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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Writing On The Wall

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Korban goes to The Autism Center of Tupelo twice a week for classes.  We are looking at him going Monday-Friday this summer.  Right now he goes every Tuesday/Thursday from 8:00-11:30.  He started off going for one on one instruction for two hours, and then they moved his hours up when they started a small class.  I got a call from the center director day before yesterday.  She said that she had met with the teachers, and they had decided that Korban is not doing well with the extended hours.  She said that he is not so much a behavioral problem, as they just can't get past his sensory seeking stims to actually teach him things. (For those of you not familiar with the world of autism, stim is shorthand for "self-stimulatory behavior."  Basically people with autism don't have the same sensory perceptions as other people.  They might be super sensitive to noise, light, etc. or they might constantly crave sensory input, causing them to do things like rock, flap their hands, make noises, play with objects in strange ways, and on and on.  Korban sort of vacillates between the two extremes.)  So all of that was getting in the way of his instruction time and they felt like the extended class time was overstimulating for him.  The plan of action they decided on was to cut his time back to two hour sessions and have him come three days a week instead of two.  They were planning on getting an occupational therapy consult for some ideas on handling his sensory problems.  And they intend on building him back up to three and a half hours days.  So they had a game plan, and I really appreciated the thought they had put into it.  But part of me was really bummed about this.  If he can't even handle a three and a half hour session with a couple of other kids and multiple highly trained professionals, how is he going to navigate a kindergarten classroom?  It has always been our hope that he would be able to be mainstreamed, and that deflated my hopes a good bit.  I know he is struggling right now, though.  And I don't know what to do to help.  I talked this over with Brad when he got home from work and he said "You just agreed to bring him three days a week instead of two right away?  What about school?"  (And why didn't I talk to him about it before agreeing.)  Korban's been in a great school for two years now.  It's a special needs classroom in the public school system of an adjacent county.  Our county doesn't have a special needs preschool program.  So I don't want to feel like I'm giving up on his regular school.  But the Autism Center is our plan for the summer, and if I let go of it now, we will go back on the loooong waiting list and our chance of getting him services there will probably slip away.  His school is about 40 minutes from our house.  The Autistm Center is at least an hour.  So we will be spending more money on gas, food, etc. to go down there for therapy three times weekly and then turn around and come back home.  Not to mention I already worry that Selah is spending half her life in a carseat.  But we don't have a lot of options and they really are pretty awesome and no one else around here does the type of therapy they do.

My mom rode with us to Tupelo today, and sat in the van with Selah while I took Korban in for class and also when I went back to pick him up.  I talked with the director briefly in the hall.  She said that they had done some different exercises with Korban that seemed to be helpful.  His teacher said he was getting a little out of sorts towards the end of class, but nothing too major.  I mentioned that I don't understand why sometimes he can be calm and cheerful for an extended period of time and then all of a sudden he swings the other day with out of control behavior, obsessive stimming, etc.  I commented that every time it happens I try to find some cause:  Is he sick?  Tired?  Some sort of change in his routine?  Eating something that doesn't agree with him?  And I can never find anything to attribute it to.  She said that it isn't anything specifically causing it, it's just his system.  In short, some days he feels better than others and there's not a specific cause.  So that makes sense to me, I think.  She also said that kids with sensory problems tend to have systems that regulate somewhat as they get older.  That gives me hope, at least.

We got in the van and headed toward home, and I shared all of that with my mom.  I told her that I'm just never completely sure of how to handle Korban's autism.  More therapy?  More school?  Less therapy?  Less school?  Give it all up completely and spend our money touring the country's aquariums because that really makes him happy?  I just don't know.  I mean, he has two reasonably intelligent parents who are over the moon for him, and have sought out any means of services that we thought would be beneficial to him.  So why is he not better?  I don't mean to sound ungrateful--he has improved in SO many ways and I guess when you come so far sometimes you sort of forget where you've been.  It's just that I thought we would've come further by now.  And I don't fully understand why we haven't.  I'm not looking for a quick fix.  I just wish I could have a real conversation with my son and that he could handle a few hours in a structured setting without losing his mind.

I told my mom to pray for me and Brad to have wisdom.  That we are trying so hard, but we thought we would be better at this or something.  I told her that every time we are faced with a choice regarding Korban's treatment, it seems like we can think of ten reasons why we should do it and ten reasons why we shouldn't.  I never have 100% peace about anything and that's wearing on me.  I even quoted the Bible verse to her that says God gives wisdom generously to all who ask, without finding fault.  And that I keep asking, but I don't feel a whole lot wiser.  About that time, I decided to pull my Blackberry out of my purse to check for messages.  I'm forever forgetting to lock the keypad, so it always has several letters scattered across the screen.  I glanced down and was surprised to find the face of my phone read "U yap."

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?

More listening, less talking...

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