Monday, July 22, 2013

Preparing for middle school

I mentioned in one of my last Autism Understanding and Acceptance posts that Thomas' hours for ABA were reduced by Anthem.  With the help of some contacts, we were able to get his full time hours extended to mid-August, instead of the reduction starting July 1st (insuance cut his hours so he could get services from JULY).  Rob and I decided not to fight the reduction in hours with this new start date, and to give middle school a try.

This equally terrifies and excites me.  He will be at his home middle school for most of the day, from 9am to 2:36pm.  Not 2:35.  He will then go to BACA Prep from 3:00pm to 5:30pm, which will not give him the 20 hours of ABA for which he is approved, but will allow us to have dinner together as a family at a reasonable time.  We just couldn't see keeping him at BACA until 6:30pm.  That would be such a long day, and then we aren't eating until at least 7:30, which doesn't work for us - it's just all too late.

It's all a big experiment.  We are thrilled with his teacher for next year, and truly feel that he is in the best possible situation with this school.  We had a very positive and easy Case Conference in May. And I remind myself daily that it is not going to be perfect , that I can't keep him safe and protected from teasing and harm and hurt feelings for his entire life (wait, can't I?), and that I need to give him opportunities to rise to the occasion and spread his wings.

Oh, this is hard.

On a lighter note, there are other considerations to be made when preparing for middle school.  It is time to retire the adorable Gymboree underwear.  It's going to be enough of a challenge for him in the bathroom because he hasn't quite gotten the swing of NOT dropping his pants to the ground when using the urinal.  We're working on this important life skill quickly.  But we also just tossed the Gymboree undies with turtles, dinosaurs, baseballs, etc and switched them out for Fruit of the Loom briefs in dark solid colors or stripes.  Very cool and certainly not baby-ish.

I figure that he's going to get teased for something, so why invite it with something so glaring as cutie-patootie undie-pants?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Quilt square, singing in church, zoo roller coaster

Sometimes an ordinary day turns out to be extraordinary!

The plan for our Sunday was going to church, then joining in the church group trip to the zoo.  Thomas attended Sunday School before the service, and the project today was making a prayer quilt.  Each kid got to create their own square, including Thomas.  We heard that he had drawn two hearts on his square, one for Mommy and one for Daddy.  (*swoon*)  But even better, I just got this Facebook message from the daughter of a friend of mine at church:
Hi Suzanne! It's M (K's daughter) and I was in the room today with Thomas. When we were preparing to pass out the stuff to make the quilt he was reading his Disney bracelet to me and telling me about Disney World. Also, his quilt square had two hearts he drew on it saying that one was for Mommy and one was for Daddy. After telling my mom this, she said that I should tell you because you love hearing about his day in Sunday School!
Yes, dear young woman, I DID want to hear about that!  Hooray!  He told her about Disney?  That was over two years ago!  And what did he tell her?  I will need to follow up on that.  Thank you, thank you lovely young woman for talking with him and asking him questions and working with him!  The youth of this church give me such incredible hope for the future.

During the service, he was his usual snugly self.  He cuddles in with either Rob or with me for good chunks of the service, which truth be told, is one of the main reasons why I am not singing with the choir full time.  How could I voluntarily miss that time?  And if I had not been there, I would have missed him singing along with the entire Doxology today.  Yes, he was making up syllables instead of singing the words, but it was so entirely cute...and then came the last line.  The sopranos in our choir go up an octave for the last phrase of Halleluias, so of course he did too!  He was pitch-perfect.  Rob and I stopped singing, stared at each other in disbelief, and then laughed and laughed in amazement and joy!

Sack lunches were eaten at church, then off to the zoo we all went.  After the first obligatory wandering through the Oceans exhibit, he would do nothing other than head straight back to the train.  While we were in line, he was watching the roller coaster quite intently.

I'm going to have to do some background info here.  He had always liked roller coasters.  We started on State Fair kiddie coasters, moved up to the zoo coaster, then even got gusty enough to ride Big Thunder Mountain at Disney.  He loved it, and even wanted to get right back on, which we did.   He loved it the second time.  He likes coasters!  Great!  We heard fun things about this new coaster at Animal Kingdom called Everest: it looks like you are going to go over a cliff, but you back up "a little" (remember the "a little" bit), see a Yeti, then go forward and fast through the rest of the ride.  Sounds fun, right?  WELL, let me tell you, there is nothing "a little" about going BACKWARDS FULL SPEED AND IN A CIRCLE SEVERAL TIMES IN THE DARK.  Okay, once that was done, the coaster was fast and fun, but holy SHIT were we sick afterwards.  My dad, Rob, Thomas and I had to sit for about 30 minutes to recover while my sister found some Sprite for us to sip on to revive us.  After that, Thomas would have nothing to do with any roller coaster.   We even pressed it once last year, getting him on the zoo coaster - thinking that once he experienced that roller coasters didn't have to scare the crap out of you - he might like them again.  Nope.  "Get off.  All done.  Get off," throughout the entire ride.

I saw him eyeing the roller coaster nearby.  I asked him if he wanted to ride it.  "Yes."  I asked him a few times, several minutes apart.  The answer was yes each time.   As the cars pulled away and we were going up the first hill, I told him how happy I was that we were doing this, that it was going to be fun and he was safe.  He loved it!  Hooray!  And two and a half years of guilt for taking him on that horrible Everest evaporated away.