Saturday, August 25, 2012

Seeing Things a Little Differently

Blue Mountains, Australia
^not my photo :)

Friday we visited Joseph's new classroom for the walk-through. I saw something that I haven't seen since before his diagnosis. I watched Joseph in the middle of a group of typically developing kids of his own age.

Just before Joseph turned 3, my wife and I had to put the kids both in daycare for a few hours a week while I was in school and she was at work. That's when we were told that he needed to be evaluated for developmental delays. One day, when I arrived to pick Joseph up, I approached the classroom and saw them through the window. The teacher was sitting in a chair reading a book to the kids. There were probably 6 to 8 other kids sitting attentively in a semi-circle in front of her. And on one end of this row of children, Joseph laid on the floor, rocking gently from side to side, with his hand stuck in the back of his shirt fidgeting with the tag.

After his diagnosis, the only times I've seen him as part of a group of peers has been in his special needs pre-k class, which was half developmentally delayed kids and half typical peer models. It was frequently hard to tell which kids were which, but Joseph always stood out as he was consistently the most "high-spirited" in his class. But the classes were generally pretty small, and Joseph didn't seem so different from the other kids.

So Friday, Joseph visited his new classroom and his new teacher along with most of his new classmates. Dublin is an inclusive school system, so he will be in a general education classroom and taken out to their special ed "resource room" by his intervention specialist as needed. So the new teacher (who was Maria's Kindergarten teacher two years ago) took all the kids to her classroom. She introduced herself and then took the kids on a short tour of the room. Joseph got distracted by something halfway through and got left behind. After the tour, the class had a little mini-circle time. The teacher had them all introduce themselves by name (which Joseph is very good at: "My name's Joseph!"), then she read them a story about the first day of Kindergarten, and she talked to the kids about the story.

Listening to Joseph's peers talking, articulating their understanding of the story, the contrast made me realize just how far he still has to go to "catch up." It was sobering, but not discouraging, depressing or disappointing (probably in part thanks to Celexa and Wellbutrin.)

We're at a point of new beginnings with Joseph. On Monday, he starts Kindergarten and will be surrounded by 90% typical peers for the first time in two years. Also, we are finally getting his ABA program started. We're so close, we had the start-up training scheduled and our psychologist had to leave town suddenly and it got postponed the day before it was supposed to happen. The point is, my resolve has been strengthened, and I'm more confident than ever that he is on the precipice of great progress.

For example, this morning he told me that last night he dreamt of unicorns. That was pretty remarkable, it is the first time that he's told us anything about his dreams. He asked me if I dream about dragons. Then he asked his baby sister what she does at night. :)

1 comment:

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