Holiday recap

Our Christmas and New Year's Eve was was so much fun! I had a friend take some pictures for our Christmas cards that turned out really cute. They should be hitting mailboxes any day now (late, as usual!)

Sam and his cheesy grin! heehee
Ginger has her cousin Sophie as a houseguest for a few weeks while my in-laws are in Scotland. The girls are getting along like BFF's. So cute!
Sage scored a snowboard for Christmas! Since we don't have any hills close to the house, Paul pulled her behind the snowmachine for a practice run. She's a natural!
We're going to try out Hatcher Pass this winter. Wish us luck! Poor girl has to teach herself how to use it, since none of us know bubkiss about snowboarding.
The girl llamas are doing wonderfully. Bandito, however, isn't handling winter so well. For the past week, he's had trouble getting up from the cush position, and yesterday he couldn't stand at all. He was getting hypothermic outside on the ground, so the kids and I got him onto a tarp (no easy feat) and pulled him on the snow into the garage, where he's been since then. The vet seems to think that getting his core temp back up will help him to get moving again. Poor guy is just cold to the bone.
I've been spending lots of time in the garage give him extra attention, food treats, and shoulder rubs and wrapping him in blankets warmed in the dryer. Keep him in your thoughts, please. If he can't walk by tomorrow, we need to make a hard decision.

I've made my annual list of goals (I don't like to call them "resolutions") to include the usual: work out more, create a financial budget, make weekly meal plans; and a few new ones: enroll the kids in a summer camp, find some new llama trails to hike, make a summer reading plan for Sam.

I can't remember if I've blogged about Sam, but last month he was tested for learning disabilities, and we found out he qualifies for help in both reading and writing. I've been concerned about his reading skills for the last two years, but chalked it up to the myth that boys are "slower learners" than girls at his age. And his writing skills were, in my opinion, ever further behind than his reading. He all but refused to even pick up a pencil at school. Unfortunately, I thought it was a behavior problem, and not a learning problem.

The testing gave me a ton of valuable information and insight into his strengths and weaknesses in reading, writing and math. And I learned just what qualifies as a "learning disability". The short version is, through testing, they look for a certain level of discrepancy between cognitive ability and actual performance. In other words, they measure his IQ, then measure his actual current level of abilities in those three areas, and if there's a large enough "gap", then it's labeled as a disability.

I learned he has "average intelligence". His IQ falls pretty much in the middle of the "normal" range. This was GOOD news. His performance in reading and writing, though, fall in the "low average" to "very low" range. He reads at an early first grade level (he's halfway through second grade now) and writes at a Kindergarten level, with a few writing skills falling in the pre-K level. Most of his math skills are in the "average" level.

They test for dozens of specific areas of ability, and Sam's scores were everywhere from pre-K to mid-eighth grade level. His strengths are: he has an amazing memory for detail, and when he hears a story read, his comprehension and re-telling abilities are 7th to 8th grade level. When he reads a story, though, comprehension falls to the Kindergarten level. Knowing this, we'll focus on giving him oral instruction rather than written, letting him take his spelling tests orally, things like that. I'm really excited about using these new techniques to help him!

So he has started going to the resource room twice a day, 4 days a week for reading and writing help. One of my main goals for this year is to focus on educating myself on dyslexia, and multi-sensory education methods so I can do everything in my power to help him improve his reading and writing skills.

What I learned from this? Follow my instincts and don't listen to myths or people who tell me what's "normal" when my gut tells me it's wrong. Then don't waste time worrying about time lost, just focus on moving forward and making progress. :)

So...that's going to be my theme for 2008: PROGRESS. Count the progress made. And be HAPPY for it!

No comments: