Saturday morning found Abbie at one of her favorite places – the University of Hawaii. No, despite all her recent gains, she’s not going to college quite yet, but rather was reunited with her long-standing group of friends who also use devices to communicate.
Abbie was not able to participate in the Saturday morning clinics last year because of all her surgeries, so we are both excited to be part of it again. I really liked her student-therapist, and am looking forward to receiving help figuring out how to keep pushing, and opening doors for, Abbie.
In the parent conference at the end I was gleefully detailing Abbie’s recent academic progress, which led to a lengthy discussion about how we give her more choices from which to select answers. The short answer is — it’s difficult right now, and will be changing.
The longer answer is, we are going ahead with planning for the hand/arm surgery. The meeting we had on Thurs. was a parent’s dream. For all you special needs parents out there — can you imagine having every single therapist you work with AND the orthopedic surgeon in the same room? There’s a lot to figure out, as a team, to determine exactly what the procedure will look like, but at the end of it, she’ll be spending four weeks in casts.
I feel guilty for the fact that I can so easily dismiss the arm casts as a concern — but after two spica casts, they seem comparatively inconsequential. Not for Abbie, though. She did NOT look happy during the entire meeting. I keep reassuring her that she will not wake up with a huge leg cast on, and that it won’t be nearly as painful (I am hoping!!). I continue to explain all the things that will be easier — using communication devices,fingerpainting, drawing, having her nails painted…it doesn’t seem to make a dent in her well-earned resistance. This just boils down to one of those times when as a Mommy I have to choose what is best for her even if she disagrees.
After working hard at UH for three hours, Abbie then came home and did over two more hours of school work. She would not quit. We hadn’t planned on introducing multiplication for a week or so, but since she wanted more…we gave it to her.
After being with Abbie all morning, I was spending time with Ray and the boys while Rae played tutor. She introduced “groups of numbers”, as in “two groups of two”. Using this method she introduced the twos times table up through 6, which Abbie quickly picked up. For 7,8 and 9 she simply put up cards that said 2×7, etc. Abbie did not miss one.
At the end of their session, Rae beckoned me in to see the last problem Abbie had worked correctly:
2 x 5 + [picture of four dots] – 6 + 11 – 2 = 17, with choices of 17, 23, and 14.
I giggled like little girl getting a lollipop. But, Abbie wanted me to see for myself, so she insisted on one more.
We set up the following problem:
2 X 6 + [picture of five dots] – [picture of four dots] + 13 – 2
Rae and I had to signal each other behind Abbie’s back to make sure WE had done the problem right, so that we could include the correct answer in her selections.
It took a while, but Abbie eventually chose 24 (and, so you don’t have to do the problem…she was right.) I wanted to confirm it was her choice, so I got the 24 card from the board, and held it in front of her and asked, “Is this your choice?” With more than a hint of indignation, she used her voice to make sure I knew that’s the one she wanted…I had to laugh.
When I told Matt a few days ago that Abbie understood subtraction, and that we were planning to show her multiplication next week, he added “and the week after that…astrophysics.” Put another way, her speech therapist said, “I want to improve her communication access so that we can find her upper limit…because I am not seeing it yet.” I went looking for it today….I stepped outside, looked up at a clear, blue sky and said, “Yep, there it is.”
God is good.