A family's story

Posts tagged ‘play dates’

I’m not “Super Mom”

A few days ago we had a play date with a few of Cole’s preschool friends. I love that this class is getting together outside of school. At his prior preschool, we were not asked to do any play dates, and the couple of times I reached out to other parents, there were conflicts. I love being able to chat with other moms as our kids play together. The best part? The kids run the gamut from typical to very much not…and yet, they all treat each other with respect. The ones who are more able help the ones who aren’t…and they encourage the ones who have weaker skills to keep trying. No one has been left out. They all play together. It is heartwarming every time.

Anyway, the discussion turned to IEP’s and meetings and goals. I would chime in occasionally to suggest a contact. Or a phrase to use when asking for services. Or a way to find an outside therapist who could give the team some valuable information. I used “the lingo” of special education. Someone asked me if Cole had an IEP. I clarified that he does not, but that his brothers both do, and that we’ve been working with the special education folks for almost 7 years. We talked about being prepared. We talked about doing research, reading and reading and reading, and consulting with specialists. We talked about getting an advocate, when necessary.

After a while, I mentioned my “binder of power” for each of the boys. I talked about how I color coordinate the binders, and folders and notebooks, so that each kiddo has his own color. Another mom looked at me with awe. “You are super mom,” she said. “I feel so incompetent compared to you.” I stopped. I could feel the color rush to my cheeks. I’m definitely not “Super Mom”. I definitely do NOT have my shtuff together all of the time. I definitely feel very incompetent often as we tweak goals and plans throughout the year. I assured her that I was not “Super Mom”, not by a long shot!

I was suddenly transported back to Jake’s first IEP meeting. The school SLP was going on and on in a language that was foreign to me. What the heck was pragmatic speech? What did she mean by Expressive/Receptive Language disorder? I was there because he sounded like he was speaking Swahili sometimes because he didn’t pause between words. He just rambled on and on and on…and he had some formation and articulation issues, too. What the what now?!

I then told the group that I have been through so many evaluations now, filled out so many forms, read so many blogs, specialty websites, and books, that my head spins. I’ve researched Wright’s Law. I learn something new, almost daily, about special education, the disorders my children have and how to attempt to help them, and how to get a FAPE for my kids. I assured the mom that she’d get there. And I offered to help out if she wanted any help. Even if it was just to bounce off some fears and frustrations…she thanked me.

So many people think, “I could never do what you do.” I hear it often. Yet, if it were their child, I know that they would do it. You just…do. I am not “Super Mom”. No….but I’d like to think that I’m a mom who has worked her butt off to learn as much as she can about what makes her kids tick and how to help them. I have PHd’s in my kids..and that’s what matters. It isn’t a “Super Mom” thing…it’s a Mom thing. We become experts on our kids…and we will do whatever it takes to get them what they need to succeed in life.

The PLAY Date

Yesterday we had another play date. This play date was with Tate’s friend Geo. I’ve written about Geo before. Here, here and here. They love each other’s company. When they get together they can get squirrely, and they truly enjoy each other’s company. And isn’t that the point of being a kid? Being squirrely and goofy with your friends?? I had much less anxiety about this pairing than I have had with others. Selfishly, I know that for me it’s due to the fact that Geo’s mom gets the whole autism thing. The whole SPD thing. The whole ADHD thing. She lives this every day, as well. I don’t have to explain anything..and it saves so much energy! For Tate, he knows Geo is one of his peeps..and he loves Geo.

Tate’s therapist said that yesterday was the most engaged she’s ever seen Tate with another child. They played, reciprocated, and conversed. They each chose activities, and the other would join in the fun. She was able to get Tate to explain directions to a game to Geo, too. He rarely does that with his own brothers!! Even though I spent most of the play date out of the way, from the tone of their voices, I could tell that they were happy. Happy. And my heart sang. (Take THAT, ABA director who said that she’d prefer play dates with only typical peers.)

Tate knows that when he’s with Geo that he can be himself. He doesn’t feel the same pressure or anxiety that he tends to feel when he’s with typically developing peers. He knows that Geo “gets” him..and he gets Geo. They know what can set the other off, and they have a respectful way of interacting. Silly, yes, but ever so respectful. I feel privileged when I get to listen in on their fun.

It is said that when we find “our” people, we just know. We can let our guard down. We can laugh fully, smile brightly. We can relax and enjoy the moment. For Tate, yesterday’s play date was just that. Geo is one of Tate’s people. Tate knows it. Watching Tate with Geo is exciting. He smiles a lot. He giggles. He rarely needs to stim. He asks Geo questions and answers Geo’s, too. He may not use full sentences, but Geo and Tate have a connection…and sometimes only words or phrases need to be used.

What makes this even more amazing is that Geo and Tate haven’t been in class together (aside from the past couple of weeks of ESY) since early 2012. And yet, they fell into the same wonderful rhythm and routine together. I can’t stress enough how wonderful that was for both boys.

The best part of yesterday?? Once Geo had gone home, and after the therapist had left for the day, I asked Tate what his favorite part of the day was. And you know what he said?? “When I got to play with my friend, Geo.”

My friend Geo. Cue the happy tears. My son has a friend. He is experiencing true friendship. And I couldn’t be happier for him. That one statement created hope anew. He is experiencing a friendship. It’s organic and beautiful…and true.

Play Date–results show

Tate’s play date went about as expected yesterday. We got there first, and all three of my boys bee-lined for the swings. Jake helped Cole, and Tate managed to scramble up on his own. Our ABA therapist pushed Tate once, and then told him he had to do the rest. We were there for about five minutes before Tate’s friend arrived. Upon his friend’s arrival, our therapist stopped Tate’s swing and coached him on a greeting.

Tate got off of his swing, walked up to his friend, and said, “Hey ___, want to go on the swings?” Tate’s friend looked a little groggy–like he’d fallen asleep in the car. He was very shy, and was hiding behind his mom. He shrugged, and with a little prodding from his mom, he joined Tate by the swings. The boys started to swing, and the therapist and I prompted Tate to start a conversation. Tate followed our prompts and initiated the talking. His friend, who was still acting a little shy, was giving one word answers. (While a part of me was relieved that my children aren’t the only ones who struggle with “forced” conversation, the other part was like, “Oh, come on now! Say something to get Tate involved!!”)

The boys moved about the park. Tate’s friend initiated two interactions of play, just two, in the entire 65 minutes that they “played”. We prompted Tate to initiate some others. Most of the choices allowed for back-and-forth and good interaction. There was one, though, that backfired. The boys made a decision to climb atop a structure. Jake had just done the same thing. So did another boy about Jake’s age. Tate went first and got stuck. He managed to get himself to the top, looked down, panicked, and couldn’t motor plan the descent. His therapist and I talked him through it. The therapist tried to get his friend to give Tate a few directions, but Tate’s friend was too shy. His mom tried to help him engage, but it was clear that it was very difficult. So, the therapist and I got Tate down after about 5 minutes.

Exhausted from that experience, Tate tried to get his friend to chase him. That worked for a bit, and then morphed into a game of hide and seek among the structures.  Tate hid in a slide. His friend hid in a tube. They giggled and chased each other. That interaction gave me a lot of hope. It showed me that Tate has the interest. He has the ability to initiate and interact and play with his peers. He just needs a little push.

Tate asked his friend if he wanted to kick around the soccer ball, with a little prompting from our therapist. Tate handed his friend the ball. His friend said he didn’t want to play soccer because he was wearing flip-flops. Tate stared at his friend for a few moments, processing the information. His friend waited for him to process, which was nice to see. Tate then, on his own, asked if he wanted to go back on the swings. So back they went, swinging to and fro.

The play date wasn’t perfect. It was choppy, heavily prompted, and stressful for both boys. However, it went well enough, and Tate was enjoying himself. He didn’t mind that his friend wasn’t overly chatty yesterday. He just liked that his friend came to the park to play with him. He was very excited about that. I have to put that one in the win column. Tate even asked if he could go to the park to see his friend last night at dinner. (Luckily, we have a play date with a different peer set up for next week!)

Tate had fun. And that’s what is important. And I can breathe easily again…until Monday, when our next play date is scheduled!!

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