Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Call of the IEP, The Grapes of Aspergers, Crime and Punishment and Other Great Classic Stories of Parenting...

Now if that title doesn't suggest a future best-seller, I don't know what does!

Yesterday the hubby and I went in to help author our family's second IEP. In case you're wondering, IEPs are not like potato chips. You CAN have just one... We just have this little tendency to defy the odds and all sense of logic - but I digress.

It goes without saying that if you have a child with Down syndrome, you will likely be called upon to peruse the pages of an IEP on a yearly basis. If you have a child with Down syndrome and another child with Aspergers, you will find yourself with stacks of papers amassing in the strangest of places, detailing every possible way the little fruits of your loins are NOT like the other children. Good times!

Admittedly I went into yesterday's meeting with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. You see, last year I requested testing for Iraq in the hopes of getting an IEP set up. Unfortunately not only had her teacher never heard of Aspergers, but the school psychologist and the specialist who performed the testing didn't think Iraq seemed "autistic." Why do we keep coming back to the old "but she makes eye contact" thing? They also decided that since she tested within the "average" range on all the academic scales, that it was not necessary for them to provide any extra help. Needless to say, I was frustrated!

We were thrilled when we learned of the opportunity to switch Iraq to the same elementary school that The Skink goes to, and even more pleased to learn Iraq's 2nd grade teacher has experience with children in the autism spectrum... and yes, she's heard of Aspergers... and she even recognizes the "Aspie" things that Iraq does and understands why she does them AND she employs techniques to keep Iraq on track! Thank goodness. Yet going into the IEP meeting, I was ready once again to be told that Iraq had tested within the "average" range academically, and be asked the question, "Well, what do you want us to do?"

Much to my relief and consternation, that is not what happened. Yes - Iraq did test within the average range academically, but they also recognized that Iraq has some unique "qualities" that require more specialized attention and guidance. Wow! School officials that understand that a kid can have an IQ within the normal-to-high range AND have special needs! Oh my! These people may have not only stepped OUT of their box, but re-assigned their box as a place to put out-dated material! Call Big Brother and warn him that someone is thinking!

I can't tell you how happy we were with the meeting! (Yes - it's top secret information!) No... Let me rephrase that. I mean I can't find adequate words to express the joy I feel over being understood and listened to, and from having Iraq be understood (at least to the degree that the school understood that Iraq needs someone to invest lots of time trying to understand Iraq and that Iraq is a person who may not ever be fully understood but that the very act of trying to understand Iraq will be beneficial to Iraq's understanding of the world and to her academic life... understand?).

Is it strange that I am happy about getting an IEP for my child?

Anyway, we are happy.

It also came up that Iraq's kleptomania (impulsive stealing) is still alive and well despite efforts from both home and school to exterminate that nasty little issue. We noticed that the school has a Sheriff's Office liaison - a police officer who spends a fair amount of time at the school. The next time Iraq steals something (which will likely be today) she will be arrested.

Yes. You read that right. Arrested.

Call it tough love, call it imposing permanent psychological trauma on our child, but because we have exhausted every other possible deterrent we could think of, we are going to try it. Think about it. The kid steals regularly at age 7. This does not bode well for her future... or ours as her bank account, bail bond providers parents.

On a completely separate subject (just because I like tangents and I'm dragging you along for the ride for my own personal entertainment) I am reading Thinking In Pictures by Temple Grandin. If you have a kiddo in the autism spectrum, read this book! If you ARE in the autism spectrum, read this book! Even if you are neuro-typical and don't know anyone at all in the autism spectrum, read this book! It is amazingly insightful and a very interesting read!

* I am not receiving compensation of any form for the promotion of this book. If you are the author, publisher or a reseller of this book and wish to compensate me for this glowing review, please contact me as soon as possible and I'll let you know where to send the check.

I have mentioned in prior blog posts that I myself have Aspergers. Reading Grandin's book has proved amazingly enlightening for me. I never realized neuro-typicals were so weird! (Just a little Aspie-humor thrown in there). The title for starters - well... I never realized that people could think without pictures. Yes - every last word in my vocabulary conjures an instant visual association. Suddenly a lot of puzzle pieces from my past are coming together, like why it took me longer than other kids to learn to read a clock with hands, count money, and why to this day I still don't spell well. Prior to having a visual concept of what "yesterday" is (I now visualize 3 days from a calendar appropriately labeled "yesterday," "today" and "tomorrow" in that order) it was nearly impossible for me to understand the concept of the word.

Well, I think there might be some legal copy write issues with my rewriting Grandin's book here in my blog just to share my excitement with you over it, so I'll stop there and just reiterate my opinion that you should read this book! And they even have it for Kindle (which is how I have the opportunity to read it... it's not like I would ever have the opportunity to venture into the grown-up section of an actual book store... at least not without 2 kids griping incessantly over being dragged into the "boring" section!).

So I'll leave you with that. And because I usually put tons of photographs in my blog which makes me feel like I'm depriving my cherished readers of visual stimuli in this particular post, I will now overload your senses in one fell swoop with this:

Feel better?
What do you mean "headache?" Oh... sorry.

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  1. Awesome! I am so happy that your daughter's school is on-board and supportive. That is exciting!

    I LOVE Thinking in Pictures, actually I love all of Temple Grandin's books! I am currently reading, The Way I See It: A personal Look at Autism & Asperger's by Temple Grandin. She is amazing!

    Thank you for including the picture, it's pretty!

  2. omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg!!!!!!!!!!

    I am printing this post and sticking it to my wall because I FREAKIN LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can't fathom how there are still teachers out there who are not familiar with Aspergers! MIND BLOWING!

    I like the idea of Iraq being :arrested". It's tough love but it has to be done. I just hope her urge to steal isn't so powerful that she isn't oblivious to punishment???

    Hooray for picture thinkers!!! Just so you know, we have the exact same picture for "yesterday" - how cool is that!

    I was diagnosed as PDD-NOS when I was younger, but I'm fairly convinced that I'm actually an Aspie!

    Just curious - Does broadway have an IEP too? Does he have any off the common ADHD learning disabilities!!

    Random fact - In Aus we call IEP's ILP's (Individual Learning Plans)

  3. Rhi - Broadway does have a lot of academic issues because of his ADHD. I did try to get something one step down from an IEP/ILP for him, but we got the same kind of runaround with "He is capable of doing the work but he just needs to apply himself and get organized." For instance, he'll do an assignment, but then forget to hand it in for weeks. Or, he'll forget about long-term assignments. But he does great on all his exams proving that he IS learning all the information.

    We are now getting him set up with a tutor who will be pretty much an extra "mom." I wish I had the time to contact his teachers daily and keep up with all his assignments, follow him around until he does them, etc. but there aren't enough hours in the day for me. By the time he gets home, the girls are around my ankles and it's time to make dinner and put the girls to bed. My mother is helping us with the tutor - YAY!!

    Broadway is also very impulsive if he forgets to take his medication, and he'll talk like a recording on fast-forward, not letting anyone get a word in edgewise. Yes - he is VERY ADHD!

  4. I hope the "arrest" thing went well for you. Did it help? I'm very curious to find out. I tried that some years ago when my son was in elementary school. I gave the principal the ok to go through with the "scare tactic", since he knew an officer who would be willing to work with us on the whole stealing issue. When the officer was actually called, he was unavailable and the dept. sent someone else who was unfamiliar with my son's continual stealing and need for a severe wake up call. I was infuriated when I was informed of my son's "field trip" to the police car. He thought it was sooo cool. The principal apologized for the back-fire and suggested another possible solution. Hindsight. Should have tried again. It wasn't like he wasn't going to steal something the next day. Now, the police come to my house and they don't scare him, because he still doesn't "get it". They just scare me, because I do "get it".

    1. Nanette - while Iraq did have a bit of a meeting with the officer, unfortunately the stealing continues. It didn't work as we had hoped it would. So we continue on - trying new things, trying old things... hoping... hoping...


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