There is no such thing as can’t only won’t.
That is what I grew up hearing from my Dad whenever something happened that frustrated me or someone said that I couldn’t do something that I wanted to do.
I get a call today from the OT Consultant for the school board who is filling in for the original OT that has gone on Mat leave. I am glad that I hear that Johnny is doing well, moving through transitions easily, taking advantage of his sensory time, and seems regulated. The OT is happy with the teachers enthusiasm and knowledge. We had expressed our concerns that even though everyone is doing a great job that the teacher and staff might need some more knowledge regarding sensory integration. We were concerned that some signs such as flushed red face, lying on his side, bumping into things was being mistaken for being tired or sick. We also wanted to follow up on the previous OT’s recommendations that along with Johnny’s sensory diet that he be taught to more independent with his sensory regulation and be allowed to make his own choices during his sensory breaks.
We are in the midst of advocating for more intensive SLP language intervention and more OT oversight with the possibility of some targeted therapy at school. Right now the OT consultant is really only brought in to just advise the classroom teacher and observe our son and that is limited for 5 visits but we have pushed it to 8. This ends in January when the file is closed for one year and then can be re-opened after that if needed. In terms of SLP support Johnny has a SLP who specializes in Autism come in every 2 weeks or oversea him being taught how to use the Communication PECs book she made him. We also are looking for Motor Speech therapy because of his Apraxia so that Johnny can be understood by his peers and his teacher.
It seems that Johnny’s Daddy and I are going down a road that others have not gone down before or have already encountered road blocks. We keep getting the same questions asked of us when we ask more from the system.
1) Have you looked into private OT?
2) Have you looked into getting a private SLP?
3) Have you gone to the local Autism Centre for assistance?
4) Have you thought about purchasing a weighted vest for Johnny or make one because the school board can’t buy one for him for his own personal use because it doesn’t meet the equipment allotment for him (it costs too little.)
The teacher has let the OT Consultant know that we are advocating for more supports for Johnny and that they talked about how supports are limited from the board for the regular classroom. But if Johnny was in a Multi-exceptionality (Special Education) class then more regular visits by an OT and SLP and maybe we, the parents, might want to think about this as a better option for Johnny.
Integrated Into A Regular Classroom with Indirect Support or Multi- Exceptionality Classroom?
My heart literally sunk when I heard this because I have been warned by others that if you push too hard the education people start suggesting this option. Have we thought about this? Of course we have and we have second guessed ourselves so many times and gotten the advice of so many professionals that know and have taught our son. Everyone has told us to trust our instincts and that we know our son better then anyone. For many months now Johnny has been in the driving seat and we have had to adapt to meet his changing needs and get professionals working with him that don’t see this to open their eyes. We know he learns best when he is not the highest functioning child in the room and he’s able to model after typically developing children. We know that that it is not easy to be in a regular classroom with communication, sensory, social, and fine motor skill challenges. But is it going to be easier for Johnny to be in a multiple exceptionalities class (special needs) which is smaller and has more supports with kids of varying disabilities? He will not have the chance to listen to typical speech from peers, typical playing, and have to with stand the emotional outbursts from children who are struggling too which is extremely hard for children on the spectrum. He will have to compete for attention from the teachers who are helping children who have greater needs and which will no doubt lead to attention seeking behaviours which we are trying to change, Johnny went to a Preschool where he had to do this but they had one on one volunteers working with him to help him move forward and manage the tougher moments. We chose this school board because we were told that inclusion in a regular classroom would be the best place for Johnny to move forward and this was their driving philosophy.
We believe in him. We know how he was when he was 2. We know how he was when he was 3 and we officially got on the road of Autism. We know how he was when he was 4. We know him right now. He needs to have the confidence to dare to show who he really is to everyone when he fully understands that he is not like all the other children. He tries every day to learn from his peers and be like them even though its so damn hard.
There is no such thing as can’t only won’t. When we remember this is all about Johnny then we will find a way.