Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Putting it in first and other notes from the autism front lines

I had my annual back-to-back IEP meetings this morning; despite the surprise dump of snow, school convened, and I had to figure out how to get there. Well, how was simple--SLOW; a routine 7-minute ride became a 25 minute white-knuckled adventure.

Unfortunately, that was the easiest part of my commute. More on that in a minute.

Nic's team met first. Nic once again arrived to contribute for a few minutes; this time, he didn't retreat under my arm. He sat up in his chair, answered questions, asked a few of his own, and just amazed me with his poise. When he left, we got down to the brass tacks of his IEP and discussed his transition to middle school.

On the surface, Nic's inclusion looks easy; however, a lot of people put in priceless extra time to make it work. I realize that, but going through the pages of the draft IEP reminded me that a lot of work goes into Nic's individualized instruction.

Which is why I push him as hard as I do. I want him to deserve these efforts.

And as humbling (in a good way) as Nic's IEP meeting was, G's meeting actually outstripped his brother's. While G isn't quite the behavioral challenge Nic was at the same age, he is infinitely more complicated. We discovered early on (thanks to his preschool teacher) that his locomotion is actually a very important component to his ability to process data.

Picture it; you have a kid who is not going to learn sitting at a desk. This is a problem, both for the child and the teacher.

His team came up with a way to work with him--and early results of the changes they've made to his plan are promising. Dad and I agreed to the changes, thanked everyone, and left the building.

Leaving the parking lot, however, proved challenging. Two kind souls eventually helped me push the van out of the parking spot that refused to let us leave, only for me to get hung up in a drift that was inconveniently located in the only means I had to leave the parking lot. The usual reverse/drive rock failed me--again.

Hubby had long since departed; the school advised me to call Triple A. After I indulged in a Munch's Scream and a half dozen Hail Marys, the small still voice advised me to try putting the van in first.

I don't even know where that came from--I've driven automatic forever, although one of my friends tried to teach me to drive stick on his van in the wee small hours one morning as we cruised the old neighborhood. It could be that he or his brother told me about first gear a couple decades ago.

Anyway, bingo, that freed me, 45 minutes after my meeting ended. And then I had to dig myself out of my driveway, but at least I had a shovel this time around. And I managed to get back without injuring anyone or banging up the van, all good.

Backdropping all this is other stuff. That'll be another post. But for now, I am as ever grateful to my boys' teams, not only for the time and energy they spend on them, but for the very fact that they believe in them enough to do so.

When I think of where we were with Nic 3, 5, 8 years ago, I can't help but marvel at how incredibly far he's come. And I can't help but think, despite all the challenges that lie ahead, that he is going to be just fine.

In spite of himself.

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