In the past few days, things have been moving so fast (and yet, slow) for our family.
Case in point:
B returned back to his aftercare after his suspension and now is on “probationary” status. Meaning, one wrong move(s) and it could get ugly. B’s ECSE teacher, her assistant, AND his new “Resource Teacher” (our newest addtion to the IEP family) took shifts at the aftercare to observe B in action. There was a whole army of support to make sure his aftercare knew we were there. Apparently, it was not pretty sight on that first day. As his Resource Teacher told me when picking him up, “this is going to be a challenge”. And, “I’m not sure this is going to work out.”
Now, really, just how do you respond to that?
But after listening to her talk, it became clear that the environment was not a good fit. First off, he gets off the bus and is whisked into naptime mode. Which of course, being in a new place, he was more interested in playing with the “new” toys. Next, the class sleeps for astonishing 2 1/2 hours. Each day. Four year olds. As I found out, pretty much the entire Center goes down like that – that allows for teacher lunches, meetings, etc. So, besides trying to get a kid to nap you expect him to nap for 2 1/2 hours-ish. Good luck with that people.
There’s snack, circle time (which he kinda does but mostly not), and then Open Play. Now, if they go outside, it’s not too bad. But part of their “Open Play” is indoors – a place called the “Big Room”. Since his aftercare is faith-based and housed within a church, the “Big Room” was the former sanctuary. So it is a large open area with a bunch of toys, balls, etc. It’s where kids go to the the end of the day to make the ratios of teachers to kids work out.
It’s, to put it lightly, a free-for-all. And while B loves it, it’s absolutely the worst place to be. I’ve twitched quite a bit in there when I need to pick him up – the sound bounces off the walls (not to mention the toys) and kids are running around like they are hyped up on sugar. His incidents are normally here – some kid takes a toy, gets in his personal space, etc. and he will, er, defend himself.
I’m trying to take in the Resource Teacher’s observations and just feel so…sad. That a place, that I used to think would be the answer, apparently isn’t. Again. And how it somehow all relates to how my son behaves with others. What’s worse, is that I kinda knew in the past couple of months but didn’t want to pursue another option. I wanted to keep both kids together in the same place. I wanted my son to be as mainstreamed as possible.
So, now I’m resigned to figuring out a next step. We’ve floated the idea of a nanny. Or even the extreme – me quitting my job. Yeah, that’s how extreme it got if I had to THINK about quitting in order to deal with this. And then Husband brought up a place that we briefly looked at last year. Mainly, we wrote it off because their hours are 8:30 AM -3:30 PM. Seriously, what kind schedule is that for a typical working parent?
However, in our current state of desperation, we decided to revisit it. The woman on the phone was extremely polite and was very understanding of the situation. Yes, we have a spot for him, she says. Come on by for a tour and see what we have to offer him.
This place isn’t that old. I think it opened in August 2010. The Center is housed on sprawling campus that also is home to the local ARC. They accept children of all abilities (2-6 years so Mayita can’t go) but do specialize in special needs, using ABA and developmental assessments. The class size was tiny – on the day we were there, there were about 7 in what will be B’s class. And everything seemed so much calmer. Everything was neat and orderly. The staff are wonderful and very attentive. The woman giving the tour even has a teenage son on the spectrum (mainstreamed, which gives me hope for B).
B would continue on his current schedule of attending his special needs preK in the AM until the summer, in which he can go full-time. In the fall, he may be moved to a closer preK (maybe even the one by our house!) to be closer to the new Center.
Now of course I wished we had pursued this place before. But, hindsight being 20/20, we just have to accept and move on. And move as fast as feasible. There are things to be sorted out. We have to make a formal transportation request to the public school system. We have to complete paperwork to formally enroll him in the new Center. And, naturally, give notice to the aftercare.
Husband took B for his developmental assessment (as part of the enrollment process). According to Husband it went well. B seemed very happy in the new setting during Observation. Husband said he called it, “the fun place”.
We are working on changing our work schedules to accommodate the early closing and picking up the other kid. Tricky, but thankfully it is possible.
For the time being, as awkward as it may become, we are keeping Mayita at the other place. One thing at time, I keep telling myself. Let’s get B into hopefully a better situation.
I wouldn’t say I’m admitting failure at what has happened now. Things change. But, I’m relieved to not have to worry about him being suspended. I’m relieved that I found a place that was “truly” accepting and not just playing lip service.