little feet – giant steps

27 05 2010

We recently attended our annual Independent Educational Plan (IEP) meeting with Peter’s teachers, specialists and school administrators.  These meetings are where we learn, in great detail, how and what Peter is doing in school.  We are able to discuss how well he has met his goals, and plan any strategies for future goals in the coming school year.

Peter has had an awesome year as a first grader.  His progress from September to May has been remarkable.   He is reading and writing sentences and paragraphs!  His artwork is immediately recognizable.  He needs no help in P.E.  He converses with classmates, and is very popular.  Other students love to help him if he falls behind in a task.  Peter’s reading ability is about in the middle of the range of his mainstream 1st grade class, and his math may be a bit higher than that.  Peter is a leader on the playground, and other kids want to play with him – his basketball court “posse” is a very popular crowd.  Membership is exclusive, reportedly.

Both Peter’s Autism & mainstream teachers fully agree that he does NOT need to be in an Autism class for 2nd grade.  He still will receive services, and will have an aid for certain activities.  Starting immediately, he will be going directly to his mainstream 1st grade class to hang up his backpack and start his day.

We went into this IEP with a list of questions and concerns.  We did not have to voice a single one.  Peter’s success and progress is not anything that has come on suddenly.  He has been in the best hands since his 1st day of preschool over 4 years ago.  Peter’s teachers have all been exceptional and we credit them all every day for their skill and caring.  There will probably be some stumbles along the way.  We will, however,  do our best to take them in stride.  One thing’s for sure; Peter has his eyes focused forward and marches onward.  Stay tuned.  Peter’s on the move.

Today was our annual Independent Educational Plan (IEP) meeting with Peter’s teachers, specialists and school administrators.  These meetings are where we learn, in great detail, how and what Peter is doing in school.  We are able to discuss how well he has met his goals, and plan any strategies for future goals in the coming school year.

Peter has had an awesome year as a first grader.  His progress from September to May has been remarkable.   He is reading and writing sentences and paragraphs!  His artwork is immediately recognizable.  He needs no help in P.E.  He converses with classmates, and is very popular.  Other students love to help him if he falls behind in a task.  Peter’s reading ability is about in the middle of the range of his mainstream 1st grade class, and his math may be a bit higher than that.  Peter is a leader on the playground, and other kids want to play with him – his basketball court “posse” is a very popular crowd.  Membership is exclusive, reportedly.

Both Peter’s Autism & mainstream teachers fully agree that he does NOT need to be in an Autism class for 2nd grade.  He still will receive services, and will have an aid for certain activities.  Starting this coming Monday, he will be going directly to his mainstream 1st grade class to hang up his backpack and start his day.

We went into this IEP with a list of questions and concerns.  We did not have to voice a single one.  Teachers, Peter’s success and progress is not anything that has come on suddenly.  He has been in the best hands since Laura took him from our arms 4 1/2 years ago.  Laura, Christie, Heather, Andrew – you have all been exceptional and we credit you all every day for your skill and your caring.

Stay tuned.  Peter’s on the move.  Time for more tears of joy for Mom & Dad.

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have it your way

29 03 2010

Today was a banner day for the Mankin family.  Long-time readers of this blog know of Peter’s reluctance to eat a variety of foods types.  He does very well in the school cafeteria, but he has an extremely narrow diet at home.  Those of you who know Peter have probably witnessed the futility of negotiating with him.  No means no to food items.  We should have bought stock in Pepperidge Farms Goldfish when he was born.  We have invested millions already.

Taking Peter out for any length of time has always mandated bringing a separate bag of his favored food items – juice, goldfish, chips, peanut butter sandwich – his staples.  For some reason, Peter decided that he wanted to go to Burger King this week.  He was very insistent that we go.  Actually, there was no living with him until he was taken to Burger King.

There was the obligatory bag of juice, Goldfish & peanut butter sandwich packed in the car for our outing.  Peter mentioned over & over that he wanted to go to Burger King.  Burger King it is.  We asked Peter what type of kid’s meal he wanted.  He replied confidently “hamburger’.  Kathy unwrapped the burger, sat down the bag of fries next to it, and off he went.  He tore into the burger, and when he was through, only a sliver of bun was left.  It was a sesame seed roll, by the way.  He ate all his fries, and drank his juice box until it was virtually empty.  When he was through, Peter placed his spent wrappers & juice box in the trash can.

Most parents wouldn’t be boasting about their kid eating at a fast-food place.  I’m not inferring that this was a nutritious meal for him.  The important thing to note here is that this was a family meal… without special prep or a compromised menu.  We all went and had a quiet (?) meal together.  No big deal to most – a BIG deal to us!

Oh sure – the day had its share of frustrations for Mom & Dad today.  Lunch, however, went like clockwork… for the first time EVER.





popcorn, pandas and fries

21 06 2008

Another amazing week of firsts for Peter. For the first time in 5 years, we ate in a restaurant… all of us! Ok – it was a McDonalds, but Peter hasn’t allowed us to sit through a restaurant meal since he entered the family 5 years ago. His new-found desire to eat a variety of foods & his ‘settling down’ behaviorally has made this event possible.

Peter has never been to the movies – and I haven’t been for five years as well. Well, today was Peter’s friend Aidan McMahon’s birthday party. Aidan’s choice of party venue was to take his friend to the movies. About a dozen kids went to see Kung Fu Panda today. I showed Peter the online trailers this morning to get him excited, and it worked. He wanted to go to “the panda movie” with Aidan. He was excited about watching a movie in a theater… while eating popcorn! It was not a perfect event for Peter, but it was quite good; he got restless about 2/3 through the movie. He wanted to sit in the top row of seats, then the front row, and back up to the top again. The theater was not crowded, so we did some seat hopping.

After the movie, we all gathered in the lobby to sing Happy Birthday to Aidan & eat cake – Peter participated fully.

“Get your hands out of my popcorn, birthday boy!”

Happy Birthday, Aidan & Way to go, Peter!





stepping back to have a look

19 05 2008

In May 2007, Peter was invited to attend a birthday party of a neighborhood friend named Ryan. Ryan & Peter are the same age. Ryan’s party was held at an indoor party facility that features huge, inflatable moon bounces and slides. As a parent, you don’t forget a day like that. Peter screamed and fought even entering the play area. He demanded to be held (for roughly 1.5 hours) & attempted to escape every time someone opened the door. After the playtime ended, all the kids were corralled into a party room where pizza & birthday cake were served. Peter refused to even try one bite of anything. It was a very long 2 hours (out of a very long year or two!)

Yesterday was Ryan’s 5th birthday party. It was held at KIDS N MOTION. It is nearly identical as last year’s party site. The flood of awful memories from Peter’s 2007 reaction to all this was weighing heavy on us as we entered the building. We told him we were going to Ryan’s party in a ‘bouncy playground’. He seemed receptive to the notion, but we knew once he saw the room, we’d have a problem on hand. The door opened to the playroom, and Peter froze, just as he had last year. We scooped him up & set him down in the middle of the room. All the kids were swirling around, jumping & sliding – and howling with glee. Peter watched his sister enter one of the moon bounces & jump endlessly. He walked over to the moon bounce’s door touched it a few times… AND CLIMBED IN! Within seconds, he was jumping and smiling ear-to-ear.

He followed Emma up the steps to the top of an enormous slide, and slid down without hesitation, and did it again & again & again. I was in awe of his bravery, and the contrast between 2007 & 2008 was huge.

After the playtime ended, we went into a party room where pizza and birthday cake were served. Unlike last year’s celebration, Peter ate pizza & birthday cake with all the other kids.

If you have a child like Peter – and you have thought “We can NEVER try this again” with your child, see where you are in a year – you may be amazed at the difference a year can make!

Take a look!





could spaghetti be far behind?

17 05 2008

OK – we saw this one coming from a mile away. Spaghetti!





macaroni-n-cheese

16 05 2008

My, how things have changed! Friends & readers of this blog know that Peter was non-verbal for his first 3.5 years. We have also had a heck of a hard getting him to sit at the dinner table and eat ‘real food’. His staple food product has long been Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers.

In the past few months, Peter has started to eat a variety of foods, as they were introduced to him by his teachers at school. At home, he was remaining stubborn on this issue, and his diet was very limited and irregularly timed.

For the last 3 days, however, Peter ASKED for macaroni & cheese. We have been trying to get him to eat pasta for more than 2 years – and now he’s asking for it… and sitting at the table… and asking for more & more! Check out this video clip:

YES!





gps boy

5 05 2008

Twice this week, we were approaching an intersection near the home of friends. In both cases, we visited the two different house only once, and neither visit was terribly recent. We met & had a playdate at Ethan’s house about 6 weeks ago. Ethan’s mother is a very old friend of Kathy from their Long Island days in the 1970s. Peter’s classmate Matthew had a birthday party at his house back in March that Peter attended.

GPS-BoyWe were nearing the intersection at which we would turn at to get to Ethan’s house, but from the complete opposite direction that we approached to go to his house weeks ago. I pointed to the left and asked Peter who lived down this way. Without hesitation, he excitedly shouted “Ethan!” He was right – and I was shocked. He had been there once – and never from that direction.

Remembering this last week, we neared the traffic light close to Matthew’s house – again from the opposite direction we would normally come. “Peter, who lives down here?”, I asked. “Matthew!” he shouted.

When an old (and brilliant father of 4) family friend met Peter for the first time a few months ago, and was told that Peter had developmental delays, he was surprised. He paused, looked at Peter in the eyes, and emphatically told us that this child is processing everything.

Until this week, I didn’t realize it, but Peter knows EXACTLY where he is at all times. Processing, indeed!