why I love Jake’s school

A week or so ago I had a conference with Jake’s teacher. In the past there have been times where I was anxious about what his teacher might have to say. Over the years I have learned to toughen up and use their comments as tools while working with Jake at home. I like to hear the “negative” stuff because I know what I need to work on and how to help Jake when he isn’t in school. This particular meeting had zero negative comments. It was so nice to sit back and hear the words like succeeding, smart, social, academically on target and so many other encouraging words. The only thing we need to continue to work on with Jake is his handwriting and building stamina so he can write more than just a couple of words at a time. Jake has not had many meltdowns and when he is getting close to one his teacher watches and gives him the break or the tools he needs so he won’t melt down. She sees when he is fidgeting, when he can’t sit still and when he is struggling to stay on task. And one of the neatest things I’ve seen is she not only watches Jake and sees his needs but she does this with each student. To say I feel blessed Jake was placed in his class is an understatement. I really feel like we hit the jackpot!

One of the things I love most about Bailey Station is how the administration looks at each child and places him/her with a teacher that they feel is a perfect match. In Jake’s case they placed with someone who gentle but stern. Mrs. S. challenges Jake and expects a lot out of him; she is the perfect combination that Jake needs. When Allie went to the same school, 2nd-5th, she need a different type of teacher than Jake does. They always seemed to match Allie with teachers that were the perfect fit for her. When Allie was in elementary school I always felt like she was important; like she was the only child on their radar. Before Jake entered the special needs preschool class I wondered if Jake would be treated the same. I had prayed and hoped the school continued to have a love for their kids and sought the importance of the individual child along with education. I remember being so nervous because I had been through the typical side of the school and couldn’t help but be a little anxious going through the special needs side. I don’t really like to call it sides but it is the best way for me to describe how I saw it at the time. But in all honesty, Bailey Station Elementary doesn’t see it as typical and special needs; they treat all children as equals. They meet each child where they are and provide the best education that the individual child needs.

I am often asked how I was able to receive all the services we have for Jake or how we were able to get an aide. It isn’t a battle here, they look at the child and want to provide a positive learning environment and give each child the tools they need to succeed. Jake is no exception. I saw it when Allie went to school here and I see it now; I couldn’t be happier with our public school that feels like a small private school.

Last year at the end of Kindergarten Jake’s art work was pulled aside to be entered into the local fair. I received a call last week from his art teacher letting me know his art was selected and received a ribbon, he also won $25!! I was so thrilled for him! Funny story; Jake was showing me all the art from the fair in the school office and he pointed out which one was his. I should have read the names but didn’t because I was too excited. Come to find out the one he showed me, the one I posted on my social media, wasn’t his at all but one of his classmates. When I asked him why he didn’t show me his he just said I liked the lion. Silly boy. Fortunately I was able to see his and loved it immediately. He painted an owl which is cool in itself. The owl was my late father’s favorite animal so Jake’s painting is even more special to me now.

DeltaFairArt

The first 9 weeks of school are coming to end, hard to believe, and I couldn’t be more proud or happier with how first grade has started. I continue to hope and pray the rest of the school year goes as well as the first nine weeks!

If I could tell another parent whose child is entering school for the first time whether they have special needs or are typical would be to look at the school and ask a lot of questions. The main question I would tell someone to ask is what tools will you use to give my child the best learning experience? How will you help my child be successful and a contributing member of society? In my opinion these questions are so important. Most of us with a child on the spectrum or a child with any kind of special needs eventually want our kids to be able to function on their own. Some children might be able to while others might continue to need extra help. But with the right tools and the right resources all of our kids can and will be successful in their own way! 

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11

 

Advertisements

why I tell people about Jake’s autism

As I stood on the sidelines yesterday I couldn’t help but watch my boy with pride. I couldn’t help but think about where we were just a couple of short years ago when Jake didn’t know how to kick a ball, run without falling down or even jump. As I watched I grabbed John’s hand and gave him a squeeze and said “look at him, he’s come so far!” Tears filled my eyes as he ran up and down the soccer field kicking the ball all the while with a huge smile on his face. This brief moment in time will always be etched in my memory.

I talk often to other parents of children on the spectrum or to parents whose child or grandchild are on the spectrum. I also talk to those who suspect that their child may be autistic. The first words that come out of my mouth are “early intervention is extremely important”. Many parents do not want the label but what I tell them is the label is important, it is just a small part of who the child is but not the whole child. In the very early months of our diagnosis I too asked the question of how the label will affect Jake. If anything, it allows him services he might not receive, it helps others understand why Jake does the things he does and it brings acceptance to autism.

So many parents are afraid; I was afraid. So many parents don’t want to hear the word autism; I was that parent! We want our child to be perfect in every way. We want to see the dreams we have for our child to be fulfilled. Let me tell you, our children are perfect and the dreams we have for them and the dreams they will have will be fulfilled! It may take a bit longer but it can happen. It may not happen the way we thought it might but with support and an open mind your child, my child, can do anything.

Jake’s favorite phrase right now is “I can’t!” If I’ve ever hated two words more it would be those! I tell him every single day, “You can do anything!” It has sorta become a mantra for us. He say’s “I can’t” I tell him to repeat “I can do anything!”

As I reread the above paragraphs, it sounds like it was so simple for me. Believe me it wasn’t!! It hasn’t always been easy for me and at times it is still so so hard! I struggled. I didn’t know if I should tell others that Jake is autistic. I didn’t want to push him too much. I wanted to shield and protect him as much as I could. I read the stories of bullying, I heard from other parents about how their child tried something and it ended badly. I wanted to keep Jake in a bubble and protect him from the outside world as much as possible. Like any good parent, I wanted to keep him safe. But I wasn’t keeping him safe; not really. I was hindering him from experiencing life. If he didn’t get a chance to experience as much as he could and learn how to deal with the bullies, the unfairness of the world then I would be setting him up to fail. I knew I needed to let go a little. Oh how I prayed about this. Seriously, letting go of my boy has been probably the hardest part of this journey. For SO LONG I was the one who taught him, I arranged all of his therapies, I kept constant tabs on his progress and worked vigorously to ensure he would succeed and go to the next step. When he was younger it did need to be like this but now that he is 6 1/2 he can do things without my help. He can do so many things that part of me was afraid to let him try.

I tell others about Jake’s autism all the time. Usually the response I receive is “oh!” The expression I see reads “that makes sense now, I get why he is spinning around the room”. Others tell me of someone they know who is on the spectrum and occasionally I get the ‘oh, I’m so sorry’. But usually it opens up a conversation to things like how I knew he was autistic, when did I find out as well as what have I done to help him. I tell people not for sympathy and honestly not so much for their understanding but more so that they will teach their children to accept my boy. That they will raise their children to understand that all kids are different in some way or another. And that other parents will accept the differences of my child and have a better understanding what autism really is.

Early intervention helped Jake become the able boy he is today. Through years of therapy he had to learn how to do the most basic things. Having Jake diagnosed early was the best thing that could have happened for him. When a child is young they absorb so much information and it sticks with them. Early intervention helps improve their intellectual ability.

Our story is unique because each child on the spectrum is different. I have yet to meet another child with the exact same challenges Jake has or shows the same autistic traits.

As John and I continued to watch Jake run and kick the soccer ball I knew that Jake’s life couldn’t be better. There are so many opportunities that await him and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

091915_2

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

our week

Our week started off with a trip to the ER. On Monday, Jake was running down the hall and ran into a door. He hit his head right by his temple and it swelled. We put ice on it but then the bump dented in, not a good sign. Being concerned we decided to have him checked out by a doctor and with it being Labor Day we had to go to the emergency room. Fortunately his skull wasn’t fractured and he didn’t have a concussion. Jake did amazingly well. The only time he got upset was when they wanted to take his temperature and when they told him to lay down so they could do an x-ray. The staff at the hospital were fabulous and worked well with my boy. They made accommodations so that he wouldn’t be scared and did everything in their power to make it fun (as fun as an ER visit can be). I’m glad we took him; made me worry less through the night. He’s a toughy! (Grandma’s nickname for him). 

ER0915

Tuesday was non-eventful, thankfully. Jake had a headache but managed to go to school with a band-aid on his head so it wouldn’t hurt.

Wednesday Allie and I went to tour a college. We had to be on campus at 9 which meant John had to take Jake to school. Allie and I were trying to get ready and Jake’s typical morning routine was thrown off. He was bouncing off the walls!! I don’t think he calmed down until bedtime that night. He had a hard time at school; he didn’t want to follow directions and was up and down out of his seat all day. I asked him what color his clip was on at the end of the day and he said “I don’t know.” I’m pretty sure he knew because he wants to be above the green line. So I asked him again and after a few tries he told me it was on yellow. Yellow is right below green and means to slow down and think about your actions. Jake also hit another child on this day. He told me he didn’t want the other kid to tell him what to do. His teacher handled this perfectly; she told me what happened and assured me that although Jake was in the wrong and he did cry that she was proud of the way he collected himself and was able to get back on track for the next lesson. Jake’s beloved iPad went to time out for the day and that brought tears and I’m sorry’s etc. Hopefully he has learned to never ever touch another child. Too many words get lost with him so I had to make sure he understood why his actions were wrong and give him other ways to handle his frustration in the future. Hopefully I got through to him and we won’t have any more notes coming home about him hitting.

Thursday was a pretty good day 🙂

Friday all the first grader’s in Jake’s school went on a field trip. They went to the local high school to see a play. Due to limited seating, each class could only take 2 chaperons which the teacher drew out of hat. Unfortunately, I was not picked to go with him. I wrestled with letting him go as he doesn’t do well in dark places and large crowds. I wasn’t sure if the play, Hansel and Gretel, would scare him or not. Fortunately, Jake’s aide was able to go with him and he had a fabulous time. He was so excited to be with all the kids and said he loved the play and that it wasn’t scary at all. I am really glad I let him go and experience this with his class. He said he had a great time! That night I asked him what color his clip was on at the end of the day and I got the same response, “I don’t know”. I told him he did know and he needed to tell me. He bowed his head and said yellow. Then he looked at me and said “I keep staying in trouble. I’m sorry, mommy.” Jake has a difficult time following directions and has poor impulse control. This is something we work on at home all of the time! It is hard for him but he’ll get it one of these days.

Saturday Jake played soccer for the first time. It was a gorgeous day and he was super excited. The club I signed him up with is for special needs children. They have volunteers that help the kids learn the game and help them play. It was amazing to watch all the kids with their soccer buddies running up and down the field. Jake was a super star and I couldn’t be more proud of him. All the years of PT were evident as I watched him run without falling and kick the ball down the field. He would have had a difficult time a year ago. It was a great feeling for me seeing him out on the field with a huge smile on his face. He was so happy which of course melted my heart.

pizap.com14421410825771

Overall we had a pretty good week. First grade is proving to be challenging for my boy but he is up for the challenge. He is strong-willed and determined. These qualities can drive me crazy but with the right direction he will do great things.

handwriting is hard

Jake has always loved school. Last Monday Jake was looking at the calendar and was reading to me everything that is scheduled. He said “next Monday we have school and play group, yea!” I told him that next Monday is Labor Day and there wouldn’t be any school because it’s a holiday. He looked at me in shock and began crying saying how he didn’t need a holiday he needed to go to school. Tuesday he woke up with his allergies bothering him and he told me he wanted to stay home. This was a first. I checked him out and other than a little stuffy nose Jake was fine, so he went on to school. Wednesday he told me he needed to stay home with me on Thursday, “I don’t want to go to school” he said. My heart hurt a little. I asked him why and he said “I just need to be with mommy.” What changed in a matter of a couple of days?

Jake is expected to write a lot during the day at school. Jake’s teacher has made some accommodations for him but the thought of picking up a pencil is a task in itself. On Wednesday he had a difficult time staying on task and remaining seated. When it came time to write he cried and wouldn’t do his work. I asked him about it and he said “it’s too hard, it hurts”. Jake’s team at school is doing everything they can to find the right pencil grip and any type of aid that will make writing a little easier for him. His teacher has also allowed us to write for him but the majority of his work has to come from Jake. It can be a little frustrating for me because I don’t really understand or know how he is really feeling. I go back and forth wondering if it really does hurt or is he using this as an excuse not to do his homework. While talking with a friend the other day she said it would be the same if I was asked to write with my non-preferred hand. I am right handed and if someone said to me ‘you will have to use your left hand today’ it would be hard. I wouldn’t want to do it and if I had to write a lot that way I might cry too.

More is expected of Jake this year and I think he wants to stay home because school is more challenging for him. Jake wants to do what he wants to do; he wants to play and have fun. I mean, what kid doesn’t want that! Handwriting is Jake’s biggest obstacle right now. I hate that he is having a hard time but am glad he is excelling academically. If we could just get this down and work on his sensory issues to help him stay seated everything would be perfect in Jake’s world. I’m smiling as I write that last sentence because I know if we weren’t struggling with handwriting there would be something else on our plate 🙂

 

writing-clipart-black-and-white-writing

 

Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”