Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Made It Myself!

I think I've written here, more than once, that I never really imagined myself as the mother of a bunch of boys. When I was young, and I thought of being a mother some day, I always pictured girls - 2 or 3 girls. But God had other plans for me, as most of you know, and although I did get a girl to love, 3/4 of my offspring are male.

It has always been interesting, from the very first time I bought a Tonka truck. And of course, all kids are different, but the funny thing is all 3 of my boys are very different kinds of boys.

Joseph is sensitive, artistic, musical, theatrical. He played soccer, baseball, and swam on the swim team, but he's not what I would call an athletic kind of guy. He is a top student. Daniel, of course, is hilarious and super-athletic. And also a top student. But Aaron.....well, I'm not really sure WHO Aaron is going to turn out to be. He idolizes Daniel. If Daniel likes it, he likes it. He has tried all kinds of sports, but does well at soccer. He's pretty good at most school subjects, but he's not excelling. His math skills are good, but his reading is still lacking. His social skills are WAY behind.

Anyway, the point of all this is that Aaron has been my and Steven's "project", so to speak, this year. Steven listens to a lot of Doctor Radio on his Sirius Satellite radio while he drives, and he has gotten all kinds of good ideas and tips on what we should be doing for Aaron. I thought I had written about this earlier, but I can't find the post. The short version is, Aaron has always struggled socially. I thought switching him from our parish school to our neighborhood public school would help. I think, now, MAYBE it has, but it sure didn't look like it at the start of the year. He had a VERY rough start. I started taking him to a counselor, reading up on some strategies, working with his teacher and the school counselor, enrolled him in a Youth Services program at his school once a week after school called "New Directions", and with Steven's support and encouragement, started making several changes here at home.

Aaron has a protein shake every morning. A book I've been reading on ADHD kids points out the importance of nutrition in assisting with attention and focus. The books states that everyone needs 15-20 mg. of protein for breakfast in order for their brains to be functioning at maximum potential. If the first significant protein your body gets is at lunch, you WILL experience an afternoon slump. You also need 10-15 mg. of protein at lunch. Aaron takes half of a protein snack bar to eat with his lunch, to ensure he gets at least 10 mg.

Aaron is not allowed any electronics before school. He is limited to 2 hours a day total "screen time" - TV, computer, video games. He must stop ALL electronics an hour before bed. He is allowed play time, and then the last 15-20 minutes we read. It has made a huge difference in how quickly he falls asleep. Not to mention, I like the one-on-one time, and reading with him.

One thing I put into play back in the fall is just now coming to completion. There is a nationally-known child guidance center in Louisville, attached to Kosair Children's hospital and University of Louisville. I called them back in October, and they agreed to evaluate Aaron. I got all excited, thinking we were going to get some answers. Well....not yet. They agreed to spend about an hour with me and Aaron, evaluating whether he qualified for the full battery of testing. They decided that he did. takes months to get in with a psychiatrist for the day-long testing. They didn't even call me to set up the appointment until CHRISTMAS. So finally, finally, FINALLY....he is going on Monday for the testing. In 2 weeks, I will have an appointment with the doctor and get a full report: intelligence, social, emotional, everything.

I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I will finally see the whole picture, from an objective, qualified, outside opinion. I want to know. But it's a little scary, too.

Aaron has come a long way this year. He is playing the viola. He asked to play intermural basketball, and to join the school choir. He is excited about getting back to spring soccer. And in the picture at the top, Aaron has just made - HIMSELF - homemade "Beanie Weenies". He is much more confident than he used to be. This has been a real growing year for him.

So, keep your fingers crossed for Monday, and I'll let you know how it goes.


PS. Sorry this post is so long!!


Sayre said...

I know how nervous you must be. You saw me through Z's problems - so you kind of know the lay of the land. The similarities between what the boys have been through are somewhat amazing. And as it turns out, fourth grade or perhaps it's being 9, is fairly important in terms of how they find their place in the scheme of things. Last year was a very big one for Z and he went into this year a much more confident and capable kid.

That's not to say it's all been smooth sailing. He was tested for the gifted program and was turned down. That seriously took the wind out of his sails and he's still recovering from that. Unfortunately, the method of notification was an unsealed envelope, which he opened on his own. Be careful in how you share with Aaron and how much. You're his mom and you know best how he handles different kinds of news. Also, try to have some time to think about it on your own before you share with him. If I'd had the chance, I would have reminded him of how special he is, how gifted I know he is. As it was, I had to say that there are different kinds of gifts and that he is incredibly blessed - but not in the same way as their testing standards see it. I was caught flat-footed, which was very unfortunate indeed.

It sounds like you (and Steven) are helping Aaron make great strides as a person though. He is truly blessed to have people such as you to help him become the man he will be someday.

Brother Dave said...

How terrific. Aaron will be tested and evaluated on various things that will provide 'answers' for you.

Nonetheless, people, including professionals, bring personal biases with them to the table. None of us would be normal if we lacked biases.

School districts that prefer to be ultra-conservative when it comes to medicating children will find far fewer students to medicate than ultra liberal districts wishing to drug most children who present challenges in the classroom.

Perhaps you will discover that you and Steven have been doing many, many right things to help Aaron.

I advise that you pause after your appointment with the doctor and think about how you feel in your heart regarding his or her report. After all, you are Aaron's Mother.

If the evaluation is truly objective there will be things that resonate within you. They will make sense. Just be sure to trust your feelings.

And I agree with Sayre. Aaron understands that he is being 'tested' and will wonder what you have been told by the doctor. Choosing what you will share will require some thought. Do not hesitate to ask the physician what might be appropriate to tell Aaron.

This is a special culture of kids with similar issues. Aaron needs to know that he is not some odd-ball freak, but someone among many others like him.

Wishing you and yours the very best.

Superwoman said...

What a great Mom you are. :)