School is AWESOME

It’s been two months- TWO MONTHS!  Since R started school.  I’ve written a lot about our efforts to transition R to school prior to his start date due to his severe anxiety- a process we spent 5 months on- and which was wildly successful.  You can read about it here, and about his resulting fabulous first week of school here.  I was hesitant after that amazing first week to write more about how great school was going, in fear of somehow jinxing it.  But the past two months have sped by and there is so much to share.  R has learned more skills in the past 2 months at school than he learned in the previous 18 months of full time in-home therapies (ABA, ST, OT, DT).  Here are a few of the highlights:

R is understanding and able to use a first-then board

R is continuing to learn to use PECS

R learned how to turn a container over to dump the contents

After initial help with hand placement, R is able to hold a bingo dobber (kind of like a chubby marker) and can independently make about 3 dots with it

R learned to jump with two feet (!!!!!!)

R learned how to clap his hands (!!!), and can *sometimes* respond to the receptive direction “clap hands” (the data says 8%, I’m just excited that he understands the language!)

R tolerated exploring paints, holding the brush, and making some paint marks with hand-over-hand support!  A BIG DEAL because he has been terrified of paint/art stuff prior to this

And just this week, R scribbled with a crayon for a moment all by himself for the first time!

IMG_4290
R exploring paints at school

I feel like R is truly in the best possible environment at school and that is why he is thriving.  He is supported by such an incredible team of dedicated, caring, skilled individuals.  I think what truly makes it so successful is that the team all work together.  There is so much carry-over.  His ST, OT, sped teacher, and aides are always sharing information, ideas, and tips, often observing each other working with R, and so it’s just a really well rounded team approach to each challenge R is working on.  We are currently in the process of finding out if R needs PT added on.  His teacher and OT have both shared some concerns with the school PT, and I sent a request to evaluate for PT along with some of my own concerns.  I love knowing that everyone at school wants what is best for R, not what is cheapest for the budget.  The other thing that I really appreciate is seeing how much they all care about R.  It is written all over their faces that they adore him.  I would have expected kindness and professionalism, but it is clear that beyond that his teacher and aides truly seem to love him, and R seems to love them too.  He is almost always very excited to arrive at school, and is often reluctant to leave.

 

IMG_20160216_111615746 copy
R’s Valentines baggy from school
IMG_20160216_111631414 copy.jpg
Valentine from R’s teacher to him

Seeing how much he has flourished in just 2 months, I can’t wait to update at 6 months or a year!  Here’s to hoping for many more great things to come. ❤

Advertisement

First Week of School

IMG_4186
R, at school on his first day.  This and all following pictures were taken by his teacher/aides throughout his first day.

R had his first official week of school this week.  I don’t want to say too much.  I’m afraid to expound on how well things went, for fear that fate will give him a terrible week next week to make me eat my words.  So I won’t be saying too much.  I will share a few things.

 

IMG_4189
R, in his classroom on his first day.

I’m not sure if I’ve written much about R’s placement.  He is full-day in a substantially separate classroom, meaning that he is in a separate special-education classroom, not an integrated (mix of sped and gened) room.  His classroom houses children with severe disabilities ages pre-k through 1st grade.  There are 7 other students.  He has a 1:1 aide with him all day, and receives twice-weekly direct speech and OT.  All of the staff that work with him are wonderful.  We have really had the opportunity to get to know them all over the last 3 months while they worked with us daily on R’s transition- something I’ve written about here.

IMG_4190
R, in his classroom on his first day.

The Friday before R’s first week he stayed in his classroom for 2 hours and did not want to leave.  We knew he was ready.  When his first day arrived, the reality that he would be there for a whole 6 hours without me really started to sink in as I got him ready that morning.  I dropped him off, me a bundle of nerves, and he went right into his wagon (his teacher and aide had begun taking him to the classroom in a wagon after we discovered how much he loved that).  He was calm and happy and did not spare me a glance as he rode away.  I was happy for him, so happy to see him perfectly comfortable at school with his staff.  But I still left holding back tears.  It’s hard to walk away from your baby for the first time, and R will always be my baby.

IMG_4194
R, in his classroom on his first day.

When I arrived to pick him up he came out all bubbly and smiley.  They said he had a wonderful day and was happy all day.  When I got home I had an email from his teacher with pictures from his first day.  He looked so sweet and joyful!

IMG_4188
R, on his first day.

The rest of the week continued to go well, with the exception of a cold he developed.  Still, despite the cold he continued to have good days at school and came home to us incredibly happy.  Both my husband and I could not stop remarking on what a great mood he was in from the time he got home until bedtime.  As if his time away had made home all the more interesting and exciting, he has been incredibly joyful and content each afternoon and evening.

IMG_4193
R, on his first day.

Perhaps the best thing has been the happy dance he does every time he spots me when his aide and teacher bring him out to me.  He starts off walking the way he always does- unsteady and distracted- stopping to try and lick a wall or a puddle, or rub his fingers over bricks.  They get closer and closer to me until I can’t wait and I close the gap and call to him.  As soon as he sees me his entire face breaks out in the biggest grin.  It stretches ear to ear, his eyes spark with pleasure, and he begins tap-dance-like involuntary body movements of excitement.  Some autistic kids flap or jump when excited.  My son does something in between.  He bounces on his feet, not quite a jump but almost, tapping and dancing his feet around, lifting his arms in joyful little tremors.  I scoop him up and we hold each other so tight.  He squeezes and presses his cheek to mine, he giggles his delight outloud.  He babbles happily.  I can’t stop smiling.  Leaving him every morning is worth it just for that reception every afternoon.

IMG_4197
R, on his first day.