Yes, I Get Down Too.

On my blog, I try to focus on the positive as much as I can. I prefer to write about the good things or the solutions we have found. But the truth is I feel crappy lately. I am finding it hard to bounce back like usual. Let’s see, I wonder why I have been feeling this way. Maybe it has something to do with what has been going on the last few months…

  • 9 evaluations for Kindergarten.  It really, really sucked. Enough said.
  • All the statements about “self-stim” and “very low” this or that on the evaluations.  Yes, I knew it, but having it shoved in my face is not a picnic.
  • We pushed hard for inclusion, thought we had some inclusion put in place at the start of school, only to have the district back pedal on it.  I just signed the damn IEP anyway…fine, who knows, maybe a slow transition to typical K inclusion for parts of the day are best. We asked to meet 2 weeks after school starts to argue about it then, because it was clear the team just wanted to get on with their summer vacation. Anyway, Beth’s teacher has not been hired, and that probably matters more than the inclusion plan right now. Which brings me to the next stress point…
  • Talking to the professionals at the school did not make me feel better. I tried to explain my kid’s autism and her unique learning/visual scanning/motor planning issues to everyone during the eval process and when I toured the school. I got confused looks most of the time. The exception was the speech therapist, but I just learned she will not be at the school next year. Add to that, I have not met Beth’s teacher yet because she has not been hired. I will get to meet her the week before school starts. All I can do is pray that Beth’s mystery teacher is a champion collaborator who wants to hear all I have learned while teaching Beth the last 2 years.
  • Going to PT and OT therapy up to 3 times a week, only to have them discover what I have already discovered. It was clear in the evaluations everyone thought Beth needed more PT/OT, so we started up again with those therapies (30+ min drive each way, so 5-6 hours of time a week).  While I have learned a few nifty approaches, those aha moments are dying out and she is not progressing any faster than when I worked with her on my own. But I am sticking with OT/PT longer this time, on the off-chance it makes a difference and because Beth loves the gym part of it. Also, I learned through the school eval process it is good to have outside professionals involved to back me up and document things. Sad, but true.
  • Being an aid to my kid at camp and classes is great, but I hate to watch her struggle.  Being an aid to my kid has been a phenomenal experience and I don’t regret it. But it is still hard to stuff the feelings down sometimes when your kid is so obviously delayed and very different from other kids.  Stuffing those feelings is zapping my energy and while I think going to camp is probably one of the best things I have ever done for her, I can’t wait for it to be over. Only 8 more days over 3 weeks to go…yes I am counting down the days.
  • The public is getting to me. Beth often stands out now when we go places. As I wrote before (http://wp.me/p2OomI-1gf), warmer weather means she can’t wear her coat now and so there is more flapping. Plus Beth is really, really big for her age, so she looks older than 6 and people try to converse with her more now. Add to that a myriad of sensory seeking and processing difficulties outdoors and in new indoor environments and she looks much less connected when we are out verses at home. The public just doesn’t know what to do with all that, and they tend to say the wrong things, look away, disengage, feel uncomfortable, over analyze, etc. Again, I don’t blame them, and I do what I can to explain and facilitate their interactions with Beth, but it can get me down sometimes.

I am sure I am missing something above, but you get the picture. Last night I decided it was time to do something about my foul mood. After camp is done (mid-July) we are getting the heck out-of-town. I canceled most summer activities and we will head to places with water to re-group and decompress.  Beth and I both deserve some fun after that last few months we have had.

Beth Throwing Heavy Rocks in Her Stream

Beth’s New Hobby…Throwing Heavy Rocks in a Stream Near Our House

 

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Back to Where It All Began

 

Beth and me just before I dropped her off at preschool (age 2.5)

Beth and me just before I dropped her off at preschool (age 2.5)

 

A couple of weeks ago, I had a crazy idea. I wanted Beth to go to a “typical” summer camp where she would have social role models to get ready for Kindergarten in the fall. The closest high-quality summer camp with a good reputation in our area happens to be a couple of miles down the street from our house.  The camp is held at a private preschool/K facility and grounds, which also happens to be where Beth’s autism red flag was first raised.

Beth attended preschool at about age 2.5, and within 2 weeks we were called in and the preschool teacher and director voiced their extreme concern for our daughter. Then came the evaluations, diagnosis, therapies, and, after a short while, we took Beth out of the school because her anxiety was through the roof. She could not handle the school it at all.

Obviously, the school was a source of extreme pain for me. Before Beth quit the school, I ordered a ton of Christmas stuff for the school fundraiser and the director called to ask if I would pick it up.  I said I would, but I could not go back to the school, because I knew I would walk through the door and break down in tears. So, I just didn’t pick it up. For about a year I avoided driving by the school because I could not cope with the painful memories. After about a year, I would at least drive by the school, but it still stung.

And here I was a couple of weeks ago picking up the phone, talking to the director, and I was asking if my child could attend camp and if I could act as her aid. Not surprisingly the director said they never had a parent act as an aid before. But surprisingly they said sure, let’s give it a try. Proving once again that people will often say yes if you just ask.

So today was our first day of summer camp at a place of old pain.  I saw the rocker in the playground where Beth tried desperately to sooth herself (and one time rocked so hard she hit her face on the rocker and busted her lip open), the playground with wood chips she used to throw as a stim (they finally just gave up on redirecting her and gave her a bucket to fill with wood chips), and the preschool room where she had all her sensory meltdowns and sleepless nap times where she paced the floors filled with anxiety.

Beth was with the younger children (around 3-4 years old) most of her time at camp today, because that was the only slot open in camp. Socially it was a perfect fit, so I am actually happy she is in the “younger room.”  But in other ways she was ahead of the other kids and it was great to witness that (she can swim when the others were just getting used to the water, she preferred to use markers and they liked the stamps, she was doing jigsaw puzzles when many were still doing inset puzzles, she could dress/toilet/wash hands better, and her use of language was above the other kids).

I see camp as a great opportunity for Beth this summer, but also see it as in incredibly informative experience for me. I am spending time with kids on her social level and I can observe what they like to do so that I can carry that over to home and play dates. Also, I have a better idea what needs to be in her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for Kindergarten in the fall.

How did I feel?  Today I was happy to be there and happy she was coping and tuning into the other children.  Autism has taught me well. It has taught me how to focus on the positive, accept the challenges, and put all energy into helping my child succeed and not waste it elsewhere. I feel very hopeful that Beth will learn a lot in summer camp and that it will be a positive and healing experience for both of us.

 

 

When “I Just Don’t Want My Kid to be Labeled” Hurts – Part 2

So I banged out an article about my anger in record time, did almost no editing, and pressed the publish button (http://wp.me/p2OomI-13y). Then, I spent the next 3 days watching the hit number on my blog go through the roof and trying to address the many comments that came in on closed FB groups and on the blog post. The only point of my article was sometimes I feel jealous and resentful when I am around parents who have children with autism who have much more language and who are more functional in their day-to-day living skills than my child. And how the feelings are sometimes out of proportion, because they are rooted in grief and I have some work to do.  Some people could really relate to what I was saying and needed to hear that it was okay to feel these things. Others pointed out that there are other reasons not to want to label a child and they have it bad too even if their child is on the higher end. These points ran around in my mind for a while and I decided they were worth exploring further, maybe not so much for others but for me as I sort through the mess in my mind. So I am writing yet another post on grief when I would rather be writing one about the jack-o-lanterns we carved, but here it goes.

I agree I am too sensitive about the label thing, for the simple fact that nearly everywhere we go now it is pretty obvious my child has special needs and people often know she has autism. If they don’t, sometimes they ask “What does she have?” It wasn’t always this way. When she was small people just thought she was tired, shy, high-energy, or any number of things. So I am in the process of embracing my child’s uniqueness and truly accepting it. And the sad truth is that many people view autism negatively, instead of what it truly is. Autism is simply a description of a set of characteristics that attempts to describe my daughter’s neurology so that others who don’t have the same characteristics can understand her better. But the general public does not understand autism, or the wide range that is the spectrum, and they automatically think of all the countless negative stories about autism they have seen in the press. So the avoidance of the label bothers me, since it is so obvious in my daughter now there is no way for me to avoid a label. But in a way I understand people not wanting to use the label, because of the stigma of autism. Even I admit I usually describe her as “special needs” if I need to let strangers know about it and I don’t have time to clarify and let them ask questions (example: the pony ride situation…”My daughter has special needs, she needs support while she rides…”). But if I have time for discussion with the person, of course I use the term “autism” to describe her, because that is the best way to describe her. If I had a child that was on the border though, would I choose to use the label? Given the last post, the answer might surprise you: Probably not. Funny that if I were on that end of the spectrum I would be fighting for other people to accept the non-autism part more than the autism part of my child, but I guess that comes with the obviousness of my child’s autism symptoms. So if I analyze it a bit more, why did the moms mentioned in my previous post who didn’t want their children labeled bother me? Because one said it out loud and then said that her child would beat it. And the other celebrated in an obnoxious way when her child made it while I was standing right next to her and my child didn’t. From my perspective, it is not okay to ignore or downplay the struggles of others, especially those who have children with profound challenges and very uncertain futures. Again, it shouldn’t bother me as much as it did and I need to work on that, but it is still a valid feeling to have and parents like us could use more sensitivity.

As for my occasional (and now fleeting, since I have worked through a lot of grief issues) jealous or resentful feelings towards those on the very high functioning end, I feel it is a typical feeling for parents who have kids who struggle to request basic needs, feed themselves, dress themselves, find items in their home, and tell us when they are hurt. When I feel these negative feelings, they are rooted in grief and an intense fear for my child’s future. And if I stop and take a deep breath, and think of some of the severe challenges that high functioning people with autism have, I am able to temper those feelings. Thankfully, not only do I know several parents and their high-functioning children to give me perspective, but I have also read many books written by high-functioning adults who describe their childhood. One stands out…Stephen Shore wrote about how he slammed his head against the pavement due to a sensory issue as a child and that stuck with me. It just shows that the behaviors can be extreme anywhere on the spectrum and the parents are often at a loss to understand their children. Also, as I wrote in my previous piece, the struggles in school in typical classrooms are extremely painful, lonely, and demoralizing to these children. Having been a child who was bullied pretty mercilessly in 6th grade, I can relate to that, but that is a story for another time. Finally, although it is understandable for me to feel jealousy and resentment, it is also ridiculous at the same time, because some people have more children to deal with, their own illnesses, money issues, medical issues on top of the autism, etc.

The interesting thing is that I have been on the other side of the jealousy and resentment because my child was not as severe as another child. A great example is when we are at the pool, where my daughter appears neurotypical to most people, even the other special needs parents.  For example, last night I was at the pool watching my kid swimming all over the pool with my husband and in walks a dad with his teenage son with severe autism (the son is catching bits of light in the air with his hands, outwardly disconnected from people in his environment, has trouble coordinating his movements to walk and motor plan his way to the pool on his own). The dad is helping his son to the pool, he looks at me, I look at him, and we say hello. We have seen each other at the pool before, and I think I know what he is thinking about me…that I don’t understand what he is going through and I have nothing to complain about with my child. I can’t argue with him. You see, it is all about perspective and how we feel at a particular moment in time. All the negative feelings we have are valid. The trick is to somehow work through them and minimize the time spent stuck in them, no matter what the circumstances. Easier said than done sometimes.

When “I Just Don’t Want My Kid to be Labeled” Hurts

The first time I met a parent who didn’t want to talk about her child’s autism was at Beth’s preschool. The parent had a child who was a year ahead of Beth in the 4-year-old classroom. Her child had some subtle and brief repetitive hand movements, seemed to zone out sometimes, and I noticed how he answered questions in a very factual way with memorized scripts. He didn’t need a full-time aid to go to school like my child did, but clearly he was on the spectrum and on the “high-functioning” end. So, I tried to talk to the mother. I opened up about my child’s autism and our home program and got back absolutely nothing in return. I was confused, but I still tried to talk to the mom as we waited in the hall to pick up our children. And then I just gave up because it was clear she didn’t want to acknowledge our children shared some similar traits, let alone use the “autism” word. This parent was part of the “I don’t want my kid labeled” crowd.

Fast forward to the end of the school year when I decided the therapy program we had wasn’t really working as I had hoped and we were Going It Alone (http://wp.me/p2OomI-3). We were at the end of the school year, I was about to say goodbye to her last therapist, and I was sitting watching my child struggle through the end of the year class production (songs, fingerplays, etc…all of which she could not do). At the end I could barely contain my tears of sorrow, and I look over at the mom of the boy who had autism and she didn’t want to admit it. She was high-fiving her husband and literally doing a fist pump. We locked eyes and she knew that while it was a great day for her because her child did well, it was not a great day for me. And then she looked away. I thought, good for you honey, you think you did something magical for your kid and you won some sort of game that he can pass? And, I admit, I thought, fuc* you. Thus began my struggle with the “high functioning” part of the spectrum.

For a long time I have struggled to accept that the high-functioning kids and my daughter really have the same condition. And I have had feelings of resentment and anger when some parents complain about their child’s problems, which quite frankly seemed minor compared to my child’s struggles. But I have been fortunate enough to spend time with parents of high-functioning kids and over time I have been able to gain empathy.  Too advanced for the “autistic support” classrooms, the high-functioning kids are put with neurotypical children and somehow have to manage. I have personally witnessed high functioning kids trying desperately to interact with their neurotypical classmates, and I have seen them shunned by their peers because of their uniqueness. It is painful to watch, and I get where the parents are coming from now.  So, I thought I had made significant strides towards acceptance of high-end of the spectrum. Until yesterday.

I was at the playground, helping my child stay alive (she likes to climb down parts of the play equipment that she should climb up and the last thing I need is a bad fall and an emergency room visit). I passed by a mom saying, “She has social issues and other issues but I don’t want her labeled.  I mean, she will beat this thing, and then…” I got a flash of anger that took me back to the high-fiving “this is a game to win” mom back in Beth’s preschool. Here are thoughts that went through my head: Lady, you have no idea what a real diagnosis is, what autism is, this is not a MF game, your kid doesn’t have anything or else it would be obvious, and on and on. And then I took a deep breath. There are kids with high-functioning autism that really need help, so why am I so angry? What is the real issue here?

And then it hit me. For a mom to not want her kid labeled with autism means she does not accept my child. It means that autism is such a horrible thing to her that she would never want to even fathom giving her child such a label. Ouch, that hurts…it cuts me really deep. The mom’s inability to accept the autism label triggered an anger in me that is below the surface waiting to come out. The anger was too strong and out of proportion with the situation, which can mean only one thing in autism land. Grief of course (http://www.abilitypath.org/areas-of-development/delays–special-needs/states-of-grief.html). This is my issue, I own it, and I need to work through it. But at the same time, is it okay to say, “I don’t want my kid labeled” and treat autism like a game to beat instead of saying “My child has some challenges, but I don’t think it goes to the level of needing a diagnosis.” From my point of view, the former is discriminatory and it is hurtful. I work very hard to understand the high-functioning end of the spectrum and to squash down my own jealousy and resentment, so I expect that parents of kids on the high-functioning end should work to be respectful of my child who works very hard every day to make small gains, who could not pass in a typical class by any stretch of the imagination, and who most definitely has autism.

See here for part 2: https://fumblingthruautism.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/when-i-just-dont-want-my-kid-to-be-labeled-hurts-part-2/

Middle-of-the-Road Autism

You are standing in the middle-of-the-road in autism land and wondering how you got here. You look to the left and there seems to be a ocean of milds who are surging ahead. You look to the right and you see a smaller pool of more severes (deemed severe by your own definition, since no one can agree what severe really means, and looks are often very deceiving). And here you are, stuck in the middle of the road, with that damn Pretenders song playing on repeat in your head (and despite having a mega hit song Middle of the Road, I can’t find a good image with Chrissie standing in the middle of a road, only a grainy image of her in that sequin hat from the video):

Chrissie Hynde

Actually, us middle-of-the-roaders feel more like the guy in this album cover (a long stretch of road ahead of us, trying to figure out how to get where we need to be when we don’t even know where the hell that is):

middle of the road

It is a tough road, so I wrote this post to let you know you are not alone.

You have probably heard some of these phrases at some point, starting from when your child was young and newly diagnosed to the point you find yourself now:

“Are you sure he/she has autism?”

“He/she is still young”

“He/she has some language, and that is a good sign”

“He/she is so smart”

“There is so much promise”

“He/she can do so many great things”

“We had such a great early intervention team. Are you sure they did things right?” (this one is usually followed by a barrage of questions, trying to figure out what your team didn’t do that their team did)

“Try this therapy, it worked miracles for us” (this is a popular one with the biomedical solutions crowd)

“My kid just surged ahead one day, it could happen for you”

You may be mad. Mad that the therapies didn’t work like you expected, mad that other people who clearly had children with a different genetic profile from your child don’t seem to understand your situation, and mad because you have some unresolved and chronic grief. It is okay to get mad. That is completely normal.

You may also be sad, or even depressed. That too is completely normal. I was depressed for an entire year during early intervention when things were not going as I hoped. I dip into sadness frequently and I have learned to dip in and then get the hell out as quickly as possible. Some of my fellow middle-of-the-roaders talked to their doctors and got help for their depression in the form of talk therapy or a pill. Please do that if you need it. All of these sad feelings, all of these approaches to dealing with the sad feelings, are normal and acceptable. Do what you have to do.

But you can’t stay mad and sad forever. So what next? Acceptance of course. But how? Everyone has to find their own road to acceptance, but this has helped me:

  • I have accepted there is no magic bullet. This is a slow slog, where my child is developing according to her own unique developmental path.
  • I found Facebook page owners who focus on practical problem-solving and acceptance of children with autism. Joining autism advocacy, presume competence, or neurodiversity pages will help you get into the “acceptance” frame of mind. You don’t have to agree with every post the page-owners make. Examples of my favorites are Mama Be Good (https://www.facebook.com/mamabegood), Emma’s Hope Book (https://www.facebook.com/EmmasHopeBook), and Judy Endow (https://www.facebook.com/JudyEndow).  There are MANY pages out there, so spend time joining and unjoining to find a core set of pages that help you with acceptance.
  • I found a local group of people who are also slow-slogging it. Finding them took awhile. I went to special needs gatherings, formed my own special needs groups, ran my own events, and joined as many special needs groups that I could find in my area (to start, check meetup.com, google search for closed facebook groups, search yahoo groups).
  • I have decided that my relationship with my child is more important than pushing her ahead before she is ready. I suggest looking into relationship-based “therapies” (Floortime, RDI [Relationship Development Intervention], or Son-Rise). Do the methods suggested by the therapies not because you are searching for that magic bullet, but because the therapies will give you tools to interact and understand your child better.

Beth Takes Her Time

I have been stuffing things into Beth’s closet at an shocking rate. Usually, I stuff a thing into Beth’s closet because the thing didn’t magically solve one of her challenges or because I felt the thing was beyond her developmental level and needed to be saved for later. But the current pile in her closet consists of things Beth is just…done with. It didn’t happen overnight and it sort of crept up on me. She is progressing. I feel happy, relieved, shocked, and, surprisingly, a bit sad to say goodbye to the things in the pile. Bye to the potty with the little bear decal on it, that she has lovingly rubbed so many times it is starting to wear off. Bye to the damn shape sorter from hell (A parallelogram, trapezoid, octagon, pentagon, and hexagon on a freakin’ SHAPE SORTER?). Bye to the snake lacing toy, which I made say “SSSSSSS” while pretending it was attacking Beth’s neck in a silly way (lacing sucks…I did the best I could to make it fun).  Bye to the pink popper which she only truly mastered after she was too tall for it and had to bend over to push it. Bye to the Animal Hospital with the keys that got her to twist her wrist to get to the M&Ms locked behind the doors. Bye to pink pig piggy bank, which was the first toy she played with and loved. But I am not kidding myself.  I have made the mistake of permanently getting rid of toys only to have to buy them again, because Beth remembers every toy, even if she never outwardly showed much interest in it. One day, maybe even a year from now, I may hear “want pink popper” or “want snake” and I better be able to produce it or I will have to buy it again. So, into storage they go. Maybe I will leave the most cherished items in her cedar chest in her closet for easy access. My husband wants to burn the potty, but I think it will go in the attic too. You never know, she might want to see that bear again for old times sake.

IMG_3132

Beth is not up to her age level in most regards yet, but she is definitely progressing on all levels in her own way, and on her own time scale. In Beth’s room there hangs a gift that my sister-in-law, Alexandra (Aunt Ali) Kloster, wrote and gave to us for Christmas the year Beth was born. The piece is titled “Beth Takes Her Time”* and it seemed so appropriate given it took us 5 years, and multiple miscarriages and multiple failed fertility treatments, to have Beth. She was our miracle baby, born without fertility treatments after all that we endured. I remember crying when I first read the gift, because it was so touching and meaningful. I did not know then that the gift would have an additional meaning in the coming years. Beth “takes her time” reaching many milestones and learning to work her body, and she works so very hard every day, all the while keeping her sweet spirit in tact. So, in honor of progress, in honor of putting away the first pile of milestones, in honor of our miracle little girl, and in honor of Beth taking her time and being who she is, I share with you this beautiful piece of writing from my sister-in-law Ali.*

        IMG_3120Written By Alexandra Kloster (http://www.albertleatribune.com/author/Alix/)

*Beth is a pseudonym for privacy purposes, so I replaced her real name in the title and in the snapshot of the piece shown above

The Letter

While searching for some documents for Kindergarten (more on that in a later post), I ran into a letter that I wrote to Beth’s first preschool teacher.  It was a blast from the past.  Thankfully, since I am learning to live in the moment and accept Beth for the wonderful little person she is, I moved on with my day rather quickly after an initial reaction of shock and sadness.

Here is the letter written to Beth’s preschool teacher, Sarah (name changed to protect privacy), when Beth was about 2.5 years old. It was written before diagnosis and before our lives would change in ways we could not comprehend at that time.  My thoughts as I read this letter yesterday is shown in italics.

Dear Sarah,

Here is some information that may be helpful for Beth’s transition to preschool:

Previous Caregivers: I stayed home with Beth from birth to 6 months, then I went back to work full time.  Beth had a caregiver from age 6 months until about 2 weeks ago.  Our relatives from out of town have been covering the gap in care until school starts.  In the past 4 days, we believe we are seeing signs of increased stress due to the transition (clingy behavior, sleeping and eating problems, more anxiety in social situations).

So, the anxiety was already showing and we were worried enough about it to write this letter.  I had forgotten that it was so obvious, but we tried to accept Beth for who she was and we tried not to worry about it.  We were so hopeful that school would help Beth with her anxiety, especially around other children.  We also hoped school would help her with flexibility. The school was the best we could find, with acres of grounds, animals to feed, many opportunities for messy play, etc. We had hoped she would adapt after a short transition period. But after 2 weeks, the teacher called us in and said she highly recommended a developmental evaluation.  She felt our daughter was in distress at school and could not cope.  In her words, “I am very worried about her.  Very worried.”  We were in shock. 

Home Life: We don’t watch TV at all and we go outside as much as possible, so Beth feels most comfortable and happy when she is outside.  Beth’s favorite outside activities are the water table, swimming, going to local farms, visiting pet stores and zoos, the swings, and running outside.  Her favorite inside activities are books, music, and painting.

I wanted to let the teacher know that we were a different kind of family, so maybe that was why Beth was different (who the heck watches no TV at all…we do watch it now, but we were trying so hard to be perfect parents back then). Also, I wanted the teacher to know how to calm Beth with her favorite activities. I was worried about how Beth would cope, and I hoped that the school and this very experienced caregiver would have the magic touch to help Beth expand and grow. But when I picked up Beth from school, she had a look of desperation on her face and she would scream “Go home, go home, go home!” She looked so very tired, miserable, and sad.  I thought she would eventually adapt, but it never happened.  

Socialization:  Beth is our only child, but we try to expose her to other children whenever possible at informal social gatherings and organized toddler classes.  Beth has taken many toddler classes, but she loves music classes and unstructured gym classes the most.  Beth barely notices kids her own age, but she loves older kids.  Beth often seems stressed in new social situations with kids and/or adults, especially when the new people are many and in close proximity.  Recently, her reaction to these new social situations is to run away, or, if indoors, to scream to go outside.  This has been a challenge, so we are a little nervous about her transition to school.

Translation: We wanted the teacher to know we had done everything we could think of to socialize Beth.  We were out of ideas and we needed help.

Sleep: Beth sleeps about 8-9 hours a night and she very rarely naps.  if she naps, it is while riding in the stroller or car in the late afternoon (3-4 pm).

When we had our introductory meeting with the preschool, we told them Beth did not nap.  They assured us she would and they had many tricks to make it happen.  She never did nap there. Beth would pace back and forth filled with stress while the other kids were sleeping on the floor. I had no idea that sleeping issues would get worse after this and how tired we would all be for so long. But now, as of the last few months, Beth is sleeping 9-11 hours a night and if she wakes she goes on the potty and then puts herself back to sleep. I am so grateful that she has finally figured out how to sleep as much as her body needs and how to put herself back to sleep.  

Potty Training: We started potty training about 2 weeks ago. She rarely states she wants to go to the potty, but sometimes goes to the bathroom door when she needs to go.  She will only use the small seat that is place on the toilet and would not go on the separate potty.  We use chips as a reward.  We are open to any approach during the transition to school, including using diapers, and any changes to the approach we have taken.

I put potty training at the end of the letter, because I considered it the least important point. I had no idea that we would be potty training for years.  It has been a long, slow process.  But we are in the final stretch, and for the first time Beth’s little potty stayed upstairs all last week unused because she used the toilet full time.  I feel lucky Beth has just enough body awareness and planning ability to make potty training possible. 

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above.

Thanks, Tammy

Oh yes, she had concerns and she let us know about them 2 weeks after school started.  And our lives were never the same again.