Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Practice what you preach

I have been a huge advocate for early intervention since Max's autism diagnosis.  Early intervention helps not only the child but gives parents resources, a community, and also a place to learn how to better help their child.  Both Max and Dexter have benefited from early intervention through Giant Steps Autism Pre-School.

"If you have met one child with autism, you have met ONE child with autism."
Each child on the spectrum is different.  What works for one child might not work for the other.  Something that might be really hard for one child might not be a challenge for another.  I believe this to be true with all children not just those on the spectrum.  But when you say "my child is autistic" there seems to be a in the box definition. Believe me when I say, autism is never inside a box.

Dexter is going to be four this July. 
Dexter, 15 months.
Dexter has been attending Giant Steps since September 2016.  We are eight months into the program and we have seen amazing strides in his development.  Dexter is really smart, he is cognitively on track with his typically developing peers.  Sometimes I put the other challenges he has aside because he is so smart and so clever.  This week I had a huge wake up call and Will and I had to make some big decisions about Dexter, something that I was not expecting.

The plan for next school year was to have Dexter at Walden.  Walden is where both Will and I teach.  Walden has a preschool and he would thrive academically but there was this nagging feeling that other aspects of his development would regress.  I wanted so bad for him to be at a typical school, and selfishly I wanted him to just "be normal."  Having Dexter at Walden would help our family schedule, our family finances, and would just be easier (day-to-day).

Yesterday I met with Dexter's teacher, his speech therapist, and his OT/PT specialist to go over his progress and some testing results.  And while his cognitive development is great, he struggles in other areas (you know the areas I was ignoring).  I realized that Dexter needs Giant Steps.  He needs the physical therapy, the behavioral therapy, and the occupational therapy that he wouldn't get at Walden.  He needs an autism specialist, and frankly so do I.  Dexter is so different than Max and I need to be educated on how to best help Dexter on his own journey.  The strides he has made this year are astounding, why wouldn't I want him to have another year of early intervention to keep the momentum going?  I was being selfish.  Dexter deserves the same support Max had for two years at Giant Steps.

The future is unknown.  Will Dexter go to Walden, who knows?  Will Dexter go to Spectrum with Max, who knows?  What do I know about his future?  Not much, except that his mom promises to do a better job looking at his whole person.

*A huge thank you to Tiffany (Dexter's teacher) who has been so supportive and loving to Dexter this whole year.  She has been the perfect person for Dexter to learn and grow from.  We love you Tiff.

----------And for the record----------
"My colleague, who is not a parent, and lately has no filter, reminded me that the needs of my children are more of a priority than my convenience. For four hours a day, it is not worth the progress he could be making,' she said in a matter of seven seconds after being questioned. 'Our school isn't equipped to handle autistic children in a way that Giant Steps can. Besides you waited forever to get into that school. It's a no-brainer."'

Thank you Jamie for talking to me and also for being an upfront good human. 
I needed to hear this.