Friday, November 23, 2007

Conferences and Stuff Happening In 3's

Friday was a big day as I knew it would be:

1) Leo's Parent/Teacher Conference
2) My Grandmother passing
3) Left my children with family for our first weekend alone in 9 years (Leo is 9).

Shockingly, our conference didn't bring up any deficit that required services. Hurray! I was relieved that my husband was able to make the meeting so he could repeat what he heard which did match what I heard. I wanted to be sure I interpreted the situation accurately, and since I knew I'd be freaking out inside, I may miss something. As we know, 3rd grade is the big marker year, testing begins and this is when residual issues can come up. I've seen his marks so far and his report card. A solid B student. We'll see what happens after she knows him better and what happens after standardized testing and the end of the year. Then for sure I can be relieved. Or will I ever? I don't know.

Leo's teacher seemed to really enjoy him, and said he was a very enthusiastic learner, and gives it his all. He participates most of the time, and seems to be in a good mood all of the time. She said he's always willing to help and is very respective and considerate of his peers. She also said he is someone other kids seek out as a friend. Of course, that one got both of us teary. I asked about the talking-out-of-turn, and she said he "needs to raise his hand more often", but didn't seem concerned about it. When I asked more about it, she seemed confused, so of course I changed the subject. Obviously not a disruption or a major issue. Something to work on for sure, but not as it once was. She said all the right things, "He's a sweet boy, you must work very hard as parents. Good for you.", and of course I wonder if she says that to everyone to relieve stress. Who knows. Either way, I am happy Leo continues to blossom and not need any modifications. I am beyond grateful and amazed by him.

As I was getting ready for our big weekend, I found out my sweet grandmother finally passed away. We knew it was coming, she had been in the hospital and a home for a while now. It was a perfect ending to an incredible life. She died naturally at 96, with family around her, in a quiet environment with material comforts and things that were familiar to her like pictures. I really feel for my mom, and am relieved for her that she can recover from her loss.

My SIL and MIL offered a while ago to tag team for one weekend this fall, and so we finally did it. Yay! The kids did GREAT, even when my daughter had a fever the night before that broke and a cold while we were away. I am so grateful that we can actually leave them - they are old enough to stay without us, not in their house. Leo is no longer hypoglycemic, and can basically eat anything with no consequence, although an enzyme and no gluten is preferred. The days of constant stimming have been long gone, but a toddler with a "high-maintenance" older brother kept us home. The food/supplement stuff was too challenging until recently. A couple days on a skeleton program was just fine. The days are gone when one bite of a muffin would send Leo into a catatonic-like fog. Living by the clock with food is also gone, so leaving them in the hands of my inlaws was a reality. Everyone had a great time and for sure we'll do it again. I can't believev it's been 9 years! I am grateful though, many Autism families can NEVER leave their kids. I have a friend with a son with diabetes - you thought Autism was a lot of work, man! So, we were grateful to not worry and not worrying meant we could really relax and have fun. It was like a super date!

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Letter to Prince George

ATTN: State's Attorney, Glen F. Ivey; Fax: (301) 952-3775
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley; Fax: (410) 974-5735

Dear Mr. Ivey and Governor O'Malley,

Please stop this embarrassing stance on mandating vaccinations. I thought I was reading fiction when I heard about this civil rights violation. If you've had a chance to read any story lately about vaccinations of any kind, it's obvious that the vaccination protocol in this country is dangerously outdated. I am not against vaccinations in general. I am vehemently against one-size-fits-all vaccinations and vaccinations that are for profit that cause more disease.

Please end this madness and horrible cost to your taxpayers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things That Make My Head Explode

1)The notion of carbon monoxide in food, accompanied by idiotic label disclaimers. Companies deem it safe based on nothing.

2)Pediatricians "plight" or "call" for better diagnosing Autism. Yeah, it was their idea, not all of us screaming moms, due process, and insurance companies.

3) The media's spin on the latest CDC research about vaccinations. That death rates for 13 diseases that can be prevented by childhood vaccinations has decreased by 90% in 9 of them. Huh, nothing about childhood disorders skyrocketing.

4)Prince George's County in Missouri trying to force 2,300 students to vaccinate. I wonder how many therapy hours we could get for the cost of the attorneys' fees alone? Not to mention the cost of their board of ed's time and money.

5)Waiting for Parent/Teacher conferences to be over. Two days and counting.

Leo's first stim. The rug in his room

Leo's latest stim. Baseball cards. A true sports junky.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

3 Days Till Parent/Teacher Conferences

I was talking to Leo about math this morning, and I told him how great it is that he's good at math. That his life will be so much easier because he is so smart. He says, "You remember when I needed an aide? And now look, I am good at stuff." I said, "Yes Honey, it's pretty amazing isn't it? You needed extra help and worked very hard. And today you are advanced in many areas and don't need any help."

I was so taken back by this on so many levels. First, we NEVER used the word aide. We called them shadows, also a word we never used in front of him. And the one-to-one therapists were called teachers or tutors. He must relate to his peers at school that have aides. I asked if he talks about this at school, either with his teachers or peers. He said no, and I didn't ask why. Is he self-conscious? Over the years we've been very open and matter-of-fact about it, repeating the "everyone is different, everyone has stuff to work on" speech. If he said yes, I would want to know how it was received, how he explained things, and I'd assess the situation to see if he needed to know about the label of Autism. I don't know what else to add at this point.

On another topic....I told Leo that he needed to go shopping with Dad to buy new sneakers for school. His eyes lit up as he began describing exactly what he wanted. He's always been brand loyal (Sketchers recently, New Balance in a stimmy way when he was little). But today, he talked about shoes his friends wear, and described in great detail these basketball high-tops. Leo is now into fashion, what's cool. He came home with these:

We had Veterans day off, and I found myself at the mall using gift cards with the kids. I looked at Leo in amazement. Who is this kid in 5 1/2 size Adidas with a baseball cap on backwards? I mean really?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Girl Gets Detention For Hugging

Girl gets detention for hugging
Illinois middle school bans public displays of affection; parents urge change
The Associated Press
Wed., Nov. 7, 2007

MASCOUTAH, Ill. - Two hugs equals two days of detention for 13-year-old Megan Coulter. The eighth-grader was punished for violating a school policy banning public displays of affection when she hugged two friends Friday. “I feel it is crazy,” said Megan, who was to serve her second detention Tuesday after classes at Mascoutah Middle School. “I was just giving them a hug goodbye for the weekend,” she said. Megan’s mother, Melissa Coulter, said the embraces weren’t even real hugs — just an arm around the shoulder and slight squeeze. “It’s hilarious to the point of ridicule,” Coulter said. “I’m still dumbfounded that she’s having to do this.”

District Superintendent Sam McGowen said that he thinks the penalty is fair and that administrators in the school east of St. Louis were following policy in the student handbook. It states: “Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved.” Parents urge change in policy. Coulter said she and her husband told their daughter to go ahead and serve her detentions
because the only other option was a day of suspension for each skipped detention.

“We don’t agree with it, but I certainly don’t want her to get in more trouble,” Coulter said. The couple plan to attend the next school board meeting to ask board members to consider rewording the policy or be more specific in what is considered a display of affection. “I’m just hoping the school board will open their eyes and just realize that maybe they shouldn’t be punishing us for hugs,” Megan said.

© 2007 The Associated Press.

No it's not fiction you're reading. Stupidity dominates doesn't it? When situations get tough, as it does when monitoring the appropriateness being physical amongst students, people opt for nixing it all. Is this easier? I don't think so.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I heard from Pepperidge Farms

Well, sort of. At least I got a generic response. From Campbell Soup none the less. I guess Pepperidge Farms doesn't stand alone when it comes to feedback. Here is what it said:

Ms Ashley Morgan, we received your message and appreciate your taking the
time to contact Pepperidge Farm.

Your comments have been forwarded to the appropriate department. We
appreciate feedback such as yours as it alerts us to consumer preferences.

Please contact our Consumer Response Center at 888-737-7374 if you require
further assistance.

Thank you for visiting the Pepperidge Farm website.

Pepperidge Farm Web Team

At least we try, right?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Voting for the Goldfish Cracker

On the drive home from voting this morning, I fantasized about what I wished was on the ballet. Here's a short list for the Board Of Education Section:

*Director Of Special Ed (R) (D) (Sp. Ed. Mother) (just not an idiot)
*Cafeteria Menu plans and cost per pupil (high) (medium) (low)
*Weak link Teachers to Place on Notice(fill in only)

So what, may I ask, would you like to vote for if you could????
What can we vote for that directly impacts our everyday lives? Other than regular voting, I choose to vote by complaint letters. I actually have so many, I have them organized by category in Word.

While packing Leo and Sydney's lunch up for a play date at a friends, we got on the topic of snacks at other people's houses. Leo said he's always wished for goldfish, "They always smell SO GOOD, Mom". With that, I knew what I'd be doing for part of the morning. Here's today's complaint letter to Pepperidge Farms.

Hello home of the gold fish cracker! I wanted to ask if you could please make a gluten-free dairy-free version of your cracker. Your cracker is so delicious and wildy popular among children as I'm sure you know. This popularity includes children that can't have them due to food allergies and intolerances. This growing population are dying for a version they can have! Goldfish are part of all children's culture whether they can eat them or not. At school, at play dates, at the park, this is what you see moms pull out of their schlep bags.

You may have heard that many children on the Autism Spectrum do very well on a wheat and dairy free diet, which aces out their favorite cracker. A growing percentage of children have food allergies, making an allergy-free version is in super high demand. Trust me! They will fly off the shelves. Not bad for PR as well. This is the new reality. Food allergies won't go away and Pepperidge Farms can benefit from these changing times. Thanks for your consideration!

Dare I ask for my beloved, the Cheez-It?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Food In The Classroom

Boy I've had a crappy week. Not like the glory days, but for 2007 it's made the grade. I messed up at work - big time. Twice in one day. I like to think that I am permitted to make a mistake, but I guess not. Then, I failed yet again in advocating for my son. I try to get the moms to make party food that ALL kids can eat. Educating parents that a replacement food doesn't cut it is challenging. Eating Skittles while everyone else is enjoying a fancy cookie? Not being able to comment along with his friends about the cookie takes away the whole point of celebration. Sharing something as a group is the whole point of celebrations.

My son can't eat cafeteria food or the myriad of birthday crap that comes into the classroom each week. My district is completely unmoderated and out-of-CONTROL. So, I try to make the parties that happen 4 times a year, a party for MY son, the class, be a time where he can participate. I am only asking for 4 times a year. Baby steps.

You know what's crazy? I'm advocating for my son to eat junk food. I don't even want him to have this stuff!

Per usual, I offered to bake, discussions take place in a way that avoids toe-stepping. It's so highly competitive! I offer simple recipes. I offer to drop off GF flour. I tell them where to buy store-bought GF cookies. Sometimes I get lucky, but usually my son has to sit and watch the other kids enjoy the food.

In a nutshell: No one gives a shit unless it's their kid. In a nutshell, no one will do ANYTHING unless they HAVE to. My son doesn't need an epipen so it's not taken seriously. Why must a child's life be at risk for parents to alter their behavior and consider the perspective of others? And even then parents grumble about peanuts and such. That kids can't have their favorite brand of pretzels?

As we all know there is now a federal mandate for all school districts to have a Wellness Policy in place. There are 8 modules that cover mental and physical wellness; bullying, gym, air quality, recycling, health curriculum, all sorts of things.

A part of this is supposed to be about how food is utilized in the classroom. The teachers are no longer supposed to use food as reinforcers (I'm not talking about our kids that need this for therapy goals). But yet again I see candy corn given out to quiet tables. Hersheys Kisses given as a Friday farewell. Even after a health topic is covered! Once my daughter's class was visited by a dentist. After that, they ate cupcakes for a kid's birthday. What kind of mixed message is that? Popcicles can be purchased for "snack" by a 6 year old. Just insanity.

Economics dictates how seriously this is taken by the parents and teachers that live in each community. Budget money must compete for computer software, curriculum materials, new chairs, what have you. Naturally, the government has no resources to enforce this policy. So life goes on.

I live in a po-dunk town that has no clue about nutrition. Think 1975 with updated home decor. The culture here is very traditional, very heavy into using food for celebrations. Over the top. Any excuse to bring in a giant plate of brownies, count on my district. Working parents spend 8 to 10 dollars a day on lunch - delicious salads, wraps, panini sandwiches. But when it comes to their children, they complain about $2.50 per day for their child's lunch in the cafeteria. They don't care about the quality. Something that 99.9% of the time comes from a box or a can and reheated. Have you ever looked behind th counter? Spotless. That's because there's no cooking going on.

Happy Fucking Halloween