The Daughter Chronicles

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Norah caught on tape!

Man, this post took a long time. It takes at least ten minutes, if not longer, to upload video to YouTube. And my stupid Internet kept shutting down. Stupid Internet!

But here are some videos of Norah. The first one is from some months ago, when I was trying to film her when she was "reading." She memorizes the books and then recites them, and it's adorable, of course. She does it quite well, but she refuses to do it while the camera is on her. So I was trying to sneak in there and get her. I ought to try again.

The rest are from last Monday (the 19th), which was the end of the "semester" at Little Gym. We were encouraged to bring cameras, even though they really didn't do anything different. You'll notice the lack of kids in the class - for a while there was only one other boy, and eventually another girl joined them. This was pretty common toward the end of the semester - I don't know if the other kids who had been there earlier moved up because they got old enough, or if they switched to other time slots. She likes Little Gym a lot, but it was kind of weird - as the term went on, she seemed to get more scared of certain things. She would go on the balance beam a few months ago, and even though I had to hold her, she would at least walk along it. Last week she wouldn't even get on it (the higher one; you'll notice she still goes on the one near the floor). When she goes on the parallel bars, she still lets go when we flip her over instead of holding on, but you'll see her reach for the teacher, which she rarely did. She also was less willing to do the things alone. She had been going into the class by herself fine, as the teacher had been weaning the kids off their parents. The past two weeks, however, she was clinging to me and refused to go off on her own. You'll see this in the first video, where she keeps looking at me. We start a new term next week, and I do hope she's more independent than she's shown the past few weeks.

Anyway, enjoy the videos. I don't think they're too long, but I apologize if they are. I'll try to be more prompt with getting new ones up on the blog. It's always fun to see little kids having a grand time.

(I should point out that I had more footage, but for some reason I couldn't even get that onto YouTube. So I gave up. I know everyone is desperate for even more videos of an almost-three-year-old running around screeching, but you're just going to have to live without it!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mia's teacher leaves her!

Yes, Mia is losing her kindergarten teacher. Three of the kids are moving on to seventh grade, and no new kids are coming into the program, so there will only be two kids in the class. There's another class, so they're just putting the two classes together. As Mia's teacher has less seniority than the other, she's getting squeezed out of her position. She'll be moving to a different school and taking one of the aides with her. The other aide is staying, so at least Mia will have a familiar face to go back to.

I haven't met the other teacher, so I hope she's as good with Mia as her current teacher is. I also hope the other class isn't too big. Her teacher told me that when she first started, she had five aides because the class was so big. That's when they decided to split the classes in two. The previous teacher actually quit because the class was so big. Mia has gotten a lot of good attention this year, and I'm going to be worrying all summer about the situation next school year. She needs a lot of one-on-one time, unfortunately, and we hope she'll be getting it.

But that's something to worry about later. Now it's on to summer school, where we hope she will continue making progress. This is the first "real" summer school she's attended (the past two years, she went for a little while, but they didn't do a lot of school work), so we're hoping they keep pushing her.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Norah lives in fear!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned Norah's fear of fuzz, but she's scared of fuzz. She screams, "Piece fuzz! Piece fuzz!" and points it out to us. If we tell her it's fine and she should just pick it up and throw it out, she says, "Daddy/Mommy do it!" Recently, however, she's actually been able to pick it up and throw it away, although she shrieks throughout the process. But at least she's not afraid to touch the fuzz anymore. We've told her that she has to get over her fear, because with three new cats in the house, we have more "fuzz" lying around the house!

Her new fear, however, is even more unusual. Yesterday I turned on the television and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was on. Norah took one look at the Silver Surfer and screamed, "Ugly man!" We told her he was just "funny," which usually makes her feel better, and Krys said he was just "shiny," which didn't placate her. I turned the television off and told her that the ugly man flew away. This seemed to make her feel a little better, as all through dinner she said, "He so shiny!" and "Ugly man fly away." We're not quite sure why she was so freaked out by the Silver Surfer. Poor Norrin Radd!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Time for an IEP meeting!

This past Tuesday (6 May), we headed off to Mia's school for her Individualized Education Program meeting. These things are usually well over an hour, but we were in luck, as our regular babysitter is back from college and was able to come over, so Mia could come home on the bus and wouldn't have to hang out in the room with a bunch of adults talking about her education (even though last year, she was fine doing that).

I was a bit curious to see how this IEP meeting would differ from last year's, mainly because she is in a different school and it's "real school" as opposed to pre-school. It went fine, though, which makes the horror stories I hear about other IEP meetings strange. My theory is that Mia is so obviously impaired that there's not much to argue over. We know exactly what's "wrong" with her and what services she needs, and the school knows it too. Some parents, I've heard, don't want to admit their kids are special ed., so they argue over services. Some parents think their kids need far more help than they actually do. Many of the stories the fathers I know tell are about their autistic kids, and maybe autism is so difficult to figure out in terms of what the kids are capable of. I don't know, but this was Mia's third IEP meeting, and we've never had a problem.

The teacher and therapists basically discussed what they've been doing with Mia over the course of the year and made suggestions about what they're going to do next year. One thing her teacher suggested is keeping her back a year. She doesn't really attend kindergarten much, but her teacher thought it would be a good idea to keep her in the kindergarten classes because she seems to be getting into it a bit more late in the year, and it seems like she spent a long time getting used to it. She thinks that next year, Mia will be more ready to participate. We have never really worried about this, because she won't even be 6 years old by the time the school year starts, so it's not like she'll be so much older than everyone else.

We didn't learn too much that was new, but it's always nice hearing what the therapists have to say. Her speech therapist is reading many different kinds of books to her, because Mia memorizes things relatively easily and then falls into a rote pattern of repeating things, so her therapist wants to keep her on her toes. We all do that, because we want her to actively think about things when we're reading to her instead of just repeating what she already knows. Rote memorization is fine, and she still does stuff like that, but we also want her to try to think creatively. On her IEP, there are fewer goals than last year, and her speech therapist mentioned that many goals are incorporated as part of the special education curriculum. Her home speech therapist was concerned about the lack of a vocabulary goal, but her school therapist told me that it was part of the functional curriculum, so that both she and her special ed. teacher will work on it. We all want Mia to be able to use vocabulary instead of just memorizing words without any context, so they're going to be working on that.

We talked about some of the problems she faces during the day. Her Adaptive PE teacher mentioned that she was doing well earlier in the year, but recently she's been doing worse with throwing a ball. She clutches it, makes the throwing motion, but doesn't let go. She can throw a ball, but she hasn't been. That's a fine motor skill, so I'm going to talk to her OT about it this week (she comes on Monday, so I haven't seen her since the meeting). Mia, of course, is easily distracted, so we discussed ways to help with that as well. Her physical therapist is helping her stand up from a sitting position, which is neat, and making her stand against the wall with no support, which he says she's very good at. Her muscle tone is always a problem, of course, and we talked about the difficulties she has with her hips and the flexion in her legs and ankles. I've mentioned this problem before, when I wrote about her therapists and the differences of opinions they have, and her school PT, who thinks putting her right foot in an AFO (ankle-foot orthotic) would work well, admitted that the issue is complicated, and he respects our decision to not put her in a device. But he's been very good with her, and it was good to hear from him.

The IEP was shorter than last year, mainly because of that functional curriculum I mentioned above. Many goals are not spelled out, because, as her speech therapist told me, they need to be graded, and the therapists would be collecting data most of the time rather than working with her. The goals she does have are somewhat broad, and of course we'll monitor what they're doing next year, but overall, it was a productive meeting. Her speech therapist made the point that she doesn't want Mia to be just the cute special ed. kid, she wants her to be well integrated into the school. Everyone loves Mia (who wouldn't?), but the teachers and therapists want her to be able to form friendships and understand what's going on around her. So do we, of course! So that's what they're working toward.

The fact that everyone loves Mia brings up a strange point. Not only does everyone love her, everyone knows her. Many kids always say hi to her, and this morning, when I went to sign her up for summer school, the woman running the show said, "Oh, it's Mia. I know Mia!" It's funny, because she's very popular. It's not surprising, because she's so darned lovable!

We're looking forward to her second year of school. We think she enjoyed this one, and although she still gets tired too easily and hasn't adjusted well to the all-day every-day schedule, we think she's gotten a lot better at working at school. She seems more engaged with her therapy, too, which is very nice. School has had a positive effect on her, so we hope that continues.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hanging out with Norah

During a typical Norah day, you might find her ...

... strolling around with her hat on; or ...

... reading to the cats. She really likes reading to the cats.

Norah: Renaissance Woman!

Another book down!

We read Mia a book every night. Very often we can only read 1 or 2 pages, because she gets annoyed and wants to go to bed. So it takes forever to get through a book. But tonight we finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Yay! Tomorrow we start Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Let's see how long it takes to finish this one!