Babyboy’s been in school, real school, for almost a month. I’ve been writing about this all along, but this week, it really hit me.
Wednesday evening, we were sitting in his classroom for School Open House, and his lovely teacher Miss Jessica was talking about Class pictures. We’d just had a school-wide parent’s thing where we sat in the cafeteria for an hour and listened to pitches from the principal, the PTO people, the… I don’t even know who talking about all these upcoming events and fundraisers and opportunities to be Class Parents or volunteer time for the big Night Out or the clothing sale. I was wondering, WHEN on earth do I ever have time to do any of these things??? But what really got me was when Miss Jessica was talking about Class Pictures.
I was suddenly shocked by the fact that my little baby is in school. Like, real school.
He’s only 3 1/2 years old, but was referred into the Special Ed program at our public elementary school right from Early Intervention (EI), and so he’s essentially been in behavioral, speech and some sort of physical therapy since the day our pediatrician made us call EI well over a year ago.
Back then, the big issue was, Babyboy wasn’t talking. He was showing increasing signs of great frustration, like screaming and banging his head on the floor.
While our wonderful pediatrician was very firm in his guidance that we needed to call EI, he didn’t use the A-word with us. It was April, Babyboy’s most favorite behavior therapist through EI, who first sat us down, and with great trepidation, her voice clearly tremoring, said, “We’re concerned about the possibility of Autism…”
Even then we were a tad slow on the draw, some denial on our part… But nonetheless once the A-word had been spoken, the ball got rolling. Our gently pushy pedi Dr. Ben got us an evaluation in Developmental at the fancy local Children’s hospital, and we got diagnosed.
Babyboy went from EI, to the public school’s half day Special Ed summer program, to the full day Special Ed preschool without a hitch. A Parent Advisory Council meeting back in the spring had scared the bejeesus out of me, as all the parents were very negative, describing legal battles and ugliness… But so far, we’ve had nothing but positive outcomes.
And so Hubby and I sat in Babyboy’s little classroom, a class of 8 kids only, most with Autism, and listened to his very kind teacher tell us that yes, Class Photos were coming up and we’d have to come in to review the proofs because for some reason they don’t send them home with the kids…
She talked about their schedule, how they sit in Circle Time for 30 whole minutes and greet each other and talk about what day of the week it is and what the weather is. They use sign language. They have a pretty rigid schedule of activities including gross motor skills group where they work on different types of things like walking on a low balance beam, crawling through a tunnel or scooting on a wheelie scooter. They sit down and eat a civilized lunch. They sit one-on-one and work on small skills like identifying what people are doing or feeling in pictures; using the correct pronouns, I, she, he, we; working on scissor cutting skills and other fine motor work… They’re working, working, working all day.
Wow. We have a kid in school. And he loves it. He’s doing well. This summer we noticed he was actually requesting to go to the playground, and wanting to go down the slide, even if there were alot of kids around. He even gets on the swings sometimes- not always though, as he seems to hate if he swings wobbly.
He’s making more eye contact. Lately he runs to greet me at the door, most always, even hugging and sometimes making kissy smacking noises with his lips.
And he also, most every night, would ask for his old behavioral therapist April, his favorite, who he last saw at a special little session in June.
So, last week I called her. I was at work. I had put Babyboy to bed the night before. We went through the list of all the people he loves, as we always do, and somewhere after Nana and before his sister, he listed April.
He says her name so cute, A-prul. So I thought, what the hell, I still have her number in my cell, maybe she’d be interested in some side work doing some extra sessions with him?
I called and she answered, seemingly surprised but happy to hear from me. I told her that almost 6 months after the last time he saw her, he was still asking for her. I started to get emotional… I asked her, with some trepidation, my voice perhaps a bit tremoring, if she’d consider working with him for a few sessions here and there? And we’d be happy to pay her for her time?
Right away she went into how she was taking a class and working and didn’t have alot of time, but she had names of some very excellent people… My heart just sank, thinking about how hopefully Babyboy said A-prul, his little body popping up a bit, like, jumping at the idea of her. When she was working with Babyboy, she came to our home as well as sometimes to his play group; she was very present with us. She also always had good advice for us, like how to deal with those early very bad temper tantrums and head-banging episodes, and then how to help him learn to follow directions, hand-over-hands guiding him to do the right things… I realized I missed her input as well. And she was telling me she couldn’t come. I started to get a bit teary.
Then she said: But you know, I really miss my little buddy. I’m often in your neighborhood. Is it OK if I just come by for a visit with him occasionally?
And then I really teared up. We agreed on some good possible days, and when I hung up, I had to just sob for a few minutes. Babyboy hasn’t had a very strong connection with anyone else like that, not any of his ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapists from the summer, who also came to the house, always different people, very young mostly. We don’t see him all day at school, but he doesn’t come home talking about anyone in particular.
So when she said she could come yesterday, Thursday, we were all super-excited. I told Babyboy who was coming ahead of time… When he heard the doorbell ring and leapt up yelling A-PRUL!
She sat on the floor with us and we chatted. She drew pictures with Babyboy, played for a little while. He sat in her lap and smiled, smiled. When she told him it was time to go, he protested, but eventually he took her hand and started leading her into the kitchen, saying: Apple, apple for A-prul.
I had totally forgotten- We had gone apple-picking on the weekend, and with all the apples we made apple crisp yesterday afternoon. While we were making it, Babyboy helping to “cut up” the apples of course, I said, We’ll save some to give to April when she comes!
Though I forgot, he remembered, and while I packed up some apple crisp for her, he reached up to the table and grabbed several apples to give to her. She piled them up on the tupperware laughing that she would bring them home to her own family.
It was very cute and sweet and I got teary-eyed again.
Apples for the teacher…