Sunday, May 27, 2012

Birthday wishes

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  What a fine birthday I'm having!  Sure, I had to load the car and drive my daughter and myself 200 miles to my sister's this morning, but after that, nice, nice, nice!

We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and Gift Shop!) first.  My daughter really wanted to see the Arms and Armor Room and was quite impressed by the armor, swords, daggers, etc.  I was impressed with the detailed etchings on the armor.

She took a lot of pictures, and so did I.

In the Gift Shop, my daughter looked around patiently and showed me the items she wanted to purchase, including a bracelet, a ring, and some pencils.  There was no whining, no badgering, nothing but appropriate 12-year-old behavior.  And sweet to my heart was this exchange:

Me:  Isn't this a great purse?  Look at these compartments.  I really like it.
My Daughter:  Can I have it?
Me:  At $72, no.
My Daughter:  Aw.  I was going to give it to you for your birthday!

No, really.  It was sweet.

(What I really want is a leather backpack from L.L.Bean, but at $299, I can't justify it any more than a $72 purse.)

When we got back to the house before going out to dinner, my daughter wished me a happy birthday and gave me the bracelet she had bought at the museum.  Sweet.

My sister and brother-in-law treated us to dinner at their favorite pub in Philadelphia, and my daughter and I happily cheated on her dietary restrictions, including fruit cobbler back at home.  A  quiet evening together, and then off to bed.

What a fine, fine day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Skin so soft

I coordinate the Autism Spectrum Support Group of Southern Maryland.  I'm listed as first contact, and I try my best to help people new to the diagnosis or new to the area (or both).  We've been almost 12 years in the school system.  I've lived and learned quite a bit as the parent of a twice-exceptional child (academically gifted with Asperger's).  When out and about, I've developed quite the thick skin regarding people's responses to my child, and I'm pretty open with what his issues are.

Then there's my daughter.  Though we've been living with her gradually escalating issues for the past nine of her 12 years of life, I don't belong to a support group for her much less coordinate one.  I don't fully understand what her issues are except that she is another twice-exceptional child (academically gifted with other special needs).  I don't tend to "go public" with her; only a few friends and family members know the full details.

I write about some of her issues here, but I rarely tell it all.

I want to understand my daughter's issues as I understand Asperger's.  I want to be confident in the decisions I make for my daughter as I am for my son.  I want the interventions for her to work as my son's interventions work for him.  And I find that I want that same thick skin for her that I've grown for her brother.

This past week's bruises resulting from her pinching me have made me realize that I'm very tender about people's responses to her issues.  I just don't want to have to explain what happened.  I don't want to hear judgments about my parenting or her problems.  I don't want to say it out loud; I don't want to feel the hopelessness, embarrassment, and shame that accompany the return of behaviors I had so wanted to be extinguished.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


My daughter cried her heart out two-and-a-half months ago.  She wanted to transfer out of the STEM Program so very badly.  She could do the work, but she couldn't handle the workload, and she couldn't navigate socially.

She has spent two months in general education in her "home school."  Tonight she cried her heart out because she is so incredibly bored in general education.  She feels challenged in only one class a day; the rest, she says, are "just worksheets."

She went from hands-on learning with her academic peers in all four core subjects to general education with grade level peers in two-and-a-half of four core subjects.  She no longer has the same level of technology in the classroom.  And, as she said when I reminded her that she missed out on the clubs that offered challenges in her new school, "Why should I have to wait until after school to do challenges and be bored all day doing worksheets?"  (Yes, there's some 12-year-old drama in there, but the point is a good one.)

There was more to our discussion tonight, including my daughter's saying that here, teachers' expectations are just so much lower than they had been in STEM.  I had to ask her to help me reconcile the fact that she didn't do her work when the expectations were higher with the fact that she was now requesting more challenging work.  Her answer?  She said she didn't appreciate the challenges when she had them.

Last week I met with my daughter's new teachers to do a check-in, see how they perceive her transition.  The five teachers of her four core classes attended.  Three of them specifically mentioned her very superior critical thinking skills.  Two said that she brought up the level of the class.  One of those two said that some of her ideas were so far beyond her peers' that the teacher believes her peers don't understand the ideas.

Transferring my daughter back into STEM, whether this year or next, is not very likely, though I'll make inquiries.  She has to learn to make changes within herself rather than demanding that the environment change.  Additionally, there is probably a story behind tonight's upset.  However, still on the table is her need for academic rigor.  That need was one of the major reasons we looked into the STEM Program the first year she could apply for a seat.  It was perhaps the determining factor in continuing in STEM6 despite our first-hand knowledge (when our son was in STEM6) of how ridiculously difficult the workload is.

I attended today's Board of Education meeting.  One of the two things that struck me during the meeting was that the Superintendent said that if anyone knows of a child who is having difficulties, contact him so that that child can be encircled by help.  It gave me goosebumps at the time and still does.  However, I've already asked for rigorous programming in middle school.  It doesn't exist.  I've already had my daughter evaluated for special education services.  Though she has ADHD and depression, she doesn't qualify.  Differentiated instruction happens in classrooms with teachers experienced in differentiating.  Technology in classrooms is uneven.  The economy is what it is.

My children are not geniuses.  They're just really, really smart.  They also have special needs.  As I've asked so many times for my son, I have to ask for my daughter:  Where is the place for her?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pick one

Pick one:  One day to the next.  One foot in front of the other.  Breathe.

Pick one:  Up, down; up, down.  Volatile.  All over the place.

Pick any and combine:  Sweet.  Smart.  Growing.  Maturing.  Thoughtful.  Accomplishing.  Experimenting.  Ugly.  Threatening.  Melting.  Procrastinating.  Cursing.  Blaming.  Impulsive.