Tag Archives: finding a school

In the Nick of Time…

Time is of the essence....

Time is of the essence….

So – where are we at with Henry and could our luck be turning? It depends on how you look at it – and I’m looking at it with a “glass half full”.

A week ago Wednesday, we were still debating options for Henry. It had pretty much been decided that he would drop out of his university courses… His confidence had been so shaken – he kept saying that he wasn’t sure he was cut out for it – that he didn’t know if he could do it – what happens if??? So, I began to make phone calls. First – to the residence people. If he dropped out of classes, but was returning in January, could he stay in residence in the meantime? Left Brain and I agreed that he was better off at school with friends, and in the environment of the intelligentsia (!!!), than upstairs in his room by himself for 2 months. And Henry wanted to stay at school – he loves his independence – and as he pointed out to me… “You know, I do have friends here and stuff to do…” Okay – great.

So – they said yes. As long as he didn’t party too much and disturb the other kids. I almost snorted into the phone. I told her, that although she might want to take it with a grain of salt, as it was coming from his mother and all…. Henry is not a party-er – and he definitely would not disturb anyone. One thing down….

Next up – talk to the Admissions people at the college to find out what his options were for January. So keep in mind… this was Wednesday that I made phone calls, and/or sent emails. Late Friday afternoon, I heard from the Admissions people that indeed, he could start some programs in January (I had asked specifically about 4 or 5 programs); but the deadline for applying for said programs was THE NEXT DAY!!! Cripes! Okay…

Thank goodness that everything these days is done online. And since he had been a student of the college last year, they already had high school transcripts and his marks from the first year. So he made his applications – although he was beyond stressed that he had to do it at 7:00 p.m. on a Friday night. So to simplify things, I picked two programs for him that I thought were up his alley, and he picked a third (horticultural practises or something – where’s the job in that if you’re not a farmer??!! Perhaps I’m being shortsighted, but I think he was grasping at straws… And I wasn’t prepared for a debate on his long-term goals at that point!)

Then on Monday, I called the Admissions people (again…) to make sure that there wasn’t anything that they needed for these applications to be considered. Everything was fine. And so we waited.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I am happy to report that he has been accepted into every program for January. And we start all over again. That glass is definitely half full!

Happy New Year!!!

Guess who!!

Guess who!!

I cannot believe it’s 2015!!!  But first – a few musings on New Years Eve…

  1. Ryan Seacrest is a poor substitute for Dick Clark.
  2. All of the other hosts on the other programs featured people I’ve never heard of….
  3. I also have never heard of most of the acts that were “performing” (doesn’t anybody just sing anymore?  I’ve never seen so much lip-synching in my life!)
  4. I couldn’t care less whether or not I make it to midnight to see the ball drop!
  5. I’m not much of one for New Year’s resolutions.  I’m more of a beginning of school, September kind of gal.

I did get to thinking about resolutions that we make around this time of year.  Of course, there’s the usual losing weight, quitting smoking, getting healthier kind of fare.  And these are all laudable goals.  But why particularly, on January 1st?  Aren’t these things we should be striving for every single day?  It can also be rather overwhelming if you’re facing a goal of 30+ pounds to lose, or cutting out your regular 10 ciggies a day, or trying to start exercising if you hate it!  But I think that if you break your goals down into small, measurable steps, you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come when you look back.

And, if you are a parent to a child with special needs, the future can be quite scary.  When we first moved into our present house 13 years ago, Henry was just beginning primary school.  Besides the fact that it felt like we jumped through hoops to get him accepted to this school in the first place, the other things that I worried about every day could be rather overwhelming.  Would he ever learn to read?  Would he ever “get” math?  Would he have friends?  Would he get kicked out of the school for acting out?  Never mind – would he ever graduate from high school, go to college/university, find a girlfriend, get a job, live on his own…. If I thought about these things, I would have driven myself crazy.  So Left Brain and I learned very quickly to only think about the things that were directly in front of our face at that particular moment.

If I could share my New Year’s resolution wish for all of those parents out there who are frightened and worried about the future, it would be:  “Deal with what you can at the moment.  Don’t beat yourself up – and don’t sweat the small stuff.”  As time passes, you might be surprised and amazed at how far you’ve come!

The Morning After…

Was Henry seeing this after all of those tests?  I might have been....

Was Henry seeing this after all of those tests? I might have been….

The days after our diagnosis were somewhat numbing.  It was also a time of reflection.  What did we need to do?  What had we already done?  Always listen to your intuition – nobody knows your child better than you!  Here’s what the team recommended:

  1. Henry should continue to receive speech therapy.  (Well duh…  We started him when he was         3, when he began junior kindergarten.  Of course, at the time, all of the speech therapists that were on the list for subsidized therapy had a 2-year waiting list.  So, we had been going once a week, for an hour, at approximately $100/hour.  Incidentally, we went until he finished grade 8 – you do the math…)
  2. We were told that he was well served at The Dunblaine School.  There was a social worker at school who ran a Social Skills group, which he was encouraged to participate in.  (Again, duh….  The school developed an individual curriculum, based on Henry’s needs.  Of course, getting into the school initially was a bit of a challenge, but that’s another blog post…)
  3. Continue to use a Direct Instruction method.  This approach emphasizes repetition and mastery, both of which were necessary for Henry to learn and consolidate new material.  (Boy – they’re not kidding!  We were beginning to despair that he might not learn to read, after 2 years at Dunblaine, but then it just started to kick in!  We weren’t sure that he wasn’t learning to read by memorizing a whole vocabulary!)
  4. Get an appointment with a paediatric neurologist.  Numerous people had mentioned Henry having staring spells.  They wanted to make sure that he didn’t have a possible seizure disorder.  (Whaaaat?  Holy Cow…  Decided to do a “Scarlet O’Hara” and not think about this today – I’ll think about that tomorrow…)
  5. Contact The Geneva Centre for Autism.  (I did this the next day.  They had great workshops for parents – to educate me – and social skills “classes” for Henry.  I took many courses and Henry participated in his social skills building classes for at least 5 years.)
  6. There was a list of books that were suggested.  (I’ll supply you with my favourites in another blog post.)
  7. This next recommendation I’ll quote verbatim; “Given Henry’s attentional concerns and his low average/borderline scores on our measures of visual and verbal attention, continued follow-up with Dr. “X” is recommended.  In addition, those working with Henry may wish to modify his environment somewhat, to facilitate his attending capabilities.  This may involve having him sit in a non-distracting part of the classroom (there is no such thing, by the way…), ensuring that eye contact is established prior to giving instructions or directions, periodically asking Henry (as well as other students, so that he doesn’t feel singled out) to repeat or paraphrase what is expected of him, and/or occasionally making eye contact with him so that he knows that the teacher is watching him.”  (OK – this one is a biggie…  Fortunately, because his school was for kids with learning differences, his teachers knew most of this.  But for every other activity that I took him to, I needed a sit down with the instructor to make sure they understood what they were dealing with.  This encompassed swimming lessons, karate, art classes, and summer camp – some of the instructors “got it”, and sadly, others did not.  Many of you parents who are in the same boat are nodding your heads….)
  8. Henry was encouraged to break down tasks into smaller, more attainable goals.  (Good advice for all of us – it’s like being told you have to lose 30 pounds.  Worry about the first 5, and then go from there.)
  9. There was a suggestion that certain medications might be tried to help with Henry’s attentional difficulties.  (This is another saga that I don’t have the strength to go into at the moment.)
  10. There is no 10 – but who ends a list at 9?

And so – we began.  A lot of what we had already been doing was correct.  But you must not question yourself constantly and worry about the end game.  That’s far too daunting and scary – we plodded along and pushed the peanut – celebrated our small victories and continued to work on the challenges.

 

The Second Time Around…

I just love Nespresso!!!

I just love Nespresso!!!

Get a cup of tea or cappuccino and get comfortable – this post is going to be long…  This has been a very busy summer.  I’ve been on a lengthy paperwork trail.  It’s tedious and time consuming – but a necessary evil.

One of the things we had to accomplish this summer was another psychological assessment for Henry.  I had suspected as much when we began to apply for colleges.  Henry’s previous assessment was 10 years old – he was 8 when we had it completed.  First, let me tell you about that journey….

I’m often asked, “When did I know something was “wrong” with Henry?”  I don’t think that the word “wrong” is accurate.  I can tell you this….  I knew that he was a very difficult baby!  He never seemed to sleep – except on top of me!  When I tried to lay him in his crib, he would wake up and bellow – whereupon, the whole rocking, trying to fall asleep business would start all over again.  When he woke from naps or in the morning, he would cry for at least 30 minutes – nothing could soothe him.  And he wouldn’t take one of those soothers – every time I desperately tried to plug him with one, he would spit it out!  He hated transitions… (enough said on that subject!)  He didn’t seem to feel heat or cold… or pain – which really freaked me out!  His food sensitivities seemed to start when I cut off the bottle.  He was obviously a late talker – you really couldn’t understand anything until he was 5.  But did I know something was wrong?  Not really…  until preschool.

Where's the couch??

Where’s the couch??

His teachers expressed concern…  He was apparently staring off into space while the rest of the children were engaged.  There were some incidents of him acting out (that’s politic speak for hitting, tantrums, etc.)  It got to the point where I sometimes dreaded picking him up from preschool – with one of his teachers approaching me with a quasi-smile to tell me of the latest incident.  So – I started with some consultations.  Before preschool, I had consulted some specialist because he was in his hitting/biting phase (at that point, hitting and biting me when he was frustrated – which was frequently).  I had no idea what to do.  The books were useless…  There was no internet.  I received some excellent advice at this time.  Then after he began preschool, I was referred to the public agency that “does” assessments.   But before they did that, there was a hearing test administered (something that Left Brain has insisted I do recently because I can’t understand his mumblings…)  It was actually pretty funny watching him behind the glass – he couldn’t say yes or no or lift a finger but he kept looking left and right for the sounds.  The good news was – his hearing was perfect.  But you might be horrified to learn that I almost started crying.  Because if his hearing was okay, then what was wrong?  They then saw him (after a lengthy wait list to get in), for a total of 30 minutes – this with a break in-between…  I was given a one-page, 3-paragraph report that stated he had a speech disability.  No shit Sherlock…  Not helpful.

We decided that Henry was not ready for elementary school at that point and enrolled him in another year of senior kindergarten.  Henry was born in September anyway, so wouldn’t be that behind his peers.  I consulted an educational consultant to try to find an appropriate school for him.  I basically quit everything that year…  I used to play competitive tennis – not only was it a wonderful respite, but I enjoyed the social aspect of it and hey – it’s fun to be good at something that’s only about you.  She did not give me any kind of diagnosis, but was helpful in finding us some options.  Now to get those schools to accept him – but that’s another story….

By the way… just so you know?  This has been an incredibly hard blog to write – I’ve been taking breaks constantly…  It’s hard to relive this and to try to accurately describe what this time was like.  So I’ll pick up the story in another instalment…