Back to school

School started on Monday.  R. got into the habit of sleeping late over the summer.  I did get her up earlier for a few days prior to school starting, but I was still anticipating a struggle.  As soon as I told her she had to get up to go to school and the bus was coming she smiled broadly and got up.

I told her all morning that Elmo could not come to school, he had to stay home.  She would not give him up for anything.  But as soon as the bus came and we were at the front door, I told her again that Elmo could not go to school and she let me take him!   Three days now and she is leaving Elmo home without a complaint.

She has been coming home from school unbelievably happy.  She’s always a happy child, but the last few days she is just super happy.  She has her ABA session as soon as she gets home, usually she has about fifteen minutes to have a quick snack and get changed.  Today the bus was late.  It was only 20 minutes, but I was starting to imagine all sorts of horrible situations.  I called and  after putting me on hold, they told me the bus would arrive in two minutes.  It did, now that is impressive.  The driver said he was having trouble with one of the student’s seat belts.  I saw this child out of his seat yesterday when I got R. off the bus.  He unbuckled his seatbelt when the bus stopped at our house.  The driver said he was going to put him in a harness, and I’ll bet that was the trouble he was having.  By the time R. arrived home the ABA therapist had been here for ten minutes.  She was not happy to have to immediately start her session and she protested quite a bit.  Luckily it is her favorite therapist and he cheered her up after a while.

Last day of school

Artwork from school

School ended on Friday. It seems like R. just started and was in a good groove with our schedule. There’s a week off and then she has four weeks of ESY. Her regular teacher is taking the summer off and so are most of the aids. I’m a bit worried about breaking in new staff, but at least the kids will be the same.

The teacher invited the parents to an end of the year circle time. I think our presence distracted the kids quite a bit. When we arrived R.’s back was to us, so she did not notice us for quite a while. It was so funny and sweet when she did notice us, she smiled broadly and had this look of wonder, like what are you doing here?

It was quite amazing to watch her sit still in her chair for the entire circle time. She jumped up a couple of times but was easily redirected to sit down again. Circle time usually lasts for twenty minutes, but things must have been slow because of the distraction of the visitors so it actually lasted for thirty minutes. Part of me feels like standing on the roof and yelling “My daughter sat independently for half an hour!” But I’ll settle for watching the video that my husband made.

She did participate a bit, filling in “go” for every ready, set. She sang along to one of her new favorite songs We all go traveling by. She also put the vehicle icon on the board as directed by the teacher. I learned the hand and feet motions that they do for the songs.

R. loves watching the video of circle time she sings along and is so focused. I think I’ll have to have “circle time” every day over vacation.

Hello Preschool

Just when I felt like I was finally used to the chaos of therapists in and out all day it was time for the transition to preschool.   I was determined to be more educated about the process and what our options were.    I attended a training workshop at a local organization for families of special needs children. It was very informative.   I also managed to meet some parents who had already gone through the process and being able to talk to them was invaluable.

R. only had one day without services, and that was because we had scheduled a doctor’s appointment.  She stopped ABA and ST on a Friday and started school on Tuesday.   We brought her to the classroom the afternoon before she started.  We went after class was finished and the teacher let her explore.  When I dropped her off the next morning she ran inside the classroom as happy as could be.   We’ve had no problems with drop off, it is amazing how happy she is to go to school.

She started taking the bus about three weeks after she started.   We got the letter with the bus information a couple of days after the bus started showing up.  So one morning as we are going out to the car there’s the bus.   R. had a huge fit, she couldn’t understand why she wasn’t getting in the car with Daddy.  I had to carry her screaming and kicking on to the bus.  I planned to ride with her the first day, so I did and she cried almost the entire way.   I talked to the teacher and she gave me a print out of a bus and a school.  I also found a Fisher Price toy bus.    The next morning we moved the car so it was out of sight.  I started talking about taking the bus to school as soon as she woke up, I showed her the bus PEC, acted out getting on the bus with her little people and played “The Wheels on the Bus.”    It worked.  She willingly went on the bus and we haven’t had a problem in the morning since.  Now all I have to say is “The bus is here.  Time for school” and she stops what ever she is doing and comes running to leave.  Once outside she runs for the bus with a grin.

I’m very pleased with how the teacher and aides work with R.  I told them that her normal mode of operation is to have a tantrum on the floor when you try to get her to do something that she doesn’t want to do.  After just a couple of days one of the aids told me that he had great success with saying R. up 1, 2, 3.

They also had trouble getting R. to transition to different activities. No surprise there.    The teacher discussed with me how R. likes to clutch items and suggested that she use an actual object for R. to hold onto to transition from activity to activity.    The teacher also plays the same song for the start of circle time and now R. will automatically go to the circle time area when she hears the song.

We do still have therapists coming into our home.  The school’s ABA program is at home for an hour and a half each day.  It took a few weeks to get into the new routine, but it is going well now.