Friday, July 30, 2010

Auditory Processing

Children with auditory processing problems often don't recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves are loud and clear. For example, “Tell me how a chair and a couch are alike” may sound like “Tell me how a couch and a chair are alike.” Or “Tell me how a cow and a hair are alike.” This can be especially problematic in a noisy environment or when listening to complex information. So you can see how auditory processing can be a big challenge in the classroom.

As G. continues into the second year of high school more and more information is being presented in a lecture format. Although he loves science, last year he almost flunked this subject because the student next to him kept talking during class time. Now we're dealing with seven teachers, who have five classes of at least 30 students. Although they should read his IEP, most of them won't. So I’m finding that it's extremely important for me to be proactive in communicating with them. I find that it's much better to provide short tips, or cheat sheets because like all of us these teachers are busy.

So I'll meet with them the week before school starts and I'll talk to them about auditory processing. Some of the things I'll ask them to look for are:
  • Don't assume G. understands, check for understanding.
  • watch for and expected answers or a limited response to questions.
  • Be open to restating questions or directions.
  • Watch out for double meanings (last year G got in a lot of trouble with the word “gay”).
  • Remember auditory processing will become more pronounced in a noisy environment.
It's amazing some teachers will really respond to this, they'll give me their e-mail address and take an interest in G. On the other hand, some teachers will be polite but they'll just think I'm an overbearing, overprotective mother, and that this is just another thing that's popped up on the horizon. Classes will be more challenging this year and I hope to keep G. in public school. High school is a great place to learn how to deal with complex social situations and gain more independence. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


As I've mentioned before I love to read. I like to read a variety of books, some on autism, biographies, historical fiction, and an occasional mystery. I've also mentioned before that I'm trying to keep balance in my life. I'm easily consumed by guilt, fear of the future, and other burdens around me. When I become consumed I stop taking care of myself and become hyper focused, usually on the a-word (autism). Funny enough this always shows up in my reading.

For example, a few weeks ago I read Making Sense of Children's Thinking and Behavior, One, Two, Three Potty!, re-read Building Bridges through Sensory Integration... and then a little red flag went up in my mind. The vicious cycle was starting again, I wasn't putting on makeup, was spending way too much time looking up research papers, and my family was irritating me, I was back on the familiar road of losing myself.

At this point in my life you would think this wouldn't be an issue. I know I'm supposed to take care of myself, but it's so easy to let myself go. Sometimes when I take care of myself I feel guilty. You see this is where my feelings and my head don't match up. My feelings of love for my family drive me to find answers, to make things better, go further. However, my head says don't do this again, you've got to take care of yourself, you are not being selfish. So often times living in balance for me means balancing between what I know and how I feel. It's a strange conflicting place to be at times.

That's how life really is for me. People say I'm a great mom, advocate, whatever... really I'm a person who is often torn and makes lots of mistakes, sometimes the same mistakes over and over again. I imagine if you're reading this I'm just like you trying to do the best I can.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Choosing Not to Be Offended

I have been described as easy-going. When I take those personality tests I usually fall into the “sanguine" category. If you invite me to lunch I don't care where we go, I'll eat just about anything. What's important to me is that you invited me to lunch, and I get to spend time with you. I once heard a pastor say that he and his wife decided that they would not get offended. I thought about that for a long time. Deciding not to be offended by others means that you automatically give them the benefit of the doubt.

I heard that quote when I was 22, and I decided to follow their example. It's not always easy to assume the best of others. Especially when I feel like I'm being judged, or I feel a need to protect my ego. What does protecting my ego look like? Well it usually go something like this:

I try something new, which I do all the time, and I fail. Then someone comes along and points out my failure, and proceeds to tell me how I should have done things. Now at this point I can usually see my mistakes so it doesn't feel good to have someone point it out to me. My ego kicks in and I want to make myself look good, I want to justify myself, or say something sarcastic, to put the other person in their place...

However, if I do that then I'm judging the other person's motives. Also, when I do that, I usually don't feel good afterwards. So I'm trying to bite my tongue, say thank you for the advice and move on. I notice that these situations tend to happen a lot with younger parents. You see they are excited, their child is making progress, they're feeling good about where they are in life and they're eager to help others. I understand that feeling and the desire to help, and I'm sure I've said a lot of stupid things to other parents as well.

I feel a lot better when I think of people in this light. It also helps me to follow the words of Jesus: You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:5).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Becoming independent

Sometimes I start to slack off I get comfortable with the way things are. Then I remember that I'm on a journey to train my son to be independent. After all nobody wants to live with their parents forever. I hope to give Geoffrey all the tools he needs to be as independent as possible. He’ll be turning 15 this month and he's come farther than I ever could have imagined.

So now I'm becoming very conscious of all the little things I need to teach him. For example,
Being the growing teenager that he is I've had to start teaching him how to make his own food. It amazes me that some things that seem so simple can be so hard for him. For example, learning to make cereal. The slightest spill of milk could really cause him to get upset. Rather than quickly wiping up the spill G. would clean the whole counter and by the time he got back to the cereal it was all soggy. It's that problem solving thing again. You see I taught him how to clean the counter, but I didn't teach him how to cleanup a small spill.

Another thing we've learned how to use is a plunger. G. has to learn how to unclog the toilet. Someday he'll need to know how to do it. I felt kind of guilty teaching him how to do this. At first he tried to do everything he could to get out of doing this. And truth be told, it was easier for me just to do it rather than try and get him to do it himself. However, being a teenager, and a frequent clogger, I decided it was time for him to learn how to do this himself. I'm happy to report he is now an expert plunger.

The nice thing about teaching G. to be independent is that I think it makes him happier. It also makes life easier for me. At first it takes a lot of extra work, but the payoff is worth it.