All About Jamie

There’s been a lot of frustration going on in the house with regard to Jamie and most of it revolves around his speech therapy.  Things have not been great since he got a new therapist when he turned three.

Let me explain. When Jamie started getting therapy at the age of 2, he was with the Early Intervention program called The Alliance for Infants and Toddlers.  They provide all kinds of therapeutic support to the 2 and under set from speech to occupational to physical, etc.  But their services only run until age three.  Once your child turns three they get put into DART- which is the same thing except for the 3 to 5 set.  However, because it’s a different program that means different therapists, different schedules, different EVERYTHING.

So, back in December of 2011, Jamie was evaluated to see if he qualified.  He did.  In fact he qualified for more than most kids his age who need speech therapy – he qualified in expressive AND articulation.  In January 2012, I met with people from DART as well as his service coordinator from the Alliance to talk about Jamie’s IEP (Individual Education Plan – they’re standard).  We went over the whole thing including how much therapy he would get (45 min per week), where he would receive services (daycare), and what his concrete goals were.  It all seemed very normal to me.

By the end of February we had finished up with our therapist from Early Intervention (who was awesome and about whom I cannot say enough wonderful things) and were ready to transition to DART.  The therapist who would be seeing Jamie started talking to daycare about scheduling. Not me. DAYCARE.  When his daycare schedule didn’t fit hers, she tried to pressure the director to switch Jamie’s daycare days to accomodate her – thus putting his classroom over quota.  When my director approached me about this, I said “No way is she putting YOU in a bind for this.  I’ll talk to her.”  Finally, 4 days before Jamie’s birthday (so less than a week until she was supposed to start providing services) I tracked her down and spoke to her.

1) She had not yet even read his IEP.
2) She did not know how much therapy he qualified for – she thought he was to get 30 min.
3) She didn’t know what his therapy goals were.

When I talked to her about scheduling, she kept wanting to do it in the middle of his nap time.  What the heck lady? You work with toddlers.  THEY NAP.  Finally, I managed to wear her down so she agreed to a 3 pm standing appointment on a day Jamie is already scheduled for daycare.

She didn’t pick up until the middle of March. It wasn’t ideal as he went 2 weeks without therapy but I figured it wouldn’t be a huge deal and let it ride.  She picked up with him, saw him twice, and then Scot lost his job.  If you recall, that was the last week of March.

That happened the day before Jamie was to be seen for therapy.  I called daycare and immediately pulled Jamie out, thus changing everything for therapy.  I then called the therapist and explained to her the situation.  She said “Ok, we’ll cancel for tomorrow and I’ll get in touch in a couple of days to reschedule.”  She did so but guess what? For the first two weeks of April DART was on “spring break” and there were no services. So, instead of Jamie missing one week of services, he missed three.  When she picked back up again in mid-April, she came to the house.  She did that for a couple of weeks and then Scot had gotten his contract job and we restarted Jamie in daycare so she moved back to working with him there.

Now, she had told me that they would “go all through May, then take 3 weeks off in June.”  I was NOT PLEASED by this.  So we get to the last week of May (after Memorial Day) and she doesn’t show up on her regular day.  Given then “all through May”statement, I assumed she would be there since it was still MAY.

Now this is where things get completely insane.  I called to complain to her about all this schedule crap.  He’d been ‘in therapy’ with DART for 3 months but had only been seen about 8 times – on a very sporadic basis.  I knew from listening to Jamie that he was having trouble.  He was losing articulation FAST and we stopped being able to really understand him.  He would get very frustrated with us – like he used to do before we ever started him in therapy.  I worked as hard as I could to help him and work with him but without consistent therapy he was barely treading water.  So when she didn’t show up that last week in May I was livid.

I made it clear what was going on, that I wasn’t happy, and that we needed something different.  She called me back the next day and I got no help from her.  NONE.  All I got was “this is the schedule. This is what we do. Kids are fine. Jamie is fine, there is nothing wrong with his progress.”  Nothing wrong?  Really?  Even when I told her that I was his mother and spent more time around him than anyone she just stonewalled me and refused to offer any help at all. Also, the reason she didn’t show up was because that last week of May was one of the three weeks in June they were on break. So, apparently if June 1st falls on a Friday, that qualifies as a week in June.

In an effort to sum some of this up, Scot and I started climbing the chain of command at DART.  I’ve had the same conversation with at least 4 different people.  I’ve said that Jamie is falling behind, that he is losing things. I’ve said that he is frustrated.  I’ve said that his IEP says one thing and he is receiving something else. I’ve stated clearly and succinctly that I want a different therapist. I’ve pointed out that this schedule crap has been going on since day 1 and that he is suffering for it.  I have been told:

1) The schedule is 3 wks off in June, on 2 wks, off another 3 weeks, on for 3 weeks in July/Aug and then back in full time in September. That totals up to 5 weeks of therapy between the end of May and the end of August.  This means, in Jamie’s case, SIX MONTHS of inconsistent therapy between March and September.

2) That there’s no problem with my child despite what I say and that I can’t change this schedule or do a damn thing about him losing stuff.

3) That his IEP says he doesn’t have to have services during breaks so he won’t get them.

4) That I cannot have a new therapist because the one we have is the only one that serves our district.

Although my therapist neglected to give me this information, one of her higher ups did say that we can amend his IEP. However this requires that we re-evaluate data and that first we’ll look at teaching methods, then teaching environment, THEN amending the IEP to get him continuous service.  It’s kind of hard to collect that data when you’re NOT COLLECTING FOR HALF THE SUMMER.  So, by the time we do all that, it’ll be September anyway.

Basically, my kid is shit out of luck.

Scot and I discussed it to death.  In the end, it became clear that we would not be able to punch through the layers of bureaucracy in a time frame that would end up helping Jamie and that our only option was to hire a private speech therapist to work with him.

I called his old therapist looking for suggestions.  She tried but didn’t find many options (or really any). In the end, Twitter saved the day and with those connections, I was able to hire someone to see Jamie once a week for 30 min to work on articulation through the summer and her first visit is later today. My very generous parents are paying for this because they are just as incensed as we are.

DART keeps saying things about how they want to help but they really don’t.  They don’t want to have to offer any more than absolutely necessary and, frankly, kids like Jamie are the losers in that situation.  Jamie remains about a year behind his peers.  I had hoped that by now he’d have closed that gap some – not entirely – but some.

So, for the summer, we will have the private therapist work with him every week here at our house while DART can provide support services at daycare in those 5 short weeks they dole out over the summer.  It’s not ideal but it is the very best we can do for him right now.  Consistency is essential and this is the way to get it for him.

Once he’s got a more full time schedule in September, I figure we’ll allow him to get through until end of May next year and re-evaluate.  If he doesn’t test out of the program before then, we may voluntarily pull him if he’s doing well enough.  I’ve had enough crap from these people to fill a 55 gallon drum.

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Two Black Stripes Earned, One To Go

Over the weekend, while my parents were here, Liam tested for the second black stripe on his red belt.  I expected this to go as smoothly as all his other tests have gone.

I was wrong.

This was the first test in which Liam struggled.  When it was time for his group of kids to get up and do their patterns (he, again, had to perform three), Liam got lost about halfway into the first pattern and got very confused.  I don’t know if it was heightened nerves because he wanted to show his Oma and Puppa how hard he’s worked or if knowing I was video taping him distracted him.  Whatever the case, he stopped and had to start over.  When that happened, I put down the camera because I didn’t want to put pressure on him.

He was pretty upset by his mistake.  I could see him holding back tears and he had to wipe his eyes once.  But Grandmaster Kong encouraged him by saying “We all make mistakes and we all lose our focus. Just start over and do your best, I know you can do it.”

And he did.  He got all the way through his first pattern without mistake the second time he tried.  Then he went on and performed the second and third patterns flawlessly.  When he sat down again, I could tell he was still upset and kept looking at me with a sick look on his face.

When he came over to suit up for sparring, I looked at him and said “You did great.  It’s OK. You’re going to pass and I’m proud of you.” Then we got him ready for sparring.  He did fine after that.  Sparring went well and breaking was a piece of cake.

I told him afterwards that I was most proud of how he got himself under control, started again, and did his very best.  After all these tests and all the times he’s breezed through without a problem, I was really glad to see that he didn’t give up after one mistake.  Sometimes he has the tendency to get very upset if he doesn’t get something right the first time he tries it.  He proved to himself that he can do it.  I’m so proud of him.

He has one more stripe to earn in August and then he’ll begin preparation for his black belt.  He won’t test for his black belt until April of 2013.  He’ll have plenty of time to master the necessary skills by then.

Puppa and Spud

School’s Out For Summer

Thursday was Liam’s last day of school for the year. First grade is complete and he got fantastic grades.  In the fall, he’ll be a full fledged second grader.

He’s excited to be on summer break, to not have to get up for school, and to play with his friends.  He tends to express this by waking at 6:30 every morning despite the fact that I had to wake him at 7:15 on school mornings.  The contrariness is strong in this one.

We kicked off his first day of summer vacation by having my parents arrive for a weekend visit.  This was a complete surprise to the kids and one I worked hard to conceal.  It meant cleaning the house from top to bottom without it looking like I was cleaning for guests.  I did this by rewriting my cleaning rota over a month ago and tackling the house a little at a time over the last few weeks. (I needed to do this regardless of having guests for a visit but they were a convenient kick in the behind.) Luckily, when I was dusting on Friday and Liam exclaimed “YOU’RE DUSTING?!” I was able to send him to look at the day’s tasks on the rota to find that it was the job I was supposed to be doing. Thus, he wasn’t suspicious of guests possibly arriving.

They were both totally surprised and really excited to see their Oma and Puppa and spend the weekend with them.  My Mom and Dad were able to attend Liam’s belt test with me (more on that later) and really enjoyed watching him do his TKD thing.  It was a great visit over all.

Plans for the summer include a day camp with his Granddad at their church for Liam, swim lessons, and a trip to Michigan to visit my parents.  My summer goals (aside from keeping up with house and yard work) is to put down the dang cleaning rag and GO HAVE FUN. Trips to the pool, fun at museums, going to the library, picnics in the park – what ever we can think to do.  I did this last summer it was a great decision so I’m going to try to keep it going this year.

So, here’s to summer – may we not just survive it, may we enjoy it thoroughly!

Digging In The Dirt

So, I’ve made some progress on the CRAZY amounts of yard work around this place and I wanted to show it off.  This is but a tiny corner of what I have to take care of and it’s going to take me years to tame it all, but it’s a beginning.

This is the retaining wall at the bottom of our driveway by our garages. (This picture is from two years ago right after the wall was finished)
Normally it is completely over run with weeds and looks horrendous.  This year I’m trying to tame it.  I’ve gotten the major section of it to the left of the stairs completed (now I just need to work on the long part of the ‘L’.)  I weeded out all the crap that was in there. I have three small evergreen bushes planted in a triangle and between them are two day lily plants.  Up at the top, I have my black-eyed susans in front of the 4x4s and my gladiolas behind.  Up in the woods on our back hill we have vinca (aslo called myrtle by a lot of people) growing in carpets.  So, I went up there, dug up a bunch, and transplanted it down to fill in as ground cover.  The big hosta in the planter by the stairs is one that was there before the wall was rebuilt.  I pulled it out before demolition and then split it so that I have half in each planter on the sides of the stairs.
Finished product

bushes, day lilies, clumps of vinca

I made this one big so you could read it.
My next step is to weed out the long, narrow portion perpendicular to this and maybe transplant some vinca in there, too.  I’m not sure what I plan to do about that.
One day, many years from now, I hope to have this place look like someone who gives a damn lives here. It’s very slow going but I’m trying.