The First Day

Well, Moose survived his first day of school…and by that, I mean *I* survived his first day of school (but just barely!).  Much like his older brother and sister, he had no problems with leaving me, and didn’t even give me a backward glance as he walked away with his teacher (who is very nice, btw).  I guess it was better that way, because if he had been upset, I don’t know how I would have been able to leave him–he’s still so small.

It was very hard, even with his good attitude.  I’ve never been a big fan of sending children so small to school, and if it wasn’t for his delays, I never would have even considered it.  As far as I’m concerned, a boy so little belongs at home with his mommy.  But I have come to accept (but not like) the fact that he needs help I can’t provide.  He’ll be getting speech therapy every day, plus music and occupational therapy once a week.  Aside from that, though, he’ll just be doing normal preschooler stuff.  Cutting, gluing, playing on the playground…that kind of thing.

His teacher told me he had a really good first day.  Not really sure what that meant, other than I’m assuming he didn’t have any meltdowns.  I doubt he was talking up a storm, but it sounds like he was participating, and a little boy said “bye-bye” to him when he was leaving, so maybe he made a friend.  I so wish I could hear how his day was from him, but if he could tell me all about it, he wouldn’t be going in the first place.  I guess that’s some kind of irony or something.  But he was happy, and that’s all that matters.

So, this is a good thing for him.  My head knows that, but I really wish someone could clue my mommy heart in…we’ve really been through the wringer in the last couple of months, and my heart has taken quite the beating.

Baby Steps

An update on Moose, for those who are interested…

He’s receiving speech therapy twice a week, and occupational therapy once a week, all in our home.  That’s the best thing about Early Intervention as far as I’m concerned.  We don’t have to worry about going anywhere, and I don’t have to figure out what to do with the other three children–they just play in the playroom, and we do the therapy thing in the den.  I’m still having a tough time finding the correct balance for my time with the three hours of therapy a week, plus homeschooling and my usual mommy stuff, cooking, cleaning, laundry and taking care of the finances (I know three hours doesn’t sound like much, but it can throw a wrench in the day, especially when the appointments take place at weird times!), but we’re working on it, and the main thing is, Moose loves it.

Both therapists have told me that they are impressed, and frankly shocked, with how quickly he is progressing.  According to them, most children do not move at the rate he is, and since I’m assuming they have no reason to lie to me to make me feel better, I guess he’s doing fantastic.  It can be hard for me to see the improvements, probably because I’m with him all the time (kind of like how you can’t notice your own children growing, until you see that their pants are too short), but when I think back to how he did with the evaluations in our home back in late July, I do notice a big difference.  His attention span, particularly for adult-directed activities, is phenomenally longer.  He is still not talking much on his own, but he’s making many more attempts at repeating what we say.  His eye contact seems to be improving, and he’s interacting more.  Oh, and he’s doing a great job with following directions, and not just when he wants to!  All great things, and all what a mommy wants to hear!  Yeah, he still has his moments, but what almost-three-year-old doesn’t?

His therapists tell me that there’s a very good chance he’ll “outgrow” his diagnosis in a few years, which would be fantastic.  For now, I’m not going to think ahead to then–obviously, that’s what we want, but I don’t want to get my hopes up for something that might not happen.  He will be going to “preschool” four days a week once he turn three–I wish it was a three day program, but I’m feeling much better about it after talking to an actual representative from the school district (probably the best source of information, huh?  That doctor had no clue what she was talking about in regards to our schools!), and he’ll continue to receive therapies there, which I know will be good for him.  If I can swing it with insurance, we may even be able to keep seeing our speech therapist once or twice a week, and she even said she’d keep coming to the house, so that’s something I’ll have to work on before his birthday.

Overall, things are looking good, I’m feeling a little better (although, I still have moments where I break down sobbing, thinking about my sweet little boy having to deal with being autistic for the rest of his life!), and most important of all, Moose is happy (as always!) and improving in ways I’m sure he doesn’t even realize, but which make the rest of us feel really good!

Finding Balance

I have to confess, I’m having a difficult time balancing all I need to do.  Let’s face it, taking care of four small children and the house was challenge enough, but adding in homeschool and Moose’s therapy, and I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed.  

Maybe I just need to give myself more time to adjust.  I guess it doesn’t help that Moose started therapy the same week we started our trial run of school (at least I’ll have next week to regroup and take a new look at my schedule, after the Olympics are over, but before our official first day of school!).  This week is especially challenging, because Moose has three hours of therapy, plus the big diagnostic appointment I’m dreading, which could last up to three (or more, I suppose!) hours.  Most weeks, he’ll probably only have two hours of therapy, three at the most, and no going to the hospital, so that’s good.  

And our Olympics school is taking up more time than I was anticipating–I’ve found more stuff to add to my lessons, and the children are asking more questions and taking this more seriously than I was expecting, so what I thought would probably take about half an hour each day is actually taking an hour or more most days.  I’m not complaining, because they love learning, and because we’ll be spending at least that much time on “real” school, so I may as well get used to it, but I just guessed I would be easing into it more gradually…

Anyway, I’m reaching “something’s gotta give” territory here, I think.  I’ve managed to keep up with washing (but not folding) the laundry, and as we have to eat, I’ve been on top of meal planning and cooking.  I’m not letting the children run rampant (much), so I guess I’m still taking care of the Mommy thing, and the bills have to be paid on time, so the financial manager is still in.  The housework, sadly, has suffered.  My kitchen floor is long due for a mopping, but I really plan to do that this week, the carpets need a good vacuuming, and while I’ve been cleaning the kitchen, I haven’t been doing it well.  At least the bathrooms are (mostly) clean–a little toothpaste in the sink, but who doesn’t have that?  So, clearly, I know what I need to work on as I’m taking on these new roles and responsibilities.

I’m guessing things will improve some next week once the Olympics are over.  Any spare time I’ve managed to find has been spent glued to the TV, either in the morning with the children, after dinner as a family, or at late night with Ryan (if he doesn’t fall asleep from boredom first!).  Heck, I’ve even been planning my grocery shopping and other errands based on what event is on when, and who is doing what interviews on which NBC show–nothing is safe:  Today Show, NBC Nightly News, the Olympic Zone–I’m riveted to it all!

So, once the Olympics are done, and I get used to both homeschooling and Moose’s various appointments, I hope I’ll get back on track, and figure out how to get it all done.  In the meantime, if you stop by, please avert your eyes from the sticky spots on the floor and the lint on the carpet!

What Can I Say?

It was a hard day.  The meeting with the occupational therapist went better than I expected, both in her attitude, and in Moose’s responsiveness, especially given that it was nap time.  She does, apparently, view church as “boring”…couldn’t believe Moose would ever sit through a service, especially since we *gasp* don’t bring toys for him.  Whatever–that was kind of telling, especially given her attitude about some things yesterday.

Anyway, after she did her evaluation, the two other therapists and the caseworker joined her, and went over their reports.  There was nothing particularly surprising in them, but it is hard to sit there and listen to all of the ways your child is behind, to hear the words “severely delayed” in some areas, and even harder to read it in black and white after they leave.  It was made even worse by the way they chose to seat themselves at my kitchen table…they all squeezed together at one end, opposite me, which left me feeling very awkward, a little defensive, and kind of attacked.  I really wish Ryan could have been here, both as support, and as another set of ears and another source of judgement.  But I got through it.

Overall, the recommendation is three hours of therapy in the home per week.  Two speech, one occupational.  They also recommended a playgroup which we probably won’t be going to, some diagnostic testing (which could involve MRIs, genetic testing, and the requisite parent interview and observation of the child) which I guess we’ll do, but I’m not sure how I feel about, and then some really weird stuff.  A pressure vest to make him feel hugged, since he likes sensory stimulation (why can’t I just hug him?), a trampoline to bounce on…now, I’m with this kid 26 hours a day (and if anyone besides my nerdy husband catches that reference, you have my undying admiration!) and let me tell you, he doesn’t need to bounce more! Basically, they thought he would benefit from some “adaptive devices”, which I thought was a bunch of baloney, but ended up being a moot point, because E.I. only covers those through 33 months, which he will be in a few weeks.  Fine by me.

So, we’ll start the therapy whenever they can schedule two people to come out here, (not sure how long that wait will be–hopefully not too bad, since we’ve only got about three months left) and we’ll get a hearing test done just to make sure there’s no weird problem there.  I’m not sure that I want to “transition” him to the school system once he turns three–1.) I’m not a huge fan of preschool, and B.) I really don’t want him labeled as special ed this young, which he would be.

Frankly, I have some pretty strong opinions about this early intervention/sensory stuff that I’m sure won’t be popular.  To some extent, I really think that because our society is so conformist, and, even though people say otherwise, so unwilling to accept people that are different, that we have to put a label on children who are different, and try to “fix” them.  That bugs me–it’s taken me almost 30 years to realize that the things that make *me* “different” from a lot of others are the things that I like best about myself, and I was hoping to spare my children some of that agony.  I guess that’s just part of growing up, though One of the therapists today basically said “we want to make sure he’s just like other kids his age.”  I’m not so sure that I do–I just want Moose to be Moose.  Yes, I want him to talk more, and yes, I’ll do the speech and occupational therapy at least until he’s three, and see what kind of progress he’s made, but I’m not sure how much farther I want to pursue this. He’s obviously cognitively fine, which all the therapists agreed with, so maybe he just learns different, and maybe that’s OK.  They pointed out how self-motivated he is, which I tend to think is fantastic, especially in a child his age, but they said it almost like it was a bad thing.  I mean, I know he learns how to follow directions, but I also really admire how independent and focused and self motivated he is.

Anyway, the big things we’ll be working on (because we had to create goal statements to go into his file) are him talking to share what he’s thinking, and lengthening his attention span so he can do more focused activities.  If you could pray that he accomplishes those things I’d greatly appreciate it!

Anticipating Tomorrow

I’m getting more and more nervous about my various Moose-related appointments tomorrow.  I’m getting a real bad vibe off the O.T., and I’m not looking forward to meeting with her at all.  I’ve talked to her twice today now, and I’m getting the distinct impression that she is not happy with the timing of tomorrow’s evaluation and follow-up meeting.

Look, I get that this was last minute and everything, but it’s not like I scheduled the appointment–I was just grateful that the time the caseworker told me worked out with the other stuff I have scheduled–contrary to popular opinion, I have a life, and my time is important, too!  Yeah, yeah, I’m “just” a stay at home mom (as the caseworker pointed out, complete with the word just, and condescending tone, the first time I met with her), but I do have other things to do, and they’re going to have to deal.  Yes, I want to get Moose help, but I do have three other children, and interests of my own, so they’re going to have to meet me halfway.  Frankly, I think I’ve been plenty accommodating, given that for all three of these evaluations, I was just called and told when they would be taking place.  As a matter of fact, the only appointment I really had any say in was the one for the follow-up, and even then, I didn’t get to pick the date, I was just able to give a general time that would work for me.

Given the attitude of the occupational therapist, I’m also concerned because I think she’s the one we’ll be dealing with for the occupational therapy I’m sure they’re going to suggest for Moose.  (What does that involve, anyway?  He’s only two, and has no occupation.  Yeah, I know, that’s not exactly what that means, but that’s what it sounds like.  Weird.)  If we’re already not hitting it off, and she hasn’t even been here yet, how in the world is she going to help my son?  Hopefully, she was just having a bad day today, and she’ll be more pleasant tomorrow.  Or maybe she’s just bad on the phone.  Or, and this isn’t a great option for me, but would be OK by Moose, maybe she’s one of those adults that is great with children, but can’t really communicate with other adults.  Whatever…guess I’ll get a better indication of all this tomorrow.

Anyway, I feel better getting this off my chest.  I’ll just be glad when tomorrow is behind me.

Moose Update #1

We had our meeting with the developmental therapist this morning. She was very nice, and Moose enjoyed playing with her. I, for one, was impressed with her ease in getting down on the floor (and back up again!) with as pregnant as she was!

He cooperated with her more than I was anticipating, but not as much as he ought to have given his age. She said that from what she saw today (and I’m sure the speech therapist will be looking at this more on Friday) his speech was at about a 15 month old level. It was kind of sobering to realize that he’s speaking at the level Ladybug is almost at, but not really surprising.

Although she was quick to remind me that she is not a diagnostician, she did say that in her opinion, he really is not showing autistic traits, which was a big relief to me. She felt that he was too social and playful, among other things, to really be showing signs of that disorder. She did mention, however, that he is showing a lot of symptoms of something called Sensory Integration Dysfunction (I hope I got that right). She was particularly concerned that, at his age, he often doesn’t pay attention when someone is directly addressing him. It is normal for a two and a half year old to listen and disobey, whereas Moose tends to not listen at all. A hearing test will be one of the first orders of business, but she said that if there is no known hearing problem, it is unusual (although not impossible) to find one at this point.

She warned me not to go and google this disorder, which I of course promptly did after she left. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. Anyway, I’ve heard some things about it on message boards, so I wanted to do a little more research. She warned me that I’d probably mostly find only the worst stories, so I stayed away from that–I really just wanted to look at symptoms right now. And, I have to admit, he exhibits a lot of them. On the other hand, the list is so long that I could probably diagnose any one of my children with it, so I’m trying not to read too much into it. The bottom line–she said if he does have SID, it will never go away, but he can learn to deal with it, and should be a fully functioning adult, capable of a career, marriage and family if he so desires. As the bottom line is my concern, I was quite relieved to hear that!

It is her recommendation that we also have an occupational therapist evaluate him. An OT will be able to help him with some of his listening problems, and unless we address that first, she felt that speech therapy will not be as effective as we want it to be. So, while I think our follow-up meeting will still be Monday as planned, we’re also looking at having one more evaluation after that. I guess we’ll be looking at having both speech and occupational therapists come out to the house, at least until he’s three, and then I guess he’ll be getting help from the school district (?) (Ironic given our new plan to homeschool) unless we look into some kind of private therapy, but I have no idea how our insurance would handle that, and I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here. I guess the only thing to do is take it one day at time, hear what everyone has to say, and come up with a plan of action. Either way, he’s still our Moose, and we’ll love him no matter what!