Sunday, August 26, 2007


It is really strange feeling to not be going back to work tomorrow. Teachers go back one week before the kids do in this county. It's a good strange. Usually by the end of the summer I'm very ready to get back to work - the welcome back meetings, excitement of new kids and new dreams to touch the lives of a new set of kids. It's not bothering me at all that I'm not going back. Not one bit. This is only confirming to me how much I needed a break. But it is strange to not be loading all my teaching stuff in my trunk and hauling it off, not be looking thru a new set of IEP's, etc. It's a little bit of a lost, but happy feeling. the unknown.

On the other hand my grad class started Saturday morning. I LOVE taking classes. I guess it's the geek in me.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

So, remember back in my first post where I introduced myself and said how I was taking a year off from teaching? In the perfect world I was going to find this totally awesome job, that would be part-time and fit dropping off and picking up Son, and would also bring in a decent amount of money. It would also be completely different than teaching and I would be making an impact on people's lives with whatever it was I was doing.

The world isn't perfect.

Ok, so I've only submitted 3 resumes, but I've heard NOT ONE THING in response to any of them. I realize I'm a little picky with wanting part time hours, but heck, this is DC. Headquarters of organizations, think tanks, nonprofit agencies. And I've found nothing all summer.

I wanted to use my sociology/social welfare degree that I've never used before. I wanted to combine that with my experience teaching special ed. I wasn't just a special ed teacher though - I did lots of 'alternative teaching' - inclusive facilitator, autism resource, assistant principal for summer school, ran local screening and did achievement testing. I've been a paralegal and worked at a homeless shelter for abused women and children. I am very big on autism/aspergers, high-risk kids, reading, early intervention, family/welfare issues and abuse. But I've found nothing so far.

I do have a plan for bringing in money. I'll do homebound teaching. That's for kids that can't attend school due to medical reasons (chemo, chronic illness, surgery/recuperation) and discipline (ie: expelled). That's different. No staff meetings, no real lesson plans/grading - just 1-5 kids a week that will come and go based on length of needing homebound. But, that's not something different enough.

I'm also taking classes to add a reading endorsement onto my teaching license. That way if I don't find something different and perfect (or almost perfect) and I have to go back to teaching (cuz reality is, we do have to eat and keep eating) I can switch to be a Reading Teacher.

We're at a place that we can take a cut in pay for a year. I'm burned out on teaching. I don't want to sit at home and eat Bonbon's. I WANT to work. But I can't find anything that requires using my brain and education in something other than teaching. I was really hoping that when Son went back to school I would be starting a new job. Something new and exciting. Now I'm not so sure that is going to be happening......

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Monday, August 20, 2007

It's As Simple As Using Paper Towels

Son is FOREVER using his shirt as a napkin. This drives Husband and I completely crazy (not to mention the extra laundry time of taking stains out). After another talk about it, table manners and the fact he is just about 9 he says, "But, Mommy, I just don't like the way napkins feel!" I ask, "Do you like the way paper towels feel?" "Yes," he replied, "I don't mind paper towels and shirts." "Well, then, from now on get a paper towel instead of a napkin."
Problem is solved.

Sometimes I am amazed by his sensitivities. To me there is no difference between napkins and paper towels. Yea, they are different feel, but neither is aversive for me. This reminds me when he was 4 and he was able to tell if the water I was boiling was from the sink or the fridge (water dispenser). He could tell by the smell. Husband confirmed and they thought it was odd that I couldn't tell the difference. I am thankful that Son can now tell me what bothers him and what doesn't and how it bothers him; what is going on in how is body interacts with the world. And in this case it's as simple as using paper towels.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend Update

I guess some weekends are just meant to be not fun, exciting and relaxing. A few weeks back, husband tried to fix a leaky sink. In the process he cracked the sink. In the process of taking the sink out he ruined the tile counter. Am I mad - heck no - we HATED that counter. It came with the house and would have never chosen it ourselves. So, off to get a new counter/sink. Worked on sanding the walls and painting them. Then worked on painting some touch up spots on the wall in the hallway, then the dinning room, then the foyer, then the stairwell, then the upstairs hall. You get the picture. Husband also rebuilt a computer for the kid to have. Repeat on Sunday - paint any spots missed, 2nd coat of paint in bathroom, work on computer some more. My back is sore. My head hurts from paint fumes. My stomach hurts from eating horribly this weekend (and I mean horribly). Let this be a reminder why it's good to eat well.

Oh, and the kid is still alive. He's been grounded - no screen time (computer, TV/movie watching, PlayStation) and no friends. He had a few rough days of talking rudely and arguing with me. I allow for some - kids will be kids, freedom of expression yadayada, but I do have a limit, and when the limit is met, the consequence is given. So, he read. And he read. And he read. And he played with toys he had forgotten he had. And he read. And he played with toys he had forgotten. Now he has proposed only having screen time on the weekends since that is usually how it works during the school year. Said he may as well get used to it now. Said it wasn't so bad after all and turns out he had lots of fun. But he doesn't want to socialize on just the weekends. Gotta love it when you find things to motivate AND the kid sees the value in his consequences.

So, how was your weekend?

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The State Of The Scale

Why is it, when you have been making a successful, conscious effort to eat better and reduce portions,and when you have been making a successful, conscious effort to exercise more, including stretching, kickboxing and bike riding, does the scale insist on increasing the amount you weight?!?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Two Steps Back, Or Maybe Not

The son is on the GlutenFree/CasienFree diet. Has been for about 9 months. I totally credit many positives to this:
increase eye contact
decreased head banging while going to sleep (for the first time since he was 9 months old)
for a few months he had completely stopped, but when he 'cheats' it comes back
decreased verbal stemming
increased sensory regulation in many areas
increased desire to want to socially interact
increased ability to positively socially interact
desire to wear clothing other than sweats and tshirts
increase in list of foods he will eat (meat, fruit and veges now!!!)
decrease in small unexplainable bumps on upper arms and legs
no more need for the agenda for the day
increase tolerance for changes in the routine on spur of the moment
no more red ears

So last Friday he was grumpy. And obsessive and persevering. He'd been banging his head the past 2 nights - a lot. Enough that I said - hey - what's going on here? You are OUT of sync. Saturday was much much worse. Really really bad. Obnoxiously bad. Then he has diarrhea, but is feeling fine. That night he shows me his bumps are coming back on his arm. It became very apparent that he has eaten something he shouldn't. But he denies it. We persist. It finally comes out - he had been sneaking brownies I had made earlier in the week. Yea, I noticed they were missing - thought it was the husband munching on them. Sunday was pretty bad too. Yesterday was better, and today he is just fine again.

Back in May he snuck some gluten and we had the same reaction for about 4 days, about 2-3 days after ingestion.

Interestingly - casein brings out the hyperness only. Gluten tends to bring out all ASD stuff. We do occasionally let him cheat - a dab of real sour cream on his taco instead of the tofu version. Half slice of cheese in his scrambled eggs. Not very often and not when there is something big happening in the next few days (major test, visit from family, big change in routine things). We tried an ice cream stick a few times - hyperness to the extreme, plus some motor sensory stuff (spinning and crashing).

Darn. His stomach isn't healed yet. Darn. This diet is hard at times. I shouldn't complain. We found a treatment that works significantly. We've been able to lower his anxiety and ADHD meds to the lowest possible dosage (instead of increasing them each year as he gets older, he is on less now than he was when he was 5!). It is very easy to get lots of GF/CF food in the area of the country we live in -even eating out. I'm so thankful for the research and support there is for ASD and treatments. This past weekend he asked why the doctors can't just go into his stomach and plug up the leaks. Soon son, hopefully soon this too will happen and you don't have to worry about what you eat.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Who is this child?

My son has been playing with 3 of the neighborhood kids for 3-7 hours a day each day this week. But that is what summertime is all about, right? Not scheduled playdates. Spontaneous play. Just 7-10 year olds hanging out in yards. Yup. It is. Except this is the first time my son has WANTED to do this. The kids come knocking to OUR door. They WANT to play with him. Yea, in the morning we do some sensory stuff and social prompting. Yea, in the evenings he needs his 'time'. But - he WANTS to play with them, and they WANT to play with him. This is soooo huge. He's formed friendships in school this past year, and played better with the neighborhood kids after school here and there. But this summer, he has totally come into his own.

I'm taking care of my niece this summer. She's 18 months old. And yea, each kid is different. But somedays I never realized how different my son was at this age. He's our only - no one to compare too. I'm a sped teacher - people told me I was looking into things too much. Watching my niece this past summer, there is no doubt in my mind of the red flags I had when he was this age and no one believed me and thought I was overreacting. She LOOKS at me. She LAUGHS with me. She PLAYS with me and with toys. We completely adored our son. He had quirks. He had a lot of them. We lived with them. We adjusted them into our lives. We picked our battles. It was who he was. Yet, at the same time I just knew. Knew something was off.

Yea, if you haven't guessed my son has Aspergers. It's been a long road with lots of different approaches and ideas and treatments. We've finally reached A Really Good Place. I'll take it for however long it lasts. He's not cured. He never will be. But wow does he function well in small groups. And the fact that he WANTS to, and others WANT him too is the biggest progress.
It's been a good summer so far :)

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