A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Success’

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

We had brunch with Santa on Sunday. It wasn’t our first time, so we’ve been able to make it a little easier for Tate over the years. The best part is that Santa was in a private room, and only one family at a time was permitted into the room. It’s quiet and there wasn’t too much stimuli other than Santa and a tree.  Tate was a little whiny at the start because Hubz was not able to attend with us. However, we had a little help from the big ‘ol jolly elf…he parked his helicopter right outside of the window where we were seated. Tate was occupied for over an hour while checking it out. Whining stopped. Double bonus? Said helicopter was red…Merry Christmas to us!!

IMG_0177 Cole and Jake are ready for the festivities to begin. (That’s my dad, by the way…)

IMG_0170 Tate and Auntie K are enjoying some stimmy fun!

IMG_0182What to our wondering eyes should appear??

IMG_0187 Why, it’s a red helicopter (notice Tate covering his ears?) and no reindeer!!

IMG_0188 SANTA!!!!

IMG_0193Tate is checking out the propellers on that thing. (Not sure who the other kid is…we were photo-bombed!)

IMG_0206Because it was 60 degrees outside (highly unusual), Cole and Tate went outside for a closer look.IMG_0196Cheesin’! That’s my little nephew on the left..isn’t he cute?!

IMG_0210Me and the boys

IMG_0221 I can be a helicopter, too. Look at my propellers!

IMG_0231 Ummmm….I really, really want Spongebob Superhero Legos. Ok?!

IMG_0236Um…this guy’s beard is scratchy, I don’t know him, and he smells weird. Can I be done?!

IMG_0238Why, yes, Santa, I’ve been good all year…wink, wink..nudge, nudge

IMG_0255Watching the helicopter get ready to go back to the North Pole.

IMG_0256 Let me try this angle….if I tilt my head, it sounds and looks different.

Sensory Story Time

Our local library has a great Children’s Department. There are oodles of books, movies on DVD and Blu-ray, and several computers. We can borrow an iPad during our visits, or a Nook reader. There are several toys available for young children, as well. There is also a little book house where young ones can secret away for a bit to have a little quiet, or to play. The Children’s Department hosts several programs throughout the year, with weekly story times and monthly crafts.

Four years ago I ventured out to the library with my boys to attend a general story time. That did not end well. Tate was unable to sit, even in my lap, for 5 minutes. He was fidgeting a lot, and chewing on several non-food or sensory-friendly items. Another child started to cry. He couldn’t take it. He couldn’t tell me that it was bothering him, either. He started to whine. Then throw things. Then laid on the floor and tried to squeeze Jake to death. It looked horrific to the unknowing eye. He had recently been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, so I knew he was dysregulated…but I was completely clueless as to how to deal with it. I scooped him up, red-faced, apologized profusely to the group, told him he was being naughty (NOT one of my better parenting moments), and we left. Hastily.

Two and a half years ago we tried again. I knew more how to handle meltdowns at that point. I was juggling the three boys…and Cole was just an infant. I sat the older two down, and held Cole in my lap as I tried to juggle Tate’s rocking body. I knew he needed to rock, but we hadn’t even started the story. As the librarian began to read, Tate started using silly words. He laid on the ground. Jake asked me to make him stop. I couldn’t. He was distracting others around us. So, we picked up our stuff, and we left.

In April, as part of Autism Awareness Month, the Children’s Department created a survey for special needs parents. They were asking how they could better serve our children. There were some specific questions, and I answered as best as I could. In the open-ended area, I had to use the backside of the page. First, I asked if they could have a sensory-friendly, or Autism-Friendly story time. I detailed how my son couldn’t handle a non-structured activity where he didn’t know what to do. I noted that he was unable to sit for long periods of time…10 minutes is often too much. I said that I felt like we missed out on some things, because my son can’t tolerate the noise of so many children, or the distractions, either. Second, I asked that they train their staff to be more understanding and accepting of children with differences. There was a particular person who 8 times out of 10 would admonish me and/or my boys for the behavior…and they were doing the best that they could.

A few months later we were in the library on Wednesday, as our routine allows, and I saw a flyer. “Sensory-Friendly Story Time” It was available for children aged 4-8, and was geared towards children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other sensory needs that make traditional story time difficult. That was the wording. Yes!!!!! I couldn’t wait to sign Tate up for the first session….which happened to be on his first soccer game. DRAT! We missed the first two story times. Luckily, we were able to attend the most recent one on Saturday.

We got there bright and early. Our story time began at 9:30. We were the first ones there. I double checked with the Children’s information desk that we were in the right place. We were. Two of the librarians opened the program room doors. We walked in. Tate knew he was “at home”. He relaxed. I could see it in his face…and his little flappy-stompy anxiety dance ceased. He chose a chair–a blue cubby-like chair. Just like the ones in his Early Childhood classrooms. He really wanted the red one, but it was by the therapy dog (yes, I know…a therapy dog!!!), and Reece the therapy dog was freaking Tate out...just a bit. 

Suddenly, Tate announced, “I know!”, and he dragged the blue chair over to where the red one was stationed. He turned it to face the front of the room. He then dragged the red one to where he wanted to sit, and sat down. “I did it, Mommy!” (Oh my, yes he did…I had to keep from tearing up…the kid who “has significant issues with motor planning” just pulled a switcheroo with the chairs. Way to go, kiddo!!

The librarians introduced themselves. They went over the visual schedule on the board. It was all laid out…in black and white…for my visual, routine-driven little man. They showed the children the books they’d be reading. They introduced the therapy dog. They started following the visual schedule. They removed a piece of the schedule as they finished the task. Tate and the other two boys in the room were incredibly comfortable. The other boys’ mom and I exchanged a few looks…the “oh my goodness we’ve found our people” looks. We were both incredibly overcome with emotion that the staff at the library had totally gotten this right. Totally.

The schedule, for those who care, was like this:

Meet and Greet

Read a story

Do a Rhyme

Play with scarves

Read a story

Sing a song

Say goodbye

Free Choice

The librarians were great. They read the books. (Tate listened to the whole story–even laughing at the humor of the puppy saying the wrong sound (baa, moo, quack)) They interacted with the three boys. They did a rhyme–complete with visual prompts. (Tate participated!) They played with scarves to music. (Tate danced!) They read another book. (Both were dog stories–hence the therapy dog.) They sang a silly song about dogs. They said goodbye. (Tate followed and mimicked the actions of the librarians!!) The librarians then showed the boys the “Free Choice” activities. They could make a mask (complete with step by step visual directions on the wall), read a few books, pet the dog, or play vet with some stuffed animals and vet supplies.

The head of the Children’s Department came up and asked how we found out about the story time. I told her that I had seen the flyer, and that Tate’s teacher had also sent one home. I praised her for the terrific job they did…and how wonderfully the whole program went. She said they work with our district’s special education teachers to write their program plans. It was clear that they had done their homework and had carefully planned this Sensory-Friendly Story Time.

Tate made a doggie mask. He wrote his name in red on one ear. Then he went over and wrapped a stuffed dog’s arm in gauze. Then proceeded to wrap the dog’s entire body in gauze. Then he wanted me to wrap him in gauze, but I declined. He saw an older boy use the stethoscope to listen to the therapy dog’s heartbeat. And he then listened to the therapy dog’s heartbeat. And petted her. And told her she was “so cute”.  He was definitely at ease. I encouraged him to say hi to the other boys. He said hi, but that was it. After one more try at the gauze and stuffed puppy, Tate declared that it was time to go find Daddy and Jake and Cole.

We thanked everyone, said goodbye to the other boys, and walked out the door. Tate was able to let me know he was done, and by leaving when we did, he retained his composure. He had fun. He told Hubz that it was a good story time. Hubz and I did a visual “high five”. He did it. Our little man was able to finally participate in story time…a story time designed just for kids like him.

Thankful Thursdays–Vol.2, Issue 1

Last year I tried to do a “Thankful Thursday” post each Thursday of November. I am going to do the same this year…because, well, I have a LOT to be thankful for this year. To start, I am incredibly thankful for our 2012 Halloween experience. It was such a good day that I really don’t know where to begin.

Hmm….well, Tate decided a week ago that he was going to be a spider. Like I said in my prior post, it was ironic, in that he is fascinated/repulsed by spiders. On Tuesday night I readied his costume for school. I pinned his spider legs onto a gray and black hoodie. He was skeptical, and kept telling me that he didn’t need the costume. I reassured him that his friends would all be dressing up, too. He perked up a bit with that. I told him that Jake would wear a costume in his classroom. He allowed me to put the spider-hoodie in a bag and set it next to his backpack.

That night, we talked, again, about the Halloween party at school. I did a rough social story about his party, and the games that would be played, and the snacks, and the costumes. I made sure to include that he would be with his mainstream class, and that there would be 21 (too much, mommy!!) kids, and how if he got “scared” or “nervous” or “tired” he could go back to his homeroom. He seemed ok, and he slept through the night…until 4:30 am…but hey, that’s better than where we’ve been!

Tate made it very clear to me when he woke up on Halloween morning that he was going to school, there was no ABA that day, and that he would be a spider at school. I was NOT invited. “You stay home, Mommy.” I assured him that I would not be at his party. I did let him know I would be at school. I was working in Jake’s classroom during his party. He was indifferent, but didn’t panic, so I took that as a good sign.

Jake was super excited about Halloween. He was up at 4:30 am with Tate. I heard them chattering in Jake’s room. He talked non-stop when he finally emerged from his room at the approved 6 am time. He was also really excited that I’d be in his classroom later in the day. He gets a bit more scattered when his excitement levels are high. He couldn’t find his shoes…but he found both of his library books. He didn’t remember to zip his backpack, but he remembered to bring mittens in case his hands got cold at recess. We managed to get him out of the door in one piece!!

I was able to get stuff done around the house in order to prepare for Halloween. I finished up my party items for Jake’s class and loaded them into the van, with a little help from my main man, Cole. Then I did some pick-up and clean up around the house in preparation for a few neighbors and Hubz’s parents’ visit later that day. I was feeling accomplished..and not very rushed, which eased my anxiety about Tate at school for the entire day. With a party. And lots of sugar. And excitement. And 20 other first graders. Oy!

Once I got to the school, there was a flurry of activity as all of the moms (and a few dads) got ready to celebrate Halloween. The other room moms and I got the classroom mostly set up, and then we went to watch the school costume parade. I was a little worried that Tate would not be ok with seeing me at the parade, but I was wrong. He waved and said hi. He smiled. And he was wearing his costume!!! Jake smiled for me as I took his picture. He said hi, and I was so relieved that I still was semi-cool..and he wasn’t embarrassed to see me.

The party went well in Jake’s room. Third graders are a lot of fun–when you have to entertain them on a limited basis. They played games, enjoyed some crafts, made hilarious faces with our mystery boxes…and enjoyed some sugary goodness, thanks to a bunch of very generous parents! After the party was over, Jake and I walked to Tate’s classroom to get him. He was all smiles. His teacher told me how great he did at the party. He didn’t have to leave once. He kept his spider hoodie on the entire time. He participated in games. He laughed. He was happy. I got teary…she understood.

We came home to Hubz and Cole. Hubz had some chili simmering in the crockpot. The house smelled great..and I was on cloud 9 after making it through the 3rd grade party AND hearing about Tate’s great day at school. The boys had some great down time. We let them watch a little tv, and they had some decent snacks. They just got to be..and they needed it.

At about 4:30, Hubz took the boys outside to play with the neighbor kids. They were getting their excitement out before we embarked on our trick-or-treat adventure. A few minutes later they clamored back into the house to get their costumes. Tate was a little resistant (he’d already worn his costume that day), but he did put on his coat with the spider legs. Cole had a last minute costume change to Buzz Lightyear (his best friend at preschool was Buzz, and that totally sealed the deal for Cole to change his mind–thankfully we had the costume from when Jake was younger). Jake put on his Hawkeye gear–and proudly carried his bow and arrow! They even let me take their pictures on the front porch…and I had a couple that were actually acceptable enough to post on Facebook–whoohoo!!

My boys went trick-or-treating with the neighbors. They did great. Tate wore his costume. And rang a few doorbells. And said, “Trick-or-treat!”. And said, “thank you!”. He kept up. He had fun. He “got” the concept. Now, his bucket of candy will sit on the counter where it will be picked over by his brothers and me…he isn’t a big candy fan…and he doesn’t live for Halloween…but he got to be a part of something with his brothers and the neighbors, and he knew it. And he loved it. And it made me all teary-eyed to think that our little guy is so, totally progressing….and proving even us wrong, sometimes. I wasn’t sure he could do it…but he did. He got tired. He sat on the sidewalk a few times. He sometimes even just walked up to the door, but didn’t trick-or-treat because it would get to be too much….but he did it. And he did it well.

As the night came to a close, I think my boys did great. We bathed the younger two to help them calm down for bed. And to bed they went…where they stayed until 6 am today. Minor miracle.

So, yeah….a LOT to be thankful for yesterday…and every day.

 Tate and a classmate parade around the school.

 Jake stopping to smile at the camera–love that kid’s smile.

 Bye, mommy! See you later!

 My Itsy-Bitsy-Spider, Buzz Lightyear, and Hawkeye

 Look at my muscles!! (I love the expression on Jake’s face…”Um, dude, please…”


Halloween Hoe-down

Saturday afternoon we attended a Halloween party at my sister’s friend’s farm. They had plenty of activities planned, and the majority of the party sounded like it was going to be outside. Outside and not crowded. We were game!! In fact, I talked the party up so well to Tate and Cole that Jake decided that he didn’t want to go on his Haunted Hike for Cub Scouts. Hubz and Jake joined us for our Halloween Hoe-down!

We scrambled to assemble our costumes Friday night and Saturday morning. My Katniss costume came together fairly well. I had everything except a bow and arrow. Hubz decided to wear my big, fuzzy pink bathrobe with the Werewolf mask from Jake’s original costume. We had a shower cap and he became the Big Bad Wolf as Grandma. Except that his mask totally, absolutely, without-a-doubt freaked out all 3 of our children. So he pulled it up on his head…and instead looked eerily like my grandmother. Jake was Hawkeye from The Avengers. He is bummed that come Wednesday he has to leave his bow and arrow at home…but the “no weapon” rule definitely applies to his accessories. Cole was a shark. YESSSSS!!! He tried on the Spiderman costume, but it was a little big, and the built-in muscles drove him nuts. I am sooo glad that it worked out this way..and I didn’t have to do ANYTHING.

What about Tate?! Well, I’ll have you know that Tate chose a costume idea..and I made it..and he wore it. Oh yes he did. For realz! When asked by 3 different therapists last week, Tate proclaimed that he was going to be a spider. The irony, here, is outstanding. See, Tate has a love-hate relationship with arachnids. He is fascinated and repulsed by these 8 legged critters. However, that is what he said he wanted to be. I found some black fuzzy socks at Target, stuffed them with crafter’s stuffing, pinned them onto the black side of his jacket, and voila! We had a spider. He even wore his Spiderman shirt. I think we found the perfect costume for him…because he can “dress up” without really having to dress up. Oh, and watching his 4 extra pinned-on appendages?! Hil-arious!

We arrived at the party around 4:15. It truly was in.the.middle.of.nowhere. Jake didn’t believe Auntie K when she said that it was a really small town…with one stoplight. Being the suburban boys they are, our boys marveled at the real, live livestock. Mommy, they have sheep! And goats! And chickens!!! Cole was mesmerized by the tractors. That’s right…there were TWO of them. Oh, it was Hope boy heaven!!

The boys made themselves at home…took off their shoes, and bee-lined to the playroom. They were having fun, and were being appropriate, so I socialized a bit with the other party-goers that I knew. I was shocked that they didn’t know who I was dressed as for Halloween. Of course, neither of them had read nor seen The Hunger Games. Sheesh! After some small talk, we rounded up the kiddoes to go outside for a tractor ride.

It was fairly chilly. Tate’s nose began to run immediately upon entering the chilly air. It didn’t stop him, though. He played on the swingset for a bit. From there, the boys ran to join the other children at a kid-size hay maze. Tate was apprehensive about going in, but after some reassurance from Mom, Dad, and Auntie K, he ran in. I was a bit nervous..would he freak out at a dead end? Would the hay be too itchy? Would it be too dank and smelly? I waited. He popped his head up at one point, and I headed in. Hubz and my sister, K, laughed at me, as I had to crawl on my hands and knees…and not 2 moments after I entered, Tate came bounding out of there, all smiles and giggles. Joke was on me!!

After that, we climbed aboard the hay ride. My boys loved watching the tractor. Jake was the safety expert, making sure nothing came apart. (I know he was anxious about it…but he played it fairly cool. We got to go down the field to the little hill that had been scattered with pumpkins. Each of the children got to choose a pumpkin. Jake found his first…he climbed to the top of the hill to get it. Cole chose a small pumpkin near the base of the hill. Tate was a hoot to watch. He haphazardly climbed the hill, found a pumpkin, looked it over, deemed it unworthy and threw it to the side. He climbed up a bit higher and found his prized pumpkin. He handed it to Hubz for safekeeping. We boarded the ride once more, my boys choosing to sit to watch the tractor in action. From the field, we drove to the neighboring house to trick-or-treat at grandma’s. (It was really the farm owner’s grandma!) The kids got treat bags…and they were the first (yes, Tate, too) to shout, “Happy Halloween, Grandma!!!” It was awesome.

After the hay ride we went back inside the house. The house was an old-fashioned farm house. It was small-ish, but the ceilings were so high that it felt bigger than it really was. They did a chili pot luck for dinner. There were also hot dogs. Jake had made up his stubborn little mind that he was not eating dinner there. So he didn’t. Tate was not hungry, so I didn’t push it. Cole sat and socialized with the other kids, chowing down on a hot dog and chips. Then he followed his brothers into the playroom. Hubz and I ate some dinner with Auntie K, periodically checking in on the boys, who were all playing very well.

More than once there was some high-pitched whining. I would perk up, run to check, only to realize that it wasn’t Tate. It was another little boy. Each. Time. He was younger than Tate, but reminded me of him in many, many ways. First, he had ringlet curls all around his head. Oh, how I miss Tater’s curls…but he hates them, so we keep them cropped. Plus,  now they are more waves than ringlets. Second, the inappropriate playing. He didn’t play with anything as it should be…except for a slice of pretend pizza, which he latched onto and would not give up.  Third, the whining…he was dysregulated. I knew it. Hubz knew it. Auntie K knew it. The parents…well, they seemed to be in a state of denial, which we all were at one time.  The little boy didn’t talk much, and he preferred adult company to that of other children. He especially enjoyed coming over to me and my sister.

I was torn. I didn’t know whether to say anything or not. I mean, how does one tell people they don’t know that, “Oh, your son reminds me so much of my son. Especially his behaviors. He gets dysregulated, too. He also prefers adults. He also struggles socially.” The parents just kept insisting that their son was shy…and maybe that was it…but, well, yeah. I never quite know whether I should throw out the big “A” or not in these circumstances. I mean, maybe it was just an off night…except that it seemed like it wasn’t. It seemed like this was fairly common. Especially so because his older brother said, “Ugh…he’s doing it again.” I have heard that phrase before…

Anyway, we were all getting tired, so we decided to pack it up. The boys helped pick up the toys in the play room. Then we thanked the hosts and headed home. No tears. No tantrums. No stress. It was a good night–especially when each of the boys exclaimed that they loved the Pumpkins! Tractor! Hay ride! Candy!

Nights like Saturday remind me of where we were only a few short years ago…and how far we’ve come. Nights like Saturday give me hope that it will continue to get easier…and that we’ll continue to be able to participate in activities like typical families do. As long as we go at our own pace and do it in our way, we will get there!!

Short and sweet

Two adjectives that could be used to describe Jake. They can also be applied to our IEP meeting today. Yes, I said it. Short and sweet.

Jake’s IEP meeting took an hour. That is it. An hour. The team agreed that he qualifies for special education services due to his trifecta of speech/language delays, his math-specific learning disability, and his OHI- ADHD. We were very happy about the OHI being added, as that was the only component missing before.

We went over his goals. The areas that I found confusing had been tightened up and reworded. They made sense and are reasonable and measurable. He has goals for all of the areas that the neuropsychologist targeted as weaknesses. There are concrete goals in place…and I know he can do it.

Jake’s team really does have his best interests at heart. His resource teacher (special ed), the therapists, and his general education teacher all COMMUNICATE. They talk about areas of weakness and WORK TOGETHER to see how they can help him succeed. They are willing to make accommodations for him, and they try new strategies if the old ones aren’t helping. It probably doesn’t hurt that our son is so short and sweet…people want to help him, and they want to see him do well. As a parent, it was fantastic to see a group of people so committed to helping my son make gains.

We all agreed that Jake is just happier this year. He’s more confident, more willing to try new things, and he’s in such a great place. He is self-advocating, and he’s using the coping strategies that he’s being taught. Knowing that Jake’s in a good place helps me and Hubz be in a good place. We can see that our investment in getting him an evaluation and the right mix of therapies and school accommodations is really helping him. He’s experiencing success..and he’s so much less frustrated.

Progress is amazing. To see your kid enjoying school and being comfortable enough with the adults in his life to make leaps and gains academically, socially, and with language? That is priceless. Gives us hope…and the hope keeps us going, and fighting, and advocating, and encouraging….

Joy and Pain

Last Thursday Tate had an end of the year program. Each of the Early Childhood classes performed a song or two for the parents. The teachers had been preparing the children for this event for months.

Tate eagerly participated in the activities and the songs at school. We heard tidbits of the songs at home, too. He was ready.

As we prepared to leave for the program, Tate got anxious. It was NOT a part of his routine to go to school in the afternoon. Even though we had talked about it, when reality hit, he was thrown for a loop.

When we got to school, I had to carry him to the classroom. He sat on the floor and no amount of coaxing or cajoling would get him inside. The aides suggested that we come in, as well. His classmates were playing heads-up-7-up. That piqued his interest. Thankfully, he was soon in the midst of the game, and we were able to sneak out to the gym, where the program would take place.

As we sat down, we saw Em, a mom I have befriended. She has a daughter a year behind Tate and a son a year ahead of Cole. I am not certain about her daughter’s diagnosis, but her son has Autism. In fact, last year she called to talk to me about Tate, because she felt like her son was quite similar. He was.

Anyway, Em asked if we could take any photos of her kids, as she forgot the camera. No problem.

The classes started to filter into the gym. Tate’s was first. They were all shouting out to their parents, trying to get their parents’ attention. They were smiling and waving to their parents. Notice I said “all”?? Even Tate was searching us out and waving. The smile when he connected with us was priceless. I admit to sniffling and wiping away a few tears.

As the kindergarteners took their seats, the pre-K class came in. Em’s daughter had a huge smile on her face. She didn’t call out to Em, or wave at her. It wasn’t until Em’s daughter sat down and Em called out her name that she turned and smiled in Em’s direction.  No “hi, Mom!”, no wave. Just a smile.

The three year old classes were the last to filter into the gym. I was dumbfounded…between the 2 classes of three-year-olds, there were 14 boys and 1 girl. *jaw drop*

Em’s son came in with his class. He was at the end of the line. The social worker was guiding him in. Unlike Em’s smiling daughter, her son had very flat affect. I felt my throat tighten. I flashed back to Tate’s 3-year-old days. He wasn’t flat, but he was always last. Always with someone to guide him and sit directly behind him.

The EC (Early Childhood) PT was the emcee. She kicked off the program and asked Tate’s class to come up to sing. Our son was the ultimate ham. He may not have sung all of the words, but he was a dancing fool! He got out there and showed his “moves like Jagger”. He was loving it…and he was in step with his peers. He didn’t need one-on-one direction. He just kept going. We were bursting with pride–as was he.

When they were done singing, he sat down. By himself. No one had to sit behind him to remind him to stay in his chair or keep his hands to himself. He has made huge strides! He and his classmates sang along with the younger students…but appropriately. They have all grown so much.

The pre-K class followed Tate’s class. Em’s daughter ran back and forth. Smiling, giggling, and occasionally doing the motions with her class. She didn’t sing any words, but she was enjoying herself. She listened when the aides directed her to her chair and told her that she was done.

When the three-year-old class performed their song, all of the other classes buzzed with excitement. It was a song about some silly fish who want to brush their teeth, take a shower, get dressed, etc…and then remember that they are fish. It is one of Tate’s favorites. So, all of the other classes helped the three-year-olds out with their song. Many of the kids in that class were having fun. I watched, with a heavy heart, as Em’s son laid on the ground, playing with a chewy fidget toy. He was completely ensconsed in his own world. He was alone. No one made an effort to engage him, they just let him be–laying up there, fiddling with his chewy. Em, obviously frustrated and hurt, walked up to the group, picked up her son, and sat with the rest of the parents. It was heart-wrenching.

At the end of the program, all of the parents applauded. The teachers of each class gave out certificates. That portion of the program was the only one where Tate’s Autism was quite evident. He needed 2 verbal prompts to shake hands with the assistant superintendent, and he needed prompts for a picture. Additionally, he started to stim with his rolled up certificate…it looked like a stick, after all. But, that was it. He held it together better than his NT brother, so that’s a win.

We said our goodbyes. Hubz and I marveled at the disproportionate number of boys to girls. Our little program completely supports the statistics. While we are so grateful for our program, and all it has done, it is sobering to see so many children, boys in particular, who need the extra supports.

I continue to ache for my friend, Em, whose children were present…but not totally. I hope that one of these days they can break through the “shtuff” and connect with their children like we connect with Tate. I hope that in a couple of years she will watch her son have as much success as we have seen with Tate.

It Was a Field Day!

A couple of weeks ago Tate came home with a cute flier in his backpack. “Please join us for Kindergarten Field Day and Mother’s Day Picnic”. Below the header was a paragraph that rambled about having fun with your kindergartener, eating lunch on a blanket, and so on.

I felt a familiar pit in my stomach. You know,the one that forms when your heart wants one thing, and your head knows another. Special time with my kiddo…but a day that is non-routine, with 40 other kindergarteners, some relay games, in a gym with weird lighting…yeeshh.

Even though I figured it would be rough, I sent in our RSVP. His teacher prepped him. I prepped him. We discussed it and the teacher showed the class pictures from last year. We did our part.

I arrived a few minutes early. As I entered the gym, I saw a mom whose son is in Tate’s class. We sat and chatted. We talked to a few other moms. Many of the children who started the Early Childhood program with Tate are moving on to mainstream classrooms. It is bittersweet. Tate will still be in self-contained first grade, but I know that is the best option for him right now.

The children filtered into the gym. Tate came in and waved to me! I was pleasantly surprised. I was even more surprised when he actively participated in the activities. My son, the boy with sensory processing disorder, was handling and coping with the chaos in the gym.

He did the scooter races–on his tummy! He of the vestibular disregulation was able to stay oriented and finish his race. He also did races with one foot in a shoe box, and a potato sack race!! Was this my kid?!




He smiled for pictures. He said hi to his “friends'” moms. He sat and had lunch with me in the gym..on the floor…in the harsh lights. He conversed–in his way.


I texted Hubz. Our kid, who 6 months ago would have melted down during this much activity, due to overstimulation, did it! With a few accommodations, planning, and following his lead, our Tater Tot successfully participated with mainstream kindergarteners for 2 hours.

It truly was a field day…and I don’t need anything else for Mother’s Day…I got my gift in seeing Tate enjoy a social event and being able to hold it together. His progress gave me the gift of hope today…and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Deja Vu

Yesterday we went to the library. We go to the library almost every Wednesday. That is our library day. The boys love the predictability and the routine of our ritual…

We start with returning our old books and movies. Tate loves the mechanical system…he often peers inside to watch the conveyor belt spin round and round. Jake loves feeling like a “big kid” because he can independently handle the return himself. Once our items are safely returned, we head to the children’s video section.

Despite my best efforts, my boys run, ruddle (run/waddle), and skip to the shelves of DVD’s. Once there, Tate makes a bee-line for “w”…Wonder Pets. He doesn’t always watch them, but he must check at least one Wonder Pets DVD out each week. Cole is all over DVD’s about trucks right now…especially garbage trucks. He also has a penchant for Winnie the Pooh, and animals. Jake likes Pokemon and super heroes.

After each boy selects 2 (sometimes more) DVD’s, we go to look at books. Well, I look for books. Jake and Tate sit at the computers and ask me to pull up some websites. Tate has “his” computer. Believe me, if someone is in his “spot”, he will pace and stalk that person during our entire visit…or until the person gives up the computer. Jake prefers sitting at one, but will sit anywhere..

Cole takes advantage of the toys and puzzles. He also loves playing in the little playhouse that is set up. He charms the girls and the other moms…this kid knows how to play it well…

I go about the children’s department, trying to find books that will captivate the boys. I can always find topics for Jake and Cole. Tate has about 5 books at the library that he deems worthy enough to spend his time perusing. Many times, these 5 books are not available. I am not even going to go into the number of times he has had a meltdown because a beloved title wasn’t available. (Yes, that would be me with the screaming child writhing on the ground because The Wonder Pets Save the Reindeer has already been checked out.)

Yesterday was a fairly uneventful trip, for which I was grateful. Every step of our ritual went as planned, and each of the boys got their desired items. As I was packing up our belongings, I overheard a mom say to her son, “why don’t you just come over here and look at your books. Your computer is being used by someone else today, you might not get a turn.” I smiled, having heard that somewhere before….I mentioned that we were leaving, but unfortunately for them, the one computer that he wanted was not available.

We exchanged knowing glances, and then I rounded up my 3 boys and we traipsed out of the library, each of us clutching this week’s “new to us” reading and viewing materials. I heard the all-too-familiar rumbling of a meltdown…and my heart went out to his mother….deja vu…deja vu

A Concerted Effort

This past Saturday Tate was in our church’s Sunday School Christmas program. The kids have been learning the songs since September.

Hubz and I went into the concert with much trepidation. There are so many outside stimuli, and any one thing could throw Tate into a downward spiral. The lighting was harsh, there were about 45 kids between the age of 3 and 6 on stage, crying younger siblings peppered the audience, the whir of the fan in the gym, the smells from the treat table, the lack of his favorite aide, and the list went on.

We sat in the back row. We came at the last possible moment prior to the concert, so as not to ratchet up his anxiety as he waited in the classroom. We held our breaths as the kids took the stage.

As Tate awkwardly climbed onto the highest riser with his classmates, I watched him scan the crowd. He found us and waved. He rocked ever so slightly as the other kids settled into place. They put him on the end. Umm…is he going to fall? He doesn’t always pay attention. One of the aides stood behind Tate and helped keep him calm. The music director spoke. The group started caterwalling singing. Tate kept up! He sang some words. True, he rocked from side to side, but not in an out-of-control way. YES!!!

The director had the kids find their families and then wave. Tate looked at us, raised his hand, and he freakin’ waved. AT US! My kid…the one who doesn’t follow 2-part directions?!? He WAVED.(He also gave all 4 of us a shout out!! I won’t perseverate on the fact that he also shouted to diapers….really.)

Tate managed to sing with his classmates for the duration of the concert. Sometimes he sang loudly, other times he was just keeping the beat. However, he kept up. There was no crying, no whining, no attempt to bust off of the stage. He didn’t shout echolalic phrases over his peers. He didn’t act out. He was part of the group and was able to attend through the whole thing!!

This concert? Just one more example of how far our kid has come in 12 months. The hours of therapy, the medications, the team meetings with his specialists and teachers…they all made this possible. For the first time in a long time we experienced a family outing without all of the drama. It was a Christmas miracle…and we loved it.

The look of pride and accomplishment he had on his face was more than enough to keep my cup full for a while. And he knew how proud we were of him, too. It was awesomeness all around.

I love his successes. They give him confidence. They give us hope.

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