Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Charlie part 2

...so where was I? Oh yeah, we had Charlie tested for Covenant's kindergarten at the end of January.

[I forgot to mention that just before Christmas we had testing done through the public school that we would be in and after several hours of testing (with speech, OT, diagnostician, etc...) over 3 seperate occasions, all therapies said he is on the lower end of normal and that they didn't see any need for special help. This gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe I had been over-reacting about everything and that really he was more "average" than I thought.] The next day the admissions director called me with the results. Although I knew there would be some issues, I was not at all prepared for what was to come.

Here is a portion of an email I sent to several godly "mentor moms" in my church that I very much respect and knew would come alongside me with encouragement and prayer.

This may be a little longer than my usual emails, but hang in there with me. Today was a pretty emotional day for me. Covenant called with the results of Charlie's kindergarten testing. He didn't do so well. It is a 5 part test, but two of the parts are the main indicators for how a child will do in kindergarten. These 2 parts are number concepts and auditory processing. They like for the kids to score at least a 5 in each catergory. Charlie got a "3" in number concepts and a "2" in auditory processing. Number concepts is things like, "If I cut a cookie in half, how many peices do I have?" To which he answered "10?" I know he knows that, but the point is that it is a reflection of what is going on in his mind.

Auditory processing covers oral instruction and how it is handled. For instance, a series of instructions like, "Pick up the paper, put the pencil on the ground, and stand beside your desk." He couldn't do it. They also gave him a series of 3 words, "Apple, red, yellow" and asked him to remember them. He couldn't.

Amy (the admissions lady for Covenant) said that she doesn't have the final recommendations from the teacher and headmaster, but just wanted to give me a heads up so that we could be talking and praying about it. She is concerned that if we try it, it will be a challenging and frustrating year for him. I agree. I also know that we have 12 more years of this to go and I don't want him to be defeated and discouraged in kindergarten! He is already SO hesitant to try anything he doesn't think he can do or that will be too hard. (His poor little spirit is broken so easily and he's simply not confident.) Keith and I talked briefly through my sobbing before he left for work. We both agree that Covenant is not the best place for him this year.

We are considering where to go from here. Although I wasn't totally surprised by the results, I honestly didn't anticipate it being that bad. Especially after the public school testing put him in the normal range in all catergories. (Which did surprise me.) I really didn't think we would be looking at schooling alternatives. We both agree that public school is not an option either. Mainly for the fact that they have tested him and don't see a problem. I don't think they would address the issue, they would simply modify his work to get him by. (They told us this in our conference. Sometimes if a child is having trouble doing the math worksheet, they only have them do 2-3 problems instead of the whole thing. I think this is a cop-out and that if they get the concept, they shouldn't have trouble doing the whole sheet, even if it takes more time.) Homeschooling is an option, but honestly, I just don't think I can or would do it. I always have great intentions, but my follow through is not great. Also, I have a hard enough time teaching Will things who catches on so easily, I'm not sure how I'd teach Charlie. Plus, I want to be a cheerleader for him, not a coach. So right now, we are leaning towards hiring a private teacher. We have several ladies in our church that are certified K teachers and are home with their children now. This might be a way to help them earn some extra money and get Charlie some one-on-one attention.

My heart is broken for Charlie. He is so excited about going to school with Will and I don't know how to explain to him that he's not. My heart and mind have run that gammet of "Did I do something when I was pregnant or during delivery?", "Maybe if I had read to him more." "I should have been doing flashcards or something." Maybe we should have hired a tudor this last year." And of course, I think about his future. "Will he always struggle?" "Will he get labeled, the slow kid?" "Will he always live in his siblings shadows and wonder why it comes so easy for them and why he works twice as hard to get half the grade?" "Will he grow up feeling like a failure and like he's not good enough?" And that last one is where it gets me. I honestly don't care if he's a "C" student, I know academics are not going to be his thing. I just don't want him to struggle and hurt. I want to spare him the pain of suffering.

Sorry for the rambling, just wanted to let you guys know where we are. We are going to look into getting a full battery of tests run at Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. I've heard from several people that they have an outstanding program, but it takes 3-6 mos to get in. I called today and they are mailing me the patient application, so we'll get that ball rolling. I'm hoping it will give us more direction.

As you can see, this was a hard day, and just as I had hoped, the ladies fired back with Scripture, comfort, advice, personal stories, love, and hope.

We decided to wait a little while, see if Charlie matured any, then have him retested in April/May. More later...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jack's birthday gift to me.

Today, Jack gave me the greatest birthday gift. In the nursery this morning, I got to see him stand up in the middle of the floor and take 3 steps. He had taken a few steps Wednesday to Keith and I, but nothing since. By the time we got home from church, he tried to stand and walk about 15 times. I was able to get some on video and Keith recorded it on his phone so I could put it on the blog. After his nap he started walking all over the living room. He can already go 6-7 feet without falling. I think it's all starting to click. What a great gift! Thanks Jack.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Charlie, part 1

Keith and I have been doing some major soul searching and making some big decisions for our family the last few weeks. (No, I'm not pregnant...although I'd do it again in a minute if I had the chance.) But before I tell you about the changes, I need to set up the background information. For most of you, you already know all about what we have been going through with our sweet Charlie. For other's, this is all new to you. I could sit down and put everything in one post, but it would probably cause the entire blogger network to crash, not to mention making your eyes cross, so I thought I'd break it up for you. 'Cause I'm nice like that. (and I don't have the time.) But I digress so here goes.

When Charlie was born, I knew in the first few hours that he was very different than Will. Not only did he look VERY different, but he already acted differently. He was a fussy baby even in the hospital. He had chronic ear infections, got respiratory illnesses easily, had major reflux, and colic. He also laughed earlier than any of my other kids. By 6 weeks, he was not only smiling, he was belly laughing. It was a deep, infectious laugh that came easily and made you laugh too.

Fast forward to 12 mos. Charlie began to have screaming fits. They mainly occured when he was sleeping, especially at nap time. He would began screaming and crying in his sleep. I would go in and try to wake him up. His eyes would open, he would look at me, but he never would stop crying. I could even "shake" him (gently of course), wash his face, take him outside, yell, squeeze him, put him back to bed, leave him alone, offer food, but nothing would make him stop crying. It was like he was panicked and couldn't wake up from the bad dream. This would happen 3-4 times a week and he would cry from 45 minutes to sometimes 1-1/2 hours. At his next check-up, I asked the pediatrician about it. He said that he was probably having night terrors. I told him that it was like Charlie wasn't "there", even though his eyes were open. He said this comes from an immature brain stem that doesn't tell his body to wake up from a nightmare and that as his brain stem developed, he would grow out of it. He hasn't, although it's not as bad, he still wakes up 1-2 times a week, crying and screaming, but when you ask him what's wrong, he doesn't know. The only way to make him wake up enough is to make him stand up beside his bed and sometimes even wash his face.

At his 2 year check up, he seems to be doing well. He's a little slow verbally, but the doctor says this is to be expected from a 2nd child, who is a boy, and has a very verbal older sibling. However, before he's 2.5 yrs, his speech is still delayed and we begin therapy with ECI. (Early Childhood Intervention) They are great and his speech catches up by the time he is 3. Just before they discharge him, I tell them about a few other symptoms I'm noticing. The night terrors, the inability to control emotions when frustrated, the way he walks on top of his toes when he's upset. They agree that he should be tested by their OT. After testing, they tell us that he has sensory integration issues. As they explain to me, there are certain sensations or emotions that his body and brain simply cannot process. For instance, pretend you walk out to your car at night and someone walks up behind you and grabs you. Your adrenaline kicks in and your "fight or flight" mechanism takes over. You turn around to see that it's just your hubby playing with you. (after a few choice words) you calm right down because your brain realizes there is no threat. In Charlie, his brain never sends the message that the threat is gone, so his emotions stay on that high and take a long time to come down. We started "brushing" him as a way for his sensory system to start sending more correct messages to his brain. We notice that this helps, but doesn't fix it completely. Even now, when he gets frustrated (which is often, especially when things don't go easily. Like getting dressed...if his shirt is inside out, or his underwear gets twisted), he gets instantly VERY emotional and frustrated and has a hard time recovering.

So now we come to getting ready for kindergarten. Charlie still struggles with numbers, letters, auditory processing, etc... I knew that kindergarten was going to be a challenge and that he would require a lot more help than Will does. In late January, we had him tested at the private school where Will attends. The next day, they called with the results.

More next time...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kind of a "squirrel-ly" day.

This afternoon, Katie Beth and I were walking around in the yard. We came upon a squirrel in our tree. We both stopped to watch him. At first he ran away, but when he saw that we had stopped, he stopped. I slowly started taking steps toward him, one at a time. He didn't flinch. I realized that I should go get my camera. I was able to run in and when I got back, he was in the same spot. I started snapping. The boys came out and he still didn't move. I ran in to get some shelled walnuts for him. We got within an inch of his mouth, and he never moved. I was afraid to actually try to touch him. I kept thinking, how will I take 4 kids to the ER by myself when one of them gets bit because this squirrel decided to take action? I know, mom thing.

Will suggested we name the squirrel Sam, but I think Charlie's name will fit a little better..."Nerl".

Friday, June 19, 2009

Moms know things...

For instance...toilet paper disintegrates when wet. A new, extra-large triple roll of toilet paper does NOT disintegrate when wet, but DOES hold almost an entire toilet bowl of water. See, moms know things.


Since Will got out of school May 21, we've been in summer vacation mode for a while now. The kids were so excited when, after weeks of asking, I told them it was finally time to get out our pool. (The best $19 I ever spent.) It's the same pool we had last year, and it has given me HOURS of relief and playtime for the kids. Charlie uses it the most, Will plays some, Katie Beth loves to scoop water into cups over the side. Jack really hasn't gotten in yet, but that's because I mainly use it at nap times...and the fact that's it's getting a little crowded with 4 little bodies in there.

I also decided this was a good day to play with some of the functions I've got on my camera. I've slowly been learning and practicing and I have to say, I LOVE MY CAMERA!!! I thought some of these shots turned out pretty well.


Will is playing baseball this year for the first time. His team is made up of 1st grade boys from our school and all the coaches are the dads. I love that there is NO pressure and that everyone is so encouraging and willing to teach the new ones. We've had several games, (and although they don't officially keep score, the boys say we have only lost once.) Last night was extra exciting as Will got his first hit in a game. In fact, he got 3 hits. He even got to cross home plate on one of the runs. (Which he calls a home run, I keep trying to tell him, "No, you just ran home.") At any rate, he was super excited. The last two games of the season, June 29 and July 1, we get to drive to Arlington and play at the little league field next to the Ranger's Ballpark.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blog update coming...

Well, I have lots of pictures to post and things to share, but not right now. I'm hoping to blog tonight, so check back soon.