Hamhock is about to start Fifth Grade at Alianza Academy in the Sugarhouse area for school year 2014-2015. He really is doing great. He is on grade level for math, science and reading. He has friends that we play with regularly. He is growing in all ways as a normal, healthy boy.
He struggles with losing games – REALLY struggles. It’s more intense and less flexible than “normal” age-appropriate frustration and disappointment for not being the winner. He RAGES when he loses. It makes it very difficult to play family games together, as they are always interrupted for him to deal with his rage. Usually it takes too long for him to calm down, so we end up ending the game.
He got speech therapy from Scottish Rite Learning Center this summer 2014 to work on his articulation of the letter “r.” Our therapist, Stephanie, was great. She told us he was one of her only kids to make sure great improvement. Yay! He still needs help in articulating “th” and “s” without his tongue protruding. He just got braces put on to help pull back his two front teeth, and I’m hopeful that having his teeth in the right place will help with his articulation of “th” and “s.”
As of school year 2012-2013, Hamhock attends Alianza Academy, a public charter school for third grade. He has an IEP for Speech Therapy and OT. He’s on grade level for reading and math and making good friends. We struggle with social misunderstandings and playdates. We also still struggle with a self-limiting food palate.
School year 2011-2012, Hamhock attended Alianza Academy, a public charter school for second grade (2011-2012). He has an IEP for Speech Therapy and OT. The Alianza model is perfectly suited for kids with learning disabilities.
Hamhock finished his first grade year 2010-2011 at a regular, mainstream local neighborhood public elementary school. He started the school year able to read sight words, and finished the school year reading at grade level, sounding words out!!
We didn’t have an official IEP for the neighborhood public school I was able to communicate directly with the teacher all year and modify things as we needed. For example, for their weekly spelling tests, we had him do 10 spelling words instead of 15, and write one spelling sentence instead of three. He used the I See Sam books to learn to read from September – November, when he finally started to sound words out. From November – June he read from the regular First grade book library and made such amazing improvement! He’s reading great and able to sound words out! He did great on all the math concepts and tests. I pulled him out of lunch and lunch recess from mid-March until the end of year to combat some social problems he was having with another kid. He got support from the school psychologist once a week. He met with a small group of other boys on the spectrum and they did games and activities to support social skills. He didn’t get speech therapy during the school year because his speech isn’t as bad as other kids who needed therapy at the school.
During summer 2011, he got 30 minutes of free speech therapy once a week from Ms. Helen Britton at the Scottish Rite Learning Center on Highland Drive in Holladay.
Due to his consistent aggression and inability to impulse control, Foo and I decided to start him on a medication that has had some good effects for kids on the Autism Spectrum: Intuniv. We have talked medication with various doctors for several years, but didn’t feel right to start him on anything, until this summer. We started him on 2 mg with mainly two goals in mind: to help his brain slow down a little so when he gets angry he won’t lash out and physically hit, and to help his brain slow down a little so he can think about behavior and not impulsively act. So far so good. In fact, all summer long (before medication) he was SO ANGRY with me for making him start a new school. I couldn’t even mention the new school without a major knock-down, drag out tantrum occurring. One week into the medication, for the first time, he didn’t react when I mentioned school. The week before school I was able to prepare him (show him the new school, meet teacher, see classroom, see new school uniforms, talk about lunch, etc). All the *normal* things you do with your kid, that he was completely resisting prior to starting the medication. Yay! We’ve noticed that he’s become alot more communicative as well – as in. . . communicating those deep thoughts he has, that normally just stay inside, making us constantly wonder what is going on in his little brain?!?!
Hamhock will be 7 years old in November 2010. He is attending East Sandy Elementary School in the Canyons School District in Sandy, UT. He is completely mainstreamed and is able to follow all the rules so far!
His teacher is awesome, and is very approachable regarding his needs. She uses positive reinforcement with “caught-ya” cards (caught ya doing something right!). If a kid breaks a rule, they lose their cards and may have a “Think Time.” Hamhock is very motivated to get and keep as many “caught-ya” cards as he can, and he wants to avoid getting a “Think Time.” Every day for the first week he came out of school saying: “Mom, I didn’t get in trouble today!” He loves playing with kids who have high energy like he does. He also likes to make the girls laugh, and loves chasing them at recess.
We’ll be having an IEP soon to have school psychologist and speech therapy support.
It seems that Hamhock follows the rules at school *much* better than at home. Things are probably very organized and clear expectations at school, whereas home is a little more loosely organized. I still use the “Nurtured Heart” approach to discipline, and he is motivated to stop bad behavior when we count 1-2-3, with a time-out threat if the behavior doesn’t stop by the count of number 3. But he pushes pushes pushes, of course – fights with his brother, stalls bedtime, stalls homework, begs for toys, shouts “NO!”, has tantrums, throws, things, slams doors, etc. etc. Some days Hamhock is just down-right grumpy and negative, and nothing we can do will help him cooperate and enjoy family activities. My friend calls it the “black hole effect” of her son with Asperger’s – they just suck the fun out of everything. Some days are like that, and we push through as best we can and simply pray the next day will be better.
Hamhock is sharp. His little mind is always thinking and analyzing and he comes up with questions that we had no idea he was processing. He is still learning to read, and we’re using the I See Sam books. THEY ARE AWESOME!!!! They start out with 3 words: I am Sam, and build from there, with lots and lots of repetition. He has to read every book 4 times before he can move on to the next, and he colors in a progress chart each time. First grade has started spelling tests with really easy words: cat, hat, mat, fat, etc. These are super hard for his brain to process. I’m sure he’s a visual learner, so just hearing a word and having to write it down is really hard. The first test given for the whole class was super hard for him. He only got maybe 3 words right (2 of them being “a” and “I”). The teacher had a small group of kids later take a modified test and he was able to get all but one right! I suspect we’ll have to have him take modified tests throughout his entire school career. He seems to catch on to math problems easier than reading. Homework is a challenge, but having his own little homework desk in his room with a bouncy ball to sit on seems to help him focus and get it done. I have to sit with him the entire time, of course, and I have to plan smart for the best time to get it done.
Hamhock has always sought out social interaction. He loves kid energy, and loves to be liked and doing active things with other kids. We have regular playdates with both boys *and* girls. At this stage, they are mostly jumping on the trampoline, or dressing up as super heroes, or watching a tv show, or eating food. Hamhock has a lot of difficulty sharing his personal toys, and he of course doesn’t quite get that it’s not ok to ignore your friend who’s over playing because you decide it’s time to watch your favorite tv show.
Hamhock is a little mad at Heavenly Father right now for allowing the dinosaurs to die. He likes to say prayers and ask Heavenly Father to help us. He knows our dog Fiona is up in heaven, but he doesn’t want to go to heaven unless Foo & I are there, too. He doesn’t really like going to church (what boy does?) and sacrament meeting and sharing time are hard to get through. His small class seems to be better for him, and he can interact and play games and has a better time there.
Hamhock is pretty picky about what he likes to eat. As of First Grade, we’ve decided to pretty much bag the whole gluten free/casein free diet because he *knows* that the real stuff tastes sooooo much better. He’s handling it pretty well so far. We’re trying to lessen his body’s allergic/sensitivity reaction to it by desensitizing his body with accupressure called NAET. We’re about half-way there, so I’ll let you know when we get there.