Friday, February 25, 2011

I've been busy

I've been meaning to write a blog post all week, but I've been stuck, suffering from writer's block, if you will. I feel lazy and undisciplined because I haven't posted in almost two weeks.

Then, I started linking up my recently posted articles at different sites, so my mom would know where to go to read them all. She's my most avid supporter, and she gets bored at work sometimes, so she looks forward to reading my ramblings.

Anyway, below are all the places I'm posting this week. I guess I have actually been doing some writing after all. Just not for my own blog....

Here's an excerpt of my post for Hartley's blog; it's about poop, so be forewarned!

Mention the topic of potty training and I am liable to break out in a cold sweat. Nausea has been known to strike, and I sometimes feel panic gripping me. The issue of potty training has been known to reduce me to tears dozens of times.

In all my 7 and a half years of parenting, I can think of few other topics that make me feel quite as inadequate and helpless.

Neither of my oldest two children were particularly easy to potty train, and neither of them were trained at a very young age. But Danny, Danny was a spectacularly challenging case, one which we are still working on, even now as he nears his 8th birthday.


And click here for an article on the interoceptive sense that I wrote for Our Journey Thru Autism.

And here's a post I have running at the SPD Blogger Network today about my martyr complex....

Check out the review I wrote today for Building Sensory Friendly Classrooms.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Report Card

Danny got a progress report today. This year, he has been getting all A's and B's, which is why this particular report was so discouraging to me. In every subject except for Spelling, his grade has gone down to a C.

I am not sure why all of a sudden his grades have plummeted. I know math has become more difficult for Danny now that they are progressing into more abstract ideas. Also, they've started double digit addition and subtraction, which he's a bit slow with.

Ever since Danny has started school, I have heard grave warnings that he may start having difficulties with his schoolwork. Teachers, other parents and some therapists have told me that learning disabilities sometimes accompany autism and SPD. It makes sense, really. If a kid has difficulty understanding abstract ideas, he's probably going to have problems in school at some point.

We've been lucky so far, but I'm nervous now that he's in first grade and his work requires a lot more abstract and critical thinking skills.

So, in the last hour or two, I have devised a plan. I know this plan won't eradicate all his potential school problems, but I feel strongly that it will help him make more connections and more progress.

First off, we bought a set of math flash cards. Danny's biggest strength is his memory, and while I know he won't be able to get by on rote memorization alone (nor would I want him to be able to) I do think memorizing some of the basic math problems will help him. It seems like the more he practices, the more he starts seeing patterns. So, not only will the flash cards help him become quicker and more adept at addition and subtraction, but I believe they will help him start understanding what he is actually doing.

The second part of the plan includes Legos.

Yes, when I say Legos I do mean those multicolored little blocks with which my son is currently obsessed. Though I cringe at the thought of bribing my kid to do schoolwork, I know that if I want him to read more, I'll have to make it fun. Since Danny regularly fights me when I ask him to do extra reading, I knew I had to get creative or he would fight me all along the way. And really how do you make a kid read when he doesn't want to?

So, I devised a system where Danny earns 5 points every time he reads a book to me. He has chosen his prize: a Lego Space Police ship that costs about $25. In order to win the ship, he has to earn 300 points, which is roughly the equivalent of reading a book every day for two months.

Danny loves my reading program idea so far, though today is the first day. We'll see how he does over the long haul. I have warned him that it will take a long time to earn the Legos, but he assured me he can be patient.

And I know he's right, especially when it comes to Legos.

Monday, February 7, 2011

the hermit tendencies of my son

Saturday morning, I awoke to a veritable winter wonderland. There was snow everywhere and it just kept coming.

My first thought? If school is canceled on Monday, I'm officially moving to Florida.

Last week alone, we had 4 snow days; I think we have now missed about 10 or 11 days of school. I lost track once we hit the double digits. It was fun at first, but now I'm worried by the time school starts up again, Danny will have forgotten how to read.

My next thought: Excellent. Come hell or high water I am getting my butt and the butts of my kids OUT of this house today. Whether they like it or not, we are going to engage in some lively frolicking in the snow.

Danny fought us tooth and nail, as I knew he would. Though he has not left the house in 4 days, and in that same amount of time, has worn nothing but pajamas, the kid still resisted the idea of
leaving these four walls for adventure in the great outdoors. He claimed it would make him cold to go outside.

I don't know where I got this kid. Really.

Though I could see his point, I was bound and determined to win this battle. Last Saturday, I forced Danny to leave the house with very dubious results. My goal was to cheer him up, get him some exercise and some deep pressure--the kind of work that calms him down and makes him infinitely more pleasant to be around.

Well, it didn't go well. While Charlotte and Tommy romped in the snow with Bil, Danny sat on the porch and cried while desperately trying to open the locked door to escape the bracing winter air.

This week, I was determined to have a better experience.

So, of course, I had to resort to bribing the boy. I told him if he came with us sledding and was cooperative he'd get more time on, which is his latest obsession of choice.

Danny wouldn't bite. He just got annoyed.

Then, I said he could not only play on, but he could watch a video as well.

Still, no dice.

This kid was tough. He was nowhere near breaking, but I wouldn't give up. I had to get him outside, if even for a mere 45 minutes. I just knew a little bit of exercise was going to be the difference between a miserable day listening to a crabby, short-fused boy whine and one much more pleasant.

I finally had the brilliant idea to call my friend and offer to take two of her sons with us. I knew once Danny heard that S and C were coming, he might change his mind.

And it worked!

We bundled up all the kids, loaded up on water and crackers and sleds and set out on our journey. When we got to the great sledding hill not too far from our house, all the kids were actually excited. Even Danny.

Unfortunately, I seem to have given birth to a bunch of wimpy kids. Charlotte went down the hill once and proclaimed that she was done. No more sledding for her, thank you very much. And Danny just got frustrated because his sled kept getting stuck in the fluffy snow. I tried to show him that if he took the metal saucer down a few times it would pack the snow thereby insuring that subsequent trips down the hill with other sleds would be fast and fun.

But, he just kept complaining.

First it was the sleds not working right, then he complained that his gloves were too wet. After that, he got annoyed because the new gloves I produced from my bag of tricks were too big.

From there, he just got more creative and melodramatic.

"I'm COLD!" he exclaimed, though really it wasn't very cold at all, especially after climbing the hill a couple of times. "I'm freeeeeeezing! I think I have FROSTBITE!"

I chose to ignore him and soldier on, encouraging fun for everyone. At one point, after Charlotte and Danny had complained about the cold for the 84,000th time, I realized I was having more fun with S and C, my friend's kids than with my own.

Finally, Bil bundled Tommy and Charlotte up in the car to help them warm up, while I stayed on the awesome hill with Danny and his friends.

Despite lots of whining from Danny, we all had a lot of fun. The trips down the hill were invigorating and exciting, not to mention sometimes hilarious, like when C slid down the hill, lost his sled and still kept sliding on his stomach.

Finally, despite claims of frostbite over half of his body, Danny decided to make snow angels, which somehow took his mind off the cold. He and C dotted the entire hill with snow angels, after which a snowball fight erupted, with all the boys ganging up on me.

After building a snowman and then jumping on it, the kids were ready to go home. Well, at least Danny was ready to go; I'm pretty sure S and C would've lasted much longer, but it was lunchtime and I promised to buy everyone pizza.

In the end, the sledding trip was fantastically fun, even for Danny.

I knew it would be, but he just wouldn't believe me. I don't know why lately getting Danny to leave the house has gotten to be so difficult.

As a toddler, Danny loved to play outside, even when it was snowy or cold. Over time, though, he has become more and more resistant to being outside. He still enjoys playing at the park. Most of the time. And he rarely turns down an offer to go to the swimming pool, but other activities, he fights me on.

He prefers to stay home in his pjs most days, even sometimes when there is a chance of some serious fun. A couple months ago, I had to practically bribe the kid to go to a Lego party at the library. I couldn't believe it. He is obsessed with Legos, so I knew he would have a blast, yet he was completely resistant. I promised him that after 20 minutes if he wasn't having fun, he could leave.

Instead he ended up having a blast and he talked about that party for days afterwards.

I am so afraid that if I don't somehow intervene, Danny will turn into one of those geeky guys who spends 20 hours a day playing World of Warcraft, only stopping to pee in a bottle he keeps next to his computer so as to avoid any interruptions. I envision him morphing into one of the characters on the Guild: unemployed, no social skills, no relationships with anyone aside from his online "friends".

Which is why I'll be forcing him to attend his first Cub Scout meeting. The hardest part of this plan? Convincing the kid he needs to get out of his pajamas. Though he has been home from school for a mere 15 minutes and it is only 3pm, Danny is decked out in his favorite pajamas.

Here's hoping to this Cub Scout meeting is a resounding success. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.