We are on vacation! We decided it was time for our family to take a break, pull the plug on all our routines, school (year ends here on June28) work and just have some together time as a family. We decided to take a road trip to a place by the ocean so that the kids could have lots of fun in the sand and water. I wish life was that simple.
We were suppose to leave early Wednesday morning but we were given short notice that Johnny had a special assessment for a speech language program at his school and if we missed it and did the assessment in the fall he might end up on a waiting. If you are a parent of a child with autism then you have had your fill of wait lists and you would have done what we did..delay our departure.
We were cringing inside because we had now really changed Johnny’s schedule by first telling him school was done for the school year and then saying he had to go back. For a week we had done a countdown with the calendar showing him where we would be going soon and telling him his friends would still be on school while he’s playing in the sand on the beach. We would congratulate him on how well he’s been doing at school and how much we love he is talking now. Now we have to get him to go one last time after we said he’s done school? Since last week Johnny kept saying “i don’t like school” and say “Johnny mad” so how do you avoid a meltdown?
This Is when we pull out the strategies that we have been taught and use powerful reinforcers to compel him to do something he might not want to do. We had cancelled his school bus pick ups for the school year so we told Johnny that he gets to ride the bus Daddy takes to work but today he rides and walks to school with Daddy. We told him it would be a short morning and he’d play with his friends like he usually does and then a girl is making a special trip to play with him. After their “play date” he could go home. This worked well and the teachers said he had a really good morning without any transition challenges despite the change in his routine. It was also very hot in the school because it’s not air conditioned. Unfortunately, the 10 minute assessment was inclusive because he didn’t say enough. They will interview his teacher and speech pathologists as well and will do another assessment in the fall.
I always find it frustrating when we do these kind of assessments. Your child is still young, working with someone new, not sure of what is expected, tired because of the heat, sensory issues, anxiety and then of course the autism and they only have a very small window of time to show an expert who they are. If the program is the right thing for him I hope they take this into account and see him again in the fall because their program is for 2 afternoons of group and individual therapy a week.
We were finally free to leave on our vacation but little did we know the adventure ( and challenges ) that lay ahead for us.
You’ll have to wait for my next post but it involved the hottest day of the year so far, a rest stop, broken down car, and trying to put on a brave face to my two small children.