Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

We went out trick-or-treating this year with a group of friends and Jack had a lot of fun. This is the first year that he seems to "get" it, so he was really good about saying "trick-or-treat," saying "thank you," and leaving the candy in his pumpkin until we got home. :) He went as Superman this year and I have to say, he was the cutest Superman EVER.

The gang that went out trick-or-treating.


In my previous post, I mentioned how Jack doesn't have a filter for his words. He just talks and talks and talks. And he has no concept of strangers (I know...we're working on it). So when he would walk up to someone's door and say "trick-or-treat!" he would then start asking them, "Do you have a dog? Do you have a cat? Can I pet your dog? Can I pet your cat?" He would begin a conversation with the person at the door and want to keep talking to them. :) So we had to keep reminding him to move along and go to the next house!

"What do I do next?"

Checking out his goodies and picking 3 to have before bed. :)


Jack is in preschool this year. Another year of preschool. At the beginning of the year, I had mixed emotions about this. On one hand, I knew that we were doing the best thing for him by keeping him in preschool for one more year. Technically he could be in kindergarten this year, since he turned 5 over the summer. But we knew that he just wasn't ready. So we signed him up for a preschool class that is an "inclusion" classroom. There are 12-14 "typical" children and then there are 3 special ed kids. (I can't tell you how much it hurt to write that -- my kid is one of the special ed kids. I never thought that would be me. Moving on....) So, I was relieved that he would still be in preschool and have another year to gain some of the skills that he'll need for kindergarten. But, all of the other 5 year olds were going to kindergarten. Whenever we would tell someone how old Jack was, they would ask "are you ready for kindergarten this year?" And we would have to explain how we were doing another year of preschool. It was bittersweet.

The previous two years, Jack was in a special education preschool. He was in an environment that was completely catered to his needs. Every other kid in the classroom had special needs also. Last year, his class was all boys on the autism spectrum. The special attention was great. But this year, we had to move a little out of our comfort zone. Now we're dealing with a classroom that doesn't revolve around Jack and his needs. Like everything else, there are pros and cons with this. We are glad that he has the opportunity to be around typical kids and, in a sense, mimic their behavior. He can see how his peers react to certain situations and how his peers behave. I have yet to see very many positive effects of this - but I am hoping that they will show up eventually. Being in this classroom also means that there is less individualized attention for Jack. There are more kids that need the teachers' attention. The special education teacher isn't in the classroom for the entire class. But, we realize that this is a good "stepping stone" to mainstream kindergarten. Where there will (most likely) be even less individual attention. Less special treatment. We are relieved, though, that it looks like Jack will be attending a mainstream public elementary school. In the long run, I think that is a very positive thing.

Jack L-O-V-E-S school. Adores it. Thinks it is the best thing in the world. And this makes me very happy. I hope that he continues to feel this way (I know, I know...keep dreaming). He is growing in his social skills. He talks about his friends at school. He recalls things that he did during the day and can talk about them. He is in an afternoon class this year (was in morning classes the previous 2 years) and he just can't wait until lunch time, because he knows that the bus comes shortly after lunch. I don't know how we're going to survive winter break. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life With Jack

So...I last blogged when it was Jack's birthday. That was 3 months ago. Sometimes life just gets too crazy and blogging takes a backseat to the rest of the activities. So right now I am sitting at Starbucks, my pumpkin spice latte next to me, and I am setting aside time to write. I think I need to make this a more regular occasion! Although, Starbucks is kind of busy right now and the only table available (with an outlet) was right next to the window. The window that the sun is shining through. The sun that is shining right in my face. I closed their little flimsy "blind," but it's not doing much good. So I am typing while squinting. And unfortunately, there isn't anything that the sun will be going behind any time soon. So I sit. And I squint. At least it's warm. OK, I just tried to switch sides of the table and that didn't work either. Now the sun is just on the other side of my face. And now my drink is on my left side. Sigh.

Let me talk about my kid for a little bit. Jack is 5 years and 3 months and 1 day old. He is awesome. And he is challenging. There are so many adjectives I could use to describe my son, it would take up a whole post. In complete honesty, we have more bad days right now than we do good days. What triggers Jack into meltdown is a mystery. But, we have a lot of meltdowns. We have a lot of behavior "issues." We have a lot of questions. We have a lot of concerns.

But, we also know that this is one of the most difficult times in our life with Jack. He is at the age where he doesn't know why his brain works differently. He doesn't understand why everyone else thinks differently than he does. He doesn't know why the world doesn't make sense to him. I am sure that he's confused, but he can't communicate why. His confusion comes out as anger or as misbehaving. Not that I'm excusing away his actions - but I truly believe that there is a greater underlying cause for his behavior problems. I don't think that he's acting out just because he can. The behavior issues make trips into the community fun and exciting. The tantrums, the yelling, the screaming, the constant running into things or people - the looks from people get old. I am getting used to the dirty looks...or I am just doing a better job at ignoring them.

We do what we can. We try our best. But at the end of the day, our best doesn't look like much. I think that most parents - even parents of "typical" children - struggle with guilt over their parenting. When you have a child with special needs, you can multiple that guilt times 10. We are constantly worrying if we're doing enough. If the therapy we're doing is enough. If the school is good enough. If the discipline is enough. If the picture schedule is enough. If the play dates are enough. And on, and on, and on. I find comfort in the fact that I KNOW that we're doing the best we know to do...right now. Even if we're messing the whole thing up, we're doing what we think is best. We are loving, intelligent parents and we have our son's best interests at heart. All we can do beyond that is pray that he turns out OK from there.

One thing I am so thankful for is that Jack has started loving to hug us. He wants to hug all of the time. And while I must admit that there are times when I get somewhat annoyed with the constant touching - overall I am so thankful that he wants to hug us. There are so many kids on the autism spectrum that have a hard time with touch. So many kids that don't want to be hugged. Jack was sensitive to hugging up until a few months ago. Now he wants to sit in my lap and let me hold him for awhile.

Jack talks. A lot. Constantly. All of the time. Continuously. Talks. Which, again, I am thankful for in the grand scheme of things. I would much rather have a child that talks too much than a child that doesn't talk at all. (I think.) A lot of his talking revolves around anxiety. He talks when he's anxious. He'll talk about anything that's on his mind. Never a flowing string of thoughts - it's always a broken mix-up of thoughts that are floating around in his head. Lines from a movie in one minute, and talking about the car wash the next minute. Actually, I should say that his thoughts don't make sense to US. I am sure that they make perfect sense to him. He sees connections in topics that we just don't see. He associates one thing with another thing...and then that thing to another thing...and it all comes out of his mouth. The boy doesn't have a filter. Sometimes it's hilarious and sometimes it's exhausting.

So...there's a quick snapshot of our lives right now. There is so much more going on, but I find it hard to organize it all right now. Hopefully there will be more blog posts coming soon.