Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Preschool Challenges or How to Pack a Lunch for a Picky Eater

                Wylie has been in a preschool preparation program for a little over a week now. I just dropped him off about an hour ago.

                He really seems to enjoy it! When I drop him off, he seems to be in a good mood. One aide even mentioned that he seems so happy in the morning. The poor thing has had to quit napping cold turkey, but he gets about 25 minutes of sleep on the way home, haha.

                I am so grateful for the opportunity to face some real world challenges NOW, while we have an understanding staff who “gets it.” Wylie is such a bright little boy, but it is such a useful reality check to see him around peers who possess more skills than he. I don’t like to throw around the word “high functioning,” but these are children who have minimal behavior issues and have gained a lot of skills through therapy. Wylie is about “middle of the road” in this group, with some children ahead of him and a few with a few less skills, but I think he is a little on the young side, not yet being 3.

                It’s weird the things I suddenly feel weird about. They actually changed their sheets to reflect that “some of the kids are not yet potty trained.” Err. I am probably paranoid, but is my son, like, the only “some”? Logically, I know I need to snap out of the comparison game, anyway, but I’m glad I am dealing with it NOW (you can’t help your feelings, but you can try to change your perspective) than dealing with it when I thrust him in a regular preschool and try to play “sink or swim” with the neurotypical children, heh.

                The hardest thing for ME so far has been something I didn’t anticipate as being a big challenge at first: packing a lunch. WOW. Preschool lunch for a picky eater is, like, terrifying; absolutely terrifying. They won’t heat anything up and his spoon and fork skills are uh. Ya, he’s behind, I’d say, haha. Sooo, yeah, the first week, I didn’t really fight it. I knew I had to come up with a solution, but his lunch sorta screamed “A bad mom packed this load of crap” in that first week. We are talking, uh, crackers. Chips. Mini muffins. HAHA! Well! Jeez luise, the kid lives off chicken nuggets, grilled cheeses, and fishsticks. He eats yogurt and pears, too, but we were asked to join this program with such short notice that I had to wait until I had a day off to go grab him some insolated lunch bag (and wasn’t there just recently some fear mongering study that suggested these things are crap??) Well. I finally got an insulated bag with several ice packs and threw some crap in there I’m not sure he will eat, but hey, they have aides and therapists and a speech therapist who does feeding therapy, so maybe I can weasel out of fixing these picky habits myself, haha. Upon talking to my mom about it to see what she thinks, she responded “Yeah, dude, we totally tricked some daycare into potty training you, I’m for it.” Haha. And then on Monday this week they sent a note home saying essentially the same thing, that we should try foods even if they reject it at home, and it’s something they will work on.

                Either way, my fears have subsided. He doesn’t seem to come home grumpy or starving, eats well when he gets here (I mean, in comparison. Haha. Fishsticks aren’t exactly health food), and he doesn’t seem traumatized. I get reports about what they do all day (although they are a little light on explaining his level of participation… grr…) and I’m SURE he’s enjoying the YOGA class they have going, tee hee. I’m so happy. I’m so grateful. My baby’s doing okay.

                I cannot get complacent, though. He has kind of been reminding me of the hare in the tortoise in the hare (although not LAZY, he works incredibly hard) in that he was so ahead at a year and a half and now there are a lot of kiddos surpassing him. Again, I need to stop. Really. I need to stop comparing because it isn’t fair to anyone. I just need to make sure I’M never the hare, and I never get complacent just because he is a bright boy. I know parents make mistakes… but I hope I always do right by him.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unexpected: Good Weather and Pre-Preschool!

I’ve been having a bit of a fantastic week.

I took my last vacation of the year before the retail season heats up (hopefully!! Tough few years for the US…) and it has been pretty peachy. The temperature has dropped dramatically in Texas, where we have set a few records this summer, and I’ve been able to go outside!!


Which is good, because Wylie is a trip. Wouldn’t you know, this Gamer Nerd Mom with a severe vitamin D deficiency because of her insistence on living like a character on Twilight would have a NATURE loving autistic son. Haha! You didn’t wanna play video games, Wylie?? No?? Okay. Haha, I’m just teasing, stereotypes are lame… But Wylie loves him some nature. We went to the park today and he just wanted to… hike. I wanted to, you know, play on the swings, or climb… no, we went on a hike. I’m really scared of bugs. And they are pretty big in Texas.

We have been swimming a lot. Actually, Wylie gets more autistic when we are swimming. It’s kinda strange how many people tell me that when they take their children on the spectrum swimming, their children are more likely to talk and make eye contact… I hear this a lot, but it’s not so with Wylie. It may be he is just reacting to MY behavior… he’s TWO, so you can imagine I hold him, and I’m VERY paranoid about not noticing his face going under, so I sorta lock onto his face in the pool. It may just freak him out, because I haven’t seen him have an eye contact AVERSION for several months. He does like the water, though.

He has been doing incredibly well. He has started to take a more active role in dressing himself. He has tried foods on my insistence… poor baby can’t stand peanut butter, but he gave it a try twice. I’m very proud of him. He rolled a ball back and forth to me- the first time we’ve ever played anything resembling catch.

A few days ago, the executive director who runs his school asked to have a meeting with me about his schedule. I felt like it sounded like something big, so I pulled the hubby along. Sure enough, she had some heavy stuff to lay down on us.

“You know how we talked about preschool a few months back? Have you given any more thought to it?” she begins.

Well, yeah. Actually, I have. I have been doing a lot to see if I could sort of prepare him for preschool. We’ve worked on numbers, and letters, and colors. We’ve practiced reading and listening and sitting. I’ve researched the nearby preschools (there are some fancy ones nearby and I’m being a bit of a snob. Which is completely irresponsible of me because I’m broke as shit.) I tell her.

“Well, we are starting a new program here, a sort of ‘pre’ preschool. It will be taught by an actual preschool teacher with the object of placing children in the real world school system after they graduate here.” She goes over what sounds like a pretty intensive program- all day, 9 to 4, with a social lunch break and actual subjects like math and Spanish and yoga… Some pretty fancy stuff, here. None of my snooty preschools were THIS fancy. She continues.

“We will be using ABA methods, and everyone will start with a one on one aide, and then we will fade those aides when we can throughout the semester. There will be a huge emphasis on language development and social skills with the other kids. There are some older girls with more skills I think he can learn from. We will do a readiness assessment at the beginning and then at the end of the 12 week semester.”

Now, as exciting as this is, it sounded um. Incredibly expensive. And it was. I mean, REALLY expensive. And then she says:

“I think this is what is right for Wylie. He doesn’t need to be here forever. He does SO well and he is SO bright. That’s why we will give him a grant for his tuition and we will pay it in full.”

I’m crying right now, just as I cried that day. I stammer, “That’s incredibly generous…” through tears and subdued sobs. She shrugs it off. “It’s the right thing to do. I expect him just to surpass everyone else, really. Either way, we’ll know what his strengths and issues are and we’ll have an idea about a good placement for him for next year.”

I am so excited! A little scared. It’s a long day for Wylie. But he just has this personality, man. He doesn’t necessarily need ABA DTT drills all day, but he needs to be engaged. He is just too laid back and a little aloof. He doesn’t get to spend a lot of time with other kiddos.  I think this will be a great experience for him. We will see how it goes—it starts next week! Thumbs up!