Monday, November 10, 2008

Am I brave enough to jump?

Why is that jumping off the Conveyor Belt can sometimes feel like I am going sky diving? It is that mentality that says jumping out is crazy and the majority of the people around me would never do it. For me, it can sometimes be the same with letting go of my conveyor belt mentality. Some of my friends that are more conventional, look at me like I am crazy. I often lack confidence with my choices and I am afraid that it sometimes shows, which I think can do a disservice to homeschooling in general. So while I have embraced homeschooling, I continually stress about it, hate it, then love it. Back and forth...could I please just make up my mind. So I have resolved that like other issues in my life to just make a choice and stick to it. So we are homeschoolers. We are homeschoolers and I say it over and over to myself. I keep my doubts and concerns to those who will support me in my choice and understand that I just need an understanding ear. Its kind of like breastfeeding. If you want to succeed at it then surround yourself with those who will help you succeed. If you go to someone who isn't supportive or has no experience with it, then their suggestion or advice may be to tell you to quit. I consider homeschooling my children as vital and important as I did in breastfeeding them. It is what we have as a family decided what was best. There is always that fine line between that and really knowing when it is time to quit.

So back to skydiving. My biggest hurdle right now is managing the needs of my older two kids, one emerging Love of Learning and one in Core and those of my third child who has a severe speech disorder. We are constantly in the car to his appointments and preschool. Something has to give. If we are homeschoolers then putting # 1 and 2 in public school isn't what is best for my family. But I am unable to give them and #3 the time needed. My LoL is ready to explore topics at his fingertips but there are just too many interruptions in his day and the varying schedule leaves little time for structured time. I find that not only do I have little time to study myself, but that our structured time is not happening. Neither are chores and therefore we have CHAOS in our home. So as a couple we began to explore our needs and options.
Our son's speech needs are vital. Not only do the require speech therapy out of the home but also intense speech therapy in the home. That is not happening for him and our main Speech Pathologist sees this and is instructing us to do better in this area. We have seen a huge regression lately in his speech abilities and we began to ponder how helpful is this preschool he attends 4 days a week. The only way to know is to observe. I started off by observing his outreach ST through the School district. Yet another school we travel to for ST for him. It went really great and the SP actually move the other boy out so that she could focus on J. I was really impressed. He was drooling like mad by the time the 45 mins was over which is a good indicator to me that he was working really hard.
Observing the Preschool gave the opposite results. Really. My older son attended this same preschool when he had some developmental delays and we saw him blossom. J on the other hand was alone and no one even took the time to figure out what he was saying. Twice, I figured it out for them. But I would think that with 5 adults to 18 kids that someone could have pulled him aside to work with him. I understanding not stopping the whole circles time to spend a few mins with him but with 5 adults someone could have worked with him to figure out a way for him to contribute. Speaking of contributing, nothing has been done to find other assitive ways for him to communicate in the class. On top of that the Sign Language interpreter there (because there is a deaf child in the class and we could not get her assigned in his IEP because he has no hearing loss, something that may be worth fighting) has very little interaction with him. Sign Language is one of his primary ways to communicate. Can you imagine what this is like for him.
I also observed the SP who also works with him once a week at this school. She spent maybe 5 mons with him one on one alone, in ineffectual play, maybe 2 mins in the classroom and 5 more mins in indirect contact. All of which contrary to American Speech And Hearing Association guidelines for childhood apraxia of speech. I saw three separate kids comment that his speech was funny and that they didn'tyou talk funny" and then pushed him out of the way. Not one of the 5 teachers even observed this. As a mother I wanted to cry. I understand and don't expect someone to hover over him and protect him from every unkind word and act. But to see the look on his face and then him pick himself back up and keep going. I don't want him to lose his wilingness to try and the bright light he has about the world. But I think I am beginning to seem some signs that things may not be going well. How many times has he had to endure that? Is no training on the challenges that he and other kids in the class given to the other kids? In our homeschool group I feel comforted in knowing that the others in our close knit group are mindful of the special needs that he has as well as others and are in general teaching their kids to be tolerant and mindful of those challenges that others are encountering. I know he has to face the world and endure those at some point but does a 3 year old (he will be 4 in Dec) really have to endure that now. Three times in 2 1/2 hours another child teased and in some ways bullied him. My dh has a speech disorder as well and was teased unmercifully his whole academic life in public school. While he is kind and tolerant and I wonder how he emerged from his experience with such dignity. Where is the line to draw between sheltering him from this adversity and letting it strengthen him. I just think that in general kids today can have a tendancy to be far more cruel and meaner than when my husband amd I were kids.
I felt like preschool is fun...but we are not there for preschool we are there for speech therapy. I feel issues within in the classroom are very resolvable. I just think they don't know what to do, so they have opted to do nothing or whatever. The School SP is obviously unaware of appropriate treatments for Apraxia, though she says she has experience with it. How do tell someone they are not doing it right.

Somethings got to give and I think that Preschool should be it. Am I brave enough to jump off the Special Education Conveyor belt? Could I write a bigger novel about this? I could go on. We are trying to get an Augmentative Communication Device for them and is it possible without the school districts help? If our insurance won't pay for it then they will but if they pay for it we have to give it back if we are no longer apart of public schools. I am afraid to pull him until we know. That could be months. And then there are the concerns of homeschooling a child that I don't understand 80% of what he says and he fights using the sign language. How do I know if he is learning to read and do the interactions with peers really help him to talk more?
Thanks for letting me vent, explore, and in general bounce this dilemma off of you. What to do? What to do? I am getting no divine guidance on this one or I am just not seeing it. Despite fasting, praying, Temple Attendance. Nothing. More waiting, and I am so afraid of not making the right crucial choice here. His entire future seems wrapped up in this choice and I just don't know what is right.

Heather, who is gathering her courage because I think...I can do better for him on my own. I think that it is time to just pull him and have faith that we will manage to find a way to get that augmenative communication device.


Marie said...

You sound like an excellent mom, and my heart goes out to you. I'm not a mom yet, but my family of origin does TJEd now. And I plan to homeschool my children. I just wanted to ask if you know about Signing Time! It makes sign language fun, and it is recommended by many SLP's for children with speech apraxia. Just a thought at another way to work together on communication in your family (maybe your other children would be willing to participate with the videos as well).
... and now for my novel. It seems that the time he spends away in therapy takes away from time your family could be learning about how to communicate with him, whether with ASL or by learning to understand his speech. Doesn't it make most sense for him to learn with family first (those who are most likely to be compassionate and take the time that he needs), and then with others second? I'm not trying to lecture, just trying to back you up with my thoughts.

kindredmamma and Daddy said...

I own every signing time out to date. So yes we use it a lot. He really resists signing because in his mind he said it perfectly fine. Just somewhere between forming it in his head and come out his mouth it becomes jumbled. I think you are right that in the home is the best way to over come those challenges. We actually ditched preschool today and had a nice productive day in the home and some one on one ST time with just J and I.
How fun for you to able to offer the reflections of TJed from the other spectrum. As a mom of young kids it is hard to view the end in sight. To know what they will be like even 10 years from now.

texasblu said...

I don't know if you are a hugging type of person, but I am sending you BIG hugs. Trust yourself and those intuitions you have. They are given to you to guide you - no one else could possibly know those answers except you. And yes, it IS difficult to jump, but if it's right for your family you won't feel peace until you do.

You can do it. The good news is dynamics are always changing and it will be easier before you know it. The bad news is dynamics are always changing and you will miss your todays tomorrow. :)

Idaho Sutters said...

Heather you don't know me and I don't know you, but super hugs to you!! You're doing the right things, the answer will come if you keep trusting and waiting...

Marie said...

I'm glad to know you've found Signing Time. And wish you the very best.
I actually went to public school my whole life, but my family now does "homeschool" with the younger ones. And my husband was homeschooled. It is nice to see the other end, but I have to go to my husband a lot for support when a friend decides to criticize my choices. I understand what you mean about jumping off the conveyer belt. I'm just glad I've had the last 3 years without kids to get used to the idea, and to study.

Dawn S. said...

I'm sorry it's taken me a few days to get around and read these posts. I wanted to share my experience, which was not as intense as yours, but similar. Isaac, my oldest at 9, has always had issues: speech when he was young, not sleeping, violent outbursts, attention issues, etc. Turns out he has Aspergers, but I didn't find that that ou till this year. So, the IEP, speech people and school district decided to do "therapy" for him, but he had to go to the school for it. He went for 45 minutes 2 days a week...only 15 minutes of that time was spent with a speech therapist. It disrupted our whole day. It was torture for me and 5 other kids to sit in the van and wait for him because it was less gas to wait for him than to go home and come back. This school year I pulled him from it. I didn't want him going for "fun", I wanted him going for help, and that's not what he was getting.

On the other hand, my other son with Autism, has major speech and developmental delays and so he has a speech therapist coming to our home every other week. I do a lot of the work with him, we have fun, it's not disruptive to our life, and the therapist gives me ideas and brings in stuff for us to try (we did the computer thingy too, and some sign language). He's coming around and we are back to our old schedule, not as many disruptions and not as stressed out.

Some of the things that stood out to me is that he is getting bullied and misunderstood and no one comes to his defense. My heart goes out to you and him, it's never fun to see that happen, and even more frustrating to see that no one does anything. You are a great mother, doing the best you can, and if I can be so bold as to suggest something: ask the therapists to show you what you can do for him at home and work with him more there and skip more on preschool. He will always have the IEP that will follow him, but you can be in charge of it and say when enough is enough.

I'm sending hugs too. It will all work out.