Watch out for mauling Momma Bears

Yesterday was a day from hell. My son, Casey, had a sub teacher in his class. Usually, he does well with subs. In fact, he usually gets along well with everyone. But yesterday when I picked the boys up from school and Kerry comes running at me at full tilt, telling me breathless, “Casey is crying”, my brain immediately kicks into “Protect Bear Cubs” mode.

You see, my son Casey has Asperger’s Syndrome, which some believe is a higher form of autism. Others believe is a form of autism all on its own. I’m not going to get into a debate on what kind of autism Asperger’s is here. What I want you, the reader, to know is that Asperger’s makes socializing and expressing emotions very difficult when one is overloaded. And, when the Momma Bear also has Asperger’s traits, it makes for interesting interactions.

To give you a little bit of background information, my childhood was filled with being a bully target, crying on my part, and loneliness. I was put into special education back when special education was just starting out in the ’70’s (yes, I am that old) because my kindergarten teacher and I just didn’t get along. I could already read when I was three years old, already knew my colors, shapes, etc. I was labelled emotionally impaired and put into special education from kindergarten up to 7th grade.  My mother did nothing to defend me. Nothing. I can remember her constantly telling me “stop crying”, and “get over it”, things along those lines. I don’t ever remember her going to one of my IEP meetings or defending me against the bullies.

When I became a mom, I swore that I would not be like my mother. I would be better. I wouldn’t just leave my kid off to his/her own resources to have him/her raise himself/herself. So, I guess in a way I am overcompensating. But, that’s the background into why I did what I did.

I spoke with the sub teacher, asking her what happened. She was perplexed and did not really know, stating that it was “a bunch of little things” that led up to Casey’s meltdown. I asked her “Did you know that he is autistic?” She said “No”, then I snapped back, “Well, now you know.” Casey was totally inconsolable, just sobbing and barely able to catch his breath. I was to the point of my own meltdown, and when she walked away from us, I let it rip.

“YOU. SUB. COME BACK HERE.” Right there in front of the school; right there in front of everyone, including the school board president’s wife (oh yes, I heard about it at the school board meeting last night. More about that later.)

She said “My name is Karen”, and I said, “We’re going to talk right now. Come with me.” I was met with rolling eyes, and I snapped at her, “You don’t roll your eyes at me. Come now.” I stomped into the office with my kids in tow, her trailing behind me, and I asked, “Where’s Mr. S? We need to see him now.”

We all got into the time-out room, and I was so upset. She started in with her “I really didn’t know what was going on. I thought he was just an oversensitive boy.” Casey was crying, saying, “I made everyone late. It’s all my fault. I was doing everything wrong.”

I was still seething, but could tell that she really didn’t have a clue how to work with autistic children. I apologized for my outbreak to her and the principal, but told her, “I don’t like coming to school and having my child crying. I want to know what is going on and I want it fixed.” We had the boys step out of the room at that point and we talked some more about what happened, again the “it was a bunch of little things that piled up throughout the day” comment. During the whole time, I could hear Casey’s wails in the hall. I pointed out to both her and Mr. S. that “Asperger’s kids want to follow the rules and please the teacher. When they feel like they are disappointing the teacher, they take it to heart and get very upset.”

So we called the boys back in, and she apologized to Casey for upsetting him. Casey started crying again, saying “You don’t need to apologize”. We finally determined that when she is going to make a comment about behavior, she is not going to make a blanket statement, but will address specific kids BY NAME. That way, Casey won’t feel like he’s to blame.

We finally left, went to the grocery store (where more battles ensued over who got to drive the grocery cart), then off to Poppa’s (their dad’s) work. I had a school board meeting that night. I’m the PTO president, and I’m the school Parent Advisory Committee representative (the PAC is a group that advises the Intermediate School District on special education issues. We’re like the liaisons between the ISD and our local school districts.) Plus, I’m on the school board education committee and the library committee. So, I need to be present at the school board meetings to give my reports for PTO and PAC.

I saw the school board president first. Remember earlier that I saw his wife during my meltdown/ mauling session? She is a substitute teacher at the school, too. According to her and her son, my son “cries all the time at school.” Well, gee, doesn’t that make me feel so much better now. I’m having flashbacks to when I was a kid. Luckily, the school board president wants to learn more about Asperger’s so we can help Casey out more. I mention that our school is receiving more autistic students, so we as a whole need to be better educated about autism, and he agreed.

So, my day yesterday was just down right stressful. This morning proved to be just as stressful again. Casey woke up with a huge attitude, back-talking, arguing every single little detail, and just plain being mean. I told him, “we’re going to have a better day today.” I actually had to send him to his room for his back-talk and disrespect.

I’m praying that his day at school today is going to be better, because I don’t want to be picking up another crying boy at the end of the day. I’ll be crying right alongside him if that happens.

Fellow moms of autistic/ Asperger’s children- what do you do? How do you deal with meltdowns?

First day of school fun!

It’s tradition here at The Den that every first day of school starts with a picture out in our front yard. I’m now the mom to two second graders. Where did the time go? Sigh.
Ah... brotherly love!

Ah... brotherly love!

The boys decided to clown around a bit… Kerry is on the left in blue; Casey is on the right in red.

Kerry's first day as a second grader- September 2, 2008

Kerry is so excited to be a 2nd grader!

My one bear cub….

Casey proudly holds his First Day banner.

Casey proudly holds his First Day banner.

And my other cub….

They grow up way too fast.

We always celebrate our first day with a trip to Dairy Queen. Casey had a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard, Kerry had an Extreme Chocolate Blizzard, and I had a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard. With the temps in the low 90’s on this first day of school, it was a super-nice treat to have ice cream!

I’m excited, but I’m also a little melancholic that my boys are in 2nd grade. When they lined up to go up to their classes, I asked if they wanted me to walk with them, and they both said no. Oh… the pains of letting go, but it is part of growing up. Even mommas still grow up.

I’m looking forward to this school year. This is the second year that the boys are in different classes. It will be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

The cute things he says…

Living with twins is an adventure every day. When one of those twins has autism, it is even a bigger adventure.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the boys have been either best friends or mortal enemies. Some of their fights are knock-down-drag-out, others are complete verbal sparring. The verbal sparring ones usually send me chuckling when Casey has his witticisms thrown in for good measure.

♦ One day the boys were fighting over their GeoTrax toys. The big fuss was over track design. Casey likes to construct his trax as accurately to a freeway design as possible. Kerry doesn’t care; he places his trax wherever he wants. I was playing referee with the boys one at a time, each boy pleading his case. When I asked Casey why he didn’t just work with Kerry, he got an indignant look on his face, puckered his lips in pure upset, and proclaimed, “Momma, I don’t want to collaborate!”  After he left, I started laughing. What other 7 year old would use the word “collaborate”? 🙂

♦ Today the boys were squabbling over breakfast, a frequent occurrence this summer. While Kerry was declaring his superiority over Casey because he “reads more” than Casey, Casey states, “Oh yeah… well, what’s the second tallest peak in the world, huh???”

Life with those two is never dull. 🙂

Countdown to summer vacation…

and to when the Beartwinsmom will lose her sanity until after Labor day: two more days. The boys have two more days of school, then it’s summer vacation. I’ve been trying to find things online so I can make a plan and a schedule for us so that I don’t hear the “Momma, I’m boooooooooooooooooooored” whines.

I need to e-mail the second grade teachers and get the list of what subjects they’re going to cover in the Core Knowledge sequence. My sons attend a charter school that uses the Core Knowledge curriculum sequence, and I just love it.

I’ve also found a way to keep tabs on their reading comprehension this summer. At their school, they use the Accelerated Reader program for taking quizzes.  There are some things I like and don’t like about using AR as the sole manner of checking for comprehension. Mainly, AR quizzes focus on literal questions.  Since I will not shell out the insane amount of money to buy the AR program and the quizzes, I found a FREE website that has quizzes for books, and a prize bank as well. You can also set up your own Personal Incentive Plan for your kids to earn prizes.  It’s Book Adventure, and it’s hosted by Sylvan Learning Centers. You do NOT have to pay to register. The easiest thing to do is to sign yourself up first for a parent account, then sign your kid/kids up, and attach their accounts to yours with your email address.

So, what I will be doing is flipping between the AR book lists to check on the reading level and points value, then having the boys take the quizzes on Book Adventure.

Another thing the boys will be working on is their reading aloud proficiency. Kerry has a tendency to mumble, and Casey will sometimes skip words.

I’ve also been looking up sites for 1st grade math so I can keep the boys’ skills intact so they don’t have that “summer slide”. I also have a 2nd grade curriculum workbook so they can work in that.

I know… I also have to let the boys be boys. I will have fun stuff planned as well, like trips to the bowling alley, going swimming, going to the library (hey, that is fun in our family), and other things.

Just pray for sanity for me. 😉 Please.