Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Little hope smashed

Akila had a pretty decent evening last night, and I was very thankful. We are in a two week or more period where Michael has to work late, it is a busy time of the year for accountants. I was really hopeful as we tried a new sleep medication with Akila. I put her to bed without the usual resistance and came down to the dining room.

Typically, we put her to bed last and then try to plant ourselves because if she hears us moving around, she is more likely to try to call us back. And unlike my other kids, if she calls and you don't come, you are in for many issues. She will begin to rage, and totally lose it. It is really hard as I don't want her to wake the other kids, or to keep them up. I was in the dining room working on my computer (this is also a super busy week for me as we have a big dance performance at the dance studio this weekend), and I was so excited that she had fallen asleep, I almost called Michael to tell him about the success of this new medication.

When I finally felt it was safe to move, I went upstairs to find her in my bedroom watching a movie. Nuts, my little bit of hope in this new medication was smashed a little. This medication is suppose to help her to stay asleep so I was still hopeful that it would help once she fell asleep. I brought her up to bed and we had our usual resistance that I had been excited to avoid a 1/2 hour earlier or so. I put all the kids including Akila to bed at 8:15 and Akila was still awake at 10:00. Then she finally fell asleep. I worked on my computer until 12:50 am and went to bed. She woke me up at 2:00 am.

I gave her some middle of the night meds. She was still up at 3:00. Michael tried to help. At 3:40, I heard her downstairs with the dog and a movie. I went down and we verbally fought a while before i could get her back up to her bedroom. It was 4:00 by this time. Then I could not get her to even sit on her bed as she was not tired and couldn't sleep. I tried to explain that she won't be able to fall asleep if she doesn't lay down and try. This went on for another 20 minutes or so.

I finally went to bed at 4:30, only to hear the dog start barking just before 5, which he doesn't do anymore. I thought she was back down there and went and checked and she had fallen asleep. During all of this commotion, Hezekiah had awaken and kept coming out of his room and looking into Akila's room, which was inflaming her even more. I don't think he fell back asleep, as at 6 am, after I had been sleeping for 1 hour, he woke me and the other two kids up and wanted to play the Wii.

So, the new sleep meds did not work the first night, not too excited to try them again, but I will. It was pretty cold this morning, and I am now driving the kids to school. We were about 8 blocks from home on the way to school, when the van got a flat tire this morning. I was in my pj's. Had to wear Zeke's hat as I did not have one, and it has a bunch of long multi colored string that hangs down from the top of it. I was one hot looking mama on the side of the road changing a tire. I called our neighbor Kathy who came and got the kids and brought them to school, she is such a life savior to our family.

I did feel kind of bad though, I finished the tire about 7 minutes after she got the kids- I could have brought them. You just don't know how smoothly a tire change is going to go. It took about 25 minutes, not too bad in the sub-zero temps. And the really good news, is that the garage was able to fix it so we didn't have to buy new tires.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Progressing or regressing

I was thinking about it today, and Akila's behavior is much worse than it was just a month ago. I was thinking that she is progressively getting worse, or regressing I guess.

Last night was rough. Michael had to work late, Akila was violent, she hit me several times, was swearing, throwing things, swiping stuff off tables, etc. I finally ended up restraining her, three times. This was all at bedtime. So as I am restraining Akila in her bedroom, I am trying to tell the other three kids what to do to get ready for bed.

It was a rough night, I was literally sweating by the end of it. And we had a rough morning, thankfully sandwiched in between was the great IEP meeting and a good report from school on her behavior- that is good. She had 5 nights in a row of getting up between 3-4 am. The house is totally trashed. Yesterday, she was up early, and excited that it was lightly snowing outside. I got dressed and came downstairs. I thought she was on the computer, and after about 5 minutes realized she was not. I went through the house looking for her, and realized she must be outside playing in the snow. As I was about to go outside to look for her, she came through the front door.

About 10 minutes later, I see that she has a pack of gum that is not hers or mine. She sees me looking at it, and tells me she walked over to the Handi Stop and bought it with a dollar that Angie gave her. This was all around 6:45 am, it was still dark. We live in North Mpls, she walked to Broadway Ave and crossed the busy street. Not good.

I have been meaning to get some kind of door alarms, and you can be sure that I did last night. I also emailed her Dr. about switching her sleep medication, and went and picked up a new Rx today. I hope it helps.

On a positive note, I think that we might finally be able to get Akila on MA through the TEFRA program, this would be huge. Keep your fingers crossed as I muddle through a boat load of paperwork.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grateful for our school team

Akila had her re-entry meeting at school this morning, which was not really a re-entry, but an IEP review kind of a meeting. I had several things that I wanted to bring up, and I didn't have to. The school staff brought up all the issues I was thinking about. This is a true sign of an excellent team that is working hard to try to help Akila to be successful.

One very awkward item (at least awkward for me), was when we talked about homework. I absolutely hate messing with Akila on homework, it is a huge battle. Her teacher and para were coming up with some great strategies to make up some worksheets specifically for Akila in math, and I jumped in and brought up the honest to goodness fact, that Akila is not capable of doing homework on weeknights. She is so volatile, and out of control, that I could spend the entire 4 hours afterschool fighting with her to do homework.

Sundays we don't get home from church until the meds are pretty close to worn off, leaving Saturday mornings. Well, we are maybe actually at home around 50%of Saturdays, and to spend these precious hours when she is most enjoyable, doing homework, does not make sense to me. Michael and I spend so much time with Akila, just trying to keep her occupied and calmed down, that if we had to spend an hour or two every day with her on homework, our other kids would get nothing from us.

So we decided to put "no homework" in her IEP, and I am so relieved. I am so relieved. We really haven't been doing homework, but even the little bit that comes home, can cause major stress. Some mornings, as she is leaving for school, she will meltdown because her homework is not finished. I tell her it is fine, but she rages about it anyway.

We also talked about some kind of wording in her IEP for different consequences for certain behavioral issues, instead of suspension. I of course love this idea. When I worked in the Bloomington Schools, I was on a team of teachers and administrators and we developed a program called PAUSE which stood for Placing Accountability Upon a Student's Education. When a secondary student was suspended, instead of getting a day off at home, they came to the youth center that I ran, and we had hired a social worker, a special ed teacher, and a paraprofessional, to work with the students. The school teachers would email the PAUSE staff with their homework and they would try to get caught up. So the teacher worked with them on the academic catch up stuff (as typically students who are being suspended are behind academically), the social worker would lead some group time and try to get to some of the root causes of the suspension, and the para would assist with various things. It was a great program, I'm not sure if it is still there- budget cuts love programs like that.

The thing that really bummed me out, was that I learned that Akila has started to be really rude to her Aide- calling her names, telling her to shut up, swearing under her breathe at her, etc. This was sad to hear, but not shocking. I have always told her IEP team, that when a behavior starts at home, it usually follows at school within 6-12 months. She is out of control at home, calling names, swearing, etc. But it made me sad. Her para is absolutely amazing with Akila, and I would hate to lose her. I will have to let her know that Akila only acts like that with people she really loves and feels close with, if that is any consolation.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A few positives about suspension

There are a few nice things about Akila being suspended, here they are:

  • I get to be around her when she is on her meds and much more tolerable.
  • I get to be around her one-on-one. When her siblings are not around, she is less likely to get upset over things and therefore there is much more peace.
  • I have the opportunity to get the other 3 kids off to school in the morning peacefully and it takes a lot less time.
  • I have someone to help me entertain the puppy all day.
  • We are able to get homework done. She is totally incapable of homework on school nights as her meds have worn off and she is totally out of control. Sundays, her medicated time is pretty much taken up by church- we get home about 2:00. Saturdays is the only day that we can possibly get it done, and sometimes we have places to be or other stuff going on, and are not able to get to it. It is impossible to do homework when she is not medicated.
The challenge is not to make this nice for her so she figures out to behave poorly at school means a nice day at home with mom. So far, I know that is not why she has acted up at school- it is the lack of impulse control that has gotten her into trouble and the need to be liked by others. But her short term memory issues are making it hard for her to understand that she is on punishment right now.

She asked if she and I could go somewhere and have a special lunch yesterday. The answer was obviously no, and I explained why for the umpteenth time. She wants me to buy her new tennis shoes, which she needs, and I said no, and I explained why. She wanted a can of pop last night, and I said no, and explained why (we don't let the kids have pop on weekdays, it is a special treat sometimes on the weekends). She wanted to go to the grocery store with me so she could buy a treat, and I said no, and explained why. She wanted to bake with me yesterday, and I said no, and explained why. Today, she will want to do several other special things, and I will say no, and explain why for the umpteenth time again.

I would like to go to the health club today as I desperately need to start going again, but she loves the child care at the club so I am not sure that would be a good idea either. Although, really, she doesn't make the connections that I would want her to, that my other kids would. Maybe we will go, it would be good for my own mental health, that is for sure. I'll see if she is up in time for me to make my class.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting called in to the Princpal's office

Yesterday, Hezekiah, Zeke and Akila all started their afterschool classes for the new session. The afterschool buses are usually late on the first day and I expected this. The bus was scheduled to arrive at 5:18, which is 20 minutes earlier than last session, not sure if that is a realistic time. They weren't home by 6:00 so Imani and I walked down to the bus stop. And waited until 6:30. I tried to call the school and got no answer. Shortly after 6:30, I received a call from someone on the bus saying they were stuck and waiting for a new bus. They arrived home at about 6:40 then.

About an hour later, I received a call from a little girl's mom telling me that Akila and another girl had been hitting her daughter on the bus and she had welts on her face. This is a little girl in 1st grade, who Akila has been friends with. Akila is in 5th grade. I apologized, said I would talk to her about it, told her it was not OK and I was glad she had called me. She said she had called the school and would be going in to school in the morning, which made sense to me.

I talked to Akila about it last night. About the fact that she is 4 years older than this girl, and about how scared this girl must have been to having a 5th grader hitting her, let alone one she thought was her friend. We had been online looking at new shoes for Akila that we were going to order, so I put a stop to the order and told her I would not be getting her new shoes at this point as I was disappointed. The night went south from there. Very south. Bedtime was rough. Very rough.

This morning, I sent her to school and anxiously awaited the call from the school. I even tried to call the Asst. Principal a few times. Then the call came, I went down to the school and went to the Asst. Principal's (AP) office. It is a very weird feeling I have learned. I remember in my last year of elementary school, my friends and I had never been in trouble or sent to the Principal's office. In our school, you had to sit in the hallway when you were in trouble. We always knew who was in trouble as they were sitting in the hallway. On the last week of 6th grade, my friends and I went running down the 2nd floor hallway during lunch. We were not suppose to be upstairs during lunch. We tried to get caught, we were, and we had to sit in the hallway. Just wanted to experience it I guess. That was enough for me.

Now I get to experience it as an adult, and I have not idea what to do or say. Honestly, I had talked to Akila about it last night, given her a few consequences immediately, and said we would wait and see what happened today. So, when I sit in the office with her and the Principal, and her fabulous Para, I pretty much just keep my mouth closed. I try not to make excuses, I try not to lecture, as I did last night, and I know that I will do more at home. But I honestly wonder what the staff must think.

Do I come off too quiet, not hard enough, complacent? Part of it, is that I just feel deflated. I don't know what else to do. We can talk to Akila about other choices she could have made until we are blue in the face, and it doesn't seem to help. Part of it is selfish. Suspension is a punishment on my own mental health, seriously. I understand that the school has to have a consequence, and I understand that this is serious. This must have been scary for this little girl. But I honestly silently cried the whole drive home. And thankfully Akila was quiet and did not speak a word. I think she sensed my emotions and I am very thankful for that.

The truth is that I know we are slowly entering a new phase of life and it scares me. She has been suspended three times this year, and I don't expect it to stop. One thing that I am going to do that should help greatly, is start driving the kids to and from school, I have been putting this off for awhile and it is time. It is just a little challenging being that their school is downtown, but I will do it and I will like it. :)

4th and 5th grade is when the FASD books say that these kids usually start to have many more challenges, and they aren't lying. We have a long road ahead, and I need to get my head back in the game. I just need a day or two to feel emotional first, I think.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pack of cigs

I have blogged before about Akila's obsession with cigarettes, and basically all things bad. Well, we had a rough morning here. Akila refused to go to school. Wouldn't get dressed. It got heated, she called names, swore, hit, etc. Told me she wasn't coming home as she left out the door to the bus stop. I had to leave with Hezekiah for a Dr. appt shortly after so I didn't go to the bus.

I was speaking at Children's Hospital and Clinics at the New Employee Orientation after the Dr. appt, so I didn't get home til afternoon. I had several work things I needed to get done so I fired up my laptop and opened up the programs. Then the phone rang, it was the Asst. Principal. Akila had a pack of cigarettes in her backpack and they needed me to come down.

As I was driving, I was thinking of where this weekend she could have gotten them. There was nowhere. We had not been at anyone's house, and had not gone to any stores- not that they are easy to steal at stores since they are kept behind the counter. Anyway, I drove to the school filled with dread.

She had of course told them several different stories on where she had gotten the cigarettes, and the only story that she had that could have been plausible, was that she found them by the stop sign at the bus stop. She did not have them as she left our house, and she had them on the bus. Anyway, thank goodness for our great school and staff. The Principal recognizes that she isn't going to learn from a suspension, but also could not send her back to class since everyone knew Akila had cigarettes. So she needed an afternoon time out, and she could do it at home, or in the office. I reluctantly took her home with me.

After a long week, an even longer weekend, and a rough morning, I was looking forward to an afternoon of peace and quiet. She has been cleaning her bedroom all afternoon, which really needed it. I was also bummed out to find out that she did no turn in the book report we worked on this weekend. I put it in her backpack this morning for sure. She said she left it on the bus. We were going to have to do it again, but thankfully, her wonderfully awesome aide went on the bus and found it. I really appreciate our teachers, our aide, and all the staff at school who help with Akila. I am thankful for them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Morning moods

When I woke up this morning just before 7, Akila was already up and playing with her dolls. She was in a good mood and said she woke up at 6:15, which is fine. She wanted to help me wake up the kids. I said no, as they usually don't like her waking them up, even if it is not in the middle of the night. I woke them up, she stood in their doorways. Let me repeat, she was in a good mood, and being kind to them.

But they were all just getting up and not in a chatty mood and were not overly nice to Akila. They weren't mean either, they just weren't going out of their way to be nice, and were maybe a tad rude. Well this set off the little princess, and she turned from princess into the wicked witch. She was horrible the rest of the morning, hitting, swearing and being very mean. It was out of control.

Michael and I have learned to read her moods and when she is in a good mood like she was initially, we will play into it and she will often keep it going for quite awhile. Obviously, our children do not have the sophistication to do this, or should I say, are not master manipulators yet like we are. I was trying to talk to the other three about this tonight. Without placing blame on them for her foul mood this morning, I was trying to talk about her initial good mood and asking if any of them had any ideas how we could have helped to keep her in a good mood.

It was an interesting conversation, I think Imani and Hezekiah understood it a little bit. They are actually pretty good at doing this sometimes, but I know it is hard to do when first waking up- I am not a morning person and I struggle every morning to be chipper with my kids, and to not have a short fuse with any of them, especially Akila. Although you would not have known it this morning the way I was yelling at her.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Made it

Yesterday, the kids started back to school after two weeks off, and we were all ready for the return. The break actually went really well and we did not have too many conflicts and/or issues. On New Years Eve Day, I took the kids to Nick Universe as we had free wrist bands to use.

This was a new thing, usually when we have gone, the kids get to pick 2 or 3 rides to ride. So having free reign was really fun and Akila in particular did really well. We arrived at 10:30 and I thought we would leave by 4 or so, but all 4 kids were doing so well that we stayed. I weighed the pros and cons of just leaving, knowing that the later we stayed the more likely we would be to have a meltdown. But I faced up to the fact that we would have a meltdown either way, so we stayed longer.

Around 5, all 3 except for Zeke got in line for the Ghostly Gangplank, a 4 story or so ropes course they have now that is really cool. They were in line for 1 1/2 hours so Zeke and I would go and walk around every once in awhile. Michael got off work and came and met us and watched the kids on the ropes course, which took til about 7. We then went and ate at Ruby Tuesdays and returned for some more rides.

Nick Universe also had some New Year's Eve kid friendly fun stuff and on our way out, we passed a kids karaoke thing, and of course, Akila talked them into adding her to the list (they weren't taking any more singers), and we waited and she sang for the crowd. It was pretty funny. We ended up leaving the mall after 9:30, 11 hours total- a record.

And of course, in the parking lot, had a great meltdown. Akila thought she had brought her teddy bear with but it wasn't in the car. I told her she didn't bring it, she disagreed, STRONGLY disagreed. It took quite awhile to get her in the car, and she cried and whaled the first 10 minutes of the ride. The next 10 minutes of the ride, she fought and hit the other kids, and she was fine the last 5 minutes of the ride.

The week before New Year's, the kids asked if they could stay up til 10, and we agreed. I'm not even sure if they know the thing to do is to stay up til midnight, but I'm not going to tell them. They were thrilled and looking forward to the 10 pm bedtime all week. Well we got home at 10, and put them to bed at 10:30. Zeke was hilarious. As I was tucking him in, he asked if they could stay up til 10 the next night since they did not get to tonight. I explained that they did, but it did not seem like it to him since they were not home. Funny.

Happy New Year everyone!!