Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where We Stand

I've been feeling for a while, since I posted about the test results I guess, that I should write something of substance about our decision about how to handle Ian's schooling in the light of the diagnoses and recommendations. If you've been reading this blog, you know that one of the things we were urged to consider was putting him in school. Now, it didn't take long before we both reaffirmed our belief that we have no interest in putting him in public school, nor does it make sense that their "special accommodations" could possibly be more "special" than the one-on-one attention he gets her at home (or make that, one-on-three!). We did consider a couple of the several part-time private schools found in Austin that offer a middle ground between homeschooling and private school. There's even one tiny one that caters specifically to children with learning differences, from giftedness to autism spectrum to ADHD to sensory issues and all kinds of other neurodevelopmental differences which I had no idea existed until about a year ago! There's another one whose director faithfully attends our homeschool support group meetings and is obviously a homeschooler in her sensibilities, if you know what I mean. Small, homey, mixed-age, not far away, a slot open in his class, etc.

BUT, each of these options entails more cash than we can conscionably lay out at this stage in our lives (i.e. while Tim is involved in slave labor as a grad student), and as tempting as it was to throw financial wisdom to the winds, neither of us felt right about doing it. I guess we just felt like it didn't sit right inwardly to accelerate our slide toward debt, to make even more financial sacrifices than we already are, in order to accommodate ONE member of the family in way that really has no guarantees. It seemed like if that was the path we were meant to follow, there would be a clear way to do so. (And that is more information than I generally share about finances, but there you go.)

So I guess we decided to take that as a leading that we should concentrate our efforts on managing here at home.

Here are our baby steps so far:
1- Reaching out to the very vocal and active hs'ing community here in Austin, which, as I predicted, responded with all sorts of advice, experience, empathy, etc.
2- As a result of #1, joining a local support group for moms who homeschool kids with various learning differences.
3- Reading up on ADHD, learning differences, and homeschooling with ADHD -- found a great book with a funny title that has lots of practical suggestions like ideas for learning games: "How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and onto Learning." (Example: we throw a beanbag back and forth while doing math facts.)
4- Looking for ways to gently incorporate more structure, such as using a whiteboard every morning (different from the morning-routine whiteboard) to write down the 4-5 academic things he's expected to do that day before poring over the Lego catalog, playing computer games, drawing medieval jousts or invented Legos, playing with Oscar, reading Calvin & Hobbes, etc. When we do them, he gets to erase them. When the board is clean, he's free to direct his own learning. Also, I'm trying to remember to give a preview of the day at breakfast time. Next goal is to give him a weekly calendar on Monday -- another mom sent me a template she uses with her son, but our printer is out of ink! :-(
5- Continuing with taekwondo.
6- Getting an evaluation from an occupational therapist for the sensory issues and motor skills -- she's coming tomorrow morning to the house.
7- Looking into family therapy and social skills groups.
8- Making sure he gets outside a lot, easy to do these days with our balmy weather.
9- Trying out a liquid supplement that's supposed to help with attention. Just started it so jury's still out.

OK, having written all that makes it sound like a lot, I suppose, but I don't feel like anything's been done very dramatically. And believe me, there are still many moments and many days when we want to pull our hair out! But it feels like just putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing, knowing there's so much more to learn but grateful to have a nudge in what's hopefully the right direction.


Tracee said...

It does sound like a lot, and I'm sure it will help. It already sounds like you were doing games like the bean bag one, for instance reading to your kids while pushing them on the swing. Phew! Tired me out just reading it. Obviously, you have already been following your gut and now you will just get more ideas and more support. Awesome!

Jenny said...

It must feel great to have this decision behind you! There are no "easy" solutions for kids like ours, it seems, but your plan sounds workable and positive.

Oh, let me know how the supplement goes...we tried a few with Claire with no success (one of them actually made things markedly worse!)...I'll be interested to hear how it goes with Ian.

MoreThanJustaMom said...

Sounds like you're mapping out a good plan! Thanks for sharing all that. I'll be interested in hearing how things go for you guys.