Johnny first days of school have gone really well. He was so excited to put on his school uniform and his back pack for the first time that he only got anxious and teary eyed when he started seeing some of classmates get very upset along with worried parents standing around the classroom and not leaving right away. Johnny’s teacher is amazed at how well he has adapted to their Junior Kindergarten program and how happy he is to be there already. She tells me that he is such a sweet little boy who follows their routines easily and is very helpful. I can tell though that he is still anxious about the whole experience by some of the little things he does as get gets used to all the new activities. During the first week that I would pick him he would see me and smile, point and say “Momma…done” and run to me but then look sad that he was leaving but then couldn’t wait to go. We suggested they start using a visual schedule at the beginning of the school day each day so that he understands what activities are going to happen while he is there and the order that things are happening. This way it helps him not be so anxious and completely understand what is expected of him.
The school has provided Johnny with an EA (classroom support person) all morning while he is there which more than we expected. This may change according to his needs since he is still adjusting and they are getting to know him. Everyone who has worked with Johnny including both the Public Board who assessed him felt Johnny was ready for and would greatly benefit with integration with regular students.
The School Board has arranged to transport Johnny to school and to his private school and home again which has helped me not have to helicopter Johnny all over the place. He has adjusted really well to this because he LOVES school buses. I on the other hand was nervous about trusting him to be taken everywhere by someone else and especially when there were some mix ups at first on when he should be picked up. I literally intercepted him one day when a bus pulled up on a Friday and I was supposed to pick him up and take him to his speech therapy classes. Yikes!
Johnny could stay in his JK class all day but on Mon to Thursday afternoons we have him attending an Adaptive Kindergarten with other boys with Autism at a private school. The specialized school had helped Johnny make some amazing progress in their preschool program, so we felt that it was worth continuing that momentum. On his first day back to this school I thought Mommy should take him and I couldn’t believe how happy he was to be back at his old school. As I showed him where he was going to have lunch every day Johnny kept hugging me and showering me with kisses all over my face.
On Friday afternoons Johnny has been in speech therapy and he’s been doing really well with trying to say more and more words. They are teaching him how to use the PECs (Picture exchange) system in order to help others understand what he wants when he’s at school and to help him understand how to make and use sentences. They were going to help him get a speech augmentation device but since he’s trying so hard to talk now we all agree we don’t want anything getting in the way. Johnny’s latest block of lessons has stopped so now instead of taking 8 weeks off like we usually do they are going to bring him in every 3-4 weeks for consultations so that they can be in a supportive role during his JK year. Why does he have time off? It’s not our choice but a funding issue so in order to treat as many children as possible they have the children cycle through 8 weeks on/8 weeks off.
Now the IEP process is about to begin where the teacher draws up an “Individual Education Plan” for Johnny because he is a special needs student or as the education system refers to him as having”exceptional-ity”.
The province/state just released funding to support the delivery of ABA services to children with Autism and who are on the wait list for intensive therapy. I just registered Johnny for that as well which I will write about in another post. I don’t want to overload him with things which I know is always a danger but he really curious and likes to be engaged and stimulated so somehow we’ll just have to jiggle his schedule and fit it in.