transitions

Therapeutic Day School? Really?

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Jasan has been going to the same public school since the age of three. He is now six. For the past two years he has been in the autistic program within the public school.

In the last IEP meeting we had, the team that works with him felt that some of Jasan’s behaviors were beyond what they were able to deal with. Destructive behavior without any reasonable or predictable antecedent. This is different from the year before and they feel like they are at a loss, therefore, the suggestion was made for him to be transferred to a therapeutic day school where they work with kids that are in a similar situation.

I was not averse to that recommendation. I want whatever is best for my son. I will do whatever it takes without hesitation. So, we (my mom and I) checked out the schools that they recommended and decided on the one that felt like it would be the best for him.

After the first visit, I was not expecting the emotions that arose within me. I was crying the whole way to work after our morning tour of the first school. Why was I feeling sad? Was I scared for him? Is this another feeling of loss to experience of a mom of an autistic child? He can’t make it in public school?

Probably all of the above, but I thought I was stronger than that. I thought, especially knowing the way I reacted to the idea from the team to send him elsewhere, that I was cool with it. NO big deal. It would be better for him.

During the second school tour, I felt good. In comparison to the first tour, this school kicked ass. I liked how the principal presented their mission and how he described the way the try to really understand why kids have the behaviors that they do. Actually getting to the root of the issues. Again, when I left, that strange wave of sadness took me down.

I have vivid memories of separation anxiety with my mom. BIG TIME. Almost debilitating to me. It was a horrible feeling that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and I can see some of that in Jasan. I see a lot of similarities between him and me. Parts of little Heidi; emotional behaviors in my childhood that give me anxiety just thinking back that far. Gut wrenching feelings. In all honesty, that scares me.

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I don’t think that he fully understands that he will be going to a new school in a month. We visited the new school (which upset him very much because our morning was out of routine) and once we got there, he seemed okay. Timid, but going with the flow.

In my mind, I was sad for him the night before. I was explaining what the morning would look like. The tears and the begging “I just to stay at (his current school)” was making my heart hurt. I don’t think I have ever loved so much to where my heart literally feels like it is being crushed to bits when he is sad. The thought of this transition and his discomfort is pretty paralyzing to me right now. I did not expect these feelings at all.

I get sick to my stomach and angry sometimes when I hear parents that have kids (that transition with no issues) say, “Kids are resilient. He will adjust fine.” I have no doubt that eventually he will be in a new routine and all be will okay. But, the transition may be something that creates distress inside that he may NOT forget. That happened to me. I didn’t forget, and it made a difference in my life in some respects.

I realize I cannot control every aspect of his life. I cannot save him from pain; from sadness. Again, having a child is such a lesson in life. Oh, letting go of control. That is  hard one, especially when it has to do with what he is exposed to out of my sight. He is the love of my life and the closest person to my heart. Autism…ugh. He doesn’t tell me what happens play by play at school or when we aren’t together. He doesn’t share much at all. I am not sure he can yet. That is always something that I have struggled with. It’s really tough.

Today, after the visit to the day school with Jasan was rough for me. I don’t like the idea of him being so far from my office every day. Right now his current school is 7 minutes from me. Sometimes I think I have separation anxiety with him; there are days when I long to see him and can’t wait to be with him again. ❤

This is a lot to take in. For him, once he starts making the change. For me, taking in all of this new information and watching him go through this move. He needs to go to a special school and that is okay. It is not what I envisioned for him, but again I have to change the expectations in my mind.

Why is it so hard to just not have expectations? It is impossible.

I want him to be successful. I want him to be able to hold a job and be independent. Ii hope he is a scientist or a sound engineer…whatever his dream ends up to be. I want him to thrive in this life. I hope he finds the perfect woman who understands him like I do and that they are able to have a love that is beyond measure within a fulfilling relationship.

These are expectations I have for his adulthood because I love him so much.

If life takes a detour to get him there, then I guess so be it. This is my lesson to go with the flow and let go of my childhood memories of anxiety. At least I know how to spot it and can hopefully help buffer it for him. The feelings of anxiety and sadness are going to come up for me in the days ahead. I will try to keep my thoughts positive, but I need to get my feelings out as well.

I want him to FOREVER know how much my heart LONGS for him, and to know I could inhale him I love him so much. 🙂

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Changes.

I feel like my “Following Jasan” project has been so neglected. I’ve missed writing and taking photos, but sometimes life happens and you just need to try to stay positive and get by. That’s been our situation lately. First year of full day school + a new job for mama + new routine + early as heck bedtime for Jasan = overwhelm and not enough hours in the day.

I don’t want this to sound like complaining; it’s not meant to. It’s a realization of a lot going on and how I have handled it. Umm…I haven’t handled it as smoothly as I assumed I would.

Due to the nature of how my son is wired, he really needs me. I LOVE that, but on occasion I feel like I need a minute to breathe. We went from spending the majority of every day together to (during the school week) about 3 1/2 hours (awake.) Now that we are a few weeks into this new schedule, I know he just needs MAMA and LOVE during that time period. Errands and life have a hard time fitting into that time slot.

Dilemma.

Transition for him has been difficult…as much as I am a sleep nazi with his schedule now, he still remains tired. His diet is beyond horrible at school so I am sure his energy gets low. (I don’t think chips provide the protein he needs. haha.) He isn’t used to NOT having a choice when it comes to the activity in his schedule. That is rough. Throwing and spitting then ensues, and behavior gets out of control. Reading these handwritten notes from his teacher when he gets home from school that describe the destructive actions that occur break my heart. Jasan and I are so connected that it is hard to hear that most of his days now are rough. So many questions go through my mind. I know he needs to learn how to follow a schedule at school. He will never survive in life if he doesn’t, I just wish it didn’t have to be such a painful process.

These past few weeks of what has felt a bit like mayhem to me, I have learned this. I know my son is beyond sensitive to my energy. He knows when I am not my even keel happy self. He may not be able to ask me, “What’s wrong, Mama?” but he will manifest his sensitivities to my discord in different ways. Sickness, moodiness, behavior issues, etc. And then, of course that adversely effects me. The vicious cycle continues until I get my head out of overwhelm and center myself.

I think our children with autism have a special gift. With the way they interpret their environment around them, how could they not be extra sensitive to what their caregivers are feeling? All kids are, of course, but our autistic children…

I believe it’s on a whole other level.

Which poses this thought. When you are a parent or a caregiver to a child with special needs, it is more important that ever to keep life in balance. That may sound unrealistic. Shit happens that we don’t necessarily control. But do we have the ability to create what we want in our reality and keep drama at a low? Absolutely we do.

I think it’s one of those things that we need to really think through to help our children. For example, we know that going into certain environments will cause sensory overwhelm and upset. We know the tools that they need to be able to cope appropriately, or we don’t go. That’s a simple one.

But what about when it comes to our emotional health as the adult? What can we clean out of our day-to-day to reduce emotional upset within ourselves?

That will greatly benefit our children. When we give them a calm and emotionally stable environment, that clears the way for them to thrive. We are their examples. With the challenges that they already face, wouldn’t it be the perfect scenario for them to succeed? I realize that this is much easier said than done. It takes lots of practice. I am not an expert by any means, but I do know that my awareness level is on track. That is step number one…

A key to this is living in the moment. Are you?

When I feel like I am living in the moment, I feel more calm. I can embrace what is happening. I can be grateful for where I am at, no matter what the situation. At this stage in my life I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. Life is always teaching us something. We have to open our eyes and our minds and be free to see it.

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Sometimes you just need an eye shot of a cute butt to bring a smile to your face. This cute butt works for me!! 🙂

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When I really feel off, I am going to bring my mind to this moment. Jasan. Beach. Waves. Running. That smile that melts me. Sunshine. Beautiful places on this earth that we can travel to see. The feeling of sand in-between toes. Watching him discover this beauty surrounding him. Sounds. Senses. Umbrella drinks. HAPPINESS.

It’s all about mindset. It’s worth it to me to keep a balance. For my own well-being, but ALSO FOR MY SON.