Author Archive: TommyK

Shapes and Such

“Two or more lines that meet at a point are called intersecting lines.”

“Two lines that intersect and form right angles are called perpendicular lines. The symbol ⊥ is used to denote perpendicular lines.”

“Two lines, both in the same plane, that never intersect are called parallel lines. Parallel lines remain the same distance apart at all times.”

AnglesKaitlyn asked me to help her review her math last night for a test she has tomorrow, and it took me a second to realize what exactly she was studying.  Geometry.  In third grade.  I am fairly certain that when I was in third grade, we were not learning geometry yet.  At least not as in depth as what she seems to be learning; if we were taught geometry, it was very basic at best.

In addition to having to identify different angles (which was, surprisingly, what she had the most trouble with), she also had to identify different shapes.  Shapes that you and I might have to think twice about before we could positively identify.  Like a rhombus.  Kaitlyn had no trouble with identifying a rhombus at all.  Trapezoid?  No problem there, either.  Rhombus

Kaitlyn had little trouble with defining the different types of lines, too.  It did get a tad difficult when she had to try to picture whether lines on a trapezoid were parallel or intersecting, since they terminate at a defined point; I had to show her that to find out for sure, all she had to do was take her pencil and continue the lines, and she would have her answer.  It was like a light bulb went off in her head when I showed her that.  TrapezoidFSA testing continues today as well, and runs through Thursday.  I don’t think she will see much geometry on the math section though.




Calendar Circledschoolhouse1Kaitlyn coined a new word over the weekend, and I think it perfectly embodies how she is feeling, and how I suspect a lot of students in her class and grade are feeling today.  Her new word is “nervocited,” and it is a combination of “nervous” and “excited,” and she used it to describe how she feels going into this week’s Florida Standards Assessments testing (FSA).  As parents, Amber and I use different, more colorful words for these types of tests.

Throughout the entire school year, pretty much every lesson taught, every piece of homework completed, and every test taken has been with this week in mind.  And I think it is a little ridiculous.  Teachers are hamstrung from really impacting their students more than they do (they are doing the best they can while staying within the guidelines of the testing structure), and students are missing out on tremendous learning experiences (my teachers always seemed to be able to do a fine job in getting us ready for our testing times while making school fun).

As is always the case with Kaitlyn, she is really stressed about the testing.  She sets such lofty expectations for herself, and Amber and I know that she gets way too worked up about things like this.  We try to impress upon her that the most important thing is that she remain calm, and she will do great.

I don’t know if the new FSA testing will be better or worse for students and teachers than the old FCAT was, but if the buildup is any indication, it will be more unnecessary stress on students and teachers.  Since this is the first year of the testing, there is no baseline on which students will be graded, so that will be fun I’m sure (that was the case about a month ago when I last spoke to Kaitlyn’s teacher about the testing).

albert-einsteinAmber and I are ready for Kaitlyn to come home from school every night looking like the guy on the right over there, and that will be if the testing went well!  No student in third grade should have this level of stress at 8 or 9 years old; all that does is decrease the likelihood that they will continue to enjoy going to school, although I have a feeling that won’t ever be a problem for Kaitlyn.

This is going to be a tough week in our house.


It’s Almost Here

LIUBA week from today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day.  Around the world, houses, like ours, and landmarks will be bathed in blue to help raise awareness for autism.  As we have in past years, Amber and I will surely wear blue to work, and we will probably make sure Kaitlyn wears blue to school.

I have written a lot about World Autism Awareness Day in past years (here, here, here, here, and here) both happily sharing our experiences and of places that have gone blue for the day, and also of disappointment in the lack of participation by others.  Those emotions are sure to be there again next Thursday.  Capitol Building 2012

For us, autism awareness is not a one-day or one-month thing, and autism does not leave our lives on April 3.  Amber and I do everything we can to raise awareness every day, and by reading these entries, you are helping, too.  And we thank you.

The public’s collective understanding of autism and those on the spectrum, like Kaitlyn, is getting stronger and stronger.  There is still a long way to go, but each baby step brings us that much closer to understanding and acceptance.

Those on the spectrum are blessed with so many amazing attributes.  Kaitlyn is one of the most caring and compassionate people I know; she has a huge heart for everyone, and truly sees the best in everyone.  She is extremely smart and driven to succeed in school.  She has a love of the world around her, and a deep commitment to making the world a better place.  Her love of dolphins is admirable, too.  Kaitlyn does have challenges, too, and chief among them is low self-esteem and self-confidence, which Amber and I work constantly on improving in her.  She is coming to understand her Asperger’s more, and that scares her sometimes, which just crushes Amber and I.

We are fortunate to have a great support system in place here, and that was very evident when I shared Kaitlyn’s angst earlier this month; the support we received from our Facebook friends was tremendous, and the comments on there meant the world to us.

While we are surrounded by so many great people, not every family in our situation is.  Every day, they face uncertainty and are filled with doubt that they are doing a great job.  If that is you and you are reading this, you are doing a great job just be being there for your loved one on the spectrum; if you are the family or friend of someone who cares for someone on the spectrum, reach our to them and be there for them.  Encourage them.

Autism Awareness is about more than just one day, it is the continued support of those on the spectrum and those who devote their lives daily to ensuring that their loved one is not slighted or doesn’t live in fear of being “different.”

Aspergers 1

It’s About Time

We listen to county music in our house.  A lot.  If Amber had her way, that would be all that we ever listen to (I sneak in some Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett, and random classic rock sometimes).  Kaitlyn has pretty much grown up listening to country, and given her age, it makes sense that she tends to favor the new acts.  She enjoys The Band Perry, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Cole Swindell, and Chase Rice, and would listen to Florida Georgia Line non-stop if we let her.  She even likes some George Strait on occasion.

For the longest time, I tried to get her to enjoy some Garth Brooks since he is my absolute favorite artist, but she was having none of it.  I had just about given up hope, until just recently.  Garth

Maybe it had something to do with my excitement about his new release back in November, or maybe Kaitlyn just felt bad for me and decided to give him a listen.  Whatever the reason, Kaitlyn has finally come around.  And it’s about darn time, too!

Over the past month or so, I have overheard her a few times singing along to whatever Garth song was being played on the radio at the time.  She’ll knows the words to “The Thunder Rolls,” and most of “Friends In Low Places” (although she doesn’t know the words to the third verse. Yet.).  She even shared my excitement this morning when we heard two Garth songs on two different stations over the course of about three minutes; it really doesn’t get much better than that.  And just when I thought my day couldn’t get better, Kaitlyn asked if I would change out a few CDs in the car so we could listen to some Garth tomorrow morning.

I am beyond ecstatic that I have finally made Kaitlyn into even a small Garth fan.

Just A Little Reprogramming

Kaitlyn certainly had a blast on her Spring Break last week.  Between daily bike rides and a trip to Sea World and the American Girl store, it is safe to say that she had a great time.  And Amber and I are happy that she was able to spend some time away from us, which gave her a chance to miss us and for us to miss her.  Kaitlyn has already begun planning for next year’s Spring Break, and from the looks of it, she plans to exceed the fun from this year.  She has even come up with a schedule for the week, but that will have to be approved by us, Amber’s mom, and Amber’s dad before it will be finalized.

Of course, it also gave Kaitlyn a chance to have some additional flexibility with her daily schedule and with what rules were in place.

BinaryKaitlyn being gone for a week also means that Amber and I have to spend some time doing a little reprogramming.  Because she thrives on routine and structure, deviations can be troublesome at times.  Amber and I have come to expect that.

For example, it can take us close to a week to get Kaitlyn back on track after family visits for a weekend; it is both enjoyable and overwhelming to her to have family come visit for any length.  With that knowledge, you can only imagine the uphill climb Amber and I have been on since the weekend.

Most of what has needed work since the weekend has just been getting Kaitlyn back on a regular evening schedule.  It has been somewhat difficult to get her to get unwound at night, and even her reading time has been an adventure, which is way out of character.

I have little doubt that we will get Kaitlyn back on track sooner rather than later.  Hopefully the process will be accelerated since she started back to school today, and will be around her friends and be back to a regular routine.



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