Wednesday, August 17, 2011


A hemi mom in a group I'm with, asked how our kids did on swings because her 9 year old couldn't quite do it. Since Blondie is also 9, this is for her. Blondie has been doing this for awhile, but I think it basically comes down to practice, practice, practice. She is also a left side weakness, so she says she uses her right leg to really get going, but she tries to move them both sort of at the same time.

I hope this helps your daughter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pot holders

Blondie has watched her little sister make pot holders with the little square loom that comes in a kit from the craft store. She used to have trouble with the loops made from jersey type material, so she never really did a whole lot with it. When you have to fight to get them to even stretch across it isn't much fun.

Cheesie was the main loom user, but it cracked. Over the weekend Brian bought her a new one that came with nylon loops and Blondie immediately tried it out too. Since she was successful her Dad brought her a loom of her own. She is so excited to hand make some gifts for Christmas (etc) that she started a list of who needs one. In the mean time it is a great way to work those little hand muscles on her right hand even more and make them stronger!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friendship bracelets

Blondie ususally gets bored when it comes to craft activities. They take her longer than her little sister (who gloats about being fast), and her attention wanders. She generally makes it through half of any project and then it just sits there and Cheesie will ask to finish it.

This past week in Brownies we started making friendship bracelets to teach the girls the square knot for the Art to Wear badge. I started with regular white string because its nice and thick, but when we switched to embroidery floss it was too small for some of them to enjoy. Blondie was shown the directions just like the other girls, and then I walked away from her to help someone else and didn't stop to think about how she would possibly make this knot. Next time I looked up she was pulling up her second or third knot with both (yay) hands and having fun. It took her the whole meeting, but she finished it.

We showed miss Tonya (and shot the video) when she came for OT yesterday. Blondie is working on a chart to try to earn 50 checks for using her left arm during the school day, so we're incorporating the bracelets into the check system too. When Blondie gets 50 checks they are going out to eat (or something). After therapy Blondie and Cheesie wanted me to take them to the craft store to find some thicker string to make colorful bracelets. We found some cording and decided to try that, and it has worked beautifully. Blondie finished a pink and purple one while she watched tv last night and then started a pink and green one this morning. She is working much faster than the video now, and is so happy to find a craft to make for other people. So check your christmas presents, you might end up with something handmade from Blondie.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

IEP meeting today or Once again I'm in denial

Blondie has qualified for resource help for basic reading fluency. We knew this was coming, but here is what I've learned about myself. I CAN'T accept that my daughter has a learning disability. Intellectually I can analyze it, and I can remediate it, and I can understand the numbers behind it, but I cannot emotionally accept it. I'm keeping it real.

In the meeting today everyone was very nice and supportive, but as a teacher, I was questioning everything, and I'm sure it wasn't just "as a teacher." I'm pretty sure "panicked mom" made an appearance too. Not sure what kind of impression I left, but my reflecting led to this idea that after 5.5 years I cannot accept that she isn't like the general child. You'd think I know that right? The resource teacher is lovely, and I think she is right on track with Blondie, but I found myself asking things like, "Why did you choose such a low list of words to start with?" and "That goal isn't hard enough how did you come up with that benchmark?" KNOWING that if a child meets a benchmark the bar is just raised. Maybe its that I don't want her to have any possibility in her future limited, except that it already sort of is - she can't join the military, she can't be a neurosurgeon (doesn't have two hands with fingers that work). Really this train of thought is seriously flawed because not all of us can do those jobs either because of interest, or whatever. I think a big part is when a child who is really awesome in so many areas is reduced to numbers on a sheet its soooooo...... cold..... or something. It is an in-your-face analysis of deficits when I try to work in the positives when it comes to her.

Here's what I found myself thinking: HOW is she going to get to the "normal" (I'm shooting for 50th percentile minimum across the board, and then I'll raise that bar too) if we are teaching her on a 2nd grade level when she is a 3rd grader. Now if I were facing me across the table from the classroom teacher side I might be concerned that the parent didn't understand that a learning disability isn't something that can be fixed in a few sessions. As a teacher I try to teach strategies to kids to help them learn what they need differently. I know that is what is going to happen, but I couldn't keep the concern from coming in. I was trying to figure out how to make things harder for her. For instance, instead of allowing every math/science/social studies test to be read orally (which is no problem if I'm asked to do it as a teacher), I was actually asking for her to do it herself first and then see if she needed to have it read to her. Will this work, I don't know.

I DID FIND OUT about the previous post's assignment. Blondie's teacher had noticed that paper, and questioned Blondie about it differently than I did. She explained the directions to her again, and asked what she did. Blondie explained that she thought she had to alphabetize each letter in each word - just what Roxanne's husband thought (WOOHOO Craig, you're awesome). So, teacher wasn't too worried, it was just how Blondie processed directions, but I still wish I had known that as I could have cut down a lot of research on dyslexic type issues.

So we're jumping into the resource pool, and even though intellectually I know its best, emotionally I'm sad. It's almost like I gave in.... but then I rationalize that its like OT and PT and just another way to exercise her brain. Thankfully her teacher had no problem in sending home every single assignment that was missed in class - so I can at least feel better that she is keeping up and not missing anything important. Give me a few more days/weeks/months and I'll probably be fine. Knowing me I'll compartmentalize it into a box, and apply it only to reading. I'm still going to work on gathering strategies/kinesthetic activities/independent work that do work for her and start really trying to get that information out. I'm really thinking that just an alternative type of teaching will help, maybe I just don't like canned resource curriculum or something.... I"m going to have to reflect some more.

Sorry for the rambling post, very stream of conscious, but its my way of processing. Check out the family blog to see how Blondie scoops ice cream with one hand. She was one problem-solving genius on that task!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ABC order

Some things with Blondie just don't make sense. We've come across a new phenomenon with her lately. I'm not sure if its something new with her brain, or the fact that she is growing, or something with her eyes. I know she takes information in and flips it around a few times before it "lands" in the correct place, but I've only seen this kind of reversing issue when we've had her physically build something, never with her writing.

Example 1

She is supposed to copy the word from the list and place each word in alphabetical order. Last year we would do this on index cards so she could physically manipulate them, but apparently that isn't what this year's teacher is doing. So this paper looks like she can do it just fine......

Example 2

In the same pile of papers coming home is this other example. This paper clearly shows some issue. All of the correct letters are there but obviously out of order. I don't know if this example of her processing worries me the most, or if its the fact that this was sent home without anyone working on it with her.

When I asked her about it she said, "Oh, I did that one wrong."

Me: "Oh, okay, what's wrong with it?"

Blondie: "I didn't put them in alphabetical order."
Me: "mmmhmmmm.. (I hadn't noticed that because I was freaking out about the spelling thing) so, how can we fix it?"

Blondie: "Well, I have to look at the first letter and think about my ABC's."

Me: "Okay. Tell me what the first word is...?" She looks at it says, "after" and walks away.

So she can tell me what it is, but doesn't recognize the letter issue. I'm going to have to research this and come up with a plan for home. Meanwhile, we meet on Thursday because she has finally qualified for resource help in reading. I'm sure I'll post more on that later.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our Saebo

I've debated posting this because I don't want to be disappointed with the results, but decided to let everyone know our thoughts so far about the Saebo.
We had heard about another hemi kid using it, and were hopeful that it might help her left hand. Blondie's grandparents (HUGE thanks John and Dianne) helped us get it because insurance wouldn't pay for it, so we plan on pushing it as long as we can to make it worthwhile. It was designed for stroke patients so we are unsure how the results will be for our daughter.

Our OT and PT attended the class for this about two years ago, with Blondie in mind. They started her on several exercises to bend her elbow. When we attended the class a few months ago (see another post) we were relieved that she was a candidate because she could reach her left hand to her mouth. We watched another woman have to get something else because she couldn't do this movement.

We've been doing this for almost a month, and it is a lot of work. Our OT does have it modified with a couple of velcro straps (tan in the video) and foam in the fingercaps because Blondie's hand is still not growing well because the muscles in that arm don't work well. During the summer months we did the Saebo twice a day, with our goal to just be to open and close her hand 100 times each session. She can actually do about 70 and then she starts to ache and sort of cheat by stretching her arm out. We do sets of ten with me counting down, and then take a break for a minute or two.

We have noticed that she is getting a lot stronger. The other day Blondie was complaining about her arm hurting. I thought maybe she had fallen, but she said no. We finally decided that it was her muscles tired from exercising. This was exciting because we are also noticing that she feels a lot more sensation in that arm. In the past if you asked if she felt something she would either say no, or point to a totally unrelated place on her arm. Now she can point to the area of the pain, or object touching her. There is some carry over afterwards too, she can usually MINIMALLY open and close her fingers without doing the stretching and bending thing she used to do to make her hand open and close.

Once school started we had to cut back to once a day during the week, with twice a day on the weekends. I'm not sure how this will affect the progress, but figure something is better than nothing. There are a TON of straps, and springs, and velcro, but I learned to put it on pretty quickly, and have had to learn to adjust things on occasion. The tension beads still worry me because I feel like I'm sort of guessing sometimes, but with OT twice a week checking things I feel better about what I'm doing. I also DO NOT have her do this during OT and PT at all during the week, it is only something we do at home. Honestly, I didn't want other things ignored because we have this new brace, I thought that it was Brian and my responsibility to help her with this. OT does help a lot by guiding what we do, but PT doesn't see this at all (even though she has had the training). We decided to just start with opening and closing the hand to build strength (T-Rex's friend said its like doing pushups with just your hand). Once she is stronger we'll start the ball exercises, and I think we'll have better results.

We are hopeful with this new tool, but realistic that we are not the audience intended for this device. My ultimate goal is for her to have the strength to hold things securely in her hand, and to have her whole arm start growing again so there isn't as much of a discrepancy in length. We'll keep trying, feel free to ask us questions - we're just kind of going with the flow on this one.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mom, HOW do you DO that?

Usually if your child looks at you admiringly and asks how you do something you just feel like the best mom in the world. Not so much after this conversation...
I was sitting with Blondie and Cheesie on the couch reading one of their American Girl books out loud. I know T-Rex enjoyed these books when she was in 3rd grade, so in an effort to expose Blondie to experiences other girls her age might have, I'm reading them aloud (scroll down to see past posts about reading).
I'm reading right along, and we're learning how Molly is going to put together a tea party, when Blondie stops me and says, "How do you do that?"

Me: Do what?

Blondie: Keep track of who's talking and make their voice.

Me: Well, I read a lot and when I read I make it into a movie in my head, and when I read I can also remember what is going on in the movie.

Blondie: I can't.

Me: Can't what?

Blondie: I can't remember my movie and read, or read and remember my movie.

Me: We'll just have to practice.

And then I went back to reading aloud because honestly, Cheesie was sitting on the other side of me and her precocious little self was about to jump into the conversation with how she could do what I do, and we don't need to be reminded that our little sister can easily do things we can't.

So then I took Blondie to the bookstore and we bought Henry and Beezus (which cannot be read alone by her, but I don't care because she was interested)and we will find a place without Cheesie to practice reading that probably while we hang out at the lake.

The American Girl books aren't particularly difficult to read, but there is a lot of history in them that the little girls don't have any connection too, so we're using them as a way to start talking about those things. We've learned about bottle caps (and point out coke bottles every time we go to the store), and that people kept gardens like we do, and girls wore dresses pretty much everywhere, and that families had people in a war far away (like the soldiers we handed cookies to), and that kids were sent away from the war to stay safe, and that girls went to camp that looked a lot like Camp Congaree, etc. Then the little girls run go get the millions of dollars were of stuff that resides in our house from the American Girl store, and play tea party, or camping, or bomb shelter (it's in the book).

I like to read books a little above the girls, and while this one isn't tough, I want to pre-expose Blondie to things that other kids just have to hear once. I want it percolating in her head long before she needs it so she isn't playing catch up, and since I know that if I read it to her, or she experiences it she learns it MUCH faster than if I send her off to stumble over words in a text book - so I read aloud a LOT. She also reads books to me, but my goal there is purely word attack and fluency - I'm not even really working on comprehension.

So if you have a hemi kid in the early grades (or any kid having a tough time reading), I would suggest (as a mom, and as a teacher) that you check out your state's learning standards and find out what is going to be covered in science and social studies this year, and start gently offering your child a knowlege base from which to start. It seems to be working with our daughter, but it still hurts that she is starting to understand that she can't do something easily.