Friday, December 23, 2011

Hmmm


Riley had his first performance with the band, last week. His music teacher is amazing. All of the bands are just spectacular! Riley can actually play the clarinet! He was pretty pleased with himself.

So after break we are going to possibly look into an advocate. Riley's 504 plan is not being followed. There are at least 4 accommodations which are not being implemented. One of which, and my biggest concern, is a social group. The psyche was going to look into starting one, but needed to get permission from some other parents. We've heard nothing about it since. We met for the 504 in October. I am tired of playing with these people. My kid needs some accommodations as this disorder is starting to affect his academics. The junior high seems unable to do this, so now we must go forward. I have plans, oh I have plans, and I don't think I will be very popular, but who cares? I have pretty thick skin, and this is my kid and this crappy school district is wrecking him.

Riley is starting a social group in January. There's a woman who works for our district, who runs social groups on the side. We will have to pay out of pocket for this, but he needs these skills. Oh, and I did get a phone call from my private Cigna Kelly (when you bitch about Cigna on Twitter, you get results), saying that our insurance will cover a social group (it's in Mountain View though), so I believe we will explore that option as well, and try both groups for awhile. The local one will be good, because perhaps we can connect with some local families who know what we deal with daily, and can relate.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just Checking In


Things are going well in Riley's world. He's working on finishing his walking stick, in Scouts. This weekend they have an all day workshop to finish it up. He's done a nice job sanding it.

We had a little crisis at dinner last night. Riley didn't chew his bite of taco very well, and got some shell stuck in his throat. He was freaking out, saying, "I don't want to have to go to the emergency room!" Clearly he was talking, and NOT choking, so that wasn't going to happen. He wouldn't drink any water at first, to try and wash it down, just was hysterical. It finally went down, and he continued to have another taco, telling us he would take smaller bites. Good thinking. It's things like this that just bug me. His reactions are so over the top, and not how a "normal" 13 year old would react. It's very frustrating to try and talk sense into him as he is very hard to persuade. We went to dinner tonight, at a restaurant, and while I was up getting my burger fixings, he had taken his food to his seat. He comes up and says, "Well I can't eat my dinner because I don't have a fork!" I had him turn around and see the "Silverware" sign above. Of course they were out, so I made him track down an employee and ask them to refill it. He just doesn't have the knowledge to figure this stuff out on his own! Again, frustrating, but we plug on. I now see very clearly what we have to work on with him, so that he can function as an adult.

Social skills group and Alpha-smart have yet to come to fruition at school. I am cutting them some slack because of the break last week, but I am only going to wait so long, and then I have to call to get things rolling.

Riley goes back to see the endocrinologist this month-the day before our Disney World trip. I think the medicine he is taking, is causing him to gain weight. I want to see what the doctor says, and then in January, we are ALL starting a new, healthy eating regime. Is it wrong to put a 13 year old on a diet? I just think he would be a lot more active if he were in better shape. He WILL NOT stop eating though!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

504 Meeting


So we had Riley's 504 meeting today. 3 of 6 teachers were present, plus the psychologist and the VP. A little funny about while we were waiting. The secretary was calling the VP on the walkie, to let him know we were there, and because they had a new student and wanted to know when she could start. They couldn't get him and couldn't get him, and then someone said he was at McDonald's across the street. With that, the secretary looks at us (because we can hear what's going on) and say's, "He's not eating, he's there for supervision." We knew that. There's a McDonald's right across the street from the junior high, and it's packed with kids after school. He was over there, probably chasing kids away, making sure all was ok. It was funny though.

Anyway, Riley still has the 504. The psychologist doesn't think he needs an IEP, especially because they can give him some of the things we want, with a 504. We got everything we asked for: an Alphasmart for Riley to use to take notes (writing is just tedious for him, and his printing is super messy), prompting from teachers for homework/assignments (he doesn't just do what the other kids do-he does his thing), extra time if he should forget to turn in work, prompting to use eye contact, and most importantly, he gets to join a social group. Now that will only be a go if the psychologist can get permission from the parents of some other kids who need that service. If they say no, then we will continue to push for a social group for him. I know there's someone available to run a social group, and has offered to even just take him and coach him.

We were happy when we left the meeting, although I do not know why the Math teacher did not attend the meeting, as she was in the office when we were waiting. Riley's English teacher thought it was tomorrow (we saw him after the meeting), and was very apologetic that he missed it. We were not concerned with him as he had Riley last year and is aware of the situation. He's such a nice man. The music teacher plays with the Oakland Symphony, and was out today. That's another one that is fine. Riley is doing well in that class. There are no issues. We could have used the Math teacher being present though, but we'll go tomorrow night, to conferences, and talk to her. We'll also meet separately with the PE teacher tomorrow night. She really wants to help him, and will make accommodations-she already has by having him run one lap instead of two for his mile run. She doubles the time for the one lap. She's going to help us brainstorm ways Riley can earn at least a B. She did inform us that he's been telling her he can't breathe even before he runs. We nipped that in the bud tonight. He breathes just fine. It's the running that brings on the asthma. I think he has anxiety about running and is using that to get out of it.

They are really being very accommodating at the school. We even talked a little about high school, and I know who to contact there, at the end of this year, to ensure that Riley has a smooth transition into high school.

Oh, and we picked Riley's report card up yesterday: 4 As, a C in PE and a D+ in Math-he has not been completing assignments in there. We will meet with her tomorrow to discuss that.

Double OH, I have this awesome paper about PDD NOS, so I copied the important pages about the disorder, and another one I have about Aspergers, and gave a copy to each teacher. The PDD NOS one was very good! LOTS of good information.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Preparation Time


This picture has nothing to do with today's post. I just can't post a post without a picture.

We are gearing up for Riley's 504 meeting on Wednesday. My friend, who is a therapist/behavioralist and two of her colleagues came over on Friday, to spend some time observing and working with Riley. The three of them are forming their own business, helping parents of kids on the spectrum. All three of them were shocked that Riley does not have an IEP, and they laughed at his 504 (it IS pathetic). I let them look over the testing results from Regional Center, and there was agreement that the diagnosis could still be Aspergers, but really it doesn't matter, because PDD-NOS is an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I think it only matters to me, because the school does not know what to do with the PDD-NOS diagnosis, and Aspergers is easier to understand. Anyway, they really helped me figure out my focus for Wednesday's meeting. I just sure wish I knew if he was going to get an IEP or not-the psychologist never got back to me about the testing results. It should be interesting to see if she shared the results with the VP or counselor. So I have a clear idea of what I want. All of my goals for Riley are social goals. He has to be able to introduce himself to others, and learn to carry on a conversation, a two sided conversation, not just answering questions. He's not good at chit-chat. He can and will answer questions, but he won't reciprocate conversation. If I ask him how his day is at school, he would never then ask about my day, etc. Another goal is to get him to use names. He does not address anyone by name, except for Quinn, and he says that name more than he really should. He does not call Kevin and I "mom" or "dad," and he is certainly NOT using the names of his teachers. He's going to HAVE to use names when he has a job some day. He won't use his teacher's name if he has a question, he'll just start talking. The ladies that were here Friday prompted him to come into the living room and say, "Mom, I decided I want burritos for lunch" (they made him choose what he wanted for lunch, threatening sushi if he didn't choose). He came into the room, walked over to me and said, "I decided I want burritos for lunch." He was then redirected and he said he couldn't do it, that he wasn't good at that. She then prompted him to say her name and that he was not comfortable saying that, which he DID do. There's been a handful of times that Riley has said, "mom," and each time I haven't answered at first because I am not used to him saying it.

I will keep you posted about Wednesday's big event-oh I am also asking for an OT evaluation and a social skills group, and for him to be able to use an Alpha Smart for note taking. Ducks in a row, ready to throw down if it comes to it. I am over my district and their lack of helping kids-and not just my kid either. ALL kids.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Riley's evaluation from Regional Center arrived this past weekend. It's a diagnosis for PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). It is an Autism Spectrum disorder. When you can't be lumped into one category, but there are issues, this is where they put you. It doesn't really matter, because the people that completed the evaluation, obviously saw things that we have been seeing as well, and clearly there is an impairment which needs addressing. PDD-NOS is what his therapist said early on, as well. I still think that he's Aspergers, because of the obsessions. The observer said the only reason he doesn't qualify there is that you can carry on a conversation with someone with Aspergers, but Riley can't carry on a conversation. He can discuss things, and answer questions, and offer a few tidbits here and there, but there's no back and forth reciprocation. I think it's a really fine line. Again, Autism is Autism, and he can have accommodations for PDD-NOS as well as Aspergers or Autism or sensory disorders.

The evaluation itself is very interesting. It's very clearly written, and describes some of the things he was asked and asked to do, during the evaluation. It also includes the observation done at school. Two different people worked on the evaluation. The first was the intake person, who decides if testing continues or not. That's the one with the woman, and Riley spent the entire interview looking at a spot on the wall above her head. He did not make eye contact once with her. The second lady was who he met with in October. Kevin took him to the appointment. She conducted the actual testing, and the observation at school.

Some interesting aspects of the testing. Riley was asked to pick 5 objects out of a bag, and to tell a story about them. He was unable to do this, but was able to connect them together in some fashion. He was also given opportunities to engage in a reciprocal conversation, and he was unable to do it.

The school observation went ok. The observer saw him make some conversation with other students-only after they spoke to him first. In Science the kids were supposed to find a partner. Riley roamed around, not asking anyone. The teacher found him a partner. In PE he participated to the best of his ability. The observer spoke with two teachers. Both said he was quiet, and made little eye contact. He doesn't chat much with the other kids, but will raise his hand to participate in class. The observer thought he did pretty well at school, but did note a few issues. He doesn't stand out among his peers, and the kids do not avoid him (THANK goodness). The observer felt that he functioned pretty well. I really think opposite. She saw him on a decent day-on a day when he was maybe not as "clouded" as he can be. He will talk to others, but he doesn't initiate conversation with his peers. He will walk over to them and let them start talking to him.

The recommendations: This part is interesting to me because the school does not want to give Riley an IEP. They don't think he needs services, but the recommendation is for an IEP, with accommodations in some core subject areas, such as PE (YES!!). It also specifies a need for a social group (double YES). She included resources as well-many I already know of, but a few I didn't, and also, perhaps the most awesome of all, there's some help for Quinn! There's something called SibKids that I can sign him up for, and he can interact with other kids who have special needs brothers/sisters. I am excited for that, because Quinn gets very frustrated and he doesn't understand why Riley does/says what Riley does/says.

I think I know what I am going to ask for, when we meet for the 504 plan (or maybe the IEP, if that works out). I simply want compassion and understanding. I want the teachers to just verbally check in with Riley, make sure he's turned in his work that we have worked so hard to get him to complete. I want them to email/call me if they notice anything different, and that's basically all I think he needs. This year is a really good year, but the school has hand-picked most of Riley's teachers this year. I appreciate that a lot, but now I worry about high school. Will they hand-pick his teachers for him? By handpicking, I mean the administration selects the teachers they think will be accommodating to Riley-horrible sounding huh? Some teachers will go the extra mile, some won't. Do I make an appointment with the administrator before school starts-like near the end of this school year-to discuss Riley's situation. I am hoping that this school year will give Riley the confidence he needs to succeed in high school. He really does have a better grasp of the expectations this school year. Is it because he knows what he's doing now, or is it because he has helpful, awesome teachers this year? I am hoping it's a combination of both, and I certainly hope to find that sort of combination next school year. PE is still a constant struggle, and I may try to opt him out in high school. There can't possibly be a PE teacher there, as good as the one he has this year. I love her. I am sure he'll still get a C in PE. Whatever. I'm OK with that (sort of). I'm just happy that we have not received any progress notes for an F in PE so far-in fact, we've had NO negative progress notes this trimester, from ANY teacher!! He's actually running an A in both Science and History so far!

Anyway, I am going to try and focus on this year, and worry about high school later. Right now, things are good. His teachers are great. He's happy. All of that equals one happy mom (only a little worried about high school).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Finally!

Well, here we are, 8 months and 6 days from Riley's original diagnosis of PDD-NOS (from his therapist), and Riley was finally, officially tested! He was out of school for the day, to get it done. He's already made up the missed PE class too-he wrote a paper about the rules of tennis.
I pulled all of this stuff out of Riley's backpack. Tons of wadded up pieces of paper, and he had three books in there for his read time! We cleaned the whole thing out, and he chose ONE book for his read time.

We went to Riley's happy place over the weekend too! We drove down to Disneyland on Friday (after he got out of school), and we came home last night. I wish you all could see what a different person he is at Disneyland. It's truly amazing.

After the testing today, the lady who conducted it, gave Kevin a check sheet. The sheet had three areas for determining Autism, and in order to be diagnosed on the spectrum, a person has to have so many deficits under each of the three areas. Riley more than met that criteria, so we know he IS on the spectrum. We are now waiting to see exactly where he falls.

Annoying issue of the day: I got a phone call from the principal at the Jr. High (she is useless really). She was asking about the observation set up for tomorrow-that is part of the testing. This same woman from today, goes to school and observes Riley in action. HE of course knows who she is, and why she is there, but the kids do not. So I set it all up with the VP, counselor and psychologist. I left the principal off of the list, because I figured she didn't need to be involved-the VP is the one who handles the 504 plans. The only reason she was involved last year is when I threatened a child advocate, and there was scurrying going on.

Anyway, so she called me today, at school. She wanted more info on the observation because the woman had called her to make sure it was a go. She said she didn't know anything about an observation and she had nothing in writing. I said that I had emailed the VP, counselor and psychologist, and that I had not included her in the thread. She said SHE was the one that handled that (and I was to know this how???). Basically she needs permission from me for anyone to observe. I said I had sent an email to the other three. She then tells me that they don't know anything about it either. (lies lies lies) I, of course, save EVERYTHING and I have the email thread. In fact I have the original email I sent to the three stating when Riley would be tested and when the observation would be conducted. The VP responded that the observation would be no problem, and when would that be? (So AGAIN, I wrote him back stating when the observation would take place). THEN, last Friday I sent him another email, asking when we would meet for Riley's 504, and REMINDING him of Riley's testing and the observations (the teachers need 24 hours notice). He never responded to that email. I sent that to the principal as well.

Long story short (I know, too late), THAT woman rescheduled the observation for Thursday, and she sent out a message to all of the teachers. I tried to tell her that the VP had already done that. I know he did because at Back to School Night, his Math teacher told me she was aware of the observation. I think the principal is on some sort of control kick, and is probably mad that I left her out of the loop. I think you can all see WHY I left her out of the loop. Useless. So I guess Thursday is just as good as tomorrow (whatever). I had some snarky comment for her in my response about Thursday, and I almost added, "He'll be just as Autistic on Thursday as he will be on Tuesday," but I refrained. I try to only deal with the VP, who I like. He's a nice man, and I KNOW he did his job. Maybe she needs to feel needed? I NEED her to leave me and my kid alone.

So that's where we are right now. Hopefully a clinical diagnosis is very close. 8 months, 6 days.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sort of an Update

The four of us went to the Renaissance Faire a couple of weekends ago. It was a lot of fun. We went to see this show, the Broon Show, a comedy, juggling kind of show. Riley got chosen to be a part of the show. I was nervous that he wouldn't want to do it, but he got up, and went onstage!
His job was to hold a bowling ball (and wear a silly hat), and then hand the bowling ball to Broon, so that he could juggle it along with a lit torch, and an apple that someone else from the audience was to throw to him.

He did a great job, and enjoyed himself too.

Things at school are going really well for Riley. He's on top of his work (well except for the English homework that he never took out of the printer from Wednesday), and nobody is bothering him. He has a PE teacher who is pretty freaking awesome! She is really trying to work with him. He now goes, every day, to the office to take two puffs from his inhaler (exercise induced asthma) before going to PE. He was having trouble remembering (tell us something we don't already know), but his PE teacher enlisted the help of his 1st period music teacher, to help remind him. He's still complaining that he can't breathe, and his teacher indicated there were good days and bad, but she's not giving up on him. I so totally appreciate that! I think we will have a meeting for his 504 plan, soon.

Riley's testing is on October 17, at the Regional Center. Lucile Packard called, and his name finally came up there! Only she called to say that our health insurance wouldn't pay. Kevin was told they would. I was bitching about it on Twitter and was contacted by someone at Cigna, and they are currently working on it. We really don't need them to do the testing any longer, but I want to be able to take him there, because of their research and knowledge on Autism. I need to call the Behavioral Benefits person at Cigna, tomorrow and see what they say. It pays to bitch, and it pays to do it in a public way.

So far, so good. Riley feels good about school and most importantly, himself. He is working hard, and we are so proud of him.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dragon Boat Racing

Riley joined his new Scout troop and spent the night at the park on Friday night. There were many Scout troops participating. It was part of a bigger Scouting event scheduled for Saturday morning.
The Boy Scouts participated in Dragon Boat Racing on Saturday morning!
Riley, and that's his friend Brendan next to him, and his troop, aboard the Dragon Boat, ready to sail!

Getting ready to head out for the race!

Riley's troop (and another troop) were aboard the blue boat, and they raced the green boat. The green boat won, but everybody had fun, most importantly, Riley! He had told me that he wasn't going to participate in the Dragon Boat race, but when Kevin, Quinn and I showed up Saturday morning, he was in a life jacket, in line with his troop. He didn't seem nervous at all, and most importantly, he DID IT! He put his fears behind him and got into that boat! It was a happy mom moment.

After the race I asked him if he liked it. He said he didn't, because the boy in front of him and behind him were splashing. I will take that answer because at least their boat didn't tip OVER!

We really like his new Scout troop. The boys are very nice and they have really made him feel welcome. We are very pleased.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facial Expressions

So Kevin told me something interesting tonight. Something I knew, but had forgotten. Kevin has a blog about music through the years, and he is teaching the boys about all different kinds of music and artists. I guess tonight's post was about the band Warrant-genre heavy metal or "hair" metal. He showed them their video, "Cherry Pie." There's a part where the singer (or band mate) smiles, and it's like a huge exaggerated, cartoon smile. Quinn thought it was funny, but Riley said he didn't like the video. He said it's just a white screen behind the band and it wasn't that exciting. The thing is, it IS a simple format video, but if you watch, the facial expressions are quite expressive. Riley doesn't read many facial expressions, so to him, it probably all looked the same. He most likely didn't notice the differences in facial expressions, and the one with the cartoon smile would be very different to him. The post is HERE, check out the video. It's horrible-I share Riley's opinion.
Riley's idea of smiling and/or excitement.

and Quinn's expressions.

Things are going well for Riley at school. He likes his teachers-and I think I LOVE his PE teacher. He is keeping up with his work, and participating in class. He had one incident last week where he dropped his lunch, and the boy behind him thought it would be great fun to kick the lunch bag, only as Riley bent down to pick up the lunch, and the kid continued to kick, he ended up kicking Riley in the hand. The kid apologized all over the place (and also the next day), but it kinda freaked Riley out. Kevin had to go and pick him up from school early because he didn't feel good. The secretary said he didn't look good and that she had kids dropping like flies. He didn't have a fever at all, and not a trace of a cold. I think his hand hurt, and he was worried about that, and that caused him anxiety, and that is what sent him home. His therapist is going to work on the anxiety. That's what kept him home from school a lot last year, anxiety. It really must suck for him.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Riley's schedule at school did change a little. Instead of having Math 3rd period, he has it 6th period, with the same teacher. He now has US History 3rd period (but his friend remained in the 6th period class). Riley seems fine with the change. We talked about it being a possibility, last night. The new History teacher is female and Riley said she's very nice. It's actually a teacher I have heard of, and all of it good. Whew. He did like the 6th period History teacher though, but is fine with the switch. He got to go to the new History and Math classes today.

His History teacher gave him a questionnaire to fill out today-background information to help her learn about her students. I found it in the pile he gave me, for supplies and expectations etc, that I needed to sign. The last question just asks if there's anything else the student wants the teacher to know about them. Can you read his response? "I get upset very easily." He's so sweet and sensitive. I worry that he's overly cautious about this because of me. I was so set on keeping him from crying at school from 2nd grade on. It was a huge focus. I just didn't want him to get picked on because he's sensitive. Kids (and adults) don't always understand a crying boy, and I worried kids would target him because they could make him cry. Some kids did. It's been a problem, but he's much better now. We are much better now about helping him problem solve and work through his frustrations, without the tears. He hardly cried at all at school last year, two or three times maybe. Isn't it sad that you have to try to change something about another person because OTHER people can't handle it? It's so wrong. He should be allowed to be the person he's meant to be, but unfortunately school has not allow that. I think it's probably the same all over. People need to get on board and really take a stand against bullying.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Kevin took this picture of Riley while we were at Disneyland. I love it. Such a cute picture.

Riley spent the last two days in the Responsibility Center (RC). It seems he (and 10-15 other kids) were placed into the wrong Math class. They all should be in Algebra, and the class they were all placed in is an Intro to Algebra class. The principal told them all today that they should have the schedules figured out tomorrow. We are really hoping that Riley won't have a schedule change because of this. Riley doesn't seem to mind being in the RC (I think it's usually reserved for those who can't handle themselves or kids who have tests to make up from absences). He's busied himself reading.

It's been 5 days of school, and so far, so good-other than the Math glitch.

The Regional Center called today, and Riley's testing is scheduled for October 17. Finally!!! He will have to miss the entire day of school, but we need to get this done. I am seeking an IEP for Riley, and the school needs the clinical diagnosis to make that happen. The school should be contacting me soon for Riley's 504 meeting.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A New Instrument


This is the musical instrument Riley chose for band. It's a clarinet. He wanted something that wasn't going to be heavy. The plan is to stick with this instrument so that he can do marching band in high school. This was his first choice. Trumpet was his second choice. He was pretty excited to bring it home and he's able to put it together too. Now we just have to figure out the logistics of getting it to and from school-band is his first class. He said he could leave it in class, but that his 6th period class "is on the complete other side of school in relation to the music room" and he doesn't want to have to walk that far to have to pick it up. I wonder if he's made the connection that marching = walking?

Third day of school was a success. Riley said he correctly answered his question in Science during a game, and that his Math teacher actually teaches. Imagine that. He's pretty happy, which means I am pretty happy too. Yay! So far so good. He does have to do that crappy mile run in PE again this year, only this year it's worth 35% (instead of 30%). Great. We'll see how it goes. The PE teacher was hand picked for Riley and he says she is very nice. Fingers crossed.

Oh, here's a Riley funny: So we carpool with another family. This year the mom has two boys going to the Jr. High, a 7th grader and an 8th grader. She went to pick them up from school, and I guess her boys decided they wanted to walk home. Riley didn't, so she took him home. Riley will never pass up the opportunity to ride in a car over walking.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back He Goes

Today was the first day of school!

Riley was not looking forward to his summer ending, OR going back to school. We got the boys to bed right on time last night, and both got up easily this morning, and were happy to get the first day over with.

Riley enjoyed his first day of school. He likes his teachers and seems happy to go back tomorrow. He has decisions to make regarding the instrument he wants to play for his band class. He's thinking Clarinet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So Very Riley

I stumbled upon this today, on Pinterset.

It is so very Riley. It came from HERE.

Officially an 8th Grader

It's official, Riley is an 8th grader. He has the ID to prove it. We are hoping that he doesn't lose this one, like he lost his first one as a 7th grader. He had his Maze Day yesterday, and got his schedule. Kevin went with him, and there were gobs of parents, so it was not unusual for Kevin to go in with him. They split up the tasks. Riley waited in some lines, and Kevin in others, so all was good. I don't know why I was worried. It all worked out well.

Riley got his schedule, and the first one, they accidentally gave him Honors Math, but since Kevin was there, he was able to round up the VP and point it out. The secretary called me later in the day, and I was able to pick up the revised schedule. Easy peasy. They were able to keep all classes where they were, and just substitute Honors Algebra with regular Algebra.

He has, in this order:
1. Beginning Band (same music teacher as last year, he's awesome)
2. PE (female teacher, head of the PE department-hmmmm, could be helpful)
3. Algebra 1 (female teacher, new to school)
4. Science (male teacher, seems organized-I checked out his web page)
5. English (AWESOME English teacher from last year!!!)
6. US History (male teacher-Riley should love this class as he loves history)

I believe the administrators and counselor did us some BIG favors with this schedule. They made it possible for Riley to get Beginning Band, and he got a female PE teacher who is very accommodating and compassionate (a PLUS, and I believe, also hand-picked for him), and I he got the same English teacher as last school year-I believe that was their doing as well. I had jokingly asked to have him again, and they said they weren't sure they could do that one, but he got him, and we are very pleased. I certainly hope the teacher doesn't mind having Riley again. I think Riley is very happy to have him again-it's familiar, and he already knows what to expect. So I am doing a happy dance, and hopeful that things will go a LOT better this year. I think Riley is even looking forward to school now. Oh, and his History teacher is married to the resource teacher at the school, so that could be very helpful as well! Fingers crossed everyone. The way this year goes will set the pace for his high school experience next year.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pluto Fun


I totally forgot to post this picture. Look at how cute it is! Riley didn't mind being dog-handled by Pluto. Pluto came by our table and grabbed hold of Riley and didn't let go. So adorable.

Home From Disney

We are back from our trip to Disneyland. Riley had a blast. He left satisfied that he got to see all of the new planets in the updated Star Tours ride. We rode that ride more than any other ride. It's a really good ride. Riley liked it a lot. Actually, we ALL liked it a lot. There's something like 54 different combinations for the ride, so it's different every time. Really cool. There was much dismay when we still hadn't visited Hoth, but on our very last ride this morning, we got it. Much happiness all the way around.
Look at the pure joy on his face! We don't see this kind of smile a lot. He really likes the Mickey Silly Symphony Swings.

Round and round and round we all went. It really is a fun ride. Don't ask Quinn about it though, because it wasn't so fun for him.

I was looking at THIS BLOG tonight, and stumbled upon THIS IDEA. I love it!! Next time Riley needs blood work, I am all over that! It's an awesome idea!

This is the boys last week of summer. Riley needs to be at his orientation on Wednesday. Kevin is going to go with him. I am not sure that he can handle doing it on his own. Waiting in giant lines is not his favorite thing to do, and last year he actually cried out of frustration. I know what you are thinking, then how does he handle the long lines at Disneyland? We don't wait in long lines at Disneyland. We Fastpass all possible rides, and arrive to the parks at opening, which is the best chance of walking onto rides. We don't ever wait very long. Anyway, I digress, so I thought about hiring a teen to help Riley at orientation, but they are busy with their own orientations. I think having Kevin do it will be way more socially acceptable than if I went with him. It's only for 2 hours, and may not even take that long. I will write out all of the checks (yearbook, donations, PTSA, pictures, etc.) and then he and Kevin can drop them all off. The biggest obstacle is the long line to get the ID card, which he has to have, and which he can't Fastpass. I am sure he won't be the only one with a parent there. I hope. All of his friends have names that start with a later letter in the alphabet, so he can't even rely on them helping him. I think this is the only way. Should I try to find a teenager? Hmmm. Perhaps Kevin can just send him in, and wait outside for him, and if Riley has trouble, he can go out and get him. Yeah, maybe that's better. Yeah, that IS better. That's the plan. Kevin will take him, wait for him outside, and let him try to do it on his own. If there's an issue, Riley can simply go outside and ask for help. I feel much better about it now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In a Happy Place

Quite literally Riley is in his Happy Place, the Happiest Place on Earth even! Disneyland. This is our last trip of summer. Riley has looked forward to this Disney trip all summer, but was not in any real hurry for it to get here, because it means the end of summer, and ultimately, school. We won't discuss that issue now, because this is a happy place post.
Riley and his new Star Wars pins. We rode the newly redone Star Tours ride, and he loved it. He and Quinn got to ride it 3 times today. There are something like 54 combinations for the rides, and they ended up seeing one part of the same one, all three times! If it weren't for bad luck, Riley just wouldn't have any luck at all. He complained A LOT about it, but tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully will be filled with new combinations.

The Disneyland Hotel has this old Autopia car, in the lobby, and it didn't have any signs saying the boys couldn't be in it or on it! They both sat in it for a picture

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Money Back?


I got this t-shirt for Riley, from Target. I LOVED this game when I had an Atari! Apparently there's a Wii version of it, but from what I have seen, it's nothing like the original. There's an online site where you can play the original versions, but when I tried today, it would never load. Bummer. Anyway, I digress.

Riley is not particular about what he wears. He really could care less. He doesn't seem to have any sensitivity issues with clothing at all, but also has no opinion on them. When purchasing clothes, I pick them out. He will pick what he wants to wear each day, out of his drawers. It makes shopping pretty easy as he's not fussy at all. I try really hard to keep him in style-we don't need any more reasons for other kids to tease him. Quinn is a LOT more fussy with his clothing. He HAS an opinion.
I took both boys school clothes/shoes shopping today. I actually had Riley show me shirts that he liked. He picked all three of them out himself. He also picked out his shoes, but I didn't let either boy get slip-on Vans today. They both got laces. Riley HATES to take the time to tie his shoes, but it's time to fade out the slip-ons, and transition to laces. I told him he can use his old Vans (slip-ons) for PE in the Fall.

In other news, it looks like we WILL be getting our money back (all of it) from Riley's Scout camp. Kevin talked with the head guy, and they do have a clause for refunding money for medical issues. Kevin told him it was a medical issue, and he asked no questions, and we'll be getting a check in the mail. I told Riley. He said, "Mmm hmmm." That is his response for EVERYTHING. It mostly drives me nuts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Bones About It


We went to Santa Cruz on Sunday, and the boys were WINNERS! Well, they are always winners, but Sunday they got prizes for it.

Riley's had a nice couple of days. He enjoyed himself at Santa Cruz, and also at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which we visited yesterday. Today was pretty low key, after Riley's bone density test. It took 15 minutes. I walked him in with the nurse (who was so so friendly), and got him settled. She told him exactly what would happen. I went out to the waiting room, because I had Quinn out there, on his own. I knew he would do just fine, as long as there were no needles. He came out 15 minutes later, and was no worse for wear. They scanned his hips and his whole body. The results will be sent to his endocrinologist at Stanford. It's part of the Aromatase Inhibitor study, for his growth. Speaking of that, we started him on his pills, on Saturday. The pills will stop the production of estrogen, and allow his growth plate to remain open, so he has longer to grow. So far so good, no side effects or anything, and better yet, the pill is tiny. He has no problems swallowing it.

In other news, we thought maybe we could persuade Riley to go to Scout camp next week, as we just found out that the fee we paid is non-refundable. Just asking him to consider it brought on tears. I happen to think there are exceptions to the rule. Kevin is going to call the camp directly to see if we can get our money back, or at least some of it, otherwise, I suppose we will have to eat the cost. We just can't force him to go. If we do that, we will just end up having to pick him up early, and that will involve a big drive to do so. He's just not comfortable going. He says the food wasn't good, and his feet hurt a lot when he walks. He doesn't get that it COULD be different this year-it's a different camp. He doesn't even want to entertain the thought that it might be fun. Last year he was sick. Probably homesick, and they didn't let him call home. I had no idea how miserable he was, until he got home. I now think he had anxiety issues, which caused the stomach aches and the throwing up last year. He of course thinks the same thing will happen this year, because "bad things always happen" to him. We can't change his mind. So, he'll be here with me, and Quinn will go to his Scout camp, and the camp will most likely make $350. Expensive kid.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Look Me in the Eye


I was up late last night (this morning), finishing this book. I had a hard time getting into it, at first. The author has Aspergers, and this is his memoir. He is the brother of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote Running With Scissors. They had a very...um, interesting, but rather dysfunctional childhood (to say the least), and he had an undiagnosed Autism disorder on top of it. In fact he was not diagnosed until he was in his 40s. At the time he was growing up, there was no such thing as Aspergers.

Anyway, at first, I struggled with some of the issues he faced as a young kid, early teen. I think it hit too close to home, as Riley has experienced some of the same bullying, lack of understanding. Then there were the parts about these pranks he played-some quite dangerous, and I got a little worried. I relaxed when I realized that Riley doesn't have this author's obsession for machines.

So this guy has done some interesting things since dropping out of high school (that scares me too). He worked for KISS, he created Ace Frehley's exploding guitars. He worked making electronic toys, as a corporate manager, and he worked servicing expensive cars (his own business). Pretty amazing that he did so much, and did so well, without an education. It just proves that school is not for everybody. What he said though, was that Aspergers kind of helped him achieve. One Aspergerian trait is to become an expert at things that interest you, which is what he did. He read a lot and studied a lot, and taught himself. I can see that in Riley too-he's quite an expert in his favorite subject areas (Disney). When he wants to know about something, he looks it up on the computer, or his phone, and learns all about it.

Toward the end of the book though, he talks about his relationships, and his son (also on the spectrum), but the thing that I take the most relief from is that he said his social skills improved, as he matured. Having to work with people, at his jobs, helped him to learn better communication skills, and he has this awareness of that now, that's just amazing. He still can't read people, but he's learned enough about the social "rules," that he is much better at communicating, or being "presentable" to people, and not a turn off. Riley's social skills are fairly limited. He's unable to just strike up a conversation with a peer. He can talk to us, or his grandparents, or his friends (although I am not sure he initiates the conversations with his friends, he may just add on to their conversations), and even some of our friends, but it's always in reference to something he may have heard someone say, or to tell about something that interests him. The author also credited the adults in his life, for always engaging him, and keeping him from withdrawing. He didn't feel like he needed people. It was difficult for him to fit in, although he wanted to. I feel like I have to engage Riley. I have to draw him out. We have to show an interest in his interests, just to get him talking. He loves to have his alone time, and that's fine and good, but he needs to be engaged. We are lucky, because our friends and family engage him as well. He is not ignored. People greet him, and talk to him (well most anyway). I think people need to realize that if you get him talking about his interests, he's quite passionate about them, and will talk a lot. He's not good at chit chat pleasantries though.

This author also has issues with names. I found this so interesting, because Riley doesn't call anybody by their name. This author gives his own names to people, but Riley doesn't do that, he just doesn't call anybody anything, except his brother. He refers to people when talking, "my mom, my dad, my grandparents" etc, but he doesn't usually call us by those names. He just starts talking, or says, "um" to let you know he's going to speak. When we met with the woman from the Regional Center, she asked when that changed. It happened when he was transitioning from calling us mommy and daddy. I think maybe he thought we would be hurt if he stopped calling us mommy and daddy, opting instead for mom and dad. I tried explaining it to him, but it hasn't worked. Quinn transitioned with no problems at all, and will scream "MOM!" from his room. Riley will never do that. He will come to us. In a gift shop at the Museum of Natural History, in DC, he called me mom twice. He was looking at rocks and wanted my attention, and I was a little distance from him, and he said, "mom." He had to do it twice because the first time I didn't answer (as I am not used to him addressing me that way). I played it off and didn't make a big deal out of it, I simply went to look at his rocks, but inside I was happy.

I gave the book 3 stars on Goodreads, but I think I will go back and change it. I've been thinking about it a lot today, so it obviously made an impression. I appreciated the insight, and I am motivated to read his latest book.

PS: The author also had lots of trouble making eye contact as a kid-hence the title. Riley has a big problem with this too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Riley bought this model of the White House, in DC. He built it the other day. He likes buildings. Perhaps he'll be an architect some day?

We had Riley's appointment at the Regional Center this morning. We were there two and a half hours. The case manager took lots of notes. She talked to Kevin and I and also to Riley. I think she got to see some of the things that we are concerned about: self esteem issues, eye contact, flat tone of voice, etc. He would not look her in the eye. He stared at some part of the very white wall the whole time he talked to her. She even prompted him to look at her a couple of times, but he just couldn't do it. We went through his entire birth/toddler/school years. They will do the psychological testing on him. I signed waivers to allow them to get his school records from the elementary school and the jr. high, and also his medical records. I believe she will contact his therapist as well. The whole process will take 120 days. It will take some time to get all of the information back (especially because the schools are not in session right now, and won't be until the end of August). The testing also needs to be completed. They will call us to schedule the testing. I just hope that the psychological testing can be done before school starts. So in 120 days, we should have a formal diagnosis and a plan of action.

I mentioned that we really think he is closer to being Aspergers, and I believe she agrees with that. She got a sense of his Disney obsession.

So it's not a lot of news, but it's something. She also mentioned that their services can be used for school purposes. They have people (case manager or advocate) that can attend meetings with us. I told her I wanted an IEP for him, and she noted that. We will still be keeping our Stanford appointment (whenever that comes up), but for now, I feel we have a start. I think help is on the way. It's slow going, but help is on the way.

Oh, and Riley tolerated the questions just fine. He was a bit slow to answer at first, but felt more comfortable as we went along. A couple of times he was very passionate in his responses (PE and his brother-he's really annoyed by his brother), and would talk a lot. She got the traditional "mmm hmmm" responses whenever he was told something he didn't agree with.

Oh, and here's another oh: When I spoke with Riley's doctor yesterday, about the asthma, I mentioned his sleep issues (he doesn't sleep well), and she thought it might be possible for him to participate in a sleep study. I mentioned it to him. He's not wild about it. If we go ahead with it, it will take a lot of talking through, to get him to participate. For now, I am making notes about his sleeping patterns.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yes, Asthma

Riley built this model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Riley's doctor called tonight. Looks like he does have a little asthma. We are going to use Flovent to try and get rid of the inflammation and the cough. If that does not work, he may need to see the asthma people.

I need to get the paperwork filled out for Riley's meeting at the Regional Center tomorrow. It is finally time.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Asthma?


This is Riley, playing with an iPad2 at the Apple Store in NY.

Yesterday Riley had a physical. I discussed my concerns about anxiety with his doctor, and asked if it's possible that he could have asthma. He's been coughing (FOREVER), mostly at night, but apparently, also when he runs. He volunteered that tidbit in the doctor's office, and when I told him that would have been good to know during the school year (for PE!), he said, "well you never asked." He's right. I didn't. Anyway, he could have a little asthma. We need to make an appointment for a spirometry test. The doctor prescribed an inhaler to use as well, plus he could take anti-inflamatory medication.

While at the doctor's office yesterday, I got the spinal x-ray done for Riley and scheduled his bone density test. He's taking part in a study (Aromatase Inhibitor Study), through Lucile Packard, and the doctor needed those two tests done. Riley and Quinn see the same endocrinologist. The study involves Riley taking a pill each day. The pill will stop the production of estrogen, thus freezing his growth plate, which will allow him longer to grow. If it's successful for him, it may be something we can do with Quinn as well. Our boys are super lucky that their parents have given them BOTH short stature.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Spending Time with a Friend

While Quinn was away last night at a birthday slumber party, and then another birthday party today, we took Riley to a local Japanese Bazaar. His friend was going to be there, and thought it would be fun for Riley to hang out with him while Kevin and I walked around.

Success! Riley enjoyed seeing his friend. There were games set up for the kids, so we bought him some tickets and let him be. It is always nice to see Riley enjoy something. No stomach aches, no complaining, just pure enjoyment.

The New York portion of our trip was a bit much for Riley. I don't think he was comfortable in NY, at all. He said he felt so small in such a big city. I think he enjoyed the things we did, but not all of the walking. He'd had the episode at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with his toe, and it all went downhill for him from there. He did not enjoy the crowd for the 4th of July, and complained of a stomach ache. He had A LOT of stomach aches on this part of the trip. He has a physical on Monday, and I am going to ask his doctor about anxiety. I think he has anxiety issues, which causes the stomach aches. He even complained of a stomach ache in the cab, on the way to the airport. Once at the airport, and since then, no stomach aches. Things that make you go...hmmmmm.

Also, when we got home there was a letter waiting for us, from the Regional Center. Riley's turn is finally up! I called right away and talked to his case manager. We meet with her on July 26, and then I guess we go from there. Finally!! I am anxiously awaiting that appointment. They will do some testing for us. We are still keeping our Stanford appointment (whenever that will be), but this will help for now. In addition, we have decided to let Riley skip Scout camp this summer. He really doesn't want to go. He got sick there last year (anxiety I believe, now that I think about it), and now he doesn't want to go. I am not going to force him. We'll just get our money back, and then he'll stay home. Quinn goes at the same time Riley would have gone, so we will find some things to do, just the two of us-Kevin is going with Quinn for the first part of the week.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

We did not write this. It was just a coincidence that somebody else named Riley was having a party at Central Park, the same day we walked through with our Riley.

Remember what I said about Riley traveling well? Well, he USED to travel well, but I have to say he's been a pain in the ass this leg of our trip. He's not being very cooperative, and Autism sucks. I swear I think he's getting worse! He's complaining all the time, and crying. The crying just puts me over the edge. Ok, now I realize that we are dragging him all over the place, trying to see everything here in New York, and that's hard for him. He's tired. I get it. Why can't he just sulk and be moody like a typical teen? I just think he should have more energy for a boy of 13. It's frustrating, and I will be calling the fucking Regional Center when we get back to see when they can get us in there for TESTING?!?! I just want to scream. I need some answers and some coping techniques. This Autism thing sucks like you wouldn't believe-well those of you dealing with Autism would believe it. You know.

We had a big issue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday, when he stubbed his toe on a step. Boy that place sure echoes. It was high drama. Europeans like to stare. He did split his nail all the way across, on his big toe, but it's still there, and it didn't bleed. I am sure people thought that city rats were gnawing his toes off one by one, by his reaction to the situation. Quinn banged the hell out of his head at the history museum, on a railing he didn't see (we heard it), and he didn't carry on like Riley did.

Today was better, but now he's not feeling well. We came back to the hotel a little after 4, and he's been here ever since. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. We may have to move some things around. He seems to like the things that we have done, it's just the getting there that's been the issue. We are using lots of taxis now.

I know I am the worst mother ever. I should be more compassionate, but my patience is wearing thin because I feel he's getting worse. He can't just go with the flow. We are always talking, talking, talking, smoothing, smoothing, smoothing. It's exhausting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Contraband Computer

Yeah, so you can disregard my post from yesterday. Remember how I said Riley had agreed to leave his computer (lifeline) home? Yeah well...



He didn't. He came in this morning and said he put it in his bag to see if it was heavy, and it wasn't. I explained again that he could use mine, or Kevin's or the iPad. Apparently he forgot to take it (and the power cord) out of the backpack. We discovered he had it when security busted him for not taking it out of his backpack.

Never underestimate the love of a boy and his computer.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Traveling

Riley really likes his routine. He likes to know what is coming up, and when, and for how long. As long as he is aware of things (appointments especially), he does just fine. It is sometime hard to spring a surprise dinner out on him, but he will go along with it.

Riley LOVES to travel. He has no problems with the lack of schedule-or lack of his regular schedule. We keep him informed as to what the plan is for the next day, and he's good to go. He's got his favorite books packed, and is happy as can be. Well, except for his computer (his lifeline). We are not letting him take it on our current trip (Washington DC and New York City). It will just make his backpack too heavy and since everyone has to man their own baggage, we said no to the beloved computer. Kevin has his and I will have mine, so he should be covered just fine. He's pretty excited about this trip! We all are!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer!

Summer!

You can already see the change in Riley. He is a lot more relaxed now that school is over. When asked what his favorite part of 7th grade was, he can't think of anything. He didn't really like any of it. I so hope 8th grade is better.

Today was our first official day of summer. Riley had an appointment at Stanford this morning, with the endocrinologist. He is going to be part of a growth study. He will take a pill, each day. This pill will stop the production of estrogen, which will keep his growth plate open. He will then produce more testosterone, which should speed up the "masculinity" process. The study involves a blood test every 6 months, which is not a big deal. The side effects are very minimal, if any. We really have to do something. His size is a problem for the other students. We really just have to try something to see if we can get him to grow some. Isn't that sad? That he can't just develop naturally? That we have to try and kick-start it because of the creeps in the world. I really wish parents would take more responsibility in raising their kids and teaching them that teasing and tormenting others is not acceptable. Jerks.

*Oh by the way the dogs in the picture belong to my friend from school. We are dog sitting for them while they are on vacation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Reno Fun Weekend

Riley and I got home from our weekend trip today, by 3:00 pm. I promptly fell asleep on the couch. Riley seemed to have a hard time transitioning back into life with his brother. He was very mean to him, and they bickered off and on for quite some time. By dinner all was back to normal and the arguing stopped.
Riley won this big ball. You know those claw machines? The ones where you have to move the claw and try to pick up your prize? Circus Circus had a giant one, and Riley got this ball, for $2 and on the first try! He was pretty pleased.
Riley actually won a LOT of prizes at the Circus Circus games. He even won a stuffed guitar for Quinn.

Riley really had a good time this weekend. He was smiling and laughing, and being social. He enjoyed playing with his cousins, and liked the beach balls being thrown around at the graduation ceremony. It was good for him to get away for awhile. Only two more days of school. He is looking forward to the long summer break (me too!). We just hope things will be better next school year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happy Riley

It is official, Riley is finished with all of his school projects! He is now an 8th grader!



We are heading to Reno for my cousin's graduation, just Riley and I and my parents.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cheers!

Riley is hitting the bottle...

the rootbeer bottle! Perhaps it's a tiny celebration about turning in ALL of his text books today! There are only 7 days left of school. I think he's pretty excited. I know he needs a break. He has an outline/presentation to complete for Tuesday, and an extra credit report to do also for Tuesday. After that, it should be smooth sailing.

Riley has made up his three assignments in PE-every time a student is absent, they have to do a make-up assignment. Dumb. He has completed two make-up mile runs, and only has one more to do. Yesterday, he stayed after school to do a mile run. His teacher had him do just one lap, and doubled his time. I thought it was a very nice gesture. The day before, in class, Riley complained about having a hard time breathing during the second lap. The teacher emailed me and asked if he could have asthma, and stated that he would have him run only one lap and double the time. I don't think he has asthma , but I guess he could. He has had a cough for months, and maybe that's related? I don't have any experience with asthma, unless Quinn is sick-that's when he has asthma issues, and we dig out the nebulizer. Riley has a physical scheduled for next month, so I will ask his doctor what she thinks.

I am looking for ways to help Riley over the summer. He needs help in understanding/reacting to the things the kids say to him. Normal 13 year old stuff, and no it's not always nice, but it's not really bullying, just punks being punks, saying stupid stuff to make themselves feel better by making others feel bad. Riley doesn't get it. At. All. It's just not what he does to others. I don't know whether to seek social skills help for him or not. Suggestions?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Update!

Here's a picture of Riley, today, on his way to piano lessons. My KY relatives would be so proud that he wore his UK shirt to school today!


Kevin and I had our big meeting today. In attendance, school psychologist, counselor, principal, vice principal, PE teacher, and Kevin and I. We agreed that we would revisit Riley's 504 plan at the beginning of next school year, adding in some more accommodations. One thing I want included is teacher prompting. Teachers are just going to have to prompt Riley to turn in his homework, report out answers, etc. He is not doing that currently on his own. I have no idea why. There are a lot of things about this year that have been a mystery to me. I don't know why there is such a huge change in his school attitude. I can only assume that the transition from one class, one teacher to six classes, six (very different) teachers, has been quite a challenge for him.

Since he is not really struggling academically-we can't really consider math as a struggle, because if that teacher TAUGHT, he could be LEARNING, and would be doing better-plus it's an honors class, but since he is not struggling academically, we have decided to try the accommodations and no honors classes, in the fall. We will meet in September to add new accommodations, then we will see how he does. If needed, the psych will do testing to see if he qualifies for any services. IF he qualifies, it would be under "Autism," and maybe he could get an IEP and services for speech/language. He won't qualify for any sort of special day class-that is NOT what he needs. He can access the regular curriculum just fine, but needs some accommodations in terms of prompting and redirections, and clarification. He is doing just fine in his other academic classes presently. Science is a C right now, but again, it's honors science and that teacher's expectations are completely insane. We are not pleased with either honors teacher.

The big struggle is PE. I know, it sounds silly, but to Riley, it's like a death sentence. Specifically the mile run is the struggle. He can't beat his time, and when he can't, it's a FAIL. Now before the meeting, I checked the websites of the other junior high schools in our district. It just so happens that Riley's school has the toughest (ridiculous) grading criteria. Basically class participation is 35%, miscellaneous (homework, tests, etc) 35%, and Fitness Testing 30%. In actuality, it appears that Fitness Testing is different from the mile runs, so that and the fitness testing really counts as 50% of his grade. I am sorry, but that is barbaric! Grading students on how fast they can run is not fair, and goes against what they are trying to achieve, which is a sense of fitness. I don't think there is a kid at the school who does not dread the mile run, and could give a flying fig if they are fit or not. They are simply trying to survive PE. The school's system is setting the students up to fail.

Here's a look at some of the criteria of the other junior highs: One school's criteria is 50% participation (A HA!), 10% mile runs (A HA!), 5% fitness testing, 5% attitude, 5% sportsmanship, 5% for dressing, 15% tests, and 5% for a drug program they complete. I am nodding my head in agreement. Sign us up for THAT school! That is how it should be. Another school uses a point system (Ok idea), and another counts it as 30%, but states that as long as you are participating, then the student would most likely not get a grade below a C-I can agree with that. The last school counts the runs as 25% of the grade. So when Kevin and I pointed out the VAST differences in grading criteria within the district, the principal stated that each school can do as they want, per Ed. Code. Yes, I guess that's true, but what she wasn't understanding is that the criteria is so negative to students in comparison with the other schools. Riley would be getting a B at the first school I mentioned! Kevin practically ripped the principal a new one, but in the end, there's nothing she can (or would) do to change the criteria. That's when I asked about opting him out of PE. They were not for that, but if I can teach him myself (I have a credential), and we sign him up for outside sports of some kind, it could be doable. Otherwise, I can get his doctor to exempt him. In the end, we decided to make the bulk of Riley's 504 accommodations, in PE. We will discuss that in September.

So the PE teacher came in, and we had some pretty tough questions for him. He had emailed me early on in the school year saying that the mile runs fall under something called a Fitnessgram. I looked that up, and basically it looks like a program which is like standardized testing for PE. So I asked how that grade can be used against Riley as MY students standardized test scores are not figured into their grade. He gave me some song and dance that his "fitness tests," consist of the exercises they do for warm-ups-so they are being graded on doing daily exercises as well! Poor Riley. In the end, the teacher started sighting Riley's absences, to which I pointed out that this has been the worst year with absences for Riley. He's NEVER missed this much school. There was all this discussion of the make-up work and make-up mile runs, so I asked how many days he has missed. Here's where I almost laughed out loud. Are you ready? He has missed 8 days. 6 of them this trimester. It just so happens that those 6 days were mile run days-3 of them-and he needs to do make-up work for the other 3 (again he WILL NOT ask what he's missing, hence the prompting-at least for now, not forever.) 8 days. I have students in my class-at least two of them-who have missed over 30 days this year! So Riley will make up one mile run, in class, next week, and two of them after school at times when the teacher is available. He will also complete 3 make-up assignments, and that should get him a C. We are fine with the C. Really, will it matter when he's a CEO that he couldn't run the mile under 11 minutes. I am sorry, but give me a fucking break.

I am optimistic that things will be better for Riley next year, no honors classes, a hand-picked (the understanding/compassionate one) PE teacher, and priority for his elective (he really really wants Beginning Band). He'll have new accommodations in his 504, and we'll get to meet with his teachers much earlier in the year. Also, Riley knows what to expect now, and there will be less transition-and hopefully high school will work out fine. If there are struggles, he will be tested, and then we'll figure out a solution. Hopefully by time school starts, we will have been to the regional center, and will have a better idea of where he is on the spectrum, and what else he might need. Stanford is still a ways off-probably November.

I still plan to move forward with a meeting with, at least, the head of special ed. She was supposed to attend the meeting today as well, but was a no show. I will email her again next week, asking for a little time. I am passionate about teachers getting more info/training about high functioning Autism. Obviously, there are huge gaps.

All in all, it was a successful meeting, and the administrators/office staff are working really hard for my child. I am very pleased with them, Riley's History, English and Recorder teachers. We have issues with the honors teachers and the PE teacher-but THAT should be fixed next school year. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Things are Moving Along

This is a picture of Riley and me at the Giants game, Sunday. We all had a lot of fun, and the Giants won! They played the A's.


So my phone and email have been blowing up the last couple of days. I heard back from the psychologist, a few times actually, because our meeting is now on Friday, instead of tomorrow. We could have met tomorrow, but without an administrator. If we want to do anything about PE, then the administrator has to be present-he's the boss of the 504 plans, and we want HIM there. The PE teacher may join us, and maybe even his math teacher-she is not following the plan.

In my frustration, I called the head of special services the other day, to ask some questions. She got back to me this morning, and forwarded my info to the program specialist of our attendance area, and also to the director of pupil services-he's the KING of the 504 plans. The program specialist left me a message today, saying he had spoken with the school psychologist to get background information. I don't need to call them back, because it seems the scurrying going on at school to fix this situation, is going to be enough.

Yesterday Riley came home with a grade report from PE. His lowest scores are that damn mile run, and we can't figure out the PE teacher's math, because it is supposed to count as 30% of Riley's grade, but it doesn't seem that way to us. The three sections don't appear to be adding up to 100% in terms of importance. I got an email from the PE teacher today explaining that he made an accommodation for Riley's mile run, and he's got a D. It seems some grades "weren't yet entered" at the time the progress note went out. Gee that seemed to happen LAST time we talked too. At MY school, the grades are due by a certain point, and then the progress notes go home. It should work that way at the junior high too, but I guess it doesn't. Things seem to be run entirely different at the junior high level.

Oh, and did I mention the VP emailed me too? Yes, on Saturday. He is looking forward to meeting to get this figured out. I would imagine he is not too happy with his PE teacher.

I emailed the superintendent again today, since his secretary has yet to contact me regarding our meeting about teacher training. I was very nice and asked when she would be contacting me as I am trying to figure out my end of the year schedule: class building, SST's, parent meetings, etc.

So Friday is our big meeting. The psychologist will speak to us about possible qualifying Riley for special services. It sounded like she was going to look into resource type classes for him, and he doesn't need that. He needs patient and understanding teachers who are willing to do just a little extra to help him out-things I do ALL THE TIME, for my students. It shouldn't be different at the junior high/high school level. I will let you know how it all pans out.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walk Now for Autism

Yesterday was the big walk for Autism! Walk Now for Autism Speaks. My mom, Riley and I got up, bright and early, and headed to San Jose for the walk. The weather was beautiful, and there were LOTS of people!
Walking the route.
The race started under this tower.
See? Lots of people!!
My mom, Riley and I. We all made our goal, so we got t-shirts.
The walk was held at History San Jose in Kelley Park. It's all of these old buildings, assembled into a cute little town. The buildings were moved to this location, and I guess when the park is open, the houses/buildings are open. It's a museum. Really cool, and we will have to go back to visit.
Look at how adorable that gas station is!
Riley

Check it out!! They had Darth Vader and Storm Troopers at the walk!! Super cool! I made Riley pose-he was undecided. Have I mentioned he can't make a decision? Not about anything. Here's an example: "Riley do you want a Panda hat?" (We were at the Giants game today). Riley: "maybe." I got him a foam finger instead. He needs to be forced into a decision.

Update: I received an email from the school psychologist from Riley's school. She is really wanting to make things right. We have a meeting Wednesday. Of course her schedule does not at all work into my schedule, so I will be getting a sub (again) so that I can attend the meeting. I got an email from the VP this weekend as well, and he'll be in attendance on Wednesday. He also mentioned he would check the schedule of the PE teacher (and I am SURE that man will clear his entire schedule to meet with us-lol). I don't need the PE teacher there. We have already spoken directly to him, in March. What I do need is something in place to get Riley through the last 16 days of school, and if I like those ideas, we will proceed with those in place next school year. If I don't like them, then I will opt him out of PE for 8th grade. We are NOT doing this again next year. These male teachers need to realize that they can't change Riley, or "make him into a man."