Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hooper Elementary

Eli is going to Hooper Elementary!! I really wasn't sure what was going to be decided at his IEP meeting & worried and cried tears up until that day.  (Now I know why old grandmas are such worry warts--it starts the day you find out your pregnant & just gets worse the older your kids get & then grandkids, etc.--geez!)

The lady in charge first brought out all his test results, went through each one and would mark his score and compare it with the average score of a kid his age.  He was behind in everything but reading, borderline on some stuff but mostly pretty below average.  But after we discussed the test results, we discussed the pros and cons of him either going to Roy Elementary in the Resource classroom for a full day OR his neighborhood school Hooper Elementary, half-day being pulled out for resources a half hour everyday & speech therapy twice a week.

Before going to the meeting Chad knew what he wanted, Hooper Elementary.  The lady in charge of Eli's ABA therapy program, who decides what & how he is learning new skills--joined us and she wanted Hooper Elementary as well.  I on the other hand was still unsure--although there was a time when I thought what I wanted was for him to go to his neighborhood school in a class with 25-30 kids.
But both let me decide--so in my head I had my pros & cons list.

PROS of Hooper Elementary:

  • Typical kids his age are an example to him.  
  • This past year he has thrived with kids his age and grown so much, hoping that will continue.
  • Half day--he will still get 15 hours of one on one ABA therapy each week.
  • Neighborhood school.
  • This is what our goal was for Eli & with how fast he is improving right now, if I didn't let him try it out then I would never know if he is capable.
PROS of Roy Elementary:

  • Only 11 kids in the resource class for Fall 2014. (1 teacher & some aides for a small class)
If Hooper Elementary doesn't workout & he isn't doing well in the classroom then it'll be OK and he will be moved to Roy Elementary.  I will know that we tried and prepared Eli as well as we could.  BUT I don't necessarily think this will happen, but I am and have been preparing myself if it does.  My heart gets a little stronger & I know this little boy of mine is trying his hardest to learn and understand concepts and ideas that don't come easy to him, compared to other 5 year olds.

As Charlotte gets older, I realize the major differences in their understanding.  And what's the Autism saying?...  "Autism isn't bad, just different?.."  I may have slaughtered that, but that's what I am learning to accept and realize.  Yes, I want Eli to reach his potential.  Yes, I hope Eli can learn the skills in life necessary to succeed & provide for himself one day--maybe even a family.  But it's OK if he does it a different route then I ever imagined any of my kids to go.  I never thought I would have a kid who needed 15 hours a week of one on one therapy to help him catch up his knowledge and understanding to kids his age.  But I wouldn't trade this boy for the world.  I have grown in so many ways & will continue as he goes through elementary, junior high & high school.  He is a blessing to our family.

So wish us luck that we can work hard this summer with Eli to get him ready for Kindergarten!!  Although I probably won't stop worrying about all the things that could possibly go wrong for him--I am going to try.  And breathe.  It's going to be fine.  :)

I know that pushing Eli & getting us all out of our comfort zone is what is best for him.

Kids enjoying the trampoline

Fun today at Hill Air Force Museum with cousins!!

Ogden River Parkway--bike trail.

I will be posting progress update within the next two weeks!

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I haven't posted in forever.  Eli's progress seems to be taking off & I have been wanting to download a video of Eli reading his first book--but I would get frustrated or tired and just stop.  My bad.

Eli has an IEP meeting May 20th, which means we are deciding where Eli will go to school and what he is going to do.  A couple months ago, I thought I decided I am OK with whatever will be chosen for Eli in this meeting.  And it's not that I am not OK, I just get nervous.  He will more than likely be going to Roy Elementary, in the Special Needs class.  But whatever happens, I just want to make sure I am always his best advocate & on top of my game for what is best for him.  Which sometimes seems overwhelming & hard--especially when I feel like I won't know what's best until I try something.

Then a couple weeks ago I entered Eli in a "lottery" for a charter school called Spectrum Academy, in North Salt Lake.  It is specifically for kids with Autism, and they are put with kids that are at the same level as them instead of the same age.  But it'd be a 45 minute commute & I believe they have already chosen kids so I might be too late for Fall 2014.  So this is an option in the future--although I have a huge desire to start looking into how we can build a Spectrum Academy in Ogden!!  Since they just built one in Orem, I think it's time for Northern Utah to start a Spectrum Academy.  If anyone has ideas on how to start a Charter school let me know.  Seriously.

If Eli could stay with the same 12 kids at Bravo Arts Academy up to high school, it'd be pretty cool.  But then maybe he'd stop progressing after awhile, since change is healthy & helps people grow.  Although, I will be forever grateful that he was able to take a therapist with him to Bravo, to help improve social & language skills for this last year.  He graduates Kindergarten June 5th.

Eli does really well with his class of 12 kids, but when you get him in a big group he can lose focus.  I think this is where he will struggle the most being mainstreamed, is in a class of 30 kids he won't be able to stay focused on the task at hand.  And I know it's not fair of me to want my kid to be the distractor or need one on one help most of the time to stay on task, etc.

So I don't necessarily know what I want at this time for Eli & have many mixed emotions.  So I must remind myself of what I do know & what I have shared before.  But this knowledge is worth sharing, because it is priceless.

This is what I wrote awhile back:

""..hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes."
                                                                                                        -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I don't know what Eli's future is going to bring.  Maybe he will be ready for kindergarten next year, maybe not.  I think it's OK for me to hope that he will be ready & do all I can do to help make that happen.  But because I don't know, I need to remember the things I do know.

And this is what I know:

1. Eli is a child of God.
2. Heavenly Father loves Eli more than I do.
3. Heavenly Father knows Eli better than I do.
4. Heavenly Father gave Eli this struggle for a purpose.  (And me this struggle for a purpose.)
5. I was given Eli to love, nurture, teach, & help him reach his potential--& am capable of this.
And last but not least.
6. Heavenly Father hears my prayers & answers them.  (Not always how I expect them to be answered---BUT because He loves me & Eli & has a plan for us, I know He knows best.)"

I am going to stand strong, be my boys best advocate, be involved, & on top of my game so that Eli has the best chance to reach his potential.  I love him so much and am grateful for who he is & the joy he brings into my life everyday.


P.S. If you didn't see my FB post about the Autism Medicaid Waiver, this is what I wrote:
I would be mad at myself if i didn't share--for 1 in 47 boys being diagnosed with autism in Utah, I really don't know that many at all...BUT maybe you do!! The Autism Medicaid Waiver program that has been a life changer for Eli has open enrollment until May 18th. It's for kids that have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum from ages 2 to 6 & if more people apply then they can accept then people are chosen by lottery. But it's worth a shot!! Please share with those who might be interested. This is where you can apply: if someone has questions they can ask me whatever!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pleasantly Surprised

First, Halloween.  It started out in the morning with Eli & I in tears as I was trying to get his costume on him to wear for kindergarten.  I got my hopes up--him being excited to go trick-or-treating & telling me he wanted to be a "green monster!"  So I couldn't help getting my hopes up.  To only get them dashed when he wouldn't wear it, trust me I tried any persuasion & threats, nobody was going to get him to wear his costume.

And in my anger I texted Eli's therapists: "I will be forever grateful if you guys come up with a way for him to wear his costume for trick or treating tonight!! I'm trying everything & he won't wear it for school but if tonight he wears it I will be in heaven :) thanks & good luck!!"

I called Chad on the way to school disappointed but soon after dropping him off for school, I started to relax & realize it's not a big deal if Eli doesn't wear his costume.  And started to prepare myself mentally that I'll be OK if he doesn't.

But his therapists came up with a plan!  Eli practiced trick-or-treating at our house! Eli put on his costume & him and the therapist went outside & would take a short walk come knock on the door & grab a treat!  So Eli would connect the trick-or-treating to wearing his costume. :) And it worked!  Eli put on the costume for the trunk-or-treat without any crying!  And he wore it while we ate chili, then went to about 15 cars to grab some candy.  He was satisfied with his bucket of candy, came to the car the rest of the time with me--tore off his costume and opened all his candy.  (Only ate the starbursts & nerds..)  But he wore it while he went trick-or-treating & I couldn't of been more pleased with the progress he made so quickly from our morning dilemma together to the 5:30 trunk-or-treat.  His therapists are amazing, once again I LOVE ABA therapy.

Mike Wazowski
Second, school program.  I told my friend that I am not expecting Eli to participate in the school program.  And she said, "but you will be pleasantly surprised if he does." And I was.  I was "pleasantly surprised."  He graduated in May this year from preschool & he stood with the rest of the kids up at the front of everyone but didn't help sing any of the songs.  He just stood there & looked cute.  It's now November, 6 months later & I didn't expect anything to change.  Mostly from experience getting your hopes up only makes you crash hard when it doesn't happen.  But he participated in the songs.  It was so darling & I was crying tears.  I was so proud of him.  He was shy about the last two songs but I was so pleased with him participating.  (I will post a video eventually..)

Now I want to clarify some things before you comment.  I am getting better, slowly but surely, at not expecting Eli to want or do what the typical kid his age does.  But it's hard to not want those things so badly for him. (I can't explain how badly in words, but I know any mother who has a child that is noticeably different understands me.)  And when you think it's just a Halloween costume, it wasn't for me.  When he understood what trick-or-treating was the week before & wanted to go so badly I thought that meant the costume part as well.  And I let myself get my hopes up.  When your kid is different you just want some common ground between him and the kid next door.  Because he can't talk as good, ride a bike as well, catch/throw a ball very well, share with others, understand as much, or share his thoughts as well as a typical 5 year old--and the list goes on--I let myself expect him to wear his costume & that's why I was in tears when he wouldn't.  Not because of the costume but because it hit me hard how different he is from kids his age.

These moments actually happen rarely these days.  For the most part I am SO HAPPY with the progress he is making.  I am not going to lose hope, but I will not expect him to be at certain points in his life & be disappointed when he doesn't reach certain criteria.  It's too heartbreaking and it isn't fair for Eli.  He puts his best effort into his therapy & tries so hard--that he needs my encouragement, support, positive attitude & love instead of disappointment.  If only I didn't cry Halloween, but I did & want you to know I am getting better.  Such as my theme for this blog, "live & learn."  I apply it and am only growing from my life experiences.

Our book club is reading a book this month called, Wonder.  I haven't started it yet but when I was reading about the book--this line stuck out to me:

.."you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out."

Maybe Eli isn't meant to blend in.  

Hope you enjoyed reading & if you have any thoughts on my words above please leave me a message!  I love to hear from my readers.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Updates in progress & a reminder for Eli someday.

Eli is doing so well at school--I wanted to finally document some of the progress he has made before it's old news!
Eli is TRACING!! This is EPIC :) & can now recognize most numbers 1-10.  He wasn't tracing this summer & numbers was beyond him until recently.  I am one happy mama.

Eli has never loved coloring but now he is at least trying to stay in the lines!  Where before he never even tried to just stay in the lines.  I am AMAZED at his effort.  He is trying hard & I love him so much for it!

YouTube Video of Eli :) Counting from 1 to 25!!  For the longest--longest time he was only counting to 10.  Now he can count to 25.  Enjoy!!  

Eli is doing so good & working hard at it.  Love his progress SO MUCH!! LOVE him even more!!

This is the first year Eli is excited for Halloween and I can tell that he knows what he is talking about!!  We have mentioned trick-or-treating & that night all we heard from him was, "I want to go trick-or-treating!!"  Then I asked him what he wants to be for Halloween & he has told me, "green monster!"  So I am DIY a Mike Wawoski (totally slaughtered his last name..), but I have showed him the costume & he says he is dressing up.  So cross your fingers all my time and effort isn't worth nothing or else Charlotte gets to be a green monster next year!  So I will keep you updated on how Halloween goes this year.  Hope you enjoy your Halloween!!

With love, Katie

This next part is a message for Eli!  When I have printed this blog into a book :) & it's his!  Thanks for cheering my boy on & me.  I appreciate it.

Eli, I was reading an article about autism & it gave great advice that I had to keep note of for you to read someday. It's called, What's Right With The Autistic Mind, By Temple Grandin & Richard Panek.
It is true that as a society we focus on the deficits of autism & I as your mother let these deficits worry me & tend to focus on them more than I should. I am going to do better & hope that when your old you will know I have loved you for who you are, for your strengths & weaknesses, & have done what I can to help your weaknesses become strengths.
And now I want to quote from this article, a message for you:
"I'm certainly not saying we shouldn't work on deficits. But the focus on deficits is so intense and so automatic that people lose sight of the strengths...... For me, autism is secondary. My primary identity is as an expert on livestock. Autism is part of who I am, but I won't allow it to define me. Some peoples difficulties are simply too severe for them to ever have the same opportunities I have. But for so many people on the spectrum, identifying their strengths can change their lives.  Instead of only accommodating their deficits, they can cultivate their dreams."

So Eli, let's focus on your strengths. Life can be tough--but don't focus on the negative. See the positive, see the potential in your strengths & go for your dream!  I love you buddy & will always be here cheering you on.

Love your mother.  XOXO.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I know

I read something just barely--that I needed to hear, that I will share in just a minute.  Lately, I've been thinking there is no way Eli will be ready for kindergarten next year.  Don't get me wrong, he is making a TON of improvements but he is starting from pretty much ground zero I feel like.  Every time we do his homework I just think, there is no way he will be doing this in a year because he doesn't understand most of it.  So I've been a little bummed when I would think about it.

Anyhow, before I continue..  Regarding my post about, "A Friend" the girl is still saving him a spot before class, during circle time & asking him to play during recess.  The other day we walked in & she gave him a big hug!  Her mom says she wants to do a play date & Eli is one of the reasons her daughter is excited about school!!  (Why do I worry?!)  FYI, Chad didn't agree with that last post.  Eli & friends is something Chad doesn't worry about with him.  And that last post was me just being a worrier, which most moms are good at--so I am sorry!

And another progress update: Eli is no good at sharing, anyone who has had their kid play with Eli knows this to be a FACT.  But today the therapist told me Eli did great playing with a few kids & a dollhouse.  A kid would ask for something Eli had & he would share it.  AMAZING.  I almost cried tears, my little boy is getting it.  Slowly but surely.

K back to what I read & needed to hear & wanted to share.

"..hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes."
                                                                                                        -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I don't know what Eli's future is going to bring.  Maybe he will be ready for kindergarten next year, maybe not.  I think it's OK for me to hope that he will be ready & do all I can do to help make that happen.  But because I don't know, I need to remember the things I do know.

Random photo: 4th of July--Eli enjoying the fireworks.
And this is what I know:

1. Eli is a child of God.
2. Heavenly Father loves Eli more than I do.
3. Heavenly Father knows Eli better than I do.
4. Heavenly Father gave Eli this struggle for a purpose.  (And me this struggle for a purpose.)
5. I was given Eli to love, nurture, teach, & help him reach his potential--& am capable of this.
And last but not least.
6. Heavenly Father hears my prayers & answers them.  (Not always how I expect them to be answered---BUT because He loves me & Eli & has a plan for us, I know He knows best.)

I LOVE what I know.  It makes me not stress so much about the future, about things I can't do anything about right now.  We are getting Eli the help he needs & doing what we can for him.  Everything is going to be OK.  I LOVE IT.  Heavenly Father has our backs, if we just let Him.

Remind me of this post--if I get a little down. ;)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Friend

It warmed my heart to hear just last week that Eli has a friend.  Something that right now he doesn't have a lot of--in the sense of your typical 5 year old friend(s).  The therapist mentioned this to me as we were leaving school.  He said, "Eli has a friend.  She asked him to sit by her today."  He told me her name as well & that she's very nice to him.  And just this morning when I dropped Eli off at school, the teacher said to him, "You like to sit by _____, come sit here."  The same girl the therapist told me about.
It made me SO happy!  A little scared--I have no idea how long he can keep a friend & hope he doesn't ruin it.  (As bad as that sounds, it's true.)  But this girl must be a sweetheart and can see that he needs someone.  Who knows though... I am just happy he has a friend, even if it's for a short period.

In another sense--Eli has a lot of friends!!  He turned 5 August 23rd & although it causes me so much stress to throw a party, I did.  And Eli had a blast, making all the effort put into it worth it.
Everyone came & I was so worried no one would.  So we had a house full of  handsome little boys with a beautiful girl cousin to celebrate Eli's birthday!  I was going to post a pic of all the kids & their fun, but I didn't get permission from parents & didn't want to worry about that.  So you will have to believe me..

We stayed up late the night after his party--playing with all his new, fun toys!

One of Eli's cake--luckily it tasted better than it looked!

Always, gotta have a grandparent party :)
One happy birthday boy!

Although, friends may not be the easiest for him to make right now, with the progress he is making I believe it will get better in the future.  The hardest part for me, is knowing he wants to make friends.  Seeing the joy it brings him to have friends to run around with & getting excited to see his cousins--I know he wants those relationships.
When both therapists went to school with Eli the other day, when they came home to do therapy with Eli they told me about something they witnessed.  Two girls were just chatting away while Eli was sitting across from them during snack time & he would look from one girl to the other as they were talking & would smile like he knew what they were talking about.  Which I believe he did know what they were talking about, just for right now he is unable to join in.  And it hurts at times but I am slowly getting tougher.
I believe I will always worry for my little boy, but it's OK.  He will be made strong early on in life, with the hand he has been dealt.
Love him & even though he may have some setbacks he is still a blessed boy.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fire Truck

Summer is over & now he is off to school!  He started at Bravo Arts Academy August 15th & it is going well.  I once mentioned how Eli during preschool, when I would ask him, "what did you do at school today?"He would ALWAYS reply, "bus!"  Well, Monday after picking him up from school, I asked, "What did you do at school today?" And he said, "Firetruck!"  I just held my breath & crossed my fingers that in his backpack was proof of something of a firetruck.  Opened his backpack to find this:

Eli is showing improvement, quicker than I can post!  I was so happy that he could tell me what happened at school, if he chooses to do so.  At least for the most part.  Someday, hopefully I will get to hear about friends/girls & teachers!
But I am thrilled to see progress!

This is a short post, but I had to at least post so you knew we were alive and well!!
Thanks for reading.