Last Friday we were able to meet with a new tech for Will. She seemed like an ok fit, so we went with it. That meant that his new hours for developmental therapy changed from 9:30 - 1:30 to 12:30- 4:15. This is exactly what we were hoping for so that we could start taking him to his old school for classes. The three classes that rotate are PE, music, and library. Yesterday was library. He went it and picked out a book and was able to chat with some of the kids that he knew. He seemed a bit shy, but that's pretty appropriate for not having seen all of them since last year. He didn't cling to me or act inappropriately.
Today we went back and it was music day. He's rotating around with one particular 4th grade class so that he can stay with the same group of kids. Today also happened to be picture day, so the music room was being used for that. The class met in the cafeteria instead. Fourth grade is the year that the kids learn to play the recorder. Will seemed excited enough about that. The music teacher labeled one for him and sat a couple of boys next to him to help out since the class had already learned some on it. I stayed towards the back just to observe.
The boys started to show Will some fingering positions. Then the music teacher had the class (which was over to the left of the boys) start playing two of the notes they learned. Wow, it was loud and super high pitched.
I should have seen it coming, but sometimes it's hard to tell when or if something will bother him. Will immediately covered his ears. I knew. I knew we had lost him. I waited though, to see if he might recover. The boy trying to help him tried his best to get his attention, but Will had already checked out. I moved to the row behind him and called him back to me. He said, while still covering his ears, 'I gotta get out of here! I gotta get out of this cafeteria!' He had already wrapped up the recorder and put it back in the case - confirming that he was officially done.
By the time we got back into the hall he had transformed into an angry monkey. Really. Full body positions, facial expressions and noises. I told him he needed to use his words to tell me how he felt and so on, but he continued. We walked to the office and went in to talk to the principle about the music class. The principle has been quite accommodating and helpful in letting him come back for specials. I explained to her that the high pitch of the recorders was not going to work for him and she understood. Fourth graders have music twice a week and one class is with the recorder. So it was decided that we would instead go to an extra PE class instead of the recorder music class. The whole time we were in the office he continued to be upset and act like a monkey. So I asked him if he'd like to go visit the PE class and see one of his friends from last year in that class. He said he would and I explained that he needed to be 'Will' if we did that and not a monkey. The second we entered the gym a couple of kids ran up to him all excited and wanted to know if he was in the class. Back to the monkey noises. As I was talking to the PE teacher he had the classes full attention by jumping up and down like and monkey complete with noises. Sigh....
Specials were over and we walked home. On the way I explained to him that wasn't appropriate, no one knew what he was doing, and to them it looked strange. He seemed to snap out of it soon as we left the school and said a couple of times, 'I'm sorry mom.'
This episode is a perfect example of what happens with him. One minute (or day) he is a perfectly normal acting 10 year old and then something like a high pitched noise sends him into a full blown autistic meltdown. Had he been on his own in that situation he probably would have bolted out the door and possibly out of the whole school. The music teacher has her hands full with 30 other students.
Hi, I'm Tara Kelly - self trained autism meltdown and recovery technician. Nice to meet you.
On the walk home it was clear that 'Will' was back. I told him we were going to sit down to do some of his school work. He got his laptop out and we checked his email and then when straight into the language program - which he chose to do. These programs are so interesting and interactive! I was quite impressed with how they work. Will whizzed through them knowing exactly how to manage it. The work didn't seem to easy or hard for him, just right. And I was able to see what he was doing, help him remember things and be there with him. He worked like this for a good 40 minutes straight. Then we logged onto the scholastic book orders for his school and I let him choose a couple of books to order. He was happy.
After sitting and thinking for that long I figured it was a good time to get him up and moving. Get a little blood flowing and heart pumping. We went to the backyard and I had him jump on the trampoline while I picked vegetables out of the garden. He's been really reluctant to go out back for a while now because of bees. For some reason he has this big fear of bees even though he's never been stung. So we have to challenge him to get out there now.
Then we went inside and I made him lunch. He sat and ate lunch and I let him watch America's Funniest Videos, which is his new favorite show to record on the DVR. Once he was done we worked together to pack up his computer and get everything ready for transport to pick him up. They came at 12 and he was off! His new tech should be taking him over the school computer lab to do some more school work, to the center to work with other kids, and probably do some type of outside activity. He'll be home about 5pm. So, that's it. That's the latest on our schooling adventures.