Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking toward the future

Last week I was talking with a lady that teaches in the public school system. When she found out we homeschooled she asked if I would be putting Z~girl in high school when she was that age. I thought for a second and told her that we took it year to year and hadn't really decided. I lied. After both kids being homeschooled from the beginning (except for A~man's half year in kindergarten) I cannot imagine plunking them down in public school once they hit teenagers! Now, sure if it was my only choice BUT I would do everything in my power to keep teaching them at home.

I do admit, once Z~girl gets to that age I will get help (if needed) for certain subjects that might be beyond me. I have been to college but that was a long time ago. Fortunately, our local community college lets students attend at 16 PLUS, if I remember correctly, they can take classes there for free. So I think for us to homeschool highschool would be completely doable, and with help from the hubby especially, in the subjects he knows better than I do.

One thing I just started was keeping records. I started a homeschool portfolio this fall for the first time for both children. It's not intensive, I just basically print off their Time4Learning records off monthly which is very simple. I also plan to include some field trip, geography club, and Lego club photos into the binder. I might also put in some pictures of their volunteer work at a local shelter and of Z~girl volunteering at a local farm.

What about some of my homeschool friends reading this? Would you put your child in regular school for high school after homeschooling them for grade school and middle school? I know there are circumstances that could prevent a person from schooling till the end but I'm thinking with support we will do it until graduation.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

that's MY son....

One of the reasons I titled my blog "Who's learning? Who's teaching?" is because despite my sons challenges, daily I see the way strangers, acquaintances and friends react to A~man. I always say I can tell a lot about someone's character by their reaction. Also, sometimes I wonder how I would  react to him if he wasn't my son. The boy is engagingly quirky.

Today we went to the pool as it has been too cold to walk and I have messed my heel up too much to use the exercise room at the gym. This is fine with the kids though as they love to swim! For the most part hubby and I can go in the warm therapy pool and use the weights...and swim, while the kids swim laps in the big pool. The one issue we have is that A~man loves to stare. The reasons why vary; someones's pretty, they are very old, they are very heavy, they have an injury....the list goes on and one but it's something we are constantly working on with him. When he was little and did this it wasn't as big of a deal but he is a teenager now and I'm sure it can make people uncomfortable.

While we were in the pool an older lady who obviously wanted some conversation started talking to us. She had shattered her ankle at work and did therapy in the pool. We found out she was a teacher in a public school and taught middle school students that had severe/profound disabilities. I was happy to discover no negative comments when we told her we homeschooled our kids. (it was awhile before she knew we had a child with special needs) This lady was a talker and finally we told her that our son has autism and Prader-willi syndrome. I was surprised she knew what PWS was as most do not. I guess she had children with PWS in her classroom before. Finally she met A~man and I could tell she was enchanted by him and they had a very nice conversation.

Later, after Z~girl and I showered and dressed we went to turn our locker keys in and ended up behind two ladies (probably 10 years older than me), one of which looked familiar. They were talking about someone and I heard "the young man in the blue baseball cap". Hubby and A~man had gotten dressed before us so I looked over to remember which hat A was wearing. It was HIM they were talking about. I cannot remember exactly what they were talking about BUT it wasn't necessarily good. (not necessarily bad either) I believe it was due to him staring at them as he remembered one of them from a HUGE (HUGE) church we used to go to.

They soon discovered that they were standing in front of the mother of the child they were talking about as A~man made a beeline for me when he saw me. I can read the boys mind don't ya  know...he thought because I was standing in back of the ladies he was staring at it would of course give him the opportunity to talk to them. It was all very awkward to say the least. One of the ladies was in an Easter play years ago and A~man wanted the phone number of the man who played Jesus. (who in real life is a very nice doctor) The man looks so much like "pictures" of Jesus that in A~man's mind I think he truly thinks the man is Jesus. Obviously he isn't and you can see it was just plain awkward and incredibly uncomfortable. LOL

After the very nice experience with the older lady in the pool this really dashed my spirits with the attitudes of these other ladies. Honestly, they didn't say anything real bad about my son...if they would have I would have spoken up. The look on their faces realizing I had heard what they said was enough.  ;)

But seriously. How would I have reacted to someone like my son if he wasn't my son? I have known and worked with many kids and adults with autism over the last 20+ years. Each one of them has taught me something. Something about tolerance and understanding. Even with all of my son's challenges I think that is one of HIS purposes in life. To teach me, to teach his dad, his sister, and to teach even complete strangers to be patient and tolerant of his differences.

I truly think this boy teaches all of us far more than we will ever teach him!!

Here is a figurine I have that TOTALLY reminds me of my dear sweet boy who has a heart of gold. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's that time of year again!

A couple of weeks ago both A~man and hubby came down with a nasty cold. I honestly thought I had escaped it using every remedy imaginable- essential oils, vitamin C, garlic, chicken soup, YOU NAME IT! Last week it decided that there would be no escape from our home and it hit me like a brick. I'm congested, losing my voice, exhausted and it sounds like I may cough up a lung at any minute. I am so thankful that for the most part our shopping was almost finished before I got sick. Also, the presents that I made for the kids were finished before the cold hit except for one I HOPE to complete tomorrow. Of course there is so much more I wanted to do before Christmas day but right now I am resigned to the fact that I will be doing well to finish wrapping the presents and preparing a simple meal for the big day.


I love Christmas time, honestly I do, but it is so stressful for a child with special needs. Add in a child with multiple special needs and the stress multiplies. A~man was so hyped up yesterday. Hyped beyond his normal hyper self. This time of year everywhere you go food is involved and this is so hard on someone with Prader-willi syndrome. Add in the crowds, Santa helpers walking around, shopping, presents, changing the house around for decorations and that can throw someone with autism in a whirlwind. Heck, that can send the mom,dad, and sister of someone with special needs into that same whirlwind!


 The night before we are hoping to go to a Christmas Eve service at our church followed by stopping by a friends house that is having a drop in party...but that all depends on how tomorrow goes. It all depends too on if I am still sick! Before bed we will have our Jesus birthday cake. We are going to try our best to keep things simple on the big day. First we will open presents, then I will make a brunch.(haven't decided what yet EEEK!) Weather permitting, we will hopefully go for a hike in the afternoon followed by dinner. We go so much more basic than the holiday meals I had growing up! We will have ham, green beans, sweet potatoes, rolls and maybe a veggie tray. I haven't decided on dessert yet but I will make a pie. That's it. Growing up it seemed like there was food EVERYWHERE, and people ate all day long! (no exaggeration!) That is a tradition we had to definitely change. 

Originally I planned on taking the rest of December off until after the New Year but Z~girl had an awesome point that she would rather have a bit of extra time off when grandma and grandpa come the middle of January. So we will start back with our paragraph writing and homeschool math the day after Christmas! I hope to do a post in the next couple of days but in case I run out of time (hahah) I want to wish all of you a very Merry CHRISTmas!! No gift since that night can compare with the reason we celebrate this day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Company is coming...

and much sooner than I thought! First off, I am not complaining as we rarely have family come visit. BUT my mother-in-law and father-in-law (hubby's stepfather) are moving down here this summer and  in January they were going to come down to finalize some stuff. I was thinking (that's what I get for thinking right?) it would be the end of the month but I just found out it will be the middle of January! 

Now my house as a whole isn't too bad but our bedroom looks like Christmas exploded in it and our yard looks like a tornado went through it as we have had some trees cut down. Over the years I have also found that if I am busy working with the kids and taking time to do some crafting of my own, that it leaves little to no time for house cleaning. When anyone visits we normally let them stay in our bedroom as it has an attached bathroom which gives our guests more privacy...and people can keep any meds away from sonny and in that bathroom. So this busy month is going to get even busier! Oh and thankfully, I get along really well with MIL and it's all good!

I need to make up some lesson plans for January and February too so the wheels in my head are spinning! A~man is a visual spatial learner so I am always on the lookout  for new things to keep things interesting for both A and Z. Here is the Time4Learning Pinterest board that I get the pleasure of helping to pin things to. It has some great ideas on there to help visual learners! Here is another Homeschool Pinterest board that has a lot of creativie ideas that I hope to try soon. 

On a more solemn note, my heart aches for all affected by the shooting at the school in Newtown, Conn. Such a horrible tragedy. I pray that God brings all involved peace and comfort in the coming days.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

and in lighter news....

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year! I have always loved Christmas music and decorations and all that go with celebrating Christ's birth. (with the exception of shopping hahah I hate shopping!) Our tree is up though and I'm finding it hard to get in the spirit of things. I had big plans on us making ALL of our presents. But then life has a way of setting you off your determined course. I really like this website that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas.

Z and I have been working on some items for a craft type fair at church that has taken place for three of the last services but something always comes up. Last weekend we were out of town at Vanderbilt University. (I will post about that soon!) This last Wednesday everyone was too tired to go to the service at night and today hubby and A~man are sick. So we will not be able to sell what we made. THANKFULLY we will be able to use what we made as gifts!!

We have made a lot of our presents this year but it's not going to be exactly how I planned. I have made Z~girl a pair of leg warmers with a matching hat though! Hubby this weekend made A~man a really cool wallet using duck tape! Recently I went to a pottery place for a GNO and painted Z the cutest owl cup. What else do I want to do? PJ pants for everyone, Z wants me to make a Tee Pee for her and one for A~man.(mommy guilt...she has wanted one for years and she's about to the age she will not be interested in such a thing) I am making A~man a hat to match his coat and hubby is going to make them both a pair of stilts. I do not have pictures yet but I will share as they are completed.

As I have said we are taking December off from anything formal with "school" but we are still doing a few math games on the computer, cleaning the kids rooms, we will be making some Christmas ornaments and crafts, and making cookies for an exchange/Christmas party this week. Here is a cool craft link of a paper Christmas village that  Z~girl started working on today!

I need to go to bed but wanted to post a link to a free homeschool guide that Time4Learning has made. I have had quite a few friends ask me about homeschooling this last month and this How to Homeschool guide is a great resource for getting started. 

Prader-Willi Syndrome and elopement

The Friday after Thanksgiving we were awoken to what felt like a nightmare at the time. We had slept in until 9 am with little worries as we have an alarm that will go off loudly when our son opens his door. So who was knocking at our front door? I stayed in bed while my husband deactivated the hall alarm and answered the door. A sheriff and a social worker from DSS stood there telling my husband that they had our son, A~man, in their patrol car. He told them that they must be mistaken as he had to deactivate the alarm to even answer the door. WRONG. He walked out the door to see our son in the backseat.

He woke up before it was light out and crawled out his window without a coat or shoes. It was cold that morning!! This is something I would have never dreamed he could even do physically let alone the fact that he is afraid of the dark and cannot stand walking outside barefoot. He walked down our street, across a fairly busy road, (it was black Friday!) and into a different neighborhood.

He knocked on someones's door. Why did he pick that house? Because they had three mopeds parked in their driveway and he loves mopeds. Fortunately, the lady, (who was a mom) had worked with people with autism before. My husband went back and talked with the lady the next day. Oddly he refused food for a LONG time saying he couldn't. He told the lady what medicines he is on and that he is allergic to peanuts. He also made up a HUGE story saying that his parents lived in Texas and that he (A~man) had been living in a tent for awhile. The story was quite grand and unbelievable.  For a long time he wouldn't tell anyone his last name or our names. Finally they were able to get my name out of him and they did a search of some type and found our address.(BTW he has known our address since he was 5)

The nightmare continued. He refused to come in our home!! I'm not sure what the social worker told him but he fed on it. After the social worker talked with us she figured out quick that he lived in a safe environment. He somehow thought though that he was moving out. My only thoughts are that he knew he made a terrible choice and that we would be mad and scared like he had never seen before. He did not know how we were going to react and quite honestly we were so confounded we didn't know how to react. We were able to give the social worker the name of our old social worker (when he was a foster baby) and the name of our old guardian ad litem. We are in contact with both periodically and they know us. The woman and the sheriff were very kind I will say.

After they left he was acting very strangely. He was packing up all of his stuff and bringing it to the front door. He was pacing back and forth. He was convinced someone was coming to get him. He kept trying give stuff away to his sister like his picture and his Micky Mouse. (he LOVES his Micky Mouse) This completely shattered my heart into a million pieces! Both hubby and I put everything we have into raising both kids and I felt a rejection I have never felt coming from A~man. This went on for probably 4 hours. I had to follow him everywhere as I was afraid he was going to bolt. Meanwhile hubby had to go into work for a short time and Z~girl was very confused and upset. We were very close to taking him to the ER as he was really scaring us.

Finally, after he kept falling asleep in a chair I was able to persuade him into taking a nap with me. He slept for over two hours and when he woke up it was as if nothing had happened at all. That same day my husband went to the Lowes and bought a window alarm. We talked to A~man about how worried we were and that he could have been seriously hurt crossing the street. I NEVER let him cross the street without us beside him as he does not pay attention enough to notice a car and his reaction if he saw one would be too slow. I also told him that not everyone is nice and he could have went to someone's house that was not nice. He doesn't get this at all. He will argue with me that everyone is nice and that no one would hurt him. I am just thankful God was watching out for him. Would he try this again if given a chance? Yes. He refused food at first but ended up having Poptarts, Mountain Dew, and some candy bars, and that is just from the lady at the house he went to. The police also gave him some cheese crackers.

What did I learn in all of this? I learned that things can go terribly wrong even when you feel like you have everything under control. If someone before this was to ask me if A~man would try and run away I would have laughed in their face. I also had a few very supportive friends I was texting through it all and they helped me from totally losing it. One even brought a us a meal over that night! I have dear friends near and far that I am so thankful for.

PLEASE, if you are reading this and have a child with Autism or Prader-willi Syndrome, do not underestimate what they may potentially do. I'm not saying to constantly be worried, (this is something I have to work on not doing!) but to instead be proactive. It's been about 6 months since we put up our hall alarm and it is something I wish we would have done YEARS ago. Finally, after years I can get a goods night sleep. (although I'm dealing with guilt that I was sleeping too well not to hear him go out the window) Put a window alarm if you know you have an overly impulsive and curious child. An expensive alarm that went throughout our home would be nice but we bought our hallway alarm for under 30.00 and the one we recently put on our window was even less than that.

I feel like I'm still trying to get over the trauma of that day. I remember my hubby kept telling me, Don't think about the what if's, but that has been impossible. Every time I worry though I think of this picture...and can see A~man's guardian angels guiding him across the road to safety. Also, here is a helpful link on Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Running/Elopement Behavior that I found on the PWSA website.