Sunday, October 27, 2013

How Do You Compare? You. Don't.

School, school. You are tiring! I don't know about any of you other parents out there but elementary school wears me out! It's a LOT to keep up with. My kids have a way better social calendar than me, but somehow day to day we make it through. Lots of things have been going on lately this year with school. Jackson of course is in the Angel Program at HR and LORD knows those people are miracle workers! I have a working post to dedicate solely to them that I'll post later (it's a work in progress). School has been up and down this year. Of course Jackson is ecstatic to have Hallie at school with him this year and she is doing wonderful! I never worry about Hallie. She is smart, ahead of the game and always on top of everything she needs to do. She is so smart. And ohhhhh I have had the wish that I could switch her to 1st grade and Jackson back to 4K a time or ten. So sue me. It's only human to wish that you could make things easier every now and then right? 

Jackson started school and the first month was O.K. Just ok. He always has a period of adjustment it seems when we have a new teacher, new classmates and new surroundings. I guess that's pretty normal. As the weeks have gone on, several adjustments and academic modifications have been made for Jackson to help him at school. Everything from his "team" ARMY of teachers/aids/helpers/tutoring staff/etc being added to the mix, fidgets for the classroom, medications (ugh I hate those things) and even filming him during school to try and come up with the best plan for Jackson. But NO WHERE ELSE are we gonna get that kind of attention and help for him and for that I am beyond forever grateful. Like I said, he has some real miracle workers in his presence. So week by week and adjustment by adjustment we just hang on and ride the ride. He started out going the full day with his classmates but in the last few weeks has changed to a lot stricter schedule in the  mornings and then joining in with his classmates later in the day. I stopped his ADHD medications because the side of effect of him biting every single finger to bleeding almost daily was just terrible. So off of that and only now do we continue with his sleep medication at bedtime. That however has been a savior in the meds department because he is actually getting sleep and not looking like a zombie when he wakes up. He's always struggled to sleep. I am not here to push pro/anti meds on anyone but I have decided that if there is a medication that improves his quality of life and doesn't change who he is then I am for that medication for my child. 

Academically he is still struggling. Really struggling with reading and language in particular. Math is much better and art/music/PE are all pretty good. Homework is painful, PERIOD. There is just no other way to put it. Some days he finishes at school (thank goodness) but even then we try to review at night. Some nights take us up to 2 whole hours to do homework that should normally take maybe 20 minutes at the most. It's like a full time job folks! And it takes a LOT LOT LOT of patience to remain calm and help Jackson, but I'll do it everyday if it's what it takes. Some days are better than others, some days he wants to learn more than others but I only take it one day at a time and I think he takes it one minute at a time. Each year the kids take the ITBS test (kinda like the TCAP standardized testing for all you oldies out there like me) to determine where your child is on the scale of the "national average" of students their age. Well #1 Jackson is already a year older than all of his peers (strike one), he is not an "average" child (strike two) and he doesn't participate in the normal time constraints/settings of the testing with his class because at this point he is not able to take a "timed test" (strike three). So in my book he's out. Not out as in he doesn't count. Just he's out in that it doesn't compare. I stopped comparing Jackson to other kids a LONG time ago. I'm not sure everyone will agree with that or not, but that's my choice. And I know he has to take the tests as part of his school and since the state mandates it for academic placement so of course he takes it. But I really don't look at it as a true representation of how he really measures on the scale of school. 

I'll be even more honest here. His scores are low. Really LOW. But that's ok because ultimately those tests are just a bunch of numbers on a page for me. What I want to see is progress. How does Jackson today compare to Jackson last year? That's what I measure. That's not always an easy measurement either and it's also not easy to just let go and accept that measurement. Of course I have my days that I want him to be the straight A student, the most popular kid in class, the sports MVP, I think we all want that for our kids right?!?!?! I even thought about posting those scores and his report card and I did take pictures, but I decided I don't need to justify anything with a picture and some things are just better left for Mom and Dad's eyes only. 

So how does Jackson compare to Jackson? Well let's see... this time last year he was failing (miserably) every spelling test he took, maybe one word right if we were lucky, usually it came home as a blank page or words that were reversed letters, unreadable mumbo jumbo, you name it. This year, we started a little rough, he made an F (I won't even mention the score) and now? Last test 100, the one before that 80, the one before that 100. We are making progress! Whooo right? Yes! To a certain degree. 

Yes, he is doing better at his spelling words, he has a smaller list than the rest of the class which is fine by me!  What's the catch then you ask? He is SLOWLY starting to retain some of the words he is learning. That has been a HUGE struggle for Jackson because he can learn the words no problem, but two days later and he needs to learn them all over again, literally he can't remember what he just learned. And reading? Well, that''s a whole other animal. He can read words, he can also memorize words. By words, I mean books. He is memorizing books! WHAT?!?! He was "busted" so to speak reading to me and one of his teachers. He has learned to associate the words on the pages with the pictures associated to them and that's how he reads entire books. It's actually pretty amazing if you ask me, who the heck can do that! Cover those pictures and he can't read the book to you anymore. Insane. I CANNNNNNNOT wrap my mind around that. That is a lot of pictures-to-words ratio of memorizing. It's not that way with every book he reads but there is a couple of Dr. Seuss books and beginner reader books (about 30 pages each) that he has memorized completely. As super cool as that is and I think it's a gift really, he is still struggling to read. But again, one day at a time. 

So report cards finally came out for the first nine weeks of school. We have a LONG way to go, but compared to last year, he's flying! So I have no doubts we are headed in the right direction. He learns at his pace and his pace only. There is no rushing him or you lose him. There is no scolding or he shuts down. There is only Jackson pace. He is a turtle of a learner. But slow and steady wins the race, so as long as he continues on a good path, fast or slow we are on the same pace too. I still push him every now and then but I know his boundaries only because I know my child. I can tell when it's too much or when he can be challenged and pushed harder. We put blood sweat and tears into homework for the 30 minutes it takes on a great day or the 2+ hours it takes on most days. 

We keep fighting the fight though, my little turtle has a hard shell and he will win that race one day. I can't wait to compare Jackson today to Jackson at the end of this school year because by then he may running this race. 

Still learning from this kiddo every day. He amazes me.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On The Move!

Hellllllllllllllllooooo friends! You thought I had dropped off the face of the earth, didn't you? MAN! Do we have a LOT of catching up to do. 

As you all know August hit and we were back to school. Jackson of course had just come off of intensive summer school with the Angel Program at Holy Rosary and Hallie was so excited to finally be in school with Jackson. And just to make matters fun and crazy, why not toss in a move all at the same time??? Yep, I know. I am CRAZY to move right at the beginning of a school year and let's just face it, Jackson's not exactly the type to just "go with it" when things are up in the air. But you know what, that's life and the show must go on. 

So all in two weeks, we packed up our first home (tear), had contractors, painters and cleaning companies galore, renters move in to our old house and moved to our new house, all within the first two weeks of school starting back. I know you think I should check myself into an insane asylum for adding all that stress on myself. It's hard enough to make sure we had uniforms and the right socks to meet our dress code at school. Needless to say, about the only think I didn't pack was school uniforms and toothbrushes. 

Even though I was super excited about moving to a new house, it also meant we had to leave our first house. The house we brought babies into, the first house we bought, the place we called "home" for six years. I'll miss our little house in so many ways, but I am so excited for our future in our new house too! (Don't judge my brown grass, it's hot in Memphis people!)

So on to new adventures, making new memories and now we have moved to our new house, a whopping 5 minutes away from our old house. I am such a creature of habit in that I was totally spoiled being so close to everything at our old house, that I couldn't imagine moving very far. I literally complain when it takes me more than 10 minutes to get to a Target, a good restaurant... you know the staple places of life, LOL. I should really grow up and realize driving isn't that big of a deal, but geez it's hard to leave convenience and I know you all hate Memphis drivers as much as I do!! (Cue road mental road rage) For what has seemed like the longest search everrrrrrr, we finally found "the one" and I hope we never move again! It has been taxing on the kids, me and J and even the dogs! Sooo here we are in the yard, yes I pulled the sign out of the grass and turned it the wrong way (such a rebel) so we could get a picture before they took the sign down. Yes people drove by and stared at us like we were crazy but I really didn't care. 

It's been just over 6 weeks since we have moved and while I feel we are a little disheveled from unpacking and trying to figure out the SIXTEEN keys we were given to the house, we did still somehow manage to lock ourselves out of the house. (yep the hubs did it before we even moved in, only took about 20 mins, HAHAHA!) Sorry to put you on blast honey, but it was funny!

Otherwise we are hanging in with school and getting back into the swing of things. I have lots of autism updates from our new school program to the latest tests we are set for (tomorrow actually). I also hope to update the blog as we make our new house our home. So stay tuned and I'll be the first to say, "I've missed you blog! You are my therapy!" Til' next time.....

Happy Hump Day!