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Back in the saddle again

I’ll be headed into our first special education meeting of the season later this week, and it should be a real doozy. Chickadee’s guidance counselor has been changed, since last year, and she has a new diagnosis, and we want some additional testing, and… well, you know I always make cookies, but I think I’d better be certain to make REALLY GOOD COOKIES for this one.

I pull no punches when it comes to dealing with the school. Five minutes after meeting the new guidance counselor, I was saying, “Look, I’m going to be a pain in your ass. I know this and I’m telling you. I’m here to advocate for my child, and if we need something, I will be here until she gets it. On the other hand, I think you’ll find I’m pretty realistic about who she is and what she needs and what the school should be providing, and when everyone here does their job, I will be here saying thank you. Plus I make good cookies.” She looked a little scared. We’ll see how it goes.

Transitioning to the high school years when you have a kid with an IEP or 504 Plan is a whole new ball of wax, man. I’ve got a few quick tips on navigating special education with an older child up at Alpha Mom today, just in case you, too, recently realized how little time is left before college to teach your special snowflake how to be her own best advocate. (Hold me.)

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Comments { 14 }

You don’t know until you do it

I had a nice chat with one of Monkey’s virtual teachers this year (uh, she is not virtual, she’s a real person—a real teacher—but she works with the Virtual School, I mean) wherein I said something in passing about how this is our third year of homeschooling, and she uttered the dreaded phrase:

“Oh, I just DON’T KNOW HOW PEOPLE DO IT. I could NEVER homeschool my kids!”

I have an arsenal of standard responses to such statements: that I didn’t think I could until I did, that one of my kids is still in public school, that we utilize a lot of resources like Virtual School, and—my personal favorite, as it really gets to the heart of the matter—that I never planned to, but with Monkey’s particular set of needs being incompatible with a conventional middle school classroom, I simply didn’t have a choice.

But the truth is that a huge part of the reason I hate that phrase is because I probably said it to homeschoolers, myself, a hundred times before we found ourselves homeschooling. The implication is admiration, but the subtext is disbelief that anyone could survive it. (more…)

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Comments { 24 }

It’s just like that song

There’s so many things I wanted to tell you about our camping trip, but somehow I got stuck on a title. What could possibly convey the depth of emotion in just a few words? How could I make it clear what these few days meant to us?

Somehow Paradise by the Dashboard Light got stuck in my head, and then I started thinking that “Pigs and Cards by Mosquito Bites” might work, but then you’d have to know that I was thinking of the song, and also that it’s a very different kind of paradise, and… yeah, it got kind of complicated. Just trust me that IN MY MIND that all made perfect sense.

In the meantime, I just went over to Alpha Mom and wrote about the little joys in hanging out with our special needs tribe, because it was really fantastic. (Also: really, really loud. Boys! So many boys.) Come on over and take a look.

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Comments { 4 }

“All kids do that”

I went through a long (longer than I will admit) period of time when the phrase “all kids do that” made me furious. Irrationally, completely, insanely full of RAGE. It seems to be used, most often, for someone to dismiss a special need or parenting concern with a not-so-subtle overtone of “you’re overreacting.” To be fair, I think many purveyors of this dreaded phrase are trying to be… comforting? Supportive? It isn’t always meant as “calm down, crazypants.” Sometimes it’s meant as a kind of solidarity or empathy, a sort of “I feel you,” albeit one that rings hollow because they don’t, not really.

As I’ve grown older, as my kids’ needs have changed, and as I’ve come to hate people less (ha), I’m realizing that “all kids do that” comes from a place that means well, more often than not. Lots of times it’s true that “all kids do that,” and it’s just that the degree/severity/frequency is the part that’s different and/or troubling. There’s nothing to be gained by believing that my special snowflakes somehow out-special someone else’s. Any common ground is worth having.

That said, you show me an organized teenager and I might have a bridge you’d be interested in buying. Yeah, my kids are probably more disorganized than most, but today at Alpha Mom I’m talking tips for teens who need organizational support, and I think they can be used for just about everyone. After all… all kids do that. (See what I did there…?)

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Comments { 16 }

Now we need a new motto

Monkey is home again! You may not know this, but I really, really like that kid. He’s swell. He’s also funny and extremely good-looking (in my completely unbiased opinion, of course). And I have a real weakness for humans who used to live inside my body.

That said, our family motto when it comes to playing games has long been, “It’s not a game until someone’s crying.” And… well, let’s not mince words: It’s usually Monkey. True, he’s the youngest, and yes, when you’re Mr. Rules it can be hard to accept that there’s an element of chance (or a rule you don’t like), but it’s made me into someone who gives a little involuntary shudder when someone suggests we should play a game.

Until now, that is. Monkey is home, and this week on Alpha Mom I’m sharing about an unexpected Scrabble surprise from him. (Have I mentioned how much I like that kid? SO MUCH.)

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Comments { 7 }

The beeping; good lord, the beeping

Something kind of exciting happened here this week, and I wrote about it over at Alpha Mom.

I’ll give you a hint: My teenagers are no longer speaking to each other in person using their mouthparts. Our electronic overlords have taken over! And in a weird way, I guess I’m okay with that. Mostly.

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Comments { 7 }

School’s out for summer (or maybe forever)

So in the midst of everything else, we thought it would be a supergreat and totally not at all crazy idea to change Monkey’s schooling YET AGAIN. Because what Aspies love more than anything else is CHANGE! Yes. Except no. And lord knows things have just been SO BORING ’round here.

(The alternate version of this story is that Hippie School—lovingly dubbed thus two years ago when it was still mostly a joke—is undergoing some changes and growing pains, and after careful consideration, we feel the program which has so nurtured him for the past two years is just not going to meet his needs anymore, moving forward. I like the first version better, though.)

Today was Monkey’s last day, and so we swung by the store on the way home to buy some Pokemon cards to ease the sting. Next year we’ll continue homeschooling, and then… well, we have a lot of decisions to make about what he’ll be doing for high school. We’ll see.

In the meantime, if you are one of those I-could-never-homeschool types, I feel you. My latest post over at Alpha Mom is all about how I never could’ve, either, but then I did, and it’s been kind of awesome.

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Comments { 10 }

Unexpected

One of my least favorite things to hear about kids on the autism spectrum is that they tend to lack an understanding of humor, and nearly everything “official” says they don’t understand sarcasm. And really, as much as I would love to believe that my own particular little snowflakes are just that much more special than the world, no, really, I know a LOT of Aspies who get sarcasm just fine.

Monkey has been… well… a little off, lately. If you ask him something you’re likely to get a snippy, snarky reply. With an extra helping of sarcasm. I don’t know what’s up. I suspect it may be puberty. Puberty is known for kind of being a bitch, y’know? And he appears to have the beginnings of a BAD case of it. Poor kid. You’d think they’d have a vaccine by now, or something.

Anyway, the other day he seemed kind of down, so I asked him if he was okay, and he kind of shrugged, so I told him that if there was anything he wanted to talk about—then, or some other time, either way—that I am a pretty good listener. He nodded, so I asked him if he wanted to talk right then, and he said yes.

Then he put a hand on my knee, and speaking quietly to his lap, said, “Mom, it’s just that…” (I leaned in, ready understand and try to help) “it’s…” (he looked up with a mournful expression) “it’s my time of the month,” he concluded, barely able to hang on to his guffaw until he reached the end, throwing his head back and collapsing in laughter.

Yeeeeahhhh. My poor Aspie, what with his lack of a sense of humor and understanding of nuance.

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Comments { 20 }

The olden days and all kinds of families

Hippie School is working on some sort of family history/family tree/civil rights mashup project right now—at least, I think they are. Monkey tends to be a little obtuse when it comes to telling me about what’s actually happening at school. Somewhere in his brain, the fact that I oversee his HOME homeschool days gives him carte blanche to tell me only select snippets about what happens when he’s over at Hippie School. As a result, if I am to believe his version of events, on a regular day at Hippie School all that happens is: He plays D&D with a couple of his buddies, someone does something wrong which Monkey then feels the need to correct (and he either does so with self-righteous gusto OR he proudly restrains himself but has to vent to me about how hard that was), he forgets to eat his lunch, and someone builds something fantastic out of found objects. So, uh, I always assume I’m missing some pieces of the story.

[Sidebar: I do not mind the whole "What did you do today?" "Nothing much," interaction, actually. It's so developmentally appropriate! Hooray! And I do have my ways of finding out what's actually happening there, and I feel confident it's not all Lord of the Flies and they really are doing work, so whatever.]

In general, Hippie School doesn’t include homework. But this past week, it did. And I could’ve told you ahead of time that this was going to be entertaining. (more…)

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Comments { 34 }

Now we are thirt

We’ve been arguing about it for months. MONTHS! Every time you said, “I’m going to be a TEENAGER soon,” I replied with a swift verbal smackdown:

“No. NO YOU’RE NOT. I won’t allow it. You can’t!”

You laughed, every time. The joke never grows old. (Then again, when has a joke ever grown old with you? Exactly. Wait, let me guess: You’re Batman? I thought so!)

About a week ago, you told me you had the solution. “Mom. Mom! Since you don’t want me to be a teenager, I’ve decided I’ll just turn THIRT. No teen, see?” I agreed that this was an excellent solution. “Maybe when you stop freaking out then I can add the ‘teen’ part back.” I assured you that that would never happen.

You don’t understand why I’m taking this so hard, why I simply cannot wrap my brain around the idea that there’s no denying you’re on your way to adulthood. I wasn’t like this with your sister. (more…)

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Comments { 88 }
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