Wait, he wants to do what now?

First off, I have to acknowledge Three’s a Herd just hit 725 followers!!! I have to thank each one of you for reading, and clicking that follow button. I know I haven’t been as consistent in writing posts this year, but y’all have stuck with me. When you put your life, your thoughts, your words out there into the world, you wonder if one person will care enough to read, much less continue to want to read what I have to say. It’s humbling to say the least. I know I’m not some amazing blogger with a gajillion followers, but it makes me smile, makes me feel our experiences are making a difference (or making you laugh at our hot-messedness) every time I see someone new has clicked that button. So THANK YOU!

So, my carpool partner texted me Monday to let me know her oldest son would be trying out for the running team on Wednesday, so Little Man would be a little late getting home as she wouldn’t pick up til tryouts were done. No problem, and I thought, “Wow, cool, a running team at the middle school! Awesome!” and then I put it out of my mind….until Little Man was frantically digging in his backpack, looking for a form I needed to sign THAT NIGHT so he could tryout for the running team on Wednesday. Uh, what? He wants to what?

Even before we knew of his autism, we knew Little Man was not really an athlete. Oh, he’s perfectly physically capable (three evaluations with the adapted PE teacher reinforced this idea), his other stuff holds him back. And he just doesn’t really care about sports. He played Little League for three years. He played soccer for five seasons. Then we were done. Peace out. Not for him. He was fine with it. We were tired of fighting the battle, and, as I’ve mentioned before, it became something of a safety issue.

Now, he will run in PE at school. He’d rather do that than participate in any group activities. He’s not fast, but  he will do it. I just never thought he’d do it willingly, outside of the PE requirements for school. We’ve fought over PE with him since kindergarten basically. If I recall correctly, at least one of his IEP goals is strictly regarding PE participation. So when he said he wanted to try out for the running team, I was stunned. Maybe I shouldn’t have been…he had already surprised me recently when  he agreed to play soccer this fall. But still….running….on a running team….with running practices…and races against other students….Soooooo out of his normal realm.

Maybe this is just more evidence of how far he’s come over the last couple of years. Maybe I should stop being surprised when he says he wants to do something he’s pushed away for years. He’s changing. He’s maturing.

He did text me early yesterday afternoon, saying he didn’t think he wanted to do the tryout.  I asked him why. He said he didn’t think he would own up to it. I told him he had to stay anyways to wait for his friend to finish the tryout, and the carpool pickup. I also told him I thought he would surprise himself. He reluctantly agreed to do the tryout.

Who knows if he will make the team. He isn’t fast, unless he really wants to be fast. On one  hand, I don’t care if he makes the team….he tried out. That’s a huge win right there. If he does make it…..oh lordy…..it will be so good for him, such a learning experience. And it will prep  him for high school in so many ways. For that, I do want him to make the team. It would boost his confidence so much. It would give him another outlet. It would take him away from his screens for that much longer, expose him to another social world, push his envelope.

You  know the best part? His behavior….his changing who I thought he was is normal teenage behavior, whether he realizes it or not. Regardless, it’s a win. We’re kickin some autism ass this year.  Amen.

The joy in this

A very dear friend recently sent me a book, “one thousand gifts” by Ann Voskamp. It is essentially a challenge to “LIVE FULLY right where you are.” Wow. Yes….live fully and joyfully with the hand  I’ve been dealt. What?

I’ve been hunkered down in grief and pain the past few months. I’m very aware my mental and emotional state. It’s been pretty darn low. I’ve cried more than I’ve smiled, and questioned God like I haven’t questioned God since hospital bedrest and the NICU.  We’ve been in the midst of another storm in the life of our youngest. We are dealing with new challenges, new behaviors, the return of old behaviors, new medicines, new accommodations. I ache for him more often than I am able to smile for him. 

I am thankful for this book. I needed to hear that asking God “why?” or asking Him to take it away is me saying no to what He’s purposefully given me. Yikes. He has entrusted me with this amazing, incredible, beautiful child. Yes, He could have given me a “normal” child. I could have lived without the challenges and trials and heartbreak of having a son with an autism spectrum disorder. And trust me, even with reading this book and taking it on whole-heartedly, there are still moments, days, and weeks I wish I could live without it, that He had entrusted me with “normal.” Will my son see it this way? I don’t know. He is very aware these days he is “different.”  He knows the word autism and that he is associated with it.  That is the part I struggle most with being thankful for….his hurt and all the work he has to do each and every day.

I’m feeling thankful and grateful now. We had parent/teacher conferences last week. It has been years since I’ve been nervous going in. Despite his many challenges, academia has always been his forte.  Knowing how much time he’s spent out of class this year, knowing the homework and lessons he’s missed, and knowing that even when he is in class, he’s only  halfway there, I was really worried what I would hear about his grades. Deep breath….he’s still holding his own academically. On the flip side…socially, behaviorally, organizationally, and in PE, we’ve dropped from all Outstandings back into half “Satisfactory” and half “Needs-Improvement.”  I don’t know how he’s managed to keep his academics up. Yes, he is incredibly smart and needs very little instruction to get a concept, but I just didn’t know how this was going to pan out.

We signed paperwork Friday to complete the full special ed evaluation. They’ll be looking at everything but speech and language, which was just evaluated last year and for which he already has set goals.  I’m anxious to hear the results (December 5th is the date set for the IEP meeting).  I’ll try to put it in the back of my mind for the next two months. And in holding with the book, I am very, very thankful he is finally getting what I’ve been asking for for the last two years.

I’m not too far into this book. I’ve already cried, and had a couple of those “a-ha” moments. I’m thankful the author laid her own life and challenges out there. I’m thankful for the friend who thought of me and sent the book. And I’m thankful for the challenge of looking at the life I’ve been given through a different heart.

Floundering

I am still feeling so lost as far as E-man goes. I’m floundering, and sure I am failing him in every way. We seem to finally be getting things back to his normal at home, but school…wow…school. His psychiatrist has upped the dosage on both his ADHD and his anxiety medications. We are trying desperately to bring him back to the level he thrived at last year. I am holding my breath and just praying this is the answer. We need an answer.

Two years ago, when he was first diagnosed, the spec ed admin at school didn’t want to give him an IEP evaluation. He was an academic rock star, and not a disruption to his or any of his classmates’ education. Last year, we pushed, got a partial evaluation, and he was admitted to special ed on the speech side, since his social pragmatics are so far off the mark. He sees the speech therapist once a week, and the social worker intern once a week, in addition to private one-on-one therapy.

This year, all the reasons that were given two years ago, and reiterated last year, have presented themselves. He is a disruption in the classroom. He is a disruption to his own education. His grades are falling off (because even when he is in the classroom, he’s an unfocused, emotional, distressed disaster). Every fear I had is coming to fruition. In a way, I’m glad he’s proving me right. But I ache for this poor boy. He needs help. And I fear I am not getting him what he needs.

There is talk of a 504 in addition to his IEP. I’m confused. Can’t we just add to and/or adjust his IEP? Can I push for the balance of the IEP evaluation? If I’m thinking pie-in-the-sky for what I want for him, we would add occupational therapy, physical therapy, and time in the special ed classroom. Yes, he’s gone that far sideways. He won’t eat at the lunch tables because it’s too loud. He refuses to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. Since repeatedly falling off his new electric scooter, he refuses to ride it again. I’m worried about his large motor skills. In short, I am freaking out. Kids are starting to notice he’s different. He’s aware he’s different. I can’t drop him off at school in the morning and know we’re going to get through the day without me getting a phone call and/or him having a meltdown or choosing not to do an activity.

I’m failing him, and I don’t know how to fix it. I need a manual. I need a director. I need help for my baby. His therapist has mentioned, numerous times now, pulling him and putting him in a school with help for him, and a much smaller classroom. I can’t make myself do it. He craves normality. Pulling him would just reinforce his differences, and he would then own it. Is that twisted logic? My thinking is to battle through this year and next, get him what help we can where we currently go, and then switch for middle school. There is an excellent middle school in the next town that is right up his alley. The only issue being they take in students strictly by lottery. Sigh.

When you have a preemie, you are surrounded by doctors and nurses, machines and monitors. At all times, they tell you what to do, and how your child is doing. When you have an autistic child, you don’t get that. I want that. I want someone to tell me specifically how to do this. I need someone to point me in the right direction. Because I’m failing him at the moment. I know that, and it’s breaking my heart.