Our New Normal: School, Feeding Therapy, and more.

Monday, February 4, 2013
Last week Monday was finally, finally the beginning of our new normal (well, almost, since we were still without gas, heat and hot water until 12pm Tuesday).

Anyway. We are in our house. We have all our stuff. Henry's finding "new" things daily he's forgotten about and gets so excited over them (like the plastic Easter eggs he found yesterday). We have hot water, a fridge and pantry full of food and all our essential "gadgets" we were missing in the apartment (I.e. popcorn maker, cookie sheets, blender, a toaster that holds 4 slices, knives that actually cut, etc. etc.).

Our new routine has finally been set in place as well as Henry started back up in a preschool last Monday. Obviously, every state has a slightly different set of rules when it comes to special education. Every district has its own way of doing things as well. Unfortunately for us, despite the fact that we live in the town of Frisco, our neighborhood is actually in a Propser school district zone (the town north of us). When I originally called the Frisco schools (during house hunting) it sounded like they had a very similar inclusion program to what Henry was in and what I taught in. I think they even had a newer all early childhood building. But alas, our house places us in Prosper, a much smaller district. The one thing I do like is that each elementary building is Pre-K through 4th grade, something that was definitely not too common in Minnesota.

However, the program only has one special education class per building (what they call PPCD, and I forget what it stands for) but for my teacher folks reading this, Henry has gone backwards in his placement and is now in a self contained classroom. I actually cried when they told me this. It's the only class they have. Henry needs the typical peers to model appropriate social skills from. I'm not entirely sure how that will happen in a class where many kids are nonverbal. However, I've gotten over it since there is no other choice. At the very least, he needs to be in there for 30 days so they can get to know him and will reassess his placement then. However, if I understood the administrator right, he could go part time or full time into the regular preschool room next door, but there are already currently 25 kids in their, only 2 teachers, and she wasn't even really clear on how much help/service he would get from an ECSE teacher in that setting.

If you read my Facebook status that day, the drop off was brutal. Blood curdling screams and he had to be held as I cried out the door. With the promise of a little surprise on day two, we were able to contain the tears and screaming and have been tear free since.

Like his last school, he's not talking to peers, only nodding his head for yes/no questions with teachers and isn't participating in circle time. But, he goes everywhere he's supposed to go, tells me about his day and comes to the van with a smile on his face. I'm definitely nervous about the progress he's going to make, but we will see.

Oh, and he goes FIVE times a week. If I wanted to, he could go all day every day. Or everyday through lunch! Completely unheard of for a kid with his needs, so that is the one awesome part.

I opted for him to go the five days, but he only goes from 8-10:30. They eat lunch at 10:30, and since we've started feeding therapy, I thought it would be best for me to have lunch with him while we get that sorted out. Maybe next year.

That brings me to the other major part of our new normal: feeding therapy. Henry started that last Thursday. He goes twice a week in Tuesday and Thursdays from 12:45-1:30. His speech therapist wrote up a long report that included both how he did at the evaluation and the recommendations for home as well as his short and long term goals.

The list for home was long, but there were many things we were already doing. The major change we've implemented based in her recommendations is eating family style. That means that Henry comes to the table with an empty plate in front of him and we each take turns dishing up our food. Ideally, everyone is to put at least one of everything on to their plate. The first night we did it, we had leftover baked Mac and cheese. He freaked out and wouldn't put it on his plate, but took everything else. Night 1 wasn't too good.

The second night we went out for pizza and the kid had to poop so he didn't eat much beyond a piece of garlic bread (FYI, we are still going through the pooping issues and he pretty much doesn't eat if he has to poop).

Moving on, he has really been enjoying Eggo Mini Pancakes. Of course, we were out on Saturday morning and thus I enticed Ryan to make real pancakes, making some regular and a bunch of mini ones we could put out family style. Typically, when we make homemade pancakes, Henry is usually good for 1 small-medium sized one, depending on how thick they are, etc. Ryan made the "mini" ones about 3 inches in diameter. The Eggo ones are pretty tiny, probably more like 2 inches in diameter and the most Henry has eaten of those has been about 7-8.

People, this kid ate 12. TWELVE slightly larger than mini pancakes. He served himself four, ate them, took three, ate them, and then finished with FIVE and ate them. It was unbelievable.

Since then, he has really been enjoying family style, even taking veggies (carrots) the other night. He's definitely not taking things he won't eat, but we will get there. Today for lunch he ate 4 small squares of frozen pizza. FOUR. depending on the brand, we usually are good for 1/2 a triangle piece or one square.

Other pieces we need to incorporate are putting no attention on Henry eating and diverting the conversation to WHAT he is eating by describing color, textures, etc. We also will be doing food chaining--so linking new things we introduce to things he already eats. For example, we are starting with mini donuts. He eats those chocolate mini donuts no problem, so his speech therapist is starting with Cheerios because they are also round. I cut up grilled cheese last night into circles (it was still a no-go), but those are the types of things we will now be doing.

We also have a goodbye bowl on the table. The first step for Henry is to kiss an unwanted food goodbye before throwing it in the bowl. Second would be to lick it, third would be to put in his mouth, but not having to swallow it, where fourth would finally be eating it. He likes the goodbye bowl, and did kiss his grilled cheese goodbye yesterday, so that was good. Little miss smartie Claire Bear has also picked up on the goodbye bowl and she requests to throw her leftovers in there too! Today at lunch she was having a fit and I couldn't figure out why for the longest time. What did it turn out to be? I had put her pizza and strawberries on her plate. As soon as I let her scoop some strawberries and grab her own pizza, she was fine.

So that's the new normal. We are still unpacking, but the last of the boxes was unpacked yesterday. Now there are just piles scattered throughout the upstairs and our bedroom that need to be given away, put away, or something. The kids bedrooms are all clean (I do need to go through Henry's toys), and my computer is finally up and running, but we it lull have a LONG way to go. We've added some nice decor in a few key places, and I need to plan and order some new images to make a few galleries. Other in the future plans include painting the kitchen, our bedroom, and likely the baby's room at some point.

Other than that, we are enjoying playing outside in the current 60-70 degree weather. Minnesota peeps, I'm beginning to have a hard time understanding why more people don't move away. We aren't freezing our faces off outside down here!

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