Our journey through autism

Posts tagged ‘summer’

Summer 2013

I’ve been meaning to write for the longest time, but busy with one thing or another, so now I have to back track… school started last week and I wanna write up about that as well, but first let me sum up our summer and then write up about school and therapy and anything else.

Summer was kinda busy, at the beginning of the summer he had his piano recital, horse show, and 2 summer camps. I’ve already written about all those except his second camp, the YMCA summer day camp.

We did 1 month of Y camp and 2 weeks of swimming, and he had a lot of fun, he doesn’t say much about his day but he was happy to go every morning and was happy when I picked him up, it was from 8:45 to 4 every week day and it helped him sleep easily at night. He started the day with swim lessons which I think have helped him be more confident in the water and a better swimmer. There was arts and crafts, sports, nature and because of a lot of bad rainy days there were also indoor activities and movies. Hoping to do it again next year but maybe add an extra session or 2 to fill up his summer, he gets bored and restless during the long days. One day in the car after camp he asked me if he could be a camp counselor when he grew up so I take it that he had fun even if he didn’t tell me about his days and why he was having fun. He got really tan and also got several bug bites that he scratched at incessantly, the was the downside, and I couldn’t spray him something before he went in the morning because he started the day with swimming and it would have been washed off.

After 4 weeks of camp we did 2 weeks of swimming. It was 4 times a week every morning so he got the most benefit, also the instructor he had was better than the previous one. He was the oldest and most advanced in his class, I could see the improvement in his confidence and swimming abilities, he kept his head under water longer, and was able to swim a little on his front and on float on his back. At the end of the 2 week session the instructor filled out the report in detail and not just quickly marking off the form. She suggested he repeat Pike 2 because he was unable to swim the required distance but other than that he was ready for the next class. Not sure yet when we should restart classes or move on to something else.

Camp Moementum 2013

Bilal had a great time this year at camp Moementum. It ran for 2 weeks, and he missed only two days, one due to fever and another due to a dentist appointment that wouldn’t have been easy to reschedule as it was set 7 months ago. They did a lot of the same activities as last year, sports, hikes, water guns, splash pads, and arts and crafts. He got a couple t-shirts and a photo video DVD. Last year the camp ran from 9-12 also but she had after camp hours as well for an extra fee, this year everyone left precisely at 12, and it was a little low key, last year Siemens came for a science expo and representatives from the Atlanta Braves baseball team came as well. This year there wasn’t anything special like  that. Bilal still had a blast, the second week there were two boys (brothers) close to his age and they quickly took to each other and the teachers called them the Three Musketeers, he talked about them a lot and they looked really cute together in the pics.

This week he’s off, no camp but he has his weekly therapy sessions (minus speech) then next week he starts 2 sessions of YMCA camp creek camp. Its a full day camp with a large number of kids, counselors and activities, it sure looks like fun and I hope he enjoys it as well.

Boredom

Its the summer a long vacation with long days, a lot of time to fill up and keep a child occupied, a child that doesn’t know how to fill his time on his own, used to having structure and told what to do. Bilal gets bored quickly and easily. He wakes up and asks to play on the XBox, he plays for a few minutes and then turns it off and turns on the laptop to watch a couple episodes of Power Rangers, he then shuts it and starts pacing around the house, he then asks for the XBox again and so on and so forth. He might play or fight with his little brother we’ll go attend one of his therapies etc but that’s pretty much it. He’s not into arts and crafts or books, so it isn’t easy for me to figure out something for him to do to keep occupied, the weather is hot and indoor activities are usually costly. Summer camps are essential for him and just trying to change it up. A board game or legos, or cards, play doh, a day at the grandparents, a shopping trip etc. I used to get bored easily when I was a teenager and would state quite often “I’m bored!” my mom says I take after my uncle, but we both didn’t pace around the house, I tried to keep occupied by watching TV or reading books but Bilal doesnt keep to anything long enough. He still doesnt use the phase “I’m bored” but his actions say it all.

I’ve seen that a couple people used the search term “summer regression” when visiting my blog, thankfully Bilal doesnt regress during the summer, whatever skills he’s learnt over the year he retains, we also keep up with his weekly therapies so skills are kept intact, its the boredom and behavior issues that arise during the summer or vacations longer than 3 days. He may ignore rules, or fight with his brother more, more frustrated and angry, all something to amuse himself with when he’s bored.

We’ve started summer camp this week, even though its only 3 hours in the morning its something that tires him out and fills a small void in the day. In 2 weeks he starts the YMCA camp which is 7 hours long which I think will be perfect in keeping him occupied and worn out.

Yesterday he had a fever and complained of leg pain, I’m guessing a bad case of growing pains, but he was able to take a 4 hour nap during the day, something he hasnt done since he was a baby. He woke up refreshed, happy, well behaved and really chatty. It was really a recharge boost. His body really needs the naps and the rest I wish he could do it more often, it doesnt have to be a daily thing but every now and then, I believe its good for him. He sleeps about 9 hours or less at night, never naps not even in the car, he only naps when he has a fever and usually just for a little while the 4 hours thing was amazing.

 

Hope ya’ll are having a great fun filled summer.

Pre-K over

It’s summer! School ended on the 23rd of May, and all in all its been a good year, on the 20th they had their end of year party and all his teachers had good things to say about Bilal. One of the assistants said that he is a know-it-all, answers every question and the day he’s absent they get no answers and they feel his absence. His speech therapist says he’s doing really well and that she would have discharged him if it weren’t for changing schools, structure, and a whole other environment that might cause issues or regressions. She said his IEP is due 2 months within the new year so his new teachers can take it from there and next year he is also due for a re-evaluation by the school system, so then we’ll see. His progress report shows that he is making progress or has mastered all his IEP goals, those that are still in progress are at 65% and up.

This is an email that his teacher sent us:

Dear Parents,

Our last book unit for the year was called “A House for Hermit Crab,” by Eric Carle. I never realized how appropriate that book is for the end of the year. It is about a crab that finds a new shell home and decides to decorate it with many different forms of sea life over the course of a year. At the end of the year, the crab has found that it has grown out of his special shell and needs to embark on a journey to find a new one. When I reflect on the story I think of the children as the hermit crab that has come to a new shell home (PSE). It was scary at first but they grew into it. As the year has passed each child has added new decorations (milestones, friendships, and achievements) to their shell home. Now it is the end of the school year with many of the students finding their shell again too small and they have to shed the Preschool shell and embark on their journey to find a new shell and add new decorations to it throughout their school career. I know that some of the children will not remember my name but I hope they will always remember the lessons that they have learned, the self confidence that they have developed, and the love that surrounded them here.

I want to thank each and every one of you for allowing me to get to know, work with, and serve your children this year. The lessons that they have taught me are beyond measure and I will never forget their names. It has been an honor, a privilege, and a pleasure.

It’s so sweet and brought tears to my eyes, their dedication and hard work makes a lot of difference in these children’s lives and they usually go under appreciated and taken for granted I pray that his teachers are always this passionate.

 

Well first week of summer we have nothing planned, his weekly therapies are continuing and just relaxing and having fun. Second week he has his music recital and final horse show, and also he starts summer camp, busy, busy, busy, fun, fun, fun!

 

Have a great summer ya’ll!

 

Summer Camps 2013

Its that time of year again. School has less than 2 months and then a 3 month long summer break before Bilal starts Kindergarten in August. As we’re transitioning all his classes to a typical setting we considered the YMCA summer camp. It’s sports, outdoors, nature walks and they provide swimming  also a great bonus is that its close and from 9-4 everyday, its a tad more expensive than we’d like but that’s the average price around here. They offer sessions all through the summer from the very first week till the week right before school starts and you can pick and choose which sessions to do. So we’ve got him booked for mid-June till mid-July for now. Last year he went to Camp Moementum for the month of June and he loved it, I thought about it but dismissed it because we want a more typical environment. So a couple of weeks ago there was a summer camp expo for children with special needs, the only reason I went was to say hi to his swim instructors and thank them again for everything so there we ran into Maureen the camp momentum instructor, she said she hadn’t heard from me and why haven’t I replied to her email I told her our circumstances and she said that her camp was a mix both special needs and typical children attended and Bilal would fit right in, she gave me the application and we thought it through and decided to do the 2 weeks, it being cheaper and something Bilal knows and remembers. More sports, hikes, splash pads, arts and crafts and the like.  It could also be a bit of practice before he does the YMCA camp. He’ll still have his therapies, music lessons and recital, horse back riding lessons, and a boy scout camp with his dad for a weekend. We might also look into Arabic or Quran lessons, so it will be busy and hopefully no boredom or regressions. Even though I’m not looking forward to the heat of the summer cant wait for the fun of it all.

Summer Camp

During the last month of school I was getting nervous about the summer, long days with nothing to keep him busy. From 7am to 9pm with only an hour or two of private therapy isn’t enough. It was always the case when Bilal gets bored to act up, throw tantrums or the very least start pacing about. At the end of March there was a camp expo for children with special needs that I went to check out, the camps were either for older children, too far or too expensive. I couldn’t figure out what to do and thought the camp being held by his horse back riding instructor the best option even though it was too far to go to on a daily basis. Then during the last week of school his teacher sent an email about a camp but it was for children 5-12 years old and Bilal wouldn’t turn 5 until the end of September, I emailed the instructor telling her that Bilal wouldn’t turn 5 until the end of September but that he was high functioning, potty trained and able to communicate well and if she would please consider him. She agreed and I sent in the paperwork. It was a sports camp and the instructor Maureen Wales  is a special ed physical ed teacher, the camp is called Camp Moementum and it was only $100 a week taking place at a local park on their adapted fields. I signed up for the first 2 weeks of June, but sadly Bilal woke up the first day of camp with a fever and wasnt better the next day I was so bummed that with a 10 day camp he already missed 2 days of, but as soon as he got better we went and he loved it, they played on the fields, the playground, went on hikes, they had a bounce house and a water slide and go carts and basketball,  laps, arts and crafts. The had a cook out one day and somehow they got him eating hot dogs something he just wouldnt eat at home. There were several teenage volunteers and she had them working and looking after each child. At the end of the 2 weeks she said she’ll extend it for another 2 weeks, perfect ! I signed up for those, and he really enjoyed it, he won at BINGO a couple times and got little toys, he got a beach ball, and t-shirt, 2 caps. Siemens came one day with a whole science expo for the kids, I cant wait till next year for him to go again.

So thanks to Camp Moementun we were able to fill up 1 of the 3 months of summer vacation. On friday I’ll look into music therapy, adapted piano lessons or something for Bilal to work on, and we’re still doing his private speech, OT and PT sessions, adapted aquatics and horse back riding lessons, and on yeah we’ve also started on the myofunctional therapy. So he’s not bored, the tantrums are a thing of the past alhamdullah and he rarely paces about. He also watches Disney Junior or PBS Kids, plays on the laptop, iPad or XBox, and all this time off school he’s playing a lot with his brother and he’s making amazing progress mashaAllah alhamdullah. I’ll write a progress post in August after he’s been in therapy for a whole year.

School Year in Review

We just started our summer vacation. Bilal has completed a full year of special ed pre-k, and he’s done great, met and exceeded all expectations. He’s made so much progress in only 9 months. He started the school year barely speaking, sensory issues, and almost no eye contact at all. His IEP goals included stating full name, age, and gender when asked, to sit still for 5-8 minutes, to have no aversions towards messy media, etc. very basic things. In February he had met all these goals and I asked for an IEP amendment to keep him challenged and we wrote up a whole new IEP with new goals which he’s made progress in and if he keeps it up inshaAllah he’ll have met them all by the time of our next IEP meeting at the end of September. We’ve been very lucky and blessed to have an amazing team that really care for Bilal and his progress and who genuinely adore him. In December his class teacher left and for 6-8 weeks the TA’s and substitutes took over, until the 1st grade teacher transferred to become a special ed teacher. I was really sad to see his teacher go, she was very dedicated and I didn’t want a change in schooling so soon. After a bit of a slow start his new teacher learnt the ropes and has been great with Bilal and his goals, listening to all my concerns and helping me set up a PT evaluation and the IEP amendment meeting. His TAs are amazing people. Ms. English works with special needs teenagers and adults, helps out at a women’s shelter she is such a dedicated caring individual and Bilal was blessed to have someone like her. The other TA Ms. Abernathy is a young teacher still studying for her masters in special education, Bilal has a crush on her, she always plays with him, makes him laugh and helps motivate him with her own personal iPad, sadly she wont be there next year as the county has transferred her elsewhere. The two most important members of the team are his speech and OT therapists, Speech has come so far speaking in sentences now, answering most questions and started using pronouns correctly, OT is the one area where he didn’t make leaping bounds of improvement as his fine motor issues seem to be difficult to overcome, he still hates to color or write, but he can kinda scribble out his name, and he has overcome his aversion to playdoh, stickers and any other messy media.

Towards the end of the year I started thinking of what to get his teachers and therapists as “Thank you” gifts and as I’m not at all crafty or creative I decided to seek help elsewhere. Went to the local farmer’s market and found a young women selling her own organic hand made soaps, so I had her make little baggies for the teachers and I quickly wrote out thank you notes and gave them to the teachers at the End of Year Party. The next day they all sent home with Bilal their own thank you notes, thanking me for the gift but more thanks for letting me teach Bilal and how amazing he is and what a great sense of humor he has, I was speechless, I still get teary thinking about it, and feel really blessed to have such amazing dedicated people in our lives. I also got his bus driver and the bus driver assistant the same little gift bag and got thank you cards from them as well.

Now its summer and its loooong, 3 whole months I’m not sure how we’ll fill it up, his therapies are going on as usual, a session a week, we’ll be adding the myofunctional therapy and his teachers informed me of a 2 weeks sports camp in June, Ramadan is in July but I worry about him getting bored and regressing.

Next year he’ll be repeating pre-k as he has a late September birthday, he’ll be one of the oldest if not the oldest one in his class and he’ll be placed with Ms. Tiffany the other special ed teacher, she’ll be in charge of the 4+ year olds while his current teacher Ms. Bethany will have the 3 year olds. Its a little of a change, new teacher and TA’s but not drastic as he knows them and he’ll have the same therapists, cant wait until we start and get back to our typical routines.

First day of school – August 15th 2011

Last day of school – May 18 2012

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