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It’s finalized. Simon will attend full-day kindergarten at the school my other children attend.
He’ll have help, but he’ll be in a regular classroom. He’ll need breaks. He’ll need guidance. He’ll still need speech and occupational therapies. But for the first time, he’ll be doing something academically that my other kids did.
The first two went to the touchy-feely, granola-eating nature preschool. They went outside no matter what the weather. They were given freedom to explore their surroundings and partake in activities mostly at will. They loved it.
But it wasn’t for Simon. Early childhood special education, small classrooms and therapists were what he needed. So we did that. Though I was a bit sad that he was missing out on such a special experience, he didn’t seem to know or care.
Now, he’ll be at the elementary school across the street that partners with the nature center. They still go outside every day. But the day is a bit more structured, and they provide help for kids who need it.
We had a meeting with staff members who will undoubtedly get to know Simon very well in his five years at the school, and I’m optimistic that he’ll do well. I think full days are going to be an adjustment, but once it becomes his routine, I am hopeful that he will love it.
I worry about other kids teasing him and his temper flaring up, but our school is no-tolerance in the bullying department. Kids are taught to be accepting and inclusive from Day One. Then I worry that actually might be a problem for Simon on the other end, as he tends to whack children who get into his personal space or don’t comply with his rigid ideas about how play should proceed.
I worry that his fine motor skills are not where they should be, and he’s really not writing at all. He can scratch out his name, but he can’t write other letters, despite three years of special education preschool. He’s not good with a scissors. Glue on his hands could cause a meltdown. I know these are all typical for a child on the spectrum. But he’s my child, and I worry that others won’t see what he can accomplish with some patience.
I worry incessantly about him leaving the protective bubble of special ed and mixing in with the other kids. He’s in a mixed preschool now, but his teacher is a special ed teacher, and she really seems to get him.
In short, I worry. I worry, I worry, I worry, and kindergarten is a whole summer away.
Today, a gray, rainy day, things look brighter.
Simon played with the neighbor boy again and all was, well, not calm, but not violent. (They screech and stim out together, and watching them would probably alarm most parents.) I’m still hopeful they can be good friends.
And Clare’s friend wants to come back.
The other problems are still there, but what’s most important is that my kids aren’t too scarred by what’s going on.
I thought about taking yesterday’s post down, but I’m not gonna. There are days when I feel like that, and I’m not ashamed of it.
It’s been a long time. I’ve been in a dark place.
First, Buck was hit by a car. I opened the door and was reaching for his collar to tie him out, and he bolted. Long story short, the little shit ran into the road and a car ran over him with two of its tires. And didn’t stop.
He’s OK now. But we spent a bunch of our small savings to fix him up and it was a long recovery. I blamed myself and played the incident over and over for months. Every time someone opened the door and the dog was nearby, I would shriek or leap to tackle the dog before he could run out.
But worse than the dog problems are the Simon problems. He’s constantly messing with the dog, riling him up by waving his hands in his face, teaching him to nip at flesh. We spend far too much time intervening, and when we’re too tired to do it anymore, the dog gets banished to his crate. I love the dog, but sometimes I wish we didn’t have one.
Simon’s aggression has not improved. In fact, it’s getting worse. It’s bleeding over into day care, and I fear that school is next. I don’t know what’s triggering the hitting, but it’s worst at home. His sister is his favorite punching bag, but we are all victims.
He made a friend across the street, a boy who has sensory issues and isn’t fazed by the shrieking and short attention span. It was ideal — for a while. But it didn’t take long before he started hitting the little guy, who didn’t want to come over for a few days. He was back last night, and I stuck to them pretty closely to make sure Simon kept his hands to himself. It went well. I’m thinking I’ll have to supervise closely from now on, which negates the whole idea of us getting a break from his constant need for attention.
Clare had a friend over this week who was pummeled by Simon and jumped on by the dog, and now she doesn’t want to come back. The dog didn’t hurt her, but Simon did. I worry that Simon’s going keep Clare from having friends.
And the tantrums are still there, too. They’re frequent, they’re violent, and they often end in tears. Nothing we do, including home sensory therapies, seems to keep them from happening.
I’m close to cracking. Something needs to change.
So this week, I asked for help.
I reached out to a parent advocate from the state autism society, hoping they can help us find some behavioral therapy that fits our schedule. So far all the places I tried are really tailored toward stay-at-home parents. We work — because we have to, but also because it’s an escape. Take that as you will, and judge us if you must. But home life is not all that fun lately.
And I did something else, something that’s difficult to talk about. I made an appointment for Simon to see a child psychiatrist. To talk about whether medication would help.
It’s such a lightning rod issue in the autism community, and I understand why. I did not, and do not want to do it. But I’m desperate.
I want my children to have friends. I want Simon to stop being so miserable all the time.
I so desperately need for there to be some light at the end of this deep, dark, confining tunnel.