Sunday, October 24, 2010

Long Holiday

Little A missed a week of school due to roseola, which meant he had one more week before school broke up for two weeks of holidays. The last day would be trick or treat day, and then there would be an afternoon party to mark the beginning of the break.

While I was looking forward to getting him back to his new routine (speech therapy once a week after school, and the thrice weekly shadow teacher), powers beyond my control had other plans.

On Monday there was a typhoon, which meant classes were called off at the preschool level. On Wednesday, his class was scheduled for a home visit, which meant that in lieu of regular classroom activities, a playdate at one student's home would happen instead. On Thursday afternoon, the teachers announced that there was an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in Little A's classroom, and parents could decide whether or not to let their children come to school the next day.

Having suffered through hand, foot and mouth disease once already, none of us wanted to go through it again, and Big A said under no circumstances was Little A to set foot in school the next day. This meant his holidays had started two weeks early.

A month off school for Little A then, but not a holiday exactly. Therapy sessions go on, and so shall the shadow teacher's regular home visits, which are still something Little A is adjusting to. Perhaps when classes resume in November, he will look forward to going back.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seeing Spots

When Big A and I got home from work last Tuesday evening, the Au Pair told us rather worriedly that Little A's front and back were covered in some sort of rash.

This was hot on the heels of an unexplained 24 hour fever two days previously. I checked the rash and checked the baby books, and it looked suspiciously like it could have been measles, german measles or roseola. Little A also had a cold, his eyes were bloodshot, and he had slightly soft stools in the days since the fever.

He never had his MMR injections, what with the whole autism-vaccination issue, so I worried it could be either of the measles, neither of which I've had, nor my Au Pair or Cook. (Big A phoned his mum, who said he'd had the measles as a child.)

Luckily, Little A's pediatrician was at the nearby hospital the following morning. We went for a visit, and she told us it was the least scary of the three - roseola. The rash would be gone in 2 days, and then he would no longer be infectious to other children below age 3. A good thing, since my mum's 60th birthday was that Saturday, and it would have hugely disappointed her if Little A had to miss the celebration.

While the rash was gone by Thursday and he was back in good spirits, though sleeping slightly longer at nap and nighttimes, I kept him home from school on Friday to be sure. Thankfully, he is back to normal, though he hasn't been back to school since then, which is a different story altogether.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Little About Me

It is a sad day when the second of two British boarding schools you have attended in your life is taken down to become a housing estate.

Last in, First Out
Ten years after I left, the school where I had spent five of my teenage years moved from Surrey to Birmingham, thanks to a tie-up with a prestigious British ballet company. It was bittersweet, as the Surrey campus had been its home since the school was founded, and had seen the likes of Sarah Brightman and Jenny Agutter walk its halls as students. In my time there, a few of us made it to the stage or screen.

Most of the staff, who had been there for decades, did not follow the school to its new home, or perhaps were not invited to, which is a shame as some of them had helped to create fantastic performing artists. Today the campus is a housing unit, but no longer for budding dancers.

Prior to studying in Surrey, I spent six weeks at a Sussex school in 1998 as a trial for the entire boarding school experience. This school, which had its own roster of famous alumni, shut its doors at the end of the summer term in 1989, and many of its students (as well as some of the teachers) went on to Elmhurst, so upon my arrival at the latter, it was nice to see many familiar faces.

Despite closing as a school 21 years ago, the campus remained untouched until very recently. It was with great sorrow that former students said goodbye to what will always be a very special place in their hearts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Germs, Begone!

Dear Santa, For Christmas this year, we would like to be well. All of us, please. Thank you.

Today marks the start of the 4th week of family illness. One thing has followed another. First Little A came down with a 3 day fever that led to a cough and cold. Less than a week later, Big A caught the flu and I contracted sinusitis, all while Little A was still recovering from the first bug. Late last week, when we thought we were back on the road to health, we all started sneezing and realised we now had the common cold, though Little A had a fever again over the weekend.

Add this to: the coming Christmas rush, a second store opening in a week's time, new staff to hire and train, my mum's 60th birthday this weekend and, for Big A, a huge moral dilemma at work that has made him realise that, despite idolising Gordon Gekko from the moment he saw the first film 15 years ago, (the one that inspired him and countless other young men across the globe to get into stockbroking and investment banking) he did not turn into an unbridled capitalist after all, and you get a household that is limping along and doing its best to get back at full speed.

On the Little A front, we're getting into the new routine. He has started once weekly speech therapy, and his shadow teacher is coming thrice a week and accompanying him to school. They are still getting used to each other, but we're all crossing our fingers that this turns out to be a good mix of teacher and student.

Here's hoping this month, or hopefully even this week, sees us back in the pink of health.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This is the Way We Pack Away

Little A enjoys packing away these days. Hooray!

The flat we live in requires a place for everything, and thankfully my son is learning to put everything in its place. He helps with the household chores by stacking tins in the shopping trolley at the supermarket, making sure we have certain vegetables, arranging rolls of toilet paper on the storage rack and refilling the container of cotton buds that sits on the bathroom shelf.

I've also caught him opening the drawers where his favourite toys are kept, taking them out carefully with both hands then shutting the drawers with his hip. Just like his mother.

His favourite of all activities is finding every single coin in the house and slipping them one at a time into a particular drawer. Big A and I always know where to look when we need change.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Days Go By

It's been a month since I last posted anything, and I only just realised it.

In a month, we've been down with the flu and are just recovering, and been to a barrage of Little A's doctors - regular pediatrician for the flu, developmental pediatrician for a quarterly checkup, special ed doctor for psychoeducational assessment as recommended by his preschool directress and finally, evaluation by a speech pathologist.

We're now beginning the phase of increased therapy, which according to my reading is still far short of the 25-40 hours per week recommended period for intervention for children with autism. From just 2 hours per week of OT, he will now have an additional hour of Speech Therapy and close to 8 hours of home and school-based behavioural coaching/shadow teaching.

After Little A's parent-teacher conference in August, it was strongly recommended that we get him a shadow teacher (something I asked about last year but no one listened to me then) so that he could focus and attend more during class time to bring him up to the level of his age group in terms of social skills and learning.

The search for the shadow teacher, who will also do at-home behavioural coaching (something like ABA), took an entire month. The queue for a speech therapist's evaluation took several months. OT is going fine, but we've all noticed that after an initial marked improvement, Little A's progress seems to have plateaued. Add to this the fact that the clock is ticking and he only has until age 5 (6 at best) to maximize this period of super fast childhood brain development and here we have the urgent need for more intervention as soon as possible.

Since we live in a Third World country, the cost of all this comes out of our pockets. No state subsidies of any sort in our part of the world. Still, Big A and I have decided we will take out a loan if needed to pay for all this, because we only have 2 more years to help Little A catch up as quickly as he can. And these costs are staggering. Every treatment is billed on an hourly basis. Not per month, nor per semester. Per hour.

I am inundated with paper, lists upon lists, as we have plenty of home-based work to do with Little A and I'm trying to come up with a coherent across-the-board programme for the au pair and myself to execute on a daily basis. My mum, bless her, has enrolled in an Early Intervention course, auditing classes once a week at the university she taught at and got her Master's Degree from many years ago.

This is very much a group effort. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we're now putting together Little A's power team. Wish us luck.