Second thoughts about school

Sophia has really been struggling this year with school. It really is amazing what a difference a teacher can make.

Last year her teacher was the first to actually take her Autism seriously, as he has relatives who are Autistic as well. Most teachers so far, just expect her to fit in and don’t check in with her to see how she is doing. She thrived last year.

She is bored at school. She has learned a lot of what they are just starting to learn in her class so she gets bored and then disconnects. She also has to take Woodworking every Wednesday which she hates and is extremely afraid she will cut off her finger.

Combine her fear with her sensitive hearing, and the fact that her anxiety about the class kicks in as soon as she wakes up, and her nervous system gets overwhelmed before she even goes there. She even spends some Tuesday nights awake, unable to sleep due to stressing about the next day.

She has been home a lot this year, for a few reasons. There have been some really terrible viruses going around this year and we seem to get every one!

She has been struggling with her menses as she has a heavy flow and there is no allowances made with regard to PE while she is dealing with that, and any woman who has worn pads can tell you, running or playing sports while bleeding heavy makes a real mess and you get worse cramping.

They worship sports and physical activity here and I just don’t get it. It seems like there is a running or biking competition every couple weeks and of course it is mandatory that you participate.

This angers me, because it strips our children’s right to consent about what happens with their bodies. This is a huge issue and not only for girl’s but also, the boys. They see and perpetuate that you can force people to do what they don’t want to do just by pressuring them and telling them they have to. Also, it takes away the child’s ability to be sensitive to what their bodies are telling them. It interferes with their Autonomy and individuality, which is sadly, what schools were originally designed to do. This all needs to change.

Another issue for her, is that she keeps getting sick, some off it is anxiety, which has always manifested as stomach issues for her.  Also, she is environmentally sensitive, so she feels seismic, barometric and electromagnetic variances, so any changes in those areas and she is affected physically and emotionally. She gets that from me, I have the same thing. This has been steadily increasing the past couple years.

Her psychic and empathic abilities are also harder to ignore at this age, so she feels other people and knows things about them. It can be confusing when someone’s words don’t match the energy they are sending out. This is such a tricky age with Extra-Sensory development (now called Sensory Processing Disorder.)

She has had some of her tics coming back which indicates stress. Her appetite has been all over the place and so have her moods. The rage that comes form her is quite overwhelming at times, and I know she needs help channeling that again.

I work with her of course, but catching it in the moment is crucial to helping her recognise the subtle changes before they get to that point.

This illness, anxiety and stress… is all from school. I am seriously considering taking her out and homeschooling her again.

I know she will have great opportunities for learning, and make friends within the homeschooling community. They have an amazing Network here locally and do some really great activities.

Her class is taking a trip to Wellington next week and she can’t go. Brent asked to be one of the parents, but he wasn’t chosen, so she won’t go. I know this is the best decision for her, but it still sucks that she missed out on the opportunity.

We sat down with her and explained the trip and what they would be doing. Just the thought of it made her anxious so we decided as a family we would keep her home due to health reasons.

I can’t have her so far away in that environment without one of us there if she needs help. If she had a full blown meltdown, they wouldn’t know how to handle her. Also, her classmates may not treat her the same once they witnessed a full meltdown and we can’t allow that to happen.

We will take her on a trip down there as a family and see some if the places she missed. She has been to some of it already, when we took our family holiday last year. Thanks to IHC and their Take A Trip Getaway package they so generously awarded us. You can read more about Day 1 here and day 2 here.

Brent and I will talk with her again and go over what her options are. If she is going to keep missing school, I would prefer that she is homeschooled. Right now, she is in a state of confusion and the anxiety and stress are affecting her physically and that is not good.

At least if she homeschooled, I know she is still meeting (and exceeding) her education requirements and can join in their activities and make some friends within the group. She gets along with everyone at school, but yet has no one she is really connecting with.

We will see what happens, but for now, she is in bed, and will stay home again with a slight fever. She has a head cold and a sore throat. She has also been very angry, sleepy and withdrawn for the past few days and her tics have increased. I know she wouldn’t be ok in her classroom in this shape.

We are having a lot of seismic unrest, and that always affects her, and myself. I think we will have a good quake soon to release some of the pressure. Hopefully it will be out to sea and not affect anyone directly, but I also know that God always has a plan.

Now to make a plan with my girl and see how she feels about trying to homeschool again, or even do Te Kura (homeschooling with a Teacher that visits once per week).

Finnic for Ace

Art by 8yellowcats for +Ace (The Parademic)

On a lighter note, you can check out some of her latest works of art here, and some of her older work. This is how she copes, doing art. She is really pushing her boundaries and trying new things and I love watching her artwork blossom. She is so talented and I would love to get her into some art classes. Maybe we can take them together. 😀

This post was read and approved by Sophia. 😉 Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. Feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

 

Trialing School Day 1

Sophia is off to school today for a 20 day trial with the expectation to have her enrolled if all goes well.

This was her idea, she has been talking about it for a month, but last week she said she was ready for me to make an appointment so we did.

This past week we have been meeting with the new (to us) Principal and the Teacher of her school to set it all up.

She got the news on Friday that she would be going back, so she had time to process over the weekend. She was very excited that she was going to start today.

She has been practicing getting up with her alarm for the past couple weeks, and getting herself ready so that she would be all good to go this morning.

She showered last night so she would have less to this morning. She got up on her own to her alarm, got dressed, ate breakfast and did her hygiene routine before getting her bag ready and helping me pack her lunch.

Her Teacher is the same one who taught our son Max in year 6. He also worked with Sophia when she was there before so she is also familiar with him. He has also known Brent since they were in school together.

He is a lovely man who has extensive first hand ASD knowledge as a co-carer for his adult autistic brother-in-law.

This Teacher and the new Principal are why we decided to trial her this year when Sophia asked if she could go back to school. She knows she is ready and we are pretty confident that she is right.

We had excellent meetings and discussed her diagnosis and all of her possible triggers and preferences. I went prepared with a printout and he was happy to have it. Here is the link Diagnosis and Triggers for Teacher. We also discussed her strengths and methods for success.

He said most of the triggers and allowances are similar to those of his Brother-in-law so it was easy for him. What surprised and delighted me, is that he even knows the intuitive nature of the sensory issues with regard to feeling others emotions.

He also knows how sensitive the girls are at menses and said staying home is not an issue and of he knows when it is, he knows to be more sensitive with the girls.

We are really looking forward to seeing how well she transitions back into school. She has grown so much in the past couple of years, especially with regard to her self-confidence and knowing who she is.

I took this photo this morning of her first ‘school’ day of year 6.

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“I am nervcited Mom”

We went in early, and it was nice seeing the teacher and some of her old friends waiting for her when she arrived.

He assigned her a desk next to her BFF when she was there last, so she was even more excited. When I left, another of her old friends was showing her around and she was settling in.

She knows her ‘safe space’ and that she is allowed to go there when she gets overwhelmed. She also knows the school well and the staff and that she can ring me.

I am sure she will have a fabulous day and I am very happy for her. We are confident she will breeze past her 20 day trial and want to continue.

I will write more after school, now I am going to bake a cake for the family as they are all awesome and deserve to be spoiled.

 

 

 

Ear surgery and Anxiety

I know this post is different, but it is something we all deal with as a family; our anxiety.  Sophia and I both have Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

I have had it for years but I can control it most of the time. Many people don’t even know I have an anxiety disorder, unless they are very close friends or have been with me when I have had a panic attack. So yes, I can control mine most of the time, but I hate my anxiety especially when it engulfs me out of nowhere.

Here is the reason that has triggered my anxiety. I am having ear surgery; getting permanent tubes put in in two days and I am terrified, with no logical reason. It is a simple procedure and I have had it before as a child.

 

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When the Dr first told me I needed it four months ago, he said there is so much scar tissue from previous surgeries that they will really have to cut and it may not work (while doing carving motions in the air.) I Started having a panic attack from the way he was describing it and he said he would be sure I was put under.

Of course it did not help that a couple nights before I went in, we were watching an episode of Blindspot and I was triggered. Unexpectedly, one of the characters was tortured by being strapped down and having her eardrum stabbed repeatedly with a syringe. I ran out of the room but it was too late, it had brought back the memory and terror from my childhood of the procedure I had while awake.

They have rung me twice since, regarding dates and both times I started hyperventilating and crying just talking with them about the surgery.

Today we did final arrangements and it hit me again while speaking with them. She was saying my husband couldn’t come in with me and I panicked, as I misunderstood her. He is my rock, he knows me very well and what to do to keep me grounded and calm. I am glad I asked for clarification as I thought I would be sitting in the room waiting for several hours before surgery alone, but she meant only in the operating theatre.

Then it hit, I felt like a terrified little kid and couldn’t speak more than one or two words. I couldn’t stop crying and it felt like I couldn’t breathe and the room started to go dark but I pushed back. I couldn’t pull myself completely back together once the tears started flowing and my husband was not home to take the phone. Thankfully I was able to hold it together long enough to hang up the phone. The poor woman on the other end must have been thinking I was a nutter. He is on his way home now though, so that is good.

You see I had tubes put in a few times as a child and I was left there and did not know or understand what was happening. The last time I was around 8 or 9 years old I think, and I was awake through it and it terrified me and I just froze and internalized it all as I always do.

Back in the 70’s children were not treated the way they are now, especially in the Midwest USA. I was hit by Dentists and Doctors regularly for something as simple as asking what they were doing, or saying it hurt, or crying from pain (…or by my Grandmother for embarrassing her.)

So I am pretty sure that this is subconscious childhood medical trauma rearing it’s head mixed with the recent loss of my mother who was suppose to have a successful surgery. The whole thought of it overwhelms me completely, so I mustn’t think about it.

They are planning on putting me to sleep, and for that I am very grateful, but signing in at 8:30 and potentially not going in to theatre until almost noon leaves me far too much time for my brain to come up with all the reasons I don’t want to do it and possibly plan an elaborate escape. At least I am comfortable with the ENT.

The lady was lovely and said they can give me something for the anxiety. I am so glad my husband will be with me, but I just hope I don’t loose it. I just don’t like not being in control of my emotions and thoughts in times like these. No matter how much I logically understand the reasons for my subconscious reactions, I can’t stop the physical ones.

It is times like these when I wish I had my Asperger’s diagnosis on paper so they might understand a bit more why I have these huge reactions.

This is true when it comes to my kids as well, but not to the extent of physical distress as with myself. With the kids, I worry, but I use that to an advantage by being sure that one of us is always with them when they have any procedures done. I never fear for their safety only that they will be scared, but they never are.

Sophia cracks me up, she is Sheldon Cooper without even knowing it. She walked up and said, “Mom, are you crying?” and I said yeah, just nervous about my surgery is all, I will be fine. She tapped my head twice and said, “There, there.” in her cute little monotone voice and toddled off up the stairs yelling I love you. (One of her tics is she yells “I love you!” each and every time she goes upstairs, it is one tic that I have come to love.)

Anxiety never goes away, it is just something that is lesser or greater depending on the situation and the triggers that come up.

If I got through my MRI when I almost lost the plot, I can do this.*

*After finishing the above, my husband came in with an appointment letter, they have changed ENTs on me so I don’t even know the man who will do my surgery. ugh.

It starts all over again. It may be time to go back on medication as perimenopause is making it very difficult to maintain my equilibrium as of late.

I sure feel blessed that it is school holidays while all of this is going on.

I know that I will be fine, and this too shall pass, it is just a small bump in the road.

This procedure is a very good thing in all actuality. The testing showed I have mild to  moderate loss in my right ear, and moderately severe to severe loss in my left. This should recover my hearing from what they have told me, this is the only reason I am doing it.

hearing test chart

We openly communicate our struggles as well as out triumphs so the kids know that they can too and we will support each other through it, whatever it may be.

Autism and Asperger’s Q & A Video #1

This is a follow up video Sophia did after asking for questions for her Autism and Asperger’s Q & A in her 5 Myths About Autism video .

I printed all the questions for her and she answered them first by hand and then answered them by memory (or read them) in her video.

She had a great response from the YouTube Community, Home Educators group and Facebook Family and Friends.

We will be doing another of these next month as they will be a series.

We are all very proud of her.

Feel free to check out her other videos as well on her 8 yellowcats YouTube channel

 

5 Myths About Autism Video

Below is a video Sophia did after seeing someone being bullied about being Autistic.

She decided she wanted to do something to help people understand Autism a bit better so that people will stop being mean and just accept people as they are.

This video got a great response for questions and was shared on several blogs and Facebook Groups for Home Education, Autism Parenting and Autism and Aspergers.

The follow up video; Autism Q & A #1, will be posted as soon as she finishes reading her questions and writing her answers.

We hope you love this one as much as we did. Please feel free to leave comments and questions as she will be continuing her series of Autism Q & A.

We had some great feedback from many of those on our resource pages, including Bill Nason of Autism Discussion Page, Samantha Craft of Everday Aspergers and Sue Larkey.

Here is one quote from Sue Larkey (see resources page for link.)

Hi Maria,

LOVE IT!! Love the cat ears too. Divine your girl you have there.

CONGRATULATIONS to both of you

BEST wishes

Sue

Sue Larkey is uniquely positioned within the education system having taught both as a primary school teacher and a special education teacher. She is a highly qualified educator who has taught students with autism spectrum disorder in the mainstream and special schools. She combines practical experience with extensive research having completed a Masters in Special Education and currently undertaking a Doctorate in Education.

Winner of Naturally Autistic 2013 International Award for
Community Contribution

Sue has authored many books on autism spectrum disorders. Sue believes that armed with the tools of understanding and confidence much can be achieved.

 


Warning face

This is the face she makes when she is going to bite or claw.

It happens when she has been overstimulated, is anxious, or if he ate something she is reacting to.

It is usually followed by the eyes and head rolling back and quick hopping in place, while she claws you and growls through her clenched teeth, “Squeeze me, squeeze me, squeeze me.”

If I catch it straight away I can give her squeezes and hold her to help calm her down if not it takes a while to help her feel calm and relaxed.

I have to be very quick usually, I can catch it before the second phase.

Asperger’s Diagnosis

We got Sophia’s Aspergers diagnosis in the mail today, Yay.

Actual: HFA (High Functioning Autism), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and ANXIETY related to Sensory issues – her Dr said even though they no longer recognize Asperger’s in the DSMV, look to literature and treatments for Asperger’s as that would have been her previous diagnosis. Excellent doctor!!

Now we have access to resources to help her thrive and allow us, others, and her school to understand her needs.

I must say, her school teacher has been awesome so far. 😀

Love my Aspy, time for a tattoo.

My material to be used for a presentation for public health nurses

An interesting thing happened today. (I know, sounds funny coming from me.)

About 2 weeks ago, I sent in the photo journal of Sophia’s “unique qualities”, some artwork of hers and the defensive reaction sheet to the ASD Assessment Team to help speed up the assessment process.

This morning, while I was contemplating building a blog/picture diary about my journey with Sophia (logging all of her stages, and of course her musings) I had a missed call with a message. When I checked it she said she would email me.

The reason I was contacted today, was to see if they can use my material for a presentation for public health nurses. It was touching the way that that she asked, what a lovely lady. [“They are so beautiful and depict so clearly traits that I felt I couldn’t describe in words the emotion and story the pictures display. (hope that makes sense).”]

Of course, I said yes. It does makes sense, it was what I was aiming for, to share what it is like to be in the moment with her.

I am excited by a feeling of validation, which holds so many possibilities for our girl, and all of us as a family.

Even one child whose nurse or relative sees this and recognizes the traits, and is able to help another Family start their journey to finding answers.

(Tania & Vern, be sure to let Shayla know, after all she is the one who recognized the traits from the school seminar on Asperger Syndrome with Jen Birch and started us on this journey. Clever wee one she is!)