Sunday, January 29, 2012

The gym issue, how to turn it into a positive learning experience

This week as I alluded too went pretty bad at the gym. It was show week and during the class all of the other kids got to show a skill except for Alvin. At the last station demonstration when he realized that he didn't get a turn he came to me and said "we go home now". He calmly walked out of the door went and got his shoes, socks and jacket and asked for help to get ready to leave.

I was heartbroken for him. He realized that all the other kids got to show a skill and for whatever reason he didn't. In the process of leaving I told the teacher that was out in the lobby something along the lines of you guys don't get it. He knows when he is treated differently and it does affect him.

I was fuming mad and upset for a good 2 days. Whether or not it was intentional was beside the point. I was mad because of how hard he has worked and how much he had improved and didn't get to have his turn to shine. The days following Alvin was pretty low key about the gym. If I brought it up he would tell me he wasn't going back. I blame him, not really. I decided Thursday morning that until I could address the issue he would not be going to his extra practice the next day and his next class would be questionable at best.

Friday night when my daughter had her class I got my chance to clear things up. When I got there I asked to speak to the program director after class about what happened. Instead of after class we spoke right then and there in the office. When I told her what happened she was shocked and immediately went and pulled the teacher from his class. As soon as we spoke about it I could tell he felt horrible. This is a teacher that Alvin adores. When I told him that the trust that was built was now gone the look on his face said it all. Alvin has put full trust in very few people outside of family. It takes a while for him to build trust, but once its there he will do almost anything for you.

I fully believe that what happened to Alvin in the gym was not intentional. He adores his teacher and his teacher knows how important trust is to him.

One very important thing though about this situation. There is reason to be proud of Alvin as well as an opportunity for him to learn something.

The first thing is what he was able to tell me when he was upset. He didn't have a tantrum, there was no kicking and screaming, just a calmness. He used words and his understanding of emotions to tell me he wasn't happy. These are things he has been working on for months at home, school and with his music therapist. It was simply amazing to see.

The opportunity to learn is about adults making mistakes. Granted he sees this in school because according to his teacher anytime something is wrong Alvin politely corrects them. These are the times where we talk about how everyone makes mistakes even adults. As he gets older this is going to be a recurring lesson, but one for him to remember.This week we will be talking about that on and off and addressing it directly with his teacher on Wednesday night.

In the end I am glad we were able to work everything out. What Alvin is doing as shown below in the videos shows how far he has come. The skill on the high beam he saw demonstrated only once and needed no verbal cues from the teacher to do correctly which completely floors me!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Sheldon comparison

Alvin has loved watching The Big Bang Theory for quite a while now. He especially loves the character Sheldon (who many believe to have Asperger's Syndrome but it is never stated that he does).  Alvin loves when he says "Bazinga!" and dances to the opening and closing music every time.

This week I found out that Alvin and the character Sheldon are similar in another way. They both love thier whiteboards and are not happy when you mess with them. Here Sheldon shows Penny his neighbor what is on his whiteboard. Notice how proud he is of what he has on it.

Well this week since we were stuck inside due to the snow I decided to set up the easel the kids got for Christmas that has a magnetic whiteboard on one side and chalk baord on the other. It also came with some magnetic numbers and letters which of course made Alvin VERY happy.

As soon as I got out the numbers Alvin would not let Elliot anywhere near them. He then told me "5 +4 equals 9".  This was shocking but we got a kick out of it and the rest of the night he happily worked on adding different numbers together. He didn't always get them right but seemed to have fun learning them.
Then his sister decided she wanted to play too and that wasn't the best idea! He kept saying don't mess with my board!! While we are working on teaching them both to share we couldn't help but laugh. He was so upset at her messing with his number patterns and math that it was just funny.

During all this all I could think of is the character Sheldon. Alvin certainly has his days as a 4 year old boy and his love of math and numbers that I just can't help but think of Sheldon. When he was 2 we used to joke that his love of numbers had him destined to go into engineering or science. He may or may not but right now we are having fun with his slightly odd obsession to numbers and math just like the character he loves.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The right to be upset

Disclaimer: This is more of a quick vent than a normal post. This past week I’ve been mad and just distressed at what is going on with him and I hope that the ones of you who have kids with a seizure disorder along with autism can understand.

This week has been challenging to say the least. This week we have seen an increase in Alvin’s seizure activity and it has been hard on all of us.

It started Sunday night when he was trying to go to bed. He was upset more than usual and we couldn’t figure out why. I went into his room to lay down with him and I noticed what was going on. He was having a seizure episode. His face was twitching and there was a lot of involuntary movement in his eyes and overall face. It was heartbreaking to watch and for the first time that I think he was aware that something was going on. After laying with him for a little bit things died down and he was finally was able to rest.

The next day during music therapy he has a drop and then again on Wednesday during dinner it happened yet again and caused him to spill some of his dinner all over him and stress him out.

For a while he had so few of these episodes that we honestly could forget that he even had this issue. The seizures are one of the things that drive me nuts and stress me out.

When the seizure disorder was diagnosed we had a choice to make we could put him on medication and deal with the side effects or wait it out until he grows out of them. The type of seizure he has is very hard to treat and most kids out grow them by the time they turn 7 or 8. So because the seizures are so erratic we chose to do nothing with medication at this time which was also the recommendation of his pediatrician in Alabama and his one here in Washington.

This week I just got mad at it all. I hate that he has started to realize things are going on and it scares him. He is starting to notice the drops more and has started to come to us for help. I was hoping he would remain immune to what was going on for a little while longer.

So while this week has still given us steps in the right direction with music and gymnastics and the steady improvements I think sometimes I think we need to let ourselves be upset at some of the things we have to deal with which is why I ended up writing this post.