Friday, April 9, 2010

Pleasure Trips and Head Trips

Sorry to have been away so long.  We went to Disneyland with the boys and then I came home sick.  Just now feeling up to pondering.

April is Autism Awareness Month.  Take some time to google Autism and just pick one thing to read about it and then commit to chatting with someone about Autism.  Just a few minutes is all I ask.  It is through awareness that those of us with melting down in public kids with autism find more tolerance and acceptance.

I have three things on my mind today.  

1.  Career

I signed my contract for next year, but am in intensive therapy to determine if I will actually go back.  I miss the kids in so many ways, and not so much in others.  I miss my colleagues in so many ways, and not so much in others.  I so do not miss one single thing about the administration in my building, department or district and in fact things seem worse and more poorly managed now than when I left. And as you all know, when administration is really bad, teachers are immobilized and kids suffer.  Do I want to put myself in a toxic place again?  

My students have been mismanaged and the mess seems overwhelming at this point.  One of my paraprofessionals bought into the whole points, rewards, levels and punitive management style of my replacement and does not seem happy that I signed my contract.  I don't feel up to getting her on the right side of the issue and to retrain her to use the strategies I hold dear.

I want to do staff development and consulting as well as work with student teachers so am trying to get that figured out as far as how to get the train loaded and out of the terminal.

2 Spring Break Trip

California was lovely.  Disneyland accommodated us nicely.  Superman wore his autism t shirt proudly, was able to handle many lines and the crowds.  We had him endure the long lines for the most part, but used our persons who need special considerations pass when he was ready to meltdown.  It was LOVELY!  Flash the pass, go to the head of the line, wait in the shade and without the pushing and shoving of the full on crowd.  Thank you Disney!  Without that accommodation, so many people could not enjoy all you offer.  They understand that if one family member is unable to access the park, then most likely, the whole family does not participate.  I realize this is probably financially driven as much as anything else, but it made for a better experience.

What I realized about Superman's life experience is helpful.  We learned that if he could live in Mickey's Toon Town, he would.  He loves the world of cartoons.  He is able to understand pretend while in the world of cartoons.  However, when we ventured to Universal Studios where it is all pretend, he could not grasp it and fears and anxieties surfaced.  So, if it looks real, even when people are telling him the people are pretending, he cannot wrap his head around it.  If it looks like a cartoon, he can internalize it as pretend.  Interesting.

The wilder the ride, the happier Superman and Movie Man.  Go figure.  These are boys with real life anxiety issues that can overpower them in their everyday lives.  So, what is it about a really thrilling, jolting, tummy jumping ride in the dark that makes them laugh and smile, enjoy so viscerally?  

It is really hard to spend 24/7 in tight airplane space, small hotel rooms, rental car and site seeing situations with three males who are weak in the area of taking another person's perspective.  Really, really hard.  I am still recovering.

3. Movie Man and Medications

Wow.  By day two of the trip, I really disliked my own son as I was experiencing him as a very irritable, angry, explosive kid.  This was not my son who until recently had a very sweet disposition.  I mean he was physically elbowing us away if we came close, argued about everything. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. And living with what I thought was his new this school year loud and nervous tic-like cough was really annoying.  So as Hub drove us through Hollywood, I used my iPhone to revisit side effects of concerta (used to help manage ADD and impulsivity).  OMG!

  • increased cough
  • irritability
  • OCD
  • ODD
  • sleep disturbances
  • loss of appetite
So, I discretely show Hubs and we agree, no more meds on the trip.  Let's just see what happens.  We were afraid.  Afraid of how that would effect the trip.  Superman is REALLY ADD.  He is REALLY quite the airhead.  He is hard to get moving and keep moving.  That's why he is on meds.  

And let me be clear here.  If it were not for the medications for the last two years, he would not have made any social or academic gains in school.  It is that bad.  He is now reading a bit above grade level and was able to catch up in other ways and enjoys friends.

But now we are faced with weighing the pros and cons against each other.  So, we get through vacation and observed that with each passing day, the coughing lessened.  It is now gone.  With each passing day, he was sleeping better and eating everything in sight.  With each passing day he became more gentle, less negatively reactive, and more open to affection.  

We sent him to school unmedicated when we returned.  He is struggling, but he is a sweet airhead, not a combative, exhausted airhead.  His teachers are being quite supportive and I am busy trying to find alternative solutions.  I am not opposed to trying different medications and I am now reading a very interesting book called, Disconnected Kids.  Very interesting and I promise to dedicate a whole blog post about what I am learning.  It is fascinating.  And it makes sense!

I would love to hear from all of you about what's on my mind.  You all have been supportive and insightful and blogging with you has been very beneficial to me due to your feedback, opinions and support.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! Amigo has tics, but his anxiety meds actually help minimize the tics as well. The term "parapro on a power trip" has been circulating in my building - I hope your situation doesn't resemble that remark. Remind her that You Are the Teacher. Period.


Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.