Thursday, July 31, 2014

In which we get good news and then hit the beach

The good news being, kiddo will have an IEP next year, or more accurately, in about a month. It's a pretty extensive accommodation plan, and I'm hoping it'll help him get through the school day in more or less one piece. Delighted that the school officials seem to see kiddo for who he really is, and what he's really capable of, and we didn't have to fight for the help. Though to be fair, the school officials seemed equally delighted that we were so upfront about kiddo's issues, and what would and would not help him. Apparently there was this one time when they informed a parent her child was eligible for special education services, and the parent, who had apparently not been expecting this news, burst into tears. I sensed a bit of relief in the room that I would not be bursting into tears.

Frankly I'm relieved we're getting the accommodations, because then maybe kiddo will be able to, say, do his math classwork instead of hiding under his desk, or participate in gym (or Phys. Ed. or whatever they call it these days) instead of sitting in time out for getting too physical/not listening to the teacher/running around too much/whatever else he was getting in trouble for because I've lost track a little. Stigma shmigma. Why make him suffer through school if he doesn't have to?

Naturally, the first person to make a "short bus" joke in front of me is going to have to run and hide.

Having gotten that settled, we left for vacation, which was a multi-part affair. First we went to Point Pleasant and were issued a parking ticket even though we'd paid for parking and properly displayed the receipt. If DH wishes to contest the ticket, he can find some way to show up for the court date. How nice. You know, Point Pleasant, my husband grew up vacationing on Nantucket and he is already not impressed by your Jersey Shore-ness. Thanks for ensuring he'll never want to visit you again. Sad for me, since Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights basically defined my high school years, but it's hard to argue with an obnoxiously unwarranted parking ticket.

And that was before the car battery died. I was expecting the cop to walk back and give us another ticket for, I don't know, not having the proper dead-battery permit?

One new battery later, we headed up to Cooperstown, where the kids tore through the Baseball Museum in about .5 seconds. Historic uniforms and interesting stats are apparently not too interesting to the kids right now. They were much more interested in the ducks wandering past our table at dinner, which was right on the lake. Also, in the hot dogs. So at least they ate baseball food.

On to Grandma's house, where the kids practically pushed us out the door so they could have Mom- and Dad-free fun with Grandma. DH and I made our way over to Massachusetts, where we met up with relatives (thanks for the fun dinner, cousins!), then hung around Cape Cod (the flea market in Wellfleet is huge), then took the ferry over to Nantucket for a day. And here's where you really lose out, Point Pleasant: The beaches are nicer up north. No cigarette butts in the sand. No fee to get on the beach. Lots of shells for beachcombers (aka me). Gentle waves. No crowds even in July. I mean I can't even make the argument. It's frustrating for this lifelong Jersey girl but I think I may have been shortchanging myself on the beach experience. I'm hoping it's possible to get that experience somewhere closer than New England.

At any rate we had a fine time. We biked everywhere and ate fried seafood and made it out to the Downyflake for their utterly perfect doughnuts. We did a lot of road-tripping and random winery visits and made silly snarky comments about whatever five songs were on the radio. The kids also had a fine time, and I think Grandma may have recovered from their visit by now, but I wouldn't swear to it.

We got back yesterday. This morning, kiddo and I had our first appointment with his new behavioral therapist. And thus we get back to routine.

Monday, July 7, 2014

And another diagnosis

Which comes courtesy of the psychiatrist who evaluated kiddo as part of the IEP evaluation process. Kiddo currently has a 504 plan, which would be fine if the accommodations got him to the point where he could perform well academically, but his grades were starting to slip. Hiding under your desk instead of doing your math classwork will do that. The hope here is that he'll get approved for the IEP and an in-class aide, because I'm not sure how he'll stay on task otherwise -- and the work is only going to get harder. 

The school suggested another evaluation just to make sure we had the right diagnosis, and that we hadn't missed anything. So kiddo and I hauled out to the psychiatrist's office, where I spent the next three hours filling out forms. No, sorry, it just felt that way. Actually it was just over an hour. So much better, right?

Those social history forms depress me. "Does the child live with his/her biological parents? Are there any custody disputes? Has DYFS gotten involved? Is there a history of drug or alcohol abuse in the family?" Etc. You get the feeling that a lot of kids who go through these evaluations have bigger issues to deal with. 

The psychiatrist was nice enough, though she had that dripping-with-sympathy look on her face that I've gotten from other medical types. Like she was waiting for me to freak out when she said "social communication disorder." No time for freak-outs, lady. I've been through this whole diagnosis thing before. He's a lovely kid, yeah yeah I know. Now what is it he has again, and what do I do about it?

What he has -- well, that's seemingly a debatable point. This particular diagnosis is new to the latest edition of the DSM, aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If this were a few years ago, he might have gotten an Asperger's diagnosis, or else PDD-NOS, aka "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified." Since it is not a few years ago, we get to be a bit of a diagnostic guinea pig, I suppose. The basic point being, he shows some signs of autism, such as the inability to maintain eye contact, but not all of them, such as the hand flapping or spinning in circles.

Social skills are definitely an issue for him. Reading facial expressions. Getting too hyped up and thus overreacting to things. Respecting personal space. This just puts a name to it, I guess? I mean aside from the ADHD, which he most definitely has, in case there were any doubts. 

Among the recommended treatments -- and this does not appear to be set in stone, because the diagnosis is so new -- is behavioral therapy, which coincidentally we were looking for anyway, so that sort of worked out. We haven't gone to a behavioral therapist since the last one quit taking our insurance, and then we spent a year fighting with the occupational therapy facility about their inability to file insurance invoices properly, so we never found a new practitioner. We have an appointment set with a new one in a couple weeks, so we'll see what happens. 

In the meantime, we're hoping to get kiddo through day care all summer with a minimum of meltdowns and/or other incidents. More information on this whole SCD thing as soon as I have some.