Moe started his new school this week. We lost the familiarity of his classroom, his classmates and teachers, but truthfully many of his classmates and teachers have moved on anyway. We gained a 45 minute commute, and hopefully a school that is right for him.
We got off to a bit of a rocky start, in part I think because of an email I sent to his new teachers last week letting them know that Moe has been exhibiting some impulsive and aggressive behaviors. After a horrific Friday during which Moe had a major tantrum at Jelly's school that resulted in a little boy losing several strands of hair, and me bleeding and in tears, I felt I had to tell them so they could be aware.
The upshot is that they want Moe to have 1:1 support in the classroom. And while I wish they had told me this before school started, since it is now much harder to find a good person with availability, I think this will be good for everyone. We will, ideally, find someone from our current ABA team, which will allow some consistency between school and home.
After meeting with the preschool director yesterday, I felt much better. She observed him in the classroom and agreed with the teacher's assessment that he needs 1:1 support, at least for a while. But most important, she seemed to really believe in his abilities. She said "he's ready," for this class, and most importantly, to get started in earnest on an AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) program.
Although Moe has been exposed to several AAC methods, including sign language and picture/icon exchange systems, it has never been in a systematic way. He hasn't much seemed to "get it" and our prior AAC evaluation didn't reveal much. We also knew that the way our programs were set up, we would not be able to provide the consistency that Moe requires to learn, especially an entirely new way of interacting.
But Moe now seems to be a real communicator, is trying to speak, but with only a few sounds in his arsenal, it will be a long time before his ability will match his desire to be understood. He will have an AAC evaluation at his new school. One fantastic thing about this school, as opposed to the public program Moe was in before, is that they have an AAC specialist on staff, who pushes into the classroom twice a week. We will set up some 1:1 sessions as well, and I cannot wait to get started on helping open up the world to Moe and decrease his frustration (and I hope reduce the aggression).
The down side is that Moe has quite a packed schedule, with school in the morning, speech two days a week, OT once a week, and ABA every afternoon, some days until 6:30. With the addition of extra speech with the AAC specialist, I think we will need to make some adjustments. I am a firm believer that downtime is important too.
I am faring quite well in this whole thing. Since Moe's school is only 3 hours, and I didn't want to drive back and forth from home, I joined a really lovely "sports resort" in viewing distance from the school. It is a gym, but also has spa, cafe, wifi, and several lovely pools. It is a great place to unwind, work, exercise and actually shower every day! I have my first personal training session tomorrow. I have never worked with a trainer before and I am not sure what to expect. More on that later, I'm sure.