femkes_follies: (Default)
One of the quandries of dealing with Autism is what to do with the girls.

They're both in school programming all day.

When they get home, do I leave them to do their own thing? Do I push? What do I push? Academics? (Workbooks, flashcards, reading, basic math) Physical activity? (Dance, swimming, gymnastics, playgrounds) Art stuff? (music, drawing, painting, etc.)

How HARD do I push? Do I pick one thing that each of them SEEM to enjoy at the moment, and focus on it in the hopes that success will encourage them and that activity might help improve other facets of their abilities? Or go with divergent things - knowing that with them, not having time to repeat/repeat/repeat will mean that at best they'll be just skimming the surface, however much they enjoy it?

Do I MAKE Them practice? Because that's the only way they're going to do it. Unless one or both of them suddenly is seized by an as-yet unidentified obsession for something.

Did you have a "hobby" as a kid? (piano, violin, dance, softball...) Did you pick it, or did your parents? Did they have to make you practice? All the time? Some of the time? Did you eventually quit? How do you feel now about having quit?

What about extra academics? My mother had workbooks for us in the summer. Yours? I'm still not sure whether Mom pushed apptitudes that she saw, or that she wanted to see success in. Was I a math whiz? Or did she sort of "create" that? I certainly never could hang with the real Math Club in college. But I did have some success in the statewide math competition, among other things. Possibly it's a function of my scanner brain again. Once I'd gotten to what I considered "competency" I no longer had enough interest to lose myself in the "higher maths"?

I don't want to "ruin" my children - either by failing to push hard enough or by arm twisting into things they don't want to do. I'm not sure Liesl can as yet get the connection between practice and success. In fact, I'm not sure she really gets the connection between what she seems to WANT to be able to do and what the beginner steps are. Is it OK to push a little through some of the basic stuff to GET to the "fun parts" and then see if she can take it from there?

Any advice, anyone?
femkes_follies: (Default)
Truly a bizarre week or so, it has been

First off, we took Anneliese to the new dance studio. Her old one burnt down, and moved about 15 miles away. Another studio in town folded. So this is the only game in town. She assured us last year that she works with Autistic kids "all the time." Only last year there were no openings. We got the same assurance this year, but, just to be sure, we took her in to meet Miss Karla beforehand so she could see what she was getting. During the meeting, Boo ran around the studio in typical Boo fashion, playing with hula hoops and mirrors and anything handy. Mis Karla was Confident, though unsure about placing Anneliese into the only class left as there were already 14 little girls in it, and her assistant was new. So it was agreed that Anneliese would try it out for two weeks before we plunked down money - just to be sure everybody was satisfied.

Fast forward two weeks to the first class. Class begins, Miss Karla runs them all around the room playing "stop and go" - which Anneliese seemed to be more or less participating in. Then she takes them all to the barre for ballet exercises. Boo behaves as she usually does, circling the room in excitement and playing in the mirrors. They made it 5 minutes before they asked us to take her out. The studio owner sat and explained to me how much she wished they could take her and on, and on, and on. Boo, when it was explained to her that there would be no dance classes, cried silently in OSCAR-worthy fashion. Said studio owner also insisted they saw the need for a Special Needs dance class in the area and they were considering starting one. She took down my name, address, and phone number.

I'm not holding my breath. I believe the problem was one of expectations. I'm not sure WHAT they expected of her, but it was clearly not what they got. I suspect those "autistic" children they've dealt with in the past have been very mild. And likely of the variety who, when overstimulated, shut down in the corner and resist being touched. Anneliese, when overstimulated, is a bit like Speedy Gonzalez on a caffeine high. I still think there might be a dance class around for her. I'm very sure it's not at that studio.

So we took her off the the Irish Music Festival on Sat. Though (thanks to Tropical Storm Lowell and hurricane Ike, it's very, very soggy) it was much too wet to do the outdoor festival, we did go to the dance competition. Anneliese watched raptly for better than an hour, clapping after each dancer and saying "Good job! Good job!" Oh, and "danced" up and down the aisles herself. It was adorable - and a little heart-wrenching, given that we can't find an instructor to take her on. One of the vendors was so touched, she made an effort to try to find John Heinzman, who owns one of the larger Irish dancing schools. She was convinced he'd be willing to take her on. And he might be, but they operate out of Detroit. Their Grand Rapids studio is likely staffed with assistants, who might or might not be as willing to deal with her.

Which is the real rub, I suppose. I don't know if I do her a disservice by it, but I can't bring myself to force other people to put up with her on a regular basis. We tend to not go to a lot of things that I think she might not handle well. I haven't left her with anybody but my mother for more than an hour or so in - well, years. I just can't ask anybody else to deal with her. I probably should get the list of Grand Valley students willing to provide respite care again. *sigh*

It's off onto the Parade of Homes today. More about that afterward. As well as a small update on the extreme screwiness that was my former place of employment. Oi.

May 2014

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