Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Farewell, Third Grade

Today Little A officially becomes an incoming fourth grader. This year has been the best so far in terms of his improvements and achievements, behavior-wise, since he was diagnosed eight ears ago. Communication has also come a long way, and from what I observed in classroom structured activities, social interaction with his peers is getting better as well. 

I credit the leaps and bounds mainly to his fantastic pair of teachers. Both, but particularly the head teacher, went above and beyond the call of duty, and truly grew to love my son as much as his family does, and this genuine care over the ten month academic year translated into tangible gains across the board.

Another factor might well be the essential oil protocols we started last July. Little A's sleep has certainly improved thanks to the miracle plant that is Roman Chamomile. I like to think the calming and focusing blends had an effect as well, so much that by the third quarter they were hardly used anymore as there was no longer much of a need for them.

Finally, there is the constant that is Occupational Therapy, provided by living angel of a woman who has adjusted and readjusted Little A's programmes and goals over the past four years and watches him the most vigilantly of all. 

Miracles happen if you only know how to look for them. We have seen many in our son, just this past year.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Broken Ear

In about 7 weeks, Little A will be 10. In his lifetime thus far, he has never had to drink antibiotics, something I consider a huge win since a) he has so many other challenges already that we are extremely thankful that he generally enjoys good health, and b) as a perpetually sick child myself, I had taken numerous nasty medications too many times to count before I hit the double digits in age and hated each and every dose so was even more grateful not to have to subject my child to those same traumatic experiences.

But then a perforated eardrum came along. A cold combined with one too many swims must have done it. One afternoon when I collected him from school, Little A kept poking at his ear. At home he picked up the plastic tub of cotton buds and asked me to clean his ear, something we have never done in his life before.

Thinking he might, heaven forbid, have stuffed something in there, I gave the ear canal a very shallow swipe, and the cotton bud came away dark grey. I swiped again until the dirt was gone. The other ear yielded nothing. Apart from the poking, Little A showed no other signs of discomfort. 

I asked Big A if it might be an ear infection, something he and his brother suffered in quantity during their young years as national swimmers. He replied that with no fever and no indication off pain, it was unlikely. We kept an eye on him, but our son otherwise behaved as normal.

Two days later, Little A had a swim class. That evening, while I was at a meeting, Big A reported that Little A had fallen asleep on the couch at 7pm and seemed listless. Maybe it was his ear. That night, he woke up crying several times with a low grade fever and indicating his ear hurt.

The next morning his ear was red, swollen, and weeping liquid. The fever and listlessness continued, and Little A even typed "Doctor ears", showing he wanted medical attention. But Doctor Ears had no clinic hours on Wednesdays so we had to wait until Thursday morning to get him checked out. By this time, after constant applications of immune boosting essential oils, the fever was gone and the ear less red, and no longer weeping.

Doctor Ears confirmed a small perforation in Little A's right eardrum and prescribed drops and oral antibiotics to be administered twice daily for a week, followed by another visit. 

So just shy of his 10th birthday, we embark on his first antibiotic journey. May it be his last as well.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Great-Grandmother Love

Little A is fortunate to have one living great-grandparent still. My maternal grandmother is 80 years and 30 days older, and she and Little A have a bond he doesn't seem to share with any of his four grandparents, even.

While they don't spend as much time together as we'd like, when they are together there is a quiet kind of rapport between them, one that is comfortable and needs no words. He knows never to be his usual rough-and-tumble self around her, and always, always goes up to kiss her without being told. She talks to him, and he sits quietly and listens, something that even his teachers are challenged with, as are we at home.

My grandmother turns 90 this year, as Little A turns 10. She is still fairly able-bodied and certainly all there in her mind. I hope she and Little A get to enjoy a number more of years together in their unique Zen calm relationship. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Social Skills

At last year's closing parent-teacher conference, when asked what our expectations were for the coming academic term, I expressed the hope that more interaction between the typical and challenged children at school could be fostered.

Little A's second grade class had three typical, two high functioning, and two moderately challenged children in attendance, and the last period of each school day was "free play". I usually arrived early enough to catch part of this session, and observed that what ended up happening was that the typical and high functioning kids tended to play together while the other two were generally left out. They would be asked to join, but if no interested was shown, there was no further encouragement to integrate the less socially adept child into the fold of the rest.

While I appreciate that the teachers at this point in the day wanted to let the students work on their own group dynamic,  they did also know that children like Little A needed more of a "push" to join the bigger group.

Thankfully, my suggestion was heeded, and this year the period at the end of each schoolday  is a social skills lesson. Instead of choosing their own activities, an integrated play group activity is instigated, and all the children in the class are required to participate until the closing bell sounds.

At this year's first parent-teacher conference, I was told that social skills is the class Little A enjoys the most in each day, and looks forward to. This brought about mixed emotions. While glad my son is starting to socialise appropriately, I longed for more opportunities to do this outside of the classroom. The biggest challenge for a child like mine is making friends, and play dates are hard to arrange when most kids have schedules packed with after-school sports and activities.

Still, I am sure we will find a way, and since Little A has been spending most afternoons after school at the pool again, even if the weather is still decidedly chilly, the children in the building are also around, and there are more chances to practice these new skills. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Orca Training

Ever since he came across a video about Sea World, Little A has been avidly watching numerous clips of killer whale shows, stories, deaths, and similar.

He has been writing about orca training, and lately recreating his own version of it in our swimming pool, with all the plastic figurines he could find in his  collection.

We hope to get him (and the Au Pair) visas to visit the United States this year. I've heard from friends that the children are usually interviewed as to what they would like to do or see on a trip to the so-called Land of Milk and Honey, so I am hoping my child communicates when it is his turn to face the consular officer, that he would like to see "killer whales up close".

In the meantime, watching them on the small screen and playing with the toy versions are as close as he is going to get.