We’ve had a few things happen this week that were “not too bad” and some things that were down right awesome.
At J’s IEP and placement meeting we decided to put him in a self contained small student to ration autism classroom. There are currently only 2 of these classes in the district and one of them is at a school that is possibly closing. This is kind of good because the other one is at the school he currently attends. One less change for next year would be great. It is a mixed class of K-2nd and he will be mainstreamed when it is determined that it is appropriate for lengths of time determined appropriate. His teachers, school psychologist, OT and SLP are all in love with him. He scored at and above average in all the knowledge/cognitive tests. He did things for his OT that he refused to do for the independent OT evaluator and did a great job. But on his social/behavioral observations and tests he was below average. The special ED placement is not a life sentence. His teacher has super high hopes for him and expects him to be completely mainstreamed in a few years, he just isn’t ready yet.
I’m okay with that. I actually advocated for it. I get it, he just isn’t ready to be in with other kids his age. Well at least not in large groups. Our district is broke and the kindergarten classes will be going to a 24:1 ratio next year. This was the main factor in our decision. His current teacher and aides are planning to help J make the transition next year. The special class he is in doesn’t start until 2-3 weeks after regular school so they have some free time to go in the classroom and help him and his new teachers adjust. They don’t have to, they want to. I wish we could pack them up and take them with us through 12th grade. His favorite aide is going back to school next year to get her SLP degree. When she is done we would gladly go to her. J likes to take a book from home every day and she sit with him and reads it during free play time.
So with the placement underway everyone left except the teacher and I. She had pre-written an IEP based on the SLP’s recommended goals and the OT’s. She also added in a few math and writing goals for next year. Then I put the icing on the cake and added a few behavior goals and accommodations. It was easy and painless. I think that is only because so many accommodations are already made in an Autism class that there was no need to over kill it. Of course next year is only kindergarten, I think the next IEP will be harder but for now I will thank God for the wonderful teacher and school we got assigned to this year.
J apparently ran into the bathroom and locked the door on Tuesday. It was his first day back after 6 days off. I later remembered to tell the teacher about the time 2 weeks ago at my parents’ house that he went in the bathroom as the other kids got noisier. She put these two things together and decided that he needed a small quiet place to retreat to when feeling overwhelmed or upset. So she is planning to bring a small pop-up tent for him and placing it in the unused “library” section of the class. In the meantime, she was able to calm him down by holding him in her lap and singing some extra songs to him. She also told me that they had stopped going to the school library after J joined the class. She said that it wasn’t just for him but I know that several things/schedules in class changed after he arrived. Apparently it benefited one or two other children as well though. As for the library, she felt it was an unnecessary transition that only happened once a week. They were walking to the school library on Fridays, hearing a story, and then walking back to the classroom. Sounds topsy turvy to me too. Instead she does extra reading in the classroom. I can’t tell you enough how much we love this teacher.
So even though large groups are not a good idea, small groups have been working well for him lately. Yesterday we had a play date at the park with a story and a themed craft. He did awesome. The only two time outs he got were because the other kids were really pushing his buttons. We stayed at the park for almost 3 hours. Then today I had to take Little J to a friend’s house so that J could go to his psych appt. When pulling into the parking area at our friend’s house you look directly into a neighborhood park. Little J REALLY REALLY want to go to the park. Since I normally treat J to the park or McDonald’s after an appt, I told Little J that when we got back we would go. We got back after an hour and he had been having a great time. So my friend D and her kids and us all went over to the park. Our kids paired off with each other and played their hearts out. We stayed out for about an hour and our friend S joined us with her kids too. Then we went in to D’s house and the boys got busy playing. I had to drag them out of there. Here is the kicker……WE DIDN’T HAVE TO BREAK UP A SINGLE FIGHT! This is absolutely unheard of in the realm of 2,3,4, and 5 year olds. (yes our kids are stairs, mine are the odds.) D has an older son, not living with her, with Asperger Syndrome. It is always great when we can just sit and talk. J and her son have so many similarities. She is also the wise mama that clued me into the fact that the kids might have a food intolerance. So the boys played for 2 hours together and we had 0 meltdowns. Fingers crossed for more days like that.
This is my shout out to S that I forgot to type last week. I love this mom. She has five kids of her own, none of them on a special diet, and yet she is always on the look-out to help me with the boys’ new diet. She is the one who sent me the rice crust recipe. She also called me during her shopping trip to let me know that our commissary sells the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free/wheat free products. They sell them much much cheaper than our local Sunflower Market and the health foods section of the grocery store off base. She has more recently emailed me another pizza crust recipe because she knows how deprived my kids feel with out it. I have been loving the variety and prices of the gluten free products at the commissary. I haven’t shopped there on a regular basis in the past, but I will now. I went to get another bread mix, but they were out of the previously kid approved version. So I bought a whole grain gluten free one. I was feeling so invigorated after the great night with friends tonight that I baked gluten free/ wheat free banana bread from scratch to use up some smushy bananas and the whole grain bread mix. The banana bread was so awesome that I would want to eat it all if it weren’t for the fact that all purpose GF flour is so much more expensive and I gotta save it for the kids. (the recipe is on the back of some Bob’s Red Mill GF all purpose flours.) The whole grain bread was “not too bad.” It taste kind of like a pumpernickle/rye mix. I think J will like it as toast with butter. Its not a great sandwhich bread though.
I think I’m missing something, but seeing as I’ve been typing this on and off for 3 hours now its time to publish it.