Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Big 05

As promised, the Alex photo from his birthday. We have tried the bike (and new helmet) and he is liking it more and more. How can this be??
ps He picked red this year for his birthday decorations...last year it was pink :-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Birthday Boy

Mr. Alex turned 5 years old yesterday. 5! How can this be? Just the other yesterday we were having a baby. Now we have a bona fide pre-schooler. This must be some kind of magic. Or brain trauma. Either way it is mysterious. I told him the story of the day he was born (the cleaned up version without all the angst, trauma, and medical personnel) and he greatly enjoyed the pictures. He is getting very interested in the growing process and the stories of him as a "bayybeeee", as he says. Right now he keeps climbing into my lap and trying to type, so I will keep this short. His big birthday present was a bicycle with training wheels and we are all very excited about that. I will post pictures when I can, after he stops jumping in my lap and I get some coffee in!

A word from Alex:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Man, am I tired. But it is a good tired. Am off to bed soon, but just had to sneak a post in. It has been a huge day. Before Alex's 8:30 speech appointment this morning Kevin told me our therapist, Tahirih, wanted to mostly consult with me (rather than the usual excellent playing with Alex). She, like us, was becoming uncomfortable with our school plan for Alex this year. He has made such massive gains this summer that sending him to the full time Autism classroom again seemed not quite right. Sure, the idea of an already set plan with lots of professionals on board has it's comfort, but there were many questions that were not clearly answered. We sat down and looked at his IEP for the coming year, and reviewed how the meeting went last spring. At the time we were being pushed by his teachers to start him in kindergarten. Not given any other suggested routes or options. It was that or we were on our own, even though his summer birthday is 6 days before the cut off. We were still on the waiting list for the Scottish Rite Language Clinic, and had barely started at Polinsky with Nikki the excellent therapist. In the meeting the teachers assured me this was the best place for Alex, but many red flags went up. First off they kept down grading his expectations for academics. They stated they did not want to aim too high (even in light of the fact he is age appropriate or above for academics). Then their idea of mainstreaming was to keep him in the Autism classroom all day, except for recess and lunch. With no assistance in those most stressful group times. I advocated against that plan, got him time in the class for his favorite subjects, and an aide for the tough open social times. But it still felt wrong. I also did not like that it was only offered full day, and the teacher poo-pooed my idea that I would like to mainstream him within a year or so. "Oh, you'll want to keep him here for when it gets tougher when he is older." Hmmm. When I was older in school I would have loved to have a room to hang out in with a big swing and lots of toys, what's the motivation to leave?? Especially if the teacher has no plan to fully let you go.

So, after discussing all this with Tahirih (who is a miracle woman), and another veteran of the
school district, we started looking at options. Especially in light of all the gains Alex has made over the summer. Did I mention that last week we went swimming in Lake Superior for a couple hours (it was beautifully warm) and he could not contain himself around other children? He was yelling, "Hi! Hi! I'm Alex!! Hi! Swim with me? My friend Alaina is coming!! Hi!!!". I did not stop smiling all day. And there have been many other moments of his connecting with other kids and really wanting to play with them. So, play he shall. We have scrapped the school plan and he is off to pre-school in a couple weeks. An honest to goodness, mainstream preschool. Filled with typical, quirky, half-insane children. Not too many, a 1-8 ratio with 28 maximum. Alex got go there last year to pick up his friend Fraya for play dates, so he is already amped at the idea. I met with the director today, at the initial call she remembered Alex, me, and Kevin from our Fraya pick ups. Cool. And she is very down to earth. Now all that remains is to inform the school district (left a message with the Special Ed director today, who is very approachable) and we will see if the schools will be willing to help us with this plan or will wash their hands of us. We will work it out either way. We are moving from a plan of Alex in class full time, five days a week 8:30-2:30, to three afternoons a week at pre-school. What are we, nuts?? But then we can keep on with the home program, keep going to our therapists, and see how fast we can catch up with the mainstream. Good thing all the work is play based, since play is a specialty in this house. Good-night!