Family

What is Dyspraxia?

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What is Dyspraxia?  I must admit, when I heard of this disorder I didn’t have a clue to what it meant.  When my son was diagnosed with it I started to research the meanings.  It was eye opening.  “Oh, so that’s why he does that” was always on my lips.  In this post find out the basics about Dyspraxia, and how to cope.

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that can effect communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and organization.  In the area of communication, dyspraxia  can hinder understanding of non-verbal cues, volume control on your speaking voice, and the ability to get to know people in a group. For gross motor skills, the ability to play sports, hop and skip, or keep your balance. Organization can be hindered by an inability to be neat, plan ahead, and recall directions. Finally, fine motor skills can be cutting with a scissors, using utensils, and writing.

Dyspraxia was first listed in the US Diagnostic Manuel in 2013.  So it’s diagnosis is brand spanking new!  You may notice that many of the symptoms are also found in other diagnosis.  If you suspect Dyspraxia or another kind of neurological or psychological disorder please get your child to a licensed Psychiatrist for testing.

It can often be referred to as “clumsy child syndrome.”  My son was always tripping over his feet and falling.  Sometimes I wonder if he did it on purpose.  I guess not!  Often they cannot sit normally in a chair, can’t tell left and right, an can’t tie shoes.  It is often genetic and can effect 2-10% of the population.

I believe that the longer and more studying that is done on many of these new disorders, the more defined and quickly they will be diagnosed.  Often Autism is considered when dyspraxia  is found.  Please make sure to get diagnostic testing done.  It really helps and can force the school district to address some of your child’s needs.

I personally see a lot of myself in this diagnosis. If this had been around when I was young, I think there is a definite possibility that I would have been diagnosed as this as well.  Has anyone in your life been diagnosed with Dyspraxia?

 

 

 

Family

Chores for kids ages 11-16

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Chores and age appropriateness.  It’s always a difficult struggle.  What can you kid do?  What should your kid do?  Why are his friends doing X,Y, Z and not your child?  Everyone is at a different spot.  Here are some ideas for chores you can start your child on between the ages of 11 and 16.

1. Do the laundry.  They can wash, sort, dry and fold.  Make sure to cover towels and bedding too.

2. Shop for groceries.  Making a list, checkout, take home and put away.

3.Iron clothing.

4. Do yard work. Can they start using the lawn mower? Hedge trimmer?

5. How about cooking?  Can they make one meal a week?

6. This is also a great time to start side jobs like babysitting and snow shoveling.

What other chores do you have for your older kids?

Family

UPDATE

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Oh boy, it’s time for an update. So much has gone on since September, the last time I updated you.  Honestly, the last two months have been so physically and mentally draining that I don’t want to recap them. I am drained. All I have the energy to do is listen to podcasts.  Even then, I find myself falling asleep sitting up. I the energetic equivalent of a garden slug.  Although, I’m pretty sure the garden slug has more pep.

I keep hoping for progress. My son has had difficulty since school started.  We had to reschedule and restructure his day multiple times.  He has been routinely having panic attacks.  It got to the point where he could only go to three classes.  I was also called a lot due to him having panic attacks and needing me. Sometimes the call would go to voice mail and all I could hear was my son’s incoherent stuttering on the other end. I would often come to sit with him in the office.

Once the school physically walked him to class and sat with him.  Then they refused to let him call me.  I wrote a very strongly worded letter that they could not do that again.  I’ve got a kid suffering from horrible anxiety and was hospitalized for suicide attempts.  Not the kid you want to upset and embarrass in front of his peers.  I had trouble getting him to go back.  I told him I made sure that it would never happen again. I do not think the school was very happy with me after that.  There was definitely a cool reception for me after that.

I understand that they had the best intentions for him at heart.  However, many people do not understand anxiety disorders.  There is a lack of understanding and empathy for those with mental health issues in general.  My kid is normal.  He just has this issue.

I kept taking my son to school, sometimes staying hours there myself.

The school kept pushing me to enroll him in another school and another program.  I felt we couldn’t give into the anxiety and would just have to work within the school parameters.  Then we got a letter from the Dean of students saying he had to meet with us because our son had missed too many days of school and is a truancy problem. He said we needed a plan for my son.  Um, that’s what I thought we had going with the school.  I kept thinking why doesn’t this guy know?  Don’t they all communicate?

My understanding was that the school and my son’s therapist were working together.  So I made the appointment.  We get together with the dean and some other members of staff.  So the Dean has us fill out this paperwork for the county. So we begin to answer all his questions and he fills out the form. We went through everything that has happened in the last year and what we have done.

Halfway through filling out the form he stopped writing as he ran out of room on the form.  He was very surprised at how much we had done.   In fact, we have done everything.  There could be no more recommendations. The “plan” was the same one we had before.  To slowly get E to integrate into each classroom. Like to keep adding five minutes each day until he can stay for the whole period.  Unfortunately, this was not working.

Several weeks pass and I get a notice for another meeting.  This time with more staff, most of the people I have dealt with before.  E has not been improving.  So they try to force my hand.  They wanted him to go to school at the other junior high and be involved with this special program.  He would be in a room with kids who have high functioning autism.  He would have two classes there and then be in regular classes for the rest of the day.

If he can’t go to regular classes at his old school with teachers he knows, how is he going to attend regular classes at a new school?  I know the stress would push him over.  Homeschooling is not an option.  He can’t stay at home for the rest of his life.  Making his circle smaller only increases the anxiety.  So I felt we were at a stand still.  My husband thought we should try it.

He often agrees with whatever the person running it says.  He doesn’t deal with the schools and doctors like I do.  I get so angry at him for this.  I have dealt with anxiety and depression my whole life.  It runs in my family.  I know what I am talking about.  These are administrators and teachers, not mental health professionals.  So what to do?

Then it dawns on me.  I will let him go to the new school if he gets to stay in that special room for every class.  They will only integrate him if he is comfortable. That way he is with the same teacher and same aides.  It will help alleviate his stress.  They have two weeks to see if this works.  If he gets worse, he is going back to his own school.  If he is the same or better he can stay.  He will still have a new case manager and social worker.  At least he knows the school nurse as she is our neighbor.  It’s hard to leave everything you know.  Even if you don’t go to it all.  So far nothing has improved but it has not gotten worse either.

I have had to pick him up a few times due to the anxiety making him unable to do anything.

In reading the paperwork done by the dean of students I noticed that it said that if no changes were made the matter would be referred to the district attorney.  Huh?  They told me this was just a formality.  So I called our family attorney.  She said she knew what it was, but there was nothing to worry about.  She said they do that if there are families where the parents won’t or can’t help their kids. Since we have been doing everything and can prove it, the county will do nothing.  That was a relief.

Also, at this time, I took my son to his therapist. The therapist up to this point has been trying to get E to work on his anxiety and being supportive.  This time she decided to play bad cop.  She really lit into my son and had him distraught.  She told him that we (his parents) were going to get into trouble and he would be taken away.  Then she told him she wouldn’t see him again until he could go to four classes.  This didn’t work and he was so upset he thought he was going to be put up for adoption.  Don’t know where that came from. I spent the next few days telling him he wouldn’t be taken from us.  He clung to me so tightly.  This changed nothing.  Now, I am trying to find a new therapist b/c he won’t go back to the old one.

I spent a week trying to get him into a new therapist in town.  I called 4 times and sent one email.  No response.  So now I have a phone call into a new place.  I hope the will call me back.  I really feel that he needs some counseling. I have also started calling a second therapy group as a back up.  They are not taking new clients and have an extensive wait list.  So they gave me the name of another therapist to try.

We have increased some of his meds.  He still has his psychiatrist. E has however lost weight.  So the psychiatrist is worried.  E won’t eat any breakfast or lunch because of his anxiety.  Add to that his sensory issues and he barely eats anything. He definitely does not have a balanced diet.  We try to supplement things with nutritional shakes and supplements.  It’s the best we can do.

Our son’s grandmother came to visit for about a week.  I spent that week, both morning and evening, sleeping.  I was so exhausted I couldn’t get enough rest.  I think since I can trust grandma to handle things my body was trying to catch up and rest.

I want desperately to have a different life.  I just feel so buried with everything I don’t know what to do.  I have ideas of directions to go, but time?

I’ll update you again shortly.

 

Family

What We Did As A Family Recently.

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Another month has flown by so quickly.  It’s the end of October.  I can’t believe it.  October for me is the start of the busy season which lasts till the third week in January for me.  I have finally been able to schedule a few fun things to do with family and friends.  I also was able to sort through all the Halloween decorations and got rid of a lot.  I kept enough for one shelf in the entrance way and the fireplace mantel.  I also went through the Thanksgiving decorations.  I don’t have a lot of those but I narrowed it down.  Part of me just wants to get rid of all of those decorations but I am not sure right now.  I will have to think about that in the future.

One of the fun things I was able to do was go with my friend to the Bachman’s Floral, Gift and Garden Idea House.  They take an old home and several times a year redecorate it.  Then they charge a small fee to tour it.  The proceeds go to charity.  You can also buy the one of a kind items in the house as well as the more mass produced stuff in the store.  This time I went to the Fall Idea House.  Here is the garage which they turned into a bar/man cave.

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They always do the bedrooms which I love.  I am a sucker for a ton of pillows on the bed.

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No matter what time of year it is, the dining room table is always beautifully decorated.

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Later in the month, I went with my family to the Minnesota Zoo Jack-o-Lantern spectacular.  It was amazing!  There are 5000 pumpkins alight at night.  I’m glad we got there early and bought our online tickets early.

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Some of the pumpkins were carved with very traditional faces like above.  Some were more artistic in nature.  An example is Harry Potter below.

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They keep carving pumpkins throughout the spectacular to replace the ones that rot.  What a great thing for the zoo to host!  I am so glad I went.

Close to the end of the month I went to an Antiques fair at Bachman’s.  Yes, I kind of live there.  I like a lot of the things the host.  Also, just know, they are not sponsoring me.

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Then on the weekend, the last one before all the leaves fell.  We went to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  They had a scarecrow display where you could see this pumpkin house.

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The pumpkin has a variety of shapes and colors doesn’t it.  My favorite name of one of the pumpkins is the “Warty Goblin.”  Perfect. The main attraction was the fall color.  I love looking at the yellow leaves on the Wood Duck Trail.  So pretty!

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Now we are prepping for Halloween trick or treaters.  Do you have a lot of kids come to your house?  I grew up out in the middle of nowhere.  We only had one trick or treater in the 25 years I lived there.  We thought they were lost.  It’s hard to figure out how much candy to get.  The number of kids varies from year to year.  This year I bought full sized candy bars.  Mistake!  I’ve already gotten into the Reece’s peanut butter cups.  A favorite of mine.  What do you sneak out of the candy stash?

Family

Giving You a Quick Update…

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Hello everyone.  I”m sure you have noticed that I have been a little MIA the last two weeks.  My son has started back at school.  He wanted to go to school and his depression has improved greatly.  His anxiety still showed, but he was doing much better.

The first week of school he did okay. He had some panic attacks but was able to attend most of class.  He had a difficult time with Health, Science and History.  Not so much due to academics, but due to the subjects they were studying.  He can’t handle things with blood, or creepy.  The school allowed him to drop health.  Then we were able to transfer him to an Earth Science class. We will have to take history as it comes.

The second week of school he missed a lot. I ended up going to school  to sit with him and spending time waiting there.  He barely spent time in class.  So we had an emergency meeting with the special education department and the school social worker.  They tweaked his schedule even more.

A few times when I had to go to school to be with him. I found him shaking from his nerves. So I put in a phone call to his psychiatrist.  He prescribed a fast acting medication to help him get through the day.  After two days, it was not working enough so the psychiatrist increased the medication.  It made him too sleepy to go to class and he still had panic.  He was just tired with panic. So we went back down to a lower dose and were able to get into see the doctor soon.  I think we will have to wean him off the current meds and put him on new ones.

The poor kid doesn’t eat much either.  I worry about him so much.  Today, was the first day he went to school with the new schedule.  He made it almost through to the third period.  Hopefully, tomorrow we can make it to fourth period.  The stress has been very bad for me.  I ended up throwing up today.  It just hit me out of the blue. I haven’t been ill from stress in over thirteen years.

I am hoping I can get this figured out. It’s been a draining year.  My son’s anxiety is primarily related to school. He used to have it in other places, but we have made a conscious effort to help him overcome his going out phobia.  He still is socially extremely shy but can mange.

When he is in his element, he shines.  When he goes to coding class after school he shines. He is able to talk about anything computer related.  In school, if he does things with computers it really brings him out of his shell.  I can only hope that it can grow into other areas.

I will keep you posted.  Wish us luck.

Family

What is Dysgraphia?

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What is dysgraphia?  Dysgraphia is a brain based disorder that effects the writing of those suffering from it.  Dysgraphia effects everything from the way you hold your pen to how you form letters, writing in a straight line, even if you can form your thoughts on paper.

For my own child “E”, dysgraphia primarily showed itself in two ways.  The first way was his handwriting.  My son in kindergarten had rough handwriting.  All the kids do as they are first learning to form letters and make words.  The difference is other children’s writing became more clear as they grew older.  My son’s did not. We would get a summertime tutor to work on his writing style in hopes that it would become better.  It did not.  The second way dysgraphia became and issue was in what my son would write.  For instance, the teacher may have them write about their summer vacation and what they did.  My son would write, “I went to Disney World.  It was in Florida.  It was fun.  I saw Micky Mouse.”  That would be it.  Another child in his class would have wrote about the same vacation, “This summer my family, and I went to see Walt Disney World in Florida.  It was really hot and humid there.  We had a lot of fun going on various rides.  My favorite was the roller coaster.  I also like the parades.  I even got to meet Mickey Mouse and get my picture taken with him.  I had a lot of fun.”  See the difference?

If you were to verbally ask my son about the vacation he could recount it in detail.  He just could not do it with writing.  There are also other symptoms, but these were the two major and most noticeable ones.  We tried for years to get his writing to be better.  It didn’t help.  If only we had known about dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is not a common diagnosis.  Many think the child is lazy, rushing or not trying hard enough.  This is not true.  When a child is diagnosed with dysgraphia they maybe listed as having Specific Learning Disability instead of dysgraphia.  Specific Learning Disability is the psychiatric term used along with the type or nature of disability like writing etc. Dysgraphia is often used as a short hand term for it by parents and teachers.

When a psychiatrist tested our son for dysgraphia, she told us that there was not much we could do to correct it.  Some information online says early intervention can help with learning. In addition to written expression difficulties, people with dysgraphia also have trouble with many of their fine motor skills.  Buttoning shirts,  cutting or opening bottles and jars can be impossible.  For my own child, we have to help him open things.  He cannot twist off a pop/soda cap.  He cannot peel off the anti-tampering cover of a yogurt. Tying shoes is also a problem.  We were also told that he will never be able to take notes.

Fortunately, we were given a list of accommodations and modifications for the school year. One thing we did long ago was to teach our son how to type. He does a really great job at that.  We also got him an ipad to work with in school.  Instead of a paper planner he has everything on his I-pad.  He can also take tests in alternative form, or get extra time.  His teachers also give him hard copies of the notes in class, and other handouts.   My son “E” also has longer assignments broken down into smaller pieces and check-ins a lot with the teacher.

He has many more accommodations.  Please look at Pinterest to see more ideas for a 504 or IEP. Also check online for several dysgraphia resources.

 

 

 

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5 Ways To Help The Environment You Can Try Right Now!

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Trying to be environmentally friendly but don’t know where to start?  Here are five quick tips that you can incorporate into your everyday life.  Which ones are you going to try?

  1. Reusable containers. We all know about storing leftovers right?  You can also use these containers to carry you lunch, thus eliminating the need for both plastic and paper bags.  If you are going to a restaurant that loves to give large portions take a reusable container for the leftover.  Styrofoam never biodegrades! You can also use these containers for craft items, office supplies and storage for a variety of things.
  2. Tote Bags.  I can remember a time when no one bought reusable bags to the grocery store. Now it is common place. Just remember to keep the bags close at hand.  It doesn’t help if you forget to bring the bags with you.
  3. Don’t use beauty products with microbeads. Microbeads are micro plastic beads used to exfoliate the skin.  These plastic products like their bag counterparts don’t biodegrade and end up in our water supply. Yum!
  4. Save water.  There are many ways you can save on water usage.  You can install low flow toilets and shower heads. Update your appliances to make them energy efficient.  Turn off the water when you brush your teeth.  Plant a rain garden or use a water tank/barrel outside. Even take a shorter shower!
  5. Use paperclips instead of staples.  Paperclips can be used more than once!

What are some of your favorite ways to help the environment?