8iRWeiXjcKj9kUz5Tebo4_k_FtY Life with Two Special Needs Children: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago today, Tony and I were anxiously waiting to hear if we were going to be parents.  The birthmother that we had matched with six weeks earlier was due any day.  Due to our previous adoption experience, we were on pins and needles.  It didn't help that three times in the six weeks we were matched with the birthmother, she moved three different times and only called when she needed something.

There were a couple of different times that I called the counselor at our adoption agency wanting to disrupt the match.  She calmed me down each time and told us that we were so close we should wait and see what happened.

Then, February 28th, I received a call on my cell phone saying the birthmother was at the hospital and in labor.  I called our counselor at the adoption agency and she said that was a VERY good sign and that we should make arrangements to get to California as soon as possible.

After calling Tony, I told my employer and took off to start my "maternity leave."  I went home and finished the last minute packing and arranging plane tickets for our 2,800 mile trip from Raleigh, NC to Sacramento, CA as well as our hotel and rental car reservations.

Later that afternoon we received a phone call that our son was born.  Caleb Alexander was here!  The next day we spoke to Caleb's birthmother a couple of different times with the last time being right before we loaded the plane to begin the seven hour trip.  She told us that the nurses said it was okay for us to come straight to the hospital after getting into town.  Mind you, we didn't arrive in Sacramento until approximately 10:00 p.m. California time!

Things went smoothly getting our luggage and rental car and we headed to the hospital.  They brought us to the NICU where Caleb was admitted after he was born.  Caleb's birthmother was rocking him when we arrived and I was able to go in and see him for the first time after washing up.

Isn't he the cutest thing?

Caleb's birthmom was so happy to see us and handed him to me, telling me "Meet your son!" 

I was provided a bracelet so that Tony and I could go up to the NICU any time we wanted.

Here are a couple of pictures of Caleb with his birthmother:

The last nine years have been filled with joy and heartache, but I know without a doubt that God provided Caleb to us for a reason!



Monday, February 21, 2011

A First I Could Have Lived Without

Since Kindergarten, Caleb has only acted out aggressively at school once - until about 10 days ago.  In the last 10 days, Caleb has acted out aggressively at school on two separate occasions.  Today is a first I could have lived without!

About 10 days ago, I received an e-mail from Caleb's teacher informing me of an incident at the end of indoor recess - it was the first dose of his aggression the school has seen.  It was minor (thankfully) and he was easily calmed.

Today everything changed.  Tony was off today because of President's Day and we went to the mall to get Tony some glasses and do some other shopping.  At approximately 12:05 I received a call from the school saying that I needed to come to the school immediately because they were having difficulties with Caleb.  I told them that we were at the mall and would be there as soon as we could. 

The entire 25 minute drive to the school there were images going through my mind - and it was horrible!  I had no idea what we were going to find when we got to the school.  When we finally arrived at the school and parked, I looked over and saw two - not one - but TWO school police cars. 

We got into the school and was taken to a conference room where Caleb was sitting at a conference table with two resource officers on each side of him along with the Assistant Principal standing outside the door.

We went in and asked Caleb what happened and he said he didn't know.  When he has rages he has never remembered what happened to cause the rage.

His teacher came walking in, very visibly shaken.  She was near tears as was I.  She began telling us that they had indoor recess today and when the regular ed para that was in the room asked Caleb to clean up and he lost it.  He hit and kicked the para.  Caleb's regular teacher walked him down to his special ed classroom.  His teacher told him that his name would have to be written on the board, which means he would have to pay money based on the behavior system that she has in place in her classroom.  Evidently, at this time, Caleb's behavior went completely out of control.  The Speech Teacher was in the classroom at the time and Caleb went after both of them.  I don't know how long it was, but at some time they called the resource officers who showed up.  In all, they said it took 20 to 25 minutes for Caleb to gain control.

In talking to his teacher, she does not feel Caleb is cognitively able to understand or comprehend what happened.  I told her that we have described Caleb's rages as a switch being flipped and she completely agreed with me.

I ended up taking Caleb to our Crisis center, forgetting that it was a holiday.  I was hoping that they would call his doctor and we could discuss a med adjustment, especially since his next appointment is not scheduled until April.  However, because of the holiday, the doctor was not working and she's off tomorrow.  I will be calling the nurse in the morning and seeing if we can get an appointment soon to discuss what's going on.

Lord, please continue giving us the strength to make it through each and every day. 

Oh, what a day!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I had a flashback today - and it definitely wasn't a good flashback! 

Flashback almost five years ago.  I picked Caleb up from day care.  Every day as we were leaving day care, Caleb would always pick out a piece of candy.  This day, there suckers to choose from.  Caleb loved purple suckers.  He picked out a sucker that had a purple wrapper, but when he opened it, it was actually red.  See, Dum Dum has, for who knows how long, chosen to print the mystery sucker wrapper in purple - but for a four year old, who had very severe OCD tendencies, he didn't understand that.  Numerous times I would intervene, but this day there was not a chance to intervene as he tore off the wrapper faster than I could move.  Turns out that the sucker was RED and not PURPLE!  The sucker went flying across the lobby of the day care and meltdown ensued.

I eventually was able to get the kids in the car and headed home, with Caleb screaming the entire way.  We got home and the meltdown continued.  Finally, Caleb wore himself out and fell asleep - for about 20 minutes!  When he woke up, he immediately started in again about it being a RED sucker and he wanted a PURPLE sucker.  This continued and there was no end in sight.

Caleb had just six days earlier started a new medication.  The doctor had us only give him a half of the dose that she wanted him on, but then Caleb started saying that he was falling.  When I called the doctor, she thought that was Caleb's way of saying he was dizzy.  So recommended giving him one-fourth of the full dose, which we did.  That was the day before this sucker incident.

We ended up making our first trip to the community mental health center crisis center.  I was so scared and didn't know what to expect.  Since we arrived after hours, we were the only ones there.  The staff were all in the back, behind locked doors and the security officer was sitting in a room behind glass so he could observe.  They have video monitors so the staff are able to observe what is going on.  I filled out the paperwork and we waited. 

During this time Caleb would calm down, but then something would set him off again.  When a staff person finally did come out, we were told that Caleb's doctor was on call that night - which I was very thankful for!  They called her and she immediately said that we were to stop the medication that she had just put him on.  She wanted us to give him some Benadryl.  However, the last time Caleb had had Benadryl, he was up for 24 hours!  They called her back and told her that and she prescribed a different medication.  Because there were no MDs at the location, a staff person had to drive the medication to the doctor's house so she could sign off on it before they could give it to us and send us home.  So we sat at the crisis center and waited.  While we waited one of the staff members came out and talked with us.  I remember her telling us that they told Caleb's doctor that they had no idea what to do.  That's not something you really should be telling a parent that is not sure what's going on with their child!

At our next appointment with Caleb's doctor, she told me that she never had a child respond like that to that medication, but that we would never be putting him on it again!

Fast forward to today!  Caleb's para on the bus has been handing out suckers to the kids if they are good on the way home.  Caleb hasn't been on the PURPLE kick lately, he's just loving his suckers that he gets and wants to eat it as soon as he gets in the door.  Well, today he came in and started talking about his sucker.  Then he looked at it and, lo and behold, it was broken!  Oh boy!!!  Major meltdown.  Kicked the lazysusan in the kitchen, threw down a chair, came after me.  I tried to get him in a restraint, but he was so strong.  He grabbed my shirt and hit me.  I was finally able to get him to the ground. 

The only difference from now and almost five years ago, it was much easier then to contain and restrain!  It also only lasted about 15 minutes today instead of two hours five years ago!!!

Thankfully, we had a major turn and Caleb had a good night.

Oh, what an afternoon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Warmer Weather

I am so glad that the weather has finally gotten warmer.  This has been a very cold and very snowy winter.  I don't mind a little snow, but negative wind chills, snow storms to the point that we are couped up in the house, drive me absolutely crazy!  It doesn't help that school has been cancelled due to snow each of the last two weeks.  When you have a child with Autism, it's very scary what the lack of routine can do. 

Caleb's been fairly well, but had a rough afternoon at school on Friday.  Evidently they had indoor recess and he was working with a puzzle and had the pieces strewn all over.  He was told to clean up and some boys came to help him.  He got aggressive with them.  Fortunately, his para was right there and was able to intervene.  However, some kids also did say that Caleb through a chair.  He has not shown behaviors at school in a long time!  In fact, his teacher thought he was doing well enough to take his behavior intervention plan out of his IEP.

I'm hoping that this was a one-time event due to the lack of structure and routine of the last couple of weeks and not the sign of anything worse!

I know that God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  In the past we have been very fortunate where we have not had to deal with both kids having bad days or meltdowns.  However, last week, Tony had to restrain both kids in one night.  It's very draining when both kids are having meltdown and being aggressive.

Tonight, fortunately, was a much better day!  No restraints, no major meltdowns and both older kids were in bed before 8:30 p.m.  Thank you, Lord, for this day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow, Snow & More Snow

We are snowed in once again this winter.  This has been a horribly cold winter.  I grew up in Michigan and lived in Utah, but still cannot stand the cold!!!!  I am just not a cold weather person - never have been, never will be.  However, I know that God wants us to live here, so we won't be moving any where warm!

The last three weeks have been very hard on me.  It started with Caleb getting sick and being home from school for three days.  I was so worried about his being sick and that it would lead to him being back in the hospital.  Thankfully, he didn't end up in the hospital and his illness didn't last as long as some kids.  I'm grateful for our pediatrician who thought it would be helpful to treat him with anti-viral meds and he was able to go back to school after only being out three days.  I heard a lot of kids having the fever last for more than five days.

Last week the kids were supposed to be out Thursday and Friday due to conferences.  Instead they ended up being out four days because of snow/extreme wind chill days.  Little guy was on antibiotics for an ear infection.  It was so cold out that I wasn't about to get all of the kids out of the house to go to little guy's physical therapy appointment last week.  Hopefully, we'll make it to his appointment on Friday!

I have been home more these last three weeks than I have been in a long time.  You would think I would have gotten a lot done, but I haven't.  It's really hard to get much done with the kids home.

I do have a lot to be thankful for and I am trying to focus on that.  We have a nice home that is warm, food in our pantry and refrigerator and wonderful friends and family!  I just want some warmer weather so we can get out and about!  (Is that too much to ask?!?!?!?!?!?!?)

Friday, February 4, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

We had Caleb's annual IEP review Wednesday night during conferences.  I feel so blessed that we have a great team in place for him.  While we were there and yesterday, I kept thinking how much things have changed with him in the last year.

It all started 13 months ago when we got the official Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Mild Mental Retardation diagnosis.  It was time for Caleb's three year reevaluation for his IEP that is required, which the school psychologist would have needed to do a lot of the same tests that the Neuropsych had just performed.  Instead of having her repeat everything, we agreed that she could just take the results from the Neuropsych so as to avoid having to put Caleb through all the testing again.  The school psychologist did have to do a couple of tests, but shortly thereafter we had the longest IEP meeting for Caleb ever - two hours!  Now, I know that there are many people who have two hour plus long IEP meetings on a regular basis, we have never had a meeting that long.  Even his very first IEP was only about an hour and we were provided way more than we even thought Caleb would qualified for.  I can't say enough about how awesome our Special Education services are!

At that time it was decided Caleb needed a different placement than what the current school could provide.  I really struggled with whether or not that was what was needed to be done, but I trusted the professionals.  I knew that Caleb was really struggling in the environment that he was in, but he loved his teacher and had made some really good friends.  I really didn't want to pull him out of that.  But I also knew something needed to be done. 

We were having a lot of behaviors at home in the evening due to the stress that Caleb was under at school.  So we made the decision to move his school placement into the FAA class at a different building.  The school psychologist called a transition meeting about a week later. 

Everyone was on the same page about Caleb's transition.  The principal from the previous school was there, along with the principal and assistant principal from the new school.  It was such a team approach and it worked wonderfully. Caleb's social worker at school took him over to the new school multiple times so that he could see the building, meet his new teachers and his new friends in his class prior to his first day.  The first couple of days were still difficult for Caleb because he really wanted to stay with his teacher and his friends, but we worked through it.

We had seen a lot of behavior changes in Caleb shortly after he started the new school.  He wasn't having as many meltdowns as we was previously.  We felt that it was due to the lack of transitions that he was needing to make on a daily basis.  He just seemed like a much calmer child.

After talking with his teachers and the speech teacher on Wednesday night, it just confirmed that the right decision was made.  While Caleb is still working at a first grade level in reading, but a mid-second grade level in Math (he loves his math!), he is making progress - albeit slow progress, it is progress!

In speaking with Cassidy's teachers at conferences, she is also making progress, for which I am thrilled about.  We had her three year reevaluation IEP meeting a couple of weeks ago and there was no question that she continues to need help and will continue to receive the help.

I am so thankful for our school system and all that they have done to help both of our kids.