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Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Week of Discoveries

Have you ever had one of those weeks when you wish things could just be a little easier?  When you are just tired of not being “normal.”

When you look at all the people around you and feel a little resentful because their kids all seem to get it…and they don’t seem to have any challenges dealing with the world at large?  And all the moms have it together, right?

This was one of those weeks for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t resent my kids in any way.  Each of them is a truly remarkable individual and I love them all dearly.

I just wish things didn’t have to be so hard for them (especially my boys).  And sometimes I feel a tremendous amount of pressure.  I can’t just pass the baton off to someone else.

But, in spite of the frustrations, some really positive things happened this week, so let me talk about that.

Early this week, Peter got a “foreign body” stuck to his eyeball.  We think it was a skin flake  but we’ll never be positive on that.  Anyway, it caused a small abrasion, so he’s getting antibiotic ointment in that eye.  (Please pray it doesn’t become infected, he has a high risk of infection).

The pediatric eye doctor also says that he is very definitely farsighted and probably has some issues with eye strain.  But we need to wait a bit to do a better exam (eye needs to heal) to get an accurate script for specs.

So I did some reading about farsightedness in kids…and little lightbulbs started exploding in my head.  It seems farsightedness in kids doesn’t look the same as it does in adults.  And what I read was explaining some peculiar behaviors he has.  And it could have been present at birth, though they may not have caught it in all his pre-school age eye exams since he couldn’t read charts.

Now, the earliest the eye doctor can get him in the schedule is the 2nd week of January…I so want to get him in glasses before then.  But I’m sticking with this doctor, and here’s why:

The doctor told my husband (I was home with the other kiddos) that Peter was exhibiting certain behaviors that might point to Asperger’s. 

I’ve wondered about this for a while.  I’ve asked doctors about Peter’s development and behavior.  Generally they say something along the lines of: “I think he’s developing quite well, considering.”

You see, I think they have a rough time seeing beyond his Ichthyosis.  As if to say:  “Isn’t it bad enough that he has to deal with this?  Let’s not burden him with something else.”

Of course, that doesn’t change the reality.  Peter’s reality.  His family’s reality.

And so, I’ve wondered about this often.  I’ve read about the “signs” and wondered. 

Some of Peter’s signs:

  • Peter has some definite social issues, but mostly with people he doesn’t know. 
  • He’s very impatient in a situation where someone is presenting to a group (he constantly interrupts). 
  • He has a few particular routines that he seems to have to follow in order to hold it together (the “good-bye” routine is very involved). 
  • He is obsessed with drawing. 
  • He is currently obsessed with mythological creatures.  And will argue with books that give information he thinks is incorrect about mythological creatures. 
  • He has difficulty controlling his temper, he’s quick to lash out. 
  • He stims a lot.  He needs constant stimulation to concentrate.  For instance, he will hook his feet on the bottom of the chair next to him and rock it.  Constantly.  He can’t help himself.  This, by the way, is one of the areas where he and his older brother lock horns.  It drives David bananas. 
  • He draws constantly.  He can’t sit still at all if he’s not drawing.

But, then there are other things that don’t seem to fit.

He’s extremely sociable with people he knows.  And he does much better in small groups.  He doesn’t take things literally.  He loves to make and laugh at jokes, especially puns.  He has an incredible ability to play pretend (and has had from a very young age).  He’s sensitive and loving.  He’s the full-body-hug kid.  He’s very observant:  he notices details, points out inconsistences in illustrations of books, etc.

So, I don’t know.  Yes, it is called the “autism spectrum” for a reason.  Every individual is different, so perhaps he’s on the particularly mild part.  But, would he be like this without the Ichthyosis?  His entire physical reality is very different from the average kid’s.  The first few months of his life outside of the womb were very intense.  I have no doubt that his experiences have contributed to who he is and have impacted his psychological and social development.

And we don’t know, yet, what impact his eyesight might be having.  I have a feeling his physical reality is going to change for the better once he’s wearing glasses.

Plus, he’s very self-conscious about how others perceive him.  I don’t remember his social dealings with others becoming such a big deal until he was old enough to be aware of how people look at him. 

He was one happy kid when he was 2.  But sometime around the age of 4 or 5 that started to change.  And he started intimating to me that he felt like other kids see him as a monster.  So, he tends to act out that monster role.  We do our best to educate the public and the kids he plays with, but people still react.  And he reads their reactions---another reason why I’m not so sure we’re talking about autism, here. 

We’ll be talking to his pediatrician soon to see about getting him evaluated.   Even if the cause is not AS, he needs some help and I want to find out the best way to help him.

I said this was a positive thing, right?  Sometimes I have a tendency to just say:  Peter is just being Peter.  And while that is true, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need some special help.  It’s kind of a defeatist attitude, really, so having a someone else notice his behavior and give it a name has helped me get my butt in gear. 

More importantly, putting a possible label on Peter’s issues has really helped my husband better understand him.  He would sometimes get really annoyed with Peter’s clinginess (the “good-bye” routine) and other idiosyncrasies.  Peter’s very intense.  Chris told me that he understands better now.  And that helps, a lot.

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While we’re on the topic of discoveries, I’ve decided to put aside Life of Fred Fractions for David.

Could I make it work?  Sure.  But this has been taking a lot of supplementation on my part.  And re-teaching of the material.  He forgets it as soon as he learns it.  and there simply has to be a better way.  It’s not sticking with him. 

While he enjoys the format of Fred, he really needs something more incremental with more practice, and probably something more visual.  I can add in extra practice.  There’s a plethora of free worksheets on the web, or I can just give him my own problems.  But when it comes to re-teaching the material and helping him cement it in his noggin…well, I’m getting a bit frustrating.

I have to say, I’m very happy he’s learning this at home, because I don’t know what he would do in a classroom of 30, with a teacher who simply doesn’t have the time to help him specifically with his learning issues.  He might simply get left behind.  But I know he is capable of getting this.

So, I’m looking at other possibilities over this month.  I’ve thought about the Key to series.   Or I may look at something else.

But this is a good thing. 

Another good thing is that he really is finally mastering his multiplication facts.  And he’s able to finally do long multiplication and division on his own without reminders on what the next step is.  Yeah for David!  I’m so proud of his perseverance.  This is really been a long, hard road for him.

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What discoveries have you made this week?

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Conquering Math Facts

2 comments:

  1. I'm right there with you with the kids issues, although my kid issues are so very different than your kid issues. But I often wonder~ why him, why us, and why me! Couldn't it be just a little easier for me considering I have five kids and one income and we homeschool?!?! Couldn't we be cut a break once in a while?

    This week marks what we hope to be the end of a long and exhausting ordeal. Of course, we were told this same thing about two months ago...

    ReplyDelete
  2. And often the end of one thing is the beginning of another...;0)

    I know what you mean. Just when you think you've got it licked something else happens.

    Praying for you.

    ReplyDelete

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