Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Updates with the move

Hayden has had a pretty good weekend despite the move. There was a minor tantrum or two at home where he locked himself in his room. I can't recall what he was mad about. He's been struggling with Rylie this week, as far as not liking her crying or having to share time with me. But, he did really well yesterday sharing his Wii U game with her, teaching her how to play and not taking over. This is something he's struggled with in the past. Both kids are loving the new house and enjoying the extra space. We're excited once we get unpacked to have a chance to get outside and explore the new neighborhood.

Random aside:  This week Hayden has been asking about bullies. How to avoid a bully, does being a 'nerd' or smart make him a target, and his reaction if someone were to bully him. His answer was that he would "make them regret it" by yelling and attacking them. Not the reaction we're looking for. :) 

We are so grateful to grandma and grandpa for watching the kids for two days while we got settled. Thanks for making things a lot easier!  

Saturday, July 30, 2016


We are excited to be moving to a new school district for this next school year. Last year went pretty well for Hayden, but the year prior was extremely difficult for us as a family. I only alluded to it on this blog for multiple reasons.

For one, I wrote a blog post that the school asked me to take down, by way of my lawyer. Included in that post was a statement that read something like, "They managed to drag it out for a year, but we finally have an agreement on our due process." Due process means taking the school before a judge, to decide if they are in the wrong.

I amended the post rather than take it down. You can view it here.  I suppose the wording was probably incorrect, though that surely wasn't what they took issue with. The school didn't drag out the due process for a year, just the requests that I was making, including that he have a behavior plan, something that is required by law. That was definitely dragged out, in fact for about two years, if not more. But I'll explain that another day.

Going over documents the night before an IEP meeting with my super supportive husband.

For two, the school district retaliated against our family. Retaliation refers to some form of discrimination, coercion, intimidation or threat. You can learn more about retaliation and parent rights here. I will tell that full story another day, as well. It was very painful but the story needs to be told.

I don't plan to name the school. I don't need to. It's not about pointing fingers so much as educating the public. I have always wanted this blog to be about positivity and the sharing of information and ideas. There are so many things that parents of special needs kids don't talk about, or can't talk about, because of pressure from others. When my son was left on the bus, I couldn't share the story at the time. I was able to a few years later; you can read about it here. I shared it because I want others to be aware that these things can and do happen, and that there are things you can do to try to prevent them, and actions to take when they do unfortunately happen. It was an important story that needed to be told. The story of our due process experience is important as well. And as I process through what to share and how to share it, I will.

Rylie at baseball this summer.

The moral of both stories is that kids with special needs need to have advocates. Parents are unaware of laws that are out there to protect them. It is a goal of mine to share information for other parents to know what they can do, what they NEED to do, to protect their own children. The Wrightslaw website is a great place to start.

The kids on Hayden's birthday.

Children with special needs should not be seen as a burden to public schools, or as objects to be placed in one box or another. They are human beings who deserve to go to school and be treated with respect and kindness, just like any other child. This is all I ever wanted for my children. I didn't go searching for a fight.

And to clarify, none of this has been about the individual teachers working with my child. For the most part we have been lucky to have teachers who truly care about kids and only want the best for them. This entire process and the problems we've encountered have been at a level above the teachers themselves, mostly at the district level. His previous special education teacher was very kind and understanding, and has been a great help in Hayden's transition to a new school.

Take my picture mom! It's too small!

School starts next week, and I couldn't be more excited. Hayden's new special education teacher has already reached out to us and is more than willing to support his needs. I know he is in for a good year and I can't wait to share more about it with you. He works really hard and deserves to be in a place that does right by kids with special needs.

I told my husband the other day that I was trying to be brave, and he said that I'm not brave, I'm strong. I know that's because of the things I've experienced, and the attitude I've taken toward overcoming. I want not only to overcome, but also to lead those who have been in my shoes to become stronger themselves. I hope this blog inspires each of you spread your wings and soar.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday FUA: His IEP Draft

Statements from Hayden's teachers in his most recent IEP draft:  

Hayden is polite, caring, conscientious, and hard working. He enjoys interacting with his peers and adults. He earns good grades.

Hayden stays in the classroom and struggles with focusing and frustration when things do not go as expected.

Hayden participates in the 3rd grade general education curriculum. He shows good academic strengths.

Hayden manages his student role well with the Instructional Assistant. He does still become frustrated at times.

His social skills are very good as well. He interacts with friends and uses appropriate conversational exchanges. For the most part, he is a typical 3rd grade student.

Hayden will participate in the appropriate grade level state assessments. He is at or above grade level. It is fully anticipated that Hayden will obtain a high school diploma.

LRE Placement Category based on Federal Program Types: 50: General education classroom (In a general education classroom for 80% or more of the day)

Reasons for provisions and reasons for rejecting other options: 
Hayden has been successful in the general education setting with support from a Special Education Staff Member. This is his least restrictive environment. He is accessing the general education curriculum and doing very well socially, behaviorally, and academically. Spending more time in the special education resource room would be more restrictive and not meet the needs of Hayden at this time.

Photo:  Hayden and his friends on a recent field trip downtown. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Help for a friend

My friend's son with autism is on the road to recovery. They have a long road ahead. He will be in the hospital for at least another month. If you are able and would like to donate even $5, there is a link below. Thank you for all the continued prayers for their family.
"We have recently been made aware of a single mom with two boys with special needs in Crown Point, IN who needs some help. One of her sons was hit by a car on Monday and is in the hospital in Chicago with a severe brain injury as well as multiple injuries in other areas of his body. He has undergone many surgeries this week for all of his injuries. She lives approximately 45 minutes from the hospital where her son is being treated and cannot work right not because of all that is going on. We would like to help her financially by raising $1000 for her family. Once we reach $1000 in donations for this family, R[4] will match that so that we can send them $2000 all together. So between now and June 1st, please help us bless this family with a special gift of love!"

Monday, May 2, 2016

FUA: Lamby Needs a Rescue

Hayden and I were at the grocery today. As I walked the aisles looking for items on my list, he had his nose in his new library book. 

I was saying that we needed bananas as Hayden said, "Look, someone lost Lamby." It was a stuffed toy from the Doc McStuffins cartoon, lying on the floor in the produce aisle. It was obviously well loved.

I remembered a mom with two kids had just been in the aisle so I looked around. They were up at the checkout. 

I told him, "Quick, grab Lamby and take it up to that mom. Ask if it's hers."

I could have done it myself. But I wanted to see if he could do it. 

He was hesitant at first, but did it without complaint. When he got close to the checkout he couldn't find who I was telling him to find. He started to wander back twice shrugging his shoulders and I kept pointing and saying, "Lane 4. The lady in the black shirt. Lane 4." He was 8 feet from her.  

I saw an older couple come around the fruit aisle and stare at me, so I started to go around the fruit to help him. 

But as I got around to the other side, he found her. I pulled my phone up to snap this pic as he was talking to her. She quickly said thank you and put Lamby in her cart. He came back and stood next to me, probably ready to get back to his book.  

Neither he nor the mom he just helped were aware how big this was for him. 

He noticed an item out of place. He willingly picked it up and went looking for the owner. He came back toward me for help when he couldn't find her. He persevered and continued to look. He found her and asked her an appropriate question. (Or at least I hope, since I couldn't hear.) Once she took it, he walked back to me rather than starting an off-topic conversation. (Like he usually does.)

I asked if she said thank you, hoping to see if he would tell me more about what happened. All he said was, "Ugh. I think it had slobber on it." 

And he held an item that he thought was gross because I'd asked him to help someone. 

"Do you want some hand sanitizer?"

"No. It's dry now."

I started cracking up. "Ok, let's get the bananas so you can get home and finish your book."

Such a boy. And my favorite one at that. So proud of you, Hayden!