Friday, September 19, 2008

Tiger Cubs - More Learning Opportunities!

Spawn joined Cub Scouts two Mondays ago. As a Tiger Cub, technically, the whole family joined. Tiger Cubs attend all meetings with their Akela or Akelas (an adult leader or mentor). This past Monday was our first meeting. The boys began learning The Cub Scout Motto, The Cub Scout Promise, and The Law of the Pack. We talked about what we did this summer, learned about the importance of the popcorn fundraiser to cover the cost of patches and badges, and the boys played some foosball at the end of the meeting.

I'm sure the pace will pick up some soon - especially now that I've volunteered to be their Den Leader! :O :D It sounds like fun and the Cub Scouts do so many cool things. Next week we're going on a steam train ride to a corn maze. The week after that - we're going to a Lehigh U football game for Scout Day. Tomorrow, we're doing our first Show and Sell - where the Cub Scouts man a table in front of our local Kmart and sell popcorn on the spot rather than taking orders. Spawn and I will be manning the table with other Scouts for two hours tomorrow afternoon. It's an opportunity for the boys to practice their public speaking skills, use their good manners, and earn some money for their account - to defray the costs of their activities. Spawn isn't altogether certain how he feels about Scouts. I think he'll warm up to it soon enough after he's had a chance to make friends with some of the other boys. We're really pleased with our decision to join Cub Scouts and volunteer our time to the organization.

It's one more layer of opportunity to enrich Spawn's education. I'm so pleased that we have this opportunity!

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Saturday, September 6, 2008

We're Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF!

Spawn's charter school is founded on the basic concept of teaching children the importance of leadership and community service - building better communities by making better leaders. Spawn is leading his own community service project this fall - he's trying to raise $50 for UNICEF through donations on Halloween and an additional $50 for UNICEF through sponsorship of his October reading challenge.

Spawn loves trick-or-treating, but most of the candy he collects he can't eat due to his sensitivity to red and yellow food dye and his steel crown - no sticky foods - they could pull it off! He wants to trick-or-treat, so he's going to trick-or-treat for others this year. You can help Spawn reach his goal (and possibly exceed it!) by visiting [link no longer available] .

UPDATE 9/7/08: Spawn is also looking for sponsors to pledge per book for every book he reads in October to add to his UNICEF donation collection. (This could be as much as 1 - 2 books a day or as little as 3 books a week.)

Thank you for helping Spawn with his first community service experience!

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of 1st Grade on the Books!!!

It's 2:00 AM, Sept. 3, 2008. Spawn's 1st day went much more smoothly than last year. Still a few bumps in the road, but nothing that isn't managable with a few phone calls to the school and some help from Spawn's new teacher to ease the transition. We won't have a full day's work for at least another week or so. PALCS eases all students gently into the workload to help new families transition to the cyber school system. His first speech therapy session is tomorrow and he's so looking forward to seeing his speech therapist!

We've been packing lunch for Spawn all summer to take to summer recreation - mostly lunch-boxy snacks and quick stuff. Not the greatest choices. So we made the switch to Japanese-style bento lunches. Check out for more info about packing healthy, speedy bentos. Spawn is going through a big growth spurt right now, so the night before his first day, he gobbled up most of the pretty, colorful foods I'd set aside for his lunch. No cucumber slices, no multi-grain crackers, no Yo Kids yogurt to make a pretty bento the first day. :( What he did get instead (which isn't the prettiest bento ever, but we're still learning) is 8 tortellini with 2 T. of marinara for dipping, 2 T. of pistachios, 2 slices of American cheese, and a small pear, cubed, with a cup of whole milk.

Small Bento

We took the traditional first day of school photos in the afternoon and did the annual first day of school survey questions.

Small - Big Smiles 1st Day 1st Grade

Then we played outside for a bit and Spawn took a spin on his bike. He's still learning and backing up and steering are concepts he just hasn't grasped yet. :D

Small - Outta My Way!

Small - Still Learning the Ropes

Small - And He's Off!!!

I want to address something that's been coming up a lot lately. We've gotten comments from family, friends, and here on our blog about the side effects of Spawn's meds - from people who judge who are not qualified to treat or diagnose neurological disorders or conditions. Such comments are uninformed and unwarranted. I approved a comment just today that was made anonymously over the summer (I'm sorry, I haven't figured out what blog entry the comment was posted to yet) about concerns over the side effects of Spawn's medication. It is the last anonymous comment that I will read or moderate/approve on this subject. If you want to comment on it, you'll need to participate in the conversation with myself and Spawn's father rather than judge anonymously from a safe distance and run.

Spawn is thriving on his ADHD medication. It has changed his life and the dynamics of our family for the better. ADHD is a real condition - an imbalance of neuro-transmitters in the brain. I am not a doctor, but I do believe that it is wrong to withhold medication that could improve the quality of someone's life by correcting a chemical imbalance that every other person on earth takes for granted. My job as his mom is to give him every opportunity to excel to the best of his abilities - not to worry about what others will think of me "medicating" my son. His pediatrician is the one medicating him and he's fully qualified to do so. We maintain a journal of his symptoms, successes, and obstacles and review it with his pediatrician every few months.

The only side effect of his medication that requires constant scrutiny is his weight. Like many children with ADHD who require stimulant-type medication, Spawn doesn't have much of an appetite during the day. We mitigate the effect of the medication by starting off his day with a BIG breakfast of fruit, dairy, protein, and grains, small, but nutrient-and-calorie-packed snacks throughout the day, and a late, BIG dinner when Spawn's appetite comes back in the evening. He'll probably always be quite slim because he's very active and not prone to eating junk or overeating in any measure. We limit him to mostly organic foods and foods without red and yellow food dyes and artificial flavors.

Now, to address the message that I approved today that was posted back in July. The anonymous comment implied that his multiple "severe" side effects outweighed the benefits of his medication. Also, that gifted children are often misdiagnosed as having ADHD. What so many people are unaware of is that ADHD causes some children (and adults) to become hyperfocused or especially gifted in certain disciplines. (Michael Phelps is an outstanding example of this hyperfocus gift!) Many children with ADHD are gifted. Their brains work differently than ours. And for some of them - the disorder or condition is a gift itself! Medication and therapy for ADHD children helps them learn coping skills to combat their inattention and imulsivity in a world where children must fit into a prescribed role and adhere to society's rules - rules and norms that they cannot relate to without treatment and therapy.

I'm unaware of what other side effects the anonymous comment was referring to. Spawn has behavioral issues unrelated to his condition or his medication that were problematic long before he ever began taking his medication - namely how he relates to other children. He is an only child who lives in a neighborhood without any other children his age to play with.

I can only assume that his social abilities were the supposed "side effects" you were referring to. Rest assured, Spawn has friends and has been making great strides thanks to his behavior modification therapy and medication that have helped him to develop coping skills for dealing with his shyness and inability to relate to his peers. We learned over the last 6 months about the importance of a strict routine for schoolwork/bedtime/meals/activites and how lapses in routine can inhibit his coping mechanisms and his ability to relate to children his own age. We are proactive with his care and his diet. We don't rely solely on medication to treat him. The medication is merely a tool in our arsenal. ;)

The effect of his medication is strictly monitored by his doctors, teachers, and his father and I. We look forward to another challenging school year and will continue to challenge him to come out of his shell and find new opportunities for him to make new friends and learn new skills!

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom
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