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.





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.





it’s all about you (or so i was told)

24 11 2009

Peter is doing well in first grade.  He is beginning to read now.  Before school this morning, he read some words in a very familiar book.  I was suspect that he was simply reciting the words by rote, so I grabbed a piece of junk mail – from our local outlet mall, Potomac Mills.   I pointed to the phrase on the bottom of the pamphlet.  Peter, without hesitation read “It’s all about you!”

Yep – he’s reading, all right!





a mountain climbed in but a year

19 08 2009

nurse-holding-hypodermic-needle-postersWe took both kids to the doctor’s office today.  It was time for their annual well visit.  We have had the same pediatrician for all of Peter’s years, and most of Emma’s,  She is terrific, and we count ourselves as fortunate to be under her expert care.  Her keen senses lead to identifying & addressing Peter’s PDD-NOS issues extremely early.  She sees Peter once a year, unless he is sick.  We have been very healthy for a few years now, so she rarely sees Emma and Peter.

Emma’s visit was routine – zero issues.  Maturely handled by our 10 year old.

In previous years, Peter either screamed endlessly, or sat unwillingly and mute.  Weighing Peter has been a physician’s assistant’s nightmare.  Measuring his height had to be an estimated value, since he would not hold still for an instant. Taking his temperature traditionally took one parent to apply a full-body lock on him while the other tried to calm him verbally.  The doctor had to work quickly & stealthily as to not let Peter know he was actually being examined.

Today’s appointment (6 year old Peter) went like this:

  • Checked in and sat in the waiting room – quietly.
  • We were led to an examination room, where body temperature was measured with an ear thermometer.  Peter sat still and did not flinch.
  • Blood pressure was read with a traditional squeeze-bulb sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. Peter sat still and did not flinch.
  • Peter stood perfectly still on the scale so an accurate weight measurement was possible.
  • Peter stood still against the measuring stick, allowing for (likely) his 1st accurate height measurement ever.
  • Peter replied appropriately when his hearing test was performed.
  • For his vision test, Peter stood still and read the letters back to the Physician’s Assistant.  He covered the appropriate eye when asked.
  • The doctor asked Peter questions.  He answered in clear, plain English.  When instructed to take a big breath, he did so.

Our doctor was (I believe) a bit taken back at how dramatically he has progressed in the past 12 months.  She was clearly impressed.  We were as well.

After the doctor finished, she indicated to Kathy & me that both kids would need one shot each.  Uh-oh – this could be the end of what was (so far) an amazing well visit.  Emma is a pro by now, and knows that the worst part of any injection is worrying & bracing for it.  They are over in one second.  Bang – done.  How to handle Peter…

Dad: “Peter, you were great at the doctor’s office today.  We’re so proud of you.  There’s one more fast thing, though.  You need to get a quick pinch on your arm before we go.  It’s really fast.  Do you want the slow one or the really fast one?”

Peter: “Fast one, dad.”

The nurse entered the room with the pre-loaded hypodermic.

Dad: “Peter, tell the nurse which you want – the slow one or the really fast one.”

Peter: “The fast one.”

Dad: “OK then – If you’re a big boy for your arm pinch – no crying – we’ll go to Starbucks for a scone.  OK?”

Peter: “OK”

sconeBang – Done

Starbucks





attention span expanding

2 07 2009

alvin_theaterIt was only a few months ago that we last tried to take Peter to a movie theater.  Each time, with high hopes yet great trepidation, we left the theater early, or spent the time walking Peter around the lomovie-theater-popcornbby, or playing musical theater chairs.  Yesterday, something clicked… a LOUD click.  We went to the theater to see “Alvin & the Chipmunks“.  Peter knows the movie from our DVD copy, but he sat in his theater seat & watched, recited funny lines with the chipmunks, and genuinely had a great time.  I can’t wait to take him to more movies.

Lights… camera… ACTION!





red robin read

9 05 2009

RR_BalloonThere were four adults in the room – all with mouths hanging wide open in disbelief of what they heard.

Peter came into the kitchen holding a balloon.  The balloon was from the burger restaurant Red Robin.  We were at friend’s house, so he had never seen this balloon before, nor has Peter ever been to a Red Robin.  He pointed to each letter in the Red Robin logo, and said…

“Rrr Eee D….  Rrr..Oo..B..Ii..Nnnnn”.

Peter read to us!  Peter read to us!





peter’s perfect pitch perplexes parent

22 03 2009

firehouse1This morning, my five year old son became suddenly agitated as he played with one of his favorite toys.  It’s a firehouse.  The roof is lined with five buttons.  Each button triggers a different electronic sound.  Peter began to yell, “It sounds different – it sounds different!”  I went over, and pressed each button. The bell button still sounded the bell, the siren still sounded the siren noise, etc.  He grabbed the toy back, and repeatedly pressed the fire truck’s horn button.  ‘Dad – it’s not right anymore – it’s the wrong sound now”, he cried.  I listened carefully – the diesel horn tooted the note F.  I grabbed a screw driver & removed the battery compartment cover.  I pulled out the aging AA batteries & white_tuner_croppedreplaced them with fresh ones.  With the new batteries in place, the diesel horn still sounded an F… but one that was ever-so-slightly higher in pitch – less than a quarter tone in my estimation.  Peter smiled & declared, “Now it sounds right, Dad – that’s the right noise”.

I better keep a safe distance when making reeds!