Our journey in the Autism Spectrum

Posts tagged ‘processing’

They Accepted

This last part of the school year has been a bit challenging for our little dude. We are getting some notes coming home in his daily binder; “rough day”, “agitated”, “did not want to work with classmates in group”, “impatient”, “not waiting his turn”, etc. It’s the end of the school year and Henry is having a hard time holding it together some days. This is not surprising to me for a kid with an autism diagnosis. We work daily in the area of his social/emotional challenges. Always. Still.

Last week I had gotten a note and a call from the principal’s office that Henry was bothering some girls on the playground and he reached out and grabbed one of them by the shirt. This week a note came home, “arguing today”. Henry doesn’t like to get into trouble. And he really doesn’t like to talk about it when he does get into it. You can almost see how physically painful it is for him to admit he is wrong or to apologize for something. We have been working VERY hard on how to handle this in an acceptable manner. He wants to play with the other kids sometimes but he just doesn’t know how. Nor does he get those social cues when the kids don’t want to play with him or play his way. Another not-so-surprising aspect of his autism diagnosis. This is his most challenging area for sure! I was wondering if this most recent note had something to do with the playground issue from last week. I worry a great deal about what these social challenges might mean for Henry as he grows up. For how long will these challenges be oh-so-challenging for him? Will he ever learn how to navigate these waters appropriately? Will the kids ever understand and accept him for who he is?

When I questioned Henry about who he was arguing with I got the typical first response I usually get from him, “I don’t want to talk about it!” He had just come home from school which is a rough time of day anyway. Fine. Let him decompress.

In continuing with our vigilance in using everything as a possible teachable moment, later that night before bed when all was quieting down, I asked him again who he was arguing with. “Mrs. Q.” (This is his SSD resource teacher that he adores so I was beginning to worry what this was all about.)

“Why were you arguing with Mrs. Q?”

“I don’t know, Mom. Sometimes it seems like I just can’t help it.”

Fair enough. Not that this is acceptable, mind you, but at least he was thinking about it and talking about it calmly with me.

“Well,” I said, “don’t you think you should apologize to Mrs. Q for your behavior?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, good. So when do you see her next?”

“I see her every day, Mom.” he told me in his “duh!” tone.

“Okay, so the next time you are with her you should apologize and try to work harder at not arguing with her. Alright?”

“Yeah, okay.”

I didn’t say anymore about it after that until he got home from school the next day. “Hey, dude, did you talk with Mrs. Q?”

“Yes, and I said I was sorry and I will try to be better.” (I don’t know if he actually did apologize to her but for now I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.) I figured this was the end of it at this point and we let it go.

However, this morning while the little ones were eating breakfast and I was getting clothes ready for the day, Henry came to me and said, “Mom, you know how I told you I apologized to Mrs. Q?”

Uh oh…”Yes, I remember.”

“Weeeellllllllll, I also apologized to the girls I was bothering the other day.” And with a big grin on his face he said, “And they accepted!”

ummmm….wow! Now, I don’t know if there was any adult intervention or whether he did this on his own but still, big. huge. wow.

“Oh, dude! That is really great! I am so proud of you! Great job!” But, again, as we continually try to practice and remind and practice more, I couldn’t help adding, “So now that you said you were sorry for that, you will try hard and not bother them anymore, right?” While he is getting better at saying he is sorry, he still has a hard time stopping some of the behaviors.

“Right. But can I play with them?”

“Of course! But you need to asked them if you can play with them first. And if they say no, then you need to leave them alone, okay?”

“Yeah. But then can I still wave to them and say hi?”

Oh my sweet little dude! “Yes! That would be very nice of you!”

I realize that Henry’s classmates will never really understand how hard all of this social interaction is for him. But today, I feel we are one more step closer to acceptance!

Good Morning Peep, Chirp & Quack

This morning at 6:30pm I was awakened by my little dude. He crawled into bed and snuggled up, sleepily asking, “Watch a show?”

I rolled over just enough to reach for the TV remote from the dressing table but not enough to disturb his closeness. I immediately relinquished the remote and his fingers deftly worked the buttons to search for the subject of his latest intense interest.  PEEP and the Big Wide World. Morning, noon, night and various times in between. As I lay there, eyes closed, listening to Joan Cusack and envisioning her trying desperately to drink  soda from a can (name that movie!),  I pondered why PEEP, of all the shows we watch (we’re a TV/video family, I will admit. Temple Grandin would be appalled!) why would this one hold his interest for so long over these many past months?

The more I thought about it I began to see. Three friends, Peep, Chirp and Quack, all sort of odd in their own ways, go out and explore their “world”. They have adventures in science as they learn about their environment and each other; their differences and their sameness in their surroundings. Processing, logic, trial and error, science. Yep, right in my dude’s wheelhouse.  As Joan  continued to narrate this morning, I began to think about Henry’s world over this last week. SO MANY NEW THINGS all in one week. LOTS of new experiences and data to PROCESS. Even more when you take in to account our entire summer!

In this past week alone, Henry experienced soccer outside of our backyard for the first time, surrounded by strangers, thrown into the mix right away. At his Kindergarten orientation he went into his new classroom (eventually) at a new school for the very first time. Every single person and thing in that room was new and unknown. He had a practice bus ride. Our schedule was thrown off on top of it all this week due to that limbo time of summer when the routine of camps and activities are over but the school routine hasn’t started yet. The weeks where we try to cram in all the last minute running, preparations and appointments before the school year begins. And most of this week Grant has been out of town; something that is a very rare occurrence. None of us are used to him being gone for much more than a work day, let alone almost 5 days!

So much anxiety. Through the roof anxiety!  But he’s mostly been able to hold it all together at least until we got home. That’s big! That’s a major step in his learning to cope. Some things I was hoping would have gone better for him, like his soccer experience. Not quite a disaster but I wouldn’t call it a success either. But we will keep trying.  Or at least we will keep trying to keep trying other things anyway.

We’ve had a summer of success really! New things, new people in particular, he has processed and figured out and got through them, if not always with flying colors, but he did it! This spring, Maya, our RCP, came into our lives and she has made such a difference ! Henry has accepted her as someone who belongs here. That in and of itself is BIG! (I really do need to share more about our Maya! She certainly deserves more that just a mention in a blog post!) Henry participated in a mainstream part-day summer camp and actually did quite well! We have spent more time at the pool and in water this summer than ever before (with much of that opportunity because of Maya!) and that was a great success!

On Tuesday my little dude will get on a school bus and head to his first day of Kindergarten. There will so so much to take in, to explore, to process, to learn. It’s a big, wide world and it’s waiting…just for him.

PEEP’s Theme Song: 

Well, it’s a sunny day
I feel brand new
There’s about a million things
That I could do!
Whoa-oh-oh
Would you like to
Do them, too?
Yeah
Well, it’s a big wide world
And it’s waiting for me and you!

Let’s look around
What will we see?
Round every corner, a discovery!
Whoa-oh-oh
There’s no place I’d rather be!
Oh, yeah
Well, it’s a big wide world
And it’s waiting for me and you!

Written by: Eggplant Music and Sound Design

Performed by: Taj Mahal

 

[P.S. from the Editor~ Oh, yeah, and for any of you that may also be a product of the 80’s and/or “classic” movie buffs:

Processing the Twilight Zone (or Kindergarten IEP- Part II)

[Editor’s Note: An alternative, more appropriate title for this post really should be: An Annoying Mother Who Worries Too Much! ~Trust me, I know. I annoy myself!]

School is now officially out for the summer. It’s probably time I just push through this post and get it out there…before summer is over and we enter into a whole other mess of worries and anxieties and issues! This particular blog post has been sitting in my drafts for days and days now. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to fully think through and process the whole thing. I can’t seem to grasp (or don’t want to grasp) the thoughts swirling and spiraling in my head. I am not completely sure why but  my guess is because just thinking about it raises my anxiety. If I think about it too much doubt, worries, fears about whether or not we made the right decisions creep in.  Worrying and second-guessing come naturally to me so I like to avoid and “stuff” all things which I don’t want to deal with…like then maybe it won’t happen. Denial…I could not possibly be sending my son to all-day, mainstream Kindergarten in August where he will ride the bus, eat lunch and be in a class of TWENTY other children with ONE teacher! All. by. himself!

So if you remember, a few weeks back we had Henry’s big Kindergarten Transition IEP. In case you missed it you can read the prequel here. Since that time I have been slowly trying process what transpired. 14 or so individuals (not counting Grant and myself) sitting around two big library tables pulled together was a little intimidating. And when it came to discussions about data and percentages of pull-out versus push-in and weekly minutes in the triple digits….well, my brain shut that part out for fear of vertigo and vomiting. (Some day I hope to write more about my newly self-diagnosed dyscalculia~it has a name!) Anyway, if you asked me now, I would not be able to tell you exactly what even came out of that IEP…that’s how badly I block data and numbers. (Scarier still is that I do the banking and bill paying for our family!)

Anyway, what I do know is that he is roughly getting only about 20% special education help; mostly in language and social/emotional areas. This is good. Right? I think?  Occupational therapy is basically being reduced to only a consultative basis, which is reasonable at this point.

Overall I came away from that (2-hour!) meeting feeling pretty good. Still nervous and anxious about Henry starting mainstream Kindergarten but it wasn’t so horrible. I still  had an appetite afterwards. Not feeling nauseous after an IEP is a good sign for me so the fact that my husband and I enjoyed a very nice lunch afterward was a positive.

What my brain keeps circling back too, and I have said as much to his beloved SSD teacher, is that my little dude looks pretty darn good on paper. Everything we talked about and decided on in the IEP makes sense and seemed reasonable at the time.

But now…the more think about it, what my son is on paper is not what he always is in the classroom and out in real life. And what triggers his autistic traits to come out are generally what are found in the mainstream school setting; the hum of voices in a confined area, many things going on at one time in this setting, many people/classmates moving around him…that buzz or hum causes him to shut down, act out, become noncompliant, meltdown. We have yet to see any real success in this area without one-on-one help. Now I am wondering if I stressed this very real trigger enough to our new team. There was no talk of a para for him. I do remember questioning this at one point where I was “assured” that they would have resources to pull in someone for him if needed.

I have enrolled Henry in a mainstream summer camp starting next week where he will go two half-days a week with his younger sister, in hopes of introducing him to a more mainstream setting. He will also still get two half-days of SSD summer school.

I know I have to let go. I have to raise the bar for my little dude, nudge him. But his anxieties and meltdowns are so painful to watch. I feel them along with him. He generally doesn’t even want to talk about Kindergarten! I anticipate a shaky start, some bumps in the road but I have to believe we will get through it and he will succeed; surpassing my expectations as he is known to do.

For now, I am going to try to take one small step at a time. Henry and I will take these steps together…anxiety and all! We will see how the mainstream camp goes. We will talk about Kindergarten; like it or not. I don’t let him see my anxiety. I don’t let most people see it. Ever. But it is there still just the same as it is in my little dude.

Now I await the letter that will come in the next few weeks telling us who his new Kindergarten teacher will be. And then I will probably worry some more! I haven’t even begun to address my little dude’s social/emotional issues! In between all this worrying I hope to actually enjoy some of this summer…Get ready for us Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher!

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