A Hard Day

Yesterday morning I had a parent-teacher conference with Jamie’s teacher and his speech therapist. They do conferences twice a year for the kindergartners so that parents have a sense of where their kids are as they head into first grade.

Academically Jamie is doing great. He’s got his letters and letter sounds, he knows his sight words, he’s starting to read; he knows more numbers than required, shapes, colors, patterns, etc.

Emotionally he’s not much better off than he was at the beginning of the year. It was a very rough transition in the fall. A new school, a new teacher, completely new classmates, a new schedule. All of this together was a lot for Jamie to take and there were meltdowns in school and bad behavior as a result.

We worked with him here at home. They worked with him at school. His teacher has had SO MUCH patience with him. And while things improved they’re not super great either. Enough that I am worried about how he’s going to adjust to all day school next year. I brought up the possibility of holding him back a year and was told that unless he was academically behind the district won’t do it. (Which is fine; I get it. Putting him with younger kids may not help him emotionally anyway and boredom would create its own set of issues.)

Finally, I asked if it was time to have him evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder.

“I wouldn’t tell you no,” his speech therapist replied.

Jamie’s current list of problems are:

  • He does not handle change well at all. A difference in schedule, a change in pick up routine can (but not always) cause frustration, anger, and crying on his part. The problem being that small changes are occurring all the time at school and no one has time for Jamie to have a meltdown over them.
  • When he gets frustrated he shuts down. He squeezes his eyes shut tight, balls up his fists, and shakes to show his anger. Sometimes he pounds on the desk. This can happen because he’s been asked to do something and it’s not EXACTLY how he wants.
  • He is exceedingly particular about things, almost to the point of OCD. He wants to do things a specific way – HIS way – and in a specific order – HIS order – and deviation from that bothers him a great deal. If he makes a mistake he often insists on starting over at the very beginning instead of just fixing the error and moving on.
  • He has certain sensory affiliations. The one that pops up most often is his obsession with what he calls “smooth tags.” Basically, the clothing tags that are made from double sided ribbon are his *thing.* I’ve seen him carry around a shirt just so that he can touch the tag all the time. I’ve gone so far as to purchase double sided ribbon and pin some to a shirt for him so he wouldn’t go digging in his pants at school to look for a tag.
  • He has refused eye contact with his teachers. He does this either by turning his back entirely on them, pulling his shirt over his face, or looking down at the floor. Now, I know that this is a classic autism behavior but I personally think that it is something different for Jamie. I think he gets overwhelmed and begins to shut down and that is what brings about the loss of eye contact. He doesn’t know WHAT to do or he’s afraid that he’s going to get an answer wrong and he just shuts up and shuts down. If I look at him right in the eyes, he holds eye contact with no problem at all. He’s also affectionate with us, particularly me, and seeks us out for affection. So, I think his issue relates to an over abundance of emotion rather than an inability to understand emotion.
  • And last, but always present, are his speech issues. These ARE getting better and they’re doing so by leaps and bounds but having speech problems is not unusual with SPD.

I had to hold back tears as I walked out of school. I got in my car and cried as I called Scot to tell him. My head knows that intervention is a good thing. Diagnosis and a label means we can add interventions for him to his IEP. Occupational Therapy can give him coping mechanisms. My head knows that this is honestly no different than getting him evaluated for speech therapy.

My heart, on the other hand, hurts. How much more does that poor child have to go through? How many things is he going to have to have to deal with in a lifelong way? Why can’t something be easy for him, just this once?

And underneath all of that, buried deep down but flavoring everything, is that nugget of guilt. What did I do when I was pregnant that caused this? Was it how stressful that pregnancy was? Or did I do him harm by walking away from him when he was screaming as an infant and all I wanted to do was shake him? Did making him cry it out so young scar him psychologically? Did high doses of reflux meds cause something weird to happen in his brain development?

I’ll never have answers to any of those questions and my logical side knows that answers aren’t necessary. They won’t change anything about where we are and what we are going to face going forward. Dwelling on all of that doesn’t serve him or his needs; I have to put it aside.

So, I’ve started the processes of getting him an appointment to be evaluated. So far I’ve called three different numbers trying to get to the right office at the right Children’s location. I’m waiting on a call back from call number three. We have the summer to figure this out and hopefully by the fall we’ll have some answers and some strategies that we can incorporate into his IEP at our beginning of the year meeting.

In the meantime, Scot said something yesterday that was so very true. He said, “He’s still the same kid we sent to school this morning. He’s still the same one we love, we just might have better ways of helping him soon.”

Indeed. Jamie is still Jamie and I love that kid so very much.



What A Week, Redux

It turns out last week was just as busy as the week before it. If life doesn’t slow down soon, I am going to be buried under a pile of unfinished housework.

Monday: Worked in the morning. Really getting into the groove with my job now. As of Thursday, I am fully in charge of my job and done training. It feels great and I’m finally getting the chaos under control. Not completely yet but miles better than it was. As I told my boss, “You may be the boss but *I* wear the pants.”

Tuesday: grocery shop, house chores, and general laziness. In the evening we had the art show at school.


Liam’s puppet/monster/felt-sewn-thingy



Jamie’s interpretation of the Mona Lisa



Mosaic? I don’t know. But clearly Liam has an affinity for pink lately.


Wednesday: Another day at home and this one was fairly quiet – thank god. We all needed that.

Thursday: Muffins with Mom at school in the morning then off to work for my final training session. I then came home and collapsed. I’m still not used to this work/commute/still have chores business. I’ll get there but so far, nada.

Friday: The biggest thing about Friday was Listen To Your Mother. My friend, Dawn, was in the cast for the inaugural Pittsburgh show. It was amazing. Tears, laughter, the whole gamut of emotions and woven into all the stories, the thread of the shared experience of motherhood. I was so glad to be there and so lucky to be a part of that audience. I then proceeded to stay out until 1:30 am at the after-party. I am a wee bit too old for that.

Saturday: Recovery from staying out until ungodly hours. In the evening, Scot and I went to see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra do Fantasia Live. The orchestra played selections from both films while the animation was projected above them.

First, traffic was HORRENDOUS. I’ve never been caught in traffic like that in all my life. Driving in DC was better than what we went through in Downtown Pittsburgh that night. Thank you, Pirates game. EESH.

Second, I was really looking forward to this show. I love Fantasia. I’ve seen both movies hundreds of times. The orchestra played beautifully but the conductor was terrible. He was smarmy. “Who knew hippos could be so graceful?” He stopped just shy of the “Amirite?” and finger guns. He was also TERRIBLE at keeping the music in time with the animation which made it really jarring for me. I know the movies well enough that I saw every time it wasn’t in synch. He started the Russian Dance from The Nutcracker a full measure before the animation started!

The last piece they did was Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. It is, hands down, my favorite segment from both movies. I’ve always liked the music and I *adore* the animation that Disney created. I was very worried he was going to screw up Firebird. Luckily, he did not. So at least the concert ended on a good note.

Sunday: Mother’s Day. I talked with my Mom (as I do every Sunday) and wished her a happy day. Then, we took the kids and went to Scot’s parents house for a Mother’s Day dinner prepared by my father-in-law. It was delicious and low-key which was very nice after such a crazy week.

However, while there, Scot managed to injure himself. He was sitting on the porch filling water balloons for Jamie. When he finished, he went to get up, not realizing that one of his legs had fallen asleep. So when he stood up, he immediately collapsed onto the concrete porch and cracked the hell out of his knee.

So, yesterday evening (Monday) required a trip to the ER because he literally could not bear weight on the leg. He is, thank god, intact with nothing broken or torn. Just bruised right the hell up. They sent him home with a brace and a WALKER because he kept falling off the crutches. Today, though, he’s a bit better and at least able to hobble about without the aid of the walker.

But hey, we made it through April without any calamities so I can’t complain!

What A Week

Last week was the busiest week I’ve had in a loooooong time. I’m not quite sure how it filled up so fast. And this week isn’t looking much slower.

Monday: Went into work. Got shit done. Felt good. Then I went home and tried to get shit done there. Wasn’t quite as successful on that front.

Tuesday: I was home all day aside from running errands like grocery shopping. Actually got some crap done. Made pie. I was going to make a nice dinner for everyone – thawed a nice pork loin and everything. Then, Scot needed to take the kids out to get birthday cards for me so they went to dinner and I stay home. And the pork hit the fridge.

Wednesday: My birthday! Yay! The big 3-9. I worked in the morning then came home and relaxed because: birthday. I had a big lunch that day so I wasn’t really interested in dinner so once I fed the kids it was present time. To sum up: I’m spoiled.

Thursday: Home again but busy all day. Target run in the morning. Dental appointments for the kids in the afternoon. Dropped Liam off to play with a friend after school. Then, I had to get downtown by 6 pm to meet friends for dinner and then INDIGO GIRLS WITH THE PSO. Holy crap, that was a great show. Allison got FANTASTIC seats. They chose great songs to do with the orchestra. I really enjoyed it.


Amy, Emily, and the Orchestra


My one regret about the show is that they didn’t do any encores. I know that they could only do the songs that they had rehearsed with the orchestra but I thought they would have save one or two for encore. Nope. Sadness.

Friday: Whew! I got to Friday. I spent the whole day cleaning the house because my mother-in-law was coming over to watch the kids so Scot and I could go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. The family room was so incredibly trashed that it took me 2+ hours to unearth it. I did three loads of dishes in the dishwasher that day. EESH. The movie was great, though!

Saturday: I had all sorts of things on my to-do list for Saturday. I did my nails and napped. I was wiped from the week and I just couldn’t force myself to do anything more. I think I also managed to get some reading for my class done. Finally made that pork I’d defrosted.

Sunday: Laundry. Errands. Schoolwork. Chatting with my Mom. Then, in the evening I headed over to Dawn’s and helped her pick an outfit out for her performance at Listen To Your Mother. She’s got a killer bod and a killer red dress and she’s going to ROCK IT.

In the midst of that hugely busy week, somehow THIS week got just as busy!

  • Monday: work
  • Tuesday: Art show in the evening at school
  • Wednesday: errands, chores, house stuff
  • Thursday: Muffins with mom in the morning at school, work
  • Friday: Listen To Your Mother!
  • Saturday: Fantasia at the Symphony with Scot
  • Sunday: Mother’s Day

When did I become a social butterfly?

P.S. Happy Star Wars Day! Scot and I are nerds in love. Our new rings:

"I love you"  "I know"

“I love you” “I know”