OK, you would think that all of the graduation-from-high-school stuff last month would have tipped me off but I was still very excited today when my soon-to-be 18-year-old son Paul finally registered for his Fall classes at Foothill College today! Foothill is a 53-year-old community college set on 122 wooded acres in Los Altos Hills, California (south of San Francisco). Their web-based registration system is still messed up so Paul finally gave up and went to the school to register in person but it is done at last. He will take Intermediate Algebra (lecture and lab), Ceramics, and a study skills class. He met with a college counselor at the Disability Resource Center who recommended this light load his first quarter so he could get used to being in college.
I am so proud! When your kid has disabilities, you take every little progress as a triumph!
Images Copyright Katy Dickinson 2010
From 7-11 am this morning, the Willow Glen Lions Club served 220 pancake breakfasts during the first half of its two-day charity fundraiser at the Hot San Jose Nights vintage and historical car event (Santa Clara Fairgrounds). We gave away free helium balloons and made balloon lions for the little kids. All proceeds will go toward this summer’s camp scholarships for the Diabetes Society (in Willow Glen). The Willow Glen Lions are also collecting eyeglasses to be recycled – given to needy people at no charge.
The car show features a huge variety of vehicles, including a historic Kenworth truck, sports cars from many eras, a red 1957 Chevrolet, a tank, and a huge motorcycle, the world’s largest, said to cost $300,000.
Here are some pictures from today:
Images by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher, Copyright 2010
After much struggle, my son graduated from High School! Hooray! Paul graduated with his Palo Alto High School class of 2010 in a ceremony attended by his parents and grandparents. His sister Jessica listened by cell phone to Paul’s name being announced as he walked to receive his diploma. Jessica is in Washington DC, where she is working as a summer intern for the Polaris Project (“For a World Without Slavery”).
Paul made his way through High School despite his social-cognitive learning disability, dyslexia, dysgraphia, brain surgery, and debilitating headaches. He stubbornly continued to do six or more hours of homework every day (including weekends) up until the week of finals – catching up after we were Stranded in Egypt over Spring Break. He took a CPR Saturday class just before finals after a last-minute note from the school said he needed that training to graduate. Other kids in Paul’s class were honored for their academic, sports, and musical achievements. Paul won through to the end, and that was good enough. We are so proud! This week, Paul is going to visit Jessica in Washington DC (his first solo trip). He starts at Foothill College in August.
Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher
This is my 1,001 blog post since 2005!
Last week, I started working as the Camp Registrar for the Diabetes Society in Willow Glen, California. My friend Kat Carpenter (who at 20-ish is also an officer of the newly-chartered Willow Glen Lions Club) is the Camp Director. I decided to take this position as a contractor not because of the glamor or great pay but because it is a job that needs doing and it will help get me thinking new thoughts and making new contacts. After 26 years working for Sun Microsystems, I think a change in perspective will help me in transitioning to a new regular job.
The Diabetes Society has been through some serious financial troubles recently. However, they are now reorganized and offering their summer camps for kids and teens with Type 1 Diabetes. Three of the camps are already full with waiting lists. Usually camp registration starts in January but this year it opened in March. I have been getting the records set up, sorting out the checks and credit card payments, updating web pages, answering the Camp Department phone, and generally helping out. John has been supporting me and helping with the Diabetes Society’s IT infrastructure. My knowledge of Microsoft Excel and Word Mail Merge is increasing daily!
This coming Saturday, I will give my second talk at an Orion Academy‘s “Annual Seminar on Post-Secondary Transition Planning for Young Adults with Aspergers, NLD and other Neurocognitive Deficits”. The 4th Orion annual seminar will be held:
March 20, 2010
8:30 AM – 4 PM
Lafayette Park Hotel
Here my presentation for this year: What Happens After College? – Kids with Neurocognitive Disability Working in Engineering and Computing”.
My talk of the same title from last year is linked to my 7 April 2009 blog entry. As the Mom of a 17-year-old son with social-cognitive disabilities, this seminar is of particular interest. I enjoyed speaking to Orion parents but I also learn a great deal from the other parents and presenters. My son Paul just registered for the Spring Semester at Foothill College so that he can take his first college class (“Introduction to College and Accomodations”) during his last semester as a High School Senior. I am looking forward to hearing advice on the High School – College transition at Saturday’s seminar.
It was fun to refine and extend my slides from last year. The Benefits/Disadvantages of Neurocognitive Disability table gives me a new perspective every time I update it. (This was first published in my Living in a Cat World blog entry dated 15 May 2008.) I added a new picture of a geek at work (with his permission, of course), plus new geek-wear images from Think Geek and the XKCD Store. I was very pleased to find an excellent new quote by the famously-autistic and famously-successful Temple Grandin:
“Jane Goodall went in the back door to become an ethologist. That’s something I’ve thought about a lot, because people with autism usually have to go in the back door. We have trouble following the normal paths. We don’t do very well in interviews, which is a big problem for us, and a lot of autistic people also have extremely ‘uneven’ academic skills… I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing if there weren’t any back doors.”
(From Animals Make Us Human, 2009, by Temple Grandin)
29 Dec 2016: Links Updated
My son Paul is a Senior at Paly (Palo Alto High School) this year. I went to our final “Back to School” parents’ night last week. Starting at 6:45 pm on 10 September, I followed Paul’s daily schedule, managed to find all of his classrooms (crisscrossing the big campus as it grew dark), and talked with all of his teachers.
Paul is happy to be taking Geology, Advanced Sculpture, and Algebra-2 all year. He was surprised at how much he is also enjoying his semester-long Living Skills and Economics classes. Next semester, Economics is replaced by Sociology/History, and Living Skills is replaced by World Literature. Paul also has a Study Skills period so that he gets regular support for his learning disabilities. Paul is enjoying being the big guy in most of his classes this year, both as a Senior and because he stands almost six feet tall.
During the last three-plus years, we have found Paly to be either a good college preparatory school or a good school to support teens with physical and learning disabilities. Paly seems to do much less well teaching and supporting average kids. My family’s struggles with Paly have often been because Paul is in two groups which have no provision for overlap: he is intelligent and college-bound, and he has disabilities. Paly has good classes and services for one group or the other. Paly teachers are often excellent but we have also run into some who have minimal abilities (or desire) to support disabled students, despite our Individualized Education Program (IEP).
I observe that Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) teachers and administrators are under growing stress from overcrowded aging facilities plus social problems such as the increasing number of High School suicides in Palo Alto. We will leave Paly in June with mixed feelings.
Images Copyright 2009 by Katy Dickinson
My 16-year-old son Paul has had a rough year. Our family’s continuing medical adventure began when Paul started having chronic and severe headaches in January. We have spent the last six months with Pediatricians, Neurologists, Neurosurgeons, Pain Specialists, Psychologists and Psychiatrists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, and Nurse practitioners. Recently, Paul has benefited from Chiropractic care in addition to the medicines provided by the Pain Management Clinic at Packard Children’s Hospital.
Yesterday was Paul’s last day at the Packard Hospital School. He is now a Senior in High School and is looking forward to going back to Paly in September. The Hospital School has a good art, theater, and science program for its patient students. Here is Paul with some of his recent art:
|punched out sun face masks
||wire and bead fish
Some of Paul’s art from earlier this year:
|three ceramic mugs
||ceramic leaf tray
Images Copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson