I have been somewhat quiet on here for a while. I would like to say it is because I have been busy. That is and is not the case.
This year for Dawson has been exceptional. I say that because I don’t know what other word to use to describe it. This is not a reflection of any sort on his prior teachers so as you go forth and read what I am about to write do not think that in the least. All I mean by that is that I think we finally have all the kinks worked out, for the most part.
We have a new assistant. I think I have touched on this before in a previous blog, but I didn’t go into much detail. Her name is Ms. Pannell. And if anyone reading knows her, you will know that I have known this chick all my life. We have been friends since we were little, graduated high school and she has known Dawson outside of school since he was really young. We are also friends with their family. She has been with Dawson outside of our house on many occasions and so you get what I am saying. She knows Dawson. Amanda was hired as his assistant this year and I had no idea who they would decide to hire. It was down to two and it was up to the school. She was one of the two. They couldn’t have picked a better one when they decided on her. At first the school was concerned because she knew me and Dawson personally. Then they were also concerned because she has a daughter that is the same grade as Dawson. They clearly don’t know Amanda.
Long story short she recognizes the issue before it becomes an “issue”. This is above all else the #1 difference in this year. I don’t know if it is because she knew him prior to this position she was hired for, if she is just that intuitive, or if she just knows how to roll with the punches. It could be all of the above. Bottom line… the school year has never been so smooth.
I rarely call names on this blog because I never know who is going to want to be called out. And I know if it were me in some situations I wouldn’t want my name used. Well I’m a using them today.
This brings me to the teacher.
This year he has Ms. Logan. I have known her for several years, but unlike Amanda (aka Pannell haha), she didn’t know Dawson prior to this year. Dawson doesn’t have a problem learning. What Dawson sometimes has an issue with is how the material is presented to him. In other words how the directions and explanations on “how to” are worded. Dawson still has issues with language. What is meant by how things are phrased. He can get easily confused if it is not simplified. Even though he talks like someone who is 22 he has problems understanding “directions” and sometimes how to do something.
One of his accommodations is to have his work explained differently. Not all of his work mind you… only when there is a problem. Fortunately this year he has learned to voice this, where in the years past he did not. You had to figure it out before this year by watching him and watching him try to do the work. Now he says, “This confuses me.” or “What do they mean to do here?” This is where the assistant or teacher comes in and explains the directions in a way that he understands or changes the method in which they work problems, like in math, so he gets the picture and is no longer confused. This takes a lot of time and patience. With a class of 21 students, it is very hard to give anyone enough one on one time. However, somehow, Ms. Logan finds the time. There are several kids in her class that have had some difficulties. And we are talking about the smartest kids in the grade here… ones that are considered gifted. She has stopped class and concentrated on those students who were having a hard time and didn’t just pass over them and hoped they got it because she needed to move on to the next chapter or unit. Now I am sure there are tons of teachers out there that do this. I praise every one of them for it if they do. I only am going on what we are experiencing at this time.
Communication this year is epic. I know more than I have ever needed to know about what is going on. I am not saying that they tell me too much, but with a child that can be affected by the smallest thing during the day and become a quivering ball of goo on the floor and you have no idea why… that is something great to have. They don’t wait for me to call them or ask what is going on. I get told about it when it happens or when they think something has happened that might affect him at home. This is amazing. This is something I never dreamed would happen. And it has made all the difference in how I handle him at home. I don’t have to wonder what is bothering him. I know what it is and can get him settled easily and quickly about it. It makes home life much calmer for everyone in the house when we can take care of things quickly.
His grades. Dawson has always been smart. He gets it honest from his father’s side of the family. I always say if you have a Dabbs kid you gonna have a smart kid. Now I am not stupid. Don’t think I am a total nut. But when it comes to grades and school… they took home the gold (Steven, his brothers and sisters). We are fortunate with that.
The class he is in this year is what they keep referring to as the “top academic class”. This has also effected how he is at school. You can tell that it engages him more. He is interested this year in the things he is learning because they do not review over and over. They get it. They move on to the next thing. Dawson is not bored. Boredom for Dawson creates a whole host of issues. Dawson does not do well when his mind is not put to work. And at school that is a problem when they are doing something he already knows over and over and over. An idle mind is not his friend. So this year his mind has been kept clicking. I have no doubt that is because the pace of his classwork is fast. This has helped so much.
Dawson’s first report card was straight A’s. We are so very proud of him and I know without a doubt, it is due to the team work between Ms. Pannell and Ms. Logan, making sure he knows what is being taught!
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the Principal. He has been so understanding about Dawson. He has given him more than enough attention and time to adjust. He will never know how much this has meant to us.
I have been waiting for that other shoe to drop. I think I can safely put both feet on the floor with both shoes on now. :)
I often take for granted the qualities I love about my kids. I complain all day about how much Everett talks or how much Dawson doesn’t pay attention. But really I don’t have a whole lot to complain about. Yeah, I get on here and tell it like it is and I even sound off on Facebook.
I tell you what Dawson can’t do or doesn’t do rather than what he does. So here is what I love about Dawson.
Dawson will stand outside in 100 degree weather and throw the ball to Everett a million times. Even when Everett tells him he didn’t do it right, he keeps right on trying. No one sees that Dawson rarely gives up because he is so quiet about what he does.
He does not boast. You will hardly ever hear Dawson brag about something he has accomplished. He might mention it from time to time or ask, “Did you know…”, but that is all.
He is quick to find the beauty in simple things like the sky, the moon, trees, but rarely comments. How do we know? Because he sits looking at the things he loves and has the most peaceful smile on his face while he does.
He hugs. Dawson once hugged us lots, when he was really small. Then he stopped. You never know how much you miss something until it is gone. People say Autism steals hugs and kisses, well it did but he took them back!
He says I love you first. I will never forget the time he said it first. He was 8 years old and he walked up to me and said, “I love you Mama.” I will never get tired of hearing that come out of his mouth at random times of the day.
He is so kind. Dawson rarely ever gets anything without thinking of Everett. He always wants to, “Get Everett one too.” You ask him to do something and no matter what he is doing he will stop and go get whatever you need without questioning why you need it or telling you to wait a minute, even to EVERETT!
He loves unconditionally and has a tender heart. Dawson is considered sometimes less emotional than other kids, but this is far from the truth. He can’t stand to even watch a TV show where an animal is hurting or another person. He wants everyone to be happy all the time.
Dawson is always happy. Nothing gets him down.
Now the child I say so little about on this blog. Everett. Here are the things I love about him.
Everett loves to dance. When he thinks no one is watching is when he lets loose. It is greatest thing in the world to watch. He is footloose and fancy free when he dances. He turns flips and boogies! His face is nothing but joy.
He notices people and what they do. This probably sounds insane, but that child doesn’t miss a thing you say or do. Anyone. What do I mean? Everett is the first to notice if you change your hair, you have a new shirt, new shoes, or smell nice. He comments on it also. He is always there with a compliment of some sort. I am sure he isn’t the only child who does this, but when he says, “Mama you look so pretty today.” He really means it.
He can make you laugh when you need it most. Some say he gets his humor from me, other say his daddy. I like to think he got a double dose of it. Impressions, funny faces, jokes, random crazy talk, he will do anything to get a laugh.
He also loves to laugh. And oh how he loves to be tickled! Everett will let you tickle him until he can’t breathe and he has peed in his pants! He wants you to tell him jokes and make him laugh. He thinks just about everything is funny.
He is slightly OCD. Just enough. Just a tiny bit. Just enough for him to want to clean up, to keep a neat room, to keep neat hair, he takes pride in how he dresses and looks. You don’t see that in many 5 year olds. He has to match and always wants to smell good. I like to say THIS is his daddy coming out in him. Mama looks like she has been through a tornado usually ;)
He loves to be scared! Everett is one of those rare kids who loves for you to scare the daylights out of him. He might sleep with every light in the house on and with you, but he loves all things scary. Everett loves scary movies, scary stories, and scary costumes. He says, “It’s not real. I will just knock it out of my head with my fist after I watch it.” Okay then. HAHA! I guess this is how he forgets it? Who knows, but this is the only time in Everett’s little life that he is quiet. Turn on a scary movie and he doesn’t utter a word. He doesn’t move either. Everett becomes a permanent fixture on the couch. He is very much like his mother when it comes to spooky, scary things!
He loves people. Everett is a people person. He doesn’t like to be alone. When God gave me Everett he gave me the other extreme. I have one that loves to be alone and one that can’t stand it. Everett wants to be hugging, loving, touching someone all the time. He even manages to touch you with some part of his body… a foot, a hand… even when he is asleep! He is just so full of love; we need more people around for him to give it to! ;)
He has the imagination of Walt Disney. He can color. He can draw and he loves to create.
He still needs his blanket. I don’t care if he has that thing until he is 22. It is fine with me. He only uses it at home, but he curls up with it every time he is tired. It is one of three blankets: the green blanket which I bought him when I was pregnant, the blue blanket #1 which Nanaw bought him in case he needed a spare and blue blanket #2 that Aunt Mandy gave him because green blanket was getting thread bare.
Everett might be little, but he is a scrapper!
I am sure there is tons more, but those are the things that stood out to me at the moment. And yes there are probably more things listed for Everett than Dawson this time, but I rarely talk about Everett on here so I thought I would go the distance for him today.
We all have our moments as parents where we want to choke our kids (admit it you do), but you know deep down you love them with all of your heart and they are all great in their own ways!
Everyone knows what a pair of goggles are. You swim in them. They come in various shapes and sizes… even colors, should you want them.
I know goggles as something else entirely. You see when I was little I wore glasses. I am a child of the 80s and you can bet your sweet tail I had the big huge plastic glasses that were the rage back then. I started wearing the glasses at age 2 due to a weak eye muscle that was supposed to be corrected with said glasses. Goggles was a term that was lovingly given to me by a group of young ladies that we went to church with. Yes just what every child with glasses needs a nickname… not so much. By age 5 I had surgery to correct my weak eye muscle 80%. I continued to wear the glasses until I was in 4th grade. At that time I started wearing contacts and wore those until I was 15. After that I said screw it. My eye muscle didn’t bother me and only got weak when I got tired. Still does.
I was always told this wasn’t hereditary. This was a fluke thing that happens to one in whatever the statistic was at the time.
Fast forward to 2006. I had just had my second kiddo, Everett. Dawson had just started preschool and “writing and reading” every day. This is when we noticed his problem. He put his face right on top of the paper and couldn’t color in the lines for nothing. His eye started to turn in. Off to the eye doctor we went. This was where I first asked the question, “Do you think he will need surgery?” The answer was always, every single time, no. I would ask at every visit and 2 doctors later I was finally convinced that ok maybe he didn’t need surgery to correct the problem.
We started seeing a new doctor for his regular eye exam and I brought up the way his eye acted even with glasses on. It has never quite sat well with me. I always had this feeling something else was going on. Mother’s intuition wins again.
Today we saw a Neuro-pediatric Ophthalmologist. Yeah well Dawson’s eye hasn’t been just fine and dandy all this time. Nope. In fact he should have had this surgery at age 4. Mother of the Year award goes to BRANDI! (sarcasm at is thickest right there) But it wasn’t from a lack of me asking doctors, that’s for dang sure. I don’t know when I am going to take my own advice. I spew this statement like it’s biblical, “If you don’t feel right about it, get a second or third opinion.” I got 3 opinions before my fears were confirmed.
Dawson doesn’t have the same problem as me. Nope. His isn’t just a weak muscle. His is something of a deformed one. Not the same as mine at all. The muscle that moves the eye back and forth on the inside part of his eye wasn’t formed right and is attached in the wrong place at the front (this is similar to mine it being attached in the wrong spot), but Dawson takes it one step dangerously further. The deformation goes further back in his eye. A reconstruction of sorts has to be done. The surgeon seems to think it will be fine and they can correct it up to about 85-95%. It won’t ever be 100% and as he grows and the muscle changes it could require additional surgery. She gave us the projected age of around 17/18 years old, should he need surgery again for it. But that is only a 20% of that happening. I probably should go ahead and put back money for the second surgery because the odds with this kid are never in our favor.
BUT… we endure… we press on… and we live to fight another day!
The surgery is supposed to take place on November 20th. This is barring anything that comes up for the surgeon between now and then. At least it will be during Thanksgiving holidays. Looks like our families will be bringing the turkey to us this year! (they better drop some off if they know what’s good for ’em)
Well it is here. The day. The day of all days every year. This year it was a tad different. This year my youngest, Everett started Kindergarten. Yes this mama has an empty house 8 hours a day. Sad you say? NO WAY!
I could play the weeping mother role, but let’s be honest. If you are a mother of two children one 5 and one 9 you know the feeling you get when you are finally alone with your thoughts for more than 2 minutes in the bathroom. Even then that time is spent with someone outside the door trying to tear it down!
All joking aside though, I feel a lot calmer about Dawson’s school year. I don’t know if it is because we have an assistant from the get go this year and things seem more relaxed, or if he is older and handling himself better. What ever the reason I am ever so thankful for it. Even with all the changes… schools, grade, teacher, principal, assistant, etc. I still am more calm. Maybe its divine intervention!
Both kids woke up at 3:30am. Dawson said he was nervous and Everett said he was excited. I quickly got them back in bed and back to sleep. Everett slept the rest of the night, but Dawson was up again at 4:30am (I think it was 4:30 by that time my eyes were glazed over with the film of no sleep). I just told him to lay back down, but I am pretty sure he didn’t. But he was in a good mood by the time we were off to school. Steven took Dawson and I took Everett.
It was a whole different ball of wax sending Everett off to school than it was Dawson in Kindergarten. I am not worried if he will remember where his snack is. I am not worried if he will remember where his ice cream money is. I told him once he won’t ever forget. I don’t worry if he will wander off from the pack or if they will need to go hunt for him around campus. I am not worried if he will remember to get on the correct bus to go to the elementary school to wait with Dawson to be picked up. Everett was a kid on a mission today. He put his backpack on and was out that door without a second glance behind him. He hopped out of the van a kid on a mission. He was going to Kindergarten and by George no one was gonna stop him! He didn’t even say bye he was gone!
Dawson always does good and goes to school with zero hesitation, but school has a way of making him mental without it being a separation anxiety problem. He wants to be there, wants to learn, but couldn’t find his umbrella in a rain storm if he tried, bless him.
I don’t want it to sound like I am disappointed in Dawson. That is not the case at all. In fact he has come a VERY long way since Kindergarten. When he was in Kindergarten we knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know what. I shouldn’t say wrong. I should say different. He has improved so much over the last 3 years. He is not the same child he was in Kindergarten and I am so proud of him. Even if he did lose sleep the last two night due to anxiety, that is a huge improvement over last year’s two weeks of no sleep before the first day of school. I will take it!
Everett is simply the child that rolls with the punches, flies by the seat of his pants, and accepts change as an adventure he hasn’t experienced before!
I love both those boys with all my heart and I do hope they have a wonderful year!
I know I have been sort of quiet this summer. It wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to say. We have had a lot of changes around here. Pipes breaking, new ceilings, demolition out back… you name it, it has happened this summer.
Dawson did well until all the “construction” started, then we were all out of whack for a few weeks. After a nice trip to the beach with my family we are back and it is time for a new school year.
With any new school year for a child like Dawson, there is anxiety all around. Anxiety for me, him, and well anyone who is close to him. I stress more than anyone. Will it go well? Will the teacher be a good fit? Will they understand his quirks? Will they work well with his quirks? Will they understand when he ceases to function completely and becomes statue in his chair? It is so hard to cover everything that “is” Dawson in an afternoon meeting with the new teacher, but I do think we are in the very best situation possible this year. He has an assistant that knows him. The teacher seems to adapt to “different” very well. They already had his area all set up and he was so excited. I was glad to see what little anxiety he had fade once we were there.
He met many new people today and did very well. He didn’t respond a few times, but for the most part talked to everyone if they talked to him. He hugged everyone, which is a huge improvement from two years ago. His therapy is paying off.
According to several school officials Dawson scored amazingly high on the MCT he took at the end of last year. I have yet to see the actual scores, but they are the topic of everyone who comes in contact with me. I can’t say that I am not proud of him. I am. I am extremely so.
Many might think I am bragging and maybe I am, but think of it this way… lots kids have some emerging talent at Dawson’s age. Some interest that is gradually turning into something they love and that might get them noticed. Dawson doesn’t really have such a talent yet and it is very possible he will never ever be good at something society gets excited about.
Is that okay? Absolutely.
My son has a talent for knowledge.
Dawson amazes me every day and always will.
Say a prayer for Dawson and this school year. I hope it’s the best one yet.
You know you always picture your children the epitome of health and wellness when you picture them way before you have them. Even if you don’t have kids and are reading this just think about what you picture when you picture your children.
I knew better than anyone that I could have a sickly child. I mean, I was a “sickly” child. If you know me personally you know that I have more sinus, ear and allergy problems than any person alive. It’s always something.
Dawson, bless his soul, he is patient when it comes to his life. You may say “WHAT?” Honestly though he is more patient than our other one and WAY LESS vocal. You can soothe him with an iPod and can’t soothe the other whiner with nothing ;)
Anyway… We went back to the ENT today and it seems the poor kid has got the worst of both me and Steven :P
We are waiting for the results of his allergy tests which will take 3 weeks since I opted for the blood draw not the skin tests because lets face it I am not the Hulk and I don’t have the Hulk’s strength. So until I turn green and grow muscles as big as logs, there was no way I could have held that kid down long enough to get 80 injections. (He is afraid of needles). Thank the lord Blair (a family friend) was the person who took the blood, he knew her. I think that helped a lot! And not to mention she was really good.
He has a deviated septum but that is hereditary. I have one, my dad does and my niece. Good ole family genes! haha.
Still don’t know for sure what the course of action is gonna be, but I figure the next stop is once a week allergy shots. Been there done that. Guess its time to go get a mutant injection of Hulk strength.
“Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a changin‘ – Bob Dylan
Anyone that knows me can tell you my life is lyrics. Music is my solace no matter my mood. It gives me strength. It fuels my fire to make changes when I am on the fence. So it was fitting when I woke up this morning with this song on my mind. In every life we are given challenges and how we handle those challenges is up to us and whatever other worldly power you believe in, for me it is God.
I wasn’t looking forward to the “challenges” in the coming week. In my mind, it is the worst two weeks (besides Christmas) that I have to deal with. Now I know what you are thinking. I imagine you are thinking… She stays home with two kids ages 8 and 5. What could she possibly have to worry about and deal with… it is a day at the beach every day for her. I won’t say here what I want to say to people who utter those words or think those thoughts about me. That is another post all together.
I was always told by doctors regardless of Dawson’s disorder he would get better with age, not WELL just improved as he develops coping skills he wasn’t born with. And while the improvements have been vast on his social and motor skills in the last two years something else is taking a turn for the better.
I think I touched on this in my last entry. Dawson hates change in all forms and usually takes a good 1-2 weeks to get over whatever is bothering him. Well this two weeks has turned into literally 3 days. I kept waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop this weekend and him to completely lose his mind, but he didn’t. He has also been happier, calmer and in turn has made me feel better, much better. Maybe I am anxious by proxy. But you know as a mother we worry about our kids in every way, shape and form. I might not verbalize it in person because lets face it… no one likes a nervous Nellie 24/7. It makes you want to avoid that person at all costs (so do the negative people and those people who claim to be fat when they wear like a size 8…). So I tend to keep my rants to Facebook statuses and Tweets, much to the dismay of several followers I am sure haha.
The purpose of all of this rambling is to say that maybe just maybe the song above rings true. We as moms do the best we can to steer our children in the right direction spiritually, emotionally etc. But in the end we cannot control how they think or how they choose to act when older. We can try to divert the bad and praise the good, but ultimately they are individuals and who they are is who they are. We do our best.
I also made the huge connection in the last 3 days that school is one of Dawson’s main triggers for anxiety even with all the accommodations in place. Can it be helped? No. All ASD children have some level of noticeable anxiety. It is part of their disorder. For every ASD child it is different. For a lot it is multiple things. You just have tuck and roll to avoid the outbursts when they come and then deal with the aftermath later. Be there for them when they need you and try to figure out how you can help when they can’t verbalize the fact that they indeed need you.
It seems Dawson is making great strides in his accepting of change and new routines. Do I think this will make him completely different? No. Just better. And better is a far cry from the boy that used to go into his room and scream uncontrollably because he couldn’t handle ANYTHING going on around him. So I will gladly embrace this change and praise him for it!
Just remember when your kid acts completely mental in public, makes you want to staple them to a wall in Walmart for throwing a fit for the toy that was on TV earlier that day (Everett my 5 year old not Dawson) that you are doing a good job. You are not the problem. They are asserting their personality and pushing the limits. Hang tight, stick to your guns and know that you are a good mom regardless what other people say or the insults your kids hurl at you at the time :)
Dawson’s last day of 3rd grade was yesterday. He had his little graduation program and got his A & B honor roll award for the year.
I have to say it was bitter-sweet. I mean yes I am glad it is over because school, no matter how good or bad, is still stressful for us. It was easier this year than the ones prior, but as you have read on here, this one had it challenges. I guess I go into each year with a bit of naive thinking. My very soul wants to believe that everything I have done every year to better the situation will be a preemptive strike on the up coming school year. I guess you can say I am a dreamer!
I was very used to the way things go in K-3rd and all of its staff. The principal and Special Ed teacher, I don’t know if I can live without them! Now we have to meet a whole new batch of folks. We will have new teachers, new principal, new counselor, new nurse just to name a few. This alone is stressing me out to the max and I know in the back of his mind, Dawson is dwelling on it as well.
I poke at Dawson on here for not liking change, but I have to admit big changes make me nervous as well. We have one good thing going for us. Chasta will still be Dawson’s assistant. This is a source of calm for me and no one has any idea how much we appreciate her and how much care she takes in helping him! It is like having an extension of myself in the classroom in a weird way. It helps me sleep at night knowing she knows him as well as she does and kind of give everyone a heads up next year. Hands down, she is the best thing that has happened to us since starting school period. I thank God for this woman daily.
We don’t yet know who his teacher is going to be, but I have been assured we will know by July. Then we are going to have him go take a tour of her classroom and the hall he will be on during July so he won’t be bombarded with “new” situations. Hopefully this will help him with the transition. FINGERS CROSSED!
Monroe County 360 did a story on Dawson and our fundraising efforts for the Autism Center of Tupelo!
CLICK HERE for the story!
Well the second “official” IEP meeting has been taken care of. There will be another one in July. I am insisting we find out in ADVANCE who his teacher will be so I can prepare her for what she is about to encounter having a student like Dawson. Last fall they changed the teacher at the last-minute and no one knew anything at all before hand and it was a rough start for everyone involved. Then there was the whole ordeal of not having his assistant at the beginning of the year. That was insanity.
I was so hopeful to know everything before summer but true to form nothing is hashed out here until the last-minute. I am sure there are valid reasons, but for the parents of kids that have special accommodations it fills our summers full of anxiety about the coming year. Bottom line they should have their stuff straight for the next year before the end of the previous one. But again, this is just my opinion and who am I?
We were supposed to see two new doctors this summer. The appointments were scheduled for the same day in Jackson for July. We got the call Friday that the appointments have been pushed up to August 8th. This is bad for several reasons. 1. School starts here the first week of August 2. Everett starts Kindergarten and can’t just high tail it to Jackson with us. There is few to keep him for two days and over night here.
I was told that Mississippi legislature is attempting to have the beginning of the school year pushed up to the 3rd week in August and make it a law for all public and secondary schools. I pray this is the case. It keeps getting earlier and earlier every year. I would be willing to forego all the little holidays in a school year in order for there to be a later start. I am sure the teachers wouldn’t agree, but this would be ideal, especially this year. Besides, August is entirely to hot anyway. You have band member and football players passing out and having heat strokes during practice! It is insanity in the Mississippi heat.
So here is hoping that the school year is pushed up, we will know what is what with 4th grade by the first of July and our newest IEP will be hashed out before the beginning of the school year!