So, like her doctors thought, Aidan has Asperger’s Syndrome (based on the DSM-IV) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (based on the DSM-V). What we also learned (but weren’t all that surprised about) was just exactly HOW gifted our child is. We always knew she was smart. We usually say that she’s “Too smart for her own good.” Based on the IQ tests administered, she falls at the very top of the highly gifted range, about a point from the superior gifted range. To be honest, that kind of blew me away. Because of her Asperger’s she has some issues with working memory & processing speed (typical problem areas for Aspies). But, with some neurotraining & education to develop those areas of her brain & bring them up to the same levels as the other areas, her IQ could go even higher…potentially limitless. I feel like my job as her mother just got a zillion times harder…raising a little genius comes with great responsibility.
Today is the first day of second grade for Aidan. I truly cannot believe that she is in second grade already. When I taught in Georgia at the little Catholic school right off post, one of my best teacher friends was the 2nd grade teacher. Her name was Mrs. Zimmermann, but Aidan, who was 3 at the time, called her “Mrs. Cinnamon”. Aidan went to Pre-K there at the time and after school, I’d hang out in Mrs. Zimmermann’s room, talking about the Journalism team (I helped her run the team since I was the technology teacher). Aidan would play with her daughter, drawing on her whiteboard, spraying it with water, erasing it and starting over. Mrs. Zimmermann’s daughter was in 2nd grade then and I remember thinking how big she seemed and how little Aidan seemed. Now Aidan is that age. Time goes by so quickly!
She’s grown up so much from age 4 to age 7! I guess I don’t see it because I’m with her everyday but when I look at pictures like this, it’s so obvious! My baby is growing up into a little girl! Before I know it, she’ll be asking for car keys and going off to prom!
Edited because I found the real photo from her first day of Pre-K.
For those of y’all who may not know, Aidan has been diagnosed with ADHD for about 4-5 months now. Her type of ADHD is primarily hyperactive/impulsive. She has no problem with inattentiveness and can concentrate on a given activity for hours, especially arts & crafts and cooking.
This past school year, when Aidan was in first grade, her new teacher in AZ was shocked to learn that she was on Concerta. She would call me to rave about how sweet she was & how she wished she’d had her all year long & would love a class full of Aidans. I felt like telling her, we’ve come a long way, baby!
The beginning of first grade at Randolph Elementary in San Antonio was pure hell. Between acting out violently towards me, inappropriate behavior in class, and Aidan being impulsive ALL.THE.TIME, her teacher, Ryan and I were about at the end of our ropes. We tried positive reinforcement, taking away toys, and just about everything else we could think of and nothing worked in the long term.
After Christmas when her behavior started to get atrocious, I removed the emotional element & approached the situation as an educator. If Aidan were one of my students and was acting like this, what would I do. So I started doing research into her impulsive behavior since that seemed to be the driving force behind everything she did, impulsivity. The more I dug, the more the compass needle started to point towards ADHD. I never thought of her as hyperactive, I just always figured she had two speeds: full throttle and off. Yup, that’s hyperactive! And hyperactivity goes hand-in-hand with impulsivity.
So off I went to school with a handful of research. We were very blessed to have two counselors at Aidan’s school who cared very much for her well-being and had a great rapport with her. I took the research to them and as soon as the words “I would like her assessed for ADHD” were out of my mouth, it was like light bulbs went on over their heads.
You’re probably thinking: “Why didn’t the counselors catch this? Isn’t this what they do?” The vast majority of (ADHD) studies have been conducted solely on boys, or, have included very few girls in the sample. As a result, the scientific literature on ADHD/ADD is almost exclusively based on male subjects. Among the girls who were diagnosed with ADHD/ADD…only 7% had the Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive type. (From here) Plus, Aidan has been tested as intellectually gifted (she was tested in kindergarten) so that makes it even harder to detect. So now, by being gifted and ADHD, she’s considered twice exceptional or 2E.
So now we have our assessment results from the school stating that yes, she is in fact ADHD, so off to BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center) we go to see the Child Psychologist to confirm the assessment and the pediatrician to get medication. Unfortunately getting meds from her pediatrician was like pulling teeth. She was what you might call a “Tiger Mother”, didn’t believe in ADHD or medicating children. We had to get her child psychologist involved to interpret the assessment results for her & explain that “Yes, she really does have ADHD” & we do need to try meds to see if they work for her in the classroom. Her ped actively tried to make me feel like I was trying to drug my child so I didn’t have to deal with her. This did not sit well with me. I had to explain to her that I did my research & wouldn’t put her on medication if it wasn’t warranted. Don’t tick off this educated Mama Bear!
Once we got her on Concerta it was like I got my baby girl back. No more impulsive behavior, no more violence towards me, nothing but my sweet girl.
We saw her new pediatrician here in Arizona yesterday for a new dosage (she’s grown & put on weight over the summer) and he was a dream…SO unlike the ped in San Antonio. (The “nurses” on the other hand, were a WHOLE different story…I don’t like to be talked down to, especially about things I know WAY more about than they do).
If you think your child, especially your girl, might have ADHD, advocate for her. You know her better than anyone else. Do your research. Check out quality website like the following for symptoms, check them against your child’s behavior & present your findings to the school counselor. Be clear about what you want. Tell them, “I want my child assessed for ADHD”
Seeing all these Bluebonnet pictures have reminded me of Aidan’s first Spring. She was 10 months old, we were about to PCS to our first duty station and I was cramming in all the Texas I could…sounds like now only 6 years later!
We drove into Central Texas to Brenham, found a flowery spot, I dressed her in her Easter finery, sat her on a white towel and started snapping photos.
Unfortunately, we haven’t done Bluebonnet photos since then. We lived in Georgia for 3 years, then when we got back, Texas had some of the worst droughts ever. This year we just happened to get rain at the right time, late winter & early spring & have had a beautiful Bluebonnet season. Hopefully we can get some new ones, just in time to move again!
Have I mentioned that my girl is something of a budding young artiste?
Ok, ok, I know all parents brag about how talented and brilliant their kids are (and mine totally is) but Aidan really does have artistic abilities that we’re working on developing. Both mine and Ryan’s families have artists throughout (somehow it skipped me!) and we’re pretty sure Aidan got a double dose from both of our sides. Drawing and creating is her favorite thing to do. She’d rather do that than anything else.
Last summer she won a scholarship to the Southwest School of Art Summer Program and also attended a week long children’s art program at the Glassell Junior School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts – Houston. We’ll probably re-enroll her in the MFAH program again this summer.
Here’s some of her latest work. She likes to watch her favorite shows, pause the TV & then draw what she sees.
Wubbzy from Wow, Wow Wubbzy!
Max from Max & Ruby
Delores T. Rex from Dinosaur Train
Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat
Aidan is a very fun, outgoing little girl. She talks to everyone & is friendly to everyone but, like her mama, it takes her awhile to make a good friend. She’s finally made a good friend at her new school, a little girl in another class named Bella. When we got back to school on Tuesday after the break, you would’ve thought they hadn’t seen each other in years. Hugs and squeals and “I love yous” were flying. It was so sweet, it made my heart swell.
On Wednesday I asked Bella’s Mom if she’d like to get the girls together for a playdate and she was excited about it too. They’ve only been down here since August & Aidan was Bella’s first good friend too.
So, Friday after school we went with Bella, her mom & her little sisters to the park on base to go play for the afternoon.
Tons of playground equipment, specially designed for children’s growth and development and what do the girls choose to do the majority of the time? Climb trees. I told them they were like a couple of cats. Fine going up…scared to go down. I usually had to lift them out of the trees. Silly girls. Anyway, that’s my child with her rear end facing the camera and Bella in pink behind the tree.
Two silly girls in a tree.
Bella in a tree.
My little cutie, in a tree. Between the wind, a day of school & an afternoon of hard play, her hair was WILD.
When the afternoon was over, both girls were begging to get to play again on Saturday. I’m so glad they found each other & are friends now. 🙂 My heart is full.
December was quite a busy month for us. (Photo heavy post ahead!)
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We started out going to see Santa at North Star Mall. The fascinator in her hair is from PunkyBear Couture on Etsy.
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Soon after was the last day of school and “Polar Express Day.” Aidan got to wear pajamas to school, drink hot cocoa, watch the movie & then have her class party.
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After school let out, Aidan and I went down to Houston for a week of baking & cooking & hanging out with Grandmommy & Papa (my parents). Aidan and my mother have made cookies together every year she’s been old enough to stand. This year they made gingerbread men & a Bûche de Noël (a traditional Yule log cake).
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This year we got an Elf on the Shelf that we named “Jingle Belle”. Christmas Eve was our last day with her as she would be going back with Santa that night. She was quite the mischievous elf the whole time we had her, from snow angels in flour to getting into the fridge & eating strawberry frosting. Christmas Eve was no different. The night before Christmas Eve she wrapped my parents’ living room, Christmas tree & stair landing with toilet paper & started unwrapping one of Aidan’s gifts. She also left Aidan a note letting her know how much fun she’d had being her elf & that Santa had lifted her magic so she could hug her just once. Aidan LOVED getting to hug Jingle Belle!
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My family opens gifts on Christmas Eve. Aidan, of course, cleaned up. She opened three for every one of the adults’ gifts.
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Homemade Gingerbread Cookies & Milk for Santa (& a note from Aidan)
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Christmas morning. Santa brought her a handmade kangaroo, a Gateway Netbook & a FurReal Friends Puppy “Cookie, My Playful Pup”. Her favorite gift was the kangaroo who she promptly named Matilda and her joey, Tilda. The kangaroo came from the Etsy shop, Handmade For Luck.
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Finally, we went to Ryan’s aunt’s house to celebrate with them for Christmas Day. Aidan got to play with some of her cousins.
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It was a great holiday! Hope you all had a great time with your families as well!
On their way back to El Paso from Houston, my in-laws stopped off here in San Antonio. Ryan’s youngest sister’s husband is an NCO in the Army (we’re one big Army family!) and stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas. They have three sons, the youngest of whom was just born at the beginning of December. We decided yesterday to take advantage of Sea World’s program “Here’s to the Heroes” where active duty military and their dependents are admitted to the park for free once per year. So, all nine of us were admitted to Sea World for free (the 5 of them, the 3 of us, and Ryan & his sister’s mom). The “Here’s to the Heroes” program saved us $460!! WOW!
The kids had a fantastic time. Aidan loves Sea World. She’s been three times. I can say with total faith that it’s WAY better to go in the winter than in the summer!! We were able to see three shows this time in addition to the stingray tank that is the “sneak peak” for the new Aquatica portion of the park. The first two times we’ve been to the park, the Shamu show has always been sort of an iffy thing. The first time we went, Labor Day weekend, when Aidan was 4, she wasn’t able to sit through the whole thing. She tends to get over-stimulated by loud noises and crowds. Ryan had to take her out and sit on a bench to calm her down while I recorded the show for her to watch later. The next year we missed the show. This year the music was much calmer & quieter since it was Christmas music. She LOVED the Shamu show!
After Shamu we saw the sea lion show. The kids adored the little otter that kept running through and doing silly things. Sea World at Christmas time is really neat. They gear all the shows towards Christmas, play holiday music everywhere, and have Christmas lights everywhere. It was so neat to see. When the sea lion show ended we had some time to kill so Nonnie (my MIL) took the boys into a souvenir shop to look around, Haley fed the baby, Dave & Ryan held down our seats with Aidan and I went to get snacks. I love that Sea World’s prices for snacks aren’t exorbitant. I got a bottle of water, a bottle of juice and a container of strawberries for $6.25. Not bad! After we got everyone rounded back up (it’s hard to keep 9 people together in a theme park!) we headed over to the Azul Dolphin/Beluga Show. That’s always our favorite show. It’s like what I
imagine Cirque du Soliel to be like, only with dolphins and beluga whales. 🙂 After the show, we stuck around to let the crowd thin out. While we were doing that, we discovered that the cast members come down & let guests take pictures with them. Aidan wanted her picture taken with the “bird girl”. There’s a portion of the show where a girl comes down from the center of the roof on a ring and does a dance with silks, dressed kind of like a bird. Everytime we’ve been to Sea World, Aidan is completely mesmerized by this show and especially the “bird girl”. It was really fun for her to get to take her picture with her.
Today we’re spending our New Years Eve, taking down the Christmas decorations, rearranging the living room, and cleaning. I’m doing some massive organization on my computer (I’m a tad OCD about my virtual space…it has to be PRISTINE) and we watched the Aggies win their bowl game and last game as members of the Big 12. Happy New Year’s y’all! Here’s to 2012!! Lots of changes on tap for the new year!
Ok, kids. After much poking and prodding from my fellow San Antonio moms, I’ve decided to dive back into the blogging world. I went back thru this blog, fixed up all the photos with broken links, redid the header, gave it a new name, and just generally fluffed and puffed the whole she-bang. I enjoyed re-reading everything. I’d forgotten a lot of what went on in the day-to-day life while we were in Georgia and Ryan was deployed or in OCS. It was neat to catch up. I guess it’s been nearly 2 years since I’ve blogged last.
Lets see, what all has happened since I last blogged. I did the whole small business thing. I opened Stella Sola, making children’s clothes for sale in boutiques (I got up to 3 at my peak), online and custom orders. I did that for nearly 2 years. It completely burnt me out on sewing, which was sad because I got into sewing for Aidan. I took about a 3-4 month hiatus. Didn’t go into my sewing room, didn’t think about sewing, didn’t go into a craft/fabric store, nothing. Then I decided I was done. Completely done with sewing for people. I went through my sewing room and donated all of my fabric to Goodwill. We’re talking three full garbage bags full of fabric. It was such a good catharsis. I’ve since returned to my sewing room, making part of Ryan’s & Aidan’s Halloween costumes, some sleeping masks and a tooth fairy pillow.
Aidan went through the 2nd half of Pre-K and kindergarten at the school we’re geographically zoned to. However, when it was time to get ready for first grade, we decided to do an out-of-district transfer to Randolph Field ISD. The schools are better, all of the students are military kids and it has more of a private school atmosphere. Her old school went through 3 principals, several assistant principals, cut the art program altogether and cut the GT program to the bone. We’re much happier with her being on the AF Base. Even though I have to drive 15-20 minutes to & from every day, the benefits outweigh the commute.
Ryan has been promoted to 1LT and is due up for his promotion to CPT soon (within the next 6-8 months.)
That’s pretty much it. We’ve just been chugging along!