This pic was taken on MJ’s first birthday! Look at that smile! It is difficult for me to believe that he will be turning 11 next month! Though I always have a bit of anxiety surrounding his birthday celebration, I am confident that he will have fun no matter what we plan.
My kids received their report cards today. Is it just me or do you need an engineering degree to read their report cards these days! What happened to the letter grades of A through F and the subjects of Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies?? It took me about 5 minutes to go through my daughter’s report card and about 12 minutes to go through MJ’s! In addition to his regular report card I received a 10 page report of his goals and how he has performed thus far! There’s a lot of codes and numbers and it’s not easy to go through! I am grateful that they both are showing great progress (I think lol) and my prayer is that it continues! I am still awaiting MJ’s IEP meeting. It should be sometime next week. I intend to be fully prepared!
I just love these moments…
ME: Kissing MJ on the cheek after his therapy appointment today.
MJ: “Mommy, why are you kissing me?”
ME: “Because I am proud of you son and I love you.”
MJ: Stares at me for 2 seconds…”I love you too mommy”…Then gives me a kiss on my cheek.
Boy do I love this kid!
Did you hear about the Dateline special yesterday about what happens to children with autism when they turn 21? Well, I have to admit that I recorded it to watch at a later time. I can’t even think about the future sometimes without crying. I fear what will happen when my son gets older. What will his transition to “life” be like? Will he ever drive a car? Will he ever go to college? Will he ever truly have a best friend? Will he ever have a girlfriend? Will he ever get married? Will he be able to take care of himself? Will he have to live with us forever? Does his sister realize that she will eventually have to be her brother’s keeper? Will he have enough money to live on after we are gone? I am crying as I write this because these are things that I honestly try not to think about. It is just too overwhelming. I have to live my life One Day At A Time because I can’t bear thinking about the future. So many people take these milestones for granted…Some day soon, when I am ready, I will watch the program…alone. I know that at this time in his life, my husband is not interested in watching it…It is at these moments that I have to focus on God…That is the only reason why I am still sane…Time to pray.
I admit it. It’s true. My husband was right (the rare time that he was lol). My son is lazy and it’s all my fault. I didn’t mean for this to happen but the damage is already done and I am now trying desperately to undo his laziness! In the beginning I did everything for MJ mostly because I had to but as he has grown, I have continued to do more than I should have done. My husband and I have had countless arguments on this subject. He was able to see what I was doing and tried to tell me several times…I always answered back with my “I’m his mother and you don’t know what you’re talking about” attitude. My son walked around the house like he was “King MJ”.
I made his bed.
I emptied his trash.
I cleaned up his room.
I made his snacks.
I cleaned the table after he ate.
I made sure he didn’t lift a finger around the house.
I should’ve made a change years ago, probably around 3 years ago, but for me I realized about a year ago. I had seen how he cleaned in his classroom and at aftercare. He was a regular Mr. Clean around there…It finally dawned on me. I am hindering him at home. Now it’s a fight to get him to do things that I KNOW he can do.
Now, he takes out the garbage.
Now he cleans his room.
Now he takes out his trash.
Now he cleans up after he eats.
Now he gets his own snacks.
…But not without grumbling (which is probably his way of cursing and complaining at me lol), yelling, saying “no” or “I don’t think so”, stomping up and down the stairs, slamming the door or other negative behaviors. I have decided that I really don’t care what he says or does. He must have chores and some responsibilities and I don’t want to hold him back from doing things that he can do. Today I made him hang up his school uniform shirts…They look horrible hanging in the closet but I praised him for doing it…Next up, teaching him to load the laundry?!
Over the years I have been blessed to have some AMAZING teachers for MJ. When he first entered Pre-k after his diagnosis, he had Ms. Sanders. Ms. Sanders was the first person to teach my son to use the computer (he was great at it at 3 years old). She was also the only one who could make him stay seated for a few minutes and attend to a task. She made learning FUN and because of it MJ loved going to school. She also communicated with me consistently. We would call, text, or email each other regarding MJ. She was really helpful with suggestions or techniques I could use for him at home. We were blessed to have her two years in a row. The next AMAZING teacher my son had was Ms. Allen. When MJ first had her, it was also in a new school. My efforts to take him to the school before the first day and show him around the classroom so he would not be scared on the first day was unsuccessful. My husband had to take him to school on the first day and literally carry MJ down the hall kicking and screaming all the way to his classroom. When my husband left, of course I received a horrible text message regarding MJ’s behavior. We didn’t know what to do…Thankfully I had Ms. Allen’s cell phone number. I sent her a quick text message and she informed me that MJ was no longer screaming but was in the classroom closet and would not come out! She informed me that she would let me know when things calmed down. I was a complete wreck while at work but I held it together in front of my own classroom. About an hour later, Ms. Allen informed me that MJ was finally out of the closet and sitting down. She was caring, patient, and kept me informed about his behavior throughout the day. It was so comforting to know that she knew what to do to help MJ. She also did an amazing thing for me two years in a row. She actually stayed after work for about 2 hours and watched MJ for me until I could get off of work! How many people would actually do that?! She would also host play dates/barbecue’s with the classroom kids at a local park. I know God was looking out for us during those times. This year MJ’s new teacher is also AMAZING! Ms. H also immediately gave me her cell phone number when we first met. We contact each other whenever necessary. She has gotten my son to actually complete several projects this school year. She doesn’t underestimate his talents or abilities. Yet again another blessing. Yesterday she called to inform me that my son and his peers did an impromptu dance routine at school. She said they “stole the show”! She expressed how proud she was of him and how hard they worked on their project. As MJ’s mom it is imperative that I stay in constant communication with his teachers. Thankfully, most of his teachers have willingly given me their cell phone numbers and are open to communicating. I understand that this is NOT a requirement and that they are going above and beyond. The right teacher for MJ must be kind. The right teacher for MJ must be firm. The right teacher for MJ must be trained about autism. The right teacher for MJ must be happy and fun. The right teacher for MJ must actually like kids and enjoy teaching. I have found the right teacher for MJ many times and I pray that this blessing continues.
This is what the right special needs teacher and OT can do. Two years ago MJ would have never done this. His writing has come a long way. 🙂
This pic was taken when MJ was almost 4 years old. He was a bit sleepy after a hard day of work at his special needs pre-k in Georgia. He has come a long way since then. What a journey we are on 🙂
Picture courtesy of Pinterest
I have been attending IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings for MJ since he was 3 years old. He is now 10 and I have to admit that I still get nervous and stressed before every meeting (no matter how many books I read about it). I still get a little “jab in the heart” as they go down the list of goals he hasn’t met, tests he is supposed to take, and where he is developmentally compared to other peers of his age. Sometimes I am not even sure that I want my husband to attend because I know it will affect him more than it affects me. I actually need a glass of wine after every meeting! One year I was told that MJ would take the big standardized test, the CRCT (Georgia’s state test at the time). I was upset that he even had to go through taking that test when WE ALL KNEW that he would not be able to read, comprehend, and answer all of the questions on the test! I assumed that he would at least have the questions or passages read to him in order for him to try and answer the questions. Well I was wrong! I was told that because MJ could read, they would not read anything to him at all! At that time yes, MJ was able to read but that was all it was. He was sounding out words. He was not able to put those words together and comprehend long sentences or passages! After lots of “angry mommy” emails and phone calls I was finally told that he would be taking a modified version of the test. I wasn’t happy but at least the test was shortened a bit. Here in Florida my son takes a different type of test. The current test is not the usual paper-pencil based test. The teacher uses many manipulatives in order to test him in various subject areas. They also ask him questions and have him answer orally etc. I am in the process of coming up with speech and OT goals that I want him to work on next school year (Dear God help me…he is going to middle school). I am praying for good news and lots of progress. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for IEP meetings I would love to hear it!
Finding additional therapy for MJ has been a task (he receives 90 min of speech therapy and 30 minutes of occupational therapy every week at school). I spent hours online and on the phone calling several centers to find out if they took my insurance and had evening appointments available. Thankfully I found a great place for him to go. It’s 30 minutes away from our home but I make the drive because MJ is worth it. He thinks he is just going to play and exercise but it’s all occupational therapy. We still have a way to go as he still can’t tie his shoelaces yet (gonna have a party when that finally happens), but I have seen major improvements over the years. His writing is legible and he writes sentences now, he can fasten and unfasten buttons and buckles, he has more balance, and more strength in his arms and legs. Tonight in therapy he did an excellent job going through the obstacle course and performing several other activities. I am so grateful for his wonderful therapist Ms. Elizabeth. She is able to get him to do things that I STILL can’t get him to do lol! She is another piece of this autism puzzle that I could not do without!
MJ and Ms. Elizabeth 🙂
Yesterday was actually a very nice day…The morning was peaceful…The afternoon was fun…the evening, not so much! Mj had a crying episode last night. This time he cried for a little over an hour. We did our normal bedtime routine and I noticed he was a little sad but I figured he just didn’t want to go to bed. I closed his room door and went downstairs. A few minutes later my husband informed me that MJ was crying. “I tried to figure out what was wrong with him, but it’s difficult to understand because he is crying” my husband said. I decided that I would try and figure out what the issue was. In the middle of his episode, all I could decipher were the words “I can’t do it” and “I’m sad”. I tried to think about what happened before bedtime…Could it be the fact that he saw Morgan and me dancing without him? Hmmm…Just that one event was probably enough to make him feel sad (even though we invited him to dance and he refused). I went into my bag of tricks…I sang him the “Mj” song I made up when he was a baby (sometimes it works to make him laugh, or feel comforted), I tried to talk to him and reassure him that he is the most wonderful boy in the world. I hugged him continually and I also asked him if he wanted a special dance with mommy. Then I “played my last card” which was asking him if he wanted to watch Looney Tunes for a little (wanting him to be distracted)…He said “NO”! That’s when I knew it would be a while before he stopped crying. My husband came in the room and tried his methods but MJ just wouldn’t stop crying…After trying all of the above ALL over again, I once again asked him if he wanted to watch Looney Tunes…He said “Ok mommy”. Finally, after about 20 minutes of watching TV he stopped crying. I turned off the TV and repeated our nighttime routine…He was sleeping after 5 minutes. I was very thankful that he began to feel better or both of us would have cried ourselves to sleep! This morning he woke up feeling great and he had a wonderful day at school. Right now all is well at home. 🙂
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)