Grade 3 Progress Report

About 3 weeks ago, we got Angel’s progress report from school.  I’m always a little nervous opening her report, because I’m never sure what to expect for the first one.  It was a little easier since her teacher had been in close communication about any issues right away and was quick to let me know if Angel had any problems.

I was so pleased to read her report this time!  Angel got mostly “good” in the character stuff.  She got one satisfactory.  Last year, she got about half and half.  Poor kid was disappointed she didn’t get any As in this section.  I had to work very hard to let her know that this grade was a G because it was Good, not because she scored lower.  It was quite a task!

In the academics, Angel scored Progressing Well in everything.  That’s right, everything!!  All the comments indicate that she is working well with her IEP accommodations.  This is such a big difference from last year.  Even with the accommodations for the second half of the year, she didn’t score well.

When we had the Parent-Teacher interview (which Angel tried to convince me was for parents and teachers only). we had a great discussion with 2 of her teachers.  Angel’s homeroom teacher provided lots of great feedback about her activities in class.  The second teacher is Angel’s gym, dance, and character ed teacher.  She had some concerns about Angel’s behavior in gym.  Angel was spending a lot of time crying and not participating.  If the teacher told her she was in net next in soccer, when Angel went in net, one of the kids would say that she wasn’t, so she’d cry.  Her teacher reminded Angel that she can tell the kids that the teacher is the boss, not them.

With kids like Angel, there is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive.  In the past, she would hit or scream when she was mad, so tears was a bit of an improvement, but still not ideal.  We talked with her about how she can resolve problems in class and I reminded Angel that we have been working on communicating at home.  We mentioned her feelings charts that we’ve been using.  These are pictures of faces with different expressions and the word for the feeling listed with it.  We’ve been using them to help Angel to find the word she wants to use.

When she’s upset, it’s hard for Angel to find the words to use.  If she looks at her face charts, she can put the name to the feeling and start a discussion there.  I was going to copy her charts and send them to school, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

I talked with Angel’s gym teacher after school today for a minute just to check in and see how it is going.  She said Angel hasn’t been crying in gym!  She said there were a couple of times when she could see that Angel wanted to cry, but she took a moment to compose herself and carried on.  Yay!  So proud of the ground she’s been gaining.

We are going to keep on working on communication at home and giving her confidence so that she can continue to grow at school too.

Grade 3 is off to a Great Start!

I’ve started this post a few times, but I’m having trouble linking to picture on flickr like I used to. Instead of getting one photo, I’m getting a whole set. I think there is something small that I’m missing, so if you know what it is, let me know. In the meantime, pardon my lack of photos.

Back to grade three.

Angel is really enjoying school this year so far. We made our annual trip to school the week before so that she could meet her teacher. She had been showing signs of anxiety including becoming more aggressive, wetting the bed after not doing so for a while, and climbing into bed with me. Once we met her teacher, she relaxed quite a bit and things were much calmer at home.

Angel’s teacher was very welcoming right from the beginning. He knew Angel hadn’t had a male teacher before and wanted to make her feel comfortable. We saw her new classroom and she got to know him a bit. In typical fashion, Angel didn’t talk much.

My big goal for Angel this year was her social skills. I wanted her to have a play date. Imagine my surprise when she had a play date within the second week of school! She has 2 friends who are new to our school and they seem to be getting a long well. She’s been to both of their houses and they have both been here to play too. She hasn’t had a play date for a couple of weeks, but she seems OK with that.

Angel is learning how to type. She’s been using a variety of methods to show her knowledge at school including recording her speaking about books instead of always righting them down. She still has to write, but it gives her a break every once in awhile. At first, it was hard to get her to try typing, but now she is working on it a little more. Her teacher has told us that she often says she can’t do things (she does this at home too), his response is that you can’t do it yet. What a big difference! She may not be able to do it now, but if she keeps trying, she will be able to. This is great for building her confidence.

In the last two weeks, Angel has learned to tie shoes and how to whistle! I was really surprised how quickly she learned to tie shoes. I feel a little bad for not trying them sooner. I’ve started to realize that I baby her a bit. Instead of giving her lace ups, I have gone out of my way to buy her Velcro or slip-on shoes. I kept saying I would teach her how to tie, but I never got around to it. She decided she wanted to wear a pair of shoes that were hand-me-downs from her sister. She sat with Dad and he showed her how to tie her shoes. She pretty much had it down in a couple of days!

I’m working on not coddling her any more. It’s not easy for me! I have been working with a coach about parenting an active child and Angel has list of things she has to do before breakfast. After a month, I was still reminding her that she needed to do all the things on her list before she could watch television. My coach straight up told me that I’m not doing Angel any favours. She can’t learn to be responsible if I’m always reminding her. So, that night, I told Angel that she wasn’t going to get any more reminders from me. If she put on the television before her stuff was done, she wouldn’t get to watch TV in the afternoon. It worked! So far she hasn’t lost television privileges for that reason. She’s lost them for a couple of other reasons, but that is a different story.

I’m going to keep on working on my parenting skills. After being a mom for 12 years, I’m still learning on the job!

Please let me know if you are in the same boat! I love comments :)

Wrapping up Summer Fun: Canada’s Wonderland with Accommodations

I had planned to write something about the wrap up of Angel’s grade 2 year, but things got away from me. She’s now about a month into third grade.

We had a busy summer and Angel got to do some fun things like going to a week of day camp (respite care that was provided to us). We spent some time up at the trailer, camping out for a few nights at a time. Angel went swimming, played outside, tried to ride her bike without training wheels. The list goes on. One of her most favourite activities this summer was Canada’s Wonderland, so I thought I’d write a post about it.

I’ve been to Canada’s Wonderland many, many times. One of the benefits of growing up in the GTA is going to Wonderland as a school trip every year. And if you were lucky enough to be in band, you got to perform at Wonderland, then hit the rides in the afternoon while all the other kids were in school. Big Kid got to do that this year too.

I was searching online for deals for Wonderland and found that someone had posted on a site about the great accommodations available for people with autism or other special needs at Wonderland. In the past, I had never thought about checking to see if there were accommodations available. I had been dreading our trip to the park because I didn’t know how Angel would do with all the sites and sounds. I went to their site, and found all the information. You can find it on their Guests With Disabilities page. The process was super easy.

After entering the park, we went to Guest Services. They had a window open for Rider Accommodations. I had to tell them what Angel had a problem with so that they could decide what accommodations she needed. Being able to let them know that she can’t tolerate loud noises and would have trouble waiting in line was such a relief. Angel got a pass that allowed the 4 of us in our party to avoid the line ups. We would go in the exit, hand over her pass, they would check how long the wait would be, then give us a time to return to board. When it was time, we went back up the exit and were able to board. We still had to wait the same amount of time, but we didn’t have to stand in the crowd with all the extra noise. They also gave Angel a whole bunch of ear plugs (no headphones allowed on rides).

So, Big Kid and my niece convinced Angel that we should go on a ride called Guardian. I should have checked the listings first. It’s a new ride, and it’s a thrill ride. It was fun, but not what I expected. The photo at the end of the ride showed me holding my hand over my heart because I had been so terrified. We’ll just leave it at that. After that experience, we stuck to the tamer rides. Angel wanted to try a couple of other coasters, but found that they were loud. She didn’t have ear plugs in, but once she made up her mind, that was it.

Inthe end, we only used Angel’s pass twice that day. After that, it started to rain. The park cleared out, and we were able to get on rides with no waiting. Angel even got to go on some rides two or three times in a row because there was no one waiting. Big Kid and her cousin did some of the bigger rides while Angel and I stayed in the kids’ area. They weren’t able to use Angel’s pass unless she was in the group, but with the rain, they didn’t have to wait long anyway.

Angel even agreed to have her picture taken with Snoopy and some of his friends. She met 2 different Snoopy’s, Sally, Franklin, and Linus. In the past, she would not have gone near them, so I was impressed that she was willing to do it this time.

What I thought was going to be a stressful day ended up being fairly calm and relaxing. Not having to worry about waiting in lines made my anxiety go down a lot and Angel only got anxious herself when there was a thunderstorm. Ear plugs just don’t cut it when you are outside under a shelter and the rain is pelting down and it’s thundering too. She did really well though! I was glad that we were able to have this “normal” family experience.

Any time we go to another attraction like this, I’m going to be sure to check out their accommodations. Wonderland really knows what they are doing. Their disabilities page even has a link to an autism site with more information about planning trips to theme parks. This has given me hope that we can go to other attractions and have a fun day for the whole family. I’m not sure what we are going to try next!

PS…this is not a sponsored post. This is our real experience at Wonderland. Highly recommend it!