****just a warning, don't click on the following links if you feel like criticizing my parenting or my my son, I re-read my situation or watch the video clips of him struggling and I break down into tears- and not because I'm pregnant but because it's heartbreaking to see him hurting and knowing everything I do I can't always help him to see how amazing and special he is and let us in to help.****
I thought I'd take today to give a little Ethan update. This school year and this move has been way more then just rough on him. Three schools later and he's still asking for Mrs. Lee almost daily. So right now he's at a public school in our district that is supposedly wonderful with special needs kids and has supposedly wonderful staff equip to handle Ethan and his needs (which, by the way, are not very extensive compared to a lot of special needs kids/parents I've met over the years.) He has an IEP (Indiv. Education Plan), with a few modifications, he's in a standard school classroom and goes out in a resource like setting for a few times throughout the day, he gets speech/OT services regularly there, ect. If you have a child anywhere on the spectrum, with ADHD or any delays you should totally have one. With Ethan we also set him up a few years ago with a BIP (or a Behavior Plan) again.... this isn't standard for the school to give out and come up with on their own but you should definitely have one for your child, even if they aren't having behavior problems... actually esp. if they don't have behavior problems. It basically gives goals/ expectations for a child and his/her behavior in the school but also gives a little help to the staff about what their expectations about the child's behavior and reactions will be. The reason I say do it before there is a problem is that if you don't the is absolutely no protection for you/your child in regards to discipline. Okay, I'm off my soapbox, let me get back to Ethan's situation....
Ethan had an IEP from Barrow County Schools.... It was wonderful. It gave expectations/ goals for him that the school staff was constantly working on, it gave us as parents the touch points that we needed to re-enforce and it also gave step-by-step guidelines to follow if for some reason Ethan ever had one of his Autism Meltdowns (like this or this ) at school. Let's be clear here... Ethan is 9 nine years 2 months now.... developmentally his overall age is 7 years 2 months. (We are super proud of that number) In some areas he is more severely delayed (his gross motor skills age is 6 years 1 month) His logistics and planning skills are 22% below of where they should be for his age, his body awareness skills are 32% below an average 9 year old. He does not have these fits regularly, in fact even after everything he's been through this year with multiple schools he's only had 3 meltdowns, and they were all here at home. He's gotten upset and acted out a little at school but nothing major.
Last week that changed. He completely broke down at school and this went from bad to worse. The schedule was changed, the teachers were impatient, Ethan was fixated on a library book and come to find out.... the teachers and staff hadn't even read his existing BIP. Yeah, it's the stuff Special Needs Parents have nightmares about. After picking him up and calming him down in minutes and hearing him cry all night about how hurt he was and how much he hated school and was scared to go back, my heart started breaking.
They handled Ethan all wrong and eescalated it to the point of no return. AND THEN they tried to suspend my 2nd grader for 30 school days.... yep you read that right.over 6 weeks of school suspension. For a 2nd grader? that is developmentally a Kindergarten er?! Ha! It was so ridiculous it was laughable. Thankfully we did have an BIP in place. Doug went in for a meeting with the school the next day and Ethan ended up with a 3 day school suspension so I've had him home with me this week. We have cuddled, we've read together, he's gotten in lots of Owen time and taught him how to play the Wii sports games, he's played and played with his puppy, he's baked with me and he's gotten his confidence back. Today he even got to spend time with his very best friend in the entire world.... and now he is HAPPY again!
Spending more time with him makes me realize how amazing he is. He's smart and funny and intensely loving and yes, he gets angry easily. Yes, he has a low tolerance for certain textures or sounds, and Yep, he sometimes acts inappropriately for his age but you know what? He's full of so much life and imagination and talent and love that it's nothing but contagious. He's trying so much harder then your average kid to do even simple things like learn to dress himself and express his emotions. It wears on him and it hurts him but he's fighting a hard battle and refusing to give up.
Don't get me wrong, having Autism and raising a child with Autism is hard. It sucks sometimes and it's exhausting and painful but IT IS SO WORTH IT! I couldn't imaging Ethan being anything other then who he is. Shortly after Ethan was diagnosed I scrapbooked my thoughts and they're still exactly how I feel.
You can read the journaling HERE- it is autism.
Ethan, I LOVE YOU... just the way you are.