Tuesday, May 15, 2012

About nothing in particular

I've been neglecting my blogging terribly. I haven't written anything in three months. So what have we been up to?

Well, we have been preparing for the big transition to Kindergarten this fall. Everyone's excited. When we went to the meeting for Joseph's "school-age" IEP, the school psychologist mentioned how excited she was to work with Joseph because they don't often get special needs students with his level of intelligence.

His general education teacher will be Maria's teacher for Kindergarten and his intervention specialist was a para-pro for an ASD boy that was in Maria's class in Kindergarten, so we already know them.

Kristy and I are excited because we feel like keeping him around the typically developing peer models has paid off, and since Dublin's classes are inclusive, he will have a lot more peer models next year. We expect that his development is just going to explode, having the one-on-one help from a para-pro at all times during school, and having so many other typical kids to interact with and learn from.

Since the beginning of April, Joseph has been participating in an awesome program run by the Hilliard Ohio Soccer Associatiob called TOPSoccer. It's a soccer program for kids whose special needs prevent them from participating in typical soccer programs (which at this point I think Joseph's lack of focus and difficulty following instructions make him fit that qualification).

We knew that we wanted to start getting Joseph involved in some activities, particularly some physical ones geared towards kids with autism and/or other special needs. I'm really glad that we found TOPSoccer.

Registration was $10 for the season and he got shin guards, socks and a t-shirt. We might have gotten cleat from them or Kristy may have gotten them from the Dublin Soccer League when we were getting Maria signed up for their program.

In any case, there were 8 sessions this season, the first 5 (during the damp month of April) were indoors at Soccer First just outside Dublin. The last three (the final session is this coming Saturday) are outdoors at the Hilliard Soccer Complex.

Sometimes Joseph doesn't feel like participating, but that's ok. He's never the only one. Probably 80% of the kids there have "invisible" disabilities like autism. There were a few really brave kids there participating in wheelchairs and on crutches. It's chaotic, but what do you expect? :)

And thank God for Joseph's aide who goes with us. We would not be doing his without her. I'm about as far from "athletic" as you can get. I wouldn't be able to handle chasing Joseph around a soccer field for an hour!

Like I said, the last session is this weekend and I'm already looking forward to the fall season!

We've continued to struggle with getting his aide schedule filled completely. Around the time we got our third aide, the first one quit suddenly. We interviewed several more and hired 2 that never showed up at the agency to get signed on. At this point we've had the same 2 since I think February. We've got a third who is a student at OSU studying speech and hearing, which I think will be excellent for Joseph since one of his biggest challenges is verbal communication. She can't start until the end of the quarter, but she will be able to work 12 hours a week with him. I've been in touch with her by email a few times since we offered her the position and she seems enthusiastic about it, so I don't think she's going to disappear on us before she starts. :)

Coming up this summer, Joseph will go to one week of summer school before Buddy Camp starts. Buddy Camp is a half day camp where ASD kids attend with an aide and a you ally developing peer. The staff (from Children's Hospital's autism center) helps them work on heir interpersonal skills, socialization and cooperation and that sort of thing. I think Joseph is going to love it. We've also got him signed up for a two-hour a week pre-writing skills class and a one-hour a week pre-reading class. I want to try to get some of those IEP goal for next year mastered before the school year starts! And the structure will be good for him. I think we will need a more physical activity for the afternoons though, to help him burn off all that ADHD energy.

So I guess there's been a lot more going on to write about than I thought there was. Joseph has continued to make progress in leaps and bounds. I'm more optimistic than ever that he will eventually find his place in the world where he can be happy, healthy, independent, successful and fulfilled.

Until next time, I'd to hear your thoughts about something. I have a secret: I've always been uncomfortable around people with disabilities. Obviously, that's changed a lot over recent years. One feeling I struggle with though is a sort of guilt wrapped in pity. Do you ever feel guilty for feeling glad that your kiddo doesn't have some challenge or deficit that another child has?

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