Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WOOHOO, It's Officially Senior Year

WOOHOO, HSB is at his last final. It is algebra 2 and it will be a bear. We had him see the Saturday tutor, the during the week tutor both Monday and Tuesday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he passes. Hell I will take a C, so he can get a descent grade for the year. The poor kid has earned it.


I have to say that in my recollection, this has got to have been the worst year for this child. Apart from the social issue of losing his longtime best friend (child decided after being BFFs since 3rd grade that he didn't want to be friends with HSB anymore), academically this year was just a nightmare. Something has happened to this child when it comes to math and it is just getting worse. Many people have mentioned the issue of dyscalculia and that it might be HSB’s problem. But I am not really sure about that. HSB has no problem learning about the concept, it’s the application of the concept and the little tiny things that he misses.

It is so difficult at times to parcel out what is causing any issue that our children have. Considering that HSB’s aspergers is co-morbid with ADHD, OCD, language processing disorder, auditory processing disorder, dysgraphia and possible NVLD, oh and the all purpose emotional dysregulation issues associated with all of the issues I just mentioned, who really knows what is causing what. I am going to be taking him to a new psychiatrist this summer to see if we can figure it out and to see if that leads to any changes in his regime. I know we are told that if medication is working not to change it. I am not planning to change his medication, I am actually wondering if he is on too much medication as opposed to not enough. You can read  (here) the terrific discussion we had @thecoffeklatch yesterday about medication and summer rollercoaster to get an idea of how we are going to have everything reevaluated.

Honestly I am not so sure that even if everything is going smoothly that that is not a bad idea to begin with. Children grow and change and their needs change. Who is to say that what worked at 5 will work at 6. Heck what has worked at 5 for my children didn’t even work at 5 and ½. Constant reevaluation and redirection is a good thing. Make sure that your children are receiving the care that they need at the time and truthfully if you don’t like what the doctor recommends go somewhere else. I can’t tell you how many times I have been fired by a psychiatrist because I questioned them (I tell you, there are some doctors out there who need medication and therapy themselves) or how many times I fired a therapist because they decided that it was my job to figure out what was happening with my child (Actually had several ask me that question. They  told me that  if I figure it out to tell them. I found a new therapist instead). But in the end we have been able to establish a posse of wonderful people all dedicated to helping the boys. It may take time, but it is well worth the effort.

As far as math is concerned though, HSB was always able to learn his math facts, even though he really never wanted to study. Yes that has been an ongoing issue with him since he was very young. But he was able to pull out the stops no matter what was required of him. Even on his fourth grade statewide testing, HSB did well despite his attitude. What attitude you ask?

Well for starters, on the English exam, HSB had had enough by the third day of testing and instead of writing the essay answers like he was supposed, basically wrote to the state education authorities, that “if they wanted to see how well he reads and writes, they should come to his school and watch him.” Yep he handed that in. Nope, the teacher did not accept it and made him go back and finish the test properly. But we did have a great laugh in the IEP meeting about that one.

Now for the math test, HSB also had had enough by the second day of testing and when he was told that he had no choice but to finish the exam, he decided to “Christmas tree” the test. For those of you with real little kids, that means he just went down the scantron and filled in any answer that he wanted to give, most of the time without reading the question. He handed it in ten minutes after he was handed the test and told them he was done. The other children in the alternate location (yes by fourth grade he was already in an alternate location for major testing) were all laughing so hard that they had to take HSB into another room until the other children were done. He flatly refused to go back and review what he had done.

In state testing there are 4 levels: FOUR being the highest showing a great proficient; THREE showing an understanding of the material with a slight problem in applying that knowledge; TWO showing a major deficit; ONE showing an absolute child at risk. HSB always ended up in the THREE range. In fact on the English exam he ended up in the high three area. So much for state testing actually showing your child’s ability or not, or whether state testing can detect a learning deficit. Considering that HSB has a major language based disability I find it rather ironic that all the state testing done, even in the 8th grade, HSB came out rather well. Until of course the English regents, you know the one that really counts towards his future, then he just about passed.

Anyway, today he is done and we are going to celebrate. We are going to do the happy dance when I pick him up from school and celebrate that he is a highschool senior. Oh boy, that next step is going to be a doozy. I wonder if I can get him to write his personal essay for his college applications over the summer. We did it with collegeman and even though he did rewrite it several times to make sure that what was being asked in the applications was what he was answering, I think that it would be a good exercise for HSB. Besides this way he can keep his hand in writing and not go for over two months without practicing his skills.

Oh yeah, he is also going to learn how to drive this summer, so if any of you happen to be in the Northeast this summer, make sure you have your seatbelts on or truly maybe just avoid the area altogether. This is not going to be a fun exercise at all. Yes, we signed him up for Driver’s Ed. You don’t think I am stupid enough to try to teach him to drive on my own? It’s gonna be bad enough that he has to sit with me and practice in the car after his lessons. Luckily this is Driver’s Ed given through the school so the teachers are really experienced in dealing with all different types of drivers and students. It’s not that I think that HSB will be a bad driver, on the contrary. Once he is done learning and he understands the rules of the road, I think that he is going to be a very good and cautious driver. The hurdle that we have to get him over is that fact that he is afraid to drive.

So you ask yourself, them why are we making him learn? I suppose that it is a skill like everything else that children have to learn. Hubby is adamant that he learn. After much thought, I actually agree with hubby. (Yes, I know, don’t tell him.) HSB needs to know how to drive, just in case there is an emergency and neither hubby nor I can drive somewhere. It adds a feeling of a bit of security in the house. You see, because of his seizures collegeman can’t drive and he has to be seizure free for at least one year before that can even happen. For collegeman the medication has helped reduce his seizures, but they still happen, albeit infrequently, yet still a terrible danger on the road. So we promised HSB that he did not have to drive all the time and that he would only have the license for emergencies. We told him that I would still drive him to school next year and the he didn’t have to worry about it.

Honestly I will have to tell everyone that that was not really such a hard thing to promise. The reality is that with the economy being what it is, there is no way right now that we could afford a separate car for HSB anyway. I am not even sure what the insurance on that would look like. I hear that teenage boys cost a fortune in car insurance. I am hoping that it’s not so bad if he is considered an infrequent drive, but we shall see what we shall see. That Rubicon actually gets crossed at the end of this week when HSB goes for his learner’s permit. As soon as he walks in the door, the call goes out to the insurance agent. Goodness it gives me the chills to even think of that.

But in the end, when all is said and done, it is the official start of our summer. WOOHOO. Thanks be to God in heaven. We need the decompression.

BTW, collegeman is fine. We had the check-up with the oral surgeon and he is healing wonderfully. He stopped taking the heavy pain killer days ago and is eating like a bandit. Normal, normal. Thanks for all the well wishes and caring comments and tweets. It is much appreciated.

Until next time,

Elise

P.S. Found this rather condescending article about us mommybloggers, written of course, by someone who considers herself a "real" writer. Thought some of you might like to comment. Yep I already did.