Finding common ground

In the end, I think it came down to who had better drugs.

When I got to school for the team meetings for Little Miss and Captain Oblivious, the school psychologist and I, fighting off migraines, compared notes and treatment regimens, shared hints and tips. We bonded. We were Sisters. It was good.

It was the first meeting I think we’ve had where I felt like everything we said was heard. I had printed blog entries from lastcrazyhorn and Asperger Square 8 in hand, having sent them by email earlier as well. (Only one person had actually read the things, because they can’t read blogs from school. How efficient.) But we passed around copies there. We had names, numbers, suggestions, questions. We had those three little letters after my name (Esq.) that strike fear into the school system, apparently, since the principal came to sit in. (Last meeting it was the district assistant superintendent. I must be getting less scary with age.)

We were all thrilled with Little Miss’s conversational advances, but agreed (!!) that now that she’s in third, and moving to fourth grade, she needs command of a much greater vocabulary and expressive base. We’re looking for resources in the community as a joint venture. Also I learned for the first time that handwriting is a separate process for autistic kids; so when we ask her to write her spelling words, she has to fight with the writing as well as the memorization and the meaning of the words. We’ve been letting her type them into the keyboard, which they approved, and they’re going to look into getting her a keyboard at school. After all, she has the affinity and computer geek genes… might as well put those to work!

Moving on to contestant #2, it was a more bipolar session. We heard for the first time that just after Christmas, a bunch of “friends” had trained C.O. to chase after thrown packs of food, to “go fetch”, which he did cheerfully, thinking he was participating in a hella fun game. Oy. That, along with several other incidents where it was clear he was either pushed to strike out or completely missed that he was being cruelly mocked, showed the teachers exactly what I had prophesied for him at the IEP meeting last year, and bore out what I had provided in the handouts. We strategized about lessons at home and school in how to tell what others are really thinking– on video– which he’ll eat up.

On the other hand, C.O. has bloomed in the sciences this year, scoring the highest grade in the the sixth grade class on science tests, and they all praised his unique way of approaching problems (at the same time disappointed he always has to do everything without much impulse control and in “his own way.” Yeah, welcome to my world.) The principal even hinted he would go to the mat to have C.O. moved to the accelerated track in science if I’d like him to. Wow.

The autistic support teacher from the middle school took copious notes. We talked briefly after the meeting and she gave some really good suggestions about how to protect him in the drafting of the IEP. I’m actually looking forward to that meeting, a month or so from now.

So I left in a rosy glow, sure the road ahead will be paved with yellow bricks and we’ll get our wishes granted. Or maybe that was the drugs.

See comments for suggested materials and methods, particular for Aspie tweens.

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8 thoughts on “Finding common ground

  1. Wow. Congratulations are in order first. Especially on the response that you got. Also for Captain Obvious for the science achievement. I’m glad that they are willing to accept that some people get their answers another path than most. My schools were always about the “right” way to do things, and if you didn’t do it that way, then hey, you were out of luck.

    Hearing you mention the drugs made me think of Alice . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Quhj6PEboCU

    As for the kids “playing” with C.O.–well, suffice it to say, that pisses the hell out of me. This is why I’m going to become a music therapist. I’m going to be the one to give a damn; to understand the related problems of the spectrum; to do something different.

    Did you toss out some websites to the autism lady?

  2. Sure did. And she gave me some books for C.O. to read: The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Unstated Rules in Social Situations by Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa Trautman, & Ronda L. Schelvan

    Freaks, Geeks & Asperger Syndrome: A User’s Guide to Adolescence by Luke Jackson (This is a practical guide for many
    social situations, including bullying, written by a boy with Asperger’s)

    Books (for adults/parents to use) for working on social skills, perspective taking, reading emotions etc.:

    Navigating the Social World: A Curriculum for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, & Related Disorders By Jeanette McAfee

    Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome & Social Communication Problems by Jed Baker.

    as well as the name of an art therapist for Little Miss. Comments on any of the above are welcome, y’all.

    (and get your degree already, V, so you can come teach Little Miss!!!!!!!)

  3. Working on it! I just had an advising session yesterday and it looks like this next semester, I might actually get to exist as a grad student!!! No classes on Tuesdays or Thursdays, only six classes total, mostly grad ones–which comes to a grand total of 12 hours! And I’m going to try and join concert choir as one of my music electives. 🙂

    Have you heard back from the AMTA yet?

    You know me and research . . . I just have a knack for it. I did a little poking for you.

    Here’s a website that provides MT services for NJ, PA and FL (of all places, because I think of Florida in conjunction with Pennsylvania always) *rolls eyes*: http://www.tempotherapy.com/

    Also, this is the comprehensive list of internship sites. I don’t know exactly where you are, but I saw at least one in your state focusing on autism and other associated dxes. Granted, these aren’t the only services in PA, just the ones with internship sites. But maybe I could apply for PA when my time comes around and then have a ready made family. 🙂 http://www.musictherapy.org/handbook/internship.html

    The letters (more letters lol) – that you want them to have on their names are “MT-BC.” Music therapist-Board Certified. It’s a strenuous certification process with over a hundred different competency areas.

    Plus, Temple University is the only school in the US that offers the doctoral degree in MT. Another thing that might be helpful for you to know is that you are in the mid-Atlantic region of the US music therapist map.

    Random fact – Department of Aging Waiver program allows Medicaid payment for music therapy provided in a community based setting. Music therapy is listed under health and mental health related counseling services.

    Ah, here’s the jackpot. Avoid the places with listings also for DAN doctors though (chelation crap): http://www.autismlink.com/services/index/location_id:39/service_support_type_id:15

    This is link is actually for people looking for jobs, but I bet you could contact the lady and ask the same sort of questions we’ve been discussing: http://www.mar-amta.org/pa_news.html

    And then there’s http://www.paontheweb.com.

    Hope something comes up.

  4. You don’t have another comment from me, do you? I just posted a really long one and then it didn’t come through. It was a really important one.

    Anyway, the two most important links were these: http://www.autismlink.com/services?page=8 – find music therapy service near you
    http://www.mar-amta.org/ – You’re in the mid-atlantic region for the American Music Therapist’s Association.

    I also put those two links up on my website. It’s about time that I started extending the music therapy links on my site.

  5. Oh and I forgot. There’s a book called “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand,” whose author briefly eludes me. It’s good for identifying people types and how to work with them and whatnot.

  6. I just had to giggle when I read Captain Oblivious. Our older son ‘s nickname for Sayer is Captain Obvious, since he tends to state the obvious – quite proudly at times.

    I also recommend the Hidden Curriculum book. I had our older son read it so he could suggest specific tips for Sayer, but may agenda was for him to read it so he could take in all the information himself – tricky, eh? Sorta like hiding pills in apple sauce, autism spectrum version.

    Also, there is a Hidden Curriculum “day-by-day” calendar that Sayer’s teacher has – who knew?

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