Please Just Don't Pee on my Pants

The trials, tribulations and successes of a teacher on her own journey towads independence.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just a Wednesday Morning

Characters: two sisters, stay at home moms, totally tired of laundry and cleaning, as well as looking at the walls of their respective homes. Both usually up for adventure.

Setting: Warm spring day in the spring, one van, one cooler and a 12 pack of beer at Saguaro National Monument

Purpose: Avoid life and take pictures.

It started with a conversation of how borning life was without work. Tired of cleaning and hanging out at the house. How they could possibly watch one more stupid show on tv or do one more work out video. Tired of the current life they decided on an adventure. There were two helpful culprits on this adventure although they may not know the impact they had so let me explain... grandpa had left his cooler, and Greg had been talking about driving around drinking... put those two ideas together with two women wanting to escape the world and one has an adventure, full of fun, laughter, beer, pictures and a few thorns from several cactus and the occassional bad word as rock climbing sober isn't easy - add a few beers and the challenge, well becomes ten fold.

So one mom stops at the store and purchases 2 6 packs of beer and a bag of ice... and is off to pick up her sister... the drive to the national monument isn't far and the drinking begins. They stop in the middle of the road several times to take pictures of "cool" flowers and stuff, just because they can. They stop at picnic places to drink a beer and take more pictures. They stop to climb rocks and take more pictures which lead to several encounters with bushes that had some very small stickers - that required tweezers and showing the desert world parts of our bodies that it really didn't need to see.

Then one of the girls has this crazy idea to take her shirt and bra off, get her picture taken with her phone to forward to her boyfriend... sister more than willing to participate in said scheme.

The complete trip took about 2 hours and was followed up by very greasy food from Carl's Jr... which turned out to be good since the school called as one of the boys was in trouble for running and refusing to do work. Hmmm... autism specialist, FAS specialist + pissed off mom means - Yep you guessed it another road trip. Although probaby still slightly intoxicated they pull themselves together and thank the Lord they decided to eat disgusting food for lunch.

So together they decide to face the school and their idiotic idea of education. The son that is being complained about has FAS and MIMR - and gee he runs away from class, pretends his stomach hurts to escape and refuses to do his work. So I talk with the child - the work is at a fourth grade level he is at a first grade level - he knows he can't do the work... so he leaves. When they do give him math he is so embarrassed to be below his peers that gee... he runs away again, or calls his neighbor a not so nice name - ya think. While being in the classroom it is easy to see that no modifcations have been made for this child. There are no visual reminders on his desk to help him out when he gets stuck. There are no red and green cards available for him to signal that he is getting frustrated. His work, although some of it is brought down to his level (the math I saw) there were still 25 problems on a page - there should not have been more then ten. The staff complained that he ran away even during recess... really I said... has anyone really observed his interaction with his classmates. Most likely they avoid him because they know he is different, which makes him want to escape - hell who wouldn't.

As far as even thinking in the antecedent-behavior-consequence (consequence usually being teacher related) they quickly and easily blame the child for being non-compliant... of course the kid is non-compliant he suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrom and has since birth when he was adopted. The end result of all of this is a request by me to have a meeting with the principal since obviously her head is so far up her ass she can't find her way out... I will be professional, I will have an agenda - but there will be some changes and some of the laws being broken, may just need to be brought up to the school board. Don't piss me off when it comes to kids in need - I'll simply have to kick your ass.

So yes the total day was enjoyable, every moment... thanks to a fabulous sister for a very much needed day off from my reality.


Monday, April 26, 2010

My Little Soap Box and My Big Mouth

Most of you know that in the past I have been a teacher and a special educator for students who have autism. I know I have written of some of these adventures in the past, but today's adventure is to a new level of absolute stupidicy.

There are two young men (8 and 12) that I have been working with since they were very young. I know both boys well and have done extensive research into their behaviors both with previous schools, family members, and other specialists. Their mother went to their current school today to find out if the boys have been receiving their regular sensory input. One is a sensory seeker and needs calming sensory; while the other is a sensory avoider and needs wake up kind of sensory needs. Last week the school called CPS on this mother because one of her other boys rode his bike to school too early in the morning. So there is an outstanding CPS report and case that will remain open.

Taking these things into account... the mother politely approached the school today to find out what type of sensory the boys were getting and why her oldest son had not been provided with a computer for writing as stated in his IEP. She was immediately shut down and turned away as the school stated "they were uncomfortable discussing the children." After recovering from the shock and regaining my thinking mind which first went into fight or flight and I was more then willing to drive down there and give them a piece of mind... I did a bit of research. What I found out is that after a case has been called into CPS - for whatever reason and regardless of how the investigation is going - the school's involvement stops there. It was and is against the law for them to refuse to discuss the education of students with their parents.

What we know is that the school is not doing what the school agreed to do in the IEP. What we know is that the school is looking for ways to get to this family because of the fact that there are four high needs students in the family and the school doesn't have the will or the time to do the research and learning necessary to work with these types of students.

Well, you know times have changed. When I grew up these types of students went to "special schools"; the law now gives them the right to be in regular classrooms and have their needs met. For many years I disagreed with this philosophy, but since I began working with high needs kids 7 years ago and have seen the difference it makes in their lives as well as in the lives of their "neuro-typical" peers - the administration of most schools needs to get their act together and figure out how to service children with autism. The birth rate of children with autism is currently 1 in 99. More and more students are being identified with this disorder and I feel it is the school's responsibility to educate their adminstration and teaching staff on ways to help these and all students down the road toward independence... regardless of the challenges that the child faces.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kicking Tires, Changing Oil

Kicking Tires, Changing Oil - at least that is how my doctor puts it. He doesn't like going 9 months without seeing me, but I figure if there is nothing wrong why go? Well, one goes because if one doesn't go - the doctor says "Ok, smartie, then I won't refill your medicine." So eventually, you go... yesterday I went, and after being told and a severe scolding I had my blood drawn today like a good girl. I then went to my other doctor today - so now my tires have been kicked - in May my oil will get changed... been 6 or 7 years since that has happened... so finally I give up and will do what I'm told. I'll even do it with sort of a smile on my face. So I guess, the moral of this story is to go to your doctor when you he/she tells you to do it - it is just way easier.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Behavior Health Services - Arizona

I have been living and working in Arizona for the past 13 years. Something has come to irritate me to the point that I just have to get on my soap box for a bit and let the world have my thinking - so pardon the soap box... but here I go anyway

At the behavior health services building once a child is processed to see a psychiatrist for a dianosis it is via video. The problem here is that although it is two way video often the child is disengaged, hiding under a table or having a bloody melt down because how can the person on the other side of the screen really see them anyway since it is just a tv. The total time to process and analyze this child is about 15 minutes, a few questions are posed to the parent in the room, a label is applied to the child and medicine ordered. "NEXT"

That is how the process works... for them. They ask for no input from other care providers, no input from counselors, teachers, principals or services providers at school, or special education directors. They do not come and observe the child at all in their regular setting at home or in the classroom. That 15 minutes is all they need to change the course of the life of a child forever. I think that is a bunch of bull shit. As an autism specialist I know there are tools to use to help figure out these kids - there are questionnaires for all family members, teachers and aides. As the specialist I spend numerous hours observing the child in their school setting and home, analyzing behavior, making scatter plots, doing ABC charts and FBA in order to get a complete picture of the child. Then we do sensory profiling and that takes even another few days. Based on all this information I can then state what characteristics of autism I see in the child or don't see. If there are characteristics in three or more categories we move into the next phase of analysis using the Ziggurat and CAPS models of behavior. At no time are meds distributed. I may recommend that they take the information to a private provider for a specific review and diagnosis and I often attend those meetings so that I can explain the results. Often what happens is that the child has been misdiagnosed by our wonderful Behavior Health System and actually given medications that can be deadly combinations. I have seen the look in private providers eye's and heard their statements although not specific enough to file a complaint enough for a parent to know something is fucked up.

Then of course the Behavior Health System assigns a "Case Manager" and a "Worker" to the case to monitor progress based on their 15 minute diagnosis. Most of these people have never attended a day of college or a single training session on any of the disorders they are treating or providing feed back on. They do no further analysis because they have no knowledge of what to do. They do little to no research on the different issues that face these kids because they have too many kids.

Yet, they have the guts to call CPS because a child with fetal alcohol syndrome decided to ride his bike to school one morning. Heck I'm happy he found the school, we were able to find him and take his bike away for awhile. The principal of said school however flips out and calls CPS accusing the parent even though the parent is the one who ran in the office explaining what had happened and that she had to make sure her child was on campus and ok (10 minutes after she noticed he left the house)... Really, I have to wonder who is neglectful here. I have worked in schools where kids come to school daily for weeks on end without meals. I've talked to their parents and the parents have no money for food - what good would my calling CPS do for them? Instead I choose to buy the necessary things to make sure those kids have a healthy lunch so they get a good meal each day. I make sure that someone from our school delivers a full thanksgiving dinner to them. I make sure that there is a rotating dinner delivery for them. Just turning them into a system that doesn't work anyway doesn't do anyone any good.

Is any of that done for a gold star behind my name or the school's name. Absolutely not! It is done because it is what is right and what Jesus would expect us to do. So stand up for what is right. Take a look at how your tax money is being spent in this area. Raise your voice for change, but be prepared to be blackballed at the same time, labeled a trouble maker, stepping into bounds that have nothing to do with you and what you do - in short know that the system is strong no matter how weak all the links of it appear to be.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Penning the Future

Until yesterday I thought life was really just one long story being told by someone else who had control of most things. Sure we made choices and we reacted to our choices, but the situations we found ourselves in were created by some other author -some figure unknown to us who enjoyed messing with our minds and watching us try to figure shit out.

It is really, only now, at the beginning of the third book of my life that I have learned I'm the author of what happens and I get to pen the future the way I want it to go. I may not know some of the specifics; or even some of the main events; but I do have control over me, who I am, what I think, and how I choose to react to the rest of the world when they decide to rock my boat so hard it throws me into the water.

See until today I considered it vicious enemies throwing granades at me as I try to pick up the shards that were left of my heart and hold all the pieces bleeding and dismantled... wondering how on earth I was ever going to get anything right and put back together in my life. And that was how I allowed the world to pen my life. That is how I lived in a basic survival mode - things happened I responded, usually in some logical way that I thought would put the pieces back together.

Now, today I have someone holding my heart and helping me put it back together - and boy is it an amazing feeling to have someone care enough to help... pulling pieces of glass out, rearranging the mess... but at the same time remembering that you know - when my brother used to tip over that damn fishing boat in the middle of the lake - it was never a granade because I knew how to swim.

So I'm not saying that there isn't work to be done in my life at the beginning of this book, but I am saying what a nice, amazing feeling to finally close the cover of the old books and put them behind me... how nice it is to have someone holding my hand in the corner and telling me it will all be ok... step out just a little, breathe, and don't forget to swim. I am so thankful that person held out his hand, listened and let me know - time to move on... open a new book.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have to Stop the World

As I have spent time thinking about what profound thinking I have or at least what thinking I could share that just may change someone else's life today - well, I got nothing - then I thought about my day and my last few weeks actually and decided to write about that and if you get something out of it you do... if you don't know that I did.

So, since spring break (3 or 4 weeks ago - who really knows)one or the other or the other of the kids has been sick. So my schdule hasn't returned to normal yet; nor has theirs for that matter. It has been full of doctor appointments that seems constant although they aren't. First Lorenzo had strep throat... med three times a day... sent him to his dad's house geeee meds weren't given - just found that out yesterday - when I had to take him back to the doctor and get him on new meds and today he missed his field trip. somewhere in there Eliza got sick and I had to take her to the doctor. Of course the timing of these appointments is critical but I've had to take all the kids to all the appointments. She thankfully is back on the mend as I believe Lorenzo is as well as he has gone all day without a fever.

This morning was one of those mornings when I just couldn't go anymore. I had a doctor appointment for myself and knew I couldn't go, physically and emotionally I was done. My head heart, my heart hurt, my brain hurt I was just done. My sister called in the middle of all of this as I was trying to figure out how to get myself to the doctor, curled up crying on the floor. And she said "Don't Go". That of course never entered my mind. One has an appointment one goes, and goes, and goes. But not today... I called ane canceled my appointment, laid down on the floor and cried until my sister got here to take care of me. Sometimes you just need to stop before the crash. I usually go through the crash first and ride through the fire. So between my sister holding me and making me get up exercise things began to get better in my world. Follow the exercise by a beer (yep they negate each other, but who cares)... so we watched a movie and laughed. She made me stop. Stop my day, stop my life, stop everything for the day and just be...just be her and I... no doctors, no appointements no anything... but silliness. Sometimes life just has to stop... hopefully before it stops you.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's the Small Things That Count the Most

You know in the world it is the small things that count; taking a moment to thank a soldier for standing up for our freedom, baby sitting so a mom can have a night off, a little phone call from your boyfriend just to let you know that plan have changed just a touch. Not left wondering what in the world is going on. So I know I have told my boyfriend thank you for the call; and I know he thinks it is no bill deal, but the rest of you need to know how much picking up a phone and just making a quick phone call can change anything.

I remember for many years my ex going out with "the boys" for hours on end, sometimes not even coming home until the next night leaving me with no idea where he is or what he was up to. I remember him coming home from Las Vegas with our three kids without even the slightest phone call to let me know he got lost and would be late coming home. I remember calling the police more than once to make sure he wasn't dead on the pavement somewhere...

So pick up the phone, make the phone call - it will mean the world to someone.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

On the Lighter Side of Life

My brother called today - usually I listen to him about his life; but today it was my turn. He asked how I was and I said "Alive." He takes that about as well as the psychiatrits do... people really do need to lighten up just a little bit. So picture this... I'm using my new vaccuum and it quits working - so I do some inspecting and find that the hose is clogged up... I try cleaning it out with the broom handle... doesn't work... I put another stick in so that makes the broom handle longer - should be able to push out the junk in the hose... that doesn't work... all the while talking at my brother; who I am sure called because things in his life are just a little more fucked up than in my life and I usually make him laugh. He suggests flooding the vacuum cleaner hose with water... hmmm how to do that since we can't use hoses here - another stupid rule. So here I am with my cell phone in one hand kind of propped up to my ear, the shower on full blast, flooding the stupid clog out of the hose and it actually works... imagine that. Then my brother informs me that where he lives he can't even buy beer on Easter Sunday because it is a religious holiday and we both end up laughing hysterically - me soaking wet on the bathroom floor with the stupid hose and him throwing his bills away because he can't pay them anyway... what is one suppose to do but laugh. And I know I can't spell the word vacuum/vaccumm/vaccum to save my own life - but does any of it really matter. What matters is the laughter, the stupidness and having a bowl of cereal for Easter Dinner. Life doesn't get much better than that... at least I had milk and didn't have to pour beer on my cereal.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Easters Gone By

I remember being a little girl, probably 7 or 8, and standing on my bed to look out my window to see if the Easter Bunny had come yet. I was always so excited when I could see something he left from my bedroom window or down that side of the house. That of course would trigger me running and jumping onto my brother's bed to wake him up (geeeez always the sleepy head) so that we could go egg hunting. Mom and Dad, of course were already awake with coffee in hand, they would take us outside in our jammies so that our hunt could begin.

Some things were easy to find, eggs on the grass or on the bench that surrounded our patio. Things always got more complicated the more we looked. We would find those eggs hidden in planters, hanging plants and even stuck between tree branches. We were never much of a church going family but we always had a good time and it was just accepted that no matter where we were God was there with us.

I remember Easter mornings all the way until we went overseas to Libya. I'll have to ask dad if we still celebrated Easter after that. I don't remember.

I do remember celebrating Easter with my children and their Grandfather. Dad has always been in charge of the eggs and making sure we got them colored in time and rubbed with bacon fat to make them shiny. He has also been in charge of making sure that we knew how many eggs he and I hid so none would get lost; I'm assuming that is one of those hidden life lessons that just gets passed down without ever saying anything.

Even though I'm a fairly early riser it has always been a challenge to get the Easter Bunny organized before the kids were organized for the kids. Sometimes Grandpa would take them on an Easter Bunny hunt with the salt shaker so that I could set things up. What was the salt shaker for? Well to this day Dad has the kids convinced that if you put salt on the Easter Bunny's tail then you get to keep him. Eliza doesn't think that would be very nice since then there wouldn't be Easter anymore. Then it runs through my head... how did we get from the rising of Christ to the Easter Bunny...? Some of our traditions still surprise me. And now even as an adult, somehow the Easter Bunny always leaves something for me to find.

There is of course less candy now for my kids... they would rather have money to go to the mall and buy clothes (at least two of them) so that always makes them happy, but they also still love looking for those eggs and the baskets. What fun. I wonder this year what they will be doing. I have always insisted on having the kids for Easter Sunday, but this year I have agreed to let them go to their dad's... so I wonder what the Easter Bunny is suppose to do from my point of the world? Does he still come but not with eggs, with something else... time for a new tradition, a new something to be passed down through the next generations. Maybe a scavenger hunt around the house following clues with some money in an envelope at the end of the Bunny's trail. That could be fun... would take some creative thinking, but that hasn't ever been a challenge for me... sounds like a good tradition to me.

Somewhere along the line Dad started the tradition of yellow roses on Good Friday. I don't know when or how that really got started. But I know this morning the first thing I did was go to the store and get a dozen yellow roses for the middle of the table and a bottle of wine. Somethings just are and are meant to be... traditions passed down and through generations and woven through lives like red threads that slowly develop and get stronger as one gets older - or at least they mean more as we get older... get older I hate that phrase, how about this... as we get wiser... at least that gives me the dignity of thinking I'm getting smarter.


The Tin Shack

While reading this one must remember that I grew up in the average american middle class house hold. Even in our travels we had decent housing, power, water etc... the simple things in life that I always took for granted. Then I got married and life changed.

Upon returning to Guam from the US after getting married my husband announced that he had found the perfect place for us to have a family and raise kids. I admit the setting was something from the movies; rather deep in the lush green jungle, yet close enough to the rest of the world that it was easy to get around. Palm trees, coconut nut trees, canapy trees - absolutely breath taking. It had two bed rooms, a living room, both an inside and an outside kitchen. Of course I fell in love with the setting... the house itself hmmm had a tin roof and I loved the sound of rain on a tin roof.

Shortly upon moving in I discovered that he had no intention of us purchasing a bed within which we could both comfortably sleep; but rather we would be sleeping on the floor... hmmm I thought, this could be an adventure I hadn't anticipated. Then his bed ridden father and his mother moved into the second room. Fred, his father, spent most if not all of his time strapped to his bed because other wise he would pull out his catheter and i-v's and bite and spit at anyone he pleased. hmmm I thought.

What else that was interesting was the fact that there was enough power to run the refrigerator but nothing else at the same time. There was water, but only cold water. I tried hard to adjust to this new way of life. The shack was open air with chickens and goats just wandering through at their convenience. Remember I moved here from the mid-west where we had doors, and farm animals although around had their own houses outside. One didn't need to check where they were going to sit in order to be safe from cracking an egg. Surely life had changed. Was I happy? Absolutely not, but I was determined to make the best of things.

Shortly thereafter I found out I was expecting my first child. I was excited because afterall that is why I got married - I wanted kids and I knew his island skin would make beautiful children with my white skin... besides I was afraid of being alone - truly alone for the first time in my life.

Things progressed as normally as one could expect considering the living conditions and being a new teacher. I had gotten used to the geckos jumping off the ceiling and walls even though that still grossed me out, I no longer screamed like a little girl - just shivered and thought - Dad? What was I thinking? I must have been out of my mind. Then one warm, balmy evening I was sleeping on my nice, uncomfortable, hard as a rock floor; probably about 4 months pregnant when a cockroach decided to climb upon me. Now in order to get the full effect here - I am deathly afraid of cockroaches of any type but 3 inch cockroaches was much more than I was willing to sleep with - so of course I got up like any normal 4 month old pregnant woman would and screamed and ran through the house. My husband of course slept through all of it, my mother in law just laughed and said it was a cock roach for crying out loud - relax... Relax I did ... in the car with my pillow and blanket for the at least the next three weeks.

I begged to move, I begged for a bed, I begged for warm water and the ability to use a microwave and an oven - things that were nornmal in life. Then one night I was leaning up against the wall while sitting on the floor making lesson plans and was like "Hey, what is that sound? It seems to be coming from the walls." "Oh, I was told, that is just the termites." Five months pregnant by now it took all I had not to throw up right there on my school books. I eventually accepted the sound as I had all the other adjustments in my life. I was trying to be a good sport - when a few days later the termites swarmed the house. It was like being in a black blizzard. These bugs everywhere and the sound defening... I once again found refuge in the car - where else was one to go for crying out loud. They were in my hair, my ears, my nose... I was hysterical. My mother in law cleaned up all the dead termites because of course after they swarm they die... disgusting... picking them out of her bed ridden sick husband... I stayed in the car. The next morning I walked the two miles to school - or most of it anyway before one of my student's family picked me up and let me ride in their truck to school. I was mad as hell to put life mildly especially when my husband drove right by me and didn't even stop to offer me a ride.

Eventually before Franz was born we moved in with his sister - I was due anyday... and came home from the hospital to an almost normal setting although still sleeping on the floor - those days I remember so clearly - as if they were yesterday rather than 13 years ago. Oh the places I have been and the roads God has led me down to get where I am today - the lessons learned.

I remember my girlfriend asking me sometime early in my marriage after we moved to the tin shack if I wanted to go camping with her and her dad and go diving off Rota. I said "Hell no, a five star hotel maybe, but I camp eveery dam day of my life."

The other memory I really have of that time is when my dog slightly broke the neck of a small kitten. Asking my husband to take care of it since the vet wouldn't be able to take care of it; he just looked at me. I remember saying "Just pick it up and twist it's head - put it out of its misery." He was shocked that I would say such a thing... obviously not growing up around animals in the mid west... having no gun I set out to the garden with the kitten and a shovel. Dug a hole and chopped of it's head with the shovel. I can only thank God I was a good aim... and it didn't even freak me out... he on the other hand wondered how he could have married such a savage... hmmm life is interesting.

So those, my friends, are my memories of living in a tin shack in a very beautiful jungle setting in Guam. Days gone by but not ever to be forgotten,