First Day of Fulltime #School / End of #IBI (#Autism)

Last Friday was the end of an era…a 2.5 year era in my family’s life. My son finished IBI (Intensive Behavioural Intervention therapy). When we moved back to Big City, Ontario, the weekly schedule was that he went to school on Mondays, in an Autism-specific class, then IBI therapy Tuesdays through Friday, from 9am – 3pm. Last week, my kids were at their dad’s for March Break so I took a little baked goody for my son’s therapists on Friday, arriving at the pick up time (my ex was NOT happy, and thought I should have asked his “permission”…but I digress…). The therapists have been so amazing with my son that a home-made baked goody is definitely just a tiny token of thanks compared to the work they have done over the last 1.5 years (at this location). My daughter handed over the banana bread and my son said “thank you” to the therapist…and the therapist cried. Happy tears and sad ones as she said she’s going to miss my son. She was going to share the bread with my son’s team. They even sent home a HUGE inflated Sulley…one of my son’s favourite characters. He went to their dad’s because they were there until Sunday, and since returning home, Sulley’s been hanging out on the ceiling in the living room:

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Yesterday just felt like a regular day because he usually goes to school on the bus on Mondays. Today however, he was back on the bus, heading to school. Normally, he sits in a seat by himself but he’s tried getting out of the rear door of the bus so today, he sat beside one of his friends closer to the front of the bus. I’m not sure if the look on his face was confusion, sadness, or perhaps a bit of both…? I’m actually surprised that he didn’t say “IBI please” or something similar, so I’m guessing he may understand that IBI is finished…?

So, here it is 9am and I’m still in my pjs because I don’t have to drive my son to IBI. In fact, because I have the greatest neighbour in the world, and she takes my daughter and her own son to school since they are in the same class, I could stay in pjs for most of the day. I do need to get dressed though today because I will be picking my daughter up from her afterschool math program (she LOVES math! Woohoo!) then heading to class myself (if you Like me on Facebook, I got 90% on my Psych exam yesterday – yay!). Tomorrow however, all my appointments are via Skype so methinks I’ll be in pj bottoms all day. Shhh…our little secret. 😉

I even got to have my breakfast…at home! Strange feeling to actually eat breakfast during the week, instead of just grabbing my smoothie and leaving.

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I will admit that I have a pit in the bottom of my stomach from nerves. The last time my son was in fulltime school was in Senior Kindergarten. It was half-days at that time, three times per week. At least one of the three days per week, within an hour of me dropping him off, I would get a call to come pick him up. At that time, he was a runner, violent and completely non-verbal. Although I “know” his behaviour has improved dramatically and he’s able to verbally communicate. I “know” the teacher and EAs in his class are specifically trained to work with children with Autism. I “know” everything will be okay because he’s been with them for 1.5 years already on Mondays and he loves school. Alas, the pit is still in my stomach, waiting for that phone call from school. I’m nervous, anxious, scared and sssoooo happy for him to be back in fulltime school. A sense of “normalcy”…whatever that means. 😉

Now, off to my home office to work on my assignment that due tonight…gulp!

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#AdventCalendar – Days 17 – 22

Our activities-based Advent Calendar this year seems to be a success. My daughter STILL hasn’t mentioned she misses the daily piece of chocolate – yay!

Dec 17 – we went to see Santa (again). One of the malls in town has TWO Santas set up. Weird, I know BUT one is in a storefront near the main food court. Costs about a billion dollars per child to have them take one picture per child. With my man being a professional photographer, we have issue with this. The other Santa is in a part of the mall that isn’t well used. To be honest, I have no idea how the stores there stay in business, but they all have been there for years! Very few people even know of this Santa so, in the 3 or 4 years we’ve been going, we have NEVER had a line up. Last year’s Santa there was a miserable one but this year’s was fantastic! It was his first time at this location, but had been at another mall for 17 years. His experience showed…he waited for my son to approach him, for him to answer questions and, when my son couldn’t answer, Santa switched to yes/no questions. His beard was fake but “child-proof”. We even took a picture…which I have already shared here but want to share again. A picture of Santa and I…with my son stimming in the background. Love it!

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Dec 18 – Lots of baking! The 19th was the last day of school before Christmas break so we had lots of baking to do for teachers and Educational Assistants. My daughter even asked me to bake for our neighbour’s EA too…”because she helps him so much”. Awww…

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Dec 19 – We FINALLY turned our fridge into a snowman! My daughter’s hesitation in doing this was because she was concerned about how to turn something that is rectangular into circles. When we started working on it, she declared it was like a snowman in Minecraft. 😉

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Dec 20 – Was a PA Day for my daughter but my son still had IBI. My daughter was invited to a cookie decorating party, and brought home this lovely box, filled with yummies!

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My son’s IBI had their Christmas party and this year, there were tons of activities! There was the usual singalong, but it was even better this year because each group at IBI had worked on “singing” a song. My son’s was Frosty the Snowman. He stood up with his therapist of the day and didn’t try running away…trying to jump out of the window without a screen behind him…well, that’s a different story. 😉 There was also a room set up with a “snowball fight” which he loved because he loves throwing things up to the ceiling. There was a cupcake-making room, which he had no interest in. He tried playing Christmas bingo. He liked the sensory room, where he got to sit in front of a decorated tree with his favourite movie (Monsters Inc) and just hang out.

B1513822_678609125512186_2028234477_nThere was also a cake. He doesn’t eat cake. My daughter would have loved it but she was busy at her own party. 🙂

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Dec 21 and 22 – the kids were at their dad’s. Of course, the first thing out of my daughter’s mouth was asking what was in the Advent Calendar for the weekend. I told her that it was “boring grownup stuff”. I didn’t tell her that I had two parties to attend Saturday night…but I did tell her that it was just for me to clean the house and prep to decorate, which we will be doing today. 🙂

 

A Day at #IBI (#Autism)

A couple of weeks ago, my stepdaughter had a PA Day on the same day as my kids (different cities, therefore different school board schedules). She asked if she could come spend the day, so us girls spent some time together. Ok, the girls spent time at the park, playing games together doing sisterly things, while I made sure food was made and drinks were available whenever they wanted.

 

My son still had IBI that day so I arranged for my stepdaughter and I to go watch a program at IBI while my daughter went to a friend’s place for a playdate. I go to a program at IBI every month or so, but this was the first time my stepdaughter attended.

 

As soon as we got there, we were greeted by letters scattered all over the floor, with four words spelled out. I finally realized that my son was always repeating the word “foal” instead of “fool”. 😉

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We watched as the therapist finished off a program my son was working on.

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He got really excited seeing his big sister and I, so it was a bit difficult to keep him on task. The therapist usually gives him a choice of two things as a reward to work towards when he succeeds at a program. Whenever I’m there, he usually ignores that option and just comes and plays with me. I feel kind of bad because I’m interfering in the programming, but really? He’s choosing ME as his reward. Love it!

 

One of the programs we saw was to put 5 pictures in the correct order. He had done the first sequence before, and then they handed him a new one. He looked at the pictures, moved them in the order of the sequence. He couldn’t figure out the order of two of the pictures so the smart little guy turned them over and finished the sequence. That’s when we realized someone had written the numbers in order of the sequences on the back…and apparently he knew that too. Too smart!

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Another program was to verbally count while placing a bead on each number. He also had to verbally choose at which number he would stop. He did the task a few times, and each time the therapist and I would comment that we couldn’t see a pattern in the beads. My stepdaughter said she could. Got to love similar brains!

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My son also got to practice turn-taking with my stepdaughter, playing checkers. The goal of this form of checkers wasn’t to actually get three in a row, it was for them to take turns with my stepdaughter using red checkers, and my son using black checkers. It was great to watch them!

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So, after the hour, we returned to the car and went home. I asked my stepdaughter what she thought. Her response was the same as my first time attending IBI “I’m exhausted! I can’t believe that he does that for six hours a day!”. Yup, he’s a smart little guy.

#BackToSchool for my Daughter

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My daughter started Grade 3 today! Because it is a new school for her, I took her for a tour last week, meeting her new Principal and her new teacher. We spent some time in her classroom and the computer room. Her desk hadn’t been assigned yet but she loved her classroom, especially the reading area. She and her teacher bonded over both liking math. The tour was a success and she was excited to go to school! And yet she still had a really rough night last night, in anticipation. Her Anxiety Disorder was NOT being kind to her.

As it turns out, the biggest concern she had is that the school will lose my phone number if she needs to get ahold of me. I reminded her that one of my cards is in her backpack, and assured her that the school also has my number. I explained to her that they don’t just keep parents’ phone numbers on a little scrap of paper. They keep it in file folders along with all other information for her, and also in their computer. That seemed to help her a bit.

When my son finishes IBI therapy later this school year, he’ll be full time at the same school. It’s the first time since Senior Kindergarten the kids have been at the same school…which means one set of paperwork for me to manage and keep track of (woohoo!). During our tour of the school, we showed my daughter where her brother’s classroom is in relation to her class.

It was wonderful for my daughter to declare “Today was the best day EVER!” when she got home after school.

Last Day of School

My kids have finished Grade 2…happy tears!

My daughter had a rough start to the year. In Grade 1, she had all As and Bs on her report card, despite being her first year in French Immersion. She started in a new school for Grade 2 as we have finally settled into our (hopefully) forever home. She liked her teacher and classmates a lot, but was struggling and her report card reflected that. There was also a huge lack of information and communication coming from the teacher. Parent-Teacher interview solidified that she needed to get out of this teacher’s class.

The teacher was lovely and personable but I knew more about a school she had visited in Africa last summer during her honeymoon than what was happening in my daughter’s class. She claimed spelling test words were uploaded to her class blog every Sunday and some weeks the words were uploaded on Wednesday nights for a Friday test, which only gave us two nights to practice. The thing that solidified it for me was when she thought it was a “brilliant idea” when I suggested she write the homework down on the blackboard for my daughter and the other Grade 2ers to write in their daytimers. I would have thought that was a pretty simple concept.  The kids’ dad and I met with the principal and resource teacher and were able to arrange for her to change classes.

My daughter returned to school in January in a new class in the English stream…and she loved it!  She knew what was expected of her again in school, and most of all, she was excited about school again. The teacher was amazing, organized, and communicative with me. She indicated every day in my daughter’s daytimer that she had seen whether or not I had written in it. She had reward systems in place in class, and my daughter worked hard towards them. It was amazing to see her report card this week…she brought all of her grades up at least one letter, with one subject raising two letters so she’s back to where she was in Grade 1. 🙂

My son continues in IBI throughout the summer and, because he’s only in school on Mondays, his report card and IEP has been mailed to me as they weren’t ready on Monday. I can’t wait to see them. Thinking back to where he was at the beginning of Grade 1 vs now (which includes a year and a half of IBI and an Autism-specific class), it brings tears to my eyes.  I have even confirmed that he will be returning to the Autism-specific class with his fantastic teacher next year, which I’m really looking forward to as he’ll be discharged from IBI late in the calendar year this year.

As a thank you, we baked pumpkin loaves, and I wanted to share the drawings the kids made on the bags for the loaves.

For my daughter’s teacher:

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My daughter was so cute because she also wanted to give pumpkin loaves to her classmate’s helpers too because “they work really hard to help him”:

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When I asked my son to sign his name, it took him these two tries first:

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(Apparently Kermit had to make an appearance)

Such a proud mama!!