Monday, November 25, 2013

Just-right space

The awesome news is that Quinn is actively trying to make friends. The not-so-awesome news is that his friend-making skills are not as sharp as they could be. He has some real challenges staying in his own space, and has taken to following kids around with about an inch between him and the other kid. Shockingly, this doesn't go over well.

After his kindergarten teacher asked us for some ideas to help deal with this, his fantastic social-skills teacher taught me about just-right space and suggested I make him a social story book since he's such a visual kid. So I grabbed some photo time with Quinn and his good buddy Andrew (also a sensory seeker who is just fine with Quinn invading his personal space) and created my very first social story book!

Read it here.


Monday, September 23, 2013

My worst fear for Quinn at school

A Tucson teacher resigned after Duct-taping a student to her chair because she kept getting out of her seat (hmmm - ADHD? autism? sensory processing disorder?) prompting this retired teacher to write a letter to the editor of my hometown newspaper sympathizing WITH THE TEACHER and proclaiming that such troublemakers should get the hell out of the classroom. No acknowledgment that this could be anything other than a disciplinary issue. I live in absolute terror that Quinn will end up with a teacher like this.

Read the letter here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The full alphabet soup


He's got them all.

We knew from Day 1 that Quinn had some characteristics of autism. But his therapists felt like the behaviors were brought on by a lack of stimulation in his early months and that they likely would pass with time. Plus, we were doing all the therapies he would receive if he had autism, so an actual diagnosis didn't seem necessary.

Then our insurance company decided it didn't want to keep paying for therapy for a kid who wasn't on the autism spectrum. So, diagnosis here we come.

Getting the testing was no easy feat. It costs about $1,000 and is not covered by insurance. And the only developmental pediatrician in our city of 1 million people who does it has a wait of 19 months.  So we headed up to Phoenix - only a six-month wait - for two days of testing.

The process was actually pretty interesting. We filled out reams of questionnaires and literally discussed or disagreed over every answer. Does Quinn initiate play with other kids? I'd start to mark "rarely, if ever" and Tom would say, "That's not true. He does it at the park all the time." Argue, argue, argue. Then we'd compromise on an answer.

While we were doing that, the developmental psychologist gave Quinn and IQ test and then about six different tests. In some he solved puzzles, in some she watched him play with toys, in some she asked him questions.

Then the next day, I went back for two hours of answering questions, mostly about the paperwork we had filled out the previous day.

A week later we went back for the results. High-normal to high IQ, ADHD (another test will determine the severity) and autism. Not really surprising, nothing really changes except now his therapy will be covered. But I was surprised that hearing the diagnosis set me to thinking, and worry, about Quinn's future. Will he be able to make it in school? Will he be able to go to college? Will he be able to live on his own?

Now we begin the long and difficult road of trying to point all those answers to yes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No, this didn't happen in 1950. It was today. In my home school district.

Special-needs kids were left outside an elementary school in the heat for two hours after their bus broke down. Why weren't they allowed inside? School officials feared the SN kids would disturb the NSN kids enjoying an air-conditioned after-school program inside.

Read it here. Unbelievable.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The long and somewhat desperate search for the right kindergarten fit

Holy cow, what an ordeal it has been. But we finally chose a kindergarten for Quinn. We visited public schools, private schools, charter schools, a Chinese immersion school, and ultimately we decided to keep him in the same school he attended last year, which goes through kindergarten.

It is not as academically rigorous as others, but the teacher has taught kinder at that school for 29 years. She is unflappable and a strong believer in structure in the classroom, both of which are ideal for Quinn. And best of all, at the parents' meeting last spring she said her goal was not for kids to leave her class reading or writing above grade level, but that by the end of the year they all love to learn. Sold.

We're a week in now, and so far, so good. Ms. Kathy seems unfazed by the whirlwind that is Quinn. And her rigid classroom structure has kept him from spinning out of control as has been the case so many times in the past. We're hopeful, but also a bit nervous - in his last two schools, it was in Week 3 that it all went south.

Please join us in holding your breath and hoping for the best.

Up next, the search for the ideal first-grade classroom...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

No, you're not alone

I keep connecting with adoptive parents who are struggling with their kids' delays, trauma symptoms attachment issues — and they think they're the only one. So much of the adoption literature, listservs and blogosphere acknowledge that there may be issues early on, but indicate they'll be short-lived and easy to deal with. And so many agencies help would-be parents choose minor, correctable special needs without making sure they understand that lack of stimulation, neglect or abuse in those first few months or years can cause pervasive and lasting challenges for kids.

In the last week two parents I've connected with have asked me to return to blogging, and to sharing the truth about adopting a kiddo who does not catch up as we're led to expect.

So I've decided to give it a try. I hope you'll come along with me.