Sunday, September 26, 2010

School Boy


Walking into school on the first day of kindergarten.


There's my 5 year old looking much more like a 15 year old as he struts his way into his new school for the first day. It's unbelievable.

We were concerned about the switch to public school from private deaf school, but fortunately for Ethan, the change has been nothing but positive. Glowing, even. I never would have dreamed we'd be in this position and be so happy about it, but we have certainly stumbled into the right school district.

He's in a social communication classroom for K-1 with a total of 7 students that rotate in and out of the room throughout the day. There is a phenomenal teacher, 2 aides, an OT, an SLP and Ethan has his own interpreter, plus he gets 2 hours of one to one each week with a hearing impaired teacher. His signing has taken off since starting school, so the one on one language input he gets from his interpreter is making a huge impact. He has quickly transferred what he's doing in the classroom to his life at home. For example, the other day he signed "Where's dad?" - which is the first time in his life that he's asked a question. The interpreter has been teaching him the names of the other children (they all have sign names now) and asking Ethan "Where is" questions to help him remember all the new names and faces. I think at the deaf school he was just surrounded by sign, now he's immersed in it with the one on one interpreter. He also seems to understand that she is his "voice". She told me that they were on the playground during recess (which he experiences with a mainstream kindergarten class) and he wanted to swing. A little girl was swinging and Ethan looked at his interpreter and signed "my turn". So the interpreter told the girl that Ethan would like a turn and the girl immediately hopped off and he got to swing. Last year he would have just hit the child, now he is communicating to his interpreter.

I also recently got my very first, unsolicited "I love you mom" in sign. He hugged and kissed me and told me 3 times in a row that he loves me. I am melting just writing about it.

His classroom is set up entirely around the ideas of what works with children who have an autism diagnosis. If you're interested in specifics, it's based on TEACCH. The goal is for the children to slowly and deliberately move their activities from this contained classroom to their mainstream classroom. For instance, they have the same language arts learning centers as their homeroom class with the hopes that they will learn to become independent enough at each center to join their homeroom for that activity. Each child goes to the library and recess and other specials with their "typical peers", and ideally they will be able to join them in other activities as the year progresses. It's pretty much exactly what Ethan needs and he seems to be thriving there. He absolutely loves going to school each day and runs to hug his interpreter when she greets him in the lobby. It's heartwarming, to say the least.

Ethan still isn't wearing his cochlear implants. He continues to say many of the words he signs and is still very motivated to speak, which I'm thankful for. His developmental specialist recommended we try risperdol to help "take the edge off" so to speak. He spent most of the summer in a foul mood and had several tantrums per day, some of them reaching levels that really scared me. He was even banging his head on glass doors and windows at one point. That's what made me realize that I needed to put my fear of risperdol aside and we needed to give it a try. Since then, he's literally a different child. He no longer loses control 50 times per day. He is finally able to show an ability to reason and to understand cause and effect. He is making huge strides in language. He is happy. He is doing well in school and not hitting the other children. It's really a game changer.

We'll be attempting to turn his ears on again soon and I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high. None of us know what it's like to be in that little body with a nervous system working against you and a whole host of sensory issues. As always, following his lead is the only course that feels acceptable, even if it's not what we had planned.


20 comments:

Aliki2006 said...

I loved the last paragraph of your post, especially...

I'm so glad the transition has gone so well! I'm glad the risperadol is taking the edge off, too. It never feels "right" to turn to medicine, but sometimes it can really make all the difference (L. is on a low dose of prozac for his panic attacks and OCD and it has really helped).

I hope things continue to go splendidly!

Pauly Baby said...

You both amaze me!

Kyla said...

I love this! I'm so glad to hear how well that E-boy is doing! :) KayTar was in a transitional class last year and this year she is doing great in mainstream.

ianmykel said...

So cool. Love the blog. hooray for you guys.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Great news! He looks so grown up in the pic.

How great that he's so happy with his school.

Julie

Nicky said...

Aww I loved reading this Heather. You are great and how lovely that Ethan signed I love you :)

Nicky

Carrie said...

I am so happy to hear how well the school year is going for Ethan, you & Rich, Ethan's classmates and teachers! Much love to you and the boys!

Lisa said...

I am SO happy for Ethan! Things just keep getting better. Congratulations to you for all your hard work and patience and to Ethan for being such a trooper. He's such a great kid.

Here It Comes said...

I am so happy to hear that Ethan is doing so well. You must be feeling so relieved right now.

I really fought medicating my oldest (she has ADHD and Sensory Integration Disorder), but we finally did this past school year. Now I am sad that I waited so long, because she is such a different child. I feel like my fear of medication kept her from experiencing life! Also, my daughter has issues with sound. It overwhelms her. It is the sense she struggles with the most. I have often said, it is a good think it is not her with the CIs because I would never be able to keep them on her!

leah said...

What an awesome school program! It sounds like you are finding the right combination of services/accommodations to help Ethan thrive. I have my fingers crossed that his sensory issues will not get in the way of turning on his ears again. It is great that he understands the role of the interpreter and is able to communicate with the other kids- that is awesome news!

foxdesignsjewelry said...

I am so happy for you and glad you posted your blog on fb!

Kristina said...

I think Ethan grew up overnight - sure looks like it in his photo! I'm super excited for Ethan and you on how well things are going. I know the decision was not an easy one to make and it's great to find that you have a good placement and plan in place and that you are already seeing Ethan growing leaps and bounds before your eyes. This is one super lucky boy to have watching out for him.

This post couldn't have come at a better time with us sweating out Emma's initial IEP now that she turns 3 this week!

Drew's Mom said...

I'm so happy that his start to Kindergarten has gone so well!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the CIs just feel too loud to him? I know a guy that for whatever reason can't go in for another mapping, and he uses his CI with the volume at 75% because 100% is too loud.

tammy said...

What a wonderful post! I loved reading every bit of it, especially how Ethan is loving his school AND how he signed I love you mom! Your last paragraph is very heart warming. Ethan is so lucky to have you.

Cheryl said...

Following his lead, seems the way to go. You've been so right about that. I was so happy to read this to hear how well he is doing. The I love you part, made me tear up and melt. He is making huge gains, as we knew, deep down he would. This post made me smile.
love you girl.
xxxxxxx

Cheryl said...

Following his lead, seems the way to go. You've been so right about that. I was so happy to read this to hear how well he is doing. The I love you part, made me tear up and melt. He is making huge gains, as we knew, deep down he would. This post made me smile.
love you girl.
xxxxxxx

fullsoulahead.com said...

I hope he is continuing to do well this year. What a beautiful boy.

Anonymous said...

So hows ethan doing?

Mama Deb said...

Yippee for 'I Love Yous!'
I've gotten two in seven years and I cherish both dearly!