Friday, December 3, 2010

Lunch Buddies and Stairs

My kids go to a public school.

Brother is in 5th grade. He is in a self-contained classroom called UEI or Cluster Unit. He has been in this particular kind of class since Pre-school. So we have 8 years of school and school experiences under our belt.

Sister goes to a different school in our same town in the same type of classroom.

They both ride the same bus even though they go to different schools.

Sister goes to all-day kindergarten because that is how the UEI works.

Sister has "lunch buddies" at school.

This is an awesome thing and a GREAT idea for any public school.

This is how it works at her school:
Each week there is a classroom that helps with lunch (5th graders, I think). The kids who are not helping in the kitchen are assigned to be "lunch buddies." Lunch Buddies are magnificent children who each have a child from the UEI and special ed classes and they help them through the lunch line, sit with them while eating lunch, help them throw everything away, and then go out to recess and play with them.

Awesome!

This was a new thing for me to hear about.

You see, when Brother was younger (1st-3rd grade) his friends from our neighborhood attended school with him. He thought it was so great to see them all at recess. I asked his friends one day if they sat by Brother at lunch and their reply was, "No, because he sits at the UEI table." I was saddened by this comment but didn't do anything about it because I just thought that's how things were.

Well, when I heard about this wonderful concept of integration I had to talk to his teacher about implementing the idea at his school.

Within a week the program was started!!! Brother has an amazing teacher and she really pushed the idea through!

At Brother's school it is a little different that Sister's lunch buddy system. For him it is the student council of the school that rotate through every so often. So Brother gets to know a new person really well by eating lunch with them and hanging out together at recess.

Now, first off, I have to commend Brother's lunch buddy. It just so happens that he is our neighbor. He and Brother don't really play with eachother, but, they know each other. Anyway, this sweet young man is going to be known as Mr. Wonderful! Why? Because he has been a true friend to Brother these last few weeks. He sits with him at lunch and then he takes Brother around with him and his other friends and they play all kinds of different things! One day it was tennis, another it was Battleship and drawing on the classroom chalk board. Yesterday they made snow balls. I tear up just thinking about the amazing acceptance of children. They are so non-judgemental. Brother has come home so happy knowing that he is making other friends. And I am so happy knowing that he is getting more experience with "typical" role models.

My heart is full.

The lunch buddies at Brother's school aren't even required to be with them at recess. But, Mr. Wonderful includes Brother in everything.

I have been really, really lucky with the experiences my children have had in this school district. They really work hard to help the special needs children succeed.

And to those who have been Sister's lunch buddies over the last 3 months... bless you. She is quite picky about who she wants for a lunch buddy and has been very open about not wanting a particular student for one reason or another. I think she likes the boys. I am sad to say that it was reported to my one day, that Sister had kicked her lunch buddy. I was disappointed but giggled under my breath.

"Why did you kick your lunch buddy today?" I asked. "Because I didn't want him." She replied.

We had a good talk and there have been no more reports of kicked buddies.

Here at home Baby has been working hard on her goals. We have been trying to climb stairs independantly because this will teach her the leg positioning and co-ordination needed for standing.

I have slacked.

I am so overwhelmed with all that I need to do for these three kids that sometimes the ones that whine the most (which are the 2 oldest) get all the attention. So I was embarrassed to have to tell Baby's OT on Monday that I had not worked on stairs with her over that last 2 weeks.

But, this week (these last 5 days) Marc and I have been working with her on climbing the stairs. At first she could only last through 3 stairs assisted and then she was completely worn out (low muscle tone is common in FXS kids). The other day I was able to get her to do 7 and 3 of them were independently!!! Yay!!!!

She has started to stand in her crib. That is a big accomplishment.

She babbles a lot more now. We get to hear her little voice as she crawls around the house and explores things.

Everything goes to her mouth. It doesn't matter what it is—it's in her mouth.

She has started the famous Fragile X stuffing. That is where they like to stuff as much food into their mouth as possible and put it in the sides of their cheeks and hold onto it for  a while. I am really hoping to break her of this habit. So far, both Brother and Sister didn't stop even with strong encouragement until they were older—and they still do it now if not reminded.

One of the things that scares me most is a term that is well-known in the autism world—stimming. This a shortened term for self-stimulation. (Side-note: As I was searching for a link to help you understand stimming I read in this particular article that tearing paper is stimming—oh boy—Sister has been doing this constantly for the last month and I just now, learned why.) You may have seen children or even adults with disabilities who rock back and forth and hum or play with their hands. Well, Brother did this somewhat but, quickly grew out of it before age 3. Sister did it more often and we directed her to the rocking horse or rocking chair to try to appropriate the action. Low and behold, Baby is doing it now. Remember when she would rock in her high chair to make it move towards where I was. Well, it has become "stimming." She won't stop unless I completely take her out of the situation. And now she is doing it in her crib when she wakes up and waits for me to get her in the morning. Yesterday, I caught her doing it while playing with some toys. Aaaaahhh! Not good. So now, I am having to constantly drop what I am doing to re-direct her attention else where so we don't start a habit.

It is so interesting to be so grateful and so overwhelmed all at the same time. I am sure all you mom (and dads) feel this way often. What do we do when it gets to be too much?

We pray.

Don't forget to pray.

Now for some pictures
Overstuffing her mouth... She actually looks like someone who should be named "Ellie May" that lives in the backwoods. Tee hee!

Brother and Sister are encouraging Baby to stand up to the couch. It never happened but they still had fun trying to help her.

Baby showing her fantastic pointer finger skills (a step in development) while showing me her new toy.

Watching Baby play with the toy that they can't wait to get their hands on...

She makes some of the funniest faces—and this is one we get a lot.

This one is one my favorites. (and yes that is cheese in the corners of her mouth)

6 remarks:

Rochelle said...

There are times at school when I could have used a lunch buddy! Great idea I love it!

Rochelle said...

Oh and I had to spend about 2 hours a day for weeks and weeks on the stairs with my girls, since we live in a multi level house, the stairs are a must, it is so worth it now, I am still waiting for their first fall (hopefully it won't happen) for weeks it was the only place they were happy. It is so nice not to have to lift all the other kids over the gates!

Mariah said...

FYI - - I just learned a whole lot about FXS in this post. Thanks for sharing the details.

Suzy said...

Sister looks so sweet in that last picture. Awesome about the lunch program. I am going to see what they do at our school because we have the Autism Programs at our school.

Andy said...

My boy goes to Sister's school and loves being a lunch buddy. In fact, just a couple of days ago he asked if Brother went to his school because he thought it would be cool to be his lunch buddy.

You are an awesome mom!! I stand in awe of all the things you do and still do it with that great personality and smile!

Jen said...

My boys had something like that when they were in the upper levels of elem. Now that they are in HS, they are involved in Best Buddies...a WONDERFUL program. If you don't know about, it check it out. Some schools have started it at the Jr. High level. It has been so good for the boys!
http://www.bestbuddies.org/best-buddies
(And hi, I'm Jennifer. I've read some of your blog before, but it's been quite a while since I've been in the blogging world...that Facebook!)