• Education,  family,  high school,  mental health,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Golden Students

    Two weeks ago, W and I were sitting at the kitchen table, talking through her AP Human Geography Packet answers. She’s been struggling to keep her grades up in that class, so Steve and I have been doing a little more intervention. We’ve been monitoring her homework in that class. We never, ever monitor her homework. But this is a “college” class, and will count for “college credit” if she passes the AP exam. It will also permanently affect her transcript when she applies for college, so we decided we better see what’s going on. Our first strategy? having her read her homework responses to us and talking through them…

  • autism,  high school,  teen years

    An Unexpected Week

    I look back at last week and feel like I’ve had 3 different weeks packed into one. It started last Monday morning with a 2 hour late start for the kids. I should have expected it– J had a really rough Monday. It was the 28th of January and he had kept track that there still hadn’t been a fire drill yet for the month (I think the two hour late start and change of schedule triggered an extra fight/flight response in him). I picked up J a little early from school Monday (because he was absolutely non-functional in the state he was in) and took him to visual that…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school,  learning strategies

    Temple Grandin Still Hates Algebra

    Temple Grandin absolutely hates Algebra. I knew that already–she had mentioned it during her 2013 lecture here in Fargo–and six years later, in Crookston, Minnesota, she said it again. Multiple times. In a college gymnasium–GYMNASIUM–full of people. Overhead lights off. Stage spotlight on. People restless trying to find a comfortable position in the wooden bleachers. A service dog on the basketball court pacing around the floor. The exit doors wide open with people still trickling in and out throughout the lecture. I was astounded. This couldn’t have been a worse venue for sensory overload for an individual with autism. It was a venue in stark contrast to the ones I…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  siblings and autism

    All hands on deck

    This week was “all hands on deck” and by Tuesday night we very quickly realized that we were in desperate need of more hands. This was W’s first experience with finals, and to get her through the week took as much mental muster for me as it did when I worked with J (although in very different ways). W, on her own, got up at 6 am every morning to study for the finals scheduled for that particular day and didn’t go to bed until 10 pm each night. She was very stressed out (I think partly because she didn’t know what to expect and partly because “everything from now…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school

    To Be J.B.

    Friday was a day. Not a terrible day, but not a great day.  J’s got a great support team at school. He’s paras are and case manager are phenomenal. He’s got great peers in his classes who help him out and encourage him when he needs it. But even with that support structure in place, to J, school is a really, really stressful place to be. Friday was one of those stressful days. J was on his way to PE and during the passing period, overheard someone say the word “evacuation,” and the rest of the day was spent getting J off the edge of the panic attack cliff and…

  • autism,  exercise,  high school,  milestones

    Practically Glowing

    J has just completed 1 month of running on his own. I call it the “off-season off season.” It’s that time after regular season XC finishes and before the “off season winter running” begins. Because we’ve had an early winter and J’s a better runner, I haven’t been able to trail him with my bike or run a close distance behind him like I have in the past. J’s been running almost every single day after school, on his own, on the XC practice routes that run closest to our house and have the minimum amount of road traffic or intersections. As proud of him as I am, it made…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school

    This Time I Remembered

    If I ever were to write a memoir, I’d have to write about the Novembers. There’s at least three chapters worth of Novembers. J and November have a thing. I’m not sure exactly what it is. But it’s a turbulent, hostile thing. For the last three years, during the second week of November, J has been kicked out of school. The gales of November? The witch of November? The Ides of November? I feel like it should have an official name or diagnosis. And since there hasn’t been any logical explanation for the annual event, I feel like there must be some almost supernatural force behind it. Because that’s what…

  • autism,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  sensory processing

    My Black is Your Navy

    For as long as I can remember, my dad has struggled with colour.  I remember him rushing out the door to get to work, asking my mom one last time, “is this shirt blue or grey?’ or “does this shirt match this tie?” There were a lot of questions about socks too. “Are these socks black or navy?” and the guaranteed followup question: “Are you sure they’re navy? They look black to me.” My dad is red green colourblind, but he also has a hard time sorting out cool greens and light greys; light blues and light greys, light pink and light greys, brown and greens.  When he was dating…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    Measurable Success

    Even though J’s XC season is over, he’s had a lot of XC excitement this weekend. Saturday we were able to head out to Jamestown to cheer on the State runners (J’s high school came in 5th at the State level!!!) and yesterday the team had their recognition reception. I always come out of J’s XC recognition reception a little overwhelmed emotionally. I’m not saying that I’m feeling a million different emotions, I’m just feeling a lot of big emotions. I think the biggest feeling I came out with was that of gratitude. I’m so grateful for the kids on J’s team. I’m so grateful for the coaches that mentor…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years

    My kids get more than 17 seconds

    This weekend Steve introduced the kids to one of the most inspirational sports movies of all time–Rudy–and while they both really enjoyed it, W was a little confused as to why Rudy, who had worked so hard at school and at practice, wasn’t ever able to play in a game until the last college game of his senior year. And even then he only got to play for 17 seconds. 17 seconds. After all of the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears of every single practice, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger  only got to actually play 17 seconds of a real game of college football. After all of the heart and sweat our…