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The Slacker Mom

Communication is Key

by Erin Clotfelter on 05/31/2015

Change is Coming

If you are going to make big sweeping changes to how something is done, you need to communicate early (and often!) to the people those changes will be affecting.  This seems like a simple rule, but  it’s not always put into practice.

Over the past few months our district has been talking about upcoming changes to the autism program.  I have zero issues with the current program, it’s been fabulous for the boys, and they are thriving.  We are very happy in Minneapolis Public Schools.  At the Monthly SEAC meetings I’ve attended, any discussion about the changes have made sense to me, and I have been comfortable with what is being rolled out.  There has been very little push-back to the changes at the meetings I’ve been to.

If the changes are implemented well, this could be a great way of getting kids back into their classrooms, back into their community schools (vs being segregated into cluster schools), and more aligned with the federal settings.

I am not so naive as to believe there will not be stumbling blocks, or that the changes will be right for every single child, but I think the reasons for the changes are sound, and I think the changes are overall good, and I think this could really work.

I seem to be very alone in my opinions, at least I haven’t found many other parents who agree (or are willing to speak up on the matter).  I am starting to think this is because the vast majority of parents do not know about the changes yet, and those who do are being informed by a very vocal group of parents who are absolutely outraged (Call the media! This is Criminal! This is detrimental to our kids!) vs by the people who should be sharing the information: the people who came up with the plan- the Special Education department.

You can not imagine how much this has made me question my sanity or intelligence.  How can I, an educated mother of two autistic sons entering 1st grade, be so daft as to think these changes are OK, when everyone else is screaming for every advocate in the sate to take up the cause of putting an end to these changes?  I’ve asked nearly everyone I know who has seen and heard the same information if I am missing something, and I have been assured I am not.

Am I just more level-headed?  Maybe I can see past the knee-jerk reaction to freak out whenever something will affect the boys, and give it a chance?  Maybe I am more trusting in my boy’s abilities?  Maybe I am too trusting of the boy’s educators to want the best for them? Maybe I can see the good the changes will bring?  Maybe I am right and they are wrong?  Maybe we are both right?

What I want to know is this- what would the motivation be for a district to set up kids for such failure?  Because that is what these parents are saying these changes amount to- nothing but detrimental, criminal level failure of our children, who will be no doubt ostracized in the process, and left on their own to fumble through.  Apparently in this world, IEPs don’t exist, and neither do federal settings.

So far all I’m hearing is the token “it’s all about the budget”, but I hate to break it to you, in a school district EVERYTHING is about the budget.

There has to be more.  I don’t think the district would do something to cause this much blowback, if they didn’t think the changes were good, and important, and that kids would be supported.

At this point I want to completely remove myself from the conversation.  Those who are talking the loudest do not want to hear dissent.  They are only interested in finding people who agree, or those who haven’t heard any information yet, because they can be easily swayed.  And really, what could I possibly say?  I have nothing to back myself up- there is nowhere to direct people to get information at this point.

Do you see what I mean about communicating early and often?  The district has already lost on this, because they are letting a group of unhappy parents write the script.  As we go into the last week of the school year, with the last SEAC meeting this Thursday, I just want to skip ahead to August, and have the changes in place.

Let’s get some information out there MPS.  Stop letting this conversation be based on fear and negative propaganda.

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This Feels…Weird

by Erin Clotfelter on 01/27/2015

It’s been just over 4 years since the word “autism” was brought into our life.

The boys have had many (MANY!) evaluations.  They have logged countless hours of speech, and OT.  They have graduated from an autism day treatment program, and they stand before me looking far different than they did on that December day, when Early Intervention came for a speech evaluation.

Today, after 3.5 years of speech and OT, the boys have “graduated” from Fraser.

This is most likely just a break from speech and OT, and a much needed one.  We are now mentally in a place where this seems like the right thing, the best thing, and we are not afraid of scaling back to “just” school, and the services they get there.  I couldn’t say that two years ago.  Who am I kidding? I couldn’t say that a year ago!

The absolute hardest thing for me, is leaving Lincoln’s amazing speech therapist.  All of our therapists have been great, but Maureen has been with Lincoln since day 1.  From early on, she was his “person”.  It certainly wasn’t me or John.  It was sometimes Grandma, but mostly Maureen.  It took much longer for Lincoln to find his words, we were preparing ourselves for him to never talk.  And it was really hard to imagine, considering Wyatt had started picking up sounds and words just a few months after starting ECSE.

Lincoln Speech

But then, he started naming letters.  And making more sounds.  And then words.  And then came the reading.  Oh the READING!  And now, we have a 6 year old who is constantly narrating life, navigating all of our adventures, and telling some very tall tales.

Today, as we walked from our car to the front door of Fraser, I remembered those first months, when they were not quite 3.  The boys had to wear their backpack leashes just to get through the parking lot safely.  I was an emotional mess at every session.  Everything was overwhelming.  Autism was scary.

I recognize that although they still have some issues in waiting rooms (Wyatt can’t walk by a reception desk without checking on the state of the computers), it’s really hard to leave the building without making a dash for the “big gym”, and they still have countless hurdles ahead of them…they have come a really long way.  I have come a long way.  Autism isn’t nearly as scary as it seemed in 2011.

Today feels really good.

 

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Scentbird: Making my Obsession Affordable

January 24, 2015

I’ve talked about my love of perfume on a few occasions. It’s still going strong, and I’m still working through my list of scents I need to smell. I’m actually adding to that list every week. There is always something new, always something new to fall in love with.  A lot of them are niche, […]

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Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2014

I’ve done it- I actually got my Christmas cards ordered, addressed, stamped, and MAILED…this year!  BEFORE CHRISTMAS! I actually had 4 different orders. When you have such a hard time getting them out, you don’t buy 100 right out of the gate.  You buy 50.  And then 20.  and then 10 (because there couldn’t possible […]

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Perfume, and a Book Rave

August 29, 2014

A few months ago, I joined a book club. I really needed an outlet that didn’t have anything to do with a) Autism, or b) parenting, and this was right up my alley.  The books have been fun to read, the company has been great (we’ve only have one meeting, but still- awesome group!).  The […]

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Sometimes Parenting is Hard

May 6, 2014

I’ve been saying it for a long time.  Judah is by far, our hardest kid.  He meets his milestones.  He has conversations at a level far above that at which he should.  He is polite.  He is helpful.  He is a loving cuddle bug who wants to be with me all. the. time. I asked […]

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So this happened…

April 29, 2014

(Let’s pretend I didn’t just completely neglect this space for the better part of the past year and jump right into the here and now, shall we?) This kid joined our family: Silas 7 pounds, 11 ounces 20.25 inches At first he looked like this: All nice and pink*, and perfectly happy not impressed to […]

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Queen of my Castle

November 5, 2013

This is going to ramble a bit… Way back in July (August?) we decided we were just going to go ahead and announce this pregnancy so I could freely talk about it here.  Of course that pretty much meant I would have all of the energy (and will) sapped from my body immediately and I […]

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Throwing a Great 1st Birthday Party

September 8, 2013

One thing that parents seem to look forward to with a new baby, is the big First Birthday.  For us, it’s not as much about the kid, as it is about surviving that crazy, sleep deprived, year full of other firsts.  With the twins, we went a little above and beyond what we would normally […]

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O-oh here she comes.

July 28, 2013

On Friday, I had the earliest ultrasound I have ever had. My due date was moved back two days, I got to see our teeny tiny, and hear a little heartbeat. It was awesome. I’ve been sinking into that constant nausea that slowly takes over and envelopes every movement, every breath, every second of the […]

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