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A New Experiment

As I’ve noted before, I often feel like I’m conducting experiments in  how I raise my child.  Connor is not typical, nor is there any clear way to treat autism.  Thus much of how I parent is based on trial and error, collecting data, and performing experiments.

The new experiment for this summer is trying out a typical preschool.

Observation: Connor has entered a stage in his development in which he is mimicking classmates and other children he comes into contact with.

Problem: Given that Connor spends the majority of his time with other special needs children, he has begun to mimic symptoms and problematic behaviors of these other children.  His language also stopped developing, keeping it on par with classmates.  Connor has displayed frustration and displeasure in attending his regular special day class.

Hypothesis: Being around neurotypical children will encourage Connor to use more language and develop typical social skills, while reducing problematic behaviors.

Proposed Method of Research: Connor will attend a typical preschool, with a developmental program, two days per week.  Connor will also engage in extra curricular activities with typical peers, such as swimming lessons, play dates, and unstructured social environments (ie playing with unknown children at parks, beaches, etc.).  Connor will continue to attend special day class two days per week, as well as participate in a reduced ABA schedule, regular speech therapy, therapeutic horseback riding, and physical therapy/gymnastics.

Findings: TBA

Obviously when I was mulling over the problems and possible solutions in my head, my reasoning was not so clear and scientific.  In fact, I distinctly remember telling Connor’s psychologist that a large part of why I wanted to conduct this experiment during the summer was that I had “a gut feeling” that this was the right thing to do for him.  I’m hoping the science will back me up!

For the most part, at least in the most current research, the benefits of inclusion seem to outweigh the possible problems, but there are still causes for concern, still reasons to worry.  The recent research encourages me that this is right move for Connor, who is on the high functioning end of the spectrum.  And so far, Connor seems to be loving his new school! In class he isn’t speaking to much, and he has had a few frustrations, but at home I can already see some positive effects.  Just in the week since he’s started, Connor is using full sentences and spontaneous language more often than before.

Now maybe this is just a conincidence, and maybe it’s not.  Only time will tell.

Here are some articles on the benefits of inclusion:

Why Inclusion Benefits all Kids:

http://www.parents.com/blogs/to-the-max/2012/11/06/uncategorized/why-inclusion-in-classrooms-benefits-all-kids/

Benefits of Inclusion:

http://www.ehow.com/info_8656410_benefits-inclusion-preschool-children.html

Maryland Department of Education list of Inclusion Benefits:

http://olms.cte.jhu.edu/olms2/3841

 

Warmth

When I was awoken today by a warm stream of pee in my face, I tried not to take it as an omen.  I really, really tried to rationally accept that these things happen and not view it as the cherry on top of an incredibly challenging week.

As a mother I have been peed on in the past, of course, as all parents have been at some point.  There was the infant pee that decorated my clothing, the toddler pee that sprang out when diapers were pulled off, and of course preschooler potty training pee.  All of these I accepted as part of my training as a parent.  They were stories I shared with millions of other parents.  There were badges of honor…almost.

But this morning, when I was awoken from a deep disturbing dream about Connor’s therapist confessing he wasn’t sure about the choices he’d made in his life (my subconscious is confusing), I just couldn’t accept this pee with the same nonchalance.

Some time around 3 am, Connor crawled into bed with me and began taking his pajamas off.  I sleepily (and wrongly) assumed this was because he had perhaps wet himself or just finished using the bathroom.  I didn’t really care, honestly, I just wanted to go back to sleep.  Connor’s nudity doesn’t phase me as it’s his prefered state of being.  He wanted to be naked in bed?  Fine.  Just let me go back to sleep.

In the three hours between then and 6 am Connor managed to work his way up the bed so that his body was wedged between the pillows and his head was pressed against the headboard.  At just after 6 this morning, Connor’s little penis was aimed perfectly at my face just in time for him to pee on my left eye, cheek, and nose.

Thankfully my subconscious didn’t translate this peeing into something in my dream like a warm shower or a squirt gun fight, but alerted me right away and allowed me raise my hand to block that warm steady stream after just a few seconds.  However, in my opinion, that was a few seconds too many.

Considering how I’d awoken, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the morning that followed.  After I got out of bed to wash my face, I decided it was safer to go sleep in the guest room where, although the sheets were cold, the bed was dry.  I wanted to catch just a few more minutes of sleep before wrestling Connor into the school routine after a two-week absence.  But Connor sensed my absence and came looking for me.  Apparently walking naked around the cold house was enough to wake him up, since he proceeded to climb in bed with me and snap the straps of my camisole while I tried to sleep.  Awesome.

But you know what, I got him out of the house and on the bus.  I’ve walked the dogs already.  Now I get to spend my day doing laundry in silence and watching reruns of Law and Order, while Connor struggles through his first day of school in 2013.

It may not be very nice or parent-like to say this, but neener neener neener!

A trip to the Mall

My son never ceases to amaze me.  Sometimes in a good way (by waking me with hugs and kisses), sometimes in a not so good way (by following said affection with wrestling falls to my full bladder).

Recently Connor surprised me by displaying a love for the mall.  That’s right, the horrible torturous building I couldn’t convince him to enter as a 1 year old, has become a desired destination for my 3 year old.  Whenever we drive by it now he points to it and asks “This one? This one?”

I say “This one what, buddy?”

He answers “More please”, still pointing to the mall.

It sometimes feels like I’m talking to someone who primarily speaks a foreign language, only having a tiny mastery of English.

So I say, “You want the mall?” somewhat incredulously.

“Mall please! Mall please!”

“Ok….we’ll stop by on our way back.  First doctor then mall.”

“Then mall”, he repeats.

On this particular day coming back from therapy, I asked him “Do you want to go to the mall or the park?”

“Mall or park?” Connor echoed.

At the next red light I turned around in my seat so I could face him.  “Connor, look at mommy.” I instructed.  He finally looked me in the eyes.  I said “Hi baby.”

“Hi Mommy” he answered.

“Do you want to go to the mall or to the park?”

He looked away.

“Connor, look at mommy.  Mall or park?”

Finally he met my eyes and pronounced “Mall!”

“Ok, mall it is.”

Driving into the mall parking lot Connor even directed me to which entrance he would like us to use, pointing this way and that until we parked close enough to his particular choice.  As I unbuckled him, he practically leapt out of his seat.  Must get to the mall!  Connor pulled me through the parking lot to the front entrance where he promptly let go of my hand and started sprinting down the hallway.

And why I say sprinting, I mean sprinting!  This boy can run! You cannot do a fast walk to catch him, you actually have to run to keep up.

So I took off after him, grabbing ahold of his hand after about 20 ft.  He didn’t mind.  Connor just switched to his happy walk instead (which is him bouncing up and down with each step).  However, once we neared the glass railing overlooking the first floor, Connor took off again.

He ran up and pressed his face against the glass, staring at the carousel below.

“ooooooo, look at that”, he said looking up at me.

“What is that baby?”

“Carousel” he said, although it sounded more like cow-o-sell.

Grabbing my hand, he pulled me to the escalator and dragged me towards the carousel.

“More please! More please!”

He was so happy I couldn’t refuse him a ride.

Here is a very blurry picture of him sort of smiling on the carousel. Connor usually has a deep look of concern when on a ride, as if he’s not sure he enjoys it.  This time however, he seemed happy.

Seemed being the operative word here.

After the ride ended, Connor maneuvered me back up the escalator to the Cinnabon we had passed.  He didn’t ask for anything specifically (or generally), instead he just ran over to the nearest table and sat down, just looking at me.

Ok…..I guess my child would like a snack.  Not the healthiest choice for a snack, given that the cinnamon roll has about 800 calories but they have some twists for around 300.  Cinnamon twists it is!

I think he enjoyed them.

Once he was done, which means he ate half the twists and drank half of my Diet Coke, Connor started running down the hallway again.  This time, his destination was clear: the Disney Store.  Located across and down from Cinnabon the Disney Store promised all of Connor’s favorite characters in one place.

I’m not sure how Connor came to be so familiar with this mall, I think a certain cousin of mine is to blame, but I can’t be sure.  If only I could get him to be this happy when we went to Nordstrom, I’d be the happiest mom in the world.

As it is, I’m just the most indulgent.

Yes I bought him a toy.  I know, I know.  Connor, being an only child and a member of a 70+ extended family, is already spoiled rotten.  He has more toys than he knows what to do with.  If he sat down and played with three different toys every day, I bet it would still take him more than two months to get through everything.

So why did I buy him yet another toy?

Well…

Because I’m a sucker.

Because my baby boy was so happy and so well-behaved at the mall.

Because my autistic son spoke to me and asked for it.

Because we shared an afternoon I’ll never forget, but he might.

Because it made me glad to do it.

Whatever the reason, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Busy day and Summer is almost here Cookies

Today was a busy day.  It was the first day Connor was back at school in a week and the first time in five days I’ve been able to hear out of both ears and breathe through one nostril, a huge improvement.

Also my teeth have stopped hurting! Yay! This fun symptom has never happened to me before.  It felt like eight cavities had erupted in my mouth simultaneously.  I have pretty good teeth so I figured the chances of that actually happening were pretty low.  I concluded it was somehow associated with my cold.  I can happily report that now that my hearing has returned, my painful cavity filled mouth has been downgraded to merely achy gums.  I know, I know! “Stop talking, you’re making us cringe.”  I can’t help it.  This blog is like a stream of consciousness thing sometimes!

Anyways…I finally felt well enough to do stuff today that I’d been putting off for the last week.  That means laundry, cleaning, changing sheets, washing dogs, catching up on filing, school paperwork, etc.  I was on a roll!

Until Connor’s school called at 1:30 to let me know that my child had fallen asleep in class.  He had spent the morning alternating between whimpering, enjoying himself, and tantruming.  No he didn’t have a fever, stomach/potty issues, or a runny nose.  He was just out of sorts.  Of course.

So I picked him up from school and plopped him on the sofa with Up while I sorted the laundry/finished the rest of half-done chores.

For whatever reason, Connor was fine as soon as he got home.  Happy, playful, energetic, he was content to play by himself for about an hour.  He even left the movie and went to his room to play with his stuffed animals.  All Connor asked was that I turn on some classical music for him.  Of course my darling!  Whatever you wish!  I will always happily turn off the tv in favor of Beethoven!

I decided a reward was in order.  A reward in the form of a cookie.  A s’more cookie!

*Side note: Since Connor started preschool I have been cooking up a storm.  I love that I have the time to plan meals and execute them.  However, cooking something new every night has produced quite a bit of leftovers.  So the boyfriend has forbidden me from cooking any meals this week.  My only cooking options were desserts! hehehe

I’ve decided to include a recipe or two a week for those of you who are looking for something easy and yummy (my specialties).  I’m no Pioneer Woman so there will be no step by step beautiful photography or anything absolutely from scratch.  I will take both shortcuts and bad pictures.

I’m calling this the Sneaky Mommy Eats section.

Summer is almost here Cookies, otherwise known as s’more cookies.  Yum!

(If you don’t like butter or gooey goodness, you’re not going to like this recipe.)

Ingredients:

2 cups Graham cracker crumbs

1.5 cups Chocolate chips

2 sticks of no salt butter

1 bag of large marshmallows

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking pan. Melt 1.5 sticks of butter in microwave. In a medium bowl mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter until none are dry.  Using your fingers, push graham mix into the bottom of the pan, creating a crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.

In a small sauce pan melt the remaining butter with the chocolate chips, stirring frequently.  Add vanilla extract.  Once smooth, pour over the graham cracker crust. Resist the temptation to eat immediately.

It does look good though, doesn’t it?

Top the chocolate with marshmallows, covering as much of the chocolate as possible.

Then bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how dark you like your marshmallows.

I opted for a light golden color.

Allow cookies to cool completely (which I didn’t do). And enjoy!

Oh Mama!  That is some rich, buttery, chocolately goodness! I was torn between having another piece and drinking some milk.  So…I did both.  First the second piece, then I was so desperate for milk I drank it straight from the carton (don’t tell Connor).  I’m going to have to force people to come over at eat this so I don’t eat the whole pan.

Any volunteers?

Germ Factory

Cesspool

Incubators

Plague Carriers

There are many other labels I could think of for these preschoolers but they devolve rather quickly into name calling.

Though at this point they would all deserve it!

On Tuesday I picked up my child from preschool a few hours early because I received that dreaded call: the nurse’s call.  Connor had a runny nose, a low fever and was apparently choking on his own mucus.  Gross.  Despite the nurse’s disgusting description I decided to bring my little germ-infected guy home.

We spent the next two days in our softies watching movies, playing with stuffed animals in bed, eating goldfish.

Connor slowly improved whereas I slowly fell apart.  Every symptom that disappeared in my son, appeared in me.  By Thursday evening I was a completely sick, fighting to stay awake while my now recovered child bounced off the walls with energy.  Ugh.

Here he is on the “ride” he demanded we take yesterday afternoon, obviously feeling much better:

I spoke with Connor’s teacher yesterday letting her know that Connor was will and would be returning today.  She informed me that three other kids were out with the same symptoms as my child.  Oh really?

So it seems that these children conspired to make me ill just two days before Mother’s Day.  I’m sure some of the other parents are feeling the ill effects of this malevolent conspiracy.  I’m sure they all intended to remind us that even though it’s “Mother’s Day” on Sunday, it’s still all about them, every day, all the time.  They will never let us forget it.

In retaliation I’ve been thinking of ways to keep my child germ free (and keep in mind I’m a little punch from the cold medicine):

A full body layer of Purrell

Plastic Bubble

Rubber gloves

Gas masks and chemical baths (those are the boyfriend’s suggestions)

Alcohol swabs after recess, lunch, art, circle time, song time, play time…any time

 

Hmmm….well if anyone has any practical advice I’d be happy to listen.  Until then, I’m leaning towards the bubble.