Is a 504 plan Right for Your Child- Via Military Special Needs Network

School starts next week for us (thank you!). Last night was our open house and the children got to meet their new teachers prospectively. Of course new situations don’t come without a few bumps we must maneuver around along the way. On is named Ms. Pérez, who happens not to be Diva’s kindergarten teacher for the entire year. For half of the school year, Ms. Pérez will be the teacher subbing for Diva’s real teacher who is on maternity leave until Christmas. However, at this point I feel that is the least of Diva’s worries.

Up until this point Diva as not been in a public school education or qualified for IEP to obtain admittance to a special needs preschool. She has been tested twice and told, even though she was mute during both testing periods, that would not impact her education and she still passed all the tests. Her passing the tests was remarkable to me since they reported she didn’t say one word, does not know how to spell, read or write. So here we are a year later in a new state and a new school district. Seeing Diva in a preschool setting I feel she will not qualify for a IEP, however, I feel there are certain accommodation. So how do we get those accommodations for her if she has no IEP to write them in? Say ello to my ittle friend… the 504 Plan.

I have been looking for the Dummies Guide to IEP’s and 504’s and found one today. Who can say “awesome sauce”!? Just say thank you to Samantha over at Military Special Needs Network provided us with a great explanation of the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan.


Mommy Moment Monday…Popsicles for lunch kinda day

For many, summer vacation has just begun. The sweetness of knowing there are several weeks between present day and the first day of school. Getting dressed in the morning and putting on your bathing suit instead of clothes. Grilling for dinner every night and never getting tired of it. Sitting in lawn chairs as the sun sets surrounded by friends and swatting at mosquitos. Slip ‘n’ slide fun followed by popsicles for lunch.

Here’s to your great summer, hoping it’s more fun than you can stand.


Mommy Moment Monday…Naked Preschoolers and Dirty Chicken Sandwiches…

Good morning, all.  I like to think that with all the years of working with kids that I had before starting my own family and the 6+ years in parenting I have under my belt that I have seen a lot.  Not it all, but maybe close to it?  Not making me an expert of any sort, but at least there should be very little that surprises me or knocks me off my game.  I had a day this past Memorial Day weekend that kicked me to the ground.  And then kicked me again while I was down.  It was not the best side of my parenting and I definitely lost my cool with my family.  Not super proud of that but mommies can always apologize and promise to try to do better, right?  : )

I don’t know if any of you are like me, but I always have incredibly unrealistic expectations for weekends.  Holiday weekends, even more so.  So this past Memorial Day was no different.  Here is a partial list of what I thought we could do/ had planned for those four short days:

BBQ with friends, attend a birthday party, remulch and weed the landscaping, move some plants around, go to the store and get a deck box for our patio chair cushions, set up the patio with the furniture that was still packed away from the winter months, go to the zoo, clean the house, catch up on laundry, build a bench out of a headboard/ footboard set I’ve had for years, catch up/ skype with family, get groceries, cook, make a dent in our DVR list, relax, take a nap, take a bubble bath, and so on…

So, therein lies the problem.  I know it’s not a realistic list.  But I still give it a try and then am so disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I want. Hubbs just stands to the side with an expression on his face between a cringe and amusement.  He knows how this is going to turn out.  And he knows that it’s probably not going to be pretty for me, him or the kids.

Take my unrealistic to-do list and add in the craziness of military life and raising two kiddos on the autism spectrum and half the time I feel like we should be starring in our own sitcom.  Not a slapstick one but the kind where the characters can’t even see the humor of their own situation because they are so thick in it.  That was us this past holiday weekend, in the thick of it.  After a morning of trying to get things done at home and having trouble because many of those things required our boys to occupy themselves doing something safe and constructive.  Well, bless my kiddos’ hearts, they were having none of that.  So after a few hours and some frustration we decided to take a family outing to Chick-fil-a and grab some lunch, give the boys a chance to play and get their wiggles out.  Surely after that they’ll want to go home and rest and we can start checking things off the list, right?

It all started fine as we got our food, got the kids’ shoes off and started them playing.  Hubbs and I were eating and I was enjoying being able to have an actual conversation with him.  By the third bite into my chicken sandwich, I was feeling pretty good about the rest of the day.

Why do I get so aggravated with my family? I thought to myself.

Why in the heat of the moment do I forget how blessed I am?

I made a mental note to do better and that is when I saw my son’s naked tush through the finger-print smudged glass of the play area.

Um, excuse me?

I blinked and shook my head a little but the view stayed the same.  My youngest son running and laughing hysterically without a stitch of clothing on from the waist down.  In hot pursuit was my oldest son, also hysterically laughing.  I could hear some of the nearby tables kind of laughing and whispering and for some reason that made me really mad.  Not at them, but at my kids.

Why couldn’t we be just a normal family?  Why can’t we just have a nice holiday weekend, get stuff done, and enjoy a lunch out without a crisis?

I grabbed my son and realized the reason he had taken all of his clothes off was because his diaper was wet and had leaked onto his shorts.  He didn’t like it so he just took everything off and resumed play.  To his credit, in his four year old mind he had solved the problem.  Modesty is something he is just not aware of yet and we will definitely be working on it.

I handed him and his pile of wet clothes to my husband who made a quick escape to the car.  I grabbed my other son who couldn’t understand why we were leaving when we had just gotten there.  I mean, the kids hadn’t even eaten yet.  

We went back to our table and I began to pack up the kids’ lunches and the partially eaten lunches of my husband and I.  Add my purse to the mix and the fact that I have to hold my oldest’s hand in a parking lot for safety reasons, and it goes without saying that my hands were full.  Beyond full.  And the stack of stuff I was carrying was precarious at best.

He and I made it to the car to find my husband and younger son already there and belted in.  The youngest is crying because he didn’t want to leave and he is sitting in his car seat naked because his mommy didn’t have any emergency clothes for him.  Mommy fail, which made mommy even madder.

I started kind of tossing everything onto the front passenger seat starting with the kids’ meals in their bags, and setting down the drinks in the cupholders.  When I went to put down the two cardboard chicken sandwich containers, mine being on top, it slid off and onto the ground where it promptly popped open and the sandwich landed  inside out.  I’m not afraid to admit that at this point if I had a swear jar it would have been making bank.  I saved the other box though so at least it wasn’t a total loss.

What happened? asked my husband with that aforementioned look of cringey amusement on his face.

I dropped my sandwich.  I said, in a not so pleasant voice.  But the good news is that I saved yours.  

I opened the box to show him and that was when we saw the box was empty.  My husband had already finished his sandwich and just left the empty box on the table.  In my haste and embarrassment to get out of there, I had just grabbed it without checking.

Clink, clink, clink.  More money into the swear jar.  Not my best moment, I told you.

I yelled at my husband, my kids, and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we got home.

Later, I apologized.  After thinking about everything I tried to get to the bottom of it all.

Why had I gotten so mad?  Sure there had been a few annoying things to happen that day, but nothing that should have made me that upset.  I realized it had been the other patrons kind of whispering about our family while their kids sat and ate quietly.  It made me mad.

Why did we have to be different?

It’s not an easy question to ask.  I do feel that hubby and I are matched for a reason and the same goes for our boys.  They are ours.  That is no accident.  Is it always easy?  *%&^$# no, it isn’t.  My husband and I have talked about this in the past and he made a point that stuck with me.

We get to experience what it really means to be a parent.  We have to work twice as hard for them to do half as much.  They don’t just pick things up easily from the world around them.  We are in the trenches, gritting our teeth, sighing, blinking back tears, and encouraging each other.  We can do this because we have to.  Because they are ours.

I’m writing all of this down to refer back to in the next heat-of-the-moment.  I know there will be another.  And another, and another.  But, just think of all the great stories, we’ll have to tell?

Have a great week!


Mommy Moment Monday…Raising Conscientious Kids…

Good morning everybody!  Hope you had a fabulous weekend.  We are getting a ton of rain here in Tennessee, but our prayers are with those affected by the awful tornadoes in Arkansas.

As a mom you try to teach your kids to be conscientious (thank God for spell check, I never did learn how to spell that word!).  You know, the pleases and thank-yous, sharing, saying sorry when you hurt someone with a put-down or a push ( and oh-so-many other examples), and just being aware of others in general.

This is a challenge for any parent, but for a parent of kiddos on the autism spectrum it can be especially challenging.  Kids with ASD can’t always read body language or facial expressions to know when someone is hurt or sad.  They may not understand the niceties of manners or political correctness.  That doesn’t mean they can’t learn those things, it just means that where other kids may just pick things up through social awareness, ours may need some training and coaching.

I remember the first time my son said “God bless you,” to me when I sneezed.  I was so proud!  That’s a big one for me.  I’ll say it to strangers in a store if they sneeze when I pass them 🙂  We all have our “things,” right?  Pleases and thank-yous are also strong currency in my house.  It is so much easier to help and serve others when there is gratitude.

So, all of that said, this is something my husband and I feel strongly about, and we’ve been working with our kiddos on this stuff for years.  Which leads me to the breakthrough we had over the weekend…I don’t live in a fancy house full of expensive things.  We are very blessed and have a beautiful home but it’s not like we have fine art and sculptures on display.  The things in our home that are valuable to us are so because of the sentimental value rather than the price tag.  That’s why when my kids break or mistreat things in our home it gets me two different ways.  I’m not talking about kids just being kids, or toddlers falling down and taking down a table with them.  It’s when my boys are just not paying attention or doing something they know they are not supposed to do (you can usually tell this by the guilty look on their face) that I have a hard time.

Case in point, here are the stairs leading down to our first floor where they boys spend a ton of time playing with their toys.



I have a ton of pictures hung up on either side of the stairwell.  It does kind of seem like I’m booby-trapping my boys, I mean what kid can resist running his hand down the wall as he runs down the stairs even though there’s a perfectly good handrail on the other side? (not mine, I can tell you).  Hey, we’re a military family and we live far from home.  I like to have pictures up of family and friends to feel closer to them.

The picture on the bottom of the left side has had more than it’s fair share of drops, falls, and oopses.  Running kids’ hands, balls, and flying dinosaurs have knocked that particular frame down the most.  It’s a picture of my parents when they were dating in high school and it’s extra special to me.  Which helps to explain the conniption fit I feel rising in my chest every time they knock it down.  We have had many talks, I’ve had them help me hang it back up, practiced walking down the stairs properly, etc., etc.  They are getting better.

Which brings me back to that break-through I was telling you about.  I was working on the computer this past weekend, when my youngest came up to me and handed me this…

mom and dad pic

The aforementioned picture of my parents.  To be honest, I felt irritated.  I took the picture and put it aside, telling him, “I’ll hang it up in a few minutes.”  That’s when I noticed him hovering next to my chair, with a look of unrest on his face.  I realized he wanted me to fix it now.  It was important to him!  Hallelujah!  He had knocked it down and instead of just leaving it on the floor he came all the way upstairs to hand it to me.  And it mattered to him that it go back in its rightful place!!!  I raced my happy little self to go hang it and gave him a hug and thanked him.  After that he was already on to the next thing but I couldn’t help but just stand there and feel proud of him.  All the teaching, advice, and training was getting in amidst all the flying dinos, balls, and running up and down the stairs.

Here the picture in its rightful place…

close up of dating wall

That’s hubby and me ten years ago when we were dating, my-inlaws right before they got married over 40 years ago, and my parents in high school in the fifties.

Now I have another reason to be happy when I look at this wall.  Have a great week!  🙂