School Days, School Days…

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Just two more days til school starts for three of my four little loves!  I’m really not sure what I’m going to do with myself on Monday afternoon when I drop Booga off for preschool and Scooter goes down for a nap…It will be a whole new world for me!  I haven’t had just one since Scooter was born, and I haven’t had just one who was napping since, well, I can’t even remember.  I think I had one month of that before Booga was born…

So we’ve been working a lot the past couple of weeks on getting reorganized for school.  Last year was not exactly successful, with Squirt spending most evenings in tears over homework and stressed from the crazy days at school, and Boyo was just bored.  As of a week ago, none of my children wanted to go to school at all, and it was hard to know they were all upset about going to school.  Thankfully, Meet the Teacher days were great for all three.  Squirt has a Mr. Teacher for the first time, and he already got her out of her shell and happy in the ten minutes we spent in his room, so I am very encouraged about fourth grade.  Boyo has a new teacher to the school; she’s young, happy, and plays the guitar and ukelele!  He’s very excited about that!  And Booga got to spend some time exploring all the toys at preschool, so right now he’s ready to go back, and thrilled that he got to pick out his own crayons, glue sticks, and pencils just like the big kids.  Keeping our fingers crossed that these attitudes last at least for a few weeks! :)

Around the house, we’ve been working on organization.  First, we cleaned up a special spot in each kid’s room for the next days’ clothes.  I hope to get them in the habit of setting clothes out every night, we’ll see how that goes.  This is especially helpful with Squirt and Booga, since what I would pick does not always fit with how they are feeling.  I’ve given up trying to figure out why a shirt is perfect one day, but the seams are too scratchy tomorrow!

Then, we cleaned up the desks.  We have two small desks in the dining room that needed a good clean-up job, but hopefully they are now ready with everything the kids might need to get their homework done after school.  Squirt’s desk is as empty as possible, with some fidgets nearby just in case.  I’m working on making her a lap pet, which I hope will help with sitting down for homework.  I’ve also considered giving her my exercise ball instead of a chair, but I’m not sure she could keep her balance on it…

Last, we worked on school lunches.  We printed up the hot lunch menu, and each kid highlighted their choices; one lunch per week.   This goes on the fridge, right next to our dinner menu calendar.  Then we printed a list of what needs to go in their lunchboxes each day; 1 protein, 1 fruit/vegetable, 1 snack, and 1 drink.  I made a list with some examples and taped it to the inside of the pantry door.  You should be able to get a copy here; Filling my Lunch Box

This way they are responsible for their own lunches at night, and the most I should have to do is make a sandwich if that is their choice.  I will say that I still sneak in surprises from time to time, and I always add napkins so I can write them messages.  But I’ve found that if they pack it, they eat it.  If I pack it, it tends to come home with more food left than eaten.  Very important for Squirt, since she doesn’t really feel like eating at lunch time, and if she loses weight, the doctor makes us change medications again!

Then I cleared out a shelf in the pantry.  I had this shelf last year, but it got a little overrun by the end and over the summer I lost it completely.  So I reorganized and put in my 2 bins; one for snacks, which is filled with individual bags of chips, cookies, brownies, or other treats.  The other is for fruit cups, applesauce, apples, real fruit snacks, etc.  Sometimes I buy bigger of these and portion them and put them in the fridge, but at the beginning of the year I can get the pre-portioned stuff at such good prices, that I just buy them.  I also have a plastic container in the fridge that I fill with cheese sticks, boiled eggs, carrot bags, cucumber slices, or whatever else is designated for lunches.

So that is what’s happening at our house this week.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to keep up with all this great organization, and continue it through the whole school year, but for now, I feel ready to go.

Lessons from Fireworks

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This week was the Fourth of July.  It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything, and I’ve been feeling quite guilty about that, but I had tons of excuses.  School ended, and we needed to readjust to 4 children in the house all day every day.  And by that I mean when they are not playing baseball, softball, taekwondo, or going to horseback riding lessons or soccer camp or two rounds of therapy.  Throw in several runs to the doctor because Scooter (whose new name should just be Trouble, or maybe Monkey) has decided his little body doesn’t like milk or anything milk related, or soy, or something else that we just haven’t figured out yet.  Oh, and Mondays the kids all stay home with Dad while I work for 5 hours…seems like a perfect solution, and yet, it really adds to the craziness of our weeks.  Needless to say our summer so far has been more running than relaxing.

Now, finally, the sports are finished (except riding), Squirt has gone to camp for 5 whole days (yikes!), Boyo is enjoying a playdate, and the littles and I are enjoying a little calm time, so I decided I needed to get a post up.

On Wednesday, the Fourth of July, we had a planned a fun, family, regular-old Independence Day celebration.  We were going to go to a parade in the morning, drive to Michigan around lunch, stop along the lake with a picnic, and enjoy the fireworks with cousins in the evening.  Except it didn’t go exactly as planned.  Actually, it went nothing like we’d planned.  To start with, the heat index in the morning was hovering close to 110°.  WAY to hot to take 3 asthmatic children and 1 baby to a parade.  So we stayed home, cleaned, did some yard work, and packed up Squirt for camp.  Well, the yard work took awhile, so we didn’t actually leave home in time to picnic.  As a matter of fact, we didn’t get to Michigan before dinner, either.  Instead, we drove 3 hours with a puking puppy to get there just in time for fireworks…and then the real fun began.

See, fireworks, and SPD are NOT a great combination.  I *know* this.  Every year I *feel* this.  And every year I swear we will do something different next time.  But the memories I have of going to a big community picnic, enjoying the games, watching the parachuters drop, listening the band play the great marches and American music, and watching the fireworks as a family get me every year.  I so want them to enjoy it like I did…

So this year, we gave Booga a choice.  Grandma was staying home, and he chose (wisely!) to stay with her and watch them on tv.  That was ok, but he got sad and lonely for Mommy, and that was a first, so it made me sad, too.  Squirt really wanted to go, Boyo was excited, and it was the first year Scooter would actually see them, and I really wanted to be there to see his face.  So the rest of us set off for the fireworks.  Cue the lines of traffic that made it seem like the car wouldn’t even make it down the road, the crowd of people sitting close, laughing and talking loudly, the dark coming quickly, and the hustle to sit and watch the show.  The first firework went off and my 9-year old daughter screeched, ducked for cover, and cowered behind her father.  Her brilliant aunt (I know better, I really do, but Aunt Sue to the rescue!!) offered her ear muffs, which she put on quickly, but continued to cower until she was forced to move over, where she promptly buried her head in Daddy’s lap and stayed that way until she fell asleep.

Boyo, to be fair, fully enjoyed the whole show (which was pretty long), but he would have liked to have his own ear muffs.  I’m online looking as I type. ☺  Scooter was ok for the first couple fireworks, then started to cry.  I took him a little away, got under a tree, and held his ears.  This seemed to do the trick, because he was perfectly happy to watch, point, and occasionally look up to say “oooooh!”  But while standing under the tree, I saw myself in those fireworks.  We have been so busy this summer that it is half over and I’m wondering when it started.  There is so much pressure building up, just to get lit, fly up and explode, and it’s over.  We are exploding here.  That’s not to say we’re not enjoying it, just like the fireworks are beautiful for a moment, but it’s gone so quickly, and we are having our quick bits of fun, but there is just so much running around, lighting fires, starting more and more, and then what?

A friend of mine has called this summer with her children The Summer of Yes.  Whatever they want to do, no matter how crazy or silly, they are going to do together.  They’ve been having all sorts of fun and I almost decided to do the same thing, but I’ve decided that next year we are going to have the Summer of No.  No, we aren’t going to be in 4 sports at the same time.  No, we are not going to schedule so much in so little time.  No, we are not going to stretch ourselves so thin that we don’t remember how to have fun.  No, we don’t have to go to parades and fireworks.  Just no.  And maybe instead, we’ll find a beautiful sunset…the kind that lasts for hours, and can’t be recreated by men with explosives.  The kind that we’ll remember forever.

Ah, Nature…

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This weekend, we were able to get away with the kids on a short trip. Daddy was working an hour south of our house, so we were going to join him for a couple days.  We started out Friday by driving to that city and finding the beginning of a long trail to hike. The trail started in the woods; went up and down hills, over tree limbs, past a small creek, over bridges, and on and on and on. With one on my back we got started, hiking out on the trail. The kids were in heaven. We found trees cut down by beavers, trees knocked over by rushing water, hickory nuts, canoe trees, butterflies, caterpillars, and every once in awhile, a little post, telling them something about the area. The kids stopped at every single post, reading the information, looking around, taking it all in, and learning without my doing a thing. We hiked out at least a mile, turned around and hiked back about 1/4 to meet Daddy, turned back around and kept going because they had so much to show him, went even further, maybe another 1/2 mile, and were very upset when we told them it was time to turn around. They hiked the whole way back again without complaint. Talked all the way to the hotel about the things they had seen, and were in a great mood.

When we got into the hotel, they went in calmly, sat and watched a show quietly while we got settled, then easily got into swimsuits to go the pool and had plenty of patience as we went. We spent a great couple hours swimming in the pool, went out to dinner, relaxed with a movie and went to sleep (granted, the sleeping arrangements caused an argument, but that was the only fuss all night).

In the morning we had a nice breakfast in the hotel, another couple hours swimming, and then packed it up.  We had a delicious lunch, which we got to eat outdoors; another great idea.  I honestly worried that they would be more hyper and have less sit outside on the patio, but they really did better than usual!  Then it was time to do some more hiking.  Since we were on the other end of the trail we had started the day before, we decided to do some hiking on a different section.  This time, we were in the city, started by walking over a large, concrete pedestrian bridge, down some stairs next to a train station, and hiked a paved path that went next to some ball fields before heading down next to the river.

 

What a difference!  It was still “natural”, but it just wasn’t nature!  And the kids were all over the place.  They went off the path, they dawdled, they whined, they complained, they wanted carried…We only got a little over a mile before turning around to come back.  There were still things to see; evidence of the last flood, a mural under a bridge, different plants we hadn’t seen the day before.  But they just weren’t interested.

I’ve done a lot of reading on the effects of nature on kids, especially kids with ADHD and other similar disorders.  I’ve always known that Squirt, especially, can be calmed down just by driving through nature, much less having a chance to play in the woods.  And I’ve noticed before that green spaces do not equal nature (going across the street to the wooded playground is NOT the same as going to the lakeshore for her!)  But this is the first time I’ve seen such obvious, indisputable, evidence.  Two days, two hikes, two *very* different experiences!

And the effects kept going; we left that hike and stopped at the bathroom, then decided on a little ice cream treat before coming home.  They couldn’t sit still, climbed under the tables, Booga tried to go out the door more than once, and they all had to go to the bathroom.  Again.  Finally left, and stopped for gas.  And had to go to the bathroom.  Again.

So, overall we had a great mini-vacation, and best of all, we learned a big lesson.  It’s time to find all the nearby woods, hikes, state parks, and paths and make good use of them!!

Spring has Sprung

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Well, the new season is upon us, even though it came *really* early this year.  I’ve been trying to avoid it, since I was not at all prepared for spring yet, but apparently it is here to stay.  So let’s talk about the challenges of changing seasons.

 

Challenge Number 1; Changing out the clothing.  This is such a huge issue that we actually try to take several weeks to deal with it.  First we have the never-ending “that’s his shirt, that’s my shirt” problem that comes with having boys that are very close in age…they aren’t really ready to pass those clothes down yet, but it must be done!  But more importantly, we have the sensory problem that comes with going from long-sleeves to short-sleeves, long pants to shorts, and socks and shoes to sandals.  Really, this seems like something easy, but it just isn’t.  When their arms are used to having a texture on them all the time, and now they are bare, their skin crawls.  Same for the legs.  And we JUST got Booga to find socks that he likes, and will keep on, and now we’re telling him to stop wearing socks and wear different shoes.  Different shoes are ALWAYS trouble.  And these shoes have holes in them.  Just thinking about it makes him spin. :)

So far, Squirt is doing quite well with the adjustment this year.  Although I’m beginning to think that she enjoys having her skin bared, and the trouble for her will be in the fall this year, layering back on top.  She really doesn’t like layering…

Booga, well, we’ve gotten him in short-sleeves.  Keep in mind that the weather has been warm (70′s to 80′s!!) for about 3 weeks now.  The first week, he still insisted on wearing sweatpants and fleece shirts.  T-shirts were a big adjustment, but I finally unearthed some robot shirts and others that he was excited about.  Of course, now we are going through the phase of wanting to wear the same shirt for 6 days straight, for sleeping and all, and not wanting Mommy to ever have time to wash it, but that’s another problem for another day.  He’s not dying in the heat anymore, I’ll take what I can get.  We’ve also managed to wear sandals, but that might just be because he doesn’t actually leave them on for very long, he mostly goes barefoot, which is his preferred mode anyway.  Shorts, on the other hand, are a fight for another day.  We’ll get there before it hits 90…I hope.

 

Challenge Number 2: Outdoor play, and more importantly, limits.  No, at 4, you cannot go riding your little bike with it’s training wheels around the block by yourself.  No, my dear 9-year-old, you cannot live in the tree, you must come inside and do homework.  The outdoors is one of the most effective therapy tools I have for my children, but they sometimes love it just a little too much.  And forget the rules.  And Booga has a serious lack-of-feeling issue that means I am already pulling splinters out of his little feet because he runs everywhere barefoot and doesn’t feel the thorns.

 

Challenge Number 3: BEDTIME!  Always an issue in our house, but when that clock changes and the sun is still up, going to bed is like being tortured.  So, although I promised myself the kids would be getting up on time and riding the bus to school this month, today is the first time in 3 weeks that it has happened.  Because we are all still wandering around the house at 9 (or later) having been put to bed over an hour ago.  The excuses are getting more creative every day, but creativity does not help the sleeping!   So the long bedtime routine must return, but that will have to wait til Daddy gets back, because it’s not something I can handle by myself.

 

So this is what Spring means in my house.  My favorite season; new life, warm weather, new flowers, time to be outdoors…now it just has some new challenges to meet, too.

Sunday Survival

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Sundays…family day, rest day, church, calm, peaceful…yeah, not really.  In our dream world, that’s what Sunday would mean.  A nice morning at church, coming home to a Sunday afternoon nap, watching our favorite sports team with the family.  In reality, Sunday means sensory overload, meltdowns, and the afternoon spent trying to rejuvenate and come down from “spin cycle”.

Our day starts early, as we like to be at the 9:00 church service.  We didn’t used to, until we realized that the kids had no idea how to sit still in their grandparents’ church, and we decided they needed to start learning.  So we’re up and out by 8:30, which is no easy task with everyone getting ready at once and trying to get therapy in so they are ready to go.  Everything goes fine until we hit the front doors; that’s where Booga plants his feet, sticks his fingers in his ears, and starts screaming “I don’t want to sing!”  Ok, the music in our church is a little loud.  Probably a lot loud to him.  And we understand, really we do, but we also know that this is part of his life, and he needs to learn to deal with it, so in we go.  Most of the time, if I can hold him while we’re singing or at least rub his back and cover his ears a little, we get through.  Sometimes, though, one of us has to walk him out until the singing is done.  Squirt does better with this part of church, but even she starts to shut down when the guitars and drums really get going.  She’s just easier to deal with because she just sits down and gets quiet.  Sometimes I have to stop and remember that this is also a warning sign, and if I want her to make it through the service, I need to sit next to her and help her deal now.

After the singing, it gets a little easier, but we still have moments to deal with.  Booga still has very little volume control, as he hears every little thing around him and thinks he has to talk over it all.  Squirt never really learned to whisper well herself, but she tries.  Booga also thinks he has to answer everything that’s going on up front, so if you hear enthusiastic praise for a solo or loud “amens” you know where it’s coming from! :)  Also, if the Sunday clothes, socks, or shoes aren’t just right, there will be a lot of wiggling.  Unfortunately, this changes from week to week, so the pretty little white shoes that Squirt loved last week, are pinching her toes this week and she has to take them off.  And put them back on.  And take them off.  And put them back on.  And lose one under the pew.  And go down to find it…

Next comes Sunday School.  We have a love/hate relationship with Sunday School.  Squirt has gotten to the tolerance point, where she will stay there and not melt down, but she won’t participate, and the input is just building up inside her, to all explode when we leave.  Good for Sunday School teachers, not so good for Mom and Dad.  Booga really, really wants to like Sunday School.  After all, it’s better than sitting in church, right?  He gets to run around and play at first, then there’s singing and movement and going to a classroom with all his friends and his very favorite teacher…Unfortunately, it’s a large room, with lots of children, music, noise, input…and his normal reaction is just to leave.  Out the back door, the side door, the sliding divider, whatever.  Teachers are learning to watch for his escape, but with that many children in one room, he still manages to get out at least once a month.  And when all those children start singing; wow the input now.  Noise, crowd, lights, fans, it’s a lot to take in.  And Booga’s next step is to get crazy.  Spin cycle time.  And when he’s in spin cycle, his ears stop working.  Apparently, he does pretty well in his classroom, but that may just be because he loves his teacher ;)

When it’s time to pick the kids up, we have a lot of craziness.  Get through the pick-up line, which is a lot of children in a little space, filtering into a tiny hallway, out towards our coats, where the crowd stops to chat.  Frustrating for us, overwhelming for them.  This is the point where we tend to lose them completely.  They don’t want to wait in line, they don’t want to be in the crowd, they don’t want to put on coats, and they don’t want to slow down.  Even Boyo is beyond walking calmly on the way out of church.  Most weeks we just try to grab them all and run.  Usually we lose at least one of them to the crowd.

The ride home is usually full of loud voices, little sibling fights, and very hyper children.  They’ve been on sensory overload for the past 3 hours.  We’re not going to get them down anytime soon!  By the time we get home, Mom and Dad are stressed out too!  It would be so nice if, at this point, everyone would take a nice, calm, relaxing nap, right?  Uh-huh.  It would be nice.  But it won’t happen.  We usually have to let Squirt have alone time in her room, which she doesn’t really want, but definitely needs.  And we try to find some calming activities for Boyo and Booga, but really they just want to fight and wrestle and get all that energy out!  So it’s a crazy, wild afternoon.

But we are learning, and they are learning, and every week we can get a little closer to understanding how to change our Sundays for the better, and that’s all we can hope for!

Occupational Therapy, take 2.

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Well, last week Booga had an appointment at a new therapists office to determine if he does now qualify for some sort of therapy.  It’s been a long time coming, as he has started running away from sunday school and having to leave his other preschool program for lack of… ‘cooperation’, we’ll call it ;)  Thank goodness for friends who know what I’m talking about because someone gave me a phone number and within days I not only had an appointment, but very good news; he was accepted!

It’s been obvious to me for awhile now that his symptoms are not getting any better, although the vest does help in certain situations.  He has started climbing again; he’s been found higher than my head on 3 occasions in the past 2 weeks, besides the times I’ve caught him climbing the outsides of the stair railings.  He’s been tackling, crashing and head-butting again; things I thought we had under control for the most part.  And he’s been reacting to foods and socks more than usual.  We’ve all been battling some serious illness and the big kids have been home for most of the past week, so part of what I’m seeing might just be sibling overload, but still, I’m seeing patterns that I was hoping would not return.

Part of my rush to get some therapy for him involved the note I got a few weeks ago about signing kids up for preschool.  Booga will be 5 in October, so he definitely has to go to a regular preschool next year.  And I just canNOT see that happening right now.  What I do see is him getting kicked out, and me wondering what to do with him!  I see him running away, crashing into other kids, climbing the toys, and refusing to do any work that involves sitting down.  In my teacher mind, I see him as the child that no teacher wants.  And that breaks my heart, because you couldn’t find a more lovable, creative, intelligent little boy!  But he definitely does not fit the “school” mold.  So it’s time for us to help him figure out how to control himself…at least a little bit more!

Thank goodness, this time around the therapist was more than ready to see that his sensory issues were not secondary; they are getting in the way of his “behavior modulation”.  Big words to say that trying to filter the senses make it hard for him to remember the rules.  And he is SO excited about going back to play in the big gym and work with his therapist.  I can’t wait to see what he’s doing tomorrow, and am so glad there is a place where he can be himself and not be misunderstood.

Therapy Part 2 for Squirt is, unfortunately, going to be a bit longer, because she cannot go during school hours, and has to be put on the waiting list.  Argh.  Because things are definitely not improving on their own on her front either.  A disappointing report card, a complete lack of control in the chewing problem, and the upcoming standardized tests have us hoping that list will go down quickly!!

SPD, What is that??

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So now we get to all the things we have learned.  Starting with what exactly this means.  SPD is Sensory Processing Disorder, or Sensory Integration Dysfunction.  Here is the official definition from the SPD Foundation ( http://www.spdfoundation.net/ ), one of my favorite resources:

Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.”

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.”

The best description I’ve found to describe this to people is that kids with SPD are born without a sensory filter.  So all the things that we see, feel, hear, taste, and smell come at these kids, and they can’t figure out which ones they are supposed to pay attention to.  So they react in one of two main ways; they either shut down completely, or they overreact and try and find a way out.  Some people with SPD are called Sensory-Avoiders.  Squirt is in this category.  If she doesn’t like the way something hits her senses, she tries to get away from it.  That means not wearing the shirt with the itchy tag, or the shoes that don’t fit right.  It also means covering her ears in loud places and trying to get out of crowds.  The other group of people with SPD are called Sensory-Seekers.  Booga is much more in this category, although he does some avoiding, too, mainly with things on his feet and loud sounds.  But these kids tend to notice that things don’t “feel”, so they try harder to get the sensations they are looking for.  They swing longer, spin faster, climb higher, hit harder, squeeze tighter, and seem to never stop because they are trying to get their systems to start to process these senses better.

Imagine entering a small closet to find it crowded with people, bright work lights shining in your eyes, loud music coming in, everyone talking at once, the smell of burnt popcorn nearby, and the wrong side of the Velcro stuck to the tag of your shirt.  This is the overwhelming feeling these kids are trying to process every day.  No wonder they act out!

So how do we deal with it?  Well, with Occupational Therapy, mostly.  Of course, Booga didn’t qualify, so we’ve mostly had to make it up at home as we go, but we are going in for a new evaluation next week, so we’re crossing our fingers that he qualifies this time!!

Occupational Therapy sounds like something for grown-ups, doesn’t it?  But it has nothing to do with your job, except that a child’s job is to grow and learn and cope, so I guess it helps with that, right?  Squirt’s OT involved a lot of swinging, balance, handwriting, building core strength, etc.  Unfortunately, we’ve had to take a break from that since she went back to school last year, but we are on a waiting list and hoping to get her back in soon.  In the meantime, we’ve had some success with her in horseback riding lessons, which helps her focus and works on her core and balance.  Booga’s OT at home program is intense, and VERY hard to keep up with, and I have to admit to not doing very well at all since Scooter was born.  It involves a lot of massage, compressing joints, hanging, swinging, flipping upside down, spinning (oh so much spinning!), heavy work (anything that makes him lift, pull, or push heavy things – this can be helpful when I have housework to do!), squeezing clay or Playdough, and jumping, bouncing or crashing (his favorite, of course).  If I do the full course of OT, all 3 times a day, we will spend at least 2 hours a day on this.  Doesn’t seem like much, but with 4 kids, 3 sports, a nursing baby, and homework (Heaven help us, the homework this year!!), sometimes getting dressed and having dinner ready is about it for my day!

So what have we learned?  Well, we’ve learned that having a clean, uncluttered space is very important for Squirt (guess I should pick up the house, huh?); that she will probably never sing and do motions with her friends, but she is still enjoying the music as she stands there; that handwriting is not as important as I’d like to think; that calm and quiet is probably not in our future; that processing all the day’s input and shutting off to sleep is sometimes just impossible; that shoes really aren’t necessary; that being loud just means they are hearing things we aren’t and trying to be heard above it all; that spinning faster can actually slow you down; that responding to someone calling your name means shutting out all the other input first; that sitting still is not a requirement for dinner, homework, or even for sleeping!; and mostly, that they aren’t being naughty, rude, disrespectful, or ornery – they are just trying to learn to cope in a world that is truly overwhelming.