Just call me Jiji

…me, just pretending to be me ….now, where did I put that cape??

Archive for the category “Special Education”

Just Call Me Jiji

I’ve changed my look…

Well not my look, but the look of my blog. I wanted to go with something a bit more user friendly.

And with the changes comes a new name for my blog……   “Just Call Me Jiji”

~me, pretending to be me. ~now, where did I put my cape?

I discuss my life, my family; the issues we face, the things we enjoy doing as a family, and the things I enjoy pursueing by  myself

With this new look, you, the reader get to go straight to the content you are interested in.

This is what I write about and why I write about it.

My Home Page – All posts in chronological order starting with the most recent. My blog tells my story and the story of my family; warts and all!

Hello World – About me, this is who I am, or at least who I try to be.

Disabilities and Special Needs – I discuss those disabilities and differences that we, as a family face on a daily basis; and the treatments and accomidations that accompany them.

  • ADHD – My son Leon was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder-combined type, at the age of 5. It has severely impacted not only his life but both his father’s and mine as well. I’ve learned a lot from my little boy, and I suspect I too was born with ADHD. At this time I still remain untreated, but I am working on that.
  • Aspergers/ Autism –  At the time of this writing, it has been 6  weeks since Leon was diagnosed on the Autism  Spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). This is is my first mention of it on my blog. It    has taken me this long to let it sink in. I am sure there will be many posts on this topic to come, because as of right now I feel as if I am starting all over again. I am a newbie again and have a lot to learn.

  • Comordids –      
                         …Oppositional Defience Disorder (ODD) – Along with Leon’s ADHD      diagnosis he also recieved a diagnosis of O.D.D, and boy is he ever. His defiance aside, my strong willed kid with some pretty strong convictions.
                         …Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – Leon has always presented with sensory issues. I have long suspected that he has SPD, and have written about it in the past. Now, with his new diagnosis of Aspergers, it makes a whole heck of a lot more sense.
  • Fibromyalgia (FMS) – I was diagnosed with fibro when I was about 28, although symptoms were present much earlier than that. It’s been a rough road, but I keep on trekking. As much as I hate reporting that which is so negative, it helps to get it all out.
  • Treatments and Medication- When it comes to my own health I am not as diligent as I should be, and for that I do often pay the price. But when it comes to Leon’s health I am a stickler for staying on track. I am well familiar with the old adage that states; to care for others, first one must care for one’s self. That is much easier said than done, but ultimately I aim to get healthy not just for Ron’s and Leon’s sake but for my own as well.
  • Special Education – This has got to be my least favorite topic, but when raising a school-aged child with a disability, it becomes one that often comes up. I have had my fair share of Special Education meetings, both good and bad. If I can pass on some helpful information that may potentially help other parents I am happy to relive some of my experiences here.

DIY – I’ve always loved using my imagination and being creative. I love the feeling I get when I see something and think, ” I can do that” or even, ” I can make something out of that “. It’s taken me a long time to amass some measure of confidence, but I am ready to admit I do have some talents.

  • Crafts – Drawing, Woodwork, Glass painting, Digital Scrapbooking, Clip Art, Costume making, and more
  • Party Planning – I love, love, love planning parties and making the Holidays Special. Give me a theme and I will make it happen.
  • Photography- I have always loved the art of photography. What I lack in technical skills I make up for with my eye for photographs. The thing I love most about photography is the ability to recall so many memories from a single photo.
 

Home Life – For me, home life means family life, after all, home is where your heart is.

  • Family – the  main characters in this blog are myself, my husband, and our son. In our house, it is just the three of us; but in our family there are so many more.
                              ...Just Jiji – Jiji (Gee-gee) is the name my precious niece gave me when she was just learning to talk, I enjoyed hearing her say it so much, it stuck. More info about me can be found here
                               …My Superman – My husband of over 10 years now, is every wish, I ever made on a star, come true. He is every prayer  for a good and happy life, I have ever prayed, come true. My life; the one I truly love living, despite it’s upheavals sometimes; begins and ends with him.
                                  …My Alphabet Boy – My son with his AS/ADHD/ODD/SPD/L-M-N-O-P  is the greatest gift in my life. from him I learn how to be me. I thank god for him every day.
  • Parenting – Being a parent is the hardest most gratifying job in the world, and the most important.
  • Holidays- just as much as I enjoy planning parties; I love planning for the Holidays and celebrating with family.

Travels – I love to travel! And I especially love to plan our trips. I get a little high off of finding great deals and planning out little side trips. We love amusement parks; especially ones that we can get wet in.

  • Disney World – I love me some Disney!! If I could I’d go every year. I’ve had a few trips that I still have yet to turn into a trip report
 
  • Theme Parks – Leon’s love of water parks started with Sesame Place in PA, and now we make sure to hit a theme park or water park  at least once a year.
  • Other Destinations – As much as I’d like to make Disney our annual trip destination, our finances (or lack there of) always get in the way. But we always make it a point to go somewhere, even if it is just a weekend road trip to PA.

Just For Fun –  

  • My Favorite Things – ever come across something and just want to share it with everyone cause it’s “just so cool!” ? Well this is where I do that. Well here and on Pintrest
  • Slideshows – Just some pictures I’ve shared over the years

Getting My Artsy Fartsy On

I love handmade things and I love being creative. My latest obsession in regards to getting my artsy fartsy on is Etsy. For those of you unfamiliar with www.etsy.com I strongly recommend you take a peek. I first discovered Etsy back in 2008 while planning my sister’s baby shower. I was looking for ideas and inspiration, and I found plenty!

Weddings Products are huge on Etsy too. I found tons of inspiration for my sister-in-law’s wedding there.

These are some of the items I’ve made  for Suzie & Eddie’s wedding;

Bride Hanger for the special once in a life time gown

Wedding Signature Board in use.

Wedding Signature Board Personalized with Initials and Wedding Date

Wedding Signature Board close-up

The Toasting Glasses I made especially for Suzie and Edwin

Mr. & Mrs. Chair Signs (which I personally love love love because they can be repurposed after the wedding as wall decoration, mail baskets, etc. )

And the Mr. & Mrs. in person

My favorite creation, the personalized Cake Topper

...and with the date on the back

I was very excited to see it all put together so nicely

One of my New Year’s Resolutions involves me getting my Artsy Fartsy on in 2012. And getting it onto Etsy.

So get ready for some more coming soon

SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

You scream, I scream, we all screeeeeam…

That’s it nothing else, we all just scream

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAM!!!!!!!!!!!

Back when I was young, about a million trillion years ago, I had a small group of people I hung  out with in high school, and  we had a brilliant way of dealing with stress.

We would get in the car and drive down to the beach at top speed with all the windows down
and just SCREAM at the top of our lungs.

I can’t tell you how good that felt!! It was amazing!!

I long for a good long scream

I NEED a good long scream!!!

Anyone want to go have a scream with me?????

{ Just FYI – This scream was brought to you by the letters N-O-T & H-A-P-P-Y  and is courtesy of my first impression of the new school psychologist – which is condescending, major-interuptus-not-listen-to-us, and blechy)

Never Say Never…

On the weekends it can be hard to get Leon to spend time AWAY from his video games, but we try our best. He loves to draw, and will often spend time doing that while watching TV. It tends to add up to more screen time than Ron or I are comfortable with. But when the both of us are busy around the house trying to get things done; it is easier to just let him do his thing rather than have to stop what we are doing to make sure he is entertained and out of trouble 😉 .

This weekend we enjoyed the nice warm spring weather, and did manage to get him outdoors for a couple of hours on Saturday, but nothing engages his ADHD brain out there for more than a few minutes at a time. My guess is that there is just TOO MUCH going on around him that finding focus on just one thing is just not possible.

Sunday was beautiful too, but between my migraine and Ron’s aches and pains; none of us got out of the house. By late afternoon I was asleep in the bedroom with curtains drawn and a pillow on my head to drown out any sound or light. That left Ron to deal with Leon for the better part of the day. He actually managed to get Leon away from the screen machines, letting him know that he needed to find something else to do and it could not involve anything with a screen on it.

Leon was surprisingly compliant about it and grabbed a few books out of his room and began to read. Awesome!

He loves to read and likes all kinds of books; chapter books like Goosebumps, Choose Your Own Adventure Books like Journey Under the Sea, Graphic novels like Max Axiom Science Series, but mostly he like reference books like The Big Book of Knowledge from which he can learn all kinds of new and interesting facts. They are all great books!

After reading for a bit Leon brings in “The Big Book of Knowledge” to Ron; opened to pages 26 and 27

The Big Book of Knowledge – pages 26 & 27

 

He points out the passage pictured below and says “Umm, Dad? Is this True???” 

Ron reads it, and tells him, that yes it is true. To which Leon replies; “Sounds Gross!, I am NEVER going to do that!”

**Tee Hee – this kid cracks me up! **

Never say never kiddo… but do wait until you are at least 18 

…and IN LOVE!

Oh and USE A CONDOM!

Reading Between the lines.

For homework today Leon had to use each of his spelling words in a sentence.

This is what he came up with;

1. I’ve got something planned.  ~(Uh-oh)

2. I can’t do it. ~(Phew)

3. I’m obsessed with myths,aliens, and monsters.  ~(He’s obsessed alright)

4. It’s okay I am fine. ~(That’s good to know)

5. I won’t play “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” on the Wii. ~(You won’t??)

6.I’ll play “Mario Kart” on the Wii with Jill. ~(Oh I see what’s happening here)

7. You’ll probably say NO!!!!  ~(It was my first thought)

8. Let’s play it, please, pretty please. ~(Well since you put it that way…)

9. He’s crazy, I’m serious! ~(yes he is seriously crazy)

10. I couldn’t ever hate my mom. ~(I LOVE you too, sweetie)

11. Aren’t you going to play? ~(yes, as soon as your homework is done and your room is clean)

12. I wasn’t here when it happened. ~(Uh-oh, now what happened?)

13.They’ve rigged the game. ~(umm…I got nothin)

14. Shouldn’t you be cleaning, your room!!!  ~(well, shouldn’t YOU?)

15. Don’t play with that! ~( ….things mommy says over and over again???)

 

I think he is trying to tell me something, what do you think??? 

Making Accomidations

In my previous post A GOOD START I made mention of a letter I had written requesting certain accommodations to be considered for my son’s 504 plan as well as an introduction letter to the teacher on his first day of school. I received an email shortly after asking me about the details of what I had included in both.

A year ago I could have written that email myself making the same request. When it came to attending our first CSE (Committee for Special Education) meeting a few years back, I had no idea what to expect. I did my homework and looked up various articles explaining the process, and while they were plenty helpful, the one thing I did not find was how to or even what to ask for. All I really wanted was an example to follow. I was at a loss.

Last year, the parent trainer assigned to us by the school suggested I check out FAPE’s Accommodations and Modifications Publication for ideas on what I would want included in Leon’s IAP (Individual Accommodations Plan). It was really great advice. I read through it and pulled from it what I needed and wrote a letter specifying my wishes. I used Leon’s name often and personalized my requests  and then at the end of the letter I included a photos of Leon. I did not want my son to be just another name in a file. I wanted them to know his smile and see the twinkle in his eyes.

When Leon started his first day of 3rd grade i put a copy of my request in an envelope with a letter of introduction to his new teacher.

I remember reading an article somewhere about how to make the first day of school a bit easier on your child; and one suggestion was to write a letter to the teacher introducing yourself and your child, along with some interesting info about your child; their likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc…

I took this advice back when Leon started kindergarten and have been doing it ever since. Not only do I think it helps the teacher to understand Leon, but Leon is a bit more at ease when the teacher acknowledges not just him but something that is of interest to him. He warms up a lot more quickly and is more engaged. I love this idea for any student, but for Leon who has special needs because of his ADHD/ODD and emerging sensory issues, I love it even more. And to make things even more personal I have always added a picture, either one he drew or a photograph of him.

Below is a copy of what I sent Leon to school with on his first day of 3rd grade. It’s very lengthy, and chock full of info. Perhaps too much so but it’s what has worked for me. As far as I am concerned I really believe that when it comes to my son and his issues; the more a teacher knows, the better things will go.

September 7, 2010 

Dear Mrs. L,

 I would like to introduce myself, my name is Jill  and I am Leon’s mother. Leon’s father, Ron, and I look forward to meeting you and working closely with you this school year in an effort to make Leon’s experience in 3rd grade a good one. I wanted to give you a little insight about Leon that you may find useful. It is my hope that this will be helpful to you.

 Leon is a terrific yet challenging child. His mind just works differently than the rest of us. He thinks differently, he sees things differently, he hears things differently, and he does things differently.

 Leon was diagnosed with ADHD-combined in May 2008 and also more recently with ODD (July 2009), I suspect he is also SPD-proprioceptive. Currently we are working together with his pediatric neurologist to stay up to date with the best medication plan for him. At this time he is taking Concerta 54mg in the mornings and Clonodine 0.1mg in the evenings. Side effects you may want to be aware of include dry mouth, headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, irritability and blurred vision. Please let me know if you notice any of these side effects.

Leon has a wonderful personality and is so full of life that it bursts out of every pore in his body; he is loving, caring, and sensitive to others. Leon is highly energetic, and is always looking for an adventure, he’s very inquisitive and resourceful. He is curious about everything around him; he’s got an amazing imagination and can be very inventive. He is also full of ideas and loves telling stories. He loves to create and invent ‘stuff’; he is an artist and an inventor. He has a thirst for knowledge and is way too smart for his own good. Leon loves to read and wants to know everything about everything, He’s fun-loving and very expressive. He’ll keep you on your toes and keep you laughing. Leon is also a master negotiator. He will try to talk circles around you. He yearns to please and to be accepted and will go that extra mile (sometimes too far) to get someone’s attention,  He always seems to notice things that others take for granted, he has a great capacity to remember the oddest things (as long as it is ‘not boring’, to him). Leon is an extremely bright child with a mind of his own and he is not afraid to use it. He is the most well-behaved when he is engaged and interested in what he is doing, when his needs are being met with immediacy, and when he is being recognized and praised not only for a job well done but also for his effort.

 I have attached some helpful hints about Leon, as well as; the request that I had submitted to Mrs. N back in June 2010, for specified accommodations and/or modifications to be considered and included in his 504.

 Please contact me at your earliest convenience to arrange a time that we can meet, to discuss a plan for Leon this year.

 Thank You,

Jill

Email:

Tel:

**

Some helpful hints about Leon :

 

Leon does much better in a structured environment. In less structured environments (i.e. gym, lunch, and recess) he tends to lose some control and can give in more easily to his impulses if not frequently redirected. 

Immediate feedback, reward, and praise go a long, long way with Leon, re-enforcing good behavior and his self-esteem. He is very self-critical, which often results in bad behavior or is reflected in his work.

A clear understanding of the consequences for undesired behavior will help Leon stay on task, as will frequent reminders of possible rewards for attaining certain goals.

Leon needs very specific, detailed instructions and rules given to him frequently and step-by-step throughout his task. It helps to have him repeat the instructions back to you, so that you know he heard and understood them.

Checking in with him often and encouraging him while he works will help him stay on task.  He will need reminders to not rush through his work, just as much as he will need reminders to keep working, as he gets distracted and bored very easily,

Leon does yearn to please, so allowing him to participate often and giving him something active to do (i.e. handing out papers or supplies, running an errand to the office, line leader, etc.) can help channel his hyperactivity while improving his self-esteem.

Leon gets very easily frustrated with himself and certain situations, because he has yet to fully master control over his impulses and doesn’t always know why he does the things he does.  It will often be expressed in the form of anger, whining, or tears. Occasionally he lashes out physically at objects around him.

Leon gets very easily overwhelmed when he perceives things to be “too much” (i.e. too many problems on one page, too much homework, too large a mess to clean up, etc.)

Extra time and patience may be required to listen to what Leon has to say.  He is very expressive but it can take a bit longer for him to get his sentence and his thoughts out.  

Reminding him and preparing him in detail for what comes next will give him time to adjust his behavior as needed.  He will need a few reminders of what the desired behavior is.

Leon has quite a bit of difficulty keeping his hands to himself. He does not recognize personal space or social cues. This can create friction with his peers if not re-directed and watched carefully.

Keeping his hands busy with something constructive and keeping a watchful eye on him is key. He often takes things he should not have and uses them inappropriately. (i.e. Scissors to cut his clothing). Keeping such objects out of his reach is important to keeping him out of trouble.

Leon gets extremely hyper-focused. This is quite often a good thing but it is just about equally as much a problem when he hyper-focuses on something negative. He will grab on to something and get stuck in it. Getting him to let go of something he is truly hyper-focused on can take some doing.

Leon is a Terrific Kid with tons of potential to go very far in life! He is deeply loved and has a huge support system behind him all the way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Revised September 7, 2010

To Whom it may Concern;

 On behalf of our son, Leon, DOB 00/00/00, we are requesting the following accommodations and/or modifications be considered and included into his Section 504 plan for the school year 2010-2011.

 Curriculum:

  • Specify and list exactly what Leon will need to learn and do to pass. (this includes – completing his assignments and taking pride in the work) Review frequently.
  • Allow Leon to work on problems or assignments that are slightly more challenging when he is bored.

 Leon needs to be reminded of where he stands and what is expected of him regularly. He has difficulty with things he finds boring or too easy, conversely he has a fear of failure and therefore is resistant to things that he deems, too hard or overwhelming.

 Books:

  • Provide Leon with, or allow him to bring in reading material that is at or slightly above his reading level to read in between assignments if time allows.
  • If available provide a second set of textbooks for Leon to keep at home.

 Leon is a veracious reader and has an incredible thirst for knowledge. Allowing him to read in between assignments may keep him from disrupting the rest of the class. Leon also often forgets to bring home the appropriate materials to complete assignments.

 Classroom Environment:

  • Give repeated reminders to Leon to keep his work space clear of distractions and unrelated items.
  • Seat him away from windows or doorways, and other distractions
  • Keep extra supplies of classroom materials available, in a separate location (pencils, erasers, paper,etc)
  • Allow for fidgets, to feed his need for movement yet helps to keep him focused (spinner ring, bendaroos, Velcro strip on the underside of his desk)
  • Take away items that are used inappropriately or that become a distraction.

 Leon can be easily distracted when a lot is going on around him. He also has a need to touch and hold things that are within reach. Allowing him, with limitations, to have something to manipulate with his hands gives him a bit more control over himself. Leon should be observed carefully when using scissors, He has a tendency to use them inappropriately (i.e. cutting his clothes, books, folders, etc.)

 Directions:

  • Give clear and precise instructions to Leon in small steps. Remind him not only of what he must do, but also what he must not do. (“Leon do not begin until I have finished giving my directions” or “take out only one pencil”)
  • Have him repeat the directions for a task back to the teacher, aide, or for the whole class.
  • Give reminders to stay on task and check his work.

 Leon has a tendency to shut off (and often walk away) in the middle of what is being said to him. He needs reminders to listen all the way through. Repeating the directions back insures Leon has not put his own spin on what he is supposed to do.

 Time/transitions:

  • Let Leon know that certain tasks require a certain amount of time and should not be rushed through.
  • Remind him to slow down and take his time, to avoid careless mistakes
  • Let him know a few minutes before a transition from one activity to another is about to take place, give several reminders.

 Leon often rushes through everything. He needs repeated reminders to slow down and take his time. Leon also has the tendency to get hyper-focused; in which case transitioning from one task to another becomes a challenge.

 Handwriting:

  • Provide a print copy of assignments or directions written on the board especially for home assignments.
  • Allow use of computer for longer written assignments such as short essays or book reports.
  • Provide visible acknowledgement based on Leon’s progress and effort for handwriting (to be reinforced at home with reward).
  • Allow Leon to rewrite illegible answers, or answer orally for a better grade.
  • Remind Leon to write with pride and care, and not to rush

 Leon rushes through his work, his thoughts come and go quicker then his hands can move. He has the ability to write very clearly, when he takes his time. Leon is motivated by praise and reward.

 Grading:

  • Allow Leon to rewrite illegible answers, or answer orally for a better grade.

 Tests:

  • Provide Leon with reminders to take his time and to recheck his work before handing it in.

 Leon often makes careless mistakes when rushing or overly confident.

 Behavior:

  • Pair Leon with a student who is a good behavior model for class projects.
  • Use nonverbal cues to remind Leon of rule violations
  • Minimize the use of consequences; provide positive reinforcement as well as negative consequences.
  • Increase the frequency and immediacy of reinforcements
  • Develop a reward system that can be carried over in the home as well as at school.
  • Develop a system or code word to let Leon know when his behavior is not appropriate. Allow him to correct himself.
  • Develop interventions for behaviors that are annoying but not deliberate (i.e. the use of fidgets)
  • Be aware of behavior changes that relate to medication or the length of the school day; modify expectations if appropriate.
  • Create a checklist for Leon so he may self regulate and be in control of himself.
  • Remind Leon to speak in a respectful and friendly tone. Praise him for expressing himself appropriately.
  • Remind Leon that he must not chew on inedible items (pencils, staples, clothing, etc)
  • Remind Leon to speak slowly and clearly, and with a friendly tone.

Leon has a strong need to be independent and do things his own way. He responds very well to praise and positive reinforcement that is immediate and frequent. Leon’s emotions run very deep, when they get the best of him he has a very difficult time expressing himself in a tone and or manner that is respectful and appropriate.

 Parent/Teacher Communication:

  • Make use of a daily or weekly communication journal to keep the lines of communication open with parents.
  • Inform Leon’s parents of any allowances or consequences that have changed.
  • Inform parents of any changes in behavior that may be associated with Leon’s medication so adjustments can be made.

 The communication journal allows us to stay informed about Leon’s progress and monitor if his medication is working or needs to change as he gets older. It also gives us a clearer prospective on what behaviors he needs to work on, in school and/or at home.

 Thank you for your time,                   

A Good Start

 

Half way into October and I am amazed how quickly time has flown, since school started this year back in September.

Looking back at Leon’s first 6 weeks of 3rd grade, I can’t help but smile. I am delighted at how things have gone so far. We have his IAP in place, he has possibly the very best match in a teacher that I could ever hope for, he has come to terms with having a Para following him around all the time, his confidence is up and he’s doing great, and dare I say it? He may actually like school.

I’d never say that to his face of course. He’d deny it all the way up, down and sideways; for sure. But I can honestly say that I have not heard the words “I HATE SCHOOL” in at least 4-5 weeks. And considering it was his daily mantra all last year and every so often over the summer whenever school was mentioned, I’d say that is amazing!

I’d say it’s due to a good combination of things. The first being how much he seems to have grown over the summer. He’s taller, yes, but I am talking about how much he has matured. He turns eight next month and I am just amazed at how grown up he is all of a sudden. The way he talks, the way he carries himself, the way he relates to others, the way he thinks… He is growing up right before my eyes!

Once he was my baby boy snuggled up in my arms, then he became my big boy, holding my hand to cross the street, what comes next?  As much as I want to hold on to his hand until the end of time, I know I’ll have to let go someday. Seeing how mature and wise he is becoming, I know he is well on his way. It makes me so proud and yet so sad at the same time.

I also have to give credit to the school itself. There have been a lot of changes at our school. The usual changes that are imposed on schools, like standardized testing, and the like, of course. But also a lot of changes to what is being offered to the students both academically and socially. Last year our school got a new principle, and if you’ve read any of my previous posts you would be right, if you’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not missing our old principle.  She wasn’t mean or anything, she was just very uptight, and stringent, she was set in her ways and very resistant to …fun and lightheartedness. My one real qualm with her personally was, her suspending Leon from school when he was in 1st grade for managing to get off school property and walk all the way home unsupervised rather than penalize the people responsible for allowing the whole thing to happen in the first place. In the end officials were called and things were rectified, but her poor judgment has forever left a bad taste in my mouth. I still have nightmares about the whole situation. It was a very scary time for us, one that I admit still haunts us all.

Our new principal is a breath of fresh air! She has brought so much change to the school in the year that she has been here. She has made school more enjoyable without sacrificing it academically. Learning has become fun for the kids, parents feel more welcome and are able to be more active in their child’s schooling, and there is a larger sense of community since she has taken on her role as principle. Leon enjoys the extra touches of lightheartedness that she brings to the school. Things like spirit week with crazy hat day, or costume parades on Halloween, or even the start of a student council for which he was eager to try out for. Her incentive programs have touched Leon personally, last year he was “Caught Being Good” twice, and plans to get caught again. And just last week he came home with The Star of the Month certificate, of which he was very proud.  He is enjoying his school so much more now that it has become a fun place to learn.

Add to all this, a terrific teacher, and Leon can’t help but LIKE school. Again I wouldn’t press him on that, but when asked about his teacher he will out-and-out tell you “She’s nice, I like her”. For him to think it and feel it is one thing but for him to actually say it, that’s quite another. His standard responses to most questions about how he likes something or someone are usually a very indifferent “it’s okay” or “fine” type of answer. I have to say though I very much agree with him!!!

Leon’s first day of school always brings out a teeter-tottering of emotions and nervousness in me, but for some reason his starting 3rd grade was especially nerve-racking. I guess it’s because everyone always talks about how hard school becomes in third grade. More is expected from students, responsibilities get larger, homework assignments take longer, more activities; like chorus and orchestra take up more of their precious time. Life for a third grader gets a bit more demanding.

Demanding…. Now that’s not something that fits well into the life of an ODD/ADHD child. Demanding, is something that Leon’s teacher is not! Accommodating, nurturing, open minded and open-hearted, those are words that I would use to describe her teaching style.

I was so nervous about Leon starting 3rd grade that I sent him to school on his first day with a big fat envelope stuffed with 5 type written pages about Leon. Yea…I know it’s a little much. The envelope contained a letter from me introducing myself and Leon, along with a page of helpful motivators and techniques we use with Leon to help him stay in check and last but not least a copy of the accommodations that I wanted included in his 504 IAP. Of course when I sent all of that in with him on the very first day of school, I was worried about what she would think; would she be receptive… would she resent being bombarded on the first day?  I didn’t know how it would be received!  

I was very, very pleasantly surprised!  She was very receptive.  Not only did she respond in a letter, (a real letter, not a just a short note), but she also called me in the evening from her home. That definitely earned some big time points with me. She took time out of her own day to reassure me about my child. Awesome!

I met her in person at the school’s open house; in which she took even more time with both Ron & I, one-on-one, to sit down for close to an hour to discuss a plan for Leon. I was blown away. And I left there so reassured.

Nothing has changed since then. I still love his teacher, his principle, his school, and of course my kid!

And dare I say it one more time?  …I think Leon may actually LIKE school! 

But shhh… don’t tell him, it’s a secret!

Leon, Leon, Leon, Leon, Leon, Leon, Le….

 

Yes, the world does revolve around my son.

Well, my world does any way.

Last night I was up till 1 a.m. getting Leon’s things ready for his first day of third grade. As I was labeling composition books, sharpening pencils, and cutting “X’s”  into tennis balls I was amazed at how far we’ve come. Yet I still worry for him. I always will. It’s in my job description.

They say that 3rd grade is when things get really difficult, and that’s for main-streamed kids that they are talking about.It’s a mystery as to how this year will go for Leon. Will he crumble under the pressure? Or will he thrive from the challenge?

Time will tell!

Good Luck my little 3rd grader!

Mama is so proud of you!

My Plate is FULL!!!

 

On the Positive Side

 I am writing this in response to a negative comment I received last month on this older post I had published back in Aug 2009.

The author of the comment seemed extremely opposed to the idea that there could be anything at all positive about ADHD, in fact he is very confident in his statement that “ADHD has NO positive symptoms.” . He also stated that “the idea that ADHD has benefits is an urban myth“. He seemed to imply that I don’t have my facts straight, and that I was devaluing my son by crediting an illness with certain positive traits that are enhanced and heightened by his ADHD. He also implied that I am doing my son “more harm than good, by trying to convince myself that the bad symptoms are balanced by supposed good ones in order to make myself feel better about his condition“.

He also seems to assume that I have done NO “real” research what-so-ever on this devastating disorder that has turned our lives completely upside down.

He suggests I come to terms with the fact that Leon has a mental disorder. And if I do not choose to manage illness properly I will be setting him up for a huge amount of problems later in life.  He put it this way “you can either come to terms with the fact that most of the behaviors you described are NOT positive now… or you can come to terms with it when he ends up in financial trouble or addicted to something or a thief or unable to hold a steady job“.

Woo-boy was I really steamed up about this!! So much so that I just could not respond… not yet anyway. I just could not stop thinking about it, I was just so mad at this man. This bitter, bitter, evil, uninformed man, with a chip on his shoulder. I did read a bit of his blog, as he suggested I do, so I knew where he was coming from. Even so I was still pissed off. So I had to step away from it for a while.

Now as I reread it all I am still quite annoyed by it all, but at the same time I mostly feel very, very sorry for this man. It seems that with his recent diagnosis of ADHD, he has found something to blame for all the bad things that have gone on in his life without needing to take ownership of it. Going through life focused on how much it sucks because you have ADHD, just makes for a very miserable life! 

On the Positive Side….    

I can agree with him on one point, and that is we have a choice about how to manage ADHD. But I wonder if he understands that there is no one right or wrong way of doing it. Every person’s struggle and accomplishments with ADHD are unique onto themselves. What works for one may not work for another. And just the same what may work this week, or this month, or even this year may not work in the next one.

 I have in fact come to terms with Leon’s neurological disorder, ADHD, which is classified as a mental disorder, as well as a disability. I have done the ‘real’ research and have educated myself about my son’s ADHD. I’ve read dozens of books and articles, joined CHADD and attended several meetings, consulted with wonderful doctors and professionals in the field of ADHD, including psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, and therapists. The psychiatrist who diagnosed him started us on our ADHD journey, we found an exceptional psychologist who did an extremely thorough educational/behavioral assessment on him, and confirmed the diagnoses of ADHD/ODD and made some very good suggestions for us and the school to follow. His neurologist has him on the right medication combination of Concerta and Clonodine, they work wonders in keeping him stabilized and putting his inhibitions, impulsivity, and inattentiveness in check. We as a family visit a therapist, specializing in special education and social skills, regularly. His school has a wonderful team of people who are implementing his 504 Plan, including the school psychologist, a OT, and a TA. 

And with all the bad that we experienced last year when he was just 6 years old; from hour-long homework sessions, to having to replace a toilet bowl due to his flushing several toothbrushes, to his public and private temper tantrums, to stabbing his OT teacher with a pencil, to journaling about killing his parents, to cutting his clothing while they are still on him, to having him fear going to school because he knew he would get in trouble yet again, to the school losing him, to him jumping out of his bedroom window at 5am, to so much more….; there is still NO ONE who can tell me that there is nothing positive about ADHD!!!

~~psst! did you notice all the links to previous posts? you can get the back story that way~~

 

Here are some excerpts about the positive side of ADHD:

Positive effects of ADD & ADHD in children

from HELPGUIDE.ORG

In addition to the challenges, there are also positive traits associated with people who have attention deficit disorder:

  • Creativity – Children who have ADD/ADHD can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can become a master problem-solver, a fountain of ideas, or an inventive artist. Children with ADD may be easily distracted, but sometimes they notice what others don’t see.
  • Flexibility – Because children with ADD/ADHD consider a lot of options at once, they don’t become set on one alternative early on and are more open to different ideas.
  • Enthusiasm and spontaneity – Children with ADD/ADHD are rarely boring! They’re interested in a lot of different things and have lively personalities. In short, if they’re not exasperating you (and sometimes even when they are), they’re a lot of fun to be with.
  • Energy and drive – When kids with ADD/ADHD are motivated, they work or play hard and strive to succeed. It actually may be difficult to distract them from a task that interests them, especially if the activity is interactive or hands-on.

Keep in mind, too, that ADD/ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Many children with ADD/ADHD are intellectually or artistically gifted.

AND……

Some positive characteristics of adults with ADD/ADHD

from mitalk.umich.edu 

The symptoms of ADD/ADHD are not all negative. People with ADD/ADHD also have many positive traits that are directly tied to their active, impulsive minds. The important part is to focus on the positive aspects, while trying to control the negative aspects.

  • Creativity: People with ADD/ADHD often excel at thinking outside of the box, brainstorming, and finding creative solutions to problems. Because of their flexible way of thinking about things, they tend to be more open-minded, independent, and ready to improvise.
  • Enthusiasm and spontaneity: People with ADD/ADHD are often free spirits with lively minds — qualities that makes for good company and engrossing conversation. Their enthusiasm and spontaneous approach to life can be infectious.
  • A quick mind: People with ADD/ADHD often have the ability to think on their feet, quickly absorb new information (as long as it’s interesting), and multitask with ease. Their rapid-fire minds thrive on stimulation. They adapt well to change and are great in a crisis.
  • High energy level: People with ADD/ADHD often have loads of energy. When their attention is captured by something that interests them, they can have virtually unlimited stamina and drive.

Hyperfocus: A Positive Symptom of ADD/ADHD

While adults with ADD/ADHD have great difficulty maintaining attention, those same individuals often are able to “hyperfocus” for long periods of time on tasks or projects that they find interesting. This is particularly true of interactive or hands-on activities. They may even be compulsive about it, spending hours immersed in the activity without a thought to anything or anyone else. When they’re “in the zone,” people with ADD/ADHD often lose all concept of time. Hours pass as if they are minutes. This single-minded ability to hyper focus when used appropriately can lead to significant accomplishments, discoveries, and creative breakthroughs.

AND…

In the video,

 ADD & Loving It 

from GLOBALTV.COM

(which I very, very, strongly recommend and urge you to watch)

 ~Dr. Edward M. Hallowell  says; “Without proper diagnosis ADD can ruin your life, having said that, the tremendous good news is, if you get the diagnosis and you get proper treatment, not only can you avoid all those disasters, you can achieve spectacular success. You can be at the absolute pinnacle, not only in the terms of success, but in happiness, fulfillment, and a rich and wonderful life”.

~He also says; “It’s important to embrace a strength based approach that does not in any way deny that there is a downside but emphasizes the positive as a way of developing the positive”.

~It is also pointed out that, Dr. Lynn Weiss Ph.D, a ground-breaking pioneer who has been working with ADD patients for over 30 years, lists 29 Positive Attributes of ADD. 

As listed in her book Attention Deficit Disorder In Adults: A Different Way of Thinking

1. Sensitive

2. Empathetic with the feelings of others

3. Feels things deeply

4. Creative in nature (including problem solving)

5. Inventive

6. Often sees things from a unique perspective

7. Great at finding things that are lost

8. Perceptually acute

9. Stand-up comic

10. Spontaneous

11. Fun

12. Energetic

13. Open and un-secretive

14. Eager for acceptance and willing to work for it

15. Responsive to positive reinforcement

16. Doesn’t harbor resentment

17. Quick to do what one likes to do

18. Difficult to fool

19. Looks past surface appearance to the core of people, situations, and issues

20. Down to earth

21. Good networker

22. Sees unique relationships between people and things

23. Cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary

24. Less likely to get in a rut or go stale

25. Original, with a sense of humor

26. Observant

27. Loyal

28. Intense when interested in something

29. More likely to do things because they want to than because they should, thus often wholehearted in efforts

 Keep in mind not everyone who has ADHD has all these traits, and sure people who aren’t ADHD have these traits too, but many of them appear over and over in people with ADHD.
So you see, not only have I read about the positive side to ADHD, gone to lectures about the positive side to ADHD, and spoken with professionals about the positive side to ADHD, but we have experienced the positive side of ADHD as well.

Leon has become extremely well-adjusted, all the school’s accommodations along with our accommodations here at home, and his being on the right medication regime and seeing a therapist regularly are making all the difference in the world. We are teaching him to play to his strengths and never to use his ADHD as a scapegoat.

We do not in any way deny the negatives of ADHD, yet we CHOOSE to remain on the positive side.

And would you believe we are all doing just fine, Thank you very much!?!

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More links on the positive side of ADHD

 Positive Aspects of ADHD and ADD: Benefits to Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder

The Positive Side of ADHD

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I just want to add that I in no way harbor any resentment to the person who prompted this post. Nor do I think he is Evil. 🙂   I wish him only the best, and many, many, positive things in his journey going forward with his ADHD!!

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

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