Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mush for brains

No, not Sarah Palin. ;) Me!

Today is my son's 7th birthday, which followed his sister's 10th birthday by 12 days. It's amazing how much work it is to prepare for children's birthdays when you're not even giving them a party.

I made another one of my famous cakes. I'm not *good* at it, but I enjoy creating cakes for the kids' birthdays. Today's cake was a jungle safari cake, and we brought it to his summer camp this morning for them to enjoy later.

The past few weeks have been overwhelmingly busy. For six months, I had been on a waiting list for my son to see a psychologist who specializes in "twice exceptional" children, children who are gifted and are neuro-atypical in some way (ADD, Aspergers, etc). For three months I had been trying to adopt a dog. We were looking at Brittany spaniels in need of rescue, but the process was difficult. And then for a month, the new pool I'd bought was sitting on my patio still in the box getting rained on as we endured one of the rainiest Junes on record.

In the space of 3 days, we 1. had our first psych appt, 2. got a dog, and 3. put up the pool. I needed a Valium IV by the end of the weekend. I settled for a beer or two. :)

In the meantime I'm teaching a course on Mondays and Wednesdays through July 22, which I probably need to get ready for now.


Amy P said...

Dear Wendy,

Here's my current reading:

I've been reading and discussing Jude Welton's "Can I tell you about Asperger Syndrome?" with C when I wash her hair. It's short and has a lot of pictures, but I've found four pages is a lot of ground to cover. I also just started reading Jed Baker's "The Social Skills Picture Book: Teaching Play, Emotion and Communication to Children with Autism" to C. I really like the picture book. It's got photographs on each page with pictures of children making eye contact, being/not being a "space invader," getting someone's attention, etc. with speech and thought bubbles and very little text. We're going through that one a lot faster.

C's patience for this stuff is limited, but I've also earmarked Appendix 3 (on social skills) in Lise Pyles' "Hitchhiking through Asperger Syndrome" and a bunch of exercises in Rebecca Moyes's "Incorporating Social Goals in the Classroom." Just before school starts, I'm planning on reading and discussing American Girl's "School Smarts: All the Right Answers to Homework, Teachers, Popularity, and More!" with C.

I also just skimmed through Jed Baker's "Social Skills Training: For Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communication Problems." I don't like it as much as his picture book, but he has an exhaustive list of social skills and the book does give me an idea of what I should expect of a social skills group.
As soon as I was told that C was a high/probable for Asperger's (that was a week ago), I ordered five copies of Matt Winter's "Asperger Syndrome: What Teachers Need to Know" as well as an extra copy of Moyes's "Incorporating Social Goals in the Classroom." I'll give the first book to each of C's teachers and I'll give the Moyes's book to C's main 2nd grade teacher. There's a possible extra step that I'm not very excited about doing, which is to either give a little talk to C's class about her peculiarities or to send in her psychologist to do it. Apparently, a lot of kids derive a huge benefit from a more understanding peer group. One can also ask teachers to set up lunch buddies, playground buddies, etc. But as I said, that's still outside my comfort zone, since once you do it, you can't undo it.

Best wishes!

Wendy said...

Whoa, excellent resources. Thanks! I'd gotten only as far as this book for Eric, and I checked out a couple of books from the library this weekend. I also read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," which was really good.

E is only halfway through testing, but a lot of things have come up that suggest Asperger's. But then there are a few things that don't. One of the things he "passed" (so to speak) was the Theory of the Mind test. I just can't wait till we get to the part of the process where they tell me how to parent/talk to him differently. I'm worried I'm not swinging too far the other way and excusing everything he does. "Ken, he's not answering your question because it's too open-ended and he has trouble with open-ended questions. Don't get frustrated with him." Now, what that accomplishes, I don't know. *sigh* I'm going to look at all the books you mentioned.

Amy P said...

Tell me what you think of the Carol Gray social stories. Gray is supposed to be a pioneer, but I'm curious whether her work holds up and what age it seems most appropriate for. I also really like Tony Attwood's "Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome" (2007). He takes a very positive approach, while at the same time being really thorough. He tells patients, "Congratulations! You've got Asperger's," and he really means it.

I finally heard who C's 2nd grade teacher is going to be and I got an email from her today. I sent her what had to be a pretty scary email to somebody coming back to teaching after several years away, but forewarned is forearmed. I'm hoping to meet with her before school starts and give her those two books.

The fall is going to be crazy because there are so many things to do and they all need to happen at once: physical therapy (2X a week), ballet (1X a week), psychologist (2X a month), social skills group (???), playdates (1X a week), board game club (1X a month to encourage social interaction), plus less formal physical exercise. Not to mention homework. I'm not totally sure there are that many hours in the day. The problem is that it's all important and it's kind of like those foam arches that you see at children's museums--you need all of the pieces.

The newest wrinkle is that C saw her pediatrician today and since some of the family may have been exposed to TB, we're all four scheduled to do PPD skin tests. C's already had hers and will have it read on Thursday, which is a relief. Her younger brother has one tomorrow that will be read Friday, but we parents have to wait until August. I'm starting to develop psychosomatic chest congestion, just thinking about the social repercussions for C of inflicting PPD's, chest x-rays, and a 9 month regime of medication on every family that has spent any time with us.

Wendy said...

I've decided you can't have TB, so you can stop worrying about that. :) Positive thinking!

I make a huge effort to cut down on things in the fall, but it's tough. It will help that soccer will be on Saturdays, so my husband can be in charge of that. We don't have PT (and probably won't) or a psychologist (yet), but his school psych suggested Cub Scouts, and it definitely is true that he thrives in situations where play is more structured.

I'll let you know about the Gray book.

Amy P said...

Thanks for the positivity! *tubercular, somewhat hypochondriac cough*

Will your son manage to do all his therapy at school? I'm pinning a lot of hope on the social skills group that the university autism center runs. C will start in the fall. I really like the idea of a setting where there are both facilitators and real live children to practice skills on.