Friday, December 9, 2016

Josh's new hobby . . .

Apparently November wasn’t terribly exciting.  I guess I’ve been in the trenches of life and parenting and haven’t taken pictures.  I do adore the way that Ali cares for her stuffed animals.  Cara has purchased a couple of My Life dolls.  (The 18 inch dolls.) She likes to play with them, but I laugh because she is also scared of them.  She keeps them in the box and in Ali’s room.  She wouldn’t want anything coming to life in her room in the night.

Thanksgiving was nice. I appreciate that we don’t have to travel to spend time with family. The kids enjoyed relaxing.  Josh and I traditionally love shopping on Black Friday, but more and more of that is happening online so we didn’t go out this year.  The love of a deal must run in their blood because I woke up to the kids sorting through the Thanksgiving ads and Cara, the girl who saves all of her money, making a list of things she wanted to buy.  I had a doTERRA booth at Novemberfest for the fourth, and most likely last, time.  Josh worked on his new hobby . . . 

Yes, Josh purchased the 1973 MGB convertible.  For months he has been talking about putting up a vision board.  A place when he can visualize his goals and dreams. Finally he printed one thing for the board – a picture of a 1973 MGB.  I harassed him about only having one thing on the board.  I didn’t even know he had a dream car. He told me that it symbolized so much more than a car.  It was a symbol of freedom of time and money among other things.  Two weeks later this car showed up in the classifies. It was as new as it could be and still have the chrome bumper that Josh wanted.  It only had 41,000 miles.  It hadn’t been driven for three years but seemed to be in mostly operating condition.  The CRAZY thing is that they were only asking $3000.  It was worth at least $10,000 more than that.  I strongly encouraged Josh to get it.  I feel like if your dream car only cost $3000 and you don’t have to go into debt to get it you should get it.  I feel like God was willing to give Josh what he wanted all he had to do was pick it up.  He has loved tinkering with it since we picked it up.  We have rode around the neighborhood in it a few times, but the weather got cold and snowy the day after he picked it up (not to mention that the brakes need to be replaced) so it will likely be spring before we really drive it. 

Caleb had his first band concert.  He was SO EXCITED for it.  He invited all of our local family.  He did a great job and I was totally impressed with the progress the band has made in just a few short months.  Playing percussion this year has been a great blessing for him.  He loves it.  I am hopeful that he will find a great group of kids and a place to “belong” in band.  It was sure home for me when I was in High School. 

We are making baby steps of progress with Caleb.  Josh took a Love and Logic parenting class in November, which has helped him to release emotional attachment to the decisions Caleb makes.  Caleb is also becoming involved in the afterschool robotics club, which is basically lego’s for teens. He also took a programming class two nights a week in November so he was extremely busy.  It seems like the busier he is the better he does as long as he feels accepted and successful in what he is doing. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

504 Accommodations: ADHD, Anxiety, Depression

In November met with Caleb's teachers and created a 504 plan for him.  Middle school is tough for everyone, but when your brain is working against you (more than the average middles school brain) it is really tough!  Basically having a 504 means that his teachers are aware of his special needs and they are encouraged to make specific accomidations to better meet his needs and to help him be more successful in school.  The following are the "notes" I took to the meeting and shared with his teachers to help give them a picture of what is happening as well as the accomidations I requested. 

I'm posting this information because it may be helpful sometime in the future or for someone else who is experiencing similar struggles.  These are the "notes" I took to the meeting and shared with his teachers and administrators to help give them a picture of what is happening as well as the accomidations I requested. Some of the accommodations are already making a big difference for Caleb. 

My Goals in creating a 504 plan for Caleb – 
• Prepare for future by building confidence and capitalizing on his strengths
• Avoid overwhelm so he will continue to put forth effort
• Make middle school a positive experience so he will thrive in High school and LIFE

It has taken many years for me to come to terms with the fact that his mental illness is real.  It won’t simply go away through better parenting, more severe consequences, or greater rewards. I thought I could compensate for what he is lacking at school by doing more at home, but he is completely rebelling against my encouragement.  He is not having a “normal” 7th grade experience. I have feared labeling him or making accommodations because life doesn’t make accommodations, but he has to be successful in his education for him to learn to be successful in life.  

Caleb’s ADHD Symptoms: Compared to students in his age group he shows Lack of Self Control and Emotional Control. He struggles with initiating responsibilities, working memory, planning and organizing, and self-monitoring. A lack of dopamine also manifests in obsession with time and the next activity, never being satisfied in the moment. 

Caleb’s Anxiety Symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, reluctance to go to school, and asking the same questions over and over. 

Caleb’s Depression Symptoms: He is desperate to escape his life.  We limit screen time, which would be his first choice for escape.  Other manifestations include suicide talk and running away.

Accommodation Ideas: 
1. Preferential Seating: Near teacher, as far as possible from distractions, sit next to a well-behaved roll model. He needs encouragement and reminders to stay on task. He may also need follow-up after directions are given to make sure he understands what he is to be doing.  He doesn’t seem to process instructions as well as others. He needs to know that he is noticed. 

2. Incomplete Assignments: Break long assignments into smaller segments, each with a deadline. Full credit for reduced work when he shows he gets a concept.  He will get 0/30 when he has 30 questions on a math test but he will get 5/5 when there are fewer questions and no social pressure to hurry.  Consider doing every other math problem, but if he misses it he has to do the other problem to get the concept? Maybe he could set a timer for 5-10 minute intervals and he could get up and show the teacher his work. 

3. Increased time to turn in assignments. It is like he doesn’t even get that assignments were due until they are posted on his missing assignment list on power school. Present assignments and due dates verbally and visually. 

4. Preferential Power-up teacher: Teacher that will follow-up with most important tasks.  Maybe math or language arts teacher. 

5. Hand Picked Teachers and Schedule: He performs best in an environment where there is structure and teachers who are attentive to needs. We may want to look at his schedule and have his higher academic classes mid-day.  His brain doesn’t get going first thing, and may shut off by the end of the school day. 

6. Testing Conditions: His main problem is racing through wanting. He is also highly distracted, not even knowing what he read.  Should he leave the room for tests? What would help? 

7. Safe Person: Send him to Mr. Winkler when he seems to be struggling or creating problems in the classroom. 

8. Cool Down Pass: He gets pressure built up from anxiety. He may feel sick. What to do when he needs or wants to leave the classroom?

9. For Impulsivity: Discuss behavior in private rather than calling him out in front of the class.

10. Restless Behaviors: I know he taps his pencil and never holds his legs still.  Consider creating opportunities for him to stand or move. Using the timer as recommended in point 2 and allowing him to stand up every 5-10 minutes when he checks in with the teacher may help. 

11. Lunchtime Learning: I love the idea of this natural consequence for most students. Caleb is not motivated by it, and I think there is probably a better option for him.  Maybe he could get out of lunchtime learning by showing Mrs. Crosbie that he has completed one missing assignment during power up? He NEEDS lunch time to be out of a desk and to develop his social skills.  I think it is adversely impacting him.