It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!
One thing we insisted on was starting him with one class period per day (this school's class periods are 90 minutes) and working up to a full day. He has been allowed to visit and participate for one class period at a time (twice, so far, with more planned before the end of the school year) and both times, he did well, he enjoyed it, the staff said he was wonderful, but it took so much out of him, he came straight home and slept the rest of the day.
One woman (there were so many people in the room, I had a hard time keeping straight who was who) kept pointing out problems with everyone's ideas. I was beginning to wonder if she were the school attorney. Then I realized she was the district director of special education. She did bring up some valid concerns, like how are we going to accomplish everything in GL's IEP in 90 minutes a day? She also suggested some workable solutions to these problems, so she wasn't just shooting down everyone's ideas. I think his IEP will be more workable now that we have some of these wrinkles ironed out. His IEP looks very good on paper. I know these things don't always work out as well in practice as they do on paper, but I'm glad we got so many good things written into it.
The meeting lasted three hours. GL offered suggestions when he could, and otherwise sat quietly, listening and doodling on a sheet of paper. He lasted two hours before he needed a break. We all took a five minute break, then a support teacher took him for a walk while we finished the meeting. We were all exhausted when it was done. We went out for lunch. (GL requested Chinese, because he wanted "cranberry goons".) Then we went home and he slept the rest of the day.
BB has been planning to mow lawns this summer to earn money for his CAP activities. (And those incidental expenses, like meals out.) We bought him a lawn mower for his birthday. A rather expensive present, but if it works out, it should save us money in the long run. I assembled the lawnmower Tuesday afternoon, (more complicated, time-consuming and frustrating than it sounds) gave him a quick tutorial, and he practiced mowing our lawn under close supervision. He'd never mowed before. He did pretty well for his first time, but I thought he needed a little more practice before hiring himself out to strangers, so he's mowing for PBP tomorrow.
Wednesday was therapy, and GL's OT commented that he seemed unusually tired. He has a med to be given PRN for anxiety and aggression, but we try not to give it on Wednesdays, because it makes him tired, decreases his muscle strength, and leads to intention tremors, so his OT can't get any productive work out of him. She wondered if we'd given it. We hadn't. He was still that tired from the day before. She also mentioned that once he starts getting OT from the school, his insurance may stop paying for private therapy.
We've been looking for an outside peer activity with weekly meetings to get him used to interacting with his peers, and hopefully build some social stamina for school. Even when everything is going well, the social aspects of the classroom are harder for him than the academic subjects, assuming those are at a level he can understand. If he'd been in a school classroom up until now, I doubt he would have learned anything. Why enroll him now? Well, he continues to progress, however slowly, in reading and writing, but in other subjects, he appears to have learned all he is capable of learning. If the school can teach him some math, great, but I'm not holding my breath. For him, home was the best environment for academics, and those take priority. Now that those are mostly done, and we feel he is more able to handle the "hidden curriculum" that most students pick up unconsciously, but he has to be explicitly taught, we'll let the school work on socialization, vocational skills, ADLs, recreation, community involvement, safety, and hundreds of others. Not that we have ignored these, but we felt home and the neighborhood, i.e., the real world, were the best place to begin teaching them. Yes, there are a portions of each skill the school can teach best, and now they'll have the chance, but looking back, it's remarkable how small those portions are, and how unimportant they were to his earlier development. Now that he's come so far, they are among the remaining hurdles between now and his post-high school life.
Back to an outside peer activity: there is a Scout troop for people with disabilities forming, and we thought it might fill the need. We attended a meeting tonight. There were five other youth there with their parents. Four of them were far below GL's functional level. The fifth was somewhat above his level, and trying to be the center of attention by being the expert on everything. GL spent most of the meeting acting about half his functional age.
They were working on their first merit badge: Nutrition. The teacher gave a lecture on portion sizes, then passed out crayons and worksheets and pictures of food to color. Then she went around and helped the students color their pictures and do their worksheets. No one but Mr. Expert-on-Everything (who colors perfectly within the lines) was much interested in the lecture or worksheets or coloring. GL did a little paperwork, then got bored and spent the rest of the meeting talking baby talk, intentionally giving wrong answers, and spinning in his swivel chair like it was Disney's latest attraction. He said he had fun, but when I asked him what he enjoyed, he said, "The chair." I did not drive an hour each way so he could spin in a swivel chair. There are plenty of office supply stores closer to home. And the socialization was definitely having a negative effect. Maybe we'll find another activity closer to home that's a better fit. Or maybe we'll just wait for Little League season to start.
Friday night the high school is putting on a program, and the special ed students have a part. We bought tickets. Saturday is a transition seminar. Sunday morning is church, and Sunday afternoon is a community youth theater production of Robin Hood. Several youth from our church are in it, and we are planning to attend. I've thought several times that I must have lost my mind to schedule so many events in one week, but for most of them I didn't have a choice of "when". They were already scheduled, and I had to choose "yes" or "no". I wish I had said "no" to a few more things but, other than Scouts, I'm not sure which ones.