Sunday, August 17, 2014

Countdown to Kindergarten: The Back to School Aisle

As the air begins to chill and the days become shorter, like so many Vaux's swifts arriving at the Chapman School, Portland parents flock to the Target at Cascade Station.

Their mission is clear...

We wish them well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Countdown to Kindergarten: IEP Meeting

Anthony’s kindergarten IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting was held way back in April. In 3 weeks we'll be putting the plan into action.

There were 12 people around the table, including Paul and me, the Portland Public Schools (PPS) transition coordinator, a physical therapist, speech therapist, school psychologist, general ed kindergarten teacher, 3 special education teachers, the special education program administrator, and our friend who took notes. Whew!

It went well, and his placement will be in the general education kindergarten with “pullouts” (mostly for group speech therapy) no more than 11% of the time. He will have an aide with him in the classroom. Everything we had hoped for. Honestly, it was not at all the contentious battle we feared it might be. Many families have to fight for their child’s right to be included in general education, but that was not our experience at all.

Sitting outside the principal's office. Let's hope this doesn't happen too much this year!
We’d like to take credit for the outcome, but really we are lucky in that PPS is committed to inclusion for students with disabilities. We know families in other school districts who are just as involved in advocating for their kids who have had a much rougher time. Probably the most heated part of the meeting was when we got into a big discussion about why cutting with scissors- specifically cutting out a gingerbread man- is so important that it warrants a goal on the IEP. But I’m good with it now.

Anthony's Goals
Here are some of the goals Anthony will work on this year. I’ve paraphrased them-- the actual goals and objectives are written using more education jargon. It’s important to note that he only needs to show reasonable progress on each goal. That is, they’re not going to kick him out of general ed if he can only count to 15 instead of 50 by the end of the school year. The goals are broken down into small steps. For example, for his sight reading goal, step 1 is to memorize 10 sight words, then 20, and eventually 50.

Reading (75 minutes a week of extra help):
-       Learn 50 sight words. He can show he’s learned the words either by using sign or spoken words.
-       Show understanding of a story by sequencing 2-3 parts of the story using pictures and pairing a pre-made picture to the correct story.

Math (75 minutes a week of extra help):
-       Rote count to 50, recognize numbers 1-20. As with sight words, he can show he’s learned them through sign or spoken words.
-       Understand the basic language concepts of math: more, less, bigger, smaller, in all, total, equals
-       Identify five basic shapes - square, circle, triangle, rectangle, and star by number of sides and corners.

Fine Motor/Handwriting (1 hour a month of extra help plus 8 hours per year of OT)
Cut using self-releasing scissors within 3/4 inch of the line
Step 1. A straight line
Step 2. A circle
Step 3. A star
Step 4. A gingerbread man (seriously!)

Write his first name using a tripod grip
Step 1. Trace his first name
Step 2. Copy his first name
Step 3. Write his first name from memory

Write the upper case letters and lower case letters of the alphabet
Step 1. By tracing
Step 2. By copying
Step 3. Independently

Color an object using multiple colors and staying within 3/4 inch of the lines.

Create a story by placing pictures in sequence (This one seems out of place but it's a writing goal, adapted for him.)

Communication, language, and self-help goals
These include things like getting dressed independently, playing cooperatively with peers, initiating play, asking for help, asking a peer to stop doing something he doesn’t like, etc. He’ll also be working on articulation in speech therapy.

Additional Supports and Accommodations
·         PT consult to general ed for classroom setup and evacuation plan
·         Assisted communication consultation and materials
·         SLP consultation to general education teacher
·         Preferential seating near teacher and surrounded by supportive peers
·         Visual supports for schedule and directions
·         Adult assistance for "self-help"

So that’s that. He's ready. We're ready. Bring it on!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Very Portland 4th

Wow, this is the longest I've ever gone without a new blog post. I have lots of photos and news about kindergarten to share, so I'll try to catch up over the next few weeks. For now, here's s look at how we spent the 4th this year.

We started out with a bike ride to the neighborhood parade.  We got a bit of a late start as usual, so we only caught the tail end. 
"Hey, wait up!" 

 But that was okay by Anthony, because the parade ended up at the playground.

There are lots of neighborhood parades like this around town. Kids decorate bikes and wagons and usually a fire truck, popsicles and hot dogs can be found. Very small-town fun! 

 Later we had the neighbors over for a BBQ and some backyard shenanigans.

Then it was time for [legal, enjoyed from a safe distance] fireworks.

 As I looked over the photos, I noticed Anthony had 4 wardrobe changes throughout the day. That's how you know you've had a good time! We hope your holiday was a good one too.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Today is 3-21, and that means it's World Down Syndrome Day! What will we do to celebrate? Probably nothing special or out of the ordinary. But today, just like every day, we'll celebrate how lucky we are to have our amazing little guy, with 3 copies of his 21st chromosome.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Five Years Old!

Happy 5th birthday to our sweet boy.
We love you so much and we're so proud of you!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Melted Crayon Hearts

Impress the other preschool moms by borrowing your neighbor's Valentine craft idea!

Last year I vowed I'd make Anthony help with his school Valentines, so his job was to break the crayons. 

He was very good at this part, but once that was done, he lost interest and left Mom to finish the job.

Put the broken crayons in the pan.

Melt the crayons in the oven at 250 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Let them cool for at least 20 minutes and they should pop right out of the pan.

Cut out squares from red card stock (or red paper plates left over from Christmas). 

Write a message to your Valentines on each one. For example:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Here is a crayon 
From me to you.
(This way the kids know what they are and don't try to eat them!)

Finally, tape a heart crayon to each red square. 

Give a Valentine to each of your friends at preschool, and have a very Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snow Day, the PDX Way!

We finally joined the rest of North American and got some snow. Yesterday we had a total of 3.5 inches. You East Coasters and Midwesterners are scoffing, but by Portland standards this is a blizzard. Schools closed, roads are impassable, and there's round the clock news coverage of the "Winter Blast." 

It's snowing!

Portland's credibility as a bicycling mecca suffered a blow when the "Worst Day of the Year" ride was canceled due to bad weather.

The snow was too dry and fluffy to make a full-size snowman, but we managed this little guy. (That's a baby carrot.)

As long as you have the right headgear, you'll be ready for anything.

Lucky for us we live on a hill, and our neighbors whose kids are grown loaned us the use of their sled. 

The 74th Avenue two-man bobsled team going for the gold!

Everyone took a turn.

Someone really enjoyed his first sledding adventure!

Well, it's coming down again out there, so we're off for more snow fun!