Monday, October 13, 2014

You Are Your Child's Best Advocate. Trust Your Instincts.

I spent the day yesterday with a few other parents in our special needs support group. We didn't spend every minute talking about our kids, but when we did, it was great to know that the others "got it". Which got me to thinking about how fortunate I am that our homeschooling friends "get us" too.

A couple of years ago, Jack was injured on the zipline at a friend's house. He had been nervous about getting on it in the first place. The other mom's rather than making a big deal about his injuries (after we knew he was okay, but bruised), all made an effort to tell him how brave he was to get on the zipline. It wasn't patronizing, and it refocused his brain to his accomplishment rather than his fear.

Then I remembered back when Jack was smaller - around four or five - and I spent a lot of time reading stuff about ADD, ADHD, and food dyes and preservatives, trying to figure out how to help him. A friend told me that as long as I was looking for something wrong I would find it, and he was fine. Of course, Jack is "fine", but there are also several things going on - even more than I could have imagined all those years ago. And that friend and her negativity are no longer part of our lives.

When asked for parenting advice, my go-to answer is, "God specifically gave you those children. He also gave you the common sense to know how to care for them. Read, ask others, but in the end, trust your instincts. You know your child better than anyone."

A neurological diagnosis doesn't fix everything, nor does it even change anything, really. But if it helps you determine the best ways to help your child cope, or enables you to get help that your child may need, then don't give up. When friends, family, or even doctors tell you that nothing is wrong, use your instincts, and continue to be your child's best advocate.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Is It Bullying If the Victim Doesn't Know He's Being Bullied?

So my 12yo Aspie went to "sleepaway" camp this week. I won't say which organization, but it was not a special needs camp. First time away from home ever. I was really concerned about bullying. Between the Asperger's and his OCD, he has a ton of behaviors that would be really easy to make fun of.

When we picked him up, he went on and on and on about all the things he did, even pulling out his schedule so he wouldn't miss anything, and giving us a detailed report of every hour of every day, Monday through Friday. But nothing at all negative, except, "We didn't get to go canoeing because it rained."

Fabulous! I was so relieved, I almost sat through his detailed explanation of his cabin and who slept in which bunk and where each of those bunks was located in relation to the others. Almost. I finally had to cut him off, and he happily trotted down the hall to fill his little brother in on all the exciting bunk details.

Then I got a text from a friend whose son was in the cabin with my son. She started out asking how Jack had enjoyed camp. After a bit, it turned out that her son (I'll call him "Bill") had gotten into a fight the last night of camp. One kid was trying to cut another kid, and Bill stepped in. A fight ensued, and adults stepped in.

I mentioned that I had been really worried that Jack would be bullied, but "if he was, he doesn't realize it. As far as he knows, he got along with everyone." Then she says that Bill told her that the bully had been bothering Jack. He apparently has an attitude problem and had been bothering everyone. I have no idea why he was allowed to stay, because we were told over and over that they had a strict code of conduct and infractions would mean being sent home.

Regardless, I don't know exactly what was said or done, but Jack was apparently oblivious. Which, I suppose, is better than being hurt. But I'm kind of torn. I'm not sure whether to talk to him and try to suss out whether he caught on to the jerk's bad behavior, or just let it go. Or maybe we should just have a generic discussion about what to do when you encounter "mean kids"?

Update (7/11):
We had this conversation:
Me: So...did everyone in your cabin get along okay?
Jack: Yeah.
Me: No getting on each others' nerves after five days?
Jack: Well, yeah, there was a little of that, but it was all good.

So I'm going to assume that he was oblivious to the bullying, which means I just need to continue with the mini-talks about what to do on the occasions he does notice something amiss.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Help Us Help a Local Family #autism

If you have a child with special needs, you know how hard it can be to get your child set up in a school. You have IEP meetings, struggles with teachers, parents, and school staff all trying to find the best way to meet the child's needs and still get everyone through day. If you have child with autism, you know that change is not a good thing.

A local family is dealing with both of these factors. For their privacy, we are not making their identity public, but I do know them personally, and I know that Mom and Dad only want what's best for their son. Dad was laid off in December. The Boy is ten, and because of his particular issues, has never been able to attend one complete school year at one school.

The Boy is now at a school where things are working for him. Dad does have a few job prospects, but they do not seem to be in a hurry to give him an answer one way or another. As of right now, the family will have to move out-of-state to live with family until Dad can find a job. This will mean that The Boy will have to leave his school and start a new one with just two months left in the school year.

Our local support group has set up a fundraiser to raise the money to get them through the end of the school year. (Prayers that Dad would find a job before then would be fabulous, too.) The family did not ask for money, but they are aware of the fundraiser. (I also asked permission before writing this blog post.) All money goes directly to them and does not even pass through the hands (or accounts) of the organizers (although I know them personally, too, and they're completely trustworthy).

Any and all help is greatly appreciated. This is a family that doesn't hesitate to help others, as I can personally attest. If you would like to donate, the link is below. You can also help by passing this on.

Fundraiser name: We Love The Boy
Why: To help The Boy complete a full year at his school for the first time in his life.
Uses: Living expenses to help The Boy's family stay where they are so The Boy can stay at his current school, with the services that are working well for him.

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