#Autism #School Calendar & #ReportCards

My Kids Alternate Special Needs Report Cards

A bit late because I was sick for a week with step throat (stay tuned for the blog post about that!), but here’s my son’s Autism class’ calendar for February:

Son’s School Calendar Feb 2015

His class is an Autism-specific class offered through our school board. They follow a Monday through Friday schedule rather than a Day 1 through Day 5 schedule like the rest of the school does.

Report cards were also sent home last Thursday so I decided to film how my kids’ report cards are different from other report cards that go home. My daughter’s report card is the same structure as mainstream school because she’s in mainstream schooling, but has a couple of accommodations for her IEP (Individualized Education Plan). My son’s report card however is very different from mainstream school, seeing as he’s in an Autism-specific class.

My #Son’s #Autism-Specific #Class Schedule

We are fortunate that my son qualifies for a “contained classroom” that is Autism-specific, which includes a teacher and two Educational Assistants for the six children. His teacher is new this school year. She hasn’t taught an Autism-specific class before (apparently her role last year was teaching 200 students English at a different school) but her background is actually doing one-on-one ABA therapy with kids with Autism. Needless to say, that made me feel better at the beginning of the school year of her ability to teach my son and his five classmates, in this Autism-specific class. She also clearly loves her job too!

Each month, the teacher sends home a calendar of the activities for the month. It states the “days” the rest of the school is following for their schedule (Days 1 through 5) but thankfully, his teacher understands the importance of a predictable schedule. This is his schedule for January:

2015 January Schedule

We have joked every month until now that he’ll help for the cooking instruction but won’t eat it…but next week, they are making “pigs in a blanket”. He’ll eat those, but I have to let the teacher know that we call them “croissants”. But how cool is it that they have a therapy dog come in every week?!!

They even have a huge daily schedule posted in their classroom:

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Love it!

My Daughter’s #SecretSanta Gift

My daughter is part of a club at school called “The Junior V Club”…strangely, she doesn’t know what the “V” stands for, and she keeps forgetting to ask the teacher who runs the group. Basically, the group gets together as a safe place for the girls to talk and express their feelings. At the beginning of the school year, they decided to choose two “raise awareness projects” for the year. My daughter’s suggestions were Autism and anti-bullying. Mama Pride! My son’s Autism-specific class is at this school too, so the school population itself is quite aware of special needs.

My daughter told me on the weekend that the Junior V Club was doing a Secret Santa gift exchange, with the following guidelines: $5 limit and the gift needed to be made by the giver. So, my daughter asked if we could go to the dollar store to get craft supplies to make a gift. She found a coin bank in the shape of a house that she wanted to paint and decorate.

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Of course she wore her Santa hat to paint and decorate…

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She was so proud to take her gift to school yesterday, especially since she didn’t know the fellow club member very well. Apparently the new friend loved it.

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My daughter received two handpainted decorations for the tree. So cute!

My Local #MP’s Office Helped Me Tremendously! (#CdnPoli, #DavidChristopherson)

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(This post is not sponsored…just a first-hand account of my experience with my MP’s office)

A few weeks ago, I received notice from Canada Revenue Agency that my Canada Child Tax Credit was being audited, hence non-payment for a few months. This is a large sum of money I receive monthly for the kids so it was VERY stressful to not receive this money. Upon receiving this notice, and despite finally having an answer of where the money went, I panicked…to the point of my own version of a meltdown. The notice included a list of documents (tax information, school registration and attendance, etc) that needed to be compiled and returned within 30 days to Canada Revenue Agency…do the math. That would be Christmas time, so of course, that would delay things further. I also immediately panicked about how long it would take in the mail (considering Canada Post is busier at this time of year), Canada Revenue Agency‘s own holiday schedule, and other places’ holiday schedules which would delay my ability to get the documentation Canada Revenue Agency required.

Panic set in. Thankfully, my man was the “calm in the storm” and suggested we go into our local MP’s office, see if they could help. After they reopened after lunch, we went in. I started telling them what was happening (I’m not too proud to admit that I was visibly on the verge of tears the whole time).  The lovely staff person listened, waited for me to finish, and calmly reassured me that we came to the right place; that they could help. She told me to compile all the documents they requested and that they have “a guy” they send all of this kind of stuff to, to fast-track it.

When I got home, I called my kids school, told the temporary office secretary what was needed, and then took the information in on the following Monday when the regular secretary returned for them to pull the information Canada Revenue Agency needed from them. With the kids home over the weekend, I couldn’t sort through all my files to find the appropriate documentation so I did that on Monday and Tuesday while the kids were at school, and while I was waiting for the school to get their documentation.

I went into my MP’s office Wednesday morning with all my documentation, sorted for my son, my daughter, both of the kids (which included documentation that mentioned both of the kids), and for me (to prove where we live) over a two year period. I sat down with the staff person, she said she was impressed with the documentation I was able to put together in such a short amount of time, told me everything would be ok, and I started crying again. The stress of the situation was horrible!

She looked through everything the following day, felt I had provided more than enough documentation, and called me to let me know that she was faxing it to their contact at Canada Revenue Agency. The following week, she called to let me know that they had received it, and was releasing December’s Canada Child Tax Credit amount for me, while they reviewed the documentation to (hopefully) release the arrears shortly thereafter. Medium sigh of relief.

Just got the call today that all the documentation I submitted was approved! We have missed the cheque cut-off date for December as this funding is released early in December because of Christmas, so the arrears will all be deposited in January. Huge sigh of relief!

So a HUGE THANK YOU to Trudy at the Honourable David Christopherson‘s office for all of her help! I’m so glad that my man convinced me to go in and talk to them about this situation!

What My Son is Thankful For (#Autism)

Canadian Thanksgiving was a couple of weekends ago and I was sssooooo happy to receive this turkey made by my son:

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My son’s teacher wrote down words that all the kids in his class may choose to be thankful for. My son chose the following words:

  • puzzles
  • computer
  • iPad
  • family
  • park
  • Snoezlen

Made my day! Will be going in the tote for future Thanksgivings, to decorate the house.

 

Confession & New #Workshops (#Autism, #AutismSupport, #FamilySupport)

Confession: I LOVE public speaking! I know, I know, it’s one of, if not the top fear that most people have, but I love it. Role playing however…that’s a different story for me. And I have to role play counselling scenarios every week in one of the courses I’m taking right now…but I digress.

A number of years ago, I met a lovely woman named Melissa. We Facebooked and saw eachother every so often. Then earlier this year, she said that she was meeting a number of parents with children with Autism/Asperger’s through her career and asked if we could meet up. She wanted to understand more about what these families were facing (how awesome is she?!!). One coffee date later, and we decided to start holding workshops together, which where later called “Autism – Family & Financial Workshops“. She would be able to talk about the financial aspect of things (budgeting, RDSPs, etc) and I could talk about whatever was timely dependent upon the time of year.

Yesterday, we held another workshop, with me talking about IEPs since it’s that time of year, and how to work with the school. She spoke of budgeting, couponing and price matching. We also had an expert in RDSPs (Registered Disability Savings Plan…available in Canada) come share with us as well.

The chemistry in the room was awesome. I’m so glad that people felt comfortable enough to ask questions throughout my schpiel! If you’ve ever been to a presentation I make, I encourage questions. When people were leaving, they said they felt supported and asked when the next one is being held (January 28th at 10am, for anyone in Hamilton, ON Canada). We put it out there that maybe we should do a “coffee hour”…and people loved the idea. So, we’ve now scheduled an information get together over coffee (November 6th at 10am).

Something amusing happened during our workshop yesterday though that I also wanted to share. We asked for people to complete feedback forms, and when they gave them back, the form was put into a draw for a door prize (it was a beautiful Sherpa throw rug…so soft!). Can you guess which feedback form was completed by an adult who was newly (as in, this week!) diagnosed with Autism, just based on how the paper is folded? 😉

Feedback forms

Yup, that would be the “accordion style” one in the middle. She has a son with Asperger’s, a daughter being assessed for Autism, and she herself has now been diagnosed with Autism…and she’s proud of it…proud of knowing why she always thought of things in a different way; why she always did things just a little bit differently than others around her. Her son is NOT happy though…he liked being the only one in the family with an ASD diagnosis. Poor little guy. 😉

Anyway, if you are in the Hamilton, ON Canada area, please join the Facebook group to learn more about upcoming workshops and coffee times.

If you are outside the Hamilton, ON Canada area, but would like myself and/or Melissa to come to your area whether to offer a workshop series, or even a one-time presentation, please comment below or email me: imamomtoo.meghan@gmail.com.

My Son’s #SpecialOlympics Day was Special for #Mom Too!

About a month before the end of school, a Special Olympics day was held in town. I didn’t know what to expect but I was really excited…probably more than I should have been, but it was the first time my son and I got to attend with his class because he had been in IBI therapy for previous years.

I was amazed at the sheer number of children and schools that were in attendance. My son is fortunate to be in an Autism-specific class so my man and I met them at the school that was hosting the event. It was hard to find parking! None of the spots in the school’s parking lot were available so we had to park a few blocks away. We found my son’s class, under a little pop-up sunshade. Apparently all other students were gathered in the school’s auditorium for Opening Ceremonies. With the hundreds of children, personally, I think my son’s class was smart NOT going in there!

Soon, we heard bagpipes as all the students were starting to file out of the school to the field.

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Each of the children had “passports” to get stickers at each activity. Needless to say, the kids loved choosing stickers for each one!

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One of the activities was a race for each class. The volunteers overseeing the race lined all my son’s class and explained that they will count to three then everyone run. They counted down, and all the kids ran…past the finish line and all the staff and parents started chuckling…no one had told our kiddos to stop at the finish line, so they just kept on running! LOL! The volunteers ran after them and told them all to stop. It was so cute!

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There was also beanbag toss, “javelin” (with a pool noodle) and ball throw:

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I was amazed at the shear numbers of children, and everyone’s different abilities, both visible and invisible to the eye. It was wonderful to see all the helpers (both school staff and volunteers for the day) supporting all these children to have fun for the day.

A quick shout out to my son’s amazing teacher…I LOVE this picture of her with one of my son’s friends. I think it perfectly shows how much she loves her job, and her kindness towards our kiddos. I wish I could clone her for EVERY single one of our kiddos on the Autism Spectrum!

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