Bloggy Moms

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Field Trip Drama and Aha Moment

About three weeks ago I was told by Princess's teacher that Princess could not go on the upcoming field trip unless I went. This was because she has recently had some non compliant issues with the aides. The classroom teacher was not planning on going on this field trip so she felt that Princess might have trouble listening and following directions which is why I was requested to go. I know now that this is discrimination based on the 504 Rehabilitation Act but since I had already promised my daughter that I would go, I went ahead and went. 
I was told by Princess's teacher that I should drive my car down in case Princess had an issue and we needed to leave.
While on the field trip, I observed a few things that I thought were interesting. I am more convinced than ever that Princess would benefit from a highly trained 1:1 aide.
When we got to the place, one of the teachers had all of the kids line up to use the restroom. She asked me to go in with my daughter as perhaps she had been informed that I was there to help with her. Princess had no issues in the restroom. However, about 5 minutes after getting back in line with the other students, she whispered to me that she felt a little tinkle. I went in the restroom again with her. She told me that she needed a new pair of underwear. I did not have a clean pair with me.  I even went to the car to see if there was a pair in her back pack. Upon hearing there was no underwear Princess became increasingly agitated. She even told me that she wanted to go home because she wasn't having any fun on the field trip.  I told her that she had two choices: 1) to ignore the sensation or 2) let it get the best of her and then she would miss out on the field trip. I am happy to report that she let the feeling pass and was able to stay and fully participate.
Later there was a touch tank with sea creatures in it.  Princess told me that she wanted to touch the sea star (AKA star fish) but could only do it if there was a wipee or hand sanitizer available for afterwards. I asked around and one of the teachers found a wipee for us. I told Princess that I had one so that if she wanted to try touching the creatures she could. Well she did eventually try touching the sea star. She totally flipped out and started crying very loudly. I was able to comfort her and calm her down. Within a short amount of time, Princess rejoined her group.
I did notice that Princess did a little bit of pushing and shoving that had to be nipped in the bud.  She wanted to see what was in the touch tank but did not ask a boy to move over so that she could see. She also wandered off (not very far) at least once but I was able to bring her back to the group.
The rest of the field trip went without incident.
I am not sure how even Princess's teacher could have dealt with those things if she had been trying to attend to the needs of the other students.
IMHO, I feel that a properly trained aide could attend to Princess's needs. What would the teacher have done if she had a full blown melt down over the restroom or the touch tank issues?
When Princess was not having her issues, I hung back and did not hover. I tried to let her experience the field trip as fully as she was able.
Some may say that Princess acted the way that she did because I was there. Remember though she was already having trouble at school which is why her teacher told me that I had to go. Her teacher told me that Princess has had trouble on other field trips but that she tries to keep her by her side at all times. Difficult I am sure.
I noticed that Princess did not have any friends so to speak. She has been going to this school since December so I would have thought she would have had one or two little friends.  I digress. That is a topic for another day.

So here's my Aha! Moment:

As you may know I taught for over 23 years.  On occasion we would tell parents that if their child misbehaved, they could not go on a particular field trip. At a previous school I taught at, the sixth grade parents were told that their child might not be able to attend the yearly week long outdoor science camp if they had poor behavior. This was told to parents over a number of years until one principal told the teachers they could not make that statement or rule. At the time I often felt bad for the teacher and the other students who worked so hard to earn the field trip. In my naive opinion I thought that the other kids should not have to suffer and have their field trip potentially ruined because of another child's actions.
Now that I am the parent of one of "those" children, I think differently. If we look at field trips and overnight camps as part of the curriculum, then all children should be afforded the opportunity to go. If a child needs extra support, then a highly trained aide needs to be provided so that the child can access the curriculum.
In his book "The Explosive Child" Ross Greene says "Kids will do well if they can." This means that children don't mean to act up. They don't inherently want to misbehave. He believes that challenging children lack the skill set to make the right choices in many situations. I know this to be true for Princess. She has told me that she doesn't like being mean or annoying but in the moment she doesn't know what else to do. That is why it is crucial for her to have someone who can run interference or set her up for success ahead of time. I believe by not allowing students who chronically misbehave whether it is due to emotional health or other factors beyond the child's control, to not fully participate in the curriculum ( field trips, recesses etc.), we are denying them a Free and Appropriate Education. If my daughter needs an aide for this to be accomplished, then get her one. To me this is not really different than a child needing an aide for toileting purposes. This is also akin to a child needing a wheelchair or a wheelchair ramp to be able to fully participate in the school day. 'Nough said!
End of rant.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Oh No She Didn't!

Yep! She did! Read on to find our what my little cherub who is not quite 9, did.
 I was going to write this post last week. It was going to be titled "There's Always a First Time." Well somehow life slipped away from me this week but this topic came up again last night.
 My darling angel has now taken to lying to get out of school. Grant you even though I taught for over 23 years and have seen it all, I was an almost perfect child. I am not exaggerating. All my mom had to do was to look at me a certain way or raise her voice a little and I would comply. I really never even dreamed of doing anything that would upset my mom. Yes I was totally compliant to a fault. Now I know that Princess is almost the opposite of me. I have come to realize that this is who she is. It is part of her make up or DNA if you will. I should not be surprised when she pulls a shenanigan but I am. Mostly because the things that she does happen much younger than I am ready for. The latest occurred last week and was confirmed last night. I did find out that it was worse than I originally thought.
 No Princess did not commit a crime but it sure feels that way to me. I am probably overreacting but nonetheless I am doing everything in my power to prevent her new trick from being perfected.
I bet you are asking yourself right about now what Princess did that was so horrific. Well she lied and told her teacher that she had thrown up in the restroom at school not once but three times. To Mrs. X's and my credit, we only believed her the first time.
What happened is that Princess was sick with some sort of stomach bug early Wednesday morning. Since she threw up twice, my husband and I decided to keep her home. Our downfall was that we let her watch endless hours of TV. Usually Princess only gets to watch 1 hour of TV a day but since she was ill we figured we would bend the rules a little. Wrong!!
Then on Thursday Princess woke up raring to go even eating a small breakfast. About 1 1/2 hours after Princess arrived at school, her teacher called me at home telling me that Princess threw up and that I should pick her up right away. I felt horrible but I know from experience that sometimes kids get sick a second day. When I brought Princess home, I again let her watch TV but not as much. I even went to the store to pick her up some Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and bread (for Toast)- You know the old fashioned BRAT diet foods. On top of this I picked her up a few get well things that she could play with including a Monster's University Sticker Book. The first clue that I missed was that Princess ate all of this food and even wanted Jell-o. Later she ate a fairly good dinner as well. She never once complained of a stomach ache.
So along comes Friday. my daughter said she didn't want to go to school but I told her that she had to go because she was no longer ill. Lo and behold her teacher called me after school had only been in session for 30 minutes to tell me that Princess said she threw up again. Mrs. X said that Princess appeared fine to her but she did not want to make the call as to whether or not she should go home. I asked Mrs. X to put Princess on the phone. I told her that she needed to stay in school to learn. I stayed fairly close by the phone the rest of the day just in case the school called again. At the end of the day I received Princess's behavior sheet for the day that stated that she claimed to have thrown up at least one more time that day.
So I figured that this faking it was over and done with until last night. Wrong again! I had been asking Princess to finish her sandwich before she could have some ice cream. She complained that her lungs hurt so she couldn't eat. I told her that was OK but she wouldn't get any dessert unless she ate something nutritious. You know the drill. At one point I had gone to use the facilities so to speak. When I came out, Princess greeted me with " I just threw up in the kitchen sink? Can I still have ice cream?" I found this statement a little odd so I asked her to show me where she threw up. I looked and looked but I could not find any evidence that she had emptied the contents of her stomach. That's when she "fessed up" and admitted that she did not throw up. I guess she felt guilty about this because all of a sudden she spilled the beans that she did not throw up at school either, not even on Thursday.
Some might call me crazy but I still gave her ice cream because she did eat the peaches that we had agreed she would eat in place of the sandwich and she came clean with lots of information. Princess's therapist does this thing called amnesty where if the child is honest and remorseful about something, you can forgive them of the dirty deed. I felt that this qualified as one of those times. One thing that I do have to be careful about is to not use the amnesty card too much.
 After Princess went to bed, I emailed her teacher, her tdoc, pdoc, advocate, principal, and school todc to let them  know that Princess did admit to "lying" about getting sick to her stomach. I want to make sure that all of the adults in Princess's life have all of the facts so that together we can outsmart this smarty pants. In the end I hope that this is the demise of lying to get out of school but I know that it is probably not. The next time Princess is sick, my dh and I will not be so quick to let her have extra privileges. Stay tuned for more Drama Queen adventures.
** Abbreviations: tdoc= therapist, pdoc= psychiatrist, dh= dear husband

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Calming Sunday Morning Mayhem

One of the difficulties in parenting a high needs child is getting to church on a consistent basis. Princess used to have meltdowns on Sunday mornings or just would have a difficult time overall. I found out this year that her 2nd grade Sunday School teacher just let her crawl around under the table most of the hour. He let her do that rather than having to deal with a non compliant child. After Princess had a major meltdown at church in October, her teacher gave my  phone number to our Disabilities Ministry Director. This wonderful lady worked with me to come up with a plan for Sunday mornings.

We met with another young lady to talk about Princess and to brainstorm creative ways to make Sunday School a more successful place for Princess and her classmates. In the end we decided it was best to have a 1:1 aide (We call her a shadow.) The plan is pretty comprehensive. I will say it's  like having an IEP only better because they gave me everything I asked for and more. We came up with a chart with target behaviors so that Princess could earn stickers for making good choices.  We figured out where she could go to calm down if the morning was just too stimulating for her.  It was decided that I would pack a snack and some water Sunday mornings since Princess can get really hungry or really thirsty. The aide will take my daughter on breaks if she needs them. She even brings gum as an incentive for Princess to earn at the end of the hour if she needs it.

The aide could not attend our meeting so she and I talked at length over the phone before the first Sunday morning launch of our new plan. She was fully on board and wanted to do whatever it took to help Princess navigate the waters of Sunday mornings. I was asked to call her or the young lady in charge of placing the aides in the rooms if we were not going to make it on a given Sunday. I was told I could even call right up to the minute before class was to start. The aide has told me that it was no big deal if we didn't know until the last minute because she would just find another place to serve for that given morning.

I will say that the plan has had a few kinks to work out. Satan did not want us to succeed. (I personally think he is afraid of Princess. He's afraid because he knows that this is a child with a super big heart who loves God so very much.) Once we got the kinks worked out, the ship has sailed very smoothly.

Over time going to church on Sunday mornings has become the norm not the exception. I don't think we have missed a Sunday in about four months.  It's funny because Princess wasn't supposed to know about her aide. We were kind of doing it on the sly but she is so smart that she quickly figured it out. She's a quirky kid because she has this intense love/ hate relationship with her aide. There are many times when she wants nothing to do with the aide. She will even growl at her. Then there are other times when Princess wants to give her aide a hug.

The aide for her part just rolls with it. It is so nice because she really tries to tell me at least one positive thing that Princess did that morning. This past week she did two things that I thought were pretty amazing. She was the only one out of about 40 kids who knew the previous week's bible story. She was asked to come to the front of the class and tell it. According to the aide she even knew the little details. Pretty impressive for a child who appears not to be paying attention most of the time. She also volunteered to say a prayer near the end of the lesson before the students went back into their small groups. This just makes my heart sing.

Since Princess is going to Sunday School on a regular basis we are seeing other fruits as well. She donated a whole roll of quarters for their current missions project. This is money that she either earned or got from the Tooth Fairy. She is eager to learn bible verses. I will say candy is a great motivator for the verses. She has made another friend who has an aide like her. These are great accomplishments for her. My husband and I are so proud of her.

My proudest moment came this past Sunday on the way to church. The radio announcer was hawking a dating site. He said that choosing who you will marry is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. I turned off the radio and asked " What is the most important decision you will ever make?" My daughter replied "Following God." I almost cried tears of joy right there. She gets it. Between church and home, my daughter is making the connection that God is number one in her life.

One very cool way that I could see God's hand in all of this is who He chose to be Princess's aide. My husband was her son's basketball coach over 10 years ago. She feels like helping Princess is a way to pay it forward. Her weekday job is as an OT working with kiddos like my daughter so nothing that Princess does phases her. I feel so blessed.

My church is just another part of our village that is helping my husband and I to raise Princess.

Here's a link to my church, EV Free Fullerton. Here's more information about Disabilities Ministry at EV Free.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Yes, This Really Happened!!

Hi all,
When I tell people the things that my daughter does and says, I often wonder what they may be thinking.  Are they thinking I make these things up or that it must be rough sometimes? I just try take it all in stride as much as possible. I tell you I never have a boring day with Princess in my life.
What follows are two true stories that happened just yesterday and today.
Story #1:
Yesterday I told Princess to take a shower while I got her dinner ready. I was glad that she didn't give me a hard time because she usually prefers to take baths but I did give her the carrot that after her shower, she could watch TV while she ate dinner. So while I am getting her dinner ready, I hear a little voice calling me to come to the bathroom. I thought maybe she got some shampoo in her eyes but no I was wrong. When I got to the bathroom, she opened the shower door and hands me her sopping wet towel. At that moment I was not a happy camper. I was so upset because it made a huge mess all over the bathroom floor. Later when I had calmed down I asked her why she did that. It turns out that she hates that it takes so long for her privates to dry (esp. her crotch). So she thought that if she covered her privates with a towel then she could avoid this problem. We talked about how she could have used a wash cloth instead if she wanted to experiment, to fix her problem. I also told her the importance of washing down there. Once she told me why she had brought the towel in the shower, I relaxed a bit but I still had her clean up the water on the floor.
Story #2:
Princess’s sleep cycle is somewhat mixed up because of of meds. She has been taking naps after school. Then she still goes to bed on time but has been waking up around 5:00 in the morning. This morning she came into my room at 5:00 a.m. to tell me she couldn't find the dog. I told her to go back to bed because I was sure the dog was still in the house. Then when I went to go wake her up around 7:00, I noticed that her PJ's were on the floor. I told her that I wasn't upset if she didn't have any clothes on but that she needed to get up and get dressed. I ended up having to pull her covers off of her to get her to get out of bed. Lo and behold she was fully clothed (including shoes) and ready for the day. She also informed me that she had already brushed her hair and teeth. I'm glad to know that she was using her time awake so wisely. This is so not like my daughter. She usually waits until the last minute to get dressed.
Wanna know where the dog was? She was asleep on my husband's and my's bed but her coloring blended in with the comforter. Too funny.
By the way- Today I am going to try to keep Princess awake without a nap. Wish me luck. :).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dining Out Drama

I remember when C was two and we went on a family vacation to Legoland. On the last day of our trip we decided to go to Ruby's for breakfast. C got so agitated by the noise and activity that she literally could not keep quiet. She threw what we then thought was a typical two year old tantrum. My husband and I spent our meal taking turns with C outside.

Then there was the time when Princess was 5 and we went out to eat with my MIL. Princess decided to crawl under the table numerous times but the best part was when she dunked her grandmother's roll in her coffee. Ever the gracious lady, my MIL, made the best of it but I was so embarrassed.

Over the years we learned that it was too stressful to take Princess out to eat at any sit down restaurant with wait service. We were relegated to fast food establishments or Princess's favorite, Soup Plantation, a serve yourself buffet style restaurant. 

This brings us to my husband's recent birthday dinner. My husband chose The Cheesecake Factory to dine at. I knew we would have to wait for a bit to be seated. I came fully prepared. I packed a back pack full of sticker books and an iPad to keep my daughter occupied while we waited. Since Princess gets really hungry and thirsty at a moment's notice, I even packed juice and a snack. Lucky for us we were seated in twenty minutes. Princess wanted to sit next to the birthday boy and so I obliged her. He helped her to choose what she wanted to eat. Shortly afterwards the lovely waitress took our order. Of course Princess wanted to chat it up with the lady. I tried to explain to her that the waitress had other tables to wait on but ever the gracious host, the waitress obliged Princess and talked with her a bit.

When our appetizers came, Princess took her turn and even waited for them to cool down. During this time my husband and I were trying to have a conversation. Typically Princess doesn't like it when she is not the center of attention and tries to thwart our efforts to carry on adult conversations. Not this time, our daughter kept herself entertained while we talked.

Pretty soon our meal came. Princess is a pretty picky eater so I didn't have high hopes but my husband and I told her that if she didn't eat a good meal she wouldn't get some cheesecake. Well she surprised us and ate a decent meal.

When we were done eating, we decided that the birthday boy should get his own slice of cheesecake while Princess and I shared one. In the past Princess hasn't done well with any form of sharing (toys, food etc.), but lately she has been doing much better in this area. I was still holding my breath when the cheesecake came because things can turn on a dime in our little world. Well someone else must have taken my daughter because she actually shared her cheesecake with me while her dad ate his own slice. She never even complained once about having to share with me.

What surprised me even more about this whole dining out experience, was that Princess acted like any other neurotypical  8 year old child would. She did not go under the table. She did not lie down when she was done eating. She ate her food nicely and was polite the whole time. We did not have to leave because of an embarrassing meltdown.

In the past this has not been the case at all. This goes to show that persistence pays off.
I think one of the keys for us has been that we are trying to sit as a family at the dining room table at least three times a week. This is where we practice our table manners instead of doing this in the restaurant.

Yea for mom, dad and Princess!

Here's the birthday boy with his number one fan!!