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A great O/T session

Posted by Sarah on Jun 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Beth started with the new Occupational Therapist yesterday at Sensational Kids. I’ve never really seen that much benefit with O/T before but yesterdays session was fabulous. Beth was so focussed on everything she did. They were playing a type of darts with a ball instead of a dart and Beth was taking turns and writing the scores on the whiteboard. I was a bit worried for a minute there because I heard Beth call her Whiskers instead of by her real name. (The new O/T has asked me not to mention her name so Whiskers can be a good pseudonym!) I glanced over to see if it was because she needed her lip waxed at all but it ended up being because she had wispy bits of hair hanging out. Thank goodness! Whiskers continued with the How Does your Engine Run type of system where she asked what sort of activities Beth liked to do to get her engine ‘just right’. I had gone to buy Beth’s magazine so didn’t hear them putting the list together but it was an interesting combination. There were the usual things that you’d expect such as jumping on a trampoline or swinging. There were also things she liked like guinea pigs and hampsters. Then there was skydiving! I thought this was amusing as Beth wouldn’t even climb the tree at the adventure park. Whiskers suggested that I give the list to Beth’s teacher to give her some ideas for self regulation but we decided to do a more practical one next time as most of the things that Beth likes aren’t able to be done at school. Beth was so focussed though, I was amazed. A friend took her daughter there this morning for her first session with Whiskers and has said the same thing. I’m so pleased that we ended up sticking it out.

Beth’s session with Rod was next and once again it was a fantastic one. She’s always good for Rod as she has such a good rapport with him. Yesterday though she was so focussed and ‘there’ for nearly the whole session. Rod said that it was the best he had ever seen her. He put her on a swing in the middle of the room and she chatted and teased and played tricks so, so well. When he tried to take her ring that she had gotten with her magazine she just told him no, it was for girls, he had to get a more handsome ring that would suit a man more. She was so quick with her thinking and answers it was amazing. I’m not sure if it was because she had been so well regulated in O/T or anything to do with the flaxseed oil treatment working but it was so good to see her like that. The only time she started to lose focus was when she sat on the floor to play a game with Rod. She started to look at the floor and not concentrate as well. Rod said it’s harder for her to hold her body up in that position as opposed to a table and chair setting. He gave me some question cards to do with her and asked me to tape it so that he can see how she goes. I’ll make sure I do this at a table if this is the result that we get.

Nothing else going on in the school front yet. I spoke to the principal of our school this morning and the bad news is that Beth doesn’t have level 5 funding as I thought but level 4 which means we do have to do an assessment next year after all. She did say though that the IQ score was inconclusive as it seems to be done in 4 areas which numbers varied from in the 50’s to in the 90’s. This should go in our favour and she’ll talk to the psychologist about it. When I told her about the age issue and that she would have to finish her schooling before 18 because of funding issues she pointed out that Beth could do that and do her last year via correspondence if necessary. I will write a letter to the special school in question outlining these things and nicely but firmly let them know that we are still going to be pushing for acceptance into their school. I can only try I guess.

 
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Exhaustion

Posted by Sarah on Jun 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m physically and mentally exhausted. Not necessarily in a bad way. I’ve spent the morning at the Trees Adventure Park in Belgrave with 9 other mums and the lovely french men who run the place. Nic who seems to be the main man is such a nice person, nothing was too much trouble for him as he called words of encouragement to all us old boilers as we (or at least me) tried to reclaim our youth while in fact having a mid life crisis! Actually everybody else seemed to manage quite well, it just showed me how bloody unfit I was. I think the flying fox that didn’t quite make it was the undoing of me. When it didn’t get to the end and I had to pull myself up with my hands it took all the energy out of me. Then I realised that I was less than half way around the course. I sweated and fogged up my glasses and at one point had to have a wee break (by that I mean a small break), sitting on one of the platforms. I fell and I imagine I’ll be quite bruised in some places in the morning but it was well worth it and we all had a ball. I was very proud of the girls who were petrified of heights but went up and up and up, even up to the highest level. I myself only got to the second one and that was enough for me! Nic asked after Bethie at the end which was sweet though I still don’t think I’d be getting her up there.

Yesterday I woke up determined to get some answers to my dilemma with the special school. I spoke to our principal in the morning and told her that I’d been told that as Beth doesn’t have an intellectual disability or IQ under 70 that she doesn’t qualify. She couldn’t believe this as schools have been led to believe that the only criteria required is that the child must be autistic. We also agreed that the age thing couldn’t possibly be right as that would mean that Beth would have had to have started school at 4.

When I got home I called the education department who referred me to the regional office and the politician who deals with these situations. I wont mention any names but the woman in question is well known and was very helpful to me. The unfortunate news is that the age thing is indeed right which is bloody ridiculous. In the special needs system a child is not assessed on what level they are at school but at the fact that they need to be turning 18 in the year that they are leaving school. I explained that a friend has a child in prep this year who is doing dual schooling with this particular autism primary school and he has just turned 6. It seems that if he continues on to the high school that he would then skip year 7 altogether. Sadly we don’t have that luxury as the school wont be open until 2012.

I discussed the fact also that surely because Beth has level 5, virtually unheard of these days, that it should be a given that she does in fact have an intellectual disability even if not on paper. The lady I was speaking to was shocked to know that she has level 5 and said that in fact if children get level 5 funding it will carry them through to high school also, therefore not needing to do the testing in grade 6 for high school. This means that she (in their opinion) would never be able to function without full time aiding so there is no point in reassessing her. Yet still, no intellectual disability! What the?! She then suggested another school quite a bit further away, saying that in light of our funding issue that rules can sometimes be bent depending on the circumstances of some individuals, maybe we could get her in there. I thought to myself, if you can bend the rules to get us in somewhere with a waiting list as long as your arm, why can’t you bend the rules and get us in to one that is just around the corner. Surely if you can bend the rules to do with IQ you can bend the rules by the fact that she was born too early to qualify. As I was once again crying, though on the phone this time, she encouraged me to stay in contact and not to give up hope. I hate that it has to come to that, that I have to beg and cry for the right for my child to get a safe and appropriate education.

I also spoke to somebody from a home schooling site that I had looked up. She was lovely but didn’t seem to get that it’s not something that I really want to do. I was explaining to her that if I can’t get into the special school that I would be speaking to the high schools about part time education, part time home schooling. Even when I said to her about it being a question of my sanity to need at least part of a break she started talking about how nice it is to have them freely learning what ‘they’ want to learn rather than following a curriculum. I realised too late that it wasn’t in fact a correspondence home schooling person that I got on to but rather somebody who had basically signed a form to say that she would teach her children the life skills and education skills that she felt were appropriate. I need more structure than that and would only do it under advisement. I find it amazing also that there is no financial benefit to home schooling your children as you are going against what the Government wants you to do in regards to your childs education. At least if there were some sort of payment then I would feel better about giving up my able to work years. I feel for the parents in the same situation as me who don’t have any choice in the matter. I am the only one in my group of friends who feels that they have to go to this extreme but so far I am also the only one with an older child who is a girl. I think this makes such a huge difference as I have to worry about sexual things as well as the usual bullying. It just doesn’t bear thinking about. Hopefully I am able to do the part time thing, that way I get a life too, Beth gets the socialisation and the education, then the life skills side of things with me. I think I can handle that!

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