Pursuits for Happiness

I had the idea to check out private Christian schools with an aide.  But the real revelation was a label was definitely not a one size fits all tool.  Reality was that Lee might fit the diagnosis, yet not all the specialty schools might not be for him.  Again, I found myself ever unsettled.  What were we to do?

I had eagerly hoped once we had a label/diagnosis that life would be some new-found bowl of sweet cherries, pitless ones of course.  And still, there were dead ends.  So as Sophie’s delivery date grew ever nearer, Pedro and I began the “fun” repetitive arrangement of school tours.  This time, we were looking to see if Lee would get lost easily; how many hours an aide would need to be with Lee; and how he would fit into the school population.

At a couple of schools the feeling Pedro and I got is they were not really thrilled at our situation at that time.  They were not totally opposed, but they were inflexible.  So again, we decided this was a no go.

Just before Sophie was born, we eagerly checked out the closest Christian school to our house.  They were establishing reading tutoring.  They seemed to be doing lots of background work for us, which was a real plus.

Sophia was to be induced at the beginning of May.  I thought the fourth child would just ooze out.  I hated sneezing at this point, I thought she might just pop on out.  But hark, her long -awaited spontaneous arrival never was and we were induced.  The week of the induction was particularly surprising as my wonderful OB-GYN thought she should thoroughly ultrasound me to make sure I was only pregnant with one baby!

Pedro was very on edge, wondering if somehow we had missed a little bundle of joy in there somewhere.  But oh-no, she only found our one, Sophie, in there.  She measured Sophie at 19 inches long and 6lbs and some ounces.  She was still puzzled at my girth.  The whole experience was a great big sarcastic plus for my self-esteem.

But as Sophia was induced, I tried extra hard not to think of the future, to just enjoy our last baby and not think of the loose ends that loomed at home.  Sophia was no six pounder, she was almost 9 pounds and 20 inches.  I am just glad she got here okay.

Upon coming home, I had forgotten that I had scheduled some in home observation for Lee.  So Sophia was just days old and here were a couple of professionals from the autism specific clinic to start a behavior plan for Lee.

Lee’s behavior plan isn’t as intense as some kids on the spectrum.  For those who are combative or extremely self injuring: they may have a behavior plan that includes holds for care-givers to use on the children to keep them from detrimental consequences.  Lee’s so far have been reward-based behavior plans.  The sort that motivates Lee to make even better decisions.

The only problem I have had with them thus far, is that Lee is a perfectionist.  On the days Lee has had outbursts and meltdowns and I need to take his reward away, he gets even more violent.  Soon I hope we are able to make a new plan and hopefully this concern will be addressed.

Lee that day also met a wonderful influence on his life.  Not only did the behavioral therapist observe Lee he also met his one on one coach.  She was going to do some curriculums with Lee over the summer to help him through school.  They went over such skills as overcoming being bullied, he learned the 5 point anger scale, he worked through some anger calming techniques, and learned what things made him lose control most.  Later, on another blog, I will share the list of what sets him off.  I was shocked in a positive way, that this coach could get such clear information from him.  What a miracle!

The other thing Lee would do this summer, was “play” with a peer for an hour a week.  The coach was there to oversee their intermingling.  Lee was at first opposed to all this, but he quickly liked it.  I still had education set up for fall at this center, in case it was the best I could come up with.  But there would be little to no social interaction there, so I kept plodding on.

Lee also would do inner-active metronome this summer.  It is an Occupational Therapy service that helps the kids processing, balance, timing, and coordination. Lee hated the metronome, but we saw outstanding results from it, so we kept pressing on.

Through all the therapies, I never felt like I was trying to make Lee “typical.”  My aim is just to equip him the best I can to be useful and independent as an adult.  I know Lee will never be “typical.”  But again, what is “typical?”  I see a little autism in all of us.  I have sought my heart long and hard.  I do figure if I was in school today, I probably would be in a resource room getting extra help.

Some of the things they now call sensory processing problems, I know I had.  I hated to get dirty, hated certain textures and consistencies.  I refused to wear corduroy, which being a 70’s baby probably made it hard for me to be clothed.  Learning and socializing did not come easy to me.  I was bullied a fair amount and made fun of.  My coping mechanism was to make it fun to make fun of me so instead of crying about it, I would either chime in and make fun of myself or I would antagonize the comments.  I figured negative attention was better than no attention at all.

I do not think Lee and maybe not Matt would have the where with all to cope in this way and I am not sure it was healthy for me to respond like that.  So I have tried to equip Lee especially to handle any bullying in a healthy way.  For some reason children seem to stealthfully sniff out the weaker.

I do therapies in the hopes it will make the boys roads less “bumpy.”  Anything to ease their journey, is my aim.  I hope one day as other moms have told me will happen, they will thank me.  But if they don’t, it’s okay.  I know I have done what I have felt is best and that is all I can do.  I have a few acquaintances that are totally opposite of me.  They see therapies as trying to change their kids.  They have a “take him as he is mentality.”  I can understand.  But I know me, I know I couldn’t sleep at night without trying.  We have seen progress, so I keep on keeping on.  Our lives are full and scheduled at times, but well worth it.  I know as the kids get older, the therapies will decrease or change to more “age-appropriate.”  But for now, I’m holding on and keeping consistent.  OT and speech therapy have made all the difference in the world.  I am eternally grateful!

So we kept interviewing at Christian Schools.  But the one closest to us was still at the top of my hopes and dreams.  I began telling people, Lee will attend the Christian School down the street.  We just needed to meet with the administration.  That would occur when Sophie was about four weeks old.  Time was going by way too fast.

A great help to us has been the scooter board.  The scooter board is pretty inexpensive.  We have used it for just your typical free play, but mostly we have used it for work.  Lee has had to “swim” on it on his belly to pick up speech therapy cards and put it in the right bucket of the sound it makes.  We have used it for “heavy work” so he could concentrate more in school work.  We have used it help calm him after a meltdown (often getting moving and in a different vibe, makes all the difference).