Saturday, April 14, 2012

Super busy-ness

I have come by the blog EVERY single day and even though I have often thought about whipping up a blog post, I just didn't. I journal off of the computer, although that is a different sort of thing than what I write about online. But regardless, I love blogging and I miss doing it regularly

I had mentioned that Jeriah had some changes happen at school, so I am going to share about that and then move on to another (semi-)related topic and that is some of the things that we are going through with Cephas. You will see in the end how the two tie (loosely) together.

So to start with, when Jeriah was 19 months old, he was evaluated by our school district's team of experts (a doctor, a speech/language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and a few other professionals) and they determined that he had PDD-NOS, Pervasive Developmental Delay, Not Otherwise Specified, which is on the Autism Spectrum. We began home-based schooling at that point in time, working with him on language development (he'd had words but "lost" them) and on gross and fine motor skills (He had just started walking the day before his evaluation with the team). We worked with his texture issues and his food intolerances/sensitivities. He had more specialist doctors than the other five of us in our family combined.

Last year (2010-2011 school year), he started school-based, well, schooling. He attended preschool five days a week for half days, then due to some issues, we ended up reducing it down to only 3 days a week. His development really progressed during this process. This year, (2011-2012 school year), he started a new school since we moved over the summer. He has been attending half-days of school, five days a week.
Then in February, we met with his "team" for his MDT meeting. They were talking about the progress he has made this year, which has been incredible. They were setting up his evaluations to see if he still qualified for Special Education and to set up all of the information that they needed for his IEP meeting, which was to happen at the end of the month.

The last day of February, we had a "home visit" with his classroom teacher. I say "home visit" because the visit actually took place at school, instead of at our home (the way that it is generally done), because his teacher is pregnant and has severe allergies and dogs are one of them. We have three dogs. However, Miss C is not able to take her allergy medicine during pregnancy so therefore, home visit at school.
Jeriah, BC (a little guy I take care of here and there) and I met with Miss C for the visit and she told me that Jeriah's testing had come back and that she thought he would probably be dismissed from the Special Education program. Also, we had discussed our options for him for next school year. You see, where we live, the school district has changed the guidelines for Kindergarten. Ever since I was a child, the cut-off date for Kindergarten admission was "5 years by October 15th of the current school year" so a child could enter Kindergarten at age 4, provided that they would turn 5 by October 15th.

Oralee is in Kindergarten right now. Before they had changed the guidelines, we had figured that Jeriah would be just one grade behind her all through school. Then they changed up the guideline and so we had planned on there being a year between the two of them in school. Jeriah was going to attend the preschool program for one more year.

Then, we met for his IEP. And he was released from the program. His IQ testing had all come back at average or above average for his age. His verbal skills are great, his Kindergarten curriculum skills are great (in fact, he's at grade level right now for Kindergarten academics for where Kindergarten is RIGHT NOW in the school year) but he still has his "Jeriah Quirks" as his teacher calls them. They are little things that he does that is just a little bit "off". Mostly, they are social things. He scripts, for one thing. Some of what he says makes sense and is said in context, but the manner in which he says it is scripted. For instance, he will "test" someone else's knowledge (repetitively - which in itself is a quirk) and when they give him a correct answer, he will say "You have the right answer!" Not a big deal, right? The inflection and intonation of his sentence is the exact same every time.

Earlier this year, when Jeriah's first semi-regular non-family babysitter was watching him, she was telling me of an interaction that Jeriah had with her husband. At the end of the conversation, she told me, "Jeriah told B that he correct," and without even thinking about it, I said, "You have the right answer!" with Jeriah's practiced intonation and inflection. She stopped and said, "Oh my gosh! That's exactly what he said! And EXACTLY how he said it! How did you know that?" It's just Jeriah. Anyone who has spent time with him knows some of his scripting.

If you think about the old Taco Bell commercials and the little chihuahua who would say, "Yo quiero Taco Bell" we all can repeat it. Now, imagine if EVERY single time you went to Taco Bell (and let's say you eat there for lunch two or three times a week), you walk in and say, "Yo quiero Taco Bell" in the same tone and with the same inflection as the chihuahua. That would be very much like Jeriah. Correct timing for a phrase but always the same exact phrase, said the same exact way. And that is scripting. Which, as I said, is just ONE of Jeriah's "quirks".

So anyhow, he was released from Special Education and is now attending the same preschool class as before, just sans IEP. He is now one of the "peer models" instead of the one needing the peer model. He still has his social issues (won't generally initiate contact with another child, prefers to parallel play with other children, has developing problem-solving skills when it comes to disagreements with others, and a few other things) but his academic skills are out of this world!

In fact, at the beginning of the year, Miss C made up these little progress books in which she would "test" each student throughout the year and record their progress. It had numbers listed 1-10, kept track of how far a child could rote count, how far they could count with one-to-one correspondence, which letters of the alphabet they knew (lowercase and uppercase), which shapes and colors they knew. Well, Jeriah knew all of his numbers 1-10 (and actually could recognize numbers up to 100), could rote count and could count with one-to-one correspondence to 16 on both (he missed 17 both times and she had to stop him, although he wanted to keep going), knew most of the letters (uppercase and lowercase both!) except for five of them I think, and knew all of the colors and shapes Miss C tested him on.

So, the second time we met, she skipped the numbers portion (although we played Chutes and Ladders and he had a great chance of showing off his number recognition skills), and she had tested him on letter sounds (because he had mastered the "missing" letters shortly after his previous testing) and had tested him on other shapes than the typical preschool level shapes. Things like oval, crescent, hexagon, pentagon, octagon and rhombus (to name a few). By the third meeting, the "testing progress" book was a moot point. Other than his cutting skills, which I am honestly just fine that he doesn't have great scissor skills. :) Personal preference.

So, now we are in the unique place where we can have him attend preschool one more year, as would follow guidelines. Or we can have him tested to enter kindergarten a year early. He would have been one of the youngest with the old guideline, he will be one of the oldest following the new guideline.
We reserved his place in preschool for next year and are setting up a time for him to be tested into Kindergarten for next year. We have the option of not placing him in Kindergarten even if he tests into it.
You know how parenting is an absolute trial and error experience and you generally learn things from one kid to the next? Well, Jeriah is our fourth and last. And I'm STILL learning. Some of what I am learning is all new to me because of his PDD-NOS.

Since he no longer qualifies for Special Education services and coordination, we will be starting to see a behavioral psychologist at a group that specializes in ASD. We found this group because of Cephas and some of the issues we have been having with him.

I have honestly debated on whether or not to share about this but have decided to go ahead and share. You see, Cephas has some issues with staying on task at school, following directions, things all the way up to outright defiance. There are times when I will tell him to stop doing something and he will continue to do it and then proceed to tell me why he is continuing to do it. And while I appreciate his independent thinking, sometimes it is more important to just be able to obey a simple directive immediately. And if it were once in awhile, it wouldn't be such an issue, but it isn't. It is a several-times-a-day kind of thing.

So we went to see someone in this office and while we were there, Cephas DID a few of the things/behaviors/attitudes that we were there to discuss. Now, I know it may sound bad but I was secretly quite relieved that he did that. Just because it gave some of my concerns about him more validity, if that makes sense. I think we may end up looking at an Aspberger's diagnosis down the line. I can't say for sure though, which is part of the reason that we are there. To see if there is something that we can do to help him, or at the very least come up with strategies to help him be successful.

So, there you have it. Jeriah's exciting school thing and Cephas's behavior thing. Slowly but surely, I am going to get caught up!