My Son’s Bullying Solutions

My son has talked with me and with his psychologist about what to do when bullied. We all agreed that if known bullies show up, he should come to me so I can supervise him if he wants to stay outside.

The psychologist wants him to have a whistle, which is an awesome suggestion.

My son decided to wrap his leg in bandages. He reasoned that if his leg appeared to be broken or injured, perhaps no one would hurt him for fear of worsening his injuries. I told him how it was when I was a kid, when other children would not fight you if you had glasses. They would yell at you to take them off first. But the kids he met the other day did not care that he had glasses. So I told him the boundaries change. Some kids don’t care if you have an existing issue, especially kids that just barge into your compound and decide to fight you. He loved his bandage, though, he kept it on all day. He had a spare in his pocket, but I have no idea what he has done with it. Today he has forgotten about his bandage. He said he loved the feel of it, the pressure of having something tight on his skin, which is a score for long underwear. I explained that if he would just wear his, it would feel like that all the time in winter, and he would not be so cold. I don’t think he will fight me on it next winter.

So I will be getting him a whistle. I wish I had that dog. Not that I expect the dog to protect him, which assistance dogs do NOT do, but because having a dog makes you look less like a victim and more like a friend.

I will speak to the grandmother of the children the next time they come around. I will probably bring her something baked. Because that softens one up a bit, and because she probably needs it. I don’t think her life is very easy.

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Autism and Bullying

My son was kicked by some children in the neighborhood tonight. He tried to get up but they would kick his legs out from under him. He was more frightened than he was hurt, though tomorrow I am going to check for bruising because he said he could feel it and he often does not feel pain. Nothing showed on first inspection. This is sometimes an issue because when you think he should be hurt, he is laughing instead. You can see how this would escalate, though I do not know if that was the case this time. Another mother told me her son had been kicked by one of the other children before, and he kicks hard. I was holding him while he was crying, just after it happened, and as the perpetrators approached he cried more forcefully, becoming hysterical and saying he didn’t want them to come any closer.

That was PTSD. I could see it. Maybe he remembers his father kicking him, or kicking me. This is something to take to the psychologist tomorrow.

His brother tried to help during the incident by engaging one of the boys close to his size, and an older boy in the neighborhood who has known him for some years at daycare also helped a lot to get him away and find me (I was on the other side of the building with the other mothers). But the worst was that his best friend had joined in, she says she didn’t realize how serious it was. His brother said he was scared to do more than what he did. I need to ask him what more he thought he should do. I did tell him it would be good to run for me, screaming all the way, so I could help.

I just kept thinking this was his life. This is what I expect from other children when they encounter a child with special needs. I have to remind myself that others helped him, that others will help him. Every day I wonder if he will learn to be independent. He is okay engaging with people, he can pay for things and ask questions. It is the self care and the self preservation that I worry about. When I was his age I was getting beat like that at least once a day, by my older brother. I don’t know how anyone can watch a child cry so hard and not feel sympathetic. I don’t know how my mother always walked away. I don’t want him to become accustomed to such treatment, I want him to see it for what it is, and judge others by it as they should be.

I cannot make the world a safer place for my son. I can only teach him how to stay safe in it, the best I can.

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Reassessment

The morning after the IEP my Asperger’s child attacked his daycare teacher, whom he has known for three years. He simply would not sit at the table and became enraged when told to do so, to calm down. He stomped on her feet, screamed, and spit at her. She called me, but she did not write it up. I have to request documentation of this.

He has had some serious consequences and lost all the privileges he ever cared about, including the only birthday party he was invited to this year. He is required to make reparations. He has already apologized. He is on guided reading, too, I have nearly a dozen books on anger and bullying for him to read.

I have had to rethink his treatment plan.

I called and had his medication increased. This is a PTSD regression, I hope. Did I mention this our anniversary month, when we all get triggered?

I then went to the county and asked for further resources. I can have him assessed, and if he meets qualifications I can receive grants for further therapies, a personal care attendant, or etc. But not a service dog. For some reason, that does not qualify.

I have to leave another message for the equine therapist. He has not returned my calls.

I am so sad about this. He has not done this for a very long time. I know this is often typical autistic behaviour, but I have never allowed it. I don’t want him to go down this road.

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IEPs Can Make You Cry

But I did not.

They said it would take an hour. It took three. Last year they said two hours, when it took four. I left work early, tried to budget enough time for it, and still got caught short. I am glad I get a chance to review it before I sign.

The team we had assembled from the school he is currently in was really caring. It took a long time, but they have begun to understand my son. It seems a shame to take him from an educational team that is trying so hard to accommodate him without coddling him. The special education representative asked me why I was moving him to her school, when it was obvious that I was happy with his team and how they were working with him and providing him with what he needed to the best of their abilities.

This is mostly what I said: He is seven. He has to switch to two more schools by the time he reaches seventh grade if I leave him here. Your school is K-7, and I assume you will be adding middle school by the time he gets there. He does not like change. Transitions regress him horribly. Keeping him in place is smarter.

He has a team of three therapists, a caseworker, a doctor, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist. More than one of the members of that team has mentioned that your school lessens symptoms in other special needs clients similar to him. He is so strong on his academics and his tech that he does his work effortlessly- after a half hour argument about why he has to do it. Your school is a science academy, the only subject he finds interesting. You teach subject mastery and Singapore math. How many special ed children are passed along from grade to grade? Not at your charter school, not with mastery. I have to try it. If he does not succeed, I send him back to his team, and cherish the time he has left there before graduating to the next school.

The charter school rep seemed a bit daunted by the amount of time he requires out of the mainstream classroom. I reminded her that we just don’t know how he will be when he gets there.

The social worker offered social skills classes three days a week all summer. I passed. My son wants his vacation. I think he has earned it. He has improved tremendously on handwriting, accepting correction, and being present in the class. He no longer escapes into a world in his head. I did not know this. I thought he was still spacing out. So his coping must be improving, and his awareness. Now we just have to keep working towards that Theory of Mind. Once he grasps that, everything should be golden. Anyway, last summer he taught himself to read and I want to see what this summer brings him.

I have a social stories book for him, we started on it this morning. This summer each child has to go through mommy school and learn to help around the house. I think for him I should lean hard on recipes. It will help with his tendency to skip in reading. You just cannot skip recipe lines!

The largest change I made, from experience rather than from diagnosis, was to have teachers and paras introduce themselves to him every day upon meeting him. He does not know faces. He recognizes people only in predictable clothing with the same hairstyle in the same setting. I can teach him tricks to recognize people, but the school can accommodate, too.

One IEP done. Now I need to put a 504 in place for the other son.

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Service Dogs

I just spent another few hours applying for a service dog. Another local organization popped up on the ADI list and has been active for years, and seems to have a good reputation.

This one wants a fee, of course, but because they train with the prison system and then a local school the cost is ten thousand less than the average.

My son does not fit their criteria, and neither does my home, as I do not have a fenced yard. But they do take case-by-case considerations, and so I applied. They are not too far from me.

I have been so lucky lately, that I just had to try.

I applied for my oldest son, again, for his autism. There are no programs out there for PTSD dogs for children. I hope an autism assist dog would do many of the same things. I gave a good description of what I need the dog to do for him.

I give it two years. If I cannot get a service dog by the time my oldest turns nine I will train a dog myself. I have done very well with it before. It won’t be allowed in the places that I need a dog the most, but it will help at home as a therapy dog, where we need help the least. Help some of the time is better than none of the time.

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Managing ADHD and PTSD in the classroom

My son has ADHD. Not the sort of ADHD where people shake their heads and ask why you medicate your child at such a young age. The sort of ADHD where your son is in time out all day, weeping because he has a ¨bad heart and cannot be good¨, where he catapults over the couch repeatedly because he is trying to listen to you, but cannot sit still. The sort of ADHD where other children get hurt. Because ADHD and PTSD together make for NO IMPULSE CONTROL plus anger.

He has a good heart.  A great heart, the sort that loves small children and bugs. But he is so triggered, all the time. His ADHD makes him a walking textbook case of PTSD.

Which is why he is on medication.

But the meds are always being tuned, nothing works and keeps working as his body grows and as he acclimates to it. We have to keep tweaking the meds. To make sure they do not wear him out, or dumb him down. He needs to be himself, just under control.

His meds have been tweaked, because he was so tired a few months ago that it scared me. Now he is on time release twice daily. Clonidine. Which helps with his PTSD, a lot.

But it did not stop him from helpfully blurting out answers in class, talking out of turn, and other issues with verbal self control.

So I made him a bracelet after the med change.

It is stretchy, for comfort and fidgeting. It has little cheap plastic beads on it, in his favorite color.

When he wants to blurt something out of turn, he is supposed to move a bead over, instead.

It works like magic. But he has been using it backwards. He moves a bead over after he blurts something, instead, so his whole day is a sort of contest with himself not to move his beads over. The first day he moved three beads over. The second, two. The third day of his new bracelet no beads were moved.

His teacher has thanked me.

Other teachers in the school have been talking about it. I hope someone stumbles across this and finds that it works for them, too.

For his autistic brother I made another bracelet in the hopes it would bring good results. It is alternating dark and white beads.

The first bead is dark, for the things he wants to say but should not, like ¨I hate you¨ or ¨You’re a liar¨ which are true statements for him, but not very socially acceptable. Saying such things makes him a bully.

The second bead is white, for the appropriate thing to say. So instead of replying to a friendly ¨Hello¨ from his classmate, he will not say ¨I hate you¨ any longer (I hope!) but rather ¨Hi¨. He will still have said the wrong thing, the honest thing, in his head. To his bracelet. Then he gets to move the white bead with the appropriate response, which I hope he will say instead. Reprogramming, see? I hope this gets him thinking more about what to say. He said his first day went well. Next week will be the real test.

I wonder what the psychologist will think of my solutions.

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Paying it Forward

I couldn’t sleep all night. Not from the cost, but because I felt so vulnerable. I have no family to rescue me, not enough to rent a car (not that there is a car rental place here), and I didn’t even know the number for the local taxi or tow businesses (time to add into my phone). My friend who gave me her car arrived so tired that she should not have been driving at all, which was another worry altogether. My work is ten miles from my children’s daycare and school, which are close to home. It seems like a million at the end of the day. I would never be able to walk it before daycare got out, unless I started when I arrived.
I woke up in a bad mood. So did the children. We did not have a pleasant morning. A mommy time out was had.
I went to work, then went to pick up my car. The mechanic told me to take it. I told him I needed to hand something to my ride and then I would settle up with him. I handed a key off to my ride and then the mechanic told me again to take my car and go. I began walking to his office to pay, wallet in hand. He told me ¨Look, it’s taken care of. I am not supposed to say by who, but it’s all paid up.¨
I was stunned, I protested. I thanked him, I asked him to thank the benefactor. I managed not to cry.
I went back to work. Those I suspected in the office denied it. Not that I should have been sleuthing, it was not very graceful, but that is how I am. No one can accuse me of grace.
I got my check an hour later.
My check was for too much. I had been out sick, and I was paid for full hours. I felt awful. I had made a mistake on my timecard, for certain. I pulled out my file to find the faulty timecard and bring it to my boss so I could be docked properly the next pay period.
On top of the total hours, which I had correctly put as 16, was written ¨35.75, authorized by __¨. My boss had paid me in full, instead, using the hours from the week before as a source.
I did not cry. I did go to my boss and express my thanks and ask him to thank whoever paid for my car, if he knew who it was. He laughed at me, in a happy way.
I don’t feel lucky about the money. When you have had enough and none, money does not seem to matter very much.
What makes me feel lucky is the fact that someone, or more than one someone, thinks well enough of me to want to do nice things for me.
No one does something nice for someone they think of in a negative way. Not an expensive nice thing, because it seems worthless to invest in someone you do not think well of. You don’t trust them to use the gift wisely, or even appreciate it.
People believe in me. Such a powerful thought.
It’s not pity, either. Because no one knows what happened to me. I don’t talk about it.
I told my therapist I don’t want to see myself through other people’s eyes. But maybe the view is not as bad as I thought. Maybe the negative voice in my head is a memory rather than a reality.
For everyone who told me that people in this culture/country are sick and twisted lost souls – get an education. I love this town.
I made sure to tell the children right away, so they would know how much someone cares about them. Only my oldest son is able to fully comprehend what happened. He screamed, jumped over to me, and hugged me harder than he ever has before. I hope he always feels like that. I want him to have faith in humanity.

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