Thursday, August 28, 2008

changing direction

Well, the first week of school has been interesting.  Son came home with four incomplete homework slips in the first five days of school. Many emails with is teacher have been exchanged. I have met after school with his teacher and resource teacher. Side note - I'm excited that he has a resource teacher in his classroom to help him in the afternoons. The short story is that I decided on Tuesday that he needed to be back on his medication. I would like to say that I agonized over the decision, but I didn't. Son takes a low dose of an extended release form of ritalin. It is night and day between whether he can focus in school and do the tasks he has to do. I wish he was "normal". I really wish he could function without this expensive drug that causes side effects I don't like. I don't get to choose. I am going to do whatever it takes to help my son. Last night as we were leaving swimming practice, Son's coach stopped me to tell me how well he had done at practice. She specifically commented on how well he payed attention and followed directions. It had been all day since he had taken his medication. She had no idea I had given it to him. The medication makes his life easier and better. I will accept that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

flyball class

We finally got back to flyball class today. It was good to get out and play with the dogs. That's my Annie learning how to get the ball from the flyball box. She is learning quickly. All her agility training is helping. She has figured out how to run the line of jumps with almost no work. I'm so proud of my Aussie girl.

Duane and Daughter are both working with Maverick. His lack of training is showing. It's going to take longer to have him ready to run for a team. His rescue background shows in his lack of confidence. Still, he is going to be a fast little height dog, eventually.

Son gave Annie some attention during down time. They were chillin' together.
Daughter with Maverick waiting for another turn. I like how focused on her he was at that moment.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back to school

The kids went back to school yesterday. The first day was only half a day. The house seemed very quiet and empty without them, and I missed them. Then they came home, and I had to go to the grocery store. I remembered that I am glad school is back in! We met their teachers Monday night. I liked them both. It seems like both kids may have a good year this year. We are all very excited about their new school and new teachers. 

On a side note, I saw a short blurb in today's paper about the actor Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter. He told Britain's Daily Mail that he has a mild form of dyspraxia. According to his publicist "his condition is very mild and at worst manifests itself in an inability to tie his shoelaces and bad handwriting". My son  is not alone, one of his heroes is just like him!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Scare

Casey (my sheltie) gave me a pretty good scare today. I was leaving to take Son to his OT this afternoon.  We were putting the dogs in their crates before we left, and we could not find Casey. The kids and I searched throughout the house with no sign of him. I was pretty sure he hadn't gotten out, so I decided to take Son and drop him off and come home and continue the search. I really kind of thought he'd be waiting when I got back saying "where'd you go?". Daughter and I came in and there was no sign of him. I thought I was pretty smart for thinking of ringing the doorbell. He always goes nuts barking if the doorbell rings. I rang the bell several times and there was still no sign of Casey. The other dogs were in the basement barking in their crates. By this time I was starting to panic. I didn't know how he could have gotten out, but when he didn't show up for the doorbell, I thought he had to have gotten outside. The gates were shut, and he wasn't in the backyard. I went on one more search of the house, starting upstairs in the kids' rooms. I looked in Son's room and in his closet. Just being thorough, I walked all the way around the far side of his bed. There was Casey, sound asleep. Through the barking, calling his name, leaving and returning to the house, and ringing the doorbell, he hadn't heard a thing. 

I've been fairly sure his hearing isn't too good anymore. I guess this confirmed it. I had to touch him to wake him up. I'm not sure if there is a cognitive issue, or if he is almost totally deaf. He seems to respond to be spoken to sometimes. I think this is probably also the source of his conflict with Annie. She acts in her normal provoking, bouncy way, and he can't hear her so he has become overly defensive, which she then reacts to. So I'll be making Casey an appointment with the vet so see if we can get a more definitive idea of what is going on with him. My heart dog is getting old. I think his agility days are over. 

What is SPD?

So what is SPD?  Sensory Processing Disorder has also been called Sensory Integration Disfunction. It is a neurological disorder affecting the sensory abilities. It is estimated that the condition affects as many as 1 in 20 children.  The following quote is from the book Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D, OTR.  "Children with SPD experience touch, taste, sound, smell, movement, and other sensations differently from typical children. Some feel sensations more intensely, others feel them less intensely, and some just don't get sensory information 'right' - 'up' feels the same as 'down', or a penny feels the same as a button. Because they don't process sensory information the way other children do, sensational kids don't behave the way other kids do, either."

Like other disorders, such as AD/HD, SPD affects people to varying degrees, and in different ways. As I've said, my Son is on the mild to moderate end of the scale, which is not to down play the way it effects his life and our family. In fact, getting a diagnosis and services to help him has been very difficult because his behavior is closer to "normal". SPD can look a lot like AD/HD. Son actually also has a diagnosis of AD/HD inattentive type, which I will refer to ADD for simplicity. He is not hyper in the classic sense. He does find it hard to sit still and be comfortable. In the classroom he has obvious difficulties remaining focused and on task. Son also has a mix of how SPD affects him, in that in some areas his senses are over responsive and in others he is under responsive. Some examples; sudden loud noises tend to distress him more than the average person. He has some dispraxia, which is a difficulty translating sensory information into physical movement. For my Son this shows up in things like the difficulty he has in perfecting his swim strokes. He can swim, (it's a great activity for people with SPD!) but getting his strokes to a level where he can be competitive on the swim team is tough.  He has trouble with planning and executing the tying of shoes.  He can be over or under responsive to his environment which makes it difficult for him to focus in class. This is where it can be hard to tell SPD from ADD. It is possible to have both. I am sure Son has SPD. He may have ADD, too. I don't know, and I don't think anyone else really does either. I'm just trying to help him become the most successful person he can be as he grows up, even when I have to fight to get him help and accommodations in school. That is our version of SPD, for now.

By request, I've included some pics of our house.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

more planes

We went to see Mama Mia! this afternoon. I laughed so hard I  was crying. Still, it's a little disturbing to be of an age to identify more with the Meryl Streep character than the young girl. I'm having withdrawals with not having any dog training class to go to. Next week is finally flyball again! Here's some more pics of the planes. I love when my pictures come out!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Air Force Week in the Heartland

Today we went to Offutt Air Force Base to their open house and Defenders of Freedom air show. The air show was awesome, and it was so cool to see the planes up close. Son loved the World War 2 planes, particularly a dog fight between a P-51 Mustang and a replica Japanese Zero.
Daughter checks out the cockpit of a plane used for electronic warfare. The crew just flew it in a couple of days ago.
Does she have a future in the Air Force in computer weapons?
Son checks out the cockpit of an F-15 and the pilot answers questions. Thank you to all the men and women defending our freedom and answering questions today!
Duane with Son and Daughter are ready for transport in a C-17.
This P-51 Mustang picture was taken specially for my dad.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sensory Processing Disorder

Tuesday is back to school day here. We moved from out of state in June, so Son and Daughter will be starting at yet another new school. (seems like almost every year has been a new school)  Son is going into sixth grade and has yet to finish two years in a row at the same school. We sure didn't plan for things to go this way. As I mentioned, Son has a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and also AD/HD inattentive type.  We have spent years trying to figure out the best ways to help him succeed, and every new school is a bit of starting over, although I am really hoping that this school will be better for him than the last one was. The lack of responsiveness at their last school to the needs of both children was a big factor in our decision to move again. 

So what does SPD mean for our son? Well, his issues are in the mild to moderate range. In fact, he's basically a very normal boy. Which means the biggest struggle for many years has been to have teachers and staff recognize that if he is performing poorly in school it is not due to laziness or lack of effort on his part, but due to real neurological causes. It has taken many years to qualify him to receive help in school under special education laws. He now has some minimal modifications under the AD/HD label, but nothing under the SPD diagnosis, which he just got in December, even though SPD is probably where the real issues are. 

So, we have a new school, and a new occupational therapist who I'm hopeful is going to help us get Son the best situation we can in school this year. My goal is for Son to be successful in school this year without taking stimulant medications, which he doesn't respond well to anyway. This is an important year, because next year he goes to junior high, and will have to be much more self-sufficient. Meanwhile, we'll see how the school also responds to Daughter's need for gifted and talented education...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


School starts in less than a week. I've been going through the kids' things and doing a little back to school shopping. To my horror, I realized that both kids' feet have had a major growth spurt and neither of them had any shoes that fit! Well, other than some flip flops for the pool.  So over Son's protests, we set out today to acquire shoes for school, multiple pairs since they need some at school for gym and when they wear snow boots (which still need to be purchased).  Anyway, I spent a small fortune and outfitted the kids with new shoes.

Son has a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), more about that to come. As part of this, tying shoes is very difficult for him. He can do it in a pinch, but he hates to because it is so hard. Unfortunately for him, his feet have reached a size (as big a mine!) in which it is almost impossible to find velcro straps or anything other than laces on trainers. Mom to the rescue! On Clean I found Lock Laces and replaced his regular laces with these elastic laces which have a little slider to keep them tight.  I use them in my agility shoes. So Son will be able to slide his new shoes on and off with out tying them. In true pre-teen fashion, he has expressed no appreciation of my genius and resourcefulness. 
We found some New Balance in a narrow for Daughter at Stride Rite. What a find! She says, "Mom, these feel great!"  Yeah, because they fit. It's so hard to find shoes in a narrow width.
Okay, so I came home with new shoes too. I bought the new dog walking New Balance trainers I needed at Famous Footwear, but it was buy one, get one half off. Couldn't pass on that. I've been wanting a pair of Rocket Dog shoes for ages. Aren't these cute?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Walking the dogs

Daughter and I headed out with the first set of dogs for our morning walk. Daughter got in some training with her young dog.

Then we stopped at home and traded the young dogs for the older dogs and headed out on another shorter walk. I'm hoping this new program of walking two sets of dogs will force me to get a little more exercise, which I really need!  Casey seemed very happy to get to walk without Annie, even though he didn't go as far. They have been have some disagreements recently. Poor Casey is getting older, but doesn't want to give up his position as the boss of the pack. He's gotten very cranky. I'm having to keep a close eye on the two of them when they are together. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Meet the kids and canines

So that's me in the back holding my old guy Jake. He is now waiting and playing agility at the rainbow bridge. Daughter is holding her huge papillon, our newest dog, Maverick, who is a rescued phalene. Duane is sitting with Casey, my old sheltie guy who does agility with Daughter, and Son is holding his favorite snuggle dog, Mickey. Annie is the Australian shepherd who is my current dog competing in agility and now training for flyball. Maverick is also being trained for flyball by Duane and Daughter. 

Getting started

Well, I thought of a name for a blog, so now I guess I'd better write it.  I kind of like the word play of the word days and daze, since it can be hard to know which I'm in.  I did think that using daze in the title was a little too cute.  So grab a cup of tea, or diet Pepsi, or whatever your favorite brew is, and join me as I chat about my life as a mother of two elementary aged children who is trying to decide if my rapidly approaching 40th birthday is cause for a midlife crisis. I'll ramble about my life, my kids, and my dogs as I try to have a little life of my own pursuing my hobby of dog sports. Enjoy!