Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thoughts on a Summer Vacation... so far.

Distant are the memories of lazy summer days of my youth where I spent every waking second in the sun making a mess and creating havoc. Now the lazy days of summer don't exist for I am the Lunatic Autism Mom and the schedule is full and the to-do list is growing. BUT! Within the chaos we strive to find fun... even if it has to be scheduled in between everything else and written down (in ink) so that it is not forgotten.

We are now on week two of summer vacation, we've had some pretty good successes and some pretty awesome fights and meltdowns. Truly truly inspired meltdowns, seriously. But to focus on the bad while the sun is shining so bright and the house is (at this exact moment in time) quiet would be a waste. I shall save those for the lonely, rainy, altogether cruddy evenings.

This summer has brought about something rare and precious... FREE TIME! Of course it is squeezed in between some really really not free time but it has been nice to be able to do some of the things we WANT to do instead of all the things we HAVE to do. The house is trashed but at this point, who cares! Memories are being made! I'll worry about the house tomorrow.

Probably the newest and most significant thing we've done this year is camp. Not just any camp but a morning day camp with typical peers! This was spawned by my obsessive desire to provide socialization to the boys outside of a specialized program. It seems as though we have taken Special Needs Social Skills and used it as a means to learn new and bad behaviors, as well as share our own bad behaviors with other socially susceptible peers. I'm starting to think that this may be the biggest weakness with Social Skills classes as a whole, they do teach socialization but they do so within a very specific group which is not at all representative of the world at large. Alas, that is a rant for another day.

Cameron (my 9 year old) chose Kids take over the Kitchen at our local Kids on Campus program at the Community College. It was a WONDERFUL experience. He had some difficulties but I was able to send an aide with him from our Maryland Autism Waiver provider. He had a great week and is already asking to take more camp classes-- YAY! Lucky for me they are offered all the time and not just in the summer.

Adam (my 5 year old) chose two Lego Class sessions in the same program. He does not have an aide and does not have the waiver so I was really really stressed about sending him to the camp. The staff has been AMAZING with him, keeping an extra eye on him to make sure he doesn't wander and they keep the door closed so he doesn't pull off an escape. Also, it's freaking LEGOS! The kid is in heaven.

I scheduled these camps on opposite weeks so that I could have one week with just Adam all to myself and then the next week with just Cameron all to myself. We made plans for the week and have enjoyed going out for breakfast, running some errands and going to the library. I hope I will be able to schedule it this way every year, I have loved spending the one on one time with the boys!

A special Thank You is required for Mythbusters this summer. It is thanks to their recent episode, Running on Water, that I am able to give you this clip of my boys at the community pool trying themselves to "run on water". I give them full points for trying....

A rainy day and an extreme desire to do something crafty has altered my hallway! This is a picture of the newest addition to the house... a hopscotch board. This hallway is Cameron's pacing hall and it is often that we see him getting stuck in a loop in this hall. It is my hope that this old school game will slow Cameron down, break his loop or at the very least help with those important gross motor skills.

Coming up we've got another week of Lego Camp for Adam, Extended School Year for Cameron, a trip to the beach (thanks to Daddy's work travel, we're doing a tagalong), and a Tonsillectomy for Adam to round out the summer. Lots going on... never a dull moment.

So like those long, hot summers of past, the pool is still cool, the sun is still bright, the days feel endless and the possibilities unbounded. Don't forget the SPF and have an awesome summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Craft Alert! Make 10

Imagine my shock this year when I attended my youngest son's Annual IEP only to find that he is barely on grade level for math! WHAT???? This was the first I was hearing of it and I was more than a little bit pissed. So.... what does this mean for a Lunatic Autism Mom? It means a working summer for Adam (and for mommy). The first concept he is having difficulties with is Making 10. I've been doing it for so long and it's so second nature to me that I didn't really know how to go about practicing Making 10 this summer. I wanted something more fun than flash cards (although I am not opposed) and I wanted to limit screen time with Math iPad Apps (although I am not opposed) and here is what I came up with for my Lego loving boy:

and here is how you make it:

Start with extra  Legos (I decided to use Duplo because we don't play with them anymore) & a label maker.

Print out all the numbers you need to make 10 and a bunch of '+' symbols. Don't forget to make a label for your goal (Equation Goal: Make 10)

Put them on the blocks (trim if necessary).

Stack 'em up to make sure you haven't forgotten any.

And you are ready to go! Don't forget storage! 

I think I will do this again and again to get some good practice in for those more difficult math concepts. I am also trying to figure out if I can use different size Legos to represent fractions. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Are we ready for summer?

Anyone else feeling the stress that comes with the end of the school year? Are you out already? 

We are officially on one week count down in my house. The boys are excited and I am stressed! We started off this week with a book fair at school complete with carnival. One boy was quite pissed that we could not attend, one boy was quite pleased that he didn't have to go. I dislike the 50/50 split immensely. We will cap off the week with the end of year award ceremony! All the kids get an award so arrive when your class is scheduled, pick a comfortable seat, and get ready for a long and hot afternoon. 

End of year brings end of year teacher gifts! I love love love to give our teachers gifts. My boys are not easy students and our teachers this year were exceptional. When I added up everyone who helps the boys through-out the day (every day), I came up with **15** teachers and **5** assistants/specials teacher! YIKES!!!!  I guess I better get busy on those personalized clip boards. Don't worry, I promise to post pictures. 

End of year also bring IEPs! For Adam we have had two so far, his annual in which we requested "additional adult support" and a second IEP to evaluate the data to determine if he qualified for "additional adult support". I am a firm believer in data and it showed that Adam needed redirection more than 320 times in 9 days (that may look like a typo, but it isn't) which makes me wonder how he made it through this year at all and why this problem hasn't been noticed sooner. I have ALWAYS said that it is my higher functioning ASD child who is going to slip through the cracks, this is evidence and I will need to be more vigilant from now on. We will have another meeting this summer after they have evaluated staffing which sounds like they are putting me off and I think they totally are. Those meetings were exhausting so I don't mind taking a few weeks to regroup before we go back to the table. 

Cameron's IEP is next week. This entire year we've been doing the medication trials and now its time to re-evaluate how the year has gone as a whole instead of weekly and monthly snapshots. I was surprised to see just how much Cameron is expressing an interest in being included in the "typical" classroom when in the past he has preferred the extra attention by the teacher and didn't really give a fig about the other kids. I think he is starting to notice girls *sigh*. Not a lot of special needs girls given that ASD is taking over the program and the incidence rate of boys with ASD far outnumbers the girls. I am hoping that we can find some new inclusion opportunities going in to next year at this IEP meeting. He currently is only included in Math (his strongest subject) and some Specials classes. 

Awards Ceremonies.... IEPs..... end of year chaos... Are we ready for summer??

There are big pros and cons to the summer months. How awesome it is to be able to stay in jammies until mid-morning (or later) because you have no place to be? That, for me, is the best part of summer, we can relax that morning schedule for a bit. We've got some inclusive camps coming up, Extended School Year will fill up half the day Mon-Thurs in July, we're going ahead with RDI and we'll be keeping up with all our specialist appointments PLUS Adam has to have his tonsils and adenoids out and we are hoping to take a family vacation. How it is again that I thought summer was ever relaxing? On the bright side, I should be home more so I can blog more! If you have any ideas and requests please let me know! I've got partially completed posts on the topics of IEPs (survival of the fittest or the loudest?) and Autism Crafts (a sub-genre of itself in my home!).  See you at the pool! Don't forget the SPF 1,000!