T1 got his 2nd report card from school today. Wow! He received all As and Bs, even in Math! His report card allows each teacher to write a narrative of the class for the quarter (what they’ve worked on as a whole and how he is doing individually). The glowing remarks were amazing. He had never gotten a report card like this. And he is so proud of himself.

I don’t know what to say. The progress and change in him is tremendous. Our happy boy is back, and he is learning and succeeding. Moving him to this school is the best decision we’ve made for him.

T1 loves baseball, and wants to be a baseball player, badly.  T1 struggles with baseball, though.  His fielding is ok, he can finally catch a ball, but he is always in the outfield.  My guess is the coach fears he won’t know what to do if he catches it in the infield.  During batting practice he hits the ball.  In the cage he can hit nearly everyone that is thrown to him.  Using the hitting stick he hits it so hard I sometimes thinks he breaks my hand.  But during a game he freezes up. 

This past weekend he got a hit, finally!  But…he messed up base running and caused the third out.  He takes a really hard when he makes mistakes.

I have to say, though, this is his best season yet.  He is much more focused, playing with a lot more energy and heart.  If his batting comes around he’ll have a decent season.

He has always been the worst on the team.  I hate to say that about my son, but it’s true.  Except for this year; there are 2 others who I would consider poorer players than he.  But because he cannot bat well, he is last in the line-up, as usual.

At last night’s game there was another team practicing on the next field and the batting cage next to his dugout.  In the batting cage was a boy from his old school.  T1 and CJ have been together in class for 3 years and T1 has always wanted to be friends with CJ.  CJ is an all-star athlete in baseball, and in AP math and science classes at school.  T1 would always tell us how great CJ was, and he was his best friend at school.  We knew CJ enough to say hello to him, but they never met outside of school.

CJ saw T1 hanging in the doorway of his dugout and shouts over to him “Hey T1, how many hits have you had this season?”,  knowing full well that T1 struggles with hitting.  T1 replied “I don’t know, none, a lot.”  One of T1′s teammates said he’s gotten just one hit this season.  Another boy in the batting cage joined in the taunting asking if that hit was from an error, and CJ asked if T1 ran to the right base, and then he saw me.  And it stopped.

The exchange was not even 30 seconds, but it was devastating – for both me and him.  His teammate didn’t back him up, but nearly joined in the teasing (and this teammate is no great player, believe me!).  T1′s face fell, and he had lost heart for the rest of the game.

This is the kind of teasing that has gone on relentlessly at his old school.  He wants to be friends with everyone, a respected athlete, an  A student, but he’s not.  He is full of false bravado.  Last year he told everyone he was sure he would make the Little League All Star team.  Everyone knew he would not.  The teasing would get so bad that he would get loud, and naturally he would get caught.  We would address this with the teachers, but he was a marked boy, and they would always only discuss the end result, and T1 would be the on in trouble, the other boys (and girls) would get off scot-free.

This doesn’t happen in his new school.   If T1 does get in trouble it is usually because of talking too much (he should really pursue a career in talk radio!).  But he just doesn’t get discipline for teasing or bullying anymore.  This year the school implemented an after-recess discussion session.   There are always teachers outside during recess, playing along with the children (Duh!  At the public school the teachers sit in their lounge, and some of the classes only get recess once or twice a week).  After every recess the students and teachers discuss how recess went.  If one student seems to be alienated, they discuss why.  Or if there were any altercations they work it out during this session.  It only takes 15 minutes, but what a difference it makes for the rest of the day.

And T1 comes home happy nearly every day.  He doesn’t tease his sister as much, and he doesn’t lash out at us.  His frustration level has plummeted.  He is our happy boy again.  I love this school!

Maybe a dollar would help keep him there.

Waking T1 up in the morning is a challenge, yet it is not.  T1 sleeps like a rock, nothing wakes him.  In the morning I go up and turn on his bathroom light, start the shower, and let him know it’s time to get up.  He has a loft bed, so I climb up the ladder and grab his feet, give him a little shake, and then go get T2 up (who is no bundle of joy in the morning).

Nine times out of ten when I come back to his room, he is still sleeping in bed.  So now I have to get creative.  This morning it was little piggies, which got him up with a smile.

Into the shower he goes, with the first of many reminders to WASH and USE SOAP and WASH YOUR HAIR and DON”T JUST STAND THERE.  His shower is really “their” shower, in between their bedrooms.  He can open T2′s door and see her still in bed.  And he will usually give her a rousing “GOOD MOOOORRRRNNNIIINNNGGG!”

And now we all know that T1 is awake, happy to be alive and ready to conquer the world.

I sure love that boy.

If you can help keep him happy and in his school, any donation is appreciated.

Something that comes along with ADHD is obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Most people think of incessant hand-washing, but it is much more than that.

At T1′s school a seminar was held with topics ranging from  pre-adolescence to other disorders that hold hands with learning disabilities.  We attended the latter and our eyes were opened about several things going on with our boy.

If someone had said to me a year ago that T1 had anxiety I would have laughed in their face.   I would have told them he is outgoing, not a shy bone in his body, brave yet cautious, and comfortable with himself.   I now know that he is shy and anxious and his bravado is just a tool he uses to cope.  He’s afraid of scissors – I never knew!  He is very uncomfortable in new environments, but doesn’t want to appear weak and puts up a good front.  It is a common partner with ADHD, and often is misdiagnosed as being oppositional and defiant.

Another common partner of ADHD is obsessiveness.  T1 loves shoes.  Remember T1 is a boy – I would have expected this from T2, not T1.  Whenever we go shopping we have to stop in every athletic shoe store, skater store, department store and check out shoes.  He goes to Nike, Converse and Reebok websites where he can customize sneakers all day long.  He spends Christmas, birthday and any extra money on sneakers.  Off the top of my head he has 6 pairs of everyday sneakers, 2 skateboarder sneakers, 3 pairs of cleats (1 red, too small, but won’t give them away, 2 black), 2 pairs of flip-flops, and 1 pair of dress shoes.  Out of those shoes, I bought the cleats, 2 sneakers and the dress shoes.  He has bought all the rest, and he would buy more if he had the money.

When T1 was younger it was Hot Wheels.  Hot Wheels are small and cheap.  Grandparents would get him Hot Wheels, aunts & uncles, friends, everyone.  He still has most of them, they’re too hard to part with.  Some days he’ll line them all up in his room and they can wrap around most of the room.  When he’s ready he’ll let them go, like he did with the Yugi-Oh cards.  But cars are way harder to get over than a card game that no one knows how to play.

And skateboards.  If he could he would have every deck he came across.  He only has 2, one we bought him and one he bought himself.  Oops, 3 – I forgot the longboard.  And then there is the easily obsessive-able Tech Decks.  These are little teeny-tiny skateboards that have interchangeable wheels.  I haven’t any idea how many he has, but similarly to Hot Wheels, they’re small and cheap.

Since he has been going to his new school T1′s obsessiveness has settled down tremendously.  He still looks at shoes and skateboards online, but it doesn’t consume him.  We have gone shopping a few times and have managed to pass by the usual stores.  I think because he feels more comfortable there, he has much less anxiety.  I think the obsessions were an outlet to his frustrations before, and he is less frustrated.

Parenting is the hardest and most important job in the world.  There are weekly stories about how the schools are raising our children and parents need to be more involved.  I would argue that the parents need to be more involved at both school and home and the teachers need to be more involved with the parents.  Our children spend nearly half their waking hours at school and if they are not in a comfortable, safe environment, the time there is wasted and our children will suffer.

A child may appear to be strong, but it he really?

A dollar here and a dollar there might help keep T1 where he can thrive.

I have 2 children, T and T.  T1 is a boy, 11, and T2 is a girl, 9.  They are wonderful children, I love them dearly.  T2 – she is smart, funny, eager to please, a good girl all around, loves school, everyone loves her, has more friends than she can handle, plays the violin, dances jazz and ballet, is an awesome Brownie.  She wants to learn to play the piano, wants to be a teacher when she grows up, and she loves her family.  I’ll tell you more about her later.

T1 – he is smart, funny,a good boy, loves to skateboard, plays baseball and has a hankering for cars.  T1 doesn’t have many friends, has hated school since 1st grade, has ADHD.  We’ve been in denial about his ADHD, believing he was just a boy, more so than most boys (that doesn’t even make sense!).  In his first pre-school when he was 4 we were told he couldn’t stay in that school because he was too much too handle, and they were afraid for his safety as well as the other children.  His next school, in Jr. Kindergarten, we were invited to a seminar about ADHD, which quickly evolved into a discussion about medications.  We were not willing to medicate a 4 year old boy.

Protector of the unsiverse Every year since, 2 weeks into school we were summoned to meet with his teachers and asked “What can we do to get through to this boy?”.  Of course we didn’t have many answers, expecting the teachers to be the experts.  And he hated school, acted out, and every friend he would make he would lose, because of his inability to control himself or his emotions.  He became alienated at school because children didn’t want to be around a bad boy.  He was being teased, but he was always louder and was always the one who got caught.  He was a marked boy.

Since the second grade we’ve been telling his teachers that he is really struggling with math, that he can’t add – we were always told he was on level or just a bit below and needed to work harded, that they just didn’t see a problem.  Finally, in 4th grade his teacher and the LD support teacher agreed, T1 couldn’t add.  They agreed to have him tested for learning disabilities.  Guess what?  He has a math learning disorder.  At the end of 4th he received and IEP.  Hopefully some relief.

T1 started 5th grade this year.  It’s an exciting year for 5th graders, the last one in elementary school, big man on campus, all the fun stuff and field trips.  2 weeks into the year he was removed from lunch and recess for teasing (bullying is the hot topic this year in our county) and had to dine with the only male teacher there.  It was supposed to be a consequence, and a learning opportunity, the teacher would be coaching him on appropriate behavior.  Coaching turned out to be watching Sponge Bob and surfing on the computer for shoes and skateboards.  A week later brought a conference with his teachers, asking, “What can we do?”  I left crying, as I usually do after conferences, even TnT Dad was tearing up.

We have found a local private school that specializes in helping children with ADHD, Dyslexia and other learning differences (disabilities).  We were able to enroll him because he had received an IEP after 4 years of asking. He was enrolled the very next day.

Let me tell you about this school!  The classes are never more than 12 children (at the public school sometimes he was in a class with more than 30).  The parents, students and teachers all sign a homework contract.  Conferences are held quarterly, meetings with the head of the school, the principal, vice principal are regular occurrences.  The teachers return emails and phone calls straight away.  The teachers give one-on-one support as needed.  They have tutoring on site, homeworkclub, occupational and speech therapy, if needed.  They have a special program for students with dyslexia. The principal is a working principal, he is in touch with the students, not caught up in overwhelming adminstrative duties.  He knows each students by name, and greats each student every morning.

And here is the most amazing thing – T1 likes school!  I can’t say that he loves it, but he likes it.  He tries his hardest now, he is getting As in reading, language arts, social studies.  And he is getting C+s in math – it could be higher but he has a lot of catching up to do.  I picked him up from school last week and he got in the car and asked how many sides does a pentagon have.  I told him, and he was disappointed because he realized he got a question wrong on his test.  He had NEVER EVER cared about a test he has taken in his life.  This school is amazing what they can do with these children.

But this school is expensive, more expensive than any other private school in the area.  T1 is so smart, and he is really able to shine now, and succeed.  His self esteem is sky rocketing!  I said earlier that he plays baseball, but what I didn’t say is that he was always the worst on the team (just ask him, he’ll tell you, after a bit of bravado).  His self-confidence has improved so much that he has become a much better player and has become “The Encourager” for the team.  I don’t know how we are going to afford it much longer.

Maybe contributions could help.  A dollar here, a dollar there.

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