We all are.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 22, 2011 at 12:01 am