Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Lunatic's IEP for 2016 (Plus a Case for Teaching Goals)

Lately I've been wondering what happens to a goal driven life when there are no longer any goals? My boys have had some form of paperwork attached to their lives since they were 2 years old, from Infants and Toddlers to now they have had goals (speech, OT, educational, social, etc). Sooooooo many goals, easily in the hundreds by now.
Part of me wonders if that is one of the larger obstacles for special needs adults once they leave the "system", who is there to write the goals? 
Were they taught to set their own goals?
Is it enough to just let them sit in on an IEP starting at age 14 and hope that they extrapolate from that process the need for goals in life? 
What about personal goals? 
Private goals? 
The goals you don't write on paper or tell even your best friend or parent, those goals...

I never considered myself a goal driven person but looking back now that I've hit the big 4-OH milestone, I can see that I have always had some kind of goal in mind. Some of them have been far fetched and ridiculous, some easily attainable to give myself a boost. They are always there and they serve a purpose not unlike the goals written in my son's IEPs. I need to stay on track, I need to track my progress, I need to know that I'm moving forward and if I'm not, what do I need to change? 

The first goal I can ever remember setting was a book list.  I had a 9th grade teacher who passed out a list of 100 classic books that everyone should read before they graduate college. I can see now how ridiculous this actually is, reading classics aren't magically going to turn you into a highly educated and witty conversationalist. At the time though, that list was law and I set to slogging my way though it.  I don't remember if I finished all 100 but I do remember crossing off my 50th book and I considered it a huge accomplishment. Ultimately it didn't change who I am as a person but at the time it gave me a checklist and that checklist gave me a sense of accomplishment.  

More recently you will hear me say, "I hate resolutions, I don't do them." And I don't, first of all it seems arbitrary to use Jan 1 as a start date for something and secondly, resolutions seem to center around diet, exercise and housecleaning. I can't think of anything I would less like to talk about or think about than diet, exercise and housecleaning.  Since I can't separate Resolutions from those issues, I'll consider my goals to be more like IEP goals not to be set once and then forgotten about but to be revisited through out the year and changed as needed to make them attainable so that the feeling of accomplishment is a foregone conclusion.

IEP for The Lunatic Autism Mom

Progress reported on Goodreads 

Goodreads does an Annual Reading Challenge and I've participated for the last 3 or 4 years. I read a lot and I always mark my "read" books on Goodreads so that I don't keep re-checking the same book from the library over and over again.  Last year my goal was 100 and I read 86, this year I've set it to 50 which feels very attainable. I read a lot of books on audio while I'm in my car, while I'm cleaning or doing paperwork. It helps me stay on tack and keep my ADD at bay.  Mostly I read total fluff books with a guaranteed Happily Ever After and those are always quick reads (and part of me feels like I've earned the right since I read all those classics in my teens! LOL!). It's not all fluff though, I go through a good number of Autism related and educational books as well. If you like Goodreads and you want to link up, my user name is MagandSons (like everywhere else).  

Progress reported on Goodreads and a printed checklist

A friend of mine sent me a Reading Challenge, (<--link!!) I thought it sounded fun so I joined! I'm hoping it will shake me out of my fluff and autism book rutt and introduce me to some new authors.  

Progress reported online in various facebook groups

I'm pretty proud of my crochet projects this year. I've been crocheting for about a decade now and I find it to be a good way to shut my mind off and focus on rows and rows of stitches.  I often call it my version of pacing when I'm just too tired to actually pace (which is always). I feel as though I can read almost any pattern and I know all the stitches so it's time to move on. This year I want to learn to knit. I have a knitting machine and I've done some loom knitting but the two sticks kind? I don't know how. Until now. I'm going to start looking for an introductory class this week.  (here's some of my crochet!)

Progress reported by my 2 boys

I'm going to play more video games. I like video games but I'm not very good at video games. My boys love video games and when I watch them play it looks like voodoo happening between their fingers and the TV. I want to play more so that I can learn more, get better and, in doing so, spend more time with them. I always want to spend more time with my boys, I should focus on spending time with them doing the things they like. 

Coach will keep us going

The boys started playing tennis with Aceing Autism and we've kept it going with lessons at a local tennis facility. I've even started playing again. The boys like it, I like it, lets keep it going!!!

Progress reported by me and the boys

I saw this Executive Functioning calendar on Facebook and I posted it on the blog page, I like the format and I like the idea of re-evaluating skills every month. Some goals may take longer than a month and I want to be able to carry them over. In doing this I want to open the conversation with the boys about setting personal goals, letting them choose which skills on which they want to work and starting to consider the day when there won't always be someone with a piece of paper telling them what they will be working on for the next month or year.  

There are so many more, the quiet goals that live in my brain that remind me to drink more water or eat more veggies. Those will always be there but they aren't fun enough to write about or even to give much more than a passing thought. Those passing thoughts are important though and I think this is one of those things that special needs families know must be taught explicitly. Over the years I taught myself how to set my own goals and use my curiosity to fuel them. Since my boys tend to put themselves into a bubble now and again and their curiosity tends to lean more towards "screens" than the world around them, I think this is something that is worth adding to those executive functioning skills. When the time comes and the people holding the papers with this year's goals stop, I hope that the boys will be able to make their own and in doing so find their path.  

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