***Update: It was cold on Friday and when Johnny got off the bus and his coat was not zipped up, he didn’t have his hat on and his gloves were not on him. His EA (Education Assistant or Para Support) was away at a funeral and he had a substitute. I asked him where his gloves were and he said, “they are in my bag Mommy.” I got an email alert on my iPhone and it was Johnny’s teacher who said that Johnny told him that his gloves were in his backpack but he just found the gloves in his classroom under the sandbox but Johnny was now on the bus. As the saying goes, better late then never I guess but what about the spare stretchy gloves I always keep in Johnny’s jacket pocket as a back up? He knows to keep his gloves with him either in his jacket or his backpack and depending on how the teacher asked him about his gloves my guess is Johnny told him where the gloves are suppose to be stored ~ in his backpack. Unfortunately one of the other ASD boys in the ISP Autism room likes to grab things from Johnny’s backpack and toss them or hide them i.e. drink containers or lunch bags. Interestingly, since Johnny has been eating his snacks and meals in the main Grade 2 room he has not been missing any food container items.
Johnny struggles with putting the two zips together by himself on his jacket so he needs assistance so I am still frustrated that he wasn’t dressed properly when he was led out to the school bus. I look at my little 4 year old girl who is in Junior Kindergarten and she is bundled up for the cold weather. I am sure you are wondering if I have spoken to teachers and written notes and yes I have. I have been reminded to label every single item that follows him to school. I have told to teach Johnny how to properly take off his jacket so its not “inside out” so he can place it on his hook properly at school and the staff don’t have to fix his coat all the time. I have been told to remind Johnny that all of his belongings are to be kept in his backpack. I can read between the lines though and acknowledge that there is some frustration that comes from assisting and teaching four very different boys on the Autism Spectrum who are now progressing so well that they are now splitting their time between the Special Education Autism classroom and the regular classroom. They now have two coat hook areas to place their items, two teachers and two classrooms but these rooms are across the hall from each other. Repetitive behaviors can be a big part of a person’s Autistic experience but what can be viewed as a challenging behavior, can also be used to teaching them a life skill. Repetitively showing the boys over and over what the expection is the same way every single day as part of their day will embed whatever life skill they want to teach them. From placing their dirty boots in the hall outside of the classroom to where to hang their coats. They will just need the extra reminder to put the boots back on before they follow the other kids outside in the snow at recess because they will want to just join in on the fun and not bother with the pesky time wasting ritual of stopping to put on boots.
I have written the teachers and EA and have also reminded them that Johnny has some motor planning issues as well so life skills such as dressing and undressing can still be challenging depending on what the item is. He can’t do buttons up yet but he can get his shirts and pants on. He can’t start his zipper but he can finish zipping it up. He can’t tie his shoes yet but that’s why we leave slip on sneakers at school as his spare so he’s as independent as possible.
Johnny’s has an idea now. Princess’s kindergarten teacher has been encouraging parents to buy toddler glove/mitten clips to help the little ones keep track of their mitts and gloves. She even volunteered to purchase them for parents from a store if parents just gave her money and told her which colour. Johnny saw them on her jacket holding her gloves in place and he said “I want clips too. I won’t forget or lose my gloves that way. One of my friends at school…a girl has them on her coat.” Maybe all the other seven year old boys won’t be wearing these clips but Johnny is not “all the other boys” and he has lots of other things he’s thinking about at any given time so its hard for him to remember his gloves etc. This will help him not to have to deal with one more challenge and help let him be more independent. So now he’s got navy blue clips on his jacket and he couldn’t be happier.
As for Johnny’s backpack and keeping track of all of his gear, iPad, agenda, school stuff going back and forth each day he has another idea that sounds brilliant but I will save that for another day.
**image of clips and clips can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Toddlers-Elastic-Mitten-Clips-Black/dp/B007IFY254