Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Is that what I look like?

Eek! They just put up my new teeny-tiny picture on my About.com site, and it's freaking me out. Who is that woman, and what is she so happy about? Can I have some of whatever she's having? Or maybe she's been driven insane by her special-needs children. Am I just being overly sensitive, or do I look like some character in a Saturday Night Live sketch?

My former teeny-tiny picture, taken at a one-hour photo studio, was no great shakes. I had a shadow on my lip that looked like a mustache, and my hair as always was a mess. I had high hopes for this new pic, since it was taken at an About guide event and involved a stylist styling me and dressing me and a professional photographer snapping me, but I guess they're only as good as what they have to work with. Still, I'd have liked something that reflected a little more of the reality of life with special-needs kids. 'Cause most days, I look more like this.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why I'm limping

Being my son's mom is dangerous business. When he was very little, he'd regularly bonk me in the nose with his very hard head. I got the worst of his biting phase, and often seemed to be in the wrong place when he lunged unexpectedly and poked or scratched or jabbed me. He likes to play all rough-and-tumble with me, which was dangerous enough before he got to be five feet tall and 90 pounds. But earlier this week, it wasn't even anything deliberate or exclusive to his disability that got me injured. It was a garden variety toe-stubbing against his stopped sneaker. Not sure whether he stopped short or I wasn't looking where I was going, but -- yowch! That's what I get for wearing sandals, a very black-and-blue-and-pink-and-purple baby toe. Those are summer colors, right?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No more backseat driver

Since each stage of a child's development brings with it new struggles, I've decided to abandon one of my old struggles with my now-teenage son: the struggle to keep him out of the front seat of the car. Oh, how he's begged me over the years to let him ride in front. How hallowed has that spot beside the driver and in front of the glove compartment been for him. How he has railed against the injustice of his sister and his friends and his cousins getting to ride in the front of cars while he has to sit in the lowly, babyish backseat. And over the years, I've held firmly, calmly, to "No." But now he's 13, so the "12 and under" admonitions on the airbags don't apply to him. And now he's taller than me, so it's hard to justify any sort of height requirement for the front. And so, because I know we will soon be struggling over deodorant and showers and acne medicine and all manner of teen traumas, I am giving in on this one. But just for short rides around town, for now. I have my dignity.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On the road again

Our speech problem has been resolved, with my son now seeing someone with whose level of English proficiency I am comfortable, and summer is finally settling in to a steady routine. And I notice now, maybe a little belatedly, that said routine has me getting into and out of cars on a pretty much hourly basis. On a light day, I have four pick-up or drop-off trips. If I went home during my son's speech it would be five, but for half an hour I'd rather just sit and read. My husband does the evening camp run, and we alternate picking our daughter up from work, depending on whether we're picking our niece and nephew up from camp. Then there are the days with music lessons, which necessitate at least one other out-and-in, and days when my son wants to go to Home Depot and look at keys. I think I was up to seven trips yesterday, and with the temperature pushing 100, that's no small feat. The kids are enjoying their summer activities and I don't miss the homework, but in some ways, it will be nice to get back to school with only one drop-off and one pick-up per day.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Yet another blog from me

Just for fun, and 'cause I apparently don't have enough to do, I've started a little link blog over on Bloglines to flag stories that amuse or amaze me. I'm always looking for things to write about, but sometimes I find something I'd like to share without adding more than, say, a snippy headline. If you also don't have enough to do, check it out. And for sure, take a look at those McDonald's commercials from Canada. Ha! 

Friday, July 14, 2006

We're doctors. We don't talk, we order.

It was interesting watching the TV series "House" the other night with this story and comment conversation ringing in my ears. There have certainly been a lot of stories lately about parents losing custody for disagreeing with doctors, and a surprising amount of opinion among parents that anyone who doesn't embrace conventional medical treatment is negliigent, and maybe I've become too cynical from repeated exposure to medical professionals, but I can't quite buy the "doctor is always right" line. So here I am watching "House," still a little stung by some of those blog comments, and darned if the plot doesn't revolve specifically around a mom who's resistant to the recommendations of House and his crew. Her son is brought to the hospital with seizures of a mysterious origin, and the medical detectives go right to work figuring it out. They come up with solution after solution to try, each time sure it's right, each time sure it's a matter of life and death that the boy gets the treatment, each time having to cajole or cudgel the mom into agreeing. House proposes legal action at one point, and at another tricks the mom into going along. Oh my goodness, what a pain it is to deal with these parents who don't immediately say yes! How thoughtless and child-injuring are they!

Except that ... um ... all but one of the times, the mom was right. Absolutely right, and the doctors were absolutely wrong. The doctors wasted time on a couple of wrong conclusions because they refused to listen to or believe her, and on one occasion only failed to give the kid a mistreatment that would have killed him because the mom dragged her feet long enough for new evidence to come in. She's treated with disrespect or something close to it throughout, yet it's the doctors who keep making bad decisions. And all along, I kept thinking: "You know, all they have to do is sit down with this woman, respectfully, and say, 'Your son has a really baffling condition. We don't know what's causing it. We're trying like crazy to find out. We're trying everything. We may make mistakes, but he'll die if we don't keep trying. We need you to understand that this is the only way we can help." But of course, they don't, because doctors are gods, right? Sheesh.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Don't speech therapists need to have good speech?

Be careful what you wish for. That phrase has been going through my mind as I've considered the speech services that have been set up for my son this summer. I've been fighting for these since January, when it became clear that the speech therapist at my son's school had fled and was never coming back, and that he and his classmates had been without speech since Thanksgiving. I had a lengthy series of conversations with the special-ed administration over a) getting a new therapist in there pronto and b) providing make-up therapy for my guy. And eventually, it was agreed that he would get services throughout the summer; I even got it officially noted in his IEP. It took a little more urging over the last month, but I finally got a place and time to bring him to receive these fought-for services. Hooray for me, right?

Well. It turns out that the therapists the district has lined up to provide these summer services -- how you say? -- don't actually speak English. Or if they speak it, they do so with such heavy accents that I can barely understand them. The ability to speak clearly and comprehensibly in the language of the child you are working with would seem to me to be a minimum requirement for a speech therapist, but apparently not. So now I'm fighting again, for an appropriate therapist, and I'm starting to wonder if I wouldn't be better off just working with him myself at home. Be careful what you wish for.