Of Eyeballs and Autocorrect
2 Outta 3 & ADHD

Special Needapalooza

I went to Noah's IEP meeting yesterday, our first "real" meeting with the new school. We had an initial "move everything from County A to County B and try to not let anything get lost in translation" meeting in the beginning of the year, but this was the Actual Annual Big-Deal one, where we determine services for the next 12 months. 

The good news is that...well, it's all good news. Noah has transitioned beautifully and his new team loves him, and even better, REALLY understands him. After years of being classified solely as a SPD/ADHD kid at his old school, to the point that the team seemed surprised by his eventual Autism diagnosis (and then had to rapidly overhaul his IEP), I think it was really beneficial to move into this school with the ASD code firmly in place. No question, Noah needs those specific needs met, and here is everything this school can possibly provide.

His new IEP is strong, comprehensive and best of all, was written from the point of view that this is just who Noah is and how he thinks and learns. He is not a problem to be solved. He is a child who will need X, Y and Z to succeed at school and we're going to make damn well sure he gets every one of those things. 

(You mean they put together an Individualized Education Plan that is...my God, individualized? SORCERY!)

The best news is that the school offers an extended year option for social skills, and Noah qualified for it. Four full weeks of half-day social skills/peer interaction summer camp, bus transportation included, FOR FREE. Freeeeeeeee!

(That "thud" sound you just heard? Was every special needs parent who ever had to price up the cost of a private social skills therapy group falling off their damn chairs.)

As I prepared to leave and happy-dance my way out of the school office, however, the psychologist asked if I could stay for a few more minutes to talk about...Ezra.

"I know, I know," I said. "We've already called our psychiatrist."

Ezra, my little day-dreamer, my peaceful Ferdinand among the flowers, our tenderhearted social butterfly who loves you, and YOU, and YOU, and...okay honey, stop looking at what your friends are doing and focus on what you're doing. Ezra. Ezra. EZRA!

Over the past year, he's gone from "easily distracted" (his kindergarten teacher's description) to being unable to sustain focus on anything. At school or at home. After months of begging for a guitar and guitar lessons, he can't pay attention during his 30-minute lesson for more than a few minutes at a time, then when it's time to practice at home it's like he never had the lesson in the first place. (Same thing with homework.) His class assignments come home unfinished, his homework packet is perpetually misplaced, he never knows where his library book is, his once-excellent handwriting has slowly become illegible. He buys Lego sets with his tooth fairy money but gives up on building them halfway through, asking Noah to take over because he can't stick with the instructions. 

He has a nervous tic he does with his hands that now clearly seems to be a stimming-like attempt to wrangle his energy and keep himself focused on whatever he's doing...works pretty well when watching TV or something, but gets in the way when he's putting his pencil down every 30 seconds during a writing assignment. 

He is, so far, still performing right on grade level in school, but his teacher thinks he can do much better than that. She'd already called the school's Instructional Intervention Team and is implementing a bunch of unofficial accommodations for him (preferential seating, OT equipment, small groups, extra breaks and time, etc.), and we've spoken multiple times to come up with other ideas to help him stay focused. 

And Ezra's getting visibly frustrated with himself, with his forgetfulness, his disorganization, his sloppy handwriting, on and on it goes. He's TRYING. I can see how hard he's trying. And then watching him get angry at himself is heartbreaking. He wants to play guitar, he wants to build his own Legos, he wants to make his teacher happy and do well in school. 

"I'm just distracted all the time," he said. "I'm no good at stopping all the distractions."

The school psychologist thinks it's time for, at a minimum, a 504 plan. We agree, and realize nothing positive ever comes from avoiding a proper evaluation and diagnosis, so we've enlisted Noah's long-time psychiatrist for help.  Medication has changed Noah's life for the better (literally ZERO of his IEP goals or accommodations at school are related to attention or hyperactivity anymore, a completely different story from a couple years ago), and once again I find myself needing to get over myself and accept that wow, this parenting thing just never stops with the curveballs. 

And speaking of curveballs, here's an Ike update: After much back and forth, we decided NOT to pursue an evaluation with Infants & Toddlers for Ike after all. Partly because 1) he totally had a language/grammar EXPLOSION in December and is now speaking much more clearly, 2) once the packet arrived and I zipped through the surveys it was pretty obvious he's nowhere near delayed enough to qualify for anything, and 3) "delayed" really isn't the right word anyway.

He's definitely a bit immature socially/emotionally and masks his shyness with a stubborn streak four miles wide, but if anything I suspect (and his teacher agrees) we're dealing with a bit of a Smarty McSmartpants over here. Who for whatever reason, prefers to hide that fact in front of other people...up until the moment he forgets, picks up a book and reads the whole thing, or completes a jigsaw puzzle marked 12 years and up. Wait, what? No, you totally didn't just see that. I can't read that, or do that, I'm Baby Ike, and I am here to make my mom toss up her arms in confusion 20 times a day. 

Comments

Cassie

I just wanted to thank you for sharing this kind of stuff. It is nice to know other people are going through the same thing, or variations of. Also, I just love your kids.

mamalang

Oh my goodness...that response from the school almost made me tear up for you. And it's making me think about my now teenager and his mild ADD that makes me a bit crazy with the forgetfulness. Maybe we need to have a talk again :)

And yeah, that 13 year old is also the baby (and only boy) and I'm here to tell you, they will milk that baby stuff for all they are worth, even when they don't really want to be a baby anymore.

Amy

I want to echo the thank you for sharing this. It's really personal to your family and your boys and nobody could give you crap for keeping it private. But I bet it helps a lot of parents who don't know how to look for signs, or take the first steps to help their kids. We're still new to parenting- our boy is 2, and I'm halfway through pregnancy with the second. I love your stories about parenting because it really helps me think and talk about how I want to parent. So thanks.

MamaKaren

I'm in the same county as you are and have been really impressed with how they have done IEPs in the context of "here's how we will make accommodations to meet the needs" vs. "here is the diagnosis and the boilerplate treatment." My son's 5th grade case manager is now with the county office for special education, and I think she is a great asset for schools other than the one we had her for. Hoss is in high school now and has a fantastic case manager who is keeping him organized and motivated in a way I never could have imagined was possible.

D

Wow. My oldest and my middle could be the girl equivalents of Noah and Ezra. We are moving to MD in July and I'm now seriously considering changing our preferred home area search to get in on some of those services.Damn.

Lauren

Your dedication to your children is so admirable and so lovely to follow along with. I hope you keep earning readers, because parents have a lot to learn from you.

Hez

Wow! This post is connecting with me. My oldest...he sounds exactly like Ezra...but I keep dragging my feet on doing something about it. I keep hoping he's just a little immature...and it's going to get easier. Sigh...he seems happy...he's not frustrated...but maybe I can nip it before we get there! Maybe I've just been afraid...this momma stuff is tough!!! Where's my manual??? Thanks for teaching us all how to fight for our kiddos! You rock!

Elizabeth_K

Yeah, just chiming in with general love for you, your willingness to share, and agreement that this parenting gig is very hard.

Costco Cook

"...masks his shyness with a stubborn streak four miles wide..."

You have no idea what a light bulb moment this just was for me in understanding my child and his needs. Thank you. Seriously.

Susan:)

Ike sounds like my younger niece. We always think she's behind and will need extra help, and then suddenly she accidentally reveals that she knows/can do things far beyond what we thought, and usually beyond most kids her age. She just doesn't like to show it until she's good and ready.

Diane

Like everyone else here, I'm joining in the thanks for being so open and frank about what your boys are like. It helps normalize things, sometimes to know that there are others who are going through the same things.

Diane (whose son is smart, scattered and hyper and whose daughter is smart and dreamy. Oh, and I'm smart and dreamy occasionally anxious and depressed and the husband is smart, scattered, hyper and bipolar.)

Kris

I love your new school. Also, curve balls all day long. Who knew, not me.

Angela Bolin

Thank you for sharing this part of your family with us. It is so real and so honest. I am thankful I stummbled upon your blog years ago. I think your kids sound absolutely wonderful.😊

heidi

I had an Ike! He was also my 3rd and was not happy to lose the baby designation when #4 came along. It started with refusing to speak but still being able to make his wants known. Then it was acting like he didn't know colors or any letters but D and then suddenly being able to read a month later. In junior high it was not doing any work and then somehow figuring out how to manage not to fail by the skin of his teeth. The good news? He has been accepted into a really good college that he will be attending next year. (MIRACLE!!)

julie

we've been really lucky too (also in the same county). Excellent thoughtful teachers, truly individual IEPs, and if occasionally there was a person who was a little too into the rules to notice who my son was and what he needed...there were 3 others who pointed out what really needed to be done. (Although a heads up keep an eye out on the ESY...those experiences haven't been so rosy) And thank you for sharing your life in special needs world... It has been so helpful in my family's life!

Marianne

What an amazing school district you're in! I'm so happy that they're working so hard to help your boys do their best in school. And all of your hard work has really paid off!

We live in the suburbs of Chicago and we're just starting down this path with my 2nd grader and my preschooler (kindergarten next year). I know everyone wants to have "typical" kids, but some kids are just different - not better or worse, just different. It's taken some real work for me to accept this village helping me raise my kids. But, I am really grateful they're there.

Jenny

Hello, I care about your family very much, been following your blog for years.
I mean this with love.....why don't you just take your boys out of school and home school them? Let them climb trees all day, and dig in the dirt and go roaming out free. Their issues are entirely a product of the unnatural expectations of the modern world; little boys are not meant to be sitting behind a desk for hours a day. It's abnormal.
I promise they won't fight all day; initially yes, as they 'de-school' and get it out if their system, but then you would all settle down to a new routine, and things would be fine. They would be best friends and super happy. You don't need to recreate school-at-home, just let them be and they will learn.

Anyway, I know you probably think this is a crazy idea and not something you'd ever do...but just wanted to mention it. I've been there, done that, seen it work.

Best wishes,
Jen x

Suzanne

Wow.

My oldest got a lot of attention for his ASD/Aspergers, while my younger son started school charming the teachers. My concerns about 'maybe he isn't paying enough attention' were brushed off. (because I have ADHD and saw similar traits in my son as my own) We got to middle school and charm didn't get him out of assignments anymore, and we finally got him evaluated for ADHD.

I'm glad that you're advocating for him NOW. My son is in 11th grade, and those 6 years of ignoring the issue because the teachers didn't think it was a big deal set him up with some bad habits that he's only now starting to consciously undo. It is harder to retrain yourself at 16 than 6.

And my oldest had ESY in Frederick County: we were told that this is something that Maryland provides to all students with IEPs and a demonstrated need. It definitely will help Noah by keeping him in a routine for part of the summer.

Nikki

Thank you. I have a best friend of 20 years and her son is autistic. She's in MD too probably in the same county and had his IEP meeting this week. Because of you I can empathize and understand her angst and hopefulness. So, yeah, you're awesome.

cath

Well...I just really want to give you all a hug right about now. Your boys are so lucky to have such awesome parents, and the love for your family shines through in your writing, and what you write about. Hats off to you! If the internet is your shoulder to lean on then I'll happile prop up my end cx

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