Thursday, January 21, 2010

Leaps and Bounds.

Over the years we have tried many ways to help Koala to achieve his potential. Occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropractic, kinesiology, diet, psychological assessments. Some of these have been a waste of time and money, others were more beneficial.

One intervention, however, has yielded more fruit than I ever dreamed possible. For well over a year now, Koala and Roo, have been seeing a GP (family doctor) who practises from a bio-medical model known as Mindd. Not possessing a scientific brain, I will not attempt to explain Mindd, but I encourage you to visit their site.

After blood tests, the boys were given natural supplements to stabilise their bio-chemistry. The copper zinc ratio of both boys was not what it should have been.

The Doctor thought that Koala's meltdowns might be attributed to excess heavy metals in his system. A hair analysis was performed which confirmed the Doctor's suspicions. Koala had elevated aluminium and other heavy metals.

When Koala's bio-chemistry was stable he began to take a natural supplement designed to remove the heavy metals from his body. At first there was little change so the dose was increased. We began to notice an improvement in his ability to deal with difficult situations. As the metals began to leave his body, meltdowns became a thing of the past. At first Koala was surprised when a meltdown didn't automatically happen! Instead of a screaming violent child we had a minor temper tantrum. Bliss!

Lately we have noticed that things which would have caused Koala much anxiety and upset do not matter anymore. For example this morning Koala lost a lolly under the seat of Grandma's car. A few months ago this would have caused a flood of tears and much yelling. Today he was able to let it go without the least sign of anxiety. Many times I have steeled myself for a meltdown which simply does not materialise.

The meltdowns have been the most difficult part of Aspergers for Koala, and our family to deal with. The last mammoth meltdown we experienced as at a crowded country fair. After realising that Koala was not going to be able to calm down quickly, James put him over his shoulder and began the long walk back to the car. Following behind, I witnessed the astonished stares and comments of the crowd. I enlightened a few people as to the reason for this spectacle lest they think they were witnessing an abduction! We sat in the car for well over an hour before we were able to drive away.

Needless to say life without this kind of stress makes a huge difference to our family. Recently I realised that I have chosen to withdraw from certain activities because it is easier. Past rejection has caused me to back away from opportunities to make new friends due to the fear of what might happen if Koala has a meltdown. We had begun to put off family outings rather than risk a public display of Aspergers.

So it is a wonderful blessing to be able to see our little boy happy and content. We are able to enjoy him without the fear of a Vesuvius style eruption!

The same doctor has also helped Roo. A stool test revealed the reason for his consistently loose bowel movements. He had almost no good bacteria in this gut. We have been slowly been working to improve this with diet and supplements. Vitamin B12 has also helped to stimulate his language which has greatly improved. He is not yet word perfect, but we can understand everything he says, and he talks as much as the next 5 year old.

We have indeed been blessed to have found this doctor. I never dared to hope that we could see such positive results.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Language Arts Liberation!

Ever since we began home education I have struggled with finding the right balance for language arts. There are just so many areas which seemed essential to a good education: reading; writing; spelling; handwriting; poetry; literature read-alouds; grammar. Covering all these sub topics could easily fill a whole day not to mention religion, maths and so on.

In the beginning I tried to fit them all in. Much stress ensued! As I waded through curriculum forums, review sites and discussed curriculum with other mums, I always felt that I wasn't getting it right. Child x was memorising poetry, child y was diagramming sentences, child z was writing a thesis (or so it seemed!)

In my effort to find the right balance I tried many programmes. You name it I have either tried it or know something about it! With every curriculum switch I was sure I had found the perfect fit. But filling our mornings with 4 or 5 language arts lessons lead to disjointedness and stress. Bilby would complain and I would find something else, or he would like one programme, but I thought it was too schooly!

Late last year I decided enough was enough! Four years of chopping and changing had done none of us any good. After reading this wonderful blog post and other sources related to grammar, writing and keeping things simple, I decided to pare down my language arts expectations once and for all.

Our school year begins in a week and I am adamant that I will break the cycle of curriculum jumping! This year I have decided that the boys will continue their spelling programme (Phonetic Zoo) and return to Emma Serl's Intermediate Language Lessons. That's it! We will not change after a few weeks or months, and I will not read about other programmes or listen with too much enthusiasm to the choices of others.

And now that I've told the world, I better follow through!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You Know Your 5 Year Old is Catholic When...

Last week end we once again visited the beach. Roo spotted a common green weed that is found in rock pools, which resembles a string of beads. He picked it up and exclaimed "Rosary beads!"

Too cute.