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Raising Chickens and Special Needs Kids - Page 6

post #51 of 463
Thread Starter 

Got a bit of lift in spirits today....look at our little girl!  And notice how long she stands unassisted!


post #52 of 463

Hi everyone!  New to the BYC forums, but during my introduction Blooie suggested I come visit this thread.  So, here I am! (quick intro version as to why I'm in BYC in the first place: been a chicken mama before but not in a long time, just got a few babies this week!)


Deep breath.


As I said in my intro if some of you didn't read it, it was Blooie's article that really drew me into the forum and becoming a member.  I've been a lurker before. I didn't really expect to find a thread here specifically for "us" though! I don't have a support group or anything like that, in fact I have very little support in general, so I'm kind of feeling emotional posting in here.  Is it possible, THIS is going to be where I find what I've been missing out on? 


Another deep breath. Here comes the first time I've ever WRITTEN down our story.


I have 3 kids.  My son is almost 20 and moved out of the house now.  The next in line is my mini-me, Steph, who is 11 and amazing.  The reason I'm in this thread is my beautiful Katie.  Ahem, we also call her Katie-bug ;)  Or KK (or Katherine when I'm really mad LOL).  Katie is going to be 9 in May.  She was different from my other two from the day she was born, something was just "off".  As a baby, she was super laid back when left alone.  She couldn't stand being cuddled when cranky. She would always freak out like she was falling when being carried down stairs.  There were tons of little "things" that I couldn't put my thumb on, like the fact that she liked my sister!  Ha ha!  My sister still says to this day that Kate's her favorite because she's the only kid that wouldn't immediately start crying when she'd hold her! 


When Kate was about to turn two, I started doing a ton of research and was pretty sure she fell somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. I had early intervention come in and evaluate her.  They seemed to think she was "fine" and would "catch up quickly". Family was furious with me for thinking there was "something wrong" with their precious Katie.  A victory for them when I was "proven wrong".  But, I didn't give up and I didn't believe that they were right.


I taught Katie some baby sign language (yay internet!), and that helped TREMENDOUSLY with some of the obvious communication issues we were having.  It was as if she couldn't understand ME, not just me not understanding her.  Once that barrier was brought down, she started learning and using words very quickly.  She went from speaking a handful of words, to signing, and then straight to using 4 word sentences!  Of course this just proved to the naysayers how wrong I was, because she didn't just catch up, but surpassed what she should be doing at her age.  Fast forward a few years, and it was time for Pre-K. I went into panic mode, because there were so many things still not right. I had been doing my research for nearly two years.  So this time, I went to my doctor first and explained that we NEEDED a diagnosis.  He sent us to a clinical psychologist who finally gave us one (and yeah, I took a lot of heat for making that appointment).  PDD-NOS.  THEN I called the school to set up a Pre-K screening, with my psychologist's recommendation in hand.  They couldn't very well ignore the needs then. Family still wasn't on board.  "The intervention is great, she probably won't need any of it though after she gets used to leaving you and going to school."  SIGH


So, fast forward a few years... she was doing great and had a fantastic teacher, in room aide, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and  physical therapist (the naysayers calmed down with their harping on me after three years of the school providing all this, and the fact that none of them could really "get through" to her, or "deal" with her "issues"). Then, they closed our school. 


Second grade: for the first time she had to ride a bus, had a new aide that was sweet but useless, a new speech therapist with zero patience, no physical therapist, and only saw the occupational therapist once per month.  The new principal didn't know the first thing about kids with Autism, and even switched her to a different teacher's classroom the first week. A common core lover. I should mention, I'm in NY State and the curriculum our state is using is horrendous. She tumbled down hill so fast, it was everything I could do not to start yelling at people in the school.  I had so many meetings there, offered so many suggestions to everyone on her team, and DID raise a stink about how they were NOT actually following her IEP.  They'd say they thought she was doing well and making progress, and I lost it a little at that meeting. Progress is NOT being behind where she was at he beginning of the previous year behaviorally. I started looking into options and 3/4 way through the school year I had reached my last straw when I received two notes home (one from the aide and one from the speech therapist) asking me what the "best candy" was that they could use to "bribe" her into participating in Speech and Math. She shouldn't have needed any bribing at that point, and they should have known her well enough to know her favorite candy anyway! She never went back to school, and we began our homeschool journey.


I've since been approached quietly by a few of the teachers she had in the school that was closed (who still work in the district), and praised for the decisions I made. Walking into that school was like visiting family. Everyone knew her and loved her, even the teachers that were standing bus duty that I didn't know knew her and loved her. I hate what's happening to the public school system in NY state.  It's bad.


She's doing AMAZING now.  ALL of the behavior issues from last year are gone, and she's made progress beyond where she was the previous year. She's so far ahead behavior-wise! She was having meltdowns in math daily until the lesson was over.  That does not work at home! So, I've managed to teach everything she SHOULD have learned last year, and we're moving along really well. I don't bother with the therapists.  OT was not supposed to be anything more than a consult at this point, which is worthless to me.  Speech became the thing she hated most in the world.  She actually adores language.  She reads, spells, and uses vocabulary at or above her older sister's level.  She corrects people when they don't say words correctly. She KNOWS she's not pronouncing words correctly, and speech therapy seemed to be doing nothing more than pointing that out to her, making her more self conscious and scared to speak to people. I actually think the speech might just come on it's own, but maybe we'll work with a therapist down the road. All in all, I just wish I had started this sooner.  The biggest issue I'm having now is the fact that her sister wants to be homeschooled too. She's becoming a C student in math, when she used to be all straight A's. It's the curriculum, but as you may guess, the "supportive family" doesn't think that's a good idea.  Sigh... we'll see...


Chickens!  I think this will help a LOT with empathy, as well as responsibility. She's so smart that she's tricked many people into thinking she's having a "shutdown" when really she's just using the behavior to get out of doing something she doesn't feel like doing. Alas, she believes that she talked me into the chickens, so they are "her pets" so she HAS to take care of them.  Her thinking!  Also, Spring has ALWAYS been a major issue for her.  I'm already noticing some stimming behavior that I hadn't seen in a long while. She's a "crasher" and a mover. She requires activity, yet has a lot of difficulty switching from the extreme seasonal change of Winter to Spring and all it brings with it (mud, flowers, bugs, swing sets, birds, more vehicles around, etc). I think it will help a lot to force her into a schedule of doing something for someone else, not just the schoolwork or cleaning up after one's self chores I assign her. Plus, it will no doubt create some appropriate stimulation that she can count on regularly, from moving around and getting outdoors, to soft fluffy feathers. 


The only issue I've had so far with our baby chicks is trying to keep her from rubbing her lips on the soft chick down, and ensuring those hands get washed after every petting. She often gets too rough with the dogs and babies, so I keep a close eye, and so far she has been ultra gentle with the chicks. A lot of self control is being learned here too! 


OK - so that's my long version of a much longer story.  I'm not good at short stories!  :barnie  Thank you for having a place where I can put all that, and I SWEAR my next post will be shorter!  ;)

post #53 of 463
Thread Starter 

Holy smokes, @mekidsmom! Some hostess I am!  I never even realized that you'd posted, let alone that I'd missed such a warm, cheery one!  I'm sorry....still not quite on top of my game I guess!


Isn't it funny that our Katies parallel each other like this?  Not only in the initial diagnosis, but in their progress as well.  Our Katiebug was so proud at the start of this school year - she just had to come to Gramma's and announce that for the first time since she started school, she was no longer "special education"!  She was pumped, I'll tell you.


Here our school system is so small that we never have to worry about Katie or Kendra being lost in the crowd.  IEPs with Katie were always upbeat and positive, and I can honestly say that from the time she started preschool until now, fourth grade, all of her needs have always been met....or even exceeded.  Of course, we live in a town with only 600 people, and our school system is small as well.  We had custody of our middle daughter's two kids, Jamie and Little Diane, and when Jamie graduated from high school his graduating class was 29 kids.  So yep, the girls get a lot of one-on-one here, and we know how blessed we are!  


The chickens have been a huge help for Katie - that all important empathy being primary!  I wish you could meet her - she's a little character with a remarkable sense of humor and the most open, loving personality.  I'm sure your Katie is too - they are so similar in all other ways, after all!


I love being Gramma to these two remarkable little people.  I was Katie's day care provider from the time she was born until she was in school full time, and the same with Kendra.  In fact, when Kendra was born we knew she'd be born with Spina Bifida, so we were sent to Denver to await her arrival.  Kenny couldn't take that much time off work, so it was just me and Jenny for 6 weeks. Then the day after Kendra was released from the NICU, I had to call an ambulance for Jenny and we almost lost her.  They revived her 3 times in the ambulance. She was in the ICU for the first 4 days, and then a regular ward for two more.  So it was just me and this brand new baby with 20 stitches in her back and lots of special medical needs.  I remember sitting in the rocking chair there at the Ronald McDonald house, holding this sleeping little baby, crying and saying over and over again, "It's just me and you for right now, Baby Girl."  I believe with all my heart that that is where the unusually strong bond I have with Kendra came from. 


Anyway, just wanted to reply to your post, even  though I'm several days late!  This is a place where you can come and vent, or brag, or just check in.  I promise to do a better job of paying attention!

post #54 of 463

Ha ha!  It's ok Blooie.  Life, it happens.  :) 


I personally went to a larger school district than the one we're in.  I thought this one was small, but there's another nearby that sounds more like yours.  When it comes to special needs, a tiny school district like yours is clearly a blessing.  I do consider us very lucky for the elementary school we had, before they closed it.  Kate would have never done so well elsewhere, and they really did get her off to a good start.  The principle that was there has a niece with autism.  She would personally handle meltdowns, and ensured aides and teachers were clued in.  Kate also had a special ed. teacher (1 on 1) IN the classroom with her for Pre-K.  It was such a 180 when they closed our school.  The sad thing is, everyone that cared did everything they could to ensure the folks at the new school were up to par.  The principle there just clearly didn't bother taking any of it into account and moved aides and teachers around.  Ho hum.  It's ok, I'm happy to have her home with me every day anyway.  It's most certainly NOT easy to homeschool a bouncy kid with attention issues, but it's so rewarding!


Our girls do sound very similar.  You know how some people judge a person based on how their dogs react?  Ya know, can tell if somethings fishy with someone if the dog doesn't seem to like them much?  I've said jokingly that I do something similar with Katie, although it's actually not a joke.  EVERYONE LOVES her when they meet her - with the exception sometimes of other kids.  Some of them just don't know how to handle her too often and too tight hugs, or her correcting them.  I haven't met very many adults that don't immediately take a shine to her.  She makes YOU feel special!  Those few people that have met her and appear confused, I do NOT trust them. True story.  Those people are the ones with something wrong.  She has a giant smile, loves to hug, will talk up a storm about something she's been doing lately that she is excited about, or if she hears you talking about something she doesn't know about she will ask a zillion questions - eager to soak up some knowledge. OMG - the memory she has is astounding!


WOW - I don't know how you made it through those few days with Kendra.  Not that she was an issue, but just the entire situation and emotion of it all with Jenny back in the hospital on top of all you three had already been through.  No doubt that made a huge bond.  Plus caring for the girls so much while their parents were at work.  You were another parent, not "just a grandma".  I do hope you've been able to find some awesome moments to do the regular grandma spoiling too though!  :D  I babysat one of my nephews a lot when he was newborn (his parents were only teens still trying to finish high school).  While that ended a LONG time ago, I still have a stronger bond with him than I do any of the other nieces and nephews.


KK is still doing well with the chicks.  She has snuck off a few times and taken one out of the brooder to cuddle without discussing it with me first.  However, she's been gentle enough with them and we haven't had any major issues.  We did add a little rooster to the group, less than a week old.  Of course she wanted to take HIM out instead of one of the pullets who are a few weeks.  At first I was concerned, as he'd need more warmth and with the stress he'd been through recently wanted him to just get used to being here.  BUT - it gave us some good teaching moments!  We discussed how his life has been, how he may be scared and cold.  Then we came up with a plan together for her to cuddle him in a cloth in her lap, keep her hands gently around it to keep the heat in, and only for a certain amount of time.  She sang to him, it was melting my heart!  That worked well, he fell fast asleep, and she shared with me that HE must be feeling better because he was able to fall asleep and he must be warm.  She can't fall asleep when her thoughts are spinning or she's too cold or too hot.


"Yes, I think he knows you love him already and are going to take very good care of him.  You helped him feel better."  <3  She was as proud as a chick mama could be!

post #55 of 463
Thread Starter 

Love your Katie's involvement with the chickens.  She gets it, she really does!  I love that she's already learned to trust her inner self, and that her sense of empathy is blossoming.  


Our Katie is the same way.  We did have to set some limits and strictly adhere to them.  She loved going into the room where the chicks were being brooded and watch them.  Never had an issue with her picking them up,  but did have an incident that could have been a nightmare.  She somehow knocked the heat lamp over.  Instead of calling one of us, she tried to rehang it and got a nasty burn.  Her cries just broke my heart - I should have told her from the start not to go in there unless one of us was there.  It was one thing to have her understand that the chicks were still too tiny to handle a lot of touching from big humans (she got that because she said sometimes people who come up to her too fast when she doesn't know them scares her too) but we certainly should have been more diligent about keeping an eye out for potential hazards and put the room totally off limits without adult supervision.  


That was the last time we didn't make boundaries clear to her.  We also no longer use heat lamps for chicks and will never have a heat lamp again.  We raise our chicks from day one outside in the run using a heating pad.  Can't even begin to go into all the benefits we've reaped from that!

post #56 of 463

Welcome mekidsmom!   I know that I was blessed to have schools that were great with our son's IEP.   He went to a lot of different schools.

Starting in Kindergarten, he was walking with crutches..has Spina Bifid like Blooie's Katie..and, by the way, we have a Katie in our family too...Katrissa..and we do call her Katie Bug..even to this day when she is herself a mom.  Cute nickname.

 Anyway, the school he started with laid carpet down everywhere that would help him out.  A great big one in the doorways that he used to come and go before and after school.   Had great therapists in there.  Richard has always struggled with Eye Hand Coordination.  And, making decisions!    Trust me, when he moved out, these things worried me, especially the making decisions part.   But, along with my DH and my help every now and again, he is doing well on his own. Well enough I'll say.

 Another school put a chair lift on the stairs for him, you know, like the ones for older folks.  His class in that school was on the second floor..old building, no elevator or ramps. 


  He is over for the first time in a while.  I asked him, do you want to hold a chicken and I get a picture?   Sure!  I'll hold a chicken.  The dogs love love Richard, especially our Ziggy..a Schnoodle. 


  Our mountain man!  lol..he is going to shave it once it starts warming up.  He always has some, but this is a lot!

 He's holding Bess, and there is our Missy.



 Blooie, loved your video.  She is coming right along!  I remember cables on Richard when he was walking with the arm crutches.

Wonderful family, very understanding husband when it comes to chickens, dogs, birds, one big Golden Retriever, and thankful to the Lord for all!
Wonderful family, very understanding husband when it comes to chickens, dogs, birds, one big Golden Retriever, and thankful to the Lord for all!
post #57 of 463
Thread Starter 
Actually, Cynthia, Our little Kendra is the one with Spina Bifida. Katiebug's battle is with autism. Tell Richard I think the beard looks great!!smile.png
post #58 of 463

Oh yeah, can I forget that name?  So sorry! 


I will tell him, after he shaves it off!   lol..  He will shave it off, then it will grow back a bit again.  He doesn't like it long in the summer, so I won't see him with this much again until then.   I like seeing his cute face once in a while.  :P 

Edited by Cynthia12 - 3/22/16 at 10:22pm
Wonderful family, very understanding husband when it comes to chickens, dogs, birds, one big Golden Retriever, and thankful to the Lord for all!
Wonderful family, very understanding husband when it comes to chickens, dogs, birds, one big Golden Retriever, and thankful to the Lord for all!
post #59 of 463

Thanks for the welcome Cynthia!  Richard looks so happy to be visiting!  Gah, how did you ever manage to let him leave and live without you taking care of him daily?  I can't imagine... but I so WANT Katie to be able to someday.  At the moment though, she is still planning to leave when she's 16 and turns into a mermaid.  ;)  We'll see how that works out for her.

post #60 of 463
Thread Starter 

Prayers for Kendra please? I'm posting this wherever I can to get a prayer chain going for Kendra...thanks!

The kids just left for Denver this morning. I've got Katie and Evan for the next week. Kendra will be having her 6 month regular Spina Bifida clinic, then she has appointments for Autism screening. That's more a formality - we already know she's on the autisim spectrum so nothing they say will really surprise us.

Then for the first time they'll be meeting with the surgical team about her Ace/Mitrofanoff procedure. They'll do a more in-depth series of exams than just her usual ultrasounds and MRI, and make the final determination about her candidacy and possible surgical date. Jenny and I will end up down in Denver when they do it, and we'll likely be down there for about a month - not looking forward to that but we've done it before, we can do it again. I just hope this works to help give Kendra a more normal life. This is a short thing about the process and the prognosis. From what I understand, when it works it works great, when it doesn't it's a disaster.

So asking for prayers for a safe journey both there and back, and good results for Kendra! Thanks! ... fanoff.htm

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