Friday, August 29, 2014

Wrap Up Before School Starts

Wow! I cannot believe that this is the last Friday before school starts. I have a couple of children who are in denial about this fact. It has, once again, been a busy week. Obviously, life is normal at our house. We wouldn't have it any other way. School: S has been working a little bit on his College Algebra. He is plugging away on Brave Writer. He received his acceptance information from Hadley School for the Blind. We are waiting on his initial acceptance packet to arrive from there, so he can complete the high school entrance assignment in order to start his course "The Human Eye 1". He will be "full on" next week for his senior year! Appointments: This week consisted of 4 appointments. J went to the Orthodontist. He has had his braces on for 25 months, and there is no end in sight right now. He is still waiting on a tooth to fully come in. It has started (he's almost 16). Three of the appointments were for my husband. He went to the Chiropractor, Dentist, and Orthopedics. He is having shoulder surgery, and it was finally scheduled. He will be having that on October 29. We have been discussing the day-to-day realities of his surgery (clothing, limitations, recovery time, driving, etc.). I'm trying to explain to him that he won't be wearing dress pants, tucking his shirt in, and doing a belt with his arm in a sling. I'm not offering up my black yoga pants that were my main staple of clothing when I had a broken arm. I told him he needs to get to Target to buy himself some running pants. At least he won't have to worry about having to hook his bra. Practice: J had 18 hours of gymnastics practice again. Found out this week that he will continue with 5 days/week during the school year. He will be switching from Saturdays to Tuesdays. It will be 17.5 hrs/week instead of 18 hours. It is going to be a change at our house since Tuesdays were family night. Volunteering: S volunteered for 10 hours at the Casemate Museum. He will be volunteering on Labor Day for 4 hours since we aren't going away for the weekend. Driving: J has been getting more practice time. He has driven home from practice and to church. He also drove on the freeway. There are some crazy drivers around here. It is a different experience learning to drive here than it was for my husband and I learning to drive in rural Minnesota with our 1 set of stoplights in town. Fun times: This past Saturday I received a facebook message from friends that said, "We are in Williamsburg until Tuesday and saw how close you are. Are you free?" Oh my word! YES!!! We were stationed in Germany with this family with a follow-on assignment to Fort Rucker. We haven't seen them in 14 years. They came over for supper on Sunday evening, and we had such a fun time. It was great to catch up, talk about our Germany experiences, and share stories of who we have run into over the years. Looking forward to seeing them more often since they are now stationed in northern Virginia. Randomness: I received a text from my sister telling me that my nephew dislocated his knee the other night while dancing. I think he might be getting a "Dancing for Dummies" book for Christmas. We had a Gymnastics parents' meeting the other night. We realized that we are the "experienced" parents now. One of the younger boy's moms was asking us for advice on how to treat rips. We shared the secrets we know that have helped J. S received his time slot for horseback riding for the fall. He has an 8:30 slot on Friday mornings. That means we will be leaving our house at 7:30. He is excited about the Friday slot. If he works diligently during the week, he shouldn't have much schoolwork to finish when he gets home. That is one big reason he likes the Friday slots. Thursday night my husband and I had our Budget/writing date night. We completed our budget. Then, I was blogging while he finished writing notes to the kids who will be in his Sunday School class this year. This will be his fifth year teaching the Sr. High kids. He loves it!
As I roll into this last weekend of summer, I have realized that there are some new songs on the radio that I have enjoyed singing along with while driving (I have plenty of road time under my belt). Thursday morning while driving S to his volunteering, I heard all three. His response was, "Oh great! Sing along time with Mary!" That's right!! My Favorite Top 3 Sing Along Songs for Summer 2014: "Rude" by Magic "All About that Bass" by Meghan Trainor "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith
Labor Day weekend: This will be a relaxed, working weekend. S is volunteering at least 6 hours. He just put in for an additional shift.  

J does not have practice on Saturday which means we are having crepes for breakfast. My husband is an awesome cook!  

We have a yard project that needs to be finished before my husband has surgery, so we will be working on that. 

The upstairs bathroom is going to be painted also. If I hadn't purchased the new shower curtain 2 months ago, it probably still wouldn't get done. The whole project has become a "If you give a mouse a cookie" type project. If we are replacing the shower curtain and painting, we might as well replace ______. It was a two cart trip to Lowes.  

We are also going to a cook out at a friend's house. After all this excitement, I am going to try to find time to relax on the couch with chocolate!

Linking up with:

Weekly Wrap-Up

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I want to be like these parents!

Once upon a time, a very long time ago in what seems like another lifetime, I was a Special Education teacher.  No, this is not a fairy tale.  I really was - a long time ago- before kids.  My specialty area was working with students who were Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

In my short career span (I took a long time to finish college since the Army kept us on the move), I interpreted one year, I worked with children who were Deaf/Hard of Hearing, and I worked with students who had Learning Disabilities.  In any of these positions, I had to interact with the families a lot.

I had the opportunity to work with some great families.  Some of these families were so amazing in the support of their children that I used to think, "If I ever had a child with special needs, I want to be like this family."  

Here I am.  We do have a child who has special needs, so my husband and I have tried to copy some of those traits.

*Disabilities do not define the child!
S's CP is very much a part of his life; however, we know that he is a teenage boy, first and foremost.  CP is not an adjective that describes him.  It is a medical condition that he has.  

*Stand your ground!
I applaud the mom who stood up for her beliefs in an IEP meeting even when the majority of the team felt she was wrong and tried telling her that.  She stuck to what she wanted and never caved.  Way to go mom!  [Side note:  I knew this mom outside of school.  She was a very quiet woman who didn't like conflict.  Yet, she stood her ground.]
We have had to sit in IEP meetings and go against what the rest of the team thought would be good based upon their experiences with our son.  I maybe don't have as much teaching experience as you do, but my husband and I have a lot more "parenting S" experience than the team does.  It's a matter of knowing when to stand your ground for the good of the child.

*Acknowledge my child's abilities.
I applaud the parents who wanted the school to acknowledge what their child could do rather than focusing only on what she struggled with academically.  This family knew that their child could be successful if she had an individual aide.  The school's response to this request was to offer "special" transportation when this family was clearly within walking distance of the school.  This mom dug her heels in and told them no.  The parents were successful and received the support they wanted for their child.
We have always stressed S's abilities.  We have told the schools/teams what tools he needs to be successful.  I don't believe we have ever told a team he can't do something.  We also had a school system (CA) offer to provide "special" transportation.  We asked how the other kids in the neighborhood went to school.  We were told that they walked.  Guess what?  S will walk (or ride in his wheelchair) too.

This same mom mentioned will always stick in my mind.  She became extremely passionate during one particular meeting.  I remember her husband gently placing his hand on her hand and telling her it would be okay.  She told him it wouldn't.  She came and talked to me after the meeting, and I told her I understood where she was coming from.   

Fast forward approximately 6 years, that same scenario was playing out between my husband and me in a meeting where we were listening to the most ridiculous psychologist report being read to us.  Okay, I was not so calm and I knew it.  I grabbed my husband's knee, so he knew that I was incapable of speaking calmly and nicely.  I did ask one question.  After the meeting, I asked him if I had been "rude" (I may have used another word.).  He told me, "No.  But it was very clear how you were feeling."  

*Provide information to the team.
Thank you to the family who brought information that was requested to meetings to help the team (including the parents) make good decisions for this child.  They provided input on how things were going at home.  They listened to  concerns we had at school.  We all worked together for the good of the child.  I remember celebrating so many "successes" with this family because they had worked so hard with their child and for their child.  
We have always tried to provide the team with any information that we felt would be helpful to them and their understanding of S and what he needed to be successful.  By doing that, we were helping S.  

*Hand carry records when PCSing!
As a teacher working with military families, it was great when the families hand carried records (IEPs) or any additional information that would give us a glimpse of this child until we were able to get to know him/her and receive records from the previous school.  The families who notified us ahead of time made it much easier for us to make sure we were ready to provide necessary support right away.
As an Army family, we always hand carried all information about S to our next duty station.  We called the schools ahead of time  - two of the three school systems responded appropriately by asking questions about S.  We have multiple 3 ring binders filled with information on S.  We affectionately call these books "The Great Big Book of S."  

*Show appreciation!
Families who have shown their appreciation can make a teacher's day (it can be a kind word, a note, etc.).  Most teachers really want what is best for your child.
We always made sure to show our thanks to everyone who worked with S.  There were a lot of people who made sure he was receiving an education.  It truly has taken a village to educate him! Even though he has been homeschooled for six years and starting our seventh year, we have not taken this journey alone.  S also knows the importance of showing thanks to those who work with him and help him become a successful person.  A kind word or note are free, but they can change someone's day!

I had some great experiences as a teacher, and we have had some great experiences working with teams while sitting on the parent side of the table.  These experiences have been beneficial to us whether dealing with schools, therapists, or doctors.  

I will be on the couch with chocolate as I sit here reflecting upon the wonderful people who have crossed my path to help me and my husband become strong advocates for S.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: School for the Blind and Other Stuff

It's been a busy week as usual at our house.

School:  S has continued working on Brave Writer's "Help for High School".  He has also been doing some College Algebra and German IV.  

He is working on a Nutrition course also.  He has watched the movie "Super Size Me."  Yuk!  He is doing an experiment with McDonald's food to see how long the food needs to sit out before we will see any changes.  My husband and J went to McDonald's Sunday afternoon to get a cheeseburger and fries.  They came in the house and were telling us how nasty the food smelled. I told them it is two things:  1.  We rarely eat fast food.  2.  The last time we had McDonald's French fries in our car (almost 3 years ago) we were in a bad car accident, so we equate the smell with the accident.  So far, there has been no change in the cheeseburger -gross! There are a few fuzzies on the fries.  

S has also applied to the Hadley School for the Blind to take an online course, "The Human Eye 1". He will eventually take "Human Eye 2" also. We felt these courses would be beneficial in helping him to advocate for himself regarding his vision issues. They also have some other courses he is interested in taking.  We feel we can compile a "Life Skills with Low Vision" course through various courses they offer.  We will see if he has enough time to get through all of that before the end of the school year.  

Miles Logged: My husband and I drove 508 miles this week shuttling the boys to volunteering (S: 8 hours, J: 6 hours) and gymnastics practice (18 hours).

Driving practice:  J has now driven some longer distances.  He drove home from practice on Saturday, and he drove to church Sunday afternoon for Youth Group.  

Spotz (the dog):  We have a dog who is a Dalmatian/Pointer mix.  He is 13 years old.  He is slowing down.  The other night we were all out for a walk with him, and his back legs gave out while he was trying to step up into someone's yard.  We were able to get him upright, and he made it home.  He went to the vet the next day.  Fortunately, the vet feels it is arthritis issues.  He prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication, and Spotz was up and down the stairs in the house without any issues.

Blogging:  I had a writing date with my husband again this week.  It’s nice to get away and enjoy quiet time at Starbucks.  My husband is quite funny.  I write about transitioning our son.  He writes about the funny moments in our life.  If you feel inclined, head over to his blog to enjoy some of these humorous moments ( There's never a dull moment here.

We are gearing up for the last week of summer vacation.  As of this writing, there are only 3 appointments scheduled for next week.  We will see if that changes.

I will be enjoying this last week of vacation on the couch with chocolate.

Linking up with:

Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

But that is for people with disabilities

If you have been reading my blog, you know that my oldest son S has Cerebral Palsy along with some other medical conditions.  As he is gearing up for his senior year, we are also preparing to transition him into adulthood and life in the real world.  Part of his transition plan includes, among other things, him being enrolled as a client of DARS and receiving services they provide.  

Imagine our surprise when his comment to us regarding DARS was, "But that is for people with disabilities."  Ummm...yes, it is.  

We have, apparently, done a great job of raising S to know that his disability does not define him. Yay for that!  He also does not want to be known as the person with a disability.  

However, we don't want him to be in denial about his disability ("Mom.  I live with it.  I know I have it. If I didn't have it, I wouldn't need these crutches.").  We want him to access the services that are available to him to help him be successful.  But, I get it.

Yeah, he will be okay.  I just need to go hang out on the couch with chocolate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Four Pillars of Life: Part 2

Quick recap:  My husband and I came up with four different categories and related skills that we felt S was going to need in order to be successful starting as a young adult heading off to college.  The categories are physical, educational, financial, and spiritual.

2.  Educational:
a.  Work breaks:  S tends to hyperfocus when he works (ADD) and will not get up from the computer until tasks are completed.  This is not an issue if it is a shorter task, but he has been known to sit at the computer for hours at a time without moving.  That isn't good for anyone to sit like that, and it is especially not good for someone who has CP.  Using his iphone to set alarms/reminders for himself is a tool that he uses.  This has improved.  Our goal this next year is to mark it as done.  For now, still working on this step.
b.  Prioritize work:  This is difficult for him (ADD - can you tell we have been reading A LOT about ADD this past year?  What I see as a priority, S does not.  His mind does not put importance on anything until he is in crunch mode. Then he is full steam ahead.  This is where using a calendar to input deadlines will at least give him a visual on what is due in the upcoming days/weeks.  Still working on this step.
c.  Work efficiently:  This just means working smarter not longer.  S has been known to spend hours at the computer and finish nothing one day.  The next day he might accomplish record amounts of work in 3-4 hours.  This could be related to ADD, CP, or a combination of the two. What we have found is that he is more productive on days that he gets up earlier in the morning. By earlier, I don't mean 5:00.  We are talking 7:30/8:00.  He wants to be in denial about that because he thinks he is entitled to sleep until 10:30/11:00.  That's not reality unless you are on the night shift.  Still working on this step.
d.  Be aware of distractions/redirect:  Of course, this is related to his ADD.  It becomes a huge issue when he needs to look something up on the internet.  He can jump down rabbit holes in a heartbeat. He is working on checking up on himself in 15 minute intervals to make sure he is doing what he is supposed to and, if not, redirecting himself.  Again, using his iphone is beneficial for this.  This is coming along, but we are still working on this step.
e.  Continue to take assignments seriously:  We are not concerned about this when he is at college. This has been more of an issue with being homeschooled.  We had one year where he thought (incorrectly) that he didn't have to do work that he didn't feel like doing.  He thought he would get credit for it and move along.  He quickly learned that doesn't happen when you are in high school even if you are homeschooled.  He attended summer school that summer to get caught up.  He worked quite efficiently during that time and finished his work in record times (ADD hyperfocus was his super power during that summer).  This past year he demonstrated that he had learned his lesson.  DONE!!
f.  Meet deadlines:  This will always be difficult for him.  It doesn't mean he doesn't get his work done.  It just means he does it in a way that is very different than anyone else in our house does it with our very left-brained thinking.  It doesn't become a priority (see b above) until it is crunch time (  He will get on it with such intensity and drive that it is amazing; however, we are working to get him to understand the importance of giving himself some wiggle room with due dates so he doesn't drive himself crazy.  Still working on this step.
g.  Write faster/Use speech recognition:  S is a good writer, and he has A LOT he wants to tell others; however, he doesn't see any sense of urgency with his writing.  He thinks an acceptable amount of time to write a paragraph could be 2-3 hours.  He sees nothing wrong with taking a week to write a 5 paragraph essay.  These are not reasonable times, so we are working on speed.  He distracts himself with Dragon Dictation (i.e. watching the words type out on the screen and not speaking while watching the screen or wanting to go back to correct every little thing immediately), so we are working with him on that.  He has seen how quickly he can write if he uses it in the manner it was designed to be used.  Still working on this step (it is a priority for his senior year).
h.  Set educational goals for self:  He has come so far this past year regarding this goal.  Up until this past year, he would try to deflect the conversation about college and career plans.  Now that he has friends who have graduated, it is a different game.  He has set plans for himself.  He knows that people change their minds and don't have to decide their specific career at the age of 17 or 18; however, you need a plan to start moving forward with.  This will always be a work in progress, but he has a plan for now.  DONE!!
i.  Education requirements for 4 year colleges:  S has decided to start at our local community college and finish 2 years there before transferring to a 4 year program.  He needs to look at courses he will take and make sure they will transfer to the college of his choice.  This will be something he will look at during his 2 years at the community college.  Still working on this step.
j.  Self-awareness for accommodations planning:  S needs to know what his specific needs are when he goes into the Student Services office at college to ask for his accommodations.  This has always been a strength of his, so we don't have any concerns about him not knowing.  He just needs to know he is entitled to these accommodations, and he needs to make the time to go in and ask for them in a timely fashion.  Still working on this step.

Again, there are many things that are still works in process; however, every area is being addressed. It will be interesting to revisit this pillar at the end of his senior year and the start of his college career. What an exciting time for him!

All of this excitement is getting to me.  I think I need to sit on the couch with some chocolate!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up: School Supplies, New Label, and a New State Agency

Again, it has been a busy week at our house.  We kicked off last weekend with longtime Army friends coming to visit from South Carolina.  They arrived Friday afternoon.  We all waited, impatiently, for my husband to get back from Washington DC so we could attempt to make our way to Virginia Beach for the Def Leppard/KISS concert.  S is a HUGE Def Leppard fan, so he was quite excited.  Def Leppard did not disappoint.  It was a great show.  Even J didn’t mind the concert.

Saturday:  It was a practice day for J, so we were up early and on the road to practice.  Saturday morning practices are made a little easier by trips to Duck Donuts (yum!).  While at the gym, I was talking to a new team mom.  They have recently moved here, and she is going to homeschool.  I told her if she had any questions I would be happy to try to answer them.  She looked at me and said, “I’m so confused.”  It was nice to be able to answer some questions and encourage her on this new journey.

Our friends spent the afternoon at Busch Gardens.  We didn’t go with them.  Between the two of them, they have 8 children and they were alone this weekend.  We thought they might enjoy the adult time.  They came back to our house for supper.  We had a great meal and a lot of laughs!  Wish they lived closer!

Sunday:  In the morning, we headed out for church while our friends prepared to leave.  My husband and J had to leave at the end of church because J was attending a trampoline clinic.  We enjoyed some family time Sunday evening and ate Papa Murphy’s pizza.  

Lead up to Monday:  On August 8, S went back to the Ophthalmologist to test out some Low Vision tools.  S has always had “vision issues”, but he has never been labeled.  It is now official.  He has Low Vision and was referred to the Virginia Dept. of Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).  The doctor told us he would submit the paperwork and start the process.  He said it could take 2-3 weeks.  

Monday:  At 10:05 AM, the phone rang.  It was the intake specialist from DBVI calling about S’s referral.  I was amazed!  This phone call came within 24 business hours of our visit. She talked me through the process and told me that the Education Specialist would be contacting me in the future. Again, I was amazed when I received a phone call a few hours later from the Education Specialist. She said she would need to come and meet with us and asked, “Would Wednesday morning work?” Yeah!  

Practice night.

Tuesday:  J and I went shopping for his school supplies.  Every year, we buy extra supplies so we have them on hand, just in case.  This year I told J to go through everything we had to see what he might need.  It was very nice when we walked out of the store with all of his supplies for under $25. Not a bad deal!

Since J does not have practice on Tuesdays, we had decided that Tuesday nights would be Busch Gardens nights during the summer.  We have yet to get there on a Tuesday.  If we have been home on Tuesdays, it has been a heat index of 100+ degrees or storming.  This was no exception.  It was storming.  We watched a Harry Potter movie instead.

Wednesday:  The Education Specialist came from DBVI.  She was very nice, and we had a good visit.  We found that S falls into a gray area again.  This worker serves kids from birth-high school.  S falls into that category for one more year; however, his vision isn’t impacting his access to education (benefit of homeschooling).  She is going to refer him to Vocational Rehab which we all think will be a better fit and more beneficial for the stage he is at in his life.  She also sent some scholarship links. S was excited about that.

Practice night.

Thursday:  S volunteered at Fort Monroe, so J and I headed to the beach during his shift.  Perfect weather - check.  Water temperature was great - check.  Jellyfish - Seriously!  We spent our time reading and standing with our toes in the water.  I think school should just start when the jellyfish come out.

I ordered myself a FitBit Zip and it came today.  Looking forward to seeing how it works for me.  I am trying hard to walk 10,000 steps/day.

Practice night.  My husband took J to practice.  Once a week, he takes him up to Williamsburg and stays there so he can write for his blog ( I decided to tag along and have a writing date with him.

Friday:  Hanging out and relaxing.  Practice night.

S has been working on Brave Writer's "Help for High School" and Dave Ramsey's "Foundations in Personal Finance" this week. He finally finished one of his summer reading books - only 2 more to go!

It’s been busy, but I will still find time to be on the couch with chocolate!

Linking up with:
Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Overheard at the Beach

One weekend, my husband, J, and I were at the beach while S was volunteering.  My husband was walking along the water's edge while J and I were sitting under the beach umbrella relaxing.  While we were sitting there, we heard this conversation take place among the family sitting near us.

Daughter holding a plastic shovel:  "I just dug [brother's name] a port-a-potty."
Mom:  "What?"

At this point, their attention and our attention was drawn to the water's edge where the little boy was at the edge of the hole his sister just dug tugging on his swimsuit. We weren't sure if he was getting ready to pull his swimsuit down or pulling it up.

J and I sat there and laughed!  It was funny on so many different levels.  The best part was that it wasn't my kids who were doing something like that.

I will be sitting on the couch with chocolate and laughing at this memory.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Four Pillars of Life: Part 1

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were "encouraging" S to do more and more for himself. He felt we were just nagging him.  We tried explaining to him that we were asking him to do things that other teens were doing for themselves, and he needed to do these things in preparation of living on his own someday.  

To give him a visual of what we were trying to accomplish, we made a chart that we call "The Four Pillars of Life".  They represent physical, educational, financial, and spiritual skills that we feel he needs in his life to start out on his own.  This list is created for him based upon his needs. We have a similar list for J, but it has skills that are pertinent to his needs.

1.  Physical:
a.  Getting ready in a timely fashion:  Whether it is his CP or ADD or a combination of the two, S can take up to 2 hours to get ready in the morning.  That is not a reasonable amount of time especially when we know he can get ready in 45 minutes if he puts his mind to it.  Still working on this step.
b.  Setting time aside to stretch:  Stretching is critical for S.  He needs to do it every day, at least once a day if not twice, especially since he has been exited from PT.  Some weeks he is better than others about doing this.  He knows it helps him.  Still working on this step.
c.  Physical activity:  S needs to be active just like we all do.  He enjoys doing Wii Boxing.  He also likes to be in the water.  He rides horse during the school year (it's too hot in the summer).  He enjoys adaptive snow skiing.  We have tried doing Pilates and yoga stretching.  The yoga is easier for him than Pilates. Still working on this step (aren't we all?).
d.  Create a Stretching playlist:  We told him to create a playlist to listen to while he stretches.  He knows that after 4-5 songs he should be done stretching.  He loves listening to music!  DONE!!
e.  Eat correctly:  S is very good about eating foods that are healthy for him.  One issue he has is that he will "forget" to eat if he is playing on the computer, listening to music, watching History programs, etc.  In the past, he would skip meals because his Concerta suppressed his appetite.  In the past few years, we started a split dosage of his Concerta, and it helped with his eating.  We are still working on eating at reasonable times (it's a teen thing).  Still working on this step.
f.  Water intake:  S knows he needs to drink water to help keep his body healthy; however, we are working with him to drink it throughout the day.  He has been known to go the whole day without drinking water and having minimal other liquids during the day.  When it is time for bed, he wants to have all of his water intake at that point.  We have tried telling him that he is not a camel.  He is getting better.  Helpful tools for this include the 24 oz. Tervis Tumbler with a handle.  He can carry this with his crutches.  The Tervis Tumbler water bottle with the screw-on top is also good.  He can hook his finger through it or stick it in his bag.  Still working on this step.
g.  Posture:  This is a work in progress, and it is an uphill battle.  Because of his CP and his scoliosis, good posture is difficult but not impossible.  It is important for him to stand tall and be upright in the correct position because, if he doesn't,  it will cause a number of problems for him later in life that will require surgery to correct.  Trying to prevent that!  Still working on this step.
h.  Taking care of personal needs:  This is an area that he has mastered.  He's not always fast, but he can take care of all of his needs.  DONE!!
i.  Tie your shoes:  We have found a way around this by using Hickies on his shoes.  DONE!!
j.  Organization:  This may never be accomplished.  His ADD mind does not lend itself to organization (  It is because he has ADD that he needs to be organized.  What we have realized is that the techniques my husband and I use are probably not helpful to him at all.  We have been spending a lot of time telling him what works for us, asking him if he thinks that would work for him, and asking what he thinks would be helpful. Again, he has very creative thinking and thinks outside of the box, so he has the ability to think up ideas that we won't come up with.  It just needs to be functional for him - whatever that might be ( Still working on this step.
k.  Use personal bag:  This has come a long way.  He knows his bag needs to be an extension of his body.  He is good about using his bag approximately 90% of the time.  We will call this step DONE!!
l.  Getting around correctly:  For S, this means knowing when it is appropriate to use one crutch or two crutches.  He is good about knowing when it is appropriate to use his wheelchair.  It also means walking correctly and being safe while walking with his crutches.  This has greatly improved over the past couple of years.  DONE!!
m.  Core exercises:  A strong core is the key to S being able to support his body correctly. Again, this is important to be working on since he is no longer in PT.  Some days/weeks are better than others about working on these exercises.  Still working on this step.
n.  Shower faster:  He can take FOREVER in the shower!  Because of his ADD, S has no concept of time (  When he thinks he's been in the shower for 10 minutes, it could easily be an hour.  We keep telling him he needs to rent a place that has water included in the rent.  Enough said.  Still working on this step.
o.  Cooking:  He has come a long way since we set up the Four Pillars.  We had him back in OT last year to work on some of his ADLs to include cooking.  He can microwave, cook in his toaster oven safely, and he can use the stove.  DONE!!
p.  Shop for self:  This is still a major work in progress.  The most frequent response we get from S is "It's easier if you go."  It is easier; however, it is not helpful to him.  We have told him that his college roommate is NOT going to go to the store for him to buy food, deodorant, soap, underwear, etc.  This is related to the organization skill in knowing that you are running low on something, and you need to make a list.  Shopping trips will need to be planned in advance and transportation arranged since he will not drive.  There is an added level of difficulty in shopping because of his physical disability - getting things off of the shelves, getting heavy items, transporting purchases, asking for help.  He is a fan of online clothes shopping.  Whatever works!  Still working on this step.
q.  Schedule own appointments:  We are working on this, and it is coming along.  The difficult part is the military medical system doesn't really want to talk to "children" when it is time to schedule appointments.  A facility that has online scheduling would be great for him.  We do make him go to the counter at the clinic to schedule his own appointments, and he verifies with me that the time works.  DARS deals with him directly which is nice.  Still working on this step.
r.  Keeping a calendar:  He is working on this, and he knows the importance of this.  Google calendar is his friend.  He knows which tools to use to be helpful.  We are working to get him to understand the importance of using a calendar once he is in college to record due dates and study times.  This school year I will be using a syllabus format and due dates with him, so he can practice recording dates and planning ahead.  He will also be taking an online course, so he will have to be accountable to that instructor.  Still working on this.
s.  Transportation:  At this point in S's life, driving is not in his future.  His mode of transportation has been mom and dad.  We have told him that this will not be his transportation plan forever.  He knows that when he is finished with college he will need to live in a community that has some form of accessible transportation for him (we have traveled to major cities in the US that have "accessible" transportation that isn't the most user friendly).  Where we live now, he can apply for HandiRide.  He needs to work on his application for that this year, so transportation is in place for college.  He needs to take transportation options into account when he looks at 4 year colleges.  Still working on this.

There are a lot of skills in this category, and there are a lot that he is still working on.  Growing up and functioning in life is an ongoing process.  There isn't a single category that he isn't working on at this point.  When we initially brought this up to him, he told us, "That is too much to do at one time.  I will work on one thing at a time."  Life doesn't work that way.  We are handed more than one thing at a time.  The fact that we are working on multiple steps is great progress.  

The other pillars of life will follow in additional posts.  Until then, you know where to find me - on the couch with chocolate!

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