Bloggy Moms

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Queen of False Alarms

Hi all,
You know that time where someone pulled a prank on you? The one where you wondered if you were being Punk'd? Well that's been me lately. I'm not sure if it's because I am new to this SAHM thing or because Princess is smarter than all of us or because shall I dare say the school is not following through like they should before calling me to come down to the school.
The first time it happened I was miffed because my day was interrupted to come pick up Princess from school. We worked so hard to get her to be going to school full time again after a loooong break in her schedule. I was at home probably doing laundry or washing the dishes. (Two chores that I never seem to finish or be caught up on for long.) When all of a sudden my cell phone rang. Thanks to lovely Caller ID, I could tell right away that it was Princess's school. They were calling to tell me that she wasn't feeling well and to pick her up. As it turned out my daughter's teacher had been out for a few days and she was missing me. On top of that one of her medications was making her sleepy so the substitute and the school assumed she was ill. As soon as we walked out of the office, Princess perked up.
After this incident, I informed the school that from now on I wanted to only be called if Princess had a fever or was throwing up. I know from experience that my daughter can be a hypochondriac but apparently her new school does not.
About three weeks later I received another phone call from the school. This time they told me that Princess needed a new pair of underwear. They told me that she told them that she had tinkled in them. I asked if they could check because in the past she has had a problem where she thought she had tinkled but it was just her sensory issues making her think this. The office manager told me that because of privacy laws and health laws they could not.  I was informed that Princess could not return to her class unless she had clean underwear. So I quickly ran to the school to bring new underwear and a few spares for future tinkle episodes.
Yesterday's crisis took the cake. This time Princess's teacher called me to say that Princess started her period. What?  Yep you read that right, her period. Princess refused to put on a pad. Her teacher felt that she would feel uncomfortable  without a pad so I should come and get Princess.
I totally freaked out. I mean my daughter is only 8 1/2. I had seen some of the tell tale signs but I had not talked about puberty or periods to Princess. I felt like the loser mom.
So I gathered some clean clothes and made my way to the school once again. On my way there I called my husband and told him. I asked him to call our daughter's therapist because she always has good insight into these things. She is a great resource for my husband and I since Princess is such a high needs child. Then I called our pediatrician whom we adore.  I called her since Princess was on the very young side to be having Aunt Flo visit on a monthly basis. Of course the doctor was on lunch break so I left a message with her exchange. Then I called my BFF who has a 21 year old daughter so I know she's been through this before. Thankfully my BFF was able to take my call and comfort me a bit.
My biggest concern was that I would mess up my reaction and "the talk" horribly causing my daughter to be scarred for life. My BFF told me that she would be available for Princess to talk to if I needed her to. God bless her!
When I got to the school office, Princess was sound asleep in the nurse's office. My first thought was that this whole thing had really taken it's toll on Princess. Poor kid. After I woke her up, I again asked her if she wanted a pad to which she shook her head. Then we gathered her things and walked to the car. Once there I started asking her about what happened and what she told the teacher.  From the way that she was talking I questioned whether or not everything had been fully investigated before the teacher jumped to the conclusion that my little cherub had started her period.
Princess said that she wiped her bum after a BM and noticed blood on the tissue. She wasn't sure if it had been in the front as well.
About this time, the pediatrician called back. She gave me some things to look for. She also told me that if Princess had indeed started her period that we would have to get her hormone levels checked. Oh joy! More blood work. I told her that from talking to Princess that I thought this may be a false alarm.
After I got off of the phone, I took my daughter to the restroom where we were going to have lunch. (Hey this is a big day! We have to celebrate! Besides I hadn't had lunch yet when all of this commotion began.) Thankfully for us, there was no one in the restroom. I checked things out so to speak and questioned Princess a bit more. It seems she was a bit constipated so she strained. So that is what happened.
This was a big relief to me because I wasn't ready to deal with monthly visits from Aunt Flo just quite yet. Just getting Princess to wear a training bra was a huge undertaking that involved lots of drama. I can't even imagine what having to wear a pad will be like for my texture sensitive daughter.
I do however have to continue to encourage Princess to eat more fruits and vegetables. She also needs to drink more water.
Later that day, against the advice of our family therapist, who had called me back while we were eating;  I took Princess to the bookstore so I could get some books on the topic of periods since this is now part of my daughter's vocabulary. After carefully looking over The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls and The Care and Keeping of You: Journal 1 for Younger Girls, I purchased them along with a couple of books that Princess wanted. Both books are published by the great folks at American Girl. Last night, before bed, we read a little bit about bras but that was all that Princess was interested in for the time being.
The reason that the therapist did not want me to get the books was because she was afraid they might be more than what Princess is ready for. Since she is not really interested in them, I can read aloud the parts that she is interested in and that are relevant to her. The publishers also have a book for older kids.
As I said at the beginning of this post I am not sure if all of these false alarms are because I am new to this SAHM thing or that the school is not fully investigating Princess's claims. I think the school has never seen the likes of a kid like Princess. I think I need to help them out a little so that my daughter can stay in school more. I don't want to be Negative Nellie but Princess could still end up outsmarting us all.
Can this cute kid be getting ready for puberty? Please Dear Lord not yet!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Birthday Party Drama

Most school age kids expect to get invited to lots of birthday parties during their formative years. Fortunately my daughter doesn't know what she is missing. When Princess was in preschool, it was protocol to either invite the whole class or as many as you could to your child's birthday party. Then in Kindergarten everything changed for us. Princess was only invited to one party the whole year. ( That party as detailed below, turned out poorly.) Then in first grade Princess was only invited to one party as well. We chose not to attend that one as it was at a local karate studio. Part of the party would be dedicated to enticing the children to sign up for classes. Then in second grade Princess had even fewer invites. Yep that means zero. This school year, has been a repeat of last year in the number of invites but I believe it is partly due to the fact that Princess changed schools mid year. I can also attribute it to the fact that there are fewer students in Princess's current class thus fewer opportunities for party invites. Hey a mom can dream can't she?
Since Princess wasn't getting many invites and I wanted her to experience parties, I started to bring her to my students' parties that I was invited to. This worked somewhat OK until she sort of aged out of being invited to 5 year olds parties at the ripe old age of 7. Let's face it, I felt bad that my daughter wasn't being invited to many parties so I wanted to make up for that.
There was of course a reason that Princess was lacking invitations to parties (and play dates for that matter). Princess lacked social skills to get along with her peers. She was an odd bird. Kids tend to shy away from kids that are not like them.
Remember the party that Princess went to in Kindergarten? Well it was at a bounce house place called Pump it Up. Since I was a working mom, I didn't know many of the moms and dads who were there. They knew each other but didn't reach out to me. At one point during the party I almost left because people were talking about Princess right in front of me. Saying that she was aggressive and mean etc. They either did not know that I was her mother or did know but didn't care. I wanted to grab Princess and run straight out the door but instead I stayed and tried to be gracious.
Over the years I have found that Princess does not do well in these bounce house type parties. I think there are too many kids and too much activity. Princess gets too excited and over stimulated. Then she has a hard time calming down.
My daughter has had difficulties at her own birthday parties as well. We try to invite a mix of kids from school, church, and family friends. She likes to have a pool party since her birthday is in the summer. There have been lots of times that the party goers are enjoying themselves while my sweet girl is in her bedroom upset over something. I always feel like I am on the brink of telling everyone to go home but then at the last minute Princess pulls it together. We are blessed because our friends are very understanding and just go with the flow. I bet if I ever had to pull the rip cord on a party, my dear friends would still leave quietly without any hard feelings.
I have learned over the years not to plan too much for Princess's party. We don't do a big BBQ. We get Little Caesar's Pizza, a veggie platter and cupcakes. Princess likes to decorate but we keep that even low key as too much will set her off. We also keep the party time short because the longer it goes, the more likelihood that she will get irritable.
I am a little sad that Princess doesn't get invited to more parties. I do wish that more parents would be more understanding of Princess. Princess has told me a few times that kids have told her that their parents do not allow them to play with her at school. It does feel at times like Princess is an outcast. I am proud of my daughter because most days she just carries on and tries to be the best person that she can be. For that I am grateful.

This is Princess at her 7th birthday party at American Girl Place in LA. Last year we went back to doing the pool party thing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Adventures in Clothes Shopping

The other day I posted this as my status update on Facebook.
" I will say that clothes shopping with Princess  is always an adventure. Since she doesn't like the way most clothes feel, the fitting room is always an experience. Today Princess made me so proud. She went into the dressing room stall by herself, came out with a dress that we both agreed didn't flatter her, changed back into her clothes and emerged with the dress she was putting back in her hand. The best part was when she told the fitting room clerk, " Here's the dress I don't care for and the card with the number of items I took into the fitting room. Thank you. " Wow, I guess I'm doing something right. This is a huge accomplishment for Princess."
Here's the back story on why this was so amazing.
Clothes shopping with Princess is no small feat. I cannot tell you the number of times we have walked out of stores empty handed. I have left Target in a huff more than you would believe. Princess loves the style of Justice clothing but hates the way that a lot of their clothes feel. For their part I know that clothing manufacturers make clothes for most people. They don't try to make clothes that feel like sandpaper. If that were the case, they would be out of business really fast.
Princess has a number of requests when it comes to clothing. First there must be no tags or lace. Then jeans and leggings are out of the question. Leggings just don't feel right. I am not sure why. For Princess jeans are the closest thing to sandpaper you can get. If Princess is going to try on a t-shirt, it cannot have a large graphic on it. For school she wears her red spirit shirt over her dress so that the graphics on it don't even come close to touching her skin. The only long sleeves that Princess will wear are those on jackets. I almost forgot. Don't even ask Princess to try on anything with elastic in the sleeves or you will have clothes thrown at you.
Speaking of clothes being thrown. I must admit this has happened at Target on more than one occasion. Fortunately with us this has only happened at stores when not a lot of people were in the dressing rooms.
I know you are probably wondering why I don't just buy the clothes and just try them on at home. Or I could order the clothes online. Both of these are easier said than done. As for trying on clothes at home, Princesswould have the same problems at home as at the store and I would have no exit plan. When it comes to ordering clothes online, the problem is that Princess will tell me she likes something. I will cut off the tag for her and then she will change her mind. Then I am stuck with clothes she will never wear. I do have another girl who is more than happy to take Princess's cast offs so at least I know the clothing goes to a good home.
There are other reasons besides Princess's Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) that make clothes shopping a challenge.  She also has ADHD which makes it hard for her to focus. I have to have a lot of patience with her so that she can stay focused and not get distracted by the mirror or other people trying on clothes. Then there is the issue of Princess's mood disorder. She can be doing just fine when all of a sudden she will change moods. When that happens, we leave quickly. I know from past experience. This will not turn around. Finally because of anxiety, Princess will not try on something if she is afraid it will not feel right. This can be very frustrating for her and I.
When we get home from clothes shopping, I usually need my husband to be on duty so to speak so that I can decompress with a walk or just some me time.
 The pay off to finding Princess the perfect clothes is huge. She has been known to actually purr like a kitten when she finds the article of clothing that feels just right. If she really likes something, she will wear it a lot. So it is worth it to me to pay more for clothing knowing that they will get a lot of use.
Currently Princess has seven outfits in rotation. This is a big step in the right direction considering that she has worn the same dress for three to five months at a time. No matter how much I wash the favored dress, it will still look like something a homeless child would wear. Yes children have told Princess that she must be homeless because she wears the same thing over and over again.
Below is a picture of Princess in one of her favorite outfits. She wore this particular dress for 5 months straight! When she finally moved on to another outfit, I had her leave the dress at the clothing store.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wearing Sandpaper

I was originally going to title this post "Panty Wars" but then realized that if someone Googled the word panty they might find this post and I didn't think that was the kind of audience I was trying to attract. Besides this is about so much more than just undergarments.
I actually wanted to write this post the other day but knew that I needed to finish filling folks in on the second part of Princess's education first.
One morning when Princess was five,  I was trying to get Princess ready for school when she flat out refused to wear the jacket that went with a warm up suit that she had received from her grandma. She told me that she didn't like the way the satin lined hood felt against her neck. At that point I just gave in and let her wear another jacket that didn't match so that I wouldn't be late to teach.
Three years removed from that incident I can honestly say that was the first time that I can vividly recall Princess having Sensory Processing Disorder symptoms. In the book "The Out of Sync Child" Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. says that children who suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD are either sensory seekers or sensory avoiders. Princess is a sensory avoider for most of her senses except smell. That is when she doesn't like the way something feels, tastes, sounds, or looks; it is an assault to her senses. In the past Princess has gone into melt down mode over something as simple as the sound of a tea kettle's whistle or socks feeling scratchy.
A sensory seeker looks for things that are pleasing to her senses. For Princess this is smell. Upon meeting someone, Princess performs the sniff test on them. If they smell good, they must be good people. She also does the sniff test on all foods. Sometimes this is downright embarrassing to me. Nowadays I just try to look the other way and talk to Princess about better choices.
For the most part my husband and I have learned to avoid the things Princess doesn't like.
There are of course things that we have no control over and for those times, we help Princess to calm down and take deep breaths.
Many clothing items feel like sandpaper to Princess. For most of us if something doesn't feel right, we get used to it and move on or we can easily find something else to wear instead. For Princess there are so many things that don't feel good to her that it is difficult for her to find something that brings harmony to her touch receptors. She doesn't like the way socks feel and currently doesn't wear any. We have tried every type of sock known to mankind but alas we still have not found the magic pair. Princess cannot stand pants or long sleeves. She once told me that she wasn't sure why jeans were invented because they are so uncomfortable.
Princess seems to prefer organic cotton dresses. Fortunately we have found Hanna Andersson clothes.  You can find them here. They are super comfy and long lasting. We have also discovered Mini Boden t-shirt dresses but Princess is outgrowing their girls' clothing. I hate to admit this but Princess did wear a particular Mini Boden t-shirt dress every day for four months straight.
She gets in this mind set where if something feels just right, it is hard for her to venture out and try something new. It is just easier for her to wear what she knows and feels comfortable with.
I bet you are wondering why I wanted to title this post Panty Wars? Well here goes. In what will be chronicled in another post, we discovered that when Princess's SPD goes out of whack, OCD rears it's ugly head. One of Princess's compulsions was to change her underwear multiple times during the day (Up to 7 or 8 a day!).  She would swear that she had "tinkled." The answer to that problem was solved when Princess accidentally discovered that if she wore her bathing suit bottoms, she didn't have any problems. Princess ended up wearing her new "underwear" for 7 months until just recently she decided to try regular UW again. Whew!
Soon after Princess decided to wear regular UW again, I was called to the school to bring Princess another pair of UW because she had "tinkled." I came right away to bring another pair and two back ups. Just in case.
I am praying that this is not the start of what we saw last summer. I do know that the Lord is walking by my side as my husband and I travel this journey whether or not we have more UW wars.
Below is a picture of Princess wearing one of her favorite dresses.  (This was taken awhile ago.) Currently she has 4 dresses and 3 short sets in rotation so we are making progress.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Getting Help From the School Part 2

I previously detailed the start of our journey in getting help from the school on this post.Today's post is continues where I left off on this topic.
Typically Princess has a really difficult time adjusting to going back to school. Most kids want to relish the carefree days of summer just a little bit longer but for a child with a mood disorder this is magnified 100x.  The start of Princess’s 3rd grade year was no different. Even though she knew who her teacher was going to be and she knew most of the kids in her class, transitioning back to school was extremely difficult. One thing that added to this was that Princess wanted to wear her flip flops to school. She doesn’t like wearing closed in shoes. We of course had purchased shoes with her and made her wear them out of the shoe store but this did not change the fact that she did not want to wear them to school.  So when school started one of Princess’s delay tactics was to refuse to put on her shoes in the morning. One time my husband sat outside of the school for two hours trying to get Princess to put on her shoes.
 At Princess’s SIT meeting a the beginning of school I requested an aide to help Princess transition from the car to school in the mornings.  I even asked that she be able to wear her flip flops to school. We were told that the school “cannot mitigate” Princess's attending school. They declared they simply did not have the manpower to assist us in the mornings. This daily struggle continued until mid October.
Finally in mid October an event occurred that rocked our world but in the end it helped Princess get more assistance from the school. I’ll share more about this in a future post.
Fast forward to November. Princess’s annual IEP was scheduled. We had been told over and over again that Princess was fine and that we were overreacting. They had repeatedly told us that Princess didn’t really have any problems. With the help of our advocate I requested more testing for Princess. We felt she needed a Behavior Support Plan and a 1:1 aide.  Well lo and behold at this November's IEP meeting, where everyone and their brother was in attendance, we were told that Princess was having significant problems at school. They wanted to place her at another school with a smaller class size to work on Princess’s behaviors. At first I was in shock but I did have some sort of inkling that this was the direction that the school was heading. After a visit to the new school, my husband and I decided to go ahead and place Princess there.
At this school Princess is one of 13 students in her class.  In addition to the teacher, there are two aides in the classroom at all times. The students work in small groups in 15 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks in between.
Princess has several other supports in place, in addition to this smaller class. Princess has an OT (Occupational Therapist) who visits once a week to work on Princess's handwriting. Her teacher and I meet once a month to coordinate home and school discipline. Princess also receives counseling twice a month at school. We are obviously making progress getting Princess the help that she needs at school.
We still don’t have the 1:1 aide for Princess but I haven’t given up that fight yet. Like most moms I have the mentality of “I am woman, hear me roar.” 
One thing worth mentioning is that at one of Princess's IEP's at the new school, we were told that there would be a behaviorist waiting to assist us in getting Princess from the car to the school office twice a week. So I guess the school can " mitigate" for us when they want to. 
Below is a picture of Princess on her first day of school a few years back.