Let’s See Where This Path Leads

This week has been one of ups and downs. We’ve seen many positive behaviors, like being able to attend and enjoy a crowded local Christmas event and helping bring in groceries after a shopping trip without even being asked. We’ve seen some sensory overwhelm behaviors, like not enjoying the local Christmas parade and not being able to choose a Christmas ornament due to there being too many choices. We’ve seen some aggressive behaviors like swinging fists in people’s faces and hitting and biting when highly upset or anxious. And we’ve seen some highly concerning behaviors that seem like they could be pointing to another crisis,  like an increased urge to plan to hurt others for pleasure. And of course there’s the constant eating and increased sleep needs to top it all off.

I get regular calls from an autism care coordinator with our insurance company and when I told him about our progress with the school, he was encouraged and told me that while he has heard stories from other parents across the nation of other school districts with special needs services of this caliber, he’s heard many many more stories of schools districts that don’t offer anywhere near the amount of support were being offered. He said there’s definitely something different and special about this school from what I’ve told him. Lucky us!

This morning the school special education coordinator, behavior specialist, and diagnostician came over to our house. I’ve been preparing Javan for their visit for near on a week and I expected it to go well after their last visit was so successful. But it did not go well. See, last time they were just getting him used to their presence and building relationship and trust. This time the expected him to do stuff. He was having none of it. He literally answered three question and that was that. He was very avoidant, pretending to be asleep during the testing and sleep talking to boot. Does mumbling “Mom, there’s a giant ice cream cone in the living room” count as a test answer?  Probably not. He swung in their faces, but was careful not to hit them. Dad was another story. He was blocking Javan from going outside and he got plenty of hits and bites.

It was difficult to converse with all that going on, but we were able to talk about a few things. First off, they’re really thinking after observing him more that Javan might fit in better in the life skills room than the behavior room. He’d be higher functioning than the other kids in the life skills room, but they said he’s just so much gentler than the other kids in the behavior room and they don’t want him picking up their behaviors. Whoa, wait a minute, rewind. Did someone just say my kid was gentler than other kids?! That’s a first! They also said the life skills room has more technology he can benefit from since he’s so paper/pencil challenged. And, where the behavior room is just one open room, the life skills room is one room that’s sort of divided into three smaller rooms, which will make it easier to pull him aside for individual instruction and kind of give him areas to escape if overwhelmed.  It also has its own bathroom, which would be a major plus. It’s also directly across the hall from the sensory room Javan loved so much. We haven’t seen the life skills room yet, but they’re going to email me some pictures and we’ll visit it sometime. The behavior specialist also confirmed my thoughts that Javan will need a private aide that’s dedicated just to him and she suggested maybe trying to find a male aide which I think is an excellent idea.

Next week, the school occupational therapist will come by for a sensory evaluation. We’re looking at a tentative start date in late January if all goes as planned. It still gives me butterflies in my stomach thinking about sending him to school. It’s been a long time since I’ve shared responsibility for my kid and his personal growth. It’s a big step to take. My friends keep reminding me that I’m not committing to continue down this path forever; I’m only committing to try it and see where it leads. So here we go!

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