Yesterday was not one of our best days at the House of Hope. I woke up with my list of things to do running through my head. I was hoping that Tate’s ABA director would get back to me about his IEP meeting (which was scheduled for this morning). I was, indeed, frazzled. I checked my email on my phone at breakfast. She had finally emailed me. She wasn’t going to call into the meeting, but wanted to see the draft of the IEP so she could comment. I had asked a few other times if she wanted to see it. She never got back to me. I got wrapped up in getting the hard copy that I had scanned and then sent to her office. The computer flashed the blue screen of death at me mid-scan, so I had to start all over. All 24 pages. Cole was getting into mischief and mayhem (per usual). I was doing laundry because Tate had uncharacteristically wet the bed. Yeah..it wasn’t a good day.
I ran to Kohl’s to pick up some pants for Tate. The only pants I can get him to wear are from their Jumping Beans line. The other day, for the first time ever, he told me he liked those pants best because “they are soft, Mommy.” He patted them with his hands for extra measure. Hallelujah for communication!! Knowing that he likes these pants, I could go buy more and he’d actually not fight me in the morning!! Luckily he’s still small enough to fit into the “little boys” wear. I grabbed a few different colors, got Cole a fire truck shirt, and we checked out.
Once in the car, I looked down at my phone. I had it on silent. I had a message and an appointment icon staring back at me. Ohnoholycrap! I had totally, utterly forgotten about a room parent meeting I had set up for 9 am. CRAP! I sent out a quick message to apologize, and ask when other availability would be. While I beat myself up about it, I listened to the voice mail. It was Jake’s teacher. She wanted to tell me about something that had happened that morning. She asked that I call and page her so she could explain. Pit.in.bottom.of.stomach.
I called the school. I was trembling. She got on the phone and we discussed the “new” routine for Jake. See, he loves, loves, loves animals. LOVES. Some may say he’s obsessed. The science unit that they are covering right now is all about animals, habitats, etc. I swear it was written expressly for Jake. In the unit, his teacher is combining the science and reading curriculum. Typically, he would go to his resource teacher for reading, but because this is motivating for him, we had worked out a plan where he’d spend 30 minutes with his classroom doing science/reading and then the other 30 minutes with his resource teacher, to work on the fundamentals of reading, so that she could help him with comprehension and fluency. Yesterday was the second day of this unit, and Jake fell apart. Completely.
He curled himself into a ball. He kept repeating that he couldn’t do the work. His teacher persevered. She said he loves animals. Maybe just look at the pictures and tell her what he thought. He said he couldn’t look. He started to squeak. She said that he could work with his partner. He scrunched his face and buried it in his hands. This went on for 25 minutes. His teacher gently encouraging (while also trying to teach the rest of the class), Jake melting down. It became time for him to go to his resource room. It took him 10 minutes to get there. He’d sob, stop, baby-step…sob, stop, baby-step. His teacher called the social worker.
When he got to resource, he sat in a ball. She offered him a drink of water. He grunted. She offered a snack, he went to get it, and then started to slam cabinets. The change in routine had completely thrown him into oblivion. His brain, as he said, “was going crazy”. He wasn’t sure how to handle this change. The social worker arrived. She asked him if he wanted to go to her office. He nodded. They talked about change and how it’s hard on the way to her office. Once there, she talked to him about breathing strategies. About going to the bathroom to take a break when school seemed like too much. About how to tell his teacher when it’s “too much”. She wanted to shift his focus from being overwhelmed. She took him to the book fair. They looked at books. He kept going back to a Pokemon book. She bought it for him. He calmed down. He returned to class. His resource teacher got him to read more of the science text. When he transitioned into his regular classroom again, his teacher got him to write sentences. He was calm and focused. He was ok.
I thanked his teacher, and then sent emails to the resource teacher and his social worker, thanking them for their kindness and help during the day. I offered to reimburse the social worker for the book. She said not to worry…she had some coupons. I was reeling a bit from the news that our son, the one who just a week ago we sat around a table and discussed how fantastically he has handled third grade so far, was struggling so greatly. It was the change in routine. We know that. The social stories that the social worker used helped him. They were reinforced by his resource and regular ed teacher later in the day. I talked about it at home. He was able to talk about it, and he let us know he didn’t like how he acted, and that he was sorry. We all assured him that it is ok to get frustrated, but to work through it…to tell us how he’s feeling, so that we can help him.
He is so fortunate to have such a terrific team. When he is falling apart, we come together to support him and help him pick up the pieces. Everyone is working together to help him succeed. He sees that. He knows it. He wrote a thank you letter today for his social worker. He knows that she went above and beyond for him. He appreciates that. He hugged his teacher and thanked her for her help. He high-fived his resource teacher. He hugged me and thanked me for being proud of him.
He’s figuring it out…and he’s got all of us there for him during the process.