First Visitation in a Year

Saturday, we hope to take The Boy to meet his dad so that he can spend the week with him.  He hasn’t seen his dad since last March, last spring break.

countdownThe Boy is excited, especially knowing that his dad has a new puppy to meet and a new car over which to obsess.  I am happy that he is excited, and happy that his dad seems to be making an effort this time around.  But, as always, it is with guarded optimism.  The Boy has been hurt too many times for me to blindly accept that all is sunshine and lollipops.  I won’t trust that this all will happen as planned until we actually see his dad on Saturday.  And not for one second do I believe that there won’t be an impact after Spring Break.

Even when trips like this have gone well in the past, there has always been an adjustment back tour normal routine, household rules, and expectations.  And I am preparing everyone here that hasn’t experienced this first-hand before.  The Man says he understands and is ready, as do his teachers – I have prepared everyone to the best of my ability for the inevitable transition that will occur when he returns.

And if it doesn’t go well, or doesn’t go at all, it’s a whole ‘nother story, as you can imagine.

But right now, we are cautiously optimistic, glad to see The Boy’s excitement, and holding our breath for now.

New Friends, New Opportunities

The Boy and I went over for a “playdate” of sorts with some new friends from our local chapter of the Autism Society.  The Boy had gone to summer camp with this boy, and I’ve leaned on his mom quite a bit through our schooling struggles.  The boys had a blast – it was very neat to see The Boy getting along so well with kids his own age (or thereabouts), and I was grateful just to have the chance to do it, and the chance for him to make some real friends, something he hasn’t yet done at school.

And I can’t overlook the chance for me to make friends.  It can be a bit lonely moving away from almost everyone you know.  I still love my friends from up north, but I can’t hang out with them by any means, and so I spend a lot of time by myself, especially being underemployed.  It doesn’t lend itself to maintaining your sanity, let’s just say, so it was nice to get out and just hang out with someone, especially someone who really gets what I’m going through right now.

The last time he rode the bus, The Boy was in kindergarten...

The last time he rode the bus, The Boy was in kindergarten…

One of the things we have been talking about has been a possible switch in schools for The Boy.  We’re hoping to get him into a pilot program at a middle school across the county which is aimed at high functioning kids on the spectrum.  It happens to be housed where our new friends go to school (across the county, requiring busing), and New Friend’s Mom can’t say enough good things about the special ed staff, who really seem to know autism, front and back.  So, we are pursuing it, because his current school is still not following his IEP, and seem to be taking their sweet time even implementing any of the county specialists recommendations.

It would be a tremendous transition, again, and we have weighed that into the decision, but at this point, I strongly feel he is not in the correct placement, and I’m ready to fight to get him into this program (even though I don’t think I will really need to).

So keep your fingers crossed for The Boy.  New opportunities may be on the horizon that would be much better in the long run, but may be a little painful at first.  Just another day on the spectrum.

In One Respect, Still in Limbo

We went to the beach today, a family day.  A gorgeous, sunny, not-too-hot, wonderful day.  And I am so happy I do not have to return up North because school is starting back up again.  I even told The Man how extremely happy I am today… except for not having a job yet.

English: Limbo at Palisades Park

This limbo looks like a lot more fun…

No, I didn’t get the job that I was hoping for, and I took it a lot harder than I expected.  I do have a part-time job teaching scrapbooking at a local craft store.  I haven’t signed any paperwork, but it’s pretty much a done deal.  This kind of part-time, though, will be very few hours, at least at the beginning, and rather low pay.  So I am still looking, and follow up on my other leads.  But I’m not as discouraged as I was late last week.

Because I don’t have anything lined up, I now need to investigate insurance options for The Boy.  I have to determine this week if we qualify for any of the state programs.  If we don’t, I have to start shopping for health insurance, which is a pretty daunting task.

I guess the silver lining is that I have the time to do this, and the time to meet with The Boy’s teachers, and attend his orientation (at 9am in the morning?!), and do this research on health insurance.

Like The Man keeps telling me, I’ll take it day by day. ;)

Moving House: The Boy

You are probably wondering how The Boy has done, seeing as autism and any kind of change don’t generally mix well, and moving house is a change in a league all of its own.  The short answer is that he has done amazingly well!

Here’s what I think helped:

Grammy and Poppy were there to help ease the transition.  The Boy loves his grandparents, and they are a constant in his life.  Having them come up to help with the move helped remind him of what he had to look forward to — more time with his grandparents!  They are also a little less threatening than Mom, so Grammy helped him pack up his room, which calmed his fears that we were getting rid of all of his stuff!

Preparation.  We’ve been prepping the Boy for almost a year, first introducing it as an idea, and then gradually replacing the “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” with “Won’t it be fun when we…?”  We addressed each of his fears as they came up, and made sure not to make light of them.  We also spent a lot of time focusing on the positives.

The Moving Book.  Anytime I heard him start to fret about the move, I made sure to pull out the moving book (or at least made a point to remember to do that at a quiet part of the day).  It really did seem to calm his fears, I think because it worked as a visual cue to address his fears and remind him of the positives, and visual cues really work.

Addressing his biggest fear ASAP.  One of The Boy’s biggest concerns was missing his ESY program.  As quickly as I could, I found a similar program in our new state.  Because of the timing of our move, I didn’t think I’d be able to get him into one provided by his school district, and truth be told, finding one that was going to be the right fit was a bit of a challenge.  But in a totally coincidental way, we (I say we because Grammy helped a bunch on this front) found a summer day camp for kids with autism and their siblings in our new area that was relatively affordable and got him enrolled ASAP so that he would have a replacement for the program he cared so much about.  He went from whimpering about missing ESY to being excited about Camp SMILE.  And because he attends daily, it is a new and immediate routine, and provides him with an opportunity to make new friends (one of his other biggest concerns).

His room is still full of boxes, as most of them are, and he’s been wearing his new Spongebob hoodie just about everyday (he tends toward clothing exclusivity when stressed), but he really has made an excellent transition, and I am so proud and happy for him.

moving!

Yes, We Are Moving

Our empty dining room in the new house...I did the mental math the other day, and it is only about six months away… Yikes!  I have so much to do.  It seemed like so far away for so long, that now I actually have to get out the planner and start penciling some stuff in!  I can’t believe it!  There are so many things we have to do like have a huge garage/Craigslist sale (which will basically entail a whole house inventory, and lots and lost of decisions), meet/talk with the autism society liaison where we’re headed so I can make some plans for The Boy, not only for school, but also for the summer, work on my transition plans for The Boy (including making a “Big Move Book” for him), and then the long list of actual moving details…

The last time I moved between states, I was four years old, so I wasn’t so involved with the details.  Now I have pesky things like a driver’s license and bank accounts that will need to be switched.

Oh, and there’s that small detail about employment…

And health insurance…

I think I’ll get right on this…

In January.

A Bedtime (Social) Story

Evidence of The Boy’s rebellion from the night before.

As I was writing my post last night, a storm was brewing.  Not outside.  Inside my son’s head.  See, we just returned from three weeks in North Carolina, where he gets to spend some nights at Grammy’s house, and get ridiculously spoiled.  She is very proud of herself that she has instituted “bedtime”, and “lights out” at her house when he is there (as well she should be), but I’m pretty sure he is faking her out on the “lights out” part of it.  Sneaky little…

At our house, The Boy has to relinquish his iPad (and yes, it’s his, and yes, that’s a completely ‘nother post) for “lights out”, so that I can put it in my room “to charge” (wink, wink).  Because if he has it, he will be on it until he passes out, which results in a not-so-conducive morning routine, to say the least.  The boy needs sleep, and he has had problems getting to sleep for the past few years.

Needless to say, after returning from vacation, and getting away with all and sundry at Grammy’s house, he is having a bit of a, um, “transition” back to our house rules (translated: he’s being a holy terror on this point).

Last night, he screamed and cried (“But I’ll be BORED!!”), wouldn’t get into bed, and even went so far as to zip up his suitcase (which still has unpacked clothes in it from trip – so sue me), take it out to the side door entry, and announce that he was moving, and not living here anymore.  In the past, he has gotten as far as sitting on the step outside of the side door, at which point I think he realized that he didn’t have anywhere to go.  Actually leaving the house makes me nervous, as he used to be a bolter – one who would take off at a moment’s notice, and just RUN.  I cannot run (without huffing and puffing and showing the world how insanely out of shape I am), and so I have that fear.  That he will walk out the door and be gone.  So while I do my best to ignore the behavior that he is employing to get my attention, I can only ignore it so far.

Luckily, last night, he did not actually go outside.  Did I mention that this is all occurring at like midnight?  OK, more like 10:30pm, but it FELT like midnight.

At some point, I asked him if we needed a social story.  This is something that I have used with him to a pretty amazing degree of success.  It amazes me because he is such a logical kid, that a social story seems as if I am dumbing concepts down for him, but it works!  It helps that he has a love affair with PowerPoint, which is the program we use to write them quickly (he saved the 88 PowerPoints he made at school this year on a flash drive…), and it also helps to have him help write it (or at least pick out the pictures).  As we wrote this one on bedtime together, I could feel his breathing slowing next to me, and almost hear his brain working.

When we were finished, we read it together, and he went to bed.  Notice I didn’t say “went to sleep”, but I’m always OK with babysteps.

Have you used social stories?  Have you written your own?  How did it work out?