Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Parent Teacher Conference

Last week Derek and I went to Carver's parent teacher conference. If you've only ever been to a typical PT conference you are WAY missing out! These preschool conferences are amazing. We spent nearly a full hour talking to Carver's teacher, as well as one of his occupational therapists. It's such a different experience than talking for 10 minutes with his sisters' teachers! I love it.

First of all... Carver is extremely well behaved at school - no tantrums, no hitting at all. They were really surprised that we even asked. We were surprised that THEY were surprised! For awhile there Carver was saying about school, "hit... sad... cry." And we'd wonder what that was all about! He hits plenty at home and tantrums are just a part of communication between us. It's relieving and disappointing at the same time to know that he's so much better those 3 hours a day he's away from us! (makes me wonder what we are doing wrong...) But mostly I'm grateful that he's good and that because of that, he's able to get the most out of the program.

He's their "color boy" and knows at least 8 colors. I see him doing shapes at home, as well - stars, triangles, squares, circles. He still knows a few letters, but hasn't been as interested in that lately. They said that he answers questions right, that he sits criss-cross applesauce on the floor (they found that the cool cushion his old teacher liked was making him wiggle more), participates in singing time and knows the routine. He helps other students with their coats and backpacks and LOVES to help bring out the heavy car road map every day. He showed us and and just beamed. Too cute.

Oh - I loved that they said he was VERY good at quiet hands, that he does it instantly! It's your basic folded arms and we told them that he does it for prayers at home, too. Pretty cool to see the overlap and the success in both areas because he's very good at folding arms for prayers at home. Keeping them folded and not eating his food is another story.

He's meeting milestones and goals from the beginning of the year, some of which might have been too low. But cognitively, it was hard to guess what he knew back then. Now we're seeing an explosion of language and participation, even at home at his grumpiest. Interestingly enough, they said that since the class split into 2 smaller groups, lots of kids have been talking more and making better progress. I'm so grateful that the district hired another teacher! These kids definitely needed the space. His teacher seemed great. We're very happy with everyone there.

In his gross motor occupational therapy, Carver's working on catching balls, throwing balls, bouncing balls, swinging on platform swings, scooting on a "bike" with his feet, riding a scooter down a ramp, and lots of jumping. Jumping off steps and jumping around like a frog. It was great to get tips of things we can try at home. That was the OT we met with so I have more details from her.

As far as speech goes, he's labeling really well with one word. They are working towards categorizing items - name a food or a vehicle, etc... I thought that was interesting. I love seeing how the learning process is broken down to individual steps. Also, they are working on using more verbs in his speech. I've been thinking about that, too. simple sentences like "I like milk" and "want" have been goals I've had for us. He says "hold it" (when he wants to touch something) and other verbs that are slipping my mind at the moment, it's definitely an emerging skill that we'll be working on.

It was super cool to take him with us because he knew right where to go, led us up to his classroom and knew which door to go to and everything. It was so fun to see his place! I can't say enough how GRATEFUL I am for preschool - the very best thing to happen to Carver!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Potty success

Shame on me for not posting this picture in January - Carver had his FIRST success in the potty back then. He was delighted, he knew what happened and that he got to wear a Lightening McQueen pull-up as a reward. Wa-hoo! I've tried to put him on the toilet first thing in the morning, hoping it would be the best time. That particular day, his diaper was already wet and I can NOT believe he went again. And then 10 minutes later in the pull-up, too. Does he have amazing control? Or is something wrong? Who knows. I need to ask the dr. I was regular at this for a week or so and then I got lazy, then I forgot. But I remembered again today and he POOPED in the potty. He'd been sitting there less than a minute, recognized what was coming and sure enough - he did it! HURRAY!!! By no means do I think that we're "potty training." This is still very much PRE-potty training. I'm sure proud of Carver, all the same. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lesson #2: Don't judge other parents

Carver is NOT napping at the moment and I'm here supervising that little bit of rebellious behavior. I might as well be productive about it, right? Lesson #2 comes next because it's the next one on my mind. No order to this whatsoever. Check out Carver and I in this group shot from last summer's trip to Disneyland. It's a great one for this topic.... :)

And I'm going to be honest here. Don't we all see kids behaving badly at the park, in the store, where ever and wonder what their parents are thinking? It's only natural to assume that the 5 year old making a scene in church has never been taught reverence, right? And that 4 year old with a pacifier is over-indulged and babied by parents who won't help him grow up? Wrong.

Carver's disabilities don't show. He doesn't look different from other kids, most of the time. He wore his SPIO suit for awhile and sometimes he has drool or yogurt on his shirt that most 3 year olds don't have. But otherwise, his disabilities qualify as "invisible." So when we are at the park, in the store, at the doctor's office - other people see his constant physical motion, inability to follow directions and tantrums as signs of bad parenting, right? Probably. Sometimes his behaviors give clues to other parents that there is something wrong and they might ask, they might not. But plenty of other times they wonder why we can't control this kid who looks like he must be 4. But his disabilities are REAL and so we look and sound different from other families sometimes. I'm sure lots of people have come to inaccurate conclusions about us because they only know part of the story.

So if Carver's difficulties are invisible, what else might be? How about sick children? Maybe they missed their naps, maybe they are going through a difficult phase, maybe whatever activity we see them in happens to be the hardest part of their day. We might be seeing someone at their very worst. Or maybe it's just a huge success that they made it out of the house that day, for whatever reason. There are so many invisible challenges, so much more to everyone's story than what we see in a brief conversation or even in an afternoon at the park. I'm trying hard to remember that and I'll tell you what - my perspective has really changed as I look around and give parents the benefit of the doubt. I'm pretty sure we're all just doing the best we can. Until you know the WHOLE story, it's just not time to judge.