If you follow this page on FaceBook, you probably saw on Monday that we got the notification that The Boy was accepted and placed in the Autism Society’s new Summer Day Camp in our area. I was on pins and needles all day waiting for the notification because there were only 30 spots, and I just knew they would be overwhelmed with applicants. They didn’t seem overly worried, but I was up at midnight when registration went live, just in case. Good thing too, as they ended up taking kids that qualified in order of the date and time of registration!
In any case, it is completely grant funded (in other words FREE), and runs for six weeks, every damn weekday, from 9am to 5pm. Down here in the land of “ESY?? We don’t got no stinkin’ ESY!” this is a golden opportunity. Trained staff, fun activities, 1:1 and 2:1 ratios…
And vans. Six of ’em. To take the kids places.
You see, even though Ihave the perspective to be able to see how awesome this will be, The Boy still sees it as a change from summers past. Camp Smile, while it was the best we could hope for for the past three summers, wasn’t all that. And he hated it at first because it was so different from the awesome ESY program he had up north. But he grew to love it. And now, another change. So I had to sell it a bit when I told him yesterday. And I opened with the vans.
“What kind of vans are they?” he asked. He was hooked.
Our state and local chapters of the Autism Society held a meeting last night regarding all of the new and wonderful programming they are bringing to our area, focusing primarily on their summer day camp at a new-to-us facility that has been remodeled and improved. I was excited to get the information, find out about registration and see how much it would cost. While The Boy has enjoyed the summer program he has attended the past few years, it wasn’t quite what he needed, although something was better than nothing. And if the school district claims he doesn’t qualify for ESY, it was our only alternative.
This new program will be for six weeks (six weeks!), Monday through Friday (all week!), from 9am to 5pm (amazing!). And it will be free… Wait, what?
And there are only 30 slots.
They went on to explain that first priority would be given to kids who do not receive any state services (pretty much everyone I know because you have to sacrifice your first born to get any kind of services around here), and to those who can attend the whole 6 weeks. OK, and do you not realize you are going to have hundreds of kids who fit that description? How will you decide among them?
Then they said it was open to kids with all diagnoses, and even siblings if there was room. And then they said it would be open to anyone in the area, not just people in our county…
A little bit of market research would have been appropriate here. I can’t believe they think that so few would be interested in this. I guess I’ll be up at Midnight on May 1, hoping the site doesn’t crash and trying to get registered before everyone else in the tri-county area…
I wrote recently about how we need to diversify, The Boy and me, and we need to find some new friends. My mom sent me a link to an article on adult friendship recently, which is long, but has a few good insights, even if I didn’t see eye to eye with the author on every point. And the very real truth here is that it’s difficult for kiddos on the spectrum to make friends, and it’s difficult for their parents, too.
In the article, they say that sociologists consider three “ingredients” necessary to form close friendships: “proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.” And as adults, we just don’t have those ingredients readily available, at least not as much as we do as when we are in school. In fact, I can’t even think of a setting like the one described above, except for some of the autism society events, like Friends and Fun, where kiddos and siblings come together on one Saturday a month to celebrate anyone who has a birthday that month. Who attends is really a crapshoot each month, as anyone with a kiddo on the spectrum can understand – some days whatever you had planned just ain’t happenin’. But we are able to talk about things we’re going through that neurotypical families just don’t understand, and it’s absolutely OK for your kiddo to stim and script to his heart’s content because everyone there gets it.
The article also mentions that we don’t make the time to maintain and cultivate the types of friendships that are healthy and enjoyable, and that in general, we need to do more of that. So maybe The Boy and I should just plan on going to Friends and Fun every month and make it part of our routine. I’d say it very well could be our best shot at diversifying, and getting some more eggs in some more baskets.
Our rescheduledIEP meeting is today, and let me tell you, I feel so much more prepared this time around. I am so glad that I was able to call them out on a technicality and give myself some more time to gather my wits and my resources. Today, I’m bringing our regional rep from the Autism Society in our state. I’ve talked with her a bunch over the last couple of weeks, and she will be there to advise me, and be an extra pair of ears.
They will still have a passel of personnel in attendance, but they don’t scare me anymore. I have data from his previous school that supports everything that I say he needs and isn’t getting. I have documentation in the form of emails from his current teachers that supports everything I say he needs and isn’t getting. And I have a better understanding of their intentions, as well as the process, and my rights.
And my focus now is on the IEP, even though we will be discussing placement, as well. He needs and aide, he needs autism-savvy teachers, and he needs help with organization. Period. I would like to see him go to a school that is better equipped for his needs, but I’m not as steadfast in that as I was, because I’m not sure I want him in a school where they so obviously are against him being there. When it comes down to it, no matter where he is placed, we will continue to have a fight on our hands, and now that I know that, I am better prepared to roll with the punches (Inner Biker Chick is present and accounted for, thankyouverymuch).
What a difference a couple of weeks makes. Let’s ride!