Monday, March 23, 2009

Trying to catch up!

It seems like time is just flying by and I'm running against it! These last few weeks have been extremely busy for me on the home front. Before I start babbling, allow me to give you a little insight as to why things get a little crazy for me and I go MIA. I have a six and a half year old son named Diego, with Asperger's Syndrome (which is associated to the autism spectrum). He was diagnosed officially on Nov. 1 of 2007. I say officially because as parents we always had a doubt and an instinct that told us there was something wrong and that he was simply just not going to "grow out of it". I remember always comparing my son to other "normal" kids and wondering if the things that he was doing were actually going to go away on their own. I would ask my sisters and my mom what they thought since they were mothers way before I was, and all they would say was "no te mortifiques, es niño! ya veras que cuando cresca un poco mas, el va a cambiar" {"don't worry, he's just a boy! you'll see, when he gets a little older he will change"}. Well, time went by and my husband and I worried even more. When Diego started kindergarten, it was absolute chaos. He had been attending Montessori school for the previous years and regular public school had a huge effect on him, so huge, that we realized then we had to do something. We had him diagnosed.

Some of Diego's symptoms are predominantly: Constant movement (hyperactivity), lack of eye contact (at times), impulsivity, frustration and anxiety. For the most part, a lot of these symptoms are controlled with therapy. There are days when you can't tell there's something wrong with Diego and other days when the symptoms are "a flor de piel" (very noticeable). That's just how life is, and believe me, if I could change anything about Diego, it would only be to help him out, because we love him just the way he is. He is extremely intelligent, loving, caring and articulate. He has been the biggest life lesson we've had so far, he has taught us how to be good parents.

So, with all of that said I can finally tell you why it's been crazy on the home front for me. My husband and I were preparing for our second annual IEP meeting with Diego's school, in which we asked for changes to be made. We stressed, prepared ourselves, did some research, stressed some more, did more research, asked a bunch of questions, stressed more... finally we had our meeting and things went pretty well. For those of you who are not familiar with these IEPs and the school districts, let me just say that it's not easy. If you have a child with special needs, the school district will give you what they want to give you and not necessarily what your child really needs! If you don't do your homework and prepare to ask for what your child needs, they will not even mention it to you. No offense to those who work in the education field, I have nothing against teachers at all! If anything, I believe that teachers are the ones who make a difference. I just think that as parents, if you are not prepared to ask for the right things the school district will not provide for you.

My advice, if you are a parent of a special needs child (in a public school) is: Do your homework, by that I mean do some research about your child's special needs. There are so many online sites these days where you could find great information. Don't be afraid to ask questions, if your school turns you down, go to the school district or the board of education. Once your child is set with a good IEP, do some follow ups to make sure he is getting what he needs. Remember that you as the parent know what's best for your child.

And last but not least, perhaps the best advice ever given to me: "When your child is at his/her worst, you have to be at your best."

Here are some helpful links:

Claudia M.

1 comment:

Keen said...

Claudia, I really enjoyed reading about your experience. One of my boys is three and is also on the spectrum, so I can relate to the craziness surrounding school, IEPs, therapy and the like. We're doing his IEP for the next school year in just a few weeks.

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