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How do I meet everyone’s needs?

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    How do I meet everyone’s needs?

    I’m looking for suggestions and maybe just solidarity. I have three kids on the spectrum, ages 7, 6, and 3. The older two are both doing well in MP1 and MP2 and their autism is so mild now that it doesn’t really impact our day to day life most of the time (we still have our challenges…they just seem very minor these days).

    My 3yo is a different story. It seems like for every 2 steps forward we take 3 steps back. His language is really blossoming (he’s my first child to have a language delay) and his self care skills are coming along really well, but he’s just so agitated so much of the time lately and I can’t figure out how to help him. Even when he’s having good days, I feel like he’s not getting much attention while I’m trying to teach the other two. The team of developmental pediatricians we saw at the children’s hospital said he had mild autism and they didn’t think we needed any therapies, just to give him time. Which I often agree with, but sometimes when he’s in a bad patch I feel like I should be doing something more. We live in a small town over an hour away from any place we could potentially get any services, and my insurance won’t cover anything anyway with the doctors saying it’s not necessary. We’ve been slowly working through SC A, although he can’t do any of the fine motor work yet. It does seem like it’s helped with language and pointing skills. It’s entirely possible my older two struggled this much and I just don’t remember because I was so sleep deprived. Or maybe it didn’t seem as hard then because I was only dealing with babies and toddlers, not trying to also educate elementary students.

    I guess my question is how can I be helping my littlest one who is struggling so much while also teaching my older two? I feel stretched so thin and like someone is usually not getting what they need. We have no family support, and while we have a great network of friends, it’s mostly other homeschooling families with lots of children. So lots of emotional support, but not much in the way of practical support. And we’re heading into year two of wage freezes with my husband’s job as the cost of everything just keeps rising so hiring out practical support isn’t really an option either.

    Can someone please just give me a hug and tell me I’m not miserably failing my children? Even though we know lots of other homeschoolers, it often feels so isolating caring for and teaching children with special needs.
    2021-2022
    DS1 (7) - MP2
    DD (6) - MP1
    DS2 (3) - SCA
    +5 little souls in Heaven+

    #2
    Many homeschooling families of several children suggest beginning the day with a brief opening and then working with the youngest first. This is said to "fill his tank," ease your mind, and attend to his needs while you are fresh, all of which allows him to play more constructively than he might otherwise if neglected from the start of the day. The others, presumably more mature, can begin Morning Work, such as math drills, penmanship, or flash card review, while you teach from Level A with your youngest. Level A will work best for him when taught consistently. At the most you will want to take two weeks per week's lesson.

    For the remainder of the day, you will want to set up play areas, fine-motor areas, gross-motor areas, and sensory areas if possible. Use the suggestions and supplies in your Level A manual to guide the creation of these areas. Choose only those things he cannot break or ruin. You might have a bin of board books, a play area of soft puzzles, a "ball pit" or set of tunnels, or anything fine-motor-related that can occupy him reasonably quietly while you tend to your older children.

    As part of the older children's day, each can be paired with your younger (if you think this is possible) for one set period daily. Choose something that comes naturally to each: outdoor play for 20 minutes, reading a story, working puzzles, playing with cars, etc. The interaction will benefit your youngest and free you for a bit each day.

    Some of this may be currently unrealistic but can become more feasible as you create a good routine for fall. Include those homeschooling friends in the afternoon to allow everyone -- yourself included -- a little respite. When you cannot gather with others, carve out your own refreshing time. For me when mine were about your children's age, I was doing well to find a time to read the mail. Our mail is 2 miles away but near a quiet playground, so we walked up to the mail each day and the children played for 20-30 minutes while I read the mail. This "break" gave me a few moments to catch my mental breath before it was time to think about making dinner.

    Others may chime in -- but consider yourself embraced by everyone here! This is a unique chapter in your life. As your 7yo and 6yo mature, your days may not be so intently concentrated as they are now.

    Keep an eye on your little one and re-approach the professionals if the need and opportunities arise to do so.

    Comment


      #3
      Jweishaar Sending you a bunch of virtual hugs! One thing that helped my oldest at 3-years-old when she became so agitated (also had a speech delay) was she assigned a color to her big, angry feelings ("red") and a color to what looked like calmness ("blue").

      So when her temper was rising, we'd "blow out the red, breathe in the blue" together. It helped her to level out, and reminded me that I need to take deep breaths throughout the day, too. Hope this helps!

      Laura C.
      Laura H.

      DD: 15, special-needs: language processing issues (modified 7/8M Core), aspiring illustrator, our "Meg"
      DD: 13 (8M with SFL & NBO Fall 2021), aspiring pediatric nurse, our "Jo"
      DD: 8 (SC4 Fall 2021) our "Beth"
      DD: 8 (SC4 Fall 2021) our "Amy"

      Comment


        #4
        Big hugs, mama. My youngest had speech delay, and it resulted in a level of whining and crying that had my stress levels at a 10. When he was a toddler, I would interminably hold, rock and do whatever was necessary to end the whining. I do not miss those days, although I had incredible biceps and shoulders from holding him so much. We did a considerable amount of behavioral therapy. In retrospect, some of it was probably helpful (to decouple crying as a means of communicating instead of pointing, PEX or talking). I also grew to hate it, as his team pushed for more and more hours and used goals that I reported he had already spontaneously met to substantiate to our insurance company that the therapy was "working." They also refused to add new language and reading goals that I wanted, instead circling back to old goals (like "touch orange") as "maintenance" because their "evidence-based standards" required 60% success or better...and everything was about the numbers. By the end, my child pretty much talked when he was ready, and finding Simply Classical gave me the courage I needed to bring him home and do the incredible work myself. Exposing him to beautiful literature, a direct pairing between pictures and words (those picture vocabulary books are really important), growing his fine and gross motor skills and shepherding his heart toward the Lord really unlocked what came in its due season.

        Here are my tips:

        Ditto what was said above. Carving out alone time to work with your child will be extra motivation to listen during a read-aloud, engage with the material, and develop connections between pictures, sounds and the world around him.

        I know this sounds crazy, but after you have worked with your youngest, let her just play quietly near you while you school...if she will. My youngest loves unstructured quiet play. Sometimes, we'd have to tell him to keep it down for tests, but it was all a good learning experience for him. Once he started needing his sister's quiet to concentrate on his own lessons, he really understood how important it is to be quiet while others are concentrating. Also, your kid will pick up on the elder children's studiousness. I love that I had a few years of a literal window on schooling for my youngest. He got to see what working hard, getting frustrated (appropriately), and persevering looked like. It whet his appetite for subjects like Latin, spelling and math. He saw that mom spent lots of time helping big sis memorize long scripture passages and poems, grammar questions and Latin forms. He wanted to do hard things, too. He practically begged me to start harder subjects. He listened in to our read-alouds. He soaked up her recitation memory work. We definitely modified where we needed to, but it could not have come out any better. I am so incredibly thankful that we found SC...because that's how we found MP. It has been academic and spiritual gold for our family.

        My last tip is to pray. Pray with your children, pray for your children, pray for your "daily bread" to handle the challenges of each day, as the challenges can be fierce. Let this cross that we and our children have to bear instruct us in the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Ask the Lord for guidance, that He would order your steps and grant you conviction about the best way to meet your family's needs. Rest in His perfect peace for the rest.
        Mama to 2

        Spring start MP1
        Summer start 5A

        Completed MPK, MP1 Math & Enrichment, MP2, 3A, 4A, SC B, SC C,
        SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1

        Comment


          #5
          cherylswope Thank you. Those are some really good suggestions. We’ve been doing our SC work all together at the end of the day (he’s more motivated to participate when big brother and sister are involved) but I’ll try moving it to the beginning to help fill his tank and to ensure that it gets done. We school in our living/dining/playroom so everyone is mainly together and the littlest has free access to books, puzzles, toys, craft supplies, etc. but generally when I’m working with the big kids he’s mostly just wandering around or flopping around on the couch. Should I just not stress that he’s not doing anything particularly engaging during that time once we’ve already done our work? Of course, we’re all playing and reading and getting out together in the afternoon but I still feel bad when he’s just sort of floating around.

          I’ll definitely try enlisting each of my bigs to have a sort Peter play time each day. I think he’d really like that.

          We’re pretty far into SC A but we’ve done it sporadically over the past year. Would you recommend we keep going from where we are or just start over from the beginning?
          2021-2022
          DS1 (7) - MP2
          DD (6) - MP1
          DS2 (3) - SCA
          +5 little souls in Heaven+

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by MarmeeLaura View Post
            Jweishaar Sending you a bunch of virtual hugs! One thing that helped my oldest at 3-years-old when she became so agitated (also had a speech delay) was she assigned a color to her big, angry feelings ("red") and a color to what looked like calmness ("blue").

            So when her temper was rising, we'd "blow out the red, breathe in the blue" together. It helped her to level out, and reminded me that I need to take deep breaths throughout the day, too. Hope this helps!

            Laura C.
            I love the blow out, breathe in idea. We’ve been working on taking deep breaths to stop screaming but that’s a great visual. I’ll have to give that a try. Thank you!
            2021-2022
            DS1 (7) - MP2
            DD (6) - MP1
            DS2 (3) - SCA
            +5 little souls in Heaven+

            Comment


              #7
              enbateau thanks for sharing your experience with therapy. I so often doubt myself and question whether I’m doing enough to help my son. It’s also so good to hear how having that example of older siblings has helped your youngest. My youngest is always easier to engage if big brother and sister are involved.

              Also, thanks for the reminder to pray. I always start the day in the Bible and prayer, but I often seem to forget everything 30 minutes later when the piercing screaming starts.
              2021-2022
              DS1 (7) - MP2
              DD (6) - MP1
              DS2 (3) - SCA
              +5 little souls in Heaven+

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Jweishaar View Post
                cherylswope Thank you. Those are some really good suggestions. We’ve been doing our SC work all together at the end of the day (he’s more motivated to participate when big brother and sister are involved) but I’ll try moving it to the beginning to help fill his tank and to ensure that it gets done. We school in our living/dining/playroom so everyone is mainly together and the littlest has free access to books, puzzles, toys, craft supplies, etc. but generally when I’m working with the big kids he’s mostly just wandering around or flopping around on the couch. Should I just not stress that he’s not doing anything particularly engaging during that time once we’ve already done our work? Of course, we’re all playing and reading and getting out together in the afternoon but I still feel bad when he’s just sort of floating around.

                I’ll definitely try enlisting each of my bigs to have a sort Peter play time each day. I think he’d really like that.

                We’re pretty far into SC A but we’ve done it sporadically over the past year. Would you recommend we keep going from where we are or just start over from the beginning?
                You might view September as a fresh start and begin from the beginning. Order any of the books you do not have or cannot find. Spend only one week on the weeks he has covered and then move forward.

                Your mention of perpetual agitation and screaming warrants attention. It might be worth a call to the developmental pediatrician. Perhaps he/she will not charge for some over-the-phone suggestions. In the meantime, yes, if he is content to remain nearby on the sofa while you teach the others, this could benefit him as he overhears your teaching! If you want him to do something more tangible, you might cue him with, "You may play with xyz while I work with your brother, if you would like." And then make the "xyz" interesting and beneficial when possible.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by enbateau View Post
                  Big hugs, mama. My youngest had speech delay, and it resulted in a level of whining and crying that had my stress levels at a 10. When he was a toddler, I would interminably hold, rock and do whatever was necessary to end the whining. I do not miss those days, although I had incredible biceps and shoulders from holding him so much. We did a considerable amount of behavioral therapy. In retrospect, some of it was probably helpful (to decouple crying as a means of communicating instead of pointing, PEX or talking). I also grew to hate it, as his team pushed for more and more hours and used goals that I reported he had already spontaneously met to substantiate to our insurance company that the therapy was "working." They also refused to add new language and reading goals that I wanted, instead circling back to old goals (like "touch orange") as "maintenance" because their "evidence-based standards" required 60% success or better...and everything was about the numbers. By the end, my child pretty much talked when he was ready, and finding Simply Classical gave me the courage I needed to bring him home and do the incredible work myself. Exposing him to beautiful literature, a direct pairing between pictures and words (those picture vocabulary books are really important), growing his fine and gross motor skills and shepherding his heart toward the Lord really unlocked what came in its due season.

                  Here are my tips:

                  Ditto what was said above. Carving out alone time to work with your child will be extra motivation to listen during a read-aloud, engage with the material, and develop connections between pictures, sounds and the world around him.

                  I know this sounds crazy, but after you have worked with your youngest, let her just play quietly near you while you school...if she will. My youngest loves unstructured quiet play. Sometimes, we'd have to tell him to keep it down for tests, but it was all a good learning experience for him. Once he started needing his sister's quiet to concentrate on his own lessons, he really understood how important it is to be quiet while others are concentrating. Also, your kid will pick up on the elder children's studiousness. I love that I had a few years of a literal window on schooling for my youngest. He got to see what working hard, getting frustrated (appropriately), and persevering looked like. It whet his appetite for subjects like Latin, spelling and math. He saw that mom spent lots of time helping big sis memorize long scripture passages and poems, grammar questions and Latin forms. He wanted to do hard things, too. He practically begged me to start harder subjects. He listened in to our read-alouds. He soaked up her recitation memory work. We definitely modified where we needed to, but it could not have come out any better. I am so incredibly thankful that we found SC...because that's how we found MP. It has been academic and spiritual gold for our family.

                  My last tip is to pray. Pray with your children, pray for your children, pray for your "daily bread" to handle the challenges of each day, as the challenges can be fierce. Let this cross that we and our children have to bear instruct us in the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Ask the Lord for guidance, that He would order your steps and grant you conviction about the best way to meet your family's needs. Rest in His perfect peace for the rest.
                  This.

                  My oldest could not speak until he was 5. And even when he began talking, he made no sense. Those were some looooong days — and years. I absolutely echo what everyone else has said and I will add: If your child is non-verbal AND attached to “sameness”, keep a scheduled structure to your days.

                  I don’t mean a by-the-minute schedule (that’s madness), but kinda do things in the same order every day. Establish routines (if you haven’t already). Most of the frustration non-verbal kids on the spectrum have is related to unpredictability. They cannot process verbal information so it’s impossible to explain to them why we have to wait in line, why dinner is late, where we are going that is *new* and how awesome it’s going to be, what’s up the hill (I recall having to almost drag my son up a hill at the park to show him a flagpole I knew he would like) and why we are driving a different way in the car. Minimize deviation as much as you can. It’s not forever (they talk eventually) and it keeps your stress level down. If this is not your child (I have a dear friend whose son is non-verbal and hates to do the same thing twice) take it with a grain of salt.

                  FWIW, we also did not pursue therapy because the area we live in only offered ABA and my son was …let’s say, “not a good candidate”. I’m not a fan of ABA anyway. It would have been devastating to my son. I also had no family support, a husband who worked 60 hours a week, very few friends to help and pretty scanty health insurance (where special needs are concerned). My son is the oldest, but I had his next two siblings when he was 2 and then 4. I had very — very — little time and energy to pursue much else than keeping house and rearing children. I was exhausted. So we just raised him like a “regular kid”. He got plenty of fresh air, interaction, church, reading time, playing time, toys, chores, discipline and appropriate boundaries and expectations. We started with Simply Classical B and followed the directions. He 13 now, but this is him from about age 6 to about age 8 (?) I cant remember the timeline on this video, I apologize. But the results speak for themselves.

                  You can do this. Just take it a moment at a time. We are all with you ❤️

                  https://vimeo.com/239519554

                  “If I should fall even a thousand times a day, a thousand times, with peaceful repentance, I will say immediately, Nunc Coepi, ‘Now, I begin.’.”

                  ~Venerable Bruno Lanteri
                  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                  Boy Wonder 13 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 4/5 + Seton 5
                  Joy Bubble 11 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 4/5 + Seton 5
                  Cuddly Cowboy 9 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 3/4/5 + Seton 4
                  Sassafras 5 ...MPK + Seton K

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Anita I am in absolute awe. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. That video is amazing. You and your son obviously put in so much effort. It’s reassuring to hear that you made so many strides without formal therapy. My family (who live far away and rarely see my son in his own element) often hint or directly state that I’m pretty much failing my son for not having him in a special needs preschool or at least some type of therapy. Even the doctors said we don’t need it, but their voices sometimes leave me doubting myself.

                    My son is verbal but not conversational. It’s so true what you say about routine. Now that I think of it, a lot of his recent negative behaviors all started when we went on a vacation with extended family this summer. Eight days away from home, a house filled with 11 relative strangers, and all new experiences…that’s really a lot for any 3 year old. We’ve only ever known parenting autistic children, but my littlest guy just seems more behind than the older two were at his age (they were both very verbal, very early) so I tend to worry about him. Thank you for giving me hope when so many in my life only add fuel to my fears.

                    Also, I just love that quote in your signature. I’m going to have to put that on my binder as a reminder.
                    2021-2022
                    DS1 (7) - MP2
                    DD (6) - MP1
                    DS2 (3) - SCA
                    +5 little souls in Heaven+

                    Comment


                      #11
                      “One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.”
                      ~ Brené Brown

                      Thank you for the kind words. But I’m absolutely positive there are similar and even more challenging stories all over this board. We’ve all been there. This is a battle-tested group of mamas, for certain.

                      Yes, keep track of how predictability/unpredictability, routine/deviation, calm surroundings/noise affect your son’s behavior. It might be as simple as establishing a routine and sticking to it. Cheryl (@cherylswope) warned me years ago about taking too many field trips (or just one field trip that simply lasted too long) with my kids — especially my oldest. She was right. We generally only took field trips or special days once a month or so and then for no more than about two hours. It just threw EVERYTHING off. And WonderBoy usually had a meltdown or just refused to comply by the end of it. It’s a LOT of information to process in a new setting where they don’t know the rules and what might happen next. Think of new experiences as “exposure therapy”. Ease them into it, little by little. Or just tell yourself, “This is our first time at (the zoo, the art museum, the beach). It’s probably going to be hard. But the second time will be easier. And the third time will be fun.”

                      At 13, WonderBoy is FARRRRR more flexible than he was back in those days. But he still prefers routine. And he now has chores and duties to anchor his day. These kids grow, they mature. Meet them where they are and keep carrying them where you’d like them to go. They’ll get there.

                      Much love, my dear.
                      “If I should fall even a thousand times a day, a thousand times, with peaceful repentance, I will say immediately, Nunc Coepi, ‘Now, I begin.’.”

                      ~Venerable Bruno Lanteri
                      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                      Boy Wonder 13 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 4/5 + Seton 5
                      Joy Bubble 11 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 4/5 + Seton 5
                      Cuddly Cowboy 9 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 3/4/5 + Seton 4
                      Sassafras 5 ...MPK + Seton K

                      Comment


                        #12
                        My two youngest children have done SC for years. Before that, from ages 2 and 3 to about 5 and 6, I started the day with reading to them/ playing with them and called it Preschool, even before we were doing anything else academic. Then they had “quilt time” for about 30 minutes. My husband suggested that when I was desperate. I didn’t think it would work, but it did. Each boy sat or lay on a quilt (folded in half to fit in the room with space between) in our schoolroom and played with toys or looked at books that I had in a basket or on the quilt for them. They also heard me working with their sister, who was 6-9 at the time. After I finished one session of teaching her, she got a break and took the boys out to play. I did some one-on-one with my older two girls. Then older four kids took a 30 minute time slot and played with, read , fixed snacks for, rode bikes with, etc. their little brothers. I kept moving from one child to the next until lunch and a read aloud all together. Then during the boys’ naps, I worked with my oldest two boys. It was busy schooling all 7 kids, but it worked!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by LillianinAl View Post
                          from ages 2 and 3 to about 5 and 6, I started the day with reading to them/ playing with them and called it Preschool, even before we were doing anything else academic. Then they had “quilt time” for about 30 minutes. My husband suggested that when I was desperate. I didn’t think it would work, but it did. Each boy sat or lay on a quilt (folded in half to fit in the room with space between) in our schoolroom and played with toys or looked at books that I had in a basket or on the quilt for them. They also heard me working with their sister, who was 6-9 at the time. After I finished one session of teaching her, she got a break and took the boys out to play....
                          "Quilt time" -- I love this!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Jweishaar My middle boy has ASD and we were unable to understand him clearly until sometime in his 6th year. My older son would, "translate" for him! This community (including the SC Curriculum, of course!) has been such an encouragement to us as we have sought to meet his needs along with the needs of our other three children. The title for your post sums up how I feel on a regular basis, no kidding! I would imagine that is not that unusual among moms who have some children with special needs? I heartily agree with the wonderful suggestions others have made. I merely wish to encourage you that you are not alone!
                            2021~2022
                            DD (16) Independent Study (Greek, Piano, Voice)
                            DS (12) SC4 ADD, Dyslexia
                            DS2 (9) SC1 ADHD, ASD
                            DS3 (6) SCC

                            Comment

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