I haven't blogged in a while, and part of the reason for that is that I don't want to "jinx" anything, and the other part is that I have been doing a lot of thinking.
Over the past month, I had Jacob's conference where we discussed what the plan will be for him for next year. When I decided on the title of my blog, I felt odd that I included in the title "raising 3 boys with special needs". At that time Jacob was receiving speech therapy and Occupational therapy and was identified as a preschooler with special needs, so the title was certainly accurate, but in my heart it felt like an exaggeration. To me, special needs meant more along the lines of David and Matthew, behavioral struggles, communication challenges and social challenges. However, the addition of Jacob's "minor" needs at the time was still a stressor and still added to the crazy of my family- IEP's times 3, therapists times 3, extra monitoring of skills times 3.
Over the past month I have been coming to terms with the fact that Jacob's needs are not as minor as I had hoped. This year he has been a child receiving special education, speech and occupational therapy services in a co-taught kindergarten class. This means that he is one of 5 children who are supported by a special education teacher for 2.5 hours of his kindergarten day, and a teacher's aide for the remainder of the day. His assignments in class are modified to meet his needs, and his learning is occurring at a slower than average pace.
For his IEP for next year, he is being recommended for the same type of setting. He has not mastered kindergarten skills at this point and still struggles when forming letters, recognizing letters in many circumstances, counting, and clearly communicating his thoughts. Jacob will be 7 in November and going into 1st grade. I already gave him the benefit of an extra year of growing in preschool with the hopes that with time he would "catch up". My biggest concern by far for Jacob is the fact that he is a very, very aware child. He knows that his brothers have limitations, and I am concerned that he is becoming more and more aware of his own limitations. He wants desperately to make books, and to write down his thoughts, and all of the practice he is doing will only help his skills improve, but it is all hard for him. For some reason he has not yet created a visual model in his head for each of the letters. He has not yet found a way to commit to memory the sounds of each letter. Without doing these things, it is going to be very, very hard for him to move forward.
The amount of writing in first grade gets more and more intense. As work gets more intense, I am worried that Jacob will become more aware of his limitations. Jacob is a child who thrives on knowledge. He loves science and being creative. His natural curiousity will hopefully keep him thriving in enough areas of school so that his self esteem stays high. He can take a box and create the most amazing sculptures. He has used a huge box that we have right now and used it to make a billboard, and a slide and just continues to create with it.
I know that Jacob will do well, and that he is in a school environment that is amazingly supportive, however, the reality of having three boys who will have some levels of struggle throughout their school careers is a challenge. On top of that, there seems to be no real identifiable reason yet for Jacob's struggles. The thought is that he has some form of auditory processing disorder but this can't be tested for until he is at least 7 and with his current delays, likely older than that. In addition, he is struggling with motor planning issues which are apparent when he is told to move his body a certain way. He can hip hop dance better than your average 6 year old and can flip and twist in amazingly complex ways. He can't hop on command or move his body in other ways upon command. This is a major part of why he struggles to form letters and numbers. Your brain has to tell your body to move a certain way to write and his brain and his body just don't seem to communicate well upon demand.
My hope is that with summer school and some tutoring Jacob will continue to gain skills at his own pace. My goal is to keep him feeling confident and happy and that this will help him to continue to blaze his own path.
Matthew is thriving more than he has in almost a year. We have found a child psychiatrist who listens to Matthew and to me! He is trying medications we haven't tried and we are finding success! He is slowly adjusting medications and forming a relationship with Matthew that is allowing Matthew to be a partner in his care. Matthew's awareness of his own body is becoming more and more clear as he is feeling better. His teacher is supporting him in a way that I have not seen for him in a while. His successes are cheered and supported and his struggles are acknowledged but not harped on!
David is going through a rough period with seizures right now, but even he is becoming more self aware. He had a rough behavior time recently and then this past week he has been having seizures are night but his behavior has improved. He is telling me in the morning that he didn't sleep well, which is sad to hear, but makes me aware that he is recognizing more about himself than I ever thought possible and he is talking about how he is feeling which is a huge step!
We are heading into spring break with very limited plans! My hope is that we will use this time to ride bikes, play outside and enjoy time together as a family. I know that in order for Matthew to feel success we will have to have a schedule for each day, so I am going to work on that this weekend! Here is to a rejuvenating spring break with my fabulous three boys!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!