SCERTS = Interesting!

Description from the SCERTS website (click link below).   Sounds really interesting!  Mama has to investigate more.

The SCERTS® Model is a research-based educational approach and multidisciplinary framework that directly addresses the core challenges faced by children and persons with ASD and related disabilities, and their families. SCERTS® focuses on building competence in Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support as the highest priorities that must be addressed in any program, and is applicable for individuals with a wide range of abilities and ages across home, school and community settings.

The Loudon of the Day

Mama and Lowie enjoyed “Grandparent’s Tea” at his school last week!

He said, “Mom, I look goooood!”

He is delicious!!!

But my zombie hands…not so much.

Don’t. Mess. With Mama.

We had an IEP meeting on Jan. 21. 

The Sped coordinator said something to Mama. 

OOOOhhh, NO-HO-HO-HO she di’int!!

Here’s Mama’s response to that in a letter to the superintendent!


Mrs. A. – Superintendent

ABC Public Schools

123 Street

Somethington, USA



Dear Mrs. A.,


My son, Ronan James, is a student at The ABC School who is currently receiving special education services due to his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Recently, Ronan underwent a 3 year reassessment by various members of the school staff to determine his progress.  We met on January 21, 2009 to discuss the results and to define new goals for the rest of his school year.


In attendance: Mrs. L – Special Education

                          M and T – Occupational Therapy

                          O – Speech Therapy

                          D – School Psychologist

                          P – Kindergarten Inclusion Teacher

                          Mrs. X. – Sitting in for Mrs. T.



During the meeting, we discussed the testing that was performed on Ronan, what each individual result determined and what the goals for the rest of this school year should be.  The school staff did an incredible job of conducting the testing on Ronan – not an easy thing to do, due to his difficulties with engaging and his speech/comprehension delays.  They continue to do an amazing job teaching, coaching, nurturing and caring for my child.  I am grateful to each of them for the dedication, time and love that they have put into helping my child along this tough road that he has.


That being said, there are only 5 hours (15 min.) in a school day.  If you refer to the evaluation by Ronan’s developmental pediatrician, R., M.D., she outlines the necessary treatment for his ASD, which includes 25 hours of ABA, 2 hours per week of Occupational Therapy, 2 hours per week of Speech Therapy and Social Skills training.


During this school year, I learned through parent friends that their child was receiving therapy through the school’s “home program”.  I was not aware that any services outside of the school day were available, so I inquired about this during the meeting.


I stated to Mrs. X that this is something that I knew would benefit Ronan greatly.  As you may or may not know, a child with ASD is very prone to retreating into his/her “own world”, often engaging in self-stimulating activities for long periods of time, if left to their own devices.  It is best to engage the child as much as possible in an effort to sort of “retrain the brain” from needing to escape so much – in other words, we want Ronan to join us in our world as much as he can.  We also want Ronan’s comprehension of language and social skills to improve.  This is dependant upon how often he is drawn out of his self-stimulation. His functioning ability as an adult, his happiness and his future independence all depend on this and it’s especially important to implement these therapies at this early age – before the window of opportunity closes.


While I have spent a great many hours reading and researching how to best engage/teach Ronan, the truth is that I am not a trained and licensed special education therapist.  If there is one available to provide therapy to Ronan for the 25-plus hours that are necessary per week, then that is what’s best for him.  When I expressed this to Mrs. X, she proceeded to inform me that “the school doesn’t provide babysitting services!”


Excuse me.  Let me pause here. 


I am still in disbelief that she said these words to me.


I am also very confused and obviously extremely upset by this inference.  Not only is it insulting and degrading to a ridiculous degree to suggest to a mother (who is trying desperately to get the appropriate therapy for her child’s neurological disorder) that she is trying to somehow dupe the school system into giving her some free child-care, but it is vastly the farthest thing from the truth.


It didn’t end there.  When I left the meeting, shaking, angry and humiliated, I planned to call the Head of Sped when the updated IEP was given to me, in order to set the record straight about my requests – lest there be any doubt as to why I would want more therapy for my child.


Mrs. Head of Sped explained that Ronan had been approved for 5 hours of “parent training” per week.  I’ve not heard of “parent training” and when I stressed that other mothers were telling me that they have ABA services in their home, she said “it might look like discreet trials, but it’s really a service to train the parent how to solve problems with their child at home” and then she informed me that I would “have to be very involved in this”. 


I’m not sure what has happened with other cases in the Somethington Public School system in regard to special education students and their parents, but this treatment is a blatant affront.  I am simply trying to get the proper help for my child with autism.

Who are these people to imply (without knowing me or my child) that I am looking to shirk my parental responsibilities on the school’s dime?

Let me give you some background on our situation. 


When Ronan was born, I worked full-time as a nanny to two families.  Ronan’s father worked in retail.  As a blue-collar family, we were struggling financially already.  I had a choice to put Ronan in daycare full-time, so that I could work.  I chose to pare my jobs down to one family part-time, and I got to bring Ronan with me to work.  I walked dogs and pet-sat on the side, something I also took Ronan with me to do.  We were still struggling.  Ronan didn’t sleep and wanted to nurse constantly – some of the first signs of his autism.


When Ronan was 16 months, we had him assessed by a developmental pediatrician, who diagnosed him with PDD/NOS.  Thus began our challenge of obtaining healthcare and proper services in the world of autism therapy.  We only got approved for 1 hour of play therapy per week from Early Intervention, even though our doctor suggested 25 hours per week of services.  When the doctor heard of this, he wrote a very angry letter to EI demanding more help for Ronan.  We got more hours, thanks to him. 


I quit my job to stay home with Ronan full-time, so that we could be home for therapies, and also to take care of some allergies/digestive problems that Ronan was having.  This required a special diet – all foods cooked from scratch, very expensive special ordered items and vitamins/prescriptions.   These special foods and vitamins had to be consumed by myself as well, as I was still nursing Ronan – a very difficult diet for both of us to maintain.  It also included many trips to different doctors and specialists – most not covered by insurance.


We continued to struggle financially, but we didn’t care, because we just wanted our child to get what he needed.  I had been reading and researching 24 hours a day about therapies and education for autism and from what I gathered, California seemed to be the best place to live for proper services. My sister lived in CA, and she offered to let us stay with her for a year, so that we could save and pay our debt down.  We moved across the country for a year.  While in California, Ronan was approved through their Regional Center for full ABA, O.T., Speech and Social Skills Classes through an excellent agency by the name of C.A.R.D.  During this time, Ronan thrived, even losing his autism symptoms to the point where he was indistinguishable from his peers.


When the year was up, we decided to move back home.  I was pregnant with Ronan’s brother and we were homesick.  I continued to stay home with Ronan full-time.  After the baby was born, I still didn’t even want to risk getting a part-time evening job around Ronan’s Dad’s schedule.  I wanted to be around my son as much as possible, and Ronan had an incredibly difficult time with anyone else caring for him, so I never even left him with a sitter – ever.


When we had no other choice, I started a job working overnights, because that would minimize the time I would have to be away from Ronan.  Every day, I make Ronan’s lunch and bring it hot with me (he has food aversions, and he eats better when the food is just made) when I am dropping his brother off, and I bring it into his classroom and give him a kiss. 


Every day since I have found out that Ronan has autism, I read and research, order and bake special foods and vitamins, argue with insurance companies about not covering therapies or doctors assessments (necessary for school services, but about $3,000) that are critical for my child’s treatment for his pervasive developmental disorder. We engage and redirect him as much as possible, and we teach him the same simple things – like asking someone for help instead of screaming when frustrated or looking at someone when speaking – over and over every day, because it is so difficult for Ronan to remember these communication skills.  We do home and self-taught O.T., speech, and behavioral therapies with him – bouncing on therapy balls, water or sand sensory activities, make communication charts together with the proper use of pronouns or grammar, and countless other things. 


We go on nature walks even when it rains or snow, because Ronan needs movement on a grander scale than a neuro-typical peer.  He works hard.  And he fights every day to fit into our world, to learn how to relate to us and other children his age.  It’s unexplainably difficult to watch him struggle with expressing himself or understanding others. 


We gladly continue to do and provide everything Ronan needs every day, because we love our child and his brother immensely and to question my involvement with my child, to insinuate that I want to get a free break on the school’s money.

 Well, that’s an outrage to me.


I resent it, and I think you need to talk to your staff, and let them know under no circumstances does any mother deserve to be spoken to in that manner.  These are people who are in special education, and who work with young children and families.  They must have chosen that path because they at one time found it rewarding, one would think.  Maybe you can help them remember that my son and I, and any other child and parent that they are working for (we are talking about tax dollars that you and I and everyone else pay) are not just a quota. 


After I reject the current one, I will be smart enough to bring along a well-schooled legal advocate for my next IEP meeting.  Hopefully, a better outcome will be had. 


If you get the time, please also stop by  This is Ronan’s web-site, filled with his beautiful art, something else that we work on with him.  He donates to charity – Autism, of course.



Thank you for your time,



Mama – Very Involved Mother to Ronan James

**In addition, please note that my grievances are exclusive to the two incidences with Mrs. X and the Head of Sped.  The school staff who work directly with Ronan on a regular basis (listed above) have been nothing short of exceptional**

 And there you have it, Mrs. X. 

 Don’t. Mess.

No Lo Compredelo El Engleses.

I like to explain to people that Ronan communicates like a foreigner learning English as a second language.  He’s in Intermediate English.  Next semester, he should be in Conversational English I . 

Ro started at his school when he was 3 years old. Recently, he was tested by his school staff to evaluate his 3 year progress. 

Here’s the first page of his assessment…


The areas that he has trouble with are understanding what is said to him and speaking correctly what he is thinking.  This is a tough task to do when you are learning a foreign language!  lol

Now note his savantism…19 years old for decoding!!!  LOL  And he would have probably tested higher, but 19 years is the cap age on the test!!

When this child is fluent, what will I have on my hands?! 

NASA will be calling.

Giant Dances

Ro’s teacher is working on expanding his conversational skills. She suggested that we write down a little something that he did over the weekend, and then send it in on Monday for her to use as a topic. 

He has a journal at school, in which he produces some amazing writing/drawing – thank you Mrs. C. for working on that with him, because he loves it so much.

We thought, hey, why not a home journal to bring in on Mondays!  So, off to Target for Ro to pick out a new weekend journal.  I suggested that he write about the playground that we went to on Saturday.  Ro, being Ro, had other inspiration. Here’s his first entry…

The text reads, “I did my giant 91 dance.  It’s a song on the piano.  It makes me feel happy.”  For those few of you who don’t know, the giant dances are very popular in the house of Ro.  He has a keyboard that has all of those programmed instrumental versions of classic songs – like the ever popular “Livin’ La Vida Loca”  and Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.  They are all numbered, hence the 91.  Not sure why they are “giant” dances, but he has a great time running around the house “dancing” to his giant numbered songs.  I really have to figure out how to upload video here, so I can post them – we laugh until we need Depends.

What is especially unique about his entry – the pig nose on Ro’s self representation, along with the Captain Hook hand.  What goes on in that mind?  lol I can’t wait to hear the explanations from the future Ronan.

Here’s some other great stuff Mrs. C. and Ro’s speech therapist are working on with him.  The “WH” questions.  He typed these on the computer himself!

And while I’m feeling prolific today, here’s some character art – ocean animals.  How awesome is this kid?  I aspire to be the artist he is already at 6 years old.

He is selling like crazy on his site too, and I have to re-list like crazy tonight!

Okay, off to find an Orca costume now.  Which is thankfully a much easier costume to create than the “swimming pool” from last year.  lol

I’m posting something about food addiction later…sigh, my only vice.

The Loudon of the first day

OMG!  How vulnerable and precious is this? 

Gotta love the smile the gaggle of chicks elicited!

My big boy, or Bruce Willis II?

Back when the Willis had hair, you would swear he was the RoJay’s Baby Daddy! lol


How tasty and grown is he getting, though?  And I’m talking about Ronan…although, hmmmmm…Bruce is a hot Daddy, too.

How Cool Is this?!

This is a great idea, particularly for Ro’s school – which has a ceiling that sort of defies explanation.  I like to try to describe it as a texture resembling “dirty snow fur” .

It kind of resembles the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer  if someone dipped him in the La Brea Tar Pits, only scarier.


Oh, yes, that’s the best way to teach the child!

What world do I freakin’ live in?  This baby is five years old.  They voted the child out of the class, “Survivor” style – to “teach him” that his behavior was alienating.  Umm, FIVE, people, he’s FIVE!,2933,358956,00.html
At the other end of the spectrum, my 5 year-old literally bloodied his teacher in a tantrum early this year.  He was not voted out of Kindergarten.  Instead, the principal discreetly approached me to say that Ro had a hard time that afternoon, and maybe I should walk down to his class to pick him up, instead of the usual wait to sign out procedure. 
When I got to his room, his teacher, bless her soul, had band-aids and scratches in various places –
“It’s okay, it happens sometimes!”  That was her response when she saw my horror-filled expression.
“He’s been so good all year!”
I was cursing myself, because I knew it had to do with the multivitamin I slipped in his hemp milk the night before.  Whenever I give him a multivite, he reacts like this, but he had just gotten over a virus where he wasn’t eating much, so I thought I would try to give the hypoallergenic multi a chance again.  Obviously, no go.  We worked with his GI doc, and we have decided to just stick to food sources for nutrition, no supplements.  He’s just too sensitive.
Anyway, we are lucky that we have found such great, understanding and nurturing educators. 
It breaks my heart to read about what this poor baby has had to go through, due to the ignorance of these fools. 
Someone needs to vote her off of job island. 
Mama will be the first to sign that petition. 

What a Yum Bum!

This is the summary from the first page of his IEP.  We had his meeting today.  Seriously, how yummy is this bummy?!!!

I love this school, and I am so happy that we made the decision to have him repeat Kindergarten.  We couldn’t be happier with the team of ladies that support and encourage Ronan’s growth – very genuine and inspiring educators. 

My baby is growing up!  Sniff, sniff.

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