Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

I love that word - autumnal. Go ahead, no one's watching or listening. Say it out loud, "Autumnal." I love the way it rolls around in my mouth and off my tongue. Anyway, like I said before, happy first day of autumn.

It's kind of cloudy and less oppressively warm outside, if a bit humid. I wouldn't say cool. Cool would have been Alaska at this time of year. The leaves would be changing colors. And there would be just a little crispness in the air in the mornings. The first snow would be arriving in about a month. I wish Michael could remember what it was like up north and near the mountains. And, I wish Coralie had experienced it. For all the other negative feelings associated with that time in our lives, I do miss the geography. Sometimes, I find the flatness of Garland really dispiriting.

I updated my blog design and read over my profile once again. Profile is still rather accurate. I'm still quixotical by nature if not by action. And I find a kind of poignancy to the glib remark about being "prone to bouts of narcissistic depression during months ending in 'r,'" on this September morning.

Homeschooling with Michael has been educational for me at the very least. He's very bright and some mornings very easy to work with. But, when he's bored it feels like he takes to giving all incorrect answers just to spite me. It's been challenging to determine exactly where his skill level is. I can see now exactly how his test scores could have shown regression at the end of last school year. His handwriting does need lots of work - maybe even OT. But, with the remainder of his academics, it seems every time I think we've reached a good jumping off point I find the material is still far too easy for him. After a couple of painful days in math in a new workbook (we are using CLE math), I decided to just skip to the end of workbook test and found that he had already mastered the material. I'm torn between just moving on to spelling (as his reading level is very impressive) and finishing his phonics curriculum. I think the phonics lessons could be helpful if only because I think much of his reading skill is due largely to an excellent memory for whole words. But, I can tell he hates the simplistic text. He's proving to be an excellent student with the grammar and language lessons, but he is losing patience with the amount of review that comes with the program I am using. He hates history - which I can't even begin to understand because it was by far MY favorite subject and definitely the one I was most excited about teaching. It's hard because I feel like I'm failing him, somehow; but at the same time I know that in public school his teachers would not have nearly as much time or the capacity to tailor his curriculum to his abilities.

And then, of course, there is that gnawing doubt about what I am doing. The fact is I am not just raising and educating an academically gifted child. I am raising and educating an autistic child with undeniable social deficiencies and his (not really a) baby (anymore)sister who really needs and deserves more attention than I have giving her during the past month.

I met with a speech pathologist at the Callier Center at UT Dallas earlier this week to discuss Michael entering a pragmatic social skills group on the Richardson campus. And she reconfirmed what my gut and my mother have been telling me for awhile. Of course, Michael would want to homeschool because being in school takes him outside of his comfort zone, socially. He has less control over his surroundings at school than he does at home. Furthermore, the therapist said that for as intelligent as Michael is, he may teach himself better how to adapt to his social environment and others than even therapy can (teach him.) Not that the learning experience can't have some painful moments, but that she has witnessed some very bright children of Michael's abilities in school learn to cope to the point that by high school most of their peers don't really notice their differences. And of course, that is something I want for Michael - not that I have ever been "Rah! Rah! Conformity, yea," but, of course, I want Michael to experience his life and development not alone.

The primary reason that Paul and I wanted to home-school Michael was to be certain that if he were going to have deficiencies, that we work on maximizing his strengths - that he maintain his academic edge. But, we don't want to go so far down that path that we neglect his opportunities to minimize his areas of weakness. So, we are paying for the extra pragmatic social skills therapy. We going to continue to drive him all over and outside of the county for his Lego socials. And the search continues for an appropriate cub scout troop with a trained, sensitive, and qualified troop leader. And maybe we need to try some kind of physical therapy or non-competitive, indoor sport. But, do we need to do more? We're talking about pushing him as far ahead as we can and sending him back to school next semester. But, if all interested parties now agree that he SHOULD be back in school, is it wise to waste time and delay his reentry? We agree that I should continue to work with him at home on a supplementary basis once he returns to school. So, if I'm going to do that anyway, should I just send him back to school now? There are no easy answers for any of this. Never mind the loss of precious moments cuddling with Michael on the couch and spontaneous hugs and kisses and the knowledge that the time-frame for a more permanent disappearance of those will be rapidly compressed by his re-introduction to other little boys and what is and is not cool for mainstream seven year olds.

And then, there's my newly three, Coralie. She had a beautiful birthday party filled with fun and lots love from all attendees and well-wishers.

There is a world of difference between Coralie, age 3 and Michael, age 3. And yet, I have that sicky, something's not quite right feeling. There's too much hand flapping and tip-toe walking and far too little eye-contact. And while she is much more verbal than Michael was, she is far less verbal than others her age. And I just really don't want to have her evaluated. Not that I won't. I know that its highly recommended that siblings of autistic children have their development slid under the microscope anyway. In fact, a call to the school district for Coralie is on today's agenda. I think I'm just tired of the struggle. And you know, on the subject of intervention and therapies, I want to go on the record saying just how VERY dysfunctional and anti-social "social skills groups" and "Mommy and Me" classes make me - and indeed have always made me feel.

May my freak flag ever wave on!


  1. I'm sure God will show you the best path with both Michael and Coralie. Usually Mommy's gut is correct. ;) Being a socially awkward person myself, it's always been very hard for me to go to classes with Maddie and I only just went to my first play date....but I'm hoping practice makes perfect for both me and the kids ;) But I do feel your pain there... Good luck! Let me know if I can help in any way!

  2. I'm in the same boat as you with the mommy and me classes/play groups. I took Diara to a play group was completely awkward for me.
    I can't believe that the kids are SO big! I know it's only been a little over a year since I've seen them, but they look like they've grown like weeds since then.
    As for your dilemmas with Michael and Coralie, I know God will point you in the right direction.
    Also, I just want to comment on how I always enjoy reading what you write. You really have a gift when it comes to words and I wish I knew the right word to describe it, but my brain has stopped functioning due to sleep deprivation so I'll just say I love it. haha!

  3. Thank you, Corrie and Stella. I know that God never gives us more than we can handle. I just wish I wasn't running so close to max capacity. Also, thank you so much for the compliment, Stella. Honestly, I think my writing tends to be a little wordy and self-indulgent. But, it's nice to know that someone else is enjoying it. :)

  4. There are so many different options, it's hard to know what to do. In making decisions for my kids, I have realized that if I have a peaceful feeling after making a decision, then I know it was the right one. I will be praying that you find answers that bring you peace soon!