21 October, 2011

Take a Deep Breath

It's been a rough back to school for Jake. Going from playing outside all day with very few demands back in to class is hard on most kids, but there were also staff changes in his classroom in September, and lots of changes with aides at home. Not to mention a growth spurt and a migraine thrown in for a few days. Sadly, he has begun hitting himself on the leg repeatedly, enough to cause a little bruising. It kills me that we can't figure out some ways to soothe him out of the stim, but he's doing it when he is seemingly happy as well, so we've added it to the wonder and mystery that is our son. 

It's possible there has just been too much going on. Jake had his trienniel IEP, along with all of the psychological and developmental testing that goes along with measuring the minutia of a child with so many services. His teachers came to the house for a visit, which was lovely actually, something I wish every school-aged child could have at least once. After the home visit his teachers now have a frame of reference for all of the things we talk about, which I think is helpful since Jake is basically non-verbal. And the actual IEP went very well because those educators, staff directors, and the psychologist -- the OT, and the adaptive PE guy, and the speech pathologist, and all of the support staff, they all really care about my kid. I think they even like him. 

Then his Regional Center social worker came for her annual appointment, where we went over his IPP. That's his Person-centered individual program planning. Sort of a life-map plan for Jake, so that he can continue to get the services he needs from the state. This meeting also determines the number of respite hours we receive from the county. There are a lot of forms. This year there were some tears. The goals didn't change much from last year, and while I know Jake has grown and changed, the paperwork just won't ever tell that story very well. 

There was also a meeting with his IHSS social worker. In Home Support Services are monies that "help pay for services provided to you so that you can remain safely in your own home." His disabilities are measured from top to bottom, and his entire day is accounted for. We speak of his needs in quarter hour increments, and calculate, how much time does toileting take? cutting up his food? And does he still need help getting dressed? Can he get into the car by himself? Can he brush his own teeth? 

And lastly a visit with the doctor at CCS, California Children's Services, which addresses the cerebral palsy part of my child, as if we can just divy up his mind like that. We talk about wheelchairs and shoe inserts and medications, and how much he's grown. We talk about puberty. Puberty! The meeting takes place in the same room we've been going to for nine years, or is it ten? So we are half way through the services there; CCS stops providing services at age 22. Half-way through his childhood? already?

We are very blessed with kind social workers who really feel like advocates for our family, and a school district that truly honors IDEA, and a school that loves my child and wants to help him to become a productive adult. We have all, or at least most of the services in place that we need, and I can manage to paperwork and the running around that is required of each service because I can work from home.

But every time we have these meetings in a row, and they are always in a row, right around Jake's birthday, I am exhausted. Of course each meeting requires preparation on my part, but it's not that part that is so tiring. It's talking, for hours on end, about all of my son's deficits. It drains me. completely.

and when I'm that drained I'm sure Jake gets frustrated because I'm probably not "hearing" Jake as well as I normally do; much of his communication is subtle. At least twice during these meetings I had to speak about him, in front of him, which makes me feel awful, and it can't be that great for him. I normally speak without him nearby, or I remember to tell him who is coming and the things I will need to share with that person about his abilities, but I forget sometimes, and no matter how carefully I word things he might hear, it can't be that great to hear a list of all of the things you aren't good at. I'm certain that would make me more than a little agitated.

But we are done for awhile, so I can only hope that as I catch my breath and pull everything back together, Jake will do the same. 
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