Wednesday, June 27, 2012

He Basically Failed Kindergarten & I'm Okay With It

Today was the the last day of school for New York City Public School kids.  It's also the day  parents start bragging on Facebook about their kids grades. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on those parents.  I'm the first one to brag about my kid when he does something amazing.  It's just that based on his report card, I have nothing to brag about.  Because The Boy pretty much failed kindergarten and if he were a 'typical' kid - he could have gotten left back.  

When I was a kid there were letter grades, now kids are graded by numbers: 

4 - Exceeds grade-level standards
3 - Meets grade-level standards
2 - Approaches grade-level standards
1 - Far below grade-level standards

And even though it's supposed to be a special education class for children with autism, The Boy got a 1 in almost every single subject.  It was no surprise to me that he got a 3 in Reading.  But everything else?  A big fat 1.   

For the most part, I don't care.  Because I have an understanding of The Boy's autism.  I know that the way the material was being taught was both inappropriate and difficult for him.  

I also understand that grades - in the grand scheme of things - don't matter.  Because I know a grade will not determine how much The Boy actually knows.  And I know goals are what really matter.  And he's met a lot of personal goals this year.  

Which is why I don't understand why The Boy got a 1 in Personal and Social Growth?  (Okay, maybe this grade bothers me a little bit.)

This year, The Boy had a friend from school over.  They played all afternoon and since then he's been asking for her and his other classmates.

This year, The Boy asked "Hey where's Dad?" when he realized he wasn't home yet.

This year, The Boy has made gains in potty training and self help skills like dressing and grooming.  

This year, The Boy's spontaneous speech has made me stop dead in my tracks. 

This year, The Boy learned how to count to 100.  

This year, The Boy started typing on the iPad - searching for things he wanted to watch.  

This year, The Boy's handwriting improved.

This year, The Boy drew a picture (rather than writing what he was asked to draw).

This year, The Boy raised his hand in class when he wanted to speak.

This year, The Boy sat in a crowded cafeteria and managed to eat his lunch.

This year, The Boy succeeded in an environment where he was set up to fail.

This year, in spite of all his challenges at school he has toughed it out.  And he's made progress.  Maybe it's not up to the teacher's standards but The Boy continues to surpass mine.  

Because I know the amount of work he puts in.

Because I know the effort he makes.  

Because I see how hard he tries.

And it's a shame that The Boy's teacher couldn't see the same.     


Toy Boat Workshop @MaritimeAqua

Monday, June 25, 2012

Do You Have a Fire Safety Plan?

I was in the middle of cleaning and I went to the hallway to throw away the garbage when I hear screaming and people running down the stairs.  I assumed it was kids being stupid.  I went back into the apartment and went about cleaning.  But the commotion was getting louder. 

I thought it was a domestic violence case or some other kind of fighting so I stood at the door, looking through the peep hole (yes, I am that neighbor).

The Husband comes to the door and I see my neighbor running out of his apartment with his family.  Frantically screaming in a language I do not understand. (My neighbors are Indian.) I go to open the door but The Husband puts his hand out.  "What the hell are you doing?  Don't open the door."  

(About 2 years, there was a shooting on are floor - so The Husband is very cautious.)

I go into our bedroom and look out the window.  And I see flashing lights and a ladder.  

"Um...Babe?  Is that a f--king fire truck?  There's a F--KING FIRE!"  I started yelling.  I went into full panic mode.  Probably not the best reaction.

I run back to our door and look out the peep hole.  I still hear people running down the staircase.

"Get the phones!"  I yell as I run back to our room.  Where I then stood in front of my closet wondering what to wear.  (In my defense, I was in the middle of cleaning.  I'm in my house chanclas (slippers), my hair is a knotty wild mess, I'm wearing a tank (with no real support, if you get my drift) underneath an old short billowy tank dress.  We had gone to the pool earlier that day - I'm ashy, sweaty and gross.  And my toe nail polish chipped.  And yes, as I write this, I realize how ridiculous my though process can be.  As for The Boy - he was rocking an old pair of size 4t shorts and a paint splattered white tank.)

"There's no time for that.  Let's go!"  The Husband yells.

I grab The Boy - who was in the middle of painting a wooden dump truck with The Husband - and said "We gotta go." 

Needless to say The Boy protests. 

We all ran out the front door to the closest staircase, where we see some smoke and water gushing down the steps.  We run to the other stair case and we are able to get out.

"Did you lock the front door?"  The Husband asks.  

"No - you were the last one out."

The Husband rolls his eyes and runs back into the building to lock the door.      

After an hour of standing around the front of our building, we are able to get back inside.  

The Fire Trucks were too much for The Boy

We were very lucky.  But the woman on the 7th floor - a woman, I don't even think I've seen before - not so much.  

It's definitely a learning experience for us.  

It made me realize just how unprepared we are for such an emergency.    

We didn't have a plan.  We just ran out with our IDs, keys and cell phones. 

I knew just enough to keep touching doors for heat.  But that's the extent of my fire safety skills.  I didn't even know what to tell The Boy.  And he didn't understand what was going on.  I tried to tell him it was like Firefighter Ted.  But I don't know how much he understood.

Since yesterday, I'm trying to think about how we can prepare if something like this ever happens again. 

I went to the National Fire Protection Association  page and they have these great tips for autistic children.  They even have a link to create a (personalized) social story - which I did.  It's really cool - simple, clear language, colorful pictures, informative.  Once you read it through on line, you can print it out. 

Below are a  few of the NFPA's fire escape planning tips:
  • Working smoke alarms save lives. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area. For best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they will all sound.
  • Make sure everyone knows what your smoke alarms sound like and can hear the sound of the smoke alarms.
  • Have a fire safety plan to get out of your home quickly.
  • Practice your plan with everyone in the home at least twice a year.
  • Windows or doors with security bars, grills, or window guards should have emergency release devices so they can be used for escape.
  • Choose a meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet once they’ve escaped.
  • Contact your local fire department. Many fire departments maintain registers of persons with disabilities so that they can be located quickly in an emergency.

It never would have occurred to me to contact my local fire department and register The Boy. 

Have you practiced home emergency drills?  Would love to hear your fire safety tips and techniques. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Resolutions, Anniversaries & Graduations

This week I cried many happy tears.

For the 2nd time this year, I had to file for an Impartial Hearing.  I filed the paperwork on my own and with no legal representation.  And on Tuesday The Husband and I met with a person from the school district for a resolution meeting.  

I know some folks will say we got what we wanted.  It's never been about getting what we want.  It's been getting what The Boy NEEDS.  

You know that saying "The squeaky wheel gets the oil"?  That's what I've heard ever since The Boy was diagnosed with autism and I had to advocate to make sure his needs were met.

I'm totally okay with being the squeaky wheel if it means, The Boy gets what he needs.  I mean, "Squeaky" was my high school nickname.  

And because I've been squeaking all year long, The Boy will be starting a new school in July.    It has been a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders.   And I am extremely grateful to the man who helped lift that weight.

The Husband and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary on Wednesday.  I wanted to write a whole post about that...but it will have to wait.  We didn't exchange cards or gifts - I think we've both been preoccupied with all the crazy of this week.  

On Thursday The Husband attended an award ceremony at The Boy's school.  I couldn't go because I had to work.  But I was super proud that The Boy got an award in Technology.  I'm not surprised -  I mean, did you read yesterday's post?  But it was nice to see that his computer teacher recognized how hard he's worked this year.

This morning The Boy graduated kindergarten.  It's been such a long, difficult year.  For the both of us.  And it was difficult to sit through the graduation for many reasons.  And of course I cried.  Again, for many different reasons.  I'll post graduation pics next week.  

And now - I'm ready for the weekend.  I think we'll take a drive out to Connecticut - to the aquarium or the children's museum.  

What are your plans for the weekend?  

Mommy's Idea

Thursday, June 21, 2012

IQs, Autism & iPads

In the last four years, The Boy has been evaluated several times.  By neuropsychologists, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, developmental pediatricians, special education teachers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists. 

All the evaluations reveal the same thing about The Boy's cognitive ability.  His IQ is inconclusive.  In his last evaluation, the doctor wrote:

"Full scale IQ was in the extremely low range, however due to significant variability in performance this cannot be considered a valid representation of overall cognitive functioning."
Does autism impact his ability to test?  Is it the ADHD component?  Is it both?  I don't know. 

What I do know is that The Boy is way brighter than any test score reveals. 

And you know what else I know?  The Boy is just as sneaky and mischievous as any other typical 6 year old boy.  Maybe even more so.  Especially when it comes to the iPad.

The Boy is a wiz with the iPad.  He plays games, colors and complete puzzles.  He goes on Netflix.  He adjusts the brightness and the volume independantly.  He goes on YouTube - he types in what he wants to watch.  And like most kids on the spectrum, he watches the same thing - over and over and over and over again.  

Stuff like this...

And this...

All harmless stuff.  Annoying to listen to after 1000 times.  But hey, whatever makes The Boy happy right?

And then The Boy discovered The Family Guy.  (hanging head in shame) In particular this episode:

And when The Boy would watch it, I'd make him turn it off and/or take away the iPad.  But then The Boy started scripting lines from The Family Guy.  Which secretly made me giggle the first time I heard it but "horse sperm" isn't exactly the kind of thing I want my kid to say out in public.

So we did what any other decent parent would do.  We deleted YouTube from The Boy's iPAd.  (Yes, he has his own iPad - we got tired of sharing.)

And you know what that little stinker did?  He found that exact episode on NetFlix.  So that got removed too.

HAHA - we showed you!  Or so we thought.

The other morning I found The Boy quietly sitting on the sofa.  He had my iPad in his lap and my earbuds in his ears.  Now, I don't keep my earbuds connected to the iPad - so he had to find them.

And you want to know what he was watching?

The Family Guy.

Foiled again by a 6 year old.

So much for a "low range IQ." 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why I Write

I think Toni Morrison puts it best.  Don't get me wrong, I have reasons of my own.  One day (soon) I'll tell you.  But for now?  This will do.

Sesame Place Play Date

I grew up watching Sesame Street.  It's as much of my childhood as the home I lived in.

And that's what I love about motherhood.  Sharing special parts of my childhood with The Boy.  And seeing the joy on his face as he experiences it for the first time.  

As a kid, we never made it to Sesame Place.  So being able to take The Boy is special for me.  I know The Husband feels the same way.  We went last year for the first time and  walking along Sesame Street, was like having part of childhood come to life.  

So when I was invited to Sesame Place for a Blogger Play Date - I couldn't say no.  We were planning on going again this year anyway.

The Boy was just as excited.  Especially about the "water splashing fun" and the "rollee coaster."  I was pleased to hear that he remembered our trip and that he was looking forward to going again.

We got there right as the park was opening and immediately went to the Welcome Center where we requested a ride accessibility band (see below it's the orange band around his wrist).  This band allowed us to enter some rides without waiting on long lines.  We used the band at our discretion - we assessed each line and decided whether or not it was something The Boy could wait for.  The staff was incredibly accommodating to The Boy's needs.

Waiting for Grover's World Twirl  - See how I have hold to on tight?  
He had his cup all picked out.
Father & Son getting ready to ride the Vapor Trail

I don't really do roller coasters...I don't care if it's appropriate for kids 3 and older.  

I'm more of a Flyin Fish kind of gal
Last year we used the map to get around, this time we used the FREE Sesame Place App for iPhone to navigate the park.  If you have an iPhone - you have to download the app.  It just makes life easier.  Some of the features include: 
  • View a full park map on your iPhone.
  • True GPS navigation that provides a highlighted path to your destination
  • Interactive park map with search that allows you to find the nearest restroom, dining location, ATM and more.
By 2pm The Boy was all played out and wanted to go.  He has no interest in meeting the characters and taking pictures.  I tried.  Trust me, I tried.  And once he rode a (dry) ride, he isn't interested riding it again.

Not when there's "water splashing fun" to be had.  But I didn't bring my swim suit (I'm not feeling swim suit ready) and while it was warm, it was still breezy.  And when it comes to the water rides - we really need 2 sets of hands to help with The Boy.  And since it was just me, The Husband and The Boy - it was kind of hard for The Husband to do on his own.  

Which means - we'll be heading back to Sesame Place before the summer's over.  And swim suit ready or not - I'll be participating in the water splashing fun.

I was kind of bummed that I missed the actual Blogger Play Date and the opportunity to meet other bloggers.  (I did get to see my friend Rachel White aka The Digital Latina  and meet her family.)  But as you know - when your kid is ready to go.  You go.  As quickly as you can. 

Needless to say, The Boy was knocked out the whole ride home
And even though he had a nice long nap, that evening he slept.  And GET THIS - he put on his own pajamas.  No prompting.  No asking.  ALL. ON. HIS. OWN.  He's never done that before.  

Yeah, he put his pajamas on backwards but who cares.  A Sesame Place influence? I'd like to think so.      

Disclaimer:  We were provided with complimentary admission to the park.  The opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.    

Monday, June 18, 2012

#BRAVE ~ Movie Review/Sensory Friendly Film Screening

Last Thursday, I was invited to the film premier of "Brave" and I was lucky enough to be part of the first audience to see the film in 3D. 

It wasn't anything like I expected - not your typical Disney "princess" movie.  I think that's what I loved most.  Merida isn't looking for a Prince - she's looking for the freedom to live her life on her own terms.  And I believe this is an extremely important message for our children. 

"Brave" also focuses on the importance of familial bonds.  I don't want to give too much away about the plot but it's a touching film filled with pure Disney Pixar magic.  

I laughed.  I cried.  I jumped in seat. 

Would I take my six year old autistic child to see the 3D version?  Probably not.  "Brave" opens in theaters on Friday, June 22nd.  (Making it a great Stepping Up Ceremony treat). Not because I don't think he would enjoy it, but because the 3D version would be sensory overload for The Boy. 

That's why I am excited that there is also a Sensory Friendly Film Screening of  "Brave" on Saturday June 30 at 10:0o am at select AMC theatres across the county.  

If you've been too nervous to take your child to the movies, going to a Sensory Friendly Film Screening, is a great place to start.  And it's a great way to meet other families who "get it".   

What's a Sensory Friendly Film Screening 
"In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing - in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned."
For details & locations please click on the link below -  

In The Bronx
AMC Bay Plaza 13
2210 Bartow Ave., Bronx, N.Y. 10475

More about "Brave":
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. From Disney and Pixar, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida(voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition and challenges destiny to change her fate.

“Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources – including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers – to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late, discovering the meaning of true bravery.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, “Brave” is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar humor that audiences of all ages around the world have come to eagerly expect. The film takes aim at theaters on June 22, 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

A grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature PixarScotland where the headstrong Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) defies an age-old custom and inadvertently unleashes chaos, forcing her to discover the meaning of true bravery before it’s too late. Opens June 22, 2012, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

Disclaimer:  I was granted free admission to view "Brave."  Opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day in The Bronx

We had a low key Father's Day.  We went for brunch at a local Bronx restaurant - Bruckner Bar & Grill.  Located in the South Bronx and part of an emerging artists neighborhood of loft apartments, quaint bars and cafes - I am always impressed by the charm of the place whenever I walk in.  Truly a Bronx original.      

We got there at quarter to 11, so we sat outside and waited for a few.  

They're in deep conversation...

His 2nd top tooth fell out this morning!
We just can't eat out at any ol place.  It needs to be planned.  We typically like to get to places early, when they are least likely to be crowded.  And we always make sure we have enough things to keep The Boy occupied.

And when he looks like he's ready to go.  We get and go.  Whether we're done eating or not.  

After brunch, we went shopping.  And that was it.  

We came home and I did laundry.  

Nothing exciting but we were together.  

How did you spend your Father's Day?  

Unknown Mami

What's a Sunday like in your City?   
Unknown Mami wants to know!   
Go on over to Sundays In My City.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Natural Wonders a #MaryKayGlam GIVEAWAY!

While attending the LATISM Top Blogueras Retreat last month, we were all pampered by the fabulous ladies of Mary KayI returned home with a new line of beauty and skin products and a new love for Mary Kay. 

And now, I have the opportunity to host a giveaway and you can have the chance to win all of the fabulous products I've been using. 

The products are featured in People en Espanol Spring Trend Report.

photo courtesy of Latina Bloggers Connect

Personally, my favorite trend is "Bold Boho - splashes of cool, bright blues sparkle against flow-y fabrics, petal pinks and earth-tone sandals."   While I am not the fashionista I once was, I love looking at what the current trends are and incorporating  - even in a small way - it into my everyday frazzled mom style. Typically I wear neutral eye colors but I'm excited to experiment with the Mary Kay Mineral Eye Color blues (Azure, Midnight Star and Peacock Blue)  

Before you tell me what your favorite spring trend is - let me tell you about the products in the giveaway. Check it out:

Products featured in People en Esp. Spring Trend Report & Suggested Retail Price (Total $138.50):
$14      Mary Kay® Nourishine Plus™ Lip gloss in Mango Tango
$14      Mary Kay® Nourishine Plus™ Lip Gloss in Au Naturel
$26      Mary Kay® Cream Eye Color in Apricot Twist and Pale Blush ($13 each)
$15      Mary Kay® Lash Love™ Mascara in Black
$13      Mary Kay® Cream Blush in Sheer Bliss
$32.50 Mary Kay® Mineral Eye Color in Cinnabar, Emerald, Ivy Garden, Copper glow and Honey Spice ($6.50 each)
$12      Mary Kay® Eyeliner in Rich Jade
$12      Mary Kay® Eyeliner in Deep Brown

Additional products to complete looks and fill a compact and compact mini  & suggested Retail Price (Total $82.50):
$6.50   Mary Kay® Mineral Eyecolor in Crystaline
$20      Mary Kay® Mineral Cheek color in Strawberry Cream & Sparkling Cider ($10 each)
$18      Mary Kay® Compact (unfilled)
$16      Mary Kay® Compact mini (unfilled)
$12      Mary Kay® Lip liner in Soft Blush
$5        Mary Kay® Cheek brushes (2 per person at $2.50 each)
$5        Mary Kay® Eye brush sets (2 packs per person at $2.50 each pack of two)

Botanical Effects™  Suggested Retail Price (Total $58):
$14      *Cleanse
$16      *Hydrate
$14      *Freshen
$14      *Mask

*Each available in Formula 1 (dry skin), Formula 2 (Normal Skin) and Formula 4 (Oily Skin) - winner will need to let me know which one they want.

A  grand TOTAL: $279.00

Now for The Rules:

  • You MUST post a comment with each entry.
  • Comments will be numbered in the order they are listed and a random number generator ( will be used to select the winner.
  • If you combine entries into one post, you will only have one chance to win rather than up to three.
  • Giveaway is open to Continental U.S. and Puerto Rico addresses.
  • Mary Kay will ship the package to the winner directly
Mandatory entry:  Click HERE to view the Mary Kay Spring Trend Report (English version) & check out their products.  Then come back to this post and leave a comment telling me what Mary Kay product you'd love to try (or have tried) and why. 

Additional entries - you must leave a comment for each additional entry:
This giveaway will end Tuesday, June 19th at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be announced on Facebook & Twitter by Wednesday, June 20th.  I will contact the winner and you will have 24 hours to reply.