Rainy Friday pick-me-up

Spelt coffee cake and hot chocolate

The weather here has definitely made a sharp turn towards autumn and it’s raining today. Going back to school has been tiring and stressful for our younger son, who has a somewhat strained relationship with school at the best of times. I could think of nothing better to greet him with when he came home than coffee cake and hot chocolate with a marshmallow garnish.

All four of us were able to gather round the table for this snack, taking a few moments to share our day and what we’d been up to so far. The cake was a hit. Although it is a fairly traditional confection with quite a lot of sugar in it, I always use 100% spelt flour for a lot more fibre, and the generously applied filling/topping is actually mostly ground up walnuts. My youngest would be shocked to know that he’s eating nuts, but in this case what he doesn’t know is simply good for him.

Young boy enjoying cake and hot chocolate

10 thoughts on “Rainy Friday pick-me-up

  1. Coffee cake, yum, haven’t made it in ages, thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been known to use hot chocolate as a cheer-me-up after school many a time, but we’re still in short sleeves here, and not a drop of rain in sight – yet, so more likely to be apple juice just now.

    Getting back to the school routine is hard on kids even when they enjoy school in general. My sympathies for your wee boy. It is hard, especially when you have to go and spend all day doing something that gives you little pleasure. My youngest had social struggles in her primary years and suffered from “schoolitis” many many mornings. We’re past that now (she’s in high school, and in a cohort of wonderful friends) but she still remembers those early days with a tinge of sadness in her voice.

    I have a friend who’s eldest son has Asperger’s – elementary school was just plain painfjul for him, no two ways about it. He’s very high functioning, fortunately and is much happier in high school where ironically the student body seems far more accepting of differences – but back in elementary school he needed a lot of school and home support to get through each day – fellow students could be very cruel.

    Fortunately, there’s chocolate and mothers who make coffee cake in this world and it may not make school better, but I’m sure it lifts the spirits.

    1. This comment really warmed my heart – thank you for taking the time. It’s inspiring to hear of children who found elementary school hard but then went on to flourish in high school!

      My older son is such a natural, self-disciplined student and enjoys school so much, that I was in no way prepared for the challenges my youngest would face, with a reading/writing focused learning disability and a history of medical issues that have affected his personality and behaviour. School is basically emotionally exhausting for him, and it’s so frustrating, as he is more than intellectually up to the tasks at hand (his vocabulary and spoken communication is superior to most adults, in truth). He has some traits similiar to Asperger’s and, boy, does that make life hard. I really do take heart about the notion that high school could simply be a more accepting place for difference.

      In the meantime, we try to stay on top of what’s happening for him, seeing where we can make a difference, and creating a soft landing at home. I’ve always wanted to homeschool him, and this is the year when I may have to break down all of my previous thinking around that and start all over in assessing it as an option, as the whole teaching style at my son’s (previously wonderful) school has changed this year with a new principal.

      I’m envious of your still-warm weather; we’ve been summarily thrown into autumn after a long, hot summer. I’m thankful for the rain we’ve had though, it was so badly needed.

  2. Do you have charter schools in your area? They are schools that use government money, but are privately run. They tend to be much smaller (there’s a charter school near me that only has 27 students), with a very good teacher/student ratio. Kids who dislike school for one reason or another, be it Asperger’s or some other way of being that is different from the norm, tend to very much enjoy charter schools. I have Asperger’s, and went to a monitor school (the precurser to today’s charter schools) almost my entire childhood. I found that it really helped with my socialization, as well as ability to find opportunities for learning.

    1. You know Libby, I’m really not sure that we do, but that’s really made me think. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this and getting more input is extremely helpful. Hearing about your own experience is just amazing to me; did you have a diagnosis for Asperger’s as a child, or did that come later? Did things just get easier as you became increasingly socialized?

      Our son seems to defy diagnosis, but we’re pretty clear about what he and we have to deal with and have done everything in terms of getting recommendations from a psychologist, etc. The whole social aspect of school is pretty painful, and it’s hard for me to watch this year as the school seems to have lost the will or the ability to accommodate him. He keeps getting into trouble for things that we feel are very silly and avoidable. Sigh. This is definitely a big year for us in this regard; it’s time for a change and it’s going to take no small amount of work. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this Libby.

      1. I didn’t get a diagnosis until a few years ago, when I entered my PhD program, and one of the psychology students at my school tested me. It finally clicked then, after the diagnosis, and I understood all of the socialization issues that I had in school. I was a good student, but not highly socialized. My father had to teach me how to behave in situations. Even then, I didn’t always get it right. Today, I do much better. I’m an engineer, and a social scientist (so funny that I study human behavior for a living, when I never could grasp it as a child). Your son will eventually get it too, but he is likely very frustrated every day (as I was). You might start with talking with the school counselor. If that isn’t helpful, then move on to a specialist in human learning (there might be one in your school district). You can also investigate specialty schools where the teacher to student ratio is better. It’s not that your son isn’t smart, because if he has Asperger’s then he’s probably smarter than average. He learns differently though, and may be bothered by things that don’t bother others. He may need an stimulus-free environment. The reason he is getting in to trouble is because the system he is in is optimized for a different type of learner. He just needs to be in a system that works for him.

      2. That must have been a big moment for you Libby, when past experience suddenly made sense in a new way! We’ve spent three years really trying to understand our son and how best to help him, and we’ve learned a lot, but it doesn’t make it easy. We have a fair amount of insight into triggers and how he sees the world: he has trouble reading other people and overreacts in many situations, for example, and he also has a view of the world that is like Occam’s Razor – he’s incredibly bright, and if he sums up a situation in its simplest form, he then cannot be persuaded to hear anything of context or related information and is impossible to reason with. You can probably imagine how this can make simple day to day negotiations with a nine-year old very difficult. Even with that insight we still struggle with how to help smooth the way for him and when he’s stressed from being out in the world, home life can become extremely trying for periods. The education system is just not designed for kids like him, and just when I think we’ve made arrangements that will help him (ie getting the school to agree to minimize transitions in his day), a substitute teacher comes along who is apparently given no background on him and he’s treated like everyone else. I realize that they may just not have the resources to accommodate him consistently, and we’re back to knowing that we’re on our own, but I feel much less alone when I hear from friends like you who are generous about sharing their own experience.

  3. Go to the library and check out the book Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin. Really, any book that she has written will be a good start. She writes about Asberger’s…maybe there will be something in the book that helps you.

    1. Hi Libby; just wanted to let you know that I’m well into Animals in Translation after getting it at our local library. It’s a great read and is definitely of value for us.

      1. It’s a very interesting book, and I’m glad you’re enjoying it. There’s a movie about the same author, which you also might be able to find at the library.

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