A journal entry is long overdue. I wouldn’t say that anything monumental has happened, but lots of little things have taken place since I last wrote.
School has been challenging for Colin. He has a full time aid, and plenty of accommodations have been written into his IEP. It just isn’t easy.
He moved to the middle school and the entire staff has had to get to know him, his history, his abilities, and his weaknesses. With one quarter of the year under our belt, I think we have a handle on things now, but it has taken some work to get there.
Colin didn’t speak up for himself at the beginning so we had a few unnecessary hurdles. For example, in one of his classes the students were asked to read silently. Colin sat and stared at his science book, pretending to read rather than admit to his teacher, or his aid, that this was something he could not do. He came home crying, wanting to quit school and begging to be home schooled. Another time, he came home telling us that his aid wouldn’t let him lock his book bag in his locker before lunch. After a phone call I learned that his aid, Mrs. Jager, is wonderful. She won’t put the bag away for him. He just didn’t want to take the time to do it. Oh, I was angry with my little liar, and happy to learn that his aid isn’t a push over! We talk whenever necessary to make sure Colin is giving me the correct information.
As with any middle school course, Colin has had to make a few presentations. The first was of course the hardest. With permission we created a short Power Point to show three literary devices in the book Hatchet. With the Power Point slides to help, Colin didn’t have to read, or speak, paragraphs of information. He was able to say a few key points and the class could get the rest from the slides.
His second presentation was a science current event. He did an article on the discovery of how the Broca’s Area of the brain works to process language. It was quite fitting considering Colin’s brain injury. He spoke a minimal amount and used Power Point again to help. His teacher called to tell me how wonderful he did and how appropriate the article was for him. She also told me that the class was so attentive that you could have heard a pin drop. I had to fight to hold back my tears.
His most recent presentation was in language arts. It was a speech about himself. On his own, with a little help from Lisa at speech therapy, he wrote about his memories of the night at hockey practice when the AVM rupture occurred. Mrs. Jager, his aid, and Mr. Milkie, his teacher, helped him write an introduction and conclusion. He and I did some editing and he practiced reading it with the Winn Reader Program on his laptop. I only wish I could have been a fly on the wall when he read the speech to the class. He didn’t get a perfect score, but he did well. I am proud of his courage.
For Labor Day weekend we went camping with my sister and her family on the Sandusky River. The kids got to do some tubing and jet skiing. It was a beautiful weekend and we had a lot of fun.
The weekend of September 11, 12, and 13, we took a trip to Pennsylvania to do some four wheeling. The McBride family generously let my cousin Mike use their cottage for the weekend. He brought us, along with my cousins Bruce and Brian and their families, to enjoy the getaway. Colin enjoyed riding the modified four wheeler that Mike fixed for him, but I know he wished he could have ridden one of the dirt bikes like the other boys.
Colin has admitted that he hates his life and wishes he had his old life back. He even said he wished he had Brendan’s life. I had been waiting for that melt down, and I was surprised that it took him almost a full year to really let it all out. We both cried the night he broke down. It was good for him to get it out of his system and I told him it was okay to feel angry, but that I wanted him to use the anger to work on getting better.
Colin still doesn’t have much use of his right arm or hand. He still goes to therapy and we work with him the best we can. I hope to put him in a program this summer in which they restrict the use of his left arm with a cast and tape for three hours a day. He will be forced to use the weak arm and hand. This would take place at the Cleveland Clinic Shaker Campus where he resided for two months after surgery. The program would last for three weeks. I requested that they put Colin on the list. Colin is angry with me. He does not want to participate in the program, so I am prodding him to use the arm and hand before June so he won’t have to go – we’ll see.
At a recent physical therapy session Colin was chosen to try a Walkaid device. It straps on below the knee and two electrodes stimulate the muscles to lift his toes when he walks. The hope is that over time his brain will be retrained to do this. The device will act as a stimulus, since Colin has been unable to relearn this on his own. Colin has been wearing an AFO on his right leg to prevent him from tripping over his drop-foot. We are applying for approval to purchase the Walkaid through the insurance company. We hope to hear from them soon.
I let go of my apron strings with Colin and allowed him to go camping with the Boy Scouts. He has gone twice now. Once to East Harbor and just last weekend to Firelands Campground. He came home raving about the great time that he had, and very tired. He’s been through so much and for so long he didn’t want me to leave his side. I’m glad he wants to get away from me and do things like he used to.
Paul and I have asked Colin if he would like to try ice skating. He seems skeptical, but one Sunday afternoon I think we’ll take him and see how he does. No pressure – no audience – just us.