Persuasive Writing

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A new strategy that the school has been using since we met for a crisis intervention plan, has been to allow The Boy to send me an email when he is overwhelmed. He can go to several designated spots, hop on the computer and email me about what’s going on or what’s bothering him.

Usually, it entails a couple of emails back and forth about someone being absent. I encourage him to stick out the day, and he does.

Monday, the conversation was a bit more lengthy:

The Boy: I need you to come pick me up from school because I got sick on the bus on Saturday and then (the band director) told me to take Monday off and also, (one of his friends) and (his TA) took today off as well. I don’t want to get the other students and teachers sick. Especially (his social studies teacher) because he missed way too much school within the past 3 months. I even thought (another friend) was out too along with (the first friend) and (his TA). That is until I saw her at her locker at the end of class. I might tell her later that I may not be able to be in Social studies. I also feel really exhausted from Saturday and out of shape and I feel like I need rest. and If you can’t come, maybe Grammy and Poppy can pick me up in the black saturn vue.

Me: I know there are a couple of people absent, but your friends would miss you if you left. I need you to try to stick it out, ok?

The Boy: I can’t just stay here. If I do, I am a little worried that I might get more people sick and then they might miss school tomorrow and besides, (the band director) told me to take today off on Saturday. It’s nothing personal. He just can’t have me getting his other band students sick. I only air high-fived and pretend hugged the girls on Saturday because I didn’t want them to miss school today, although one of them already did and that is (the first friend). So now  I feel like I need to take the rest of this day off and then come back tomorrow, also let Grammy know (the band director) told me to take this day off. and Hopefully (his TA) (and the first friend) will be back tomorrow too.

Me: I’m not sure where (his TA) is but I would guess she’ll be back tomorrow. (The first friend’s) family extended her trip in DC, so if she is not back tomorrow, she will probably be on Wednesday, but she isn’t sick.  You don’t have too much longer, Bubba. See if you can stick it out. I know it’s tough, but don’t forget that if you can last the day, Grammy is taking you to Brrberry!

There were a few more emails back and forth, and then he went back to class. As I’m writing this post, I just got another email about how only one person came back today. But the strategy seems to be working, and I was tickled to see the quality of the language, the writing, and the persuasion he used. And writing is supposed to be one of his deficits! I wonder how far he could get with a little inspired teaching!

Life Gets In the Way

I wish I had a better excuse for not blogging. I wish I could say I won NaNoWriMo this year.  Unfortunately, life gets in the way sometimes, and, well, we’ve been having a rough go of it lately, behaviorally. It’s hard to write when you have no idea what is going on with your kid. It becomes harder to find time when you struggle to get him to do any homework at all, and really homework is torture for you, as well, and you just need some downtime.

But I’m not one for excuses, except to say that it is what it is. I have missed blogging, and it is something I need to do for my own well-being. Ergo, it shall be done. I may not write every day, but I will write, and I just hope that there are a few of you still out there to read it. If not, that’s ok, too.

Be prepared, though. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Puberty + Autism = Nothing for the faint of heart. I sure hope puberty is the culprit here, because if this isn’t temporary and transitional… I’m not sure I’ll make it.

Thanks for sticking by me. I’m back on the wagon again.

Heads Up: NaNoWriMo Is Upon Us

It’s that time again, and I give you fair warning.  November is National Novel Writing Month, and it begins this Saturday.  I am very excited this year, however I had oodles of time to participate last year – I was unemployed!  And this year, I’m employed full time and wondering when I will have the time to write 50,000 words in 31 days…

Therefore, I may not post with any sort of regularity, although I will attempt to prepare some posts in advance.  If you try to interact with me on the blog or social media, please understand if I don’t get back to you right away. NaNo is a crazy, tortuous thing that is so rewarding and creative that I can’t imagine not doing it again.

This year, I have a killer story and I’ve even done some planning and research (unlike last year, when I completely “pantsed” the whole thing)!  I’m not giving any spoilers yet, but I really, really want to do this, so please, dear readers, bear with me.

I can’t wait!

Last year’s book cover…

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Managing My Own Anger

Yesterday was a doozy of a Monday.  I felt like Alexander in the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (a favorite when I was growing up).  There was an ant in The Boy’s juice, the cable box went wonky again, a co-worker lied to our boss and threw me under the bus for a mistake that was very clearly hers and hers alone.

And mid-afternoon I get an email from The Boy’s principal saying perhaps he could start on trumpet this week because he doesn’t meet the “criteria” to play the tuba.  Yeah, that just happened.

There were no “criteria” to play the tuba even mentioned at our last meeting.  That band director is discriminating against my child.

boy with tubaLuckily, I didn’t get the email until about 3 or so, because truthfully, I couldn’t concentrate on work after that.  I was extremely preoccupied, and downright pissed off.  Heart beating rapidly, I left work right at 5, and drove to pick up The Boy, planning my evening around the big, long response I was going to write.

The Boy was in a great mood, and I faked a good mood for him, as well.  I shared the happenings with my parents and strategized about next steps with them.

When we got home, I began to type all of the phrases that had been rolling around in my head for three hours, constructing my three-page response.  And I began to shake uncontrollably.  Not with rage, but with anxiety.  I also made several trips to the bathroom, which I have had to do when stressed since my mid-thirties.  When The Man came home an hour later, we talked, and strategized some more, and I continued to write.  I spoke with The Boy’s autism teacher on the phone to gain some insight, and then I continued to write.  The Man knows that getting all of my thoughts down just right in my response was the key to my calm.  Until it was a finished draft ready to send, it would be on my mind.

And of course, I couldn’t sleep last night.  I knew it would happen, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just roll with it, going over things yet again in my head for several hours.

My draft is now complete, and it is a killer letter.  I have a plan in place, no matter the response.  He will play the tuba, and will not be switching to anything else.  I’m still angry and anxious, but I’m managing it, thanks to my outlets: writing and planning.  The key is knowing yourself enough to know how you are going to respond to anger, both physically and mentally, and to have something accessible which calms you… A bit like our kiddos, huh?

Happy Day-Before-Black-Friday…

wild turkey visitorsI love Turkey Day.  Today is our only truly American holiday that doesn’t separate us according to religion, ethnicity, familial status, or socioeconomic status.  It’s inclusive.  It’s about giving gratitude for what we have.  It’s about showing love to those we love most.

I hate Black Friday.  It has overtaken Thanksgiving.  It overshadows the time we are supposed to be taking to reflect on how little we truly need.  It taints the entire season with the greasy feel and steely smell of money.

I will not be shopping today or tomorrow.  I never do.  I enjoy my family to the fullest extent.  But I do have something to do on Friday…

I will be working!  I finally got a job!  I need to go in on Friday to get an orientation of sorts, and I am very thankful to be employed again.  This is a good thing.

I’m thankful we got The Boy into a much better placement.  He has had a great week, and I look forward to many more accomplishments in his future there.

I’m thankful that for the first time since 1991, I am not traveling anywhere today, and was able to wake up in my own bed next to my wonderful new husband, for whom I’m also thankful.

I’m thankful I get to spend today with all of my beautiful family.

I am also thankful to have “won” NaNoWriMo (scroll down and check out my badge on the bottom right of the page!).  I finished and validated my 50,000+ word  novel yesterday afternoon, and it feels GREAT to accomplish a goal that a lot of people think about doing but never quite accomplish.

I am thankful for so much more, but you don’t need to sit here and read about me.  Go have a fantastic holiday, and keep it simple. 😉

Just Sitting

flutterI’m just sitting here in the relative silence, ignoring the thousands of random thoughts, to-do list items, and NaNoWriMo story ideas that are flitting above my head, begging to be caught and tagged.  Most of them have probably been “tagged” (written down) anyway, but I’m just too tired to collect them.

It’s a busy week.  I suddenly have two interviews, along with two new tutoring students, one who decided to be a beast today, and the other is just, well, adorable (in kindergarten with developmental delays and I LOVE HER).  I have to try to bring The Boy back down to Earth to get final assignments in to his current school before the Big Switch on Monday, while also prepping him on two new pieces of band music for a concert with his new band class the week after next.  I also have to see his new doctor about getting him out of his PE requirement so he can even have band, and darn it, I didn’t turn in that library book.  What am I going to make with that chicken sitting in the sink defrosting?  I haven’t written a thing today, meaning I’m exactly 1667 words behind, and now my projected end date will be past the November 30 deadline if I don’t do something about it.  I have that registration paperwork to complete and get back to the new school, too, and when am I going to pick up the new tuba? I’ve committed to helping The Man paint at his current work site, but I think I can only work a half day tomorrow, and not at all on Thursday, due to interviews and other stuff.  We really should get a new gas tank and hookup before cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  And I have to wash these jeans – they can probably stand on their own by now.  Speaking of washing, The Boy’s hair is way overdue…

Hm.  How ’bout that?  Got ’em tagged after all, didn’t I?  I’m sure I missed some, floating up there…

NaNoWriMo Starts Today

Quills

Quills, Howlsthunder

I have committed to NaNoWriMo, which begins today.

If you are not familiar, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and it is actually a nonprofit organization that provides online (and sometimes face-to-face) support for people who want to commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  It really is a spectacular setup, and is an incredible opportunity for anyone who thinks they may have a novel inside of them, ready to see the light of day.

I’ve enjoyed writing since elementary school, and even took a creative writing class in college.  It was so much fun, and a great break from my regular course of study.  If I had it to do over again, I may have chosen a different career route, and at the very least would have made more time to write.

I think this blog has helped my writing, and to this day, people continue to tell me I should write a book, so I am.

I’m doing it.

What do you want to do?  What’s stopping you from doing it?

Filling the Time

I am so completely unused to having time in my day.  When I was a teacher, and a working single mom, coming home and being able to sit down was a treat.  Now I’m much more of a homemaker, something I never envisioned myself doing, but I enjoy nonetheless.  I just wish it paid better 😉  I shop for groceries, do laundry (including the folding!), clean things, etc.  And I still have time left over.  I’m really hoping I can pick up some more tutoring students, and that there is so much interest in my classes at Michaels that I have to schedule more… but until that happens, I have a lot of time on my hands.

But I don’t like being idle.

I’m not the type to watch the afternoon “shows”, and there’s only so much Good Morning America one person can take.

I’ve decided to take some of my hobbies to the next level, possibly.

  • I’m going to use my camera more, really get to know the settings again, so I can confidently have my way with a camera, and maybe, just maybe open up an Etsy shop.  I’ve sent a few of my shots to a professional printer who will make some free prints and send them back to me so I can check out the printing quality, and we’ll go from there.
  • I’m thinking about doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  I’ve been told a few times that I should write a book, and since November is right around the corner, and I have nothing else pressing…  Why not?
  • I’ve been checking out Zentangles, and I’m intrigued.  I’ve tried it out, and it is very, very soothing.  I looked into it because I thought it might help me with some of my demos at Michaels, but this may have income potential, as well.
  • And I keep thinking about taking this little blog to the next level, transferring to wordpress.org, and selling some ad space, too.

The best part of all this, is that it helps me to feel like I’m at least doing something that could earn money some day, and it keeps me occupied, rather than sitting on the couch, watching TV, bothering The Boy’s teachers, and worrying.

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My first attempt at a Zentangle design

How have you been filling your time lately?

Self Advocacy via PowerPoint

The Boy has a love affair with PowerPoint.  He could whip one up faster than just about anyone, and it would be engaging (if you were interested in Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario and Luigi), and you would say, “An 11 year old made that?”  In fact, I had no sitter during an evening school event the other night, so I set The Boy up in a quiet office space with my computer and PowerPoint primed and ready to go.  Not only was he self-sufficient the whole time I was occupied, he wasn’t ready to go when I was done because he wasn’t finished.

Our kids (those with autism) have so many fascinations, that those of you with kids on the spectrum are saying, “Yeah, so??” because your own kids have talents and abilities, and often they don’t seem to have any real purpose, right?

This past week, I got The Boy’s report card (pretty stellar, besides the “need improvement” in doing homework part – haha!), and his IEP progress report (again pretty awesome), and had parent teacher conferences with both his ASD and general ed teachers.  And I was made aware that The Boy’s writing has developed by leaps and bounds this year.  Writing is difficult for kids on the spectrum, because they have a hard time creating and voicing new ideas.  For example, when asked to give characters a name (even back when we bought a Webkinz!), he becomes almost paralyzed until you suggest something, and then he will automatically agree to whatever name you suggest.  Creating new ideas is hard.  Also, staying on topic is hard.  But The Boy is doing extremely well, and even developing his own “voice” in his writing, which is something that even NT kids (and adults) have a hard time with! (I am SO excited about this, being a writer-type myself.)

In any case, here’s the point of my rambling, the “why” of this whole thing: The Boy used PowerPoint to help himself become a better writer.  He developed his own graphic organizer using PowerPoint to help him with paragraph structure, and uses it daily to write his journal.  He doesn’t need to be asked, and he didn’t get any help.  And it is working.  And I am so incredibly proud of my self-advocate.

PPGO