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A visit from Emerson

Posted by Sarah on Aug 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

We had a visit from Emerson school this morning at our primary school. They can’t make their decision until term 4 which they have already told me but they need to observe the child who the application is for to assess whether they would be a good fit for their school. I met with the lady and our principal in the principal’s office. It was difficult in a way as now that we know that Beth more than likely has depression I sort of wish that they had seen her after our paediatrician’s appointment so that we could have some sort of explanation for her mood at the moment.

I will call the lady who came Clare so that I don’t have to keep calling her ‘the lady.’ When our principal and I asked her what the assessment entailed Clare told me that firstly they assess whether we are in the zone for the school or not which we are not. I was hoping that the fact that she still came to assess Beth meant that that would be ok but as it was still brought up in our meeting clearly that wasn’t the case. Secondly she had to observe Beth with her peers and in the classroom which we explained would be difficult as Beth has withdrawn herself from the classroom as much as possible. This concerned Clare somewhat as if Beth’s behaviours seemed to be too autistic then she may not qualify for Emerson. She explained that the children there had good social interactions and that to ‘fit’ in to their school Beth would have to be fairly social. I explained that Beth normally was but due to anxieties and the possibility of depression she wouldn’t be seen in her true character. I don’t know whether that helped or whether it looked like I was clutching at straws hoping Clare would overlook Beth’s non socialising.

We went into the classroom where all the kids were doing speeches. Beth got up to do her speech but when not speaking had her fingers in her ears. Even when doing the speech she didn’t do it with her usual flamboyant flare but just read fairly quietly. Clare commented that it was hard to assess Beth in that situation as there was no interaction necessary so she couldn’t see if Beth was interacting with the rest of the class or not. Panicking by now I asked if the assessment also included seeing Beth in the Emerson setting. Clare then suggested that next Tuesday I take Beth there for the day to see if she could cope socially and emotionally. Things are always different in a different setting and Beth doesn’t have issues with new surroundings. Then at least they can see Beth on their terms. It was so hard, the type of situation where you don’t know what to say just in case it’s the wrong thing. It certainly didn’t go as positively as I had hoped but then, I wasn’t expecting an answer today. Clare did agree with me that Beth wouldn’t cope with mainstream high school so I guess Heatherwood may be our only choice, although Heatherwood also said that if Beth was too autistic she would be better off in an autism specific school. The closest one is over an hour away though. I don’t know what the hell we’ll do, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see and pray like crazy.

 
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Been a hard week

Posted by Sarah on Aug 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s been a hard few days. I’m hanging out to see what the paediatrician has to say about depression. After speaking with friends it seems that I am the last person to realise that it’s quite common for autists to have depression. I guess I had heard it before at talks but I had linked it to older teenagers or adults, not to kids still in primary school. Interesting enough I have also googled regarding the link between getting periods and depression and it seems fairly common also. I was curious after thinking about my own depression. I had believed that it has all started when my mum died when I was 13. I can however remember sitting in our backyard crying and not knowing what was wrong with me. Mum was still alive then. I have memories of that time and had believed until my diagnosis of depression that I must have had dreadful PMT even then. Now though I believe it was probably depression. I’ve felt lost for so many years and it wasn’t until I finally went on medication that I realised that this is what it’s like to feel normal. I wish I had known before. I’m so grateful to our school for picking it up in Beth, life’s confusing enough for her without the added anxieties of depression. Rod from Sensational Kids sent me a document about depression. It talks about the correlation between parents with depression and kids with autism and depression. It makes me wonder if my other kids will be more likely to have depression too.

I’ll end on a funny note, there’s been far to much serious talk! On Saturday we bought a cubby for the kids and needed some help getting it off the trailer at our soon to be new block. I called my friend Amanda to see if her husband Geoff could pop around for a few minutes. My dad and nephew were also coming so it was just to get all the pieces off and in the yard. Amanda and Geoff have three boys, their oldest one Lachlan is on the spectrum. When I called, Lachlan answered the phone. I called while Paul was still taking the cubby apart with it’s previous owner, about 3pm. It went like this :

Me : hi Lachlan, it’s Sarah here.

L : Mummy can’t come to the phone, she’s in the backyard.

M: What about Dad, is he there?

L: No he’s in the backyard too.

M: Could you please go and get one of them?

L: No, you’ll have to call back later.

M: Could you ask one of them to call me?

L: No, call back later.

The phone went dead. I called back later and was not only told that he couldn’t get his mum and dad but that I would have to wait until 6pm to call back! Luckily Amanda walked past the window outside and Lachlan knocked on the window so that she could speak to me. Geoff did come and help (thanks very much) and said to me that Lachlan was more than likely watching tely and didn’t want to stop for anything. Sounds like Beth! I saw Amanda today and she told me that Geoff had had a talk with Lachlan since, letting him know that it was ok to take messages and that under no circumstances was he to tell people to call back later. Still, he’d come in handy when market research people called! I wonder how Beth would handle the situation? I don’t think she’d even bother answering the phone so I think Lachlan did well!

 

 
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Emotions

Posted by Sarah on Aug 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ve had a day of mixed emotions today. Friday is my favourite day of the week as I have art class with a group of friends in the morning. This morning though I had a meeting after assembly with our principal and Beth’s aide which I was dreading and had me in tears, even before I got in there.

Last night our principal phoned me after school. Beth had been at Sensational Kids so had had the day off and her aide had been organising things in the classroom to make Beth’s time there a bit easier on her. The aide had been away with a broken ankle for some weeks and when she came back she had observed Beth in a different light. Sort of when people tell you how tall your child has gotten though you haven’t necessarily noticed yourself. The aide had had a talk with our principal and with Beth’s teacher and said that she thinks that Beth has got severe depression. The awful thing was that as soon as our principal said it to me I saw it too.

Ever since Beth got her period her whole mood has changed. She’s gone from being a happy go lucky girl to a moody girl, not wanting to do anything or talk about anything. We put her on the pill to help her outbursts at school and for a while thought that this had perhaps helped. In a way it did as it made her aware of when her period was due and made it not as painful as it was when she first got it. It never really seemed to help with her behaviour at school however which was spiralling out of control.

Beth’s aide said that it’s quite common in teens with autism to get depression but it’s often not picked up because it’s put down to their autistic behaviours and adolescence. She said that Beth often appears lost and sad, two words that break my heart. Being a sufferer of depression myself it’s gut wrenching to think that she’s felt like this for the last year and I hadn’t picked up on it. They even told me that she’s lost her appetite at school and when thinking about it I realised that there are times when she doesn’t want to eat at home either.

The positive thing it that if it is depression then at least we can do something about it. Beth is on anti anxiety medication which helped immediately with her selective mutism, allowing her to speak in public without any fears. There may be a combination of anti anxiety/anti depression medication that will help her. I just want her to be happy. The aide has changed things around in Beth’s Disney Room, making a craft station for her and having everything on hand that they may need. They’re doing a bit of a roster for all the other kids in the classroom to spend time with Beth as she’s not even liking being with her friends at the moment which is so unusual for her. Once again it shows how amazing our school is, they could easily say to themselves that it wont be their problem next year but they want to make Beth’s last year a positive and happy one.

I’ve got an appointment to take Beth to our paediatrician a week on Tuesday to talk about our options. I was lucky to get in so early, they had a cancellation. I hope there’s something we can do, I hate to think of my baby feeling like she is.

 
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Our Rainman moment

Posted by Sarah on Aug 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Beth has been reading a lot lately. I’m very proud of the fact that she has always loved being read to and reading to herself. We were visiting for a playdate to my friend Bec’s house and Bec commented how lovely it was that Beth was sitting and reading aloud to herself. When she got home she somehow got on to a list of children’s names on the computer. She sat for over half an hour going through each name in alphabetical order until she got to the end of the list. It reminded me of when Rainman read the phone book. Now I just need to teach her to read the cards at the casino and we’ll be set for life!

We’ve had a nice few days. We went out for dinner last night with my Dad and my niece and nephew. We go to a local pizza parlour which has paper on the tables. This is great for my kids as we take textas and they draw pictures until our food comes. Beth drew the bananas in pyjamas. She then drew two grapes dressed up and told me they were the grapes in pyjamas. She even wrote G1 and G2 on them! Bill joined in and commented that as the Bananas in Pyjamas were boys the grapes must be girls as they start with a B and a G. Beth thought this was wonderful. When we left Beth did one of her loud and gruff BYE BYE’s. It was far too loud and I told her so, poor Robert who runs the pizza shop looked quite shocked. I told Beth that it wasn’t appropriate and she told me that it was embarassing. I told her that yes it was so could she please not do it so loud. I don’t mind the way she says it, just not the volume that she does it.

We had Sensational Kids today, just with Rod. We had to change our appointment for yesterday and we couldn’t get in to see the Occupational Therapist too. Beth wanted to read a book so Rod (our speech therapist) went along with that. The whole basis for the way they do their therapy is to follow the lead of the child. Rod told Beth that she could read the book (Tarzan) as long as she answered questions at the end of each paragraph. At first Beth found it quite difficult, especially when the questions related to meanings behind the actions of the characters in the book. For example the male chimpanzee was angry at the Tarzan boy child for putting other chimpanzees in danger with making the elephants stampede. Beth couldn’t explain why he must have been angry. After a while she got the hang of it and even at the end of the session was quite disappointed that Rod couldn’t ask her any more questions. I was impressed with her reasoning about a meaning of a word during the session. Usually she asks the meaning if she doesn’t know but clearly thought she knew the meaning. The word was ‘encouraged.’ When Rod asked her what it meant she said it meant brave. I know that the word brave wouldn’t have fitted in the sentence but she was looking at the word courage and I thought it was clever of her to relate the two, even if wrong.

When we left I asked her to practice her quiet BYE BYE to the reception staff as the room was quite full. Instead of doing the funny voice she very politely said ‘Goodbye Rob, Goodbye Lorette,’ and waved nicely. It was so lovely to hear. I often think she’s got a lovely way about her when it comes to others. She compliments easily and always remembers peoples names and things they have told her about themselves. Not many kids would bother but Beth has a lovely approach to other people. That’s something that we can all have a bit more of.

 
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A busy week

Posted by Sarah on Aug 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

We’ve had a busy week so far. Monday was pretty much par for the course, kids went back to school happy to be there. Tuesday was JRock day and Paul had the day off. I dropped Bill off at school at 7.15am! They had to be at Hisense Arena for a 9am rehearsal. I had given Beth the day off as I was to take her in later in the day. She wouldn’t have coped with an all day event. If it had been closer I would have taken her for the rehearsal and brought her home but I don’t drive in the city at the best of times! That’s what living in the hills does to you, you don’t want to drive in ‘the flats’ or the flatter areas! I had also given Bridie the day off as we had to leave at 3.30pm to get into the city and I was anticipating a latish night for her.

I’m doing weight watchers at present so we got the girls and Minka the Wonderdog in the car and hightailed it down to Birdslands Reserve for a walk. As I’m not a lover of exercise I enjoy my walks there as it’s flat and very pretty. It’s about 2km all around and takes up to an hour with kids in tow. Beth was terrific and insisted on taking Minka’s lead and being responsible for her. The rest of the day was fairly quiet.

We got to Hisense at 5pm. Wow, the security there is strict. They wouldn’t let us in even though Bethie had the JRock t shirt on. We didn’t have security passes and I couldn’t get hold of anybody on the phone as it was so noisy in there. Luckily I saw Beth’s friend Megan outside so called to her through the fence and she went and got Beth’s teacher who brought some passes down to us. My friend Lisa had come prepared as she tends to do and brought some ear muffs for Bethie if it got too loud which it did for a while. Bill looked exhausted after being there all day but happy, there was a real buzz of excitement in the air. I had brought Beth’s trusty DSi, something that the other kids weren’t allowed to have but necessary with Beth as she kept running around with me running after her to make sure she wasn’t in to everything! I am of course biased but my babies did look grand, Bill in his knights costume and Beth as the very regal queen.

The evening was a very sentimental one as we had a beautiful purple butterfly played by Beth’s friend Jessica. There was great significance with the butterfly as Mikayla, the little girl from school who passed away last year, loved purple and loved butterflies. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when this was explained at the performance, it was such a special tribute. The show was of course fabulous and showed what an amazing school we have with a huge effort by kids, staff and parents alike. The kids at our school were so well behaved and I was so proud of them all. We left at a fairly decent hour, luckily we were second on so we ended up getting home at about 9.30pm.

When I got home I had received a message from Emerson to say that they are going to come out to our Primary School to assess Beth.  I am so excited about this as I’m sure you can imagine. Of course I know that we still wont know until term four but it’s good to see that they’re considering Beth. They’re coming next Wednesday so I’ll be counting down the days!

 
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Sensational Kids

Posted by Sarah on Aug 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Beth and I had Sensational Kids on Wednesday. I reported to Rod that Beth had been going well in her ‘Disney’ room at school up until Tuesday when she had had a very defiant day, refusing to go to either class or in her Disney room. No idea still what the issue is. Once again it showed me what a supportive school we have, Beth’s aide had come out to speak with me and to reassure me that it wasn’t a problem and they would sort it out. She seemed to go back to school on Thursday morning ok, she dropped her bag in the classroom and was chatting with her friends when I left.

In our speech session on Wednesday Rod started off with a tug and war game to rev Beth’s engine up. We discussed Beth’s role in JRock so Rod decided that Beth could write and direct a play. Beth was in fine form this week and worked well with Rod and I. She called her play “Uni Uni Uni, look Buzz, an Alien.” Rod told her that the play couldn’t be from a movie or book so Beth combined characters such as Buzz and Woody from Toy Story, Hercules, Zhazhu (don’t know where from) and Timon from I think The Lion King. Buzz was in McDonalds and one by one the characters would see him and shout “Look Buzz, an alien” then laugh. Buzz wouldn’t think it was funny. Finally Hercules got the alien and showed it to Buzz, then they all laughed together. It was a nice play with a happy ending. Rod played the part of Buzz, I played Woody and one of the others and Beth played Hercules and the other character. She also had to direct us which she managed quite well with a bit of prompting. Rod said we would try it again in the next session with a more complex storyline. Here’s a picture of my in my Woody hat with the director. I look especially broad in my mumu but clearly the hat makes me look big.  I should have asked – Does my bum look big in this?

Beth’s session with the Occupational Therapist – Whiskas (not her real name) went well. They had made a collage for Beth’s friend Jessica for Beth to take to school to give her, it has all the things that Beth thinks Jessica likes.

Besides that we’ve had a fairly easy week. Beth’s having next Tuesday off because the JRock rehearsals are on for the big production at Hisense Arena in the city. As we did last time JRock was on, I will take Beth in later in the day. It’s a huge day for all the kids, I have to drop my Bill off at school at 7.15am! He’ll be so tired that night. It’ll be well worth it though, the kids have a ball and such a sense of achievement. We’ll get a dvd of the performance so will put a copy on here for you all to see.

 
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Beth makes me laugh so much

Posted by Sarah on Aug 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

We’ve not had much to report these last few days. Beth’s been good lately, she’s happy to go to school, loving going to JRock practice andhas been (touch wood) well which at this time of the year is a miracle. She’s had chronic asthma since she was very young, being hospitalised several times before being prescribed Singulair which is a preventative tablet. It’s worked a treat, she’s still had asthma pretty badly but hasn’t had to go back to hospital in about 3 years. Mind you she loved going to hospital. She loves being sick. She’s like one of those ladies from the olden days with her hand up at her forehead, asking for the smelling salts! Often when she gets sick she asks to go to the hospital. She does seem to be growing out of the asthma now as she doesn’t get it half as much as she used to. Thank goodness for that, I’ve always thought it’s not fair, her having asthma. Surely we’ve ticked a big box already having autism, she shouldn’t have any other issues!

Beth went back for her second filling on Saturday. Paul took her and we all met back at Bev and John’s for lunch. I assumed that Beth wouldn’t want any lunch to start with as the week before she couldn’t eat because her mouth was all numb from her first filling. But no, they had done it without the anasthetic this time. Beth had played up with having the needle in the mouth again and the dentist mustn’t have thought the filling would be painful, otherwise I’m sure she’s never had suggested it. What a brave girl, I need to be numbed just for a clean! I do worry however about future work that will be painful for Beth. Hopefully she will have forgotten by then.

I’ll leave you with one of Beth’s funnies. My God she makes me laugh, even when she’s being naughty. I noticed that two out of three of our very expensive bananas were missing. Beth has the habit of eating and eating fruit if it’s in eyeshot. I asked her if she’d eaten the bananas. She looked me in the eye and says “Yes Mum, I ate B1 and B2!” (For those not in Australia, we have a tv show here called Bananas in Pyjamas. The characters are called B1 and B2.) She’s just so quick with her comebacks!

 
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J Rock

Posted by Sarah on Aug 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Our school has been a hive of excitement lately as the years two to six are in J Rock this year. For those of you who don’t know J Rock is the junior school version of Rock Esteidford. This means a big production with a storyline and lots of dances. Beth was in it in 2008 so it’s been three years. We watched the dvd of it on Saturday and she still remembered all the dances!

This year I have both Beth and Bill in J Rock. Last night they had their dress rehearsal at a local high school. It was FANTASTIC! It makes me feel so lucky to be part of a small community. Our school really is one in a million but those of you who are regular readers would know that! This year Beth is playing the queen. As our principal puts it, she’s actually Queen Elizabeth. Last night I was backstage with Beth and we got her all dressed up with one of the helpers putting makeup on her. She looked fabulous. Her part is to come onto stage with the king and watch the maypole dancing. Then the king says “back to work” and him, Beth and the knights – one being ably played by my son Bill – all point at the dancers and leave the room. Beth held her hand out as can be seen in our blurry photos, and did the queeny wave. (Bill is on her left in the photos with the shield. In usual Beth tradition the close ups have her eyes closed!) Then the whole cast comes back on to the stage for the final number where they all do a dance together.

I was speaking with Bree this morning and she said that she has been watching the rehearsals as she had been making some of the costumes. She said that Beth was on the sidelines doing all the other kids dances too! I really hope that her high school has a big emphasis on drama and music cos that’s where she’s right at home!

Beth with her oldest friend from school – Megan

 

 

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