30 June 2010
29 June 2010
28 June 2010
27 June 2010
26 June 2010
23 June 2010
22 June 2010
19 June 2010
18 June 2010
17 June 2010
A wonderous and hard day yesterday. Leaping all over the place.
I had a good interview with two of the women who run the LEND program. I want the acceptance so badly I can taste it. I don’t dare let my mind wander to projects or topics. I read the descriptions of the year’s work but did not let my imagination take over at all. The interviewers asked if I would like to be placed in a group which would concentrate on autism. Yes, yes, I said and again, had to still my racing imagination. Hopefully, I will find out before we leave for England.
Yesterday’s time with Marilyn was more than exciting! Hard, sad, incredible and exciting. Marilyn pushed Julia to tear by saying that she (Marilyn) saw Julia as a girl and not a dinosaur. Julia broke down almost immediately and climbed into my arms. She sat on my lap while she concentrated on what Marilyn talked to her about. She told Marilyn how much this hurt, how much it hurt to be a girl, and how she preferred to be a dinosaur. She talked about how much she hated her face, what a bad girl she was, and how ugly her skin was when it was scaly. I remember that her docs thought that she had chicken pox before we adopted her. Julia kept my arms around her, and snuggled on my chest at time, but she attended to Marilyn closely. For almost an hour, Marilyn and Julia talked. At the end, Marilyn told Julia that it was was okay to be a dinosaur. It was very good that she was able to protect herself and keep her self safe until her Mommy could come and get her. Marilyn kept saying that Julia could choose to be a girl whenever she wanted to and that she would be safe with me and her Dad. I think that part of Julia wants to go through this process and part of her just doesn’t want to hurt.
I was amazed by how brave by girl was. It breaks my heart to hear her say that she is ugly and bad. How could anyone tell that girl things like that? I will never, ever know.
16 June 2010
15 June 2010
Sitting downstairs from the therapy room that Julia is in. Her first clinic day. Julia will have two two-hour sessions a week during which she has her own therapist but that she will be exposed to other kids around her age to socialize with. The only other kid here today is a very anxious boy. I have no idea how Julia will do with him if he wants to socialize.
I am just waiting today, but I will be able to leave the clinic during these times. Then again, the waiting space couch is really comfortable.
Again it is raining so we are inside today. Julia has 7 hours of therapy today. I am not going to try to teach her anything. We talked about how some days are just too busy to do dinosaur work. She asked me if she can still draw dinosaurs -- like she would refrain from drawing if I said no. LOL.
While we were watching a National Geographic show last night called Dinosaur Hunters. It was about a pair of guys on a dig in the Gobi desert. This was so cool because we were talking about Mongolia as it is where T-rex bones are found. Ovaraptor bones have been found there as well. The paleontologists found multiple ovaraptor skeletons and a nest with at least a dozen eggs in it.
Julia set to work and drew an overaptor couple with a nest. The eggs in the next are beginning to crack open and she drew little babies inside. She has not colored the picture yet and I am pushing her to because of the colors that she has been using. I want to see this family in color!
Morgan, one of our therapists, told me yesterday that Julia was insisting on being Julia T-rex or Julia dinosaur with her. Julia told Morgan that she (Julia) is not a girl, is ugly as a girl, and has a bad face. I told Morgan what we say. This is so incredibly sad to hear from Julia, no matter how many times I hear it. Could she be any prettier? How did anyone ever convince her that she was not perfectly lovely and wonderful? It is times like this when I really hate the people who hurt her so. It continues to be very hard for me to forgive people who hurt children.
As we drove to clinic today, Julia talked about playing with her clinic therapist who came to our house last week to meet Julia. When I told her that there would be other kids there, Julia decided not to play with the other kids today. I wonder if she will hold to that. When I asked her if she was shy or nervous about meeting other kids, she told me no. When I asked is she was scared, she said no. But she was. When we were out of the car and standing in front of the desk at IDS, I told Cortney that Julia was a little nervous, and Julia yanked at my hand and told me that she was okay and happy. “Look at my smiling face.” And I wondered if I should have revealed this “secret” of being scared or let her fake a brave happy face. If it was another child, I would not have mentioned it. I would have assumed that it was probably good for her to learn to put on a mask to make it through new situations. But is that good for Julia?
14 June 2010
13 June 2010
And then, the bell rang.
Julia was quite reluctant to leave the building. Funny how often she told me that she did not want to go to school. Just look at that face!
Julia stands with Sheila who has been her aide all year and some of last year. Sheila knows Julia as well as I do and takes care of her so well. Sheila will not be working next year and is planning to volunteer in Julia's new classroom to help her transition to Randall School.
And this is Ginny, Franklin's special ed teacher. She has done so much for Julia and Julia is going to really miss her.
Mary was Julia's aide last year. She is a retired teacher and has an incredible hearts for kids who have challenges. Her assignment this year was the other kid in Julia's class who is also on the spectrum. I really hope we can keep in touch.
The last bus pulled away from the curb. Teachers waved and blew bubbles. Then it was time for summer!
12 June 2010
11 June 2010
Attention mommy friends: We have three weddings to go to from now until September. I wanted to buy Julia a fancy dress but we tried on some and she said she would rather wear her "fancy" school tee shirt and a skirt. I need a smashing dress for this kid that is soft, easy to wear, and beautiful. And that goes with sneakers. Help!
10 June 2010
08 June 2010
5 June 2010
Internet trouble in Brooklyn. I am having trouble connecting and then trouble staying connected. So all of these entries will appear together. Damn, I love the daily dairy.
So . . . . .
This came to me as I woke up -- late again, so nice. I had a chant that went like, “Left brain, right brain, theory of mind, How much is enough mind?” Yeah, I know, I am not becoming a poet, but as I was passionately talking last night to Jan and Jen about Julia’s education, some seed was sprouting. Cheshire asked, why I didn’t just find a more appropriate school for next year and not wait another year. -- Sad to say, but my answer was about the PTO, more than Julia. Again ego and some responsibility I feel, but isn’t that a lame excuse. If I find something more appropriate, we should change asap. If there is nothing more appropriate then and if I can train myself sufficiently to take on home school, we should start when the time of sufficiency comes, not at the end of another less than useful school year.
I have been going around saying that I was going to teach Julia about dinosaurs to give her some passion for learning. And I knew we could do dino worksheets, look up facts on the computer and copy them, color, draw, and generally make dinosaurs, but I didn’t know how I was going to connect them to school learning. I have been struggling with how to teach letter sounds/vowels & consonants & blends/syllables/ pronunciation. Well, there are a whole bunch of unpronounceable dinosaur names out there. What a perfect way to to teach it all. I can add that to my list of methods.
I don’t know if anything I want to do will work. I am not a teacher. I have no training. And I don’t know if Julia can learn. Learn anything non-creative. But I still see myself moving ahead as if all was possible. Is this just being the mother of a challenged child?
Slowly, I am getting used to the NYC heat. First, appalling and an assault to the body. Then, just bearing it and hoping that the next place we enter is air conditioned. Finally, just taking it on.
Great brunch, supposed to be on a bagel but the shipment had not arrived yet, so on a brioche. Cream cheese, pesto, sauteed, caramelized onions, and thick slices of tomato. I write it here so I remember it. I have to make it at home.
4 June 2010
Two days away from WI and in the middle of hot, steamy Brooklyn with the dearest person in the world and my mind is cleared. Thank you, David! I needed a break. NYC is intense. Of course, it is. Cheshire is intense. Ditto. But the energy around us is once again alien to me. How can I say it without sounding New Wavy weird -- I am at home here, I am very new here. The underling rhythm of the place changes my clock back to a very recognizable time. Like hearing a waltz for the first time and physically knowing that the tempo of 3 is your heart beat. Madison is a wonderful place, and the first place that I have loved since NYC, but like a second love, it suffers, if just a little bit, by the glow of first love.
Two days and I remember and I shake myself awake. I see better from a distance.
Julia was sick yesterday with a fever, and probably an ear ache. David had to stay home with her which was not what he had planned. I had moments of guilt. She has not been sick at all this year -- maybe one day in the winter. David is not used to spending days with purpose with her.
I am sure they did fine and that Julia had a wonderful time with Daddy. Her favorite!
Julia's class did a play on Wednesday and Thursday. It was then that I posted on Facebook that it was tough to have a child different from every other. But, ya know, it is so not about me. She did so well, taking a great step forward by staying on the riser and in her position, albeit sitting, and even singing a few words of her flower song. She did not look at the audience, but sat picking a scab on her leg. Ok, do I paint too sad a picture. Can I announce being proud of such behavior? But before this she has not even been willing to be with the rest of the class. For her play her was. She came off the stage and walked down the aisle like everyone else. She beamed at me, like she had been the star of the show who had performed brilliantly. I stopped her and kissed her and told her what a good job she had done. And I meant it from my bottom of this heart.
I spent yesterday, Friday, in Cheshire's first grade classroom. She has 24 kids and could so use an aide in the class with her. She cannot stop and attend to one child, one emergency, one message over the phone, without loosing some control of the entire group. There are a lot of control issues buzzing around the class, there is one little boy afraid of life, a few girls who are 6 going on 25, no 30, and all sorts of attention getting behaviors. I am not sure how Cheshire does it. Having a year of teaching experience under your belt does not qualify anyone to do the best by anyone.
But watching these kids, who have not come from educationally rich homes (and that of course, is a grow generalization. Some of her students are quite evidently loved, cherished, and taught at home), and still in first grade they have learned to read and write, they can write sentences, they can add and subtract a little bit, some are thinking about multipication. When Cheshire says, do pages 99-104 in the math review book, they take out the book and do it. "How did you teach them that?" I ask. And I have an ah-ha moment about the reason to teach autistic children something that they are passionate about. Maybe, just maybe, tapping into a passion is about as close to normal brain work as Julia can get. Yes, I go from general to specific, but then everything I think about now regarding education is about Julia, is specific.
I see how behind she is when I look at this bunch of ragged Brooklyn kids, but, I tell Cheshire, that behavior-wise, she could disappear into this first grade class.
End of Saturday
It is the end of Saturday. Today, Cheshire and I slept in a bit after a very late night. Ah, to come home a two in the morning and not have to be scraped up and put in bed. We went to the Great Jones Spa -- I had a hot stone massage and then the two of us hung out in the water room. There were water falls, a very active hot tub, a very cold plunge, and a sauna that I could not bear to be in for more than a few minutes. There were also relaxing chairs and chaises and groups of women of various sizes, celebrating and talking. All very friendly. Very informal. Something that we should all be assigned to at least once every two weeks -- maybe more.
We walked some of Union Square and then a wee bit of Park Slope and then had a late super with friends. In all, such a relaxing day. I have to take David to a spa like this somewhere closer to home.
At home, David said all was well.