Also, some things said on another site made me wary of bragging about my boy. Which, come to think of it, is awfully sad. He so deserves to have a Mama who brags about him.
We had Alexander's IEP meeting the other day. For those that don't know, Alexander is autistic and has just started school. He goes to Prep 3 days a week, and the other 2 days he goes to an ECDU, a program with 9 other ASD or SPD children.
An IEP is a meeting between his prep teacher, his ECDU teacher, The HOSES (Head Of Special Education Services) and The head of the SEU at his school, plus JOel and I.
It's a review of how he's going and what steps we can take to further tailor his education program to suit his needs. It covers strentghs and weaknesses, and we plan strategies to work with both.
Anyway. Joel and I went into this meeting quite nervous. (Well, ok. I went into it freaking the hell out that they would tell me that my boy was miles behind and never ever going to fit in. Joel was just concerned I'd make a git of myself, lol).
Turns out, he's doing even better than we thought. At the ECDU he has made his very first 'best friend' (or bestbestfriend as he says). They are inseperable. He is in a class with children that really struggle in social situations, struggle with sensory issues (as does he - noise is a problem for him) and behavioural problems.
He's able to remain calm when any of the other children have a meltdown. He tries to be comforting to them. He doesn't get upset, or use the distraction as a reason to also go a bit crazy (i.e- the teachers are busy dealing with the meltdown, so he could stop doing what he should be and go do something he shouldn't).
He is showing vast improvements in his language development. His sentence structure has improved so much as to be noticeable to everyone. You see him remind himself to try to make eye contact while someone is speaking to him, or he is speaking to them.
He's following the routine and even beginning to anticipate the next step.
In Prep, he's settled beautifully into the class (30 students). Initially he'd attached himself to a 'problem child' and was following him into some poor choices (running to the playground when it's time to come to class etc). But his teacher and I have spoken to him. We assigned him to another boy ni the class as his special friend, and Alexander has taken to it well. It took some convincing, but now he knows that he has to listen to and play with Cody.
Both teachers told us that he was easily the 'most polite child' they'd ever had. That he is friendly, happy and sweet (ok, by now I'm on top of the world).
Then the kicker. We were so nervous, but Joel did the asking.
"How far behind is he academically? What do we need to do to get him up to the level of the children in his class?"
A simultaneous answer from both teachers. "He's easily ahead of everyone else academically." And "He's miles in front. He's better at Reading, Math, Computer. He excells at PE and most Gross Motor Activities. His fine motor skills are about par (a shock to us). He is reading, while some don't have a handle on their alphabet yet. He does basic math problems instantly, in his head" The only thing I'd work on is ball skills. Work on throwing and catching".
We were dumbfounded. At 3, Alexander wasn't talking at all. He wasn't making any friends. He showed no interest in any games/balls etc.
Joel and I worked our tails off. We did flashcards with him, 6 times a day (only a couple of minutes at a time, to keep it fun), building up an extra word every two days. We did alphabet, phonics and reading with him. Joel did math tutoring with him. We got him a computer (which he taught himself to use, with a little help from Joel). We've worked sooo hard on social skills, with books, role playing and discussions etc.
We've slowly, and gently worked on his phobias and triggers with him, to desensitise him to things we knew he would encounter at school.
The week before school started, we were terrified. We thought it probable that by the end of this term, the decision would be made to pull him out of prep and put him into the ECDU full time.
Next Tuesday, we have a follow up meeting, where the recommendation will be made to transfer him into prep full time at the beginning of term two.
Sorry this is long. But this is a very, very big deal to me. We put in such a lot of work. He tried so very hard, and it's paid off. I'm so incredibly proud of my boy. He's made remarkable progress and I just can't describe the pride I feel.
For a writer, it's discouraging to discover there simply aren't the words to tell you just how proud I am. And, how vindicated I feel. So many people, for years would say "He's not autistic. You're reading too much into it. He's just slow". I knew he wasn't slow. I knew that he was, in fact, extremely bright. Joel and I worked so hard to help him find his way and utilise that amazing brain of his. (Even his paed said something about that. She said "It works differently, but he has the most amazing mind. He facinates me. I love watching him approach things").
My darling Alexander, you cannot imagine how proud I am of you. I know that this has been a big year for you. I know that you're trying so hard, my sweet boy, to find your way, and to make everyone happy. We are, Xander. We are. We're so happy with you, and so happy to see you make friends.
Keep up the good work, Stinky Face. (Though now you insist that Sam is the stinky face, I'll have to stop calling you that. We still love that book though. Now you say that you're 'just funny'. :) You're very funny, you know. You make me laugh every single day). I love you more than you'll ever know. You are the single greatest thing I've ever accomplished.
I'm thankful for every single time I get to look into these sparkling eyes.