On Wednesday morning Johnny’s afternoon teacher visited his public school junior kindergarten class to observe, learn, and colloborate with his teachers and Autism team. Johnny had a wonderful morning and made his teacher that has worked with him since February of last year once we got the diagnosis very very proud of him.
If someone walked into the classroom and was asked to pick out the child with Autism….they could not.
That was the best news a parent could get. He followed along with all the other children. There was no stimming. There was no flapping. He was just a little boy in junior kindergarten with his friends.
Johnny’s afternoon teacher could tell he really really wants to be just like all the other children in the room. He wants to talk so bad. He wants to be with them. He watches them intently looking for cues and hints on what he should be doing during the entire morning. He is constantly learning the social cues himself.
Johnny begins his day as the attendance monitor and gets to choose a classmate to help him take the attendance to the office. His afternoon teacher said it looked so cute seeing him hold hands with the other child and do this.
They use a visual schedule with him throughout the morning and the EA prompts him to show her what comes next. It was nice to hear that even though he needs prompting to refer to the schedule he tries to “tell her” what comes next as well as point.
There are 2 EA’s that trade off working with him now. One for the first 2 hours and one for the last 1-1/2 so that he gets used to different people working with him. The afternoon teacher reports that he seems to get along very well with both women.
At circle time Johnny sat cross legged on the carpet with his classmates with his EA off to the side but not near him. He sat and listened for over 20 minutes as the teacher talked and had them sing songs about the weather and seasons. The afternoon teacher felt that the kindergarten teacher, even though she is very good and has an excellent program, she talks fast which can be a problem for children with ASD. But surprisingly this didn’t seem to bother Johnny and he listened intently and followed along. There was a part where the teacher began to talk about symbols in geometry and the afternoon teacher later told them that Johnny could have participated there. In order for them to get a better idea of what he knows since he is still considered non-verbal she suggested that they pair their lessons with real objects as much as possible and put them on the carpet and ask Johnny (as well as the other children) to touch and give to her what she is talking about. This is how the afternoon school discovered how high Johnny’s cognitive ability was and were able to have him actively participate during lessons.
When it was snack time, Johnny got up and followed the other children to the coat room to retrieve his snack bag and then sat at one of the eating tables. What impressed his afternoon teacher was not only that he didn’t need any prompting but that that he was trying to “engage” with one of this classmates.
They had instituted a sensory diet for Johnny complete with a sensory table where he would go to before and after every activity but they are finding that they don’t have to use it very much anymore. He seems to be self-regulating without it (except on Friday afternoons.)
During Gym class he is having trouble participating and says “too loud…fix” and he seems to be bothered by the stage. He needs to get used to the loud sounds that go hand in hand with kids and a gym but they are willing to give him some time there to check it out or let him spend smaller time periods there and then leave when it gets too much so he can get used to it. As for the stage they are going to try and close the curtains as he is requesting.
The Autism SLP is going to be introducing a Communication Book to Johnny today so that he can point to things and learn how to say sentences. His afternoon teacher is using an iPad in her classroom and is teaching him to use a speech App and wondered if they considered this. The school board is looking into security issues because of iCloud and how it would work with the stuff they already have.
They have begun working on “turn-taking” games with Johnny and his EA beginning with Mr Potato Head. They are going to start bringing in the “third person” one of his peers shortly. I am pleased because I learned about this technique at the parent training course I just finished called MORE THAN WORDS by the HANEN Centre. I had been advocating for this to happen in the classroom so that Johnny could learn how to interact with his friends.
When it was time to go to recess some of the children went to the coat room to get their coats and some went and sat down on the carpet in front of the ECE teacher. Johnny followed the children that went to the teacher and then realized where he was suppose to be. Even though he made the wrong choice at first what his afternoon teacher was pleased about was that he didn’t look to the adults in the room for guidance he watched his peers for the cue on what to do. Amazing.
When I talked on the phone with his afternoon teacher she got teary eyed and emotional a few times because she started working with him last February 2011 and knows how he used to be. He was always a darling but to see how he is now in a regular environment made her very happy and proud of him. She felt because of the ASD and Apraxia of Speech that he has to work harder then any other child in that room and it must be so tiring for him at the end of day to put in such an incredible performance every morning.
The Autism Support teacher created a social story about how we are all suppose to act while riding a school bus and read it to him, made sure he understood it and then helped put him on the bus yesterday. They comfortably cinched him up and made sure the safety cover was on and crossed their fingers.
His afternoon teacher reported that the safety cover over the buckle worked but somehow Little Houdini had lifted his 55lb 4ft tall body up and through the seat belt.
Sometimes you win some…sometimes you lose some but this is Autism.
But yesterday morning, Johnny was just another little boy in Junior Kindergarten.