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Turning Lemons Into Vodka, Because I Don’t Like Lemonade

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Part of the angst that fueled my ranty post a week or so ago was what came home in Connor’s backpack the last week of school.

First, let me back up.  During our IEP meeting this year, I asked about ESY (extended school year).  The principal said that ESY was ONLY for children that displayed significant regression of skills that could not be recouped in 10 weeks.  Now, I’m not sure how they measure “significant regression”, but they assured me that Connor does not have that issue.  And while I agree that he doesn’t have “significant” regression, I do think that a long summer break will impact his skills.  But we were at an impasse, and it wasn’t an issue I was prepared to take to mediation.

Fast forward to the last week of school, and take a look at all this stuff that came home.

They must be joking, right?

Now I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m pretty sure that the other students didn’t bring home this many workbooks and extra assignments to work on over the summer.  It’s obvious to me that they are expecting us to set up summer school at our kitchen table, and drill this stuff into Connor all summer long to maintain his readiness for 2nd grade.  And really, I get it.  I get that the district has a very tight budget, and they have to cut corners everyplace they can, which means it’s probably almost impossible to “qualify” for ESY services.  And yes, that sucks.  And yes, it’s irritating.  But I just can’t waste the energy being mad about something that I can’t change at this stage, nor am I convinced I want to change it because I’m not sure I really want Connor to be stuck in a classroom during the summer, when other kids are out having fun, because that would almost be like he was being punished for having a disability.

But, um, yeah….all those workbooks?  Yeah, that’s not going to happen.  We already have full-time jobs.  But, BUT, there will be some effort.  Like on a scale between 1 and 10, I’m shooting for a solid 3 in effort.  I’m good with a 3.

About the time that the landslide of workbooks came home, I was reading a post over at A Mom’s View of ADHD, and it was a review for a task chart from The Victoria Chart Company.  I thought the charts were really cute and well-done.  We’ve done homemade charts before, with varying degrees of success.  But I liked the looks of this chart, and how it came with customizable stickers, so I ordered one.  [Note:  I am not being compensated in any way for mentioning this company or their product.  When I run across a product I like, that works for us, I like to mention it so others can check it out.  But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do an honest product review if a company asked me to, just sayin’.]

Connor and I talked about things he’d like to work towards, and he came up with roller skates, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese (yeah, I’m screwed), a Twister board game, and a new game for his DS.  The goal that we work on consistently is “keeping hands to self”.  We continued that goal for summer camp and assigned the Twister game to it.  By earning 5 stickers (1 for each day he has kept hands to self at summer camp), he earns the game.

As for the skates, they are the big Kahuna and worth 10 points.  And what must he do to earn those points???  Read a book.  Not like War and Peace or anything, just one of those early reader books.

And guess what?  He earned those skates in 2 weeks.  And the Twister game has been earned too.  It’s all about the incentives, baby.

Perilously close to mouse hell.

So now we will replace the skates with a new DS game as an incentive for reading, and see what we’ve added at the bottom?  A trip to McDonald’s (he likes the skeezy playscape, shudder) for completing 5 worksheets.  We didn’t really need that other goal of eating all his food, because he does that, and then some.

Yes, I’m aware that those are pretty big prizes, but the key to making a chart work is knowing what currency works for your child.  There’s no way he’ll work for little, junky dollar-bin toys.  And it’s summertime, so there needs to be fun activities on the hook to keep him interested.

It’s totally worth it.

Especially since I ran into his sped teacher this weekend at Walmart.  When she asked how Connor was doing, I replied, “he’s doing great, he’s already read 10 books this summer and earned himself some roller skates, and we’re only 2 weeks in!!”

He might never LOVE reading, but he will always love doing fun things.  This way it’s a win-win for everybody.

Except me, when I end up spending an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese, with a million screaming kids and no open bar.



About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

13 responses »

  1. When I first read your sticker chart I thought it said “I’ve eaten my friend”! Seriously. I had to enlarge it. Yes, I am the oldest mama in this group but give me a break. It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m reading on my phone while giving the kid his nebulizer treatment. (he’s asleep-yay).

    I cannot believe all the paraphernalia they gave Connor for his do-it-yourself ESY. But he’s doing an awesome job!! CEC should have an open bar! I just walked into our 1st Johns Incredible Pizza yesterday just to look at the inside. Wow. Puts the mouse to shame. I’m actually looking forward to going. If you have one there you should see if you can bait & switch but I’d make that at least 10 stickers for sure. PS – glad he is not learning to eat his friends. 😉

  2. I am going to look into that chart for sure.

    Norrin will have an ESY – but I totally understand your points. I wish he could have the summer off. But he would regress and we’ve been down that road before. I can’t lose him again.

    It sucks that services are determined by budget and not need.

  3. I love how the Spelling Connections book has “Texas Edition” in the upper right corner. Because we all know things are spelled differently down in Texas.

    I’m glad this system is working for you and Connor. These behavior charts never worked for my son at all. He just can’t stay that motivated for that long, then he gets frustrated that he’s tried really hard and it’s still not enough to earn his reward. Patience is not his strong suit.

    I wonder what I’d have to do to get you to take ME to McDonalds. . . .

  4. awesome chart ! I will have to store that for future chart usage.

    and we’ve told you. TAKE A FLASK.

  5. I am so totally going to use that token system I see on those pics.
    I would not mind seeing some more nice ideas like that 🙂 hope you have a good summer.

  6. Bring your own hooch of Vodka, girl!!!!

  7. Ah haha haaaa!!! “A million screaming kids and no open bar”.. Thank you, my friend, thank you. Those charts look cool! I need to start breaking those out!! I love the numbers on them, definitely something The Don could get behind! I got him one of those charts a couple of years back when he was still mostly non verbal and I wasn’t all that good at implementing them. He loved sticking a little star on for whatever reason, but I don’t think he ever understood what that reason was. Hence the FAIL. His understanding is much better now, and I’m also a little more with it so…. **fingers tentatively crossed**

  8. All those workbooks? Good grief! Eli’s OT sent home a handwriting workbook, and I had forgotten all about it until I read this post. Crap.

  9. So you are the ESY, is that it? And that totally rocks that you are willing to take him to the mouse house. There is no way in hell I’d do that for my own kid. Yeah, I just said that.

    And what do I get for five stickers? I’m easy and I’ll take anything from the dollar store.

  10. You TOTALLY need a reward chart. Survived McDonald’s urine passageways = two Tequila shooters. An afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese = a trip to Maui.

  11. I know it’s beating a dead horse here, but there *are* other qualifiers for ESY other than significant regression. We had the same battle with Little Miss’s school 😦 I wrote about it back at the end of May ( Maybe there is something in the post that will help you for next year?

    Second, the irony of earning Twister for keeping hands to self is freaking hilarious. I hope someday Connor appreciates it!

  12. Pingback: I’m Really More of a Figurehead « Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles

  13. ShesAlwaysWrite

    We managed to get ESY for Bear, but compared to the great lesson plans his regular teacher did it’s clear this summer teacher is phoning it in. I’d almost rather we’d have gotten workbooks, it feels like if I had the chance to put in a solid 3 it would have done more than the class did.

    I’m right with you on the sticker rewards – we’re recent converts. He’s currently working to earn each Avengers action figures for going on the potty. Crazy how well it’s working!


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