Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Communication is SO important./ dangers of ritalin

About a year ago, Ben told his Daddy and me that he was seeing/hearing a "friend" who told him to do things. Because I freaked when I heard "autism", I was adamant that I would not freak at the idea of "schizophrenia". I would just accept it, and keep an eye out for "delusions". After all, schizophrenia is the one thing psychiatry can't touch...an enigma that cognitive therapy or medication can't cure.

Now, the reason I am writing today is because of a conversation we had last night. At the time Ben went through this, I noticed that delusions were a part of the side-effects of Ritalin. I initially tried to remedy it by decreasing his dose. Things got tougher at school, because of the lack of behavioral constraints that "vitamin r" gave Ben. But I felt it was the first line of defense, just to be sure, to decrease the dose.

So I have been holding it in my heart that Ben was possibly schizophrenic. When he stayed up late at night and talked out loud to the t.v., I tried to wake up enough to listen to what he was saying, presumably to "her". My weak little mind was looking for answers, wondering why Ben seemed so sensible all the time. I thought he was hiding it really well...

So last night, he has me read a story he is writing about a boy and a girl caught up in a train simulation exercise, looking for clues and answers to escape. He warns me it has taken on a sexual tone, and not to read it. I think I might read it in the morning while he is sleeping...but I promised him I would not, and try to hornswaggle him into letting me read it, which, to my surprise, he allows.

" I don't really care for the sexual stuff." I tell him, as it is my duty being raised a catholic.

I bring up the episode of a year back.

"That only happened for about two weeks. I've never seen or heard things since then!"

And I know he is telling the truth.

Can you imagine if I had freaked out of fear? He would have been put on new meds...who knows how he would have reacted, and the downward spiral could have desended us into a hell of who knows what.

Fear sucks. Communication rocks!

Forgive me Ben, but sometimes when we go through things, it is so others can be helped.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...






It's not me, it's Ben. He has always loved decorating for Christmas. He usually doesn't start until after Thanksgiving dinner, but this year he has been checking out the lights for missing bulbs, etc, for about a month. He and Dad put up this little pretty today. One gal brought her kids to see it, ages 1 and 3. They really enjoyed it. He was so proud of his design!

The hedge in front of the apartment hides some of the lights. I'm not sure he's finished, but he's tired for today. He's my joy boy, and he's giving it out to the rest of the apartment complex!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fear of the Future

Ben has shared some things with me lately. I seldom, if ever, get really personal on this blog...I don't want it to come back to haunt him or me.

Maybe it is a teen thing, but this omnipresent thing called "the future" scares him. He is afraid he is unemployable. He has always had this dream to be an inventor since the first grade...and it's the only way out he can see. A regular 9 to 5 is just not his way.

I only survived employment with the help of anti-depressants. It wasn't really that I was depressed, but that I was enormously sensitive to criticism, and took it all straight to heart. The anti-depressants served as a "buffer zone" between me and the world. I would equate it with an intense shyness, and an intense fear of failure. I see some of the same shyness/fear of failure in Ben.

He was on ritalin to help him get through school without being in an enclosed special ed classroom. I KNEW they went much slower, and something told me he was very bright. It also helped him control his outbursts, gave him a buffer between his reactive feelings and the world, much like my anti-depressants. (I wasn't medicated through school, there never was a need in the "old days". I was a little off kilter, but had many friends, some of whom I still have. I was thought to be very bright...but "not living up to my potential". The same has been said of Ben.}

Well, what I need to know is, how can I help him to have faith in himself? Do any of you use drugs as a buffer? (I am thinking about having him see if he has more faith in himself with the addition of ritalin, like I use anti-depressants. I think they kept me out of a lot of trouble I would have caused for myself without them.)

It's not as though he doesn't have good role models. His 5th grade teacher was different, probably ADHD, and loved him into success and a stress free year. She believed in him like NOBODY's business, like nobody before or since. For 3 years, we were totally blessed to have a psychiatrist who was ADHD himself, and who never went into any psycho-babble, he just encouraged Ben and told him he was "the hardest worker he knew." We (both of us!)got out of his sessions uplifted. No blame, no "better way" by someone who "knew better"....Just encouragement! We loved them both, and Ben at one time said he would like to be a psychologist like "Dr. Luke" to help other kids like him. He was that good! Granny had trouble in school, and has always believed in Ben. Dad was a "late talker", and sees a lot of himself in Ben. So do I.

I know you all are extremely busy...but if you have any good advice, please leave a comment if you can share it with the world, or email me via the hub ring (jrbwalk).

God bless...Rose

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Autism Experts

Who are the autism experts? I googled it, and if you hit the link above you'll see who comes up first. (Autismsqueaks comes up second...surprise, surprise).

I know it's goofy, but imagine an alien comes to this planet, and becomes enraptured with this thing called "woman".

"Tell me more, what is this woman?"

Would we send them to a gynecologist to explain the inner workings of a woman's body, a doctor to show the physical manifestations, a psychiatrist to show the issues of being woman,(all the previous from a male point of view), let them read books on women's issues, give them a copy of playboy, talk about women's suffrage, have a man talk about his wife, have children talk about their mother; would we, in essence, avoid a snowballs chance in hell that they could actually meet and talk with a woman, have their questions answered by a woman...would we only allow a societal constuct of womanhood to escape?

Do you think they'd ever really figure out what this thing, this "woman", was?

Maybe, we could have a token woman who was only allowed to say things about herself that were previously cleared with all the above "experts" first. She would say things that made them feel comfortable, because that's what "good" women do.

i'm jus sayin....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What do these people all have in common?




Why others homeschool




I thought this graph was interesting. The source is the U.S. Department of Education, so it's pretty kosher, not something made up to encourage homeschooling. As I look at it, the reasons why I am homeschooling (which I can't even truly figure out) start at the top of the graph and go down three steps.

1. Child's special needs or disability . School has always been so hard for him, but until last year the little bugger "never gave up, never gave up, never, never, never gave up."(Winston Churchill, who was a "poor" student.) When he was in grade school, Mr. Butler, his resource teacher, had come from the high school. He said he kind of liked working with the younger kids because they hadn't given up yet. Mr. Davis told us at the beginning of 8th grade, he thought it would be Ben's banner year, that he would take off. As it was, he barely eeked by, earning D-'s instead of the typical A's and B's.

Also, I used to work up to 4-5 hours a night so Ben could complete his homework. In fifth grade, he had a wonderful teacher, Ms. Hunt, who let him do all his work at school, while on Ritalin which helped him focus. We never gave him "vitamin r" at night, although it was tempting to complete homework, but he didn't sleep well the way it was, and it would have been necessary to give him another drug to go to sleep...better living through chemistry! Ms. Hunt was a closet LD student, I'm sure. Like Ben's only real psychiatrist, who had ADHD himself, she understood: she gave him every break posssible and did everything to UP his sense of self. She believed in him, I think she saw a lot of herself in him.Well, anyhow, after Ms. Hunt, I never again put in those hours. Ben's dad, by default, became his "homework" partner. I just didn't have the desire.Besides, it felt like child abuse, what I had done in the earlier years. In the first 5 years (k-4), he never missed one homework assignment.


2. Student has behavior problems at school.
: Ben had never gotten in trouble in school. In 8th grade, he was suspended twice, a third time was in the books, but it was the end of the year.

3. Other problems with available school. Gas was on it's way to $5 a gallon, and the hour and one half we would spend each day driving him to school, with me unemployed, was not looking good. Blame it on the Enron loophole.

4. School doesn't challenge child. Ben's IQ was 79 at age 4, 99 in second grade, 116 in third...it's not supposed to change more than 20 points over a lifetime. So much for that. At Ben's IEP in 8th grade, I wanted the psych to give him an IQ test. He said it would keep Ben out of Special Education, and that I didn't want to do it. Ben learns a lot by watching t.v. Like his dad and his reading, he watches factual Science, mechanically oriented shows. I think that's why his IQ is so high. Environment...t.v.!!!!!!

So, in comparison to others, I am homeschooling Ben for 40.3% of the same reasons as other people are homeschooling their children. And there is no way in hell I am becoming the HOMEWORK NAZI in order for him to get through school. Bleh, just thinking about it....
S

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Teaching in pictures...why I'm home schooling 2





Ben has been given a label of PDD, Educational Autism, PDD-NOS, Aspergers, ADHD, and the newest one, ED (emotionally disemboweled, er disturbed)...he shows signs of dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dysentery (?). He went to speech for 6 years, OT for 6, and the Resource Room for 9.





Now, I'm not saying that I despise the public schools at all. Ben found them torture in the second grade, his words (his first apparent opinion of school), but many people have been so good and loving to him...there's just no way I can put blame for anything on the public schools. They did a remarkable job, and I wish I could write a big thank you to all his teachers, who almost always went above and beyond the call of duty. I know many of them hold Ben dearly in their hearts. And we'll never forget all that they have given. I'm crying now just thinking of it...something I don't do often.



It just snowballed, our decision. It started with wondering how we were going to cough up the $2000-$3000 for gas this year, since I had quit my job in February. You know, this summer when oil was at $150 or so a barrel? (Too much information, I know...) His new school was going to be even farther away than last year. I know he has "short bus" rights, but he had never taken the bus, or any bus, since preschool.

That was the beginning.

My husband said,
"Why don't you homeschool him?." You're not doing anything."

Friday, August 22, 2008

I don't mean to be facetious

I had a whole "big-ass" writeup of the meaning of each of the pictures, but blogspot only put the pictures on . I will give explanations later....sorry!

Teaching in pictures...why I'm home schooling








Thursday, August 21, 2008

Homeschooling, day 1


Ben has 33 more minutes to go in Geography 9, his first class. He has to read pages 2-13. We joined a very good homeschooling group, and though it is religious in nature, we are not going there. It is state accredited, has very strict standards (ie, all classes much teach to state standards), and although it uses Bob Jones University Press crafted books, they are made here in South Carolina and are immediately acceptable. If you just skip the evangelizing, they are no different from many other books typically used in our schools. I also got most of them for less than half price on ebay. The cost for joining the group was about $300, and they make sure you are kosher. They also offer help figuring out your program, but with both of us being experienced teachers...they only offered a couple suggestions. I can see where this might be very overwhelming to go into blind. Teachers really do have a lot of stuff to do to assure accountability.

Ben has 24 more minutes to read.

We are teaching 9th grade Algebra I, Geography, P.E. (dad was a coach), French I, Health (1/2 credit), English I, and Physical Science, for a total of 6.5 credits. He must have 24 credits to graduate from High School to be accepted in college, with 2 years of Foriegn language, from my recollection. He already has 1/2 credit from a typing class in Middle School. So, at the end of this year, he will have 7 credits under his belt. Woo-hoo!

I know I am boring the hell out of y'all, but this is SSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOO different for me, and kind of exciting!

Ben has 18 more minutes.

The picture above is the only one I could find of the old bat that's teaching him, looking teacherly.

Ben has 12 more minutes.

I think I'm gonna like this!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Amazing Ben

I am very excited about something that is coming up. We decided it wasn't worth it to spend 2 or 3 thousand dollars to drive Ben to school. (I know they were supposed to pay for it...they didn't and we let them get away with it.) I didn't like the idea of him being labeled "emotionally disturbed" when we all know he's just wired different, kind of like our "poor" ADHD super-hero in the Olympics, Phelps. Ben barely passed last year, and there's no doubt we would be getting back to spending 2 or 3 hours on homework, most of it busywork. Plus that, Joel and I both used to love learning, and Ben is a natural at it if you cut him slack. I see only good in him, though.

I had a child I taught in Chapter I, for special help in reading and math. "Fast Eddie" couldn't spell, write, or memorize basic math facts. He was the most brilliant student I ever had. I told his mother I would be proud to have a son like him. From my mouth to God's ears..........Finally, a teacher in high school recognized it. Eddie's semester test in Biology was this one question: "Tell me what you've learned so far this year." God bless Mr. Artez!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I think I am a good teacher. I meet the kids exactly where they are, and give credit for their ability to rise above their weaknesses, and I'm always looking for their gifts. I'm a bit of a simple lady, but I know I have to give as much as I ask. I don't have a problem with calculators, oral tests, taking dictation, or anything else that will help. Social Skills? Maybe the kids that are calling Ben a "retard" need them more than he does.
I think he will catch up in time. Whatever it takes to get by. Mostly, I hope he is happy.

When Ben was three years old I was scared to death he would lose his language. He never spoke anything that wasn't scripted until the 4th grade. He has risen so far and above anything I worried about for the first 10 years. I don't worry any more. He is amazing. I am so blessed beyond words!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Teaching learners with multiple needs blogspot

I selfishly use my blog for a repository of bookmarks I am afraid to lose track of. And to voice my opinion. Neither one of these are particularly interesting to the rest of you. I'm sorry!!!

There is a blog that a teacher has that includes a lot of free assessment tools, companies who deal in AAT, and common sense. I am studying to pass a Praxis II test in Severe and Profound Mental Disabilities. It's really tough to do without a college textbook, and it's going to be 5 essay questions to be finished in 1 hour. I'm not good at essay questions...and at age 50, the Alzheimer's my mother suffers from is starting to look like a genetic trait...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Be quiet, please!"

My mother told me never to use the words, "shut up". We were to say, "Be quiet, please!" I love my mother!!!! I also apologize for naming my previous post "Shut up". It was very rude of me.

When I was thinking of communication and autism, it reminded me of Christschool's video of his son. I absolutely loved this video, mostly for the cute babe in it, but also how those eyes look to his father. I haven't seen anything to compare to it. They just make popcorn the jiffy-pop way,

While "just being" with his son, he makes priceless point. I hope you understand it. "Cost of therapy, $1"

I will look for the link to it.

"SHUT UP!"

Maybe the "autistic" classroom should be the quietest in the whole school. This makes me speechless!!!


Here's a teaser:

The importance of using a minimal speech approach
Many children with autism, like those in this study, experience extreme difficulties in understanding speech and use little or no speech themselves. Several teachers commented on the ways that some children "just tune out from speech and voices" or "definitely cut out any language input". When adults used everyday speech with these children, they often withdrew from the social interaction by turning away, protesting or simply by "switching off".

The essence of a minimal speech approach is straightforward. It means that adults should consistently use only one or two relevant concrete words when interacting with children who understand little speech. Figure 1 highlights the difference between minimal speech and everyday speech in a snack session.

A minimal speech approach can be highly effective. When professionals used little or even no speech with children in this study, using non-verbal means of interaction instead, then children became more socially engaged and communicated more often. Maintaining a consistent minimal speech approach is often easier said than done: even when professionals recognise the need to limit their speech output to key words alone, it is often hard to keep this up in practice. Appropriate training and supportive monitoring will be necessary to ensure the consistent implementation of this approach.

In addition to the consistent use of a minimal speech approach, there are several other specific strategies and approaches that can be used to promote spontaneous communication.








Below are more "pearls of wisdom" from the site. I found this so very exciting that I had to share. I know next to nothing about this site, but I found it intriguing:

Case study 1: Jo
We observed Jo, a five-year-old child with severe autism and no speech, for a full school day. During that time, he communicated only 39 times - an average of seven communications per hour. Nine of Jo’s communications were to request food or objects, whilst the other 30 were to protest or reject actions of adults. These interactions lasted no more than a few seconds with any attempt to prolong them leading to him becoming distressed. By contrast, during a continuous 40 minute videotaped interaction session with an adult, who was using proximal communication strategies, Jo communicated 164 times - all of these communications were requests for social interaction, and were accompanied by laughter and appropriate eye-contact.

Case study 2: Tony
Tony is also five years old and has severe autism and minimal speech. He communicated spontaneously an average of 9 times per hour across the school day. Only three communications during the day were requests for social interaction. Again, during a videotaped interaction, using proximal communication techniques, he communicated 71 times in a four-minute period. All of these communications were requests for social interaction.

These case studies are not isolated examples. All the children who were observed in proximal communication settings showed significantly more intentional communication than in other situations.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rotenberg records reportedly are seized

Move along...nothing to see here, folks...JRC is above reproach...

This supposedly happened within the last couple of weeks.

Welcome Judge Rotenberg Center

I plan on seeing if the JRC visits my blog, and I will post if I see it in my sitemeter information. I thank Christschool for the idea. Click on the title link if you would like to learn more.

Matthew L. Israel has a "response to blogs" here.

I have chosen specific parts to look at from my own perspective.

The skin shock procedure involves administering a two-second shock (15mA or 45mA) to the surface of the skin of, typically, an arm or leg. The shock feels like a hard pinch. It has no side effects other than a very occasional reddening or discoloration of the skin that clears up in a few minutes or at most a few days. It is administered, in the average case, only once per week. With the help of this treatment, the behaviors of many students improve to a point where they no longer need the treatment. There are no negative side effects and many positive ones as has been found in a paper that has recently been accepted for publication, written by Wietske van Oorsouw in collaboration with JRC clinicians entitled,...


Once per week...that's not what I heard... Uhm, maybe it the workers had to administer the shocks to themselves, first, before shocking the children, as Israel himself says "There are no negative side effects of the ged to consider," Since that's the case, why not go buzz-happy on the staff. I bet you would see a REMARKABLE improvement in the client's behavior....I'm jus' sayin....for things like: refusals to attend school or follow any directions of a teacher or responsible adult; fire-setting; continuous screaming in places such as libraries, movies or restaurants, disrobing and/or masturbating in
public; and destroying computers and other valuable equipment.
That refusal to follow ANY directions is kind of quietly slipped in there with firesetting an masturbation. Almost, kinda, like an after thought. Nothing to see here folks,

I find it kind of funny that a harmless shock is for example, in the treatment of aggression,JRC’s treatment is effective (using the same standard of producing a 90% or greater reduction of the behavior as compared with its
frequency prior to treatment) 100% of the time,
. You got to admire the tenacity of those who will voice their opinion without regard to the shock.

Mr. Israel has study upon study to back himself up. And good lawyers. The only thing he lacks is love...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Autism Diva: A better, much better way of teaching autistic kids

Responsive teaching strategies promote parent interactions with their children through strategies such as "follow the child's lead" and "take one turn and wait." The results of their study appear in an article in the April 2005 issue of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.


The Case Western study, at least a step above ABA, is very similar to my own "step above" in reaching Ben. Initially I was very frustrated, prayed for patience, and kept a copy of the "Love Chapter" (Love is patient, love is kind...) framed and placed on the wall where I could always look to it for guidance. In Ben's third grade, I decided to try a VERY BEHAVIORALLY BASED, but ineffective trial of immediately punishing "bad", in my mind, behavior, with the lofty goal of Ben going off Ritalin. It failed miserably, but gave me ideas....

Finally, a Ben's fifth grade teacher, Ms. Hunt ("still, small voice"), who I shall always see as a life-changing mentor TO ME, gave me tools similar to those used in the Case Western study. I entered Ben's world, and have never gone back.

I immediately saw results in my own behavior.


P.S. Thanks to the voyage blogspot for helping me find the Diva's post, which I had lost track of...

With the sometimes "do as you are told" politically expedient mentality of the NT crowd, who often end up being mentors to our children (teachers ARE social creatures...), how do we get ideas like this to replace "all things Lovaas"??

Thanks, Diva, for your timely post. You are a part of the solution, you know it?

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK day--Recognize that he who is greatest

among you, shall be your servant.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

AutismSpeaks: Katie McCarron's death




Some things seem so senseless...

Katie had two parents.

One saw only "autism" and felt compelled to eradicate her child of it, and death was the only answer she could see.

One saw a beautiful, loving child.

Katie, may you always be remembered in our hearts.


(If you have come here from googling Autism Speaks, please remember Katie, who was not a "tragedy" to those who loved her. Their wisdom speaks volumes.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

On suffering...and associated thoughts

As parents, we will do almost anything to avoid suffering in our children. A lot of therapy, parenting, teaching, is based on developing certain capabilities in our children that will make the road they travel easier, at least in our minds. It seems so many of the decisions we make keep this elusive "road" in mind. Yet even those who seem to have all the capabilities needed for a successful life suffer, sometimes unto death.

I am at a difficult time in my life, having a difficult time making decisions for Ben. That road that I always held as a direction not to be veered from, is becoming less obvious. I'm beginning to think it isn't even a road at all.

Escaping suffering is unrealistic. Life is messy, and sad, and joyful, and hard, and easy, sometimes all at the same time.

One of the greatest teachers I ever had was an 11 year old student, in a wheelchair, tube-fed, without speech, unable to take care of herself in any way and totally dependent on others for every basic need, as she always will be. She wasn't an "angel", in the patronizing sense. She was a highly loving, smart, tolerant human being with a bit of an attitude, who gave 110% to life and kind of demanded respect. (She had ways I tell ya, ways)

Ah, hell, I don't know.

Here's something else on my mind, related to my worries about my son. I didn't have a perfect life. My father sometimes drank too much and with all the messiness that goes along with it. My mother was the church lady, but far from judgmental. We were spanked as young kids, but not a lot. But they were EVIL, and I'll tell you why. We were seldom, if ever, punished. Maybe because there were 10 of us. They could have been just too tired. Dad often said, "I think you've punished yourself enough!"

Because we were seldom, if ever punished...we developed these highly acute consciences. They didn't have the guts to do it for us, so we had to do it ourselves!! Everybody turned out honest, and hardworking, and kind.

Should I punish Ben for his failing grades (no t.v., no computer, no_______). Or should I be evil, like my parents were, eh?

It's a tough one.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Nerdfighter's Happy Dance Project



Such beautiful posts on this New Years Day!! So many make me think, make me cry, make me realize how blessed we are to be who we are, living in these times.

My New Years resolution? To create the need in Ben to do the HAPPY DANCE! At the present, he is just "too cool" to make a fool out of himself as his 51 year old Ma is prone to do.

Hey, I know I am "squirrel bait"! One of my favorite jokes is to roll up the windows before the flying squirrels attack...Thus, I don't think it's a coincidence that I 'found' nerdfighters (brotherhood 2.0)before the year was up. Like a moth to a flame...Like a squirrel to squirrel-bait...

brotherhood 2.0 is the video-blog created by two competitive nerdy brothers who decided to end their habit of text communication and only communcate (there is no "i" in brotherhood) by video for one year every weekday. Through the year, somehow, they became "Nerd-fighters", and attempted to lower the world "suck" levels by asking other nerds to join them in this mission.

It's "quasi-intellectual" humor, and it amazes me two people could be so proud of their nerdiness, and create a "coming out" of nerds across the world! It feeds our inner nerds, you know, that have been neglected, rejected, and shamed into hiding.

It seems, that instead of having blood and guts inside, nerds are full of AWESOME!
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