Monday, September 15, 2008

Making Progress

We are making progress on all fronts, even though some of the work has exacerbated my allergies to the point of a sinus infection.

The floor done and even the dogs like it!

At the end of last week, the Engineering Geek finished up the Boychick's room. This weekend, the Boychick and I put his room back together, which was quite an involved process! Every piece of furniture had to be dusted, drawers had to be vacuumed and cleaned out, and stuff sorted into throw away and give away piles.

On the agenda as soon as my teeth no longer feel like they are about to pushed out of my head is a trip to Goodwill. That's in town, and until the antibiotic starts working, a trip involving elevation changes of greater than 100 vertical feet is out of the question.

With new throw rugs, the floor looks great, and the sheepskin from New Zealand has become a good place for the dogs to rest.

The Engineering Geek now has one more room to go; his office a.k.a. the firetrap. Because he feels he has to read each piece of the two years of accumulated junk mail, and because he has an absolute horror to throwing anything away, I expect that the office will take more time to floor than the rest of the house put together.

The Boychick has also been making some good adjustments in school. He has been doing his homework regularly, although there were a few evenings on which he started with whining. We reminded him that he had made a choice and that since it was his choice, he now must do the work entailed by the commitment he has made.

Well, actually, the Engineering Geek told him in a conversational tone to "put up and shut up."
I was the one making the earnest and mostly unheard argument about choices. Sometimes I forget that long and involved reasoning is goes in one ear and out the other of a teenage boy.

As I expected, although the Boychick is reading way ahead of many of his classmates in humanities, he gets behind in writing.
Like many 'Aspies,' he is a very slow writer physically, but also he has difficulty organizing his ideas coherently. We worked hard on sequencing as homeschoolers, but he is still quite slow.
Also, he tends to perseverate on the homework for one subject and forget that he has other assignments to do as well. Planning work and budgeting time are still areas where he needs a lot of support.

Math is another area of great difficulty. Here, it is a matter of the auditory processing disorder and deficits in auditory working memory (these go together!) that give the Boychick fits. He can understand algorithms, but he is very slow at the step-by-step solution to problems because he has such difficulty holding more many chunks of information in working memory at the same time. We had to intervene with the math teacher so that the Boychick can now use a TI-Math Explorer calculator. This frees up his working memory for the algorithm he is using. Often, he can get the right answer, going from A to D without the intervening steps at B and C, but this is not the way that math is taught. Also, in applied math, especially in science and engineering applications, he must be able to show how he arrived at a solution.

We have had a great response from the East Mountain High School faculty as we have set about getting our Boychick what he needs to succeed in this highly academic environment. He has a very experienced special education teacher to whom he can go to hash out problems and who can explain strategies for him to his teachers. He is in general education classes and those teachers have also been very helpful to him, and have been very willing to take our suggestions for strategies to help him build stamina for work that he does not particularly like.

I think part of the successful adjustment we are seeing is that we are not fussy about grades. I never have been. High school grades are just not as important as many people think.
Work ethic is far more important in the long run.
What we are emphasizing with the Boychick is that all his work has to be done to his best ability and in a timely manner. If he does that, we tell him, then the grades will come.
East Mountain High School does not practice grade inflation, and they do not give credit for course grades below a C. But even so, what tends to bring grades down is incomplete work and missing assignments. So these are the things that we are helping the Boychick keep in the forefront of his mind. He is not perfect--he carried one worksheet around in his backpack for a week after it was due. But we are after progress, not perfection.

Socially, the Boychick is doing well! He is actually popular with his classmates.
We are supporting him here in two ways.

First, we bought him stylish clothes. They are not over-the-top, but they look good. The Chem Geek Princess taught him how to take care of these clothes, and how to wear them. Since 'Aspie' kids are socially at a disadvantage already, this is very important. These kids need help understanding the importance of clean, neat clothing that is relatively fashionable and about regular hygeine. We didn't spend a lot of money on this. We were just very careful about what we bought with the money we did spend.

Secondly, the Chem Geek Princess spent several hours with the Boychick, explaining and role-playing important social rules for adolescents. She emphasized that the Boychick needs to listen to others--very difficult for him!--and that he needs to be nice to all the girls. "Girls," she pointed out, "Are not like boys. They have long memories for meanness and slights. If you are nice to all of them now, you'll have no lack of dates for the Senior Prom."

This is something that a lot of kids would do well to understand. Ordinary kindness and manners go a long way towards social success.

Things are progressing here.
Now, I am just waiting for the antibiotic to make a quick advance against this stubborn sinus infection. Until then, it's altered reality with Sudafed and lots of tea!

Oh! And here's Lily, her ears all askew--the tomboy!
She wanted to be in on the picture-taking as she settled back into her room. The one that she deigns to share with the Boychick.


Frankie said...

Your floors are so beautiful!

I'm glad your boychick is doing well with the adjustment to school. I loved the "put up or shut up" comment. Sounds like my engineer husband. (As with saving all the junk mail. lol)

I agree with you about clothing choice. When Thomas was in public school, I shopped sales and was very carful about getting him appropriate stylish clothes --including name-brand tennis shoes and winter coat. Even at that young age, it made a difference.

If you have an extra moment and would care to answer a question for me, would you email me? whisperingwillow @ charter . net

Amie said...

I agree about work ethic. Looking back to my own school days, I can't think of anybody who did all their work failing. Only those who skipped school a lot and missed (or didn't complete)assignments.

That first picture with looks like it belongs in a magazine.

Anonymous said...

Sarah has the same issue with working memory and math. She is also not the kind of learner who likes to do things on paper, in a step-wise fashion, she likes to do it in her head. Kind of a contradiction.

It sounds like Boychick is doing well and the school is trying to be accomodating. Are you working with an IEP or 504 plan, or is that not necessary?

S. wants to go to PS next semester. (*Gulp*) I am hoping to avoid the IEP route if we can.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thanks for the compliments on the pictures, y'all!

Frankie, I did e-mail you but I haven't had time to look at my home e-mail. My Wednesday is really packed. Today is packed as well, so I expect I'll look at it tonight.

Steph: We are working with an IEP and we will be making a new one this semester. I was hesitant at first, but it is clear that N. really needs some of the modifications--an IEP gives them the force of law--though this is weak, as we found out when some of N.'s APS teachers refused to follow the accomodations. We spent a lot of time fighting to get N. out of a particular classroom. So we took him out of school entirely, instead.

When we chose EMHS, we deliberately looked at how they dealt with special ed. Since it is a charter, they are far more accommodating to his needs. They depend on parent's choosing to send their kids to this school. Regular public schools have a captive audience. That's why they have such terrible customer service, in general.