Concentrate… not orange juice… read the label

Yesterday I was feeling really proud of myself. I had compiled all 31 sources for my article that I have to write for my one class, and I started writing the article. I had to have the rough draft finished for class that night, and I completed about 1/4 of my paper. I brought it in anyway to share during writer’s workshop, and I received some great feedback. Now all I have to do is concentrate and jump right back in, right?

Wrong…. The first thing I did after I checked my email this morning is I went back to sleep. I conked right out on the couch for at least two hours. Then another two hours have passed, and I haven’t progressed any from this morning.

UGH. I’m having a hard time with that C word- concentration.

It’s been difficult trying to keep myself up and moving. Yesterday was the best I’ve felt in a while. Problem is that it takes me so stinking long to write because I am a perfectionist. It took me 3 hours to write 5 pages. Back when I in undergraduate school, I could knock out research papers so easily. Now I agonize over every detail, fact, comma, punctuation mark, and flow of ideas.

It might be the perfectionism holding me back. It might be the depression. It might be the fact that it just feels so darn good to sleep and I want to go back to that couch and enter the darkness again.

I have had so many ideas just floating around in my head. Does a diagnosis define who I am? Well, if you’ve been around this blog much, you would know that I am anti-label because of my son, Casey. He has autism, and for the longest time, I fought getting that autism label attached to him. I didn’t want anyone to think that the label was who he is. I keep telling my classmates that the label does not define who you are. Most times in special education, parents need the label so that they can get services for their child.

So, here I am facing another round of depression, and quite possibly a diagnosis of my own. I go to the psychiatrist next week on Monday. Granted, the practical side of me is praying for a diagnosis. Something–anything– an answer as to why I keep going down into these depths of despair. Give me the label and I can work with it. I can research answers for it. I can educate people around me so they can help. The other small part of me is saying “does the label really matter? You’re still you… figure out who you are.”

It’s easy to figure out who I am in terms of labels- wife, mom, graduate student, friend (wish I had more friends around here so I could actually do something fun). But who am I? That age- old existential question still haunts me.

Now if I could just concentrate on an answer…

Started counseling

Well, I know it’s been a while since I’ve popped in and written something here. I have been swamped with school, trying to keep my head above water with all the schoolwork I have.

I did start counseling therapy last week. My therapist seems pretty nice. I had three things I needed to do this week, and I’ve done a very poor job of getting them done. The first was to get back into journaling. I managed to get one journal entry done. (enter sarcasm) Whoopee! The second was to meet up with a friend for lunch, hopefully to try to get back into my scrapbooking. Second failure. I’m on a roll here. The third thing was to meditate on why March is such a horrible time of year for me with my depression. I’ve had some issues in the past from when I was growing up, and my therapist thinks it might be associated with those events. Possibly, those events happened during March of a certain year. Guess what? Three strikes and I’m out.

I am still having mini-crying spells during the day. I will all of a sudden feel this surge of sadness and feel tears welling up in my eyes. I don’t actually give into the sadness, but it does wear me down for the day.

I have an appointment to meet with a psychiatric nurse practitioner in May. I hope we can get my medicines worked out so I don’t feel like this is the only thing that is holding me together.

Later on, I want to write a post about parenting, education, and depression. It’s something that has been floating around as an unwritten post in my head, and I just want to get the words down.

Books I want in my professional library

This is not an all-inclusive list. This is just the tip-of-the-iceberg list that I’ve made after being in graduate school for the past two years. All images courtesy of www.amazon.com

1. 11e9q7n5wql.jpg Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at Home: A Parent’s Guide by Pamela K. Tanguay. This book has tons of practical information and suggestions for parents who have a child with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities.

2. 01d1k329mzl.jpg Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at School: Educating Students With NLD, Asperger Syndrome and Related Conditions by Pamela K. Tanguay. I used this book as one of my sources for a research paper on NLD, and I fell in love with its practical tips and usefulness for not just students with NLD, but with ALL students.

3. 51hhuzcfgil_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve heard her speak and want to know more.

4. 5138syfz2bl_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg How the Brain Learns to Read by David A. Sousa. I am totally fascinated by anything related to brain-based research on learning. I have read previous chapters from another Sousa book, and I like how he can explain things very simply.

5. 51ymfc2wa1l_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg How the Special Needs Brain Learns by David A. Sousa. This is the book that I’ve read chapters from and I want my own copy for my library!

6. 515j87j5k2l_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D. I heard SO many teachers at the Michigan Reading Association conference sing the praises of this book. I think I’ll check it out from the library, first, before I add it to my library. 🙂

Why does it sometimes feel like “us” versus “them”?

I’m on a lot of e-mail lists for special education, parenting and education support for autism, lists about Individual Education Plans (IEPs), newsletters about literacy… the list goes on. What breaks my heart so much is when I read e-mails from parents who are struggling with their child(ren)’s school districts about the services that their child(ren) should be receiving according to his/her IEP, but somehow something gets lost in translation, lost in the shuffle, and ultimately, the child gets lost in the bureaucratic nightmare.

I can’t count the number of e-mails I’ve read where parents ask “What are my rights?”, “What do I do when x doesn’t do y and it’s supposed to do be done?”, and the one that really broke my heart, “What do I do when I hear staff making negative comments about the special education kids right in front of them?”. These e-mails span the United States- in small cities and in large urban areas. The common factor is the parents’ frustration in the lack of communication and services for their special needs child.

Then, I see the other side of the fence. I’m a trained teacher, and I know how hard it is to be a teacher, not just a regular education teacher, but also a special education teacher (I used to teach English as a Second Language, and I’m currently in graduate school to get my certification to be a special education teacher). I know the hours of preparation that regular education teachers get in their content areas, but when it comes to special education, guess how much preparation regular education teachers get?

You’re lucky if you get maybe 1 three credit hour class that is like what I call the “Crash Course to Disabilities 101”: Students get an overall view of the different disabilities and get a small sampling of accommodations to use with the various special needs children. This is not acceptable in my opinion. 

First and foremost- all of our special needs children are “regular education” children. It doesn’t matter what “label” you put on a child; he/she is still a child that in the “regular education” setting for most of the day. The regular education teachers need more training/education/experience to be able to successfully educate our special needs children. The techniques and accommodations that are used for special education students work with ALL students; it’s just good teaching practice.

Second, parents and teachers need to learn how to collaborate. Nothing gets done when people go in with their own hidden agendas, planning to start a battle, or no one is willing to see the other’s side of view. All parties need to remember that the child is the most important piece of the puzzle. I don’t want to hear whining about “We don’t have the budget for that” from schools, or “The school just won’t listen to us” from parents. You have to work with each other; stop playing the “us” versus “them” game.

Teachers- look at things from the parents’ point of view. If your child was disabled, what would you want for your child?

Parents- look at things from the teachers’ point of view. Your child is in a class with other children- what can the teacher do to help your child succeed? I’m not saying that you have to do the teacher’s job. I’m saying that you need to work together. The parent is the child’s first teacher. When the teachers work together, the child wins every time.

It’s painful to hear so many parents struggle to get their child the services they deserve under the law. If  people collaborated instead of battling, more good would be done for everyone.