Each year Johnny’s school takes all the kindergarten classes to a farm in October so the children can experience the harvest time of year, farm life and see a pumpkin patch. We live in a big city so this is especially fun for the children to have their song “Olde MacDonald Had A Farm” literally come to life in front of their eyes.
Last year Johnny was in JR kindergarten and because of having Autism and not knowing how he would react with being on a crowded school bus with loud excited children and being in a new place the teachers wanted me to come a long. He did so well that last spring he went with his class just like all the other children with the only difference being his EA led his group of 4 instead of a parent volunteer.
When I picked Johnny up at school last Friday after a day of fun at the farm his EA ran up to me with a big smile on her face and said, “we had the best time and I think I’ve had the best school farm trip ever.”
The EA told me that Johnny had a great time and seeing him so joyous on the farm and having fun outside that she could see he was in his element. He even fed all the animals. I had sent a note in his bag letting the teacher and EA know that he will probably drag his feet in the gravel a lot, pick up twigs, rocks, leaves or any other little treasures and put them in his pockets but please let him do this because it make him feel better. Last year when I accompanied Johnny the ECE teacher and kindergarten teacher he had then kept stopping his classmates from doing stuff that for Johnny was purely sensory and I didn’t want the farm experience to turn negative for him. The EA told me that Johnny did do what I warned them about and they let him and he stayed happy and content.
The EA saved the best part for last. She said she wished that she had a camera on her as she pointed out a little girl sitting on the bench with the pink hat on her head. It was Elise that I wrote about last spring here: http://wp.me/p1KVmo-kK
The EA told me that Elise REALLY likes Johnny and she was so happy that she was part of our group of 4 and that she got to spend the whole day with him. They held hands a lot and she helped keep him with the group by happily taking his hand and leading him back over to the school tour. The EA said they looked like they were having so much fun exploring the farm together that it made her day. When it came time to feed the different farm animals Elise was very nervous but Johnny was right in there feeding the cows, horses and the sheep. It was because he showed Elise that it was fun she was able to get passed her fear and join Johnny feeding them. I later asked Johnny who he was with and of course he said his EA’s name but he had this “twinkle” look in his eyes of avoidance on his face. He did the same thing when his Grandma questioned him too. We finally pried it out of him that he was with Elise and that they had fun but I could tell from what he tried to say that he had annoyed at times when she would take him back to the group. I explained that’s what friends do for each other and that as a good friend did he help her with the animals…”yes Mommy” with a big smile.
The fringe benefit is that Johnny is out in the community with all the other children and having shared experiences with them. At the same time all the other children and teachers see him in a new light and may shift how they view him. I think this was one of my best Friday visits to school to pick Johnny up ever.
*Note: “Elise” is just a pseudonym to protect the child’s privacy.