End of year blues...
With 3 1/2 weeks of school left, B is having an increasingly difficult time holding it together. As I mentioned in a previous entry, this transitional time of year is always difficult for B, so it's hard to sort-out whether or not the increased OCD activity & sensory overload is the result of the stress or co-incidental, although it probably doesn't matter. What matters is that we respond appropriately to the emotional & physical safety issues... It's also an unsettled time of year because of all the end-of-year meetings which take the teachers away from their classes, requiring unfamiliar substitutes (actually, by this time, the subs are pretty familiar to the kids, but they may not be as on top of the kids' various needs). Yesterday B had difficulty with OCD thoughts when he entered school, but there was a meeting going on in the special ed resource room, so he couldn't go to his safe space there. On top of it, Cherie, his consultant teacher, was out of school preparing IEPs for the up-coming CSE meetings. I thought I had gotten him calmed down & safely into his class... only to be told by another parent that B was at the top of the stairs, crying behind a door. There being two sets of stairs, it took me a while to find him. He was crying because he'd been so distressed that he banged his head & it really hurt. I took him to get an ice pack, then talked with his classroom teacher, Jen, about what we could do to help him calm down. She set up a signal with him so that, if he couldn't use his words to tell her he was in distress, she would still know & be able to get him somewhere he felt safe. Jen is wonderfully caring & creative- we've been so lucky that she's been B's teacher for 2 years. B coped fairly well with the rest of the school day (I didn't get any phone calls for help), but when I came to get him from school, I found him sitting at a computer, supposedly drawing, but he was really ripping the skin on his fingers with a push pin. :( This has become the latest perseverative habit... he started doing it a couple of weeks ago & we made a fuss, then didn't see any evidence for about 1 1/2 weeks, then he started doing it again last week. One night he went to bed with 6 band-aids on his fingers! We have made everyone at school aware of the problem, but he's very subtle & sneaky about it, so it's hard to catch him. Last night C & I brainstormed ideas & decided to offer him one Pokemon card for every push pin he hands in to a teacher. I told everyone this morning, & the universal response was- "Great idea! But what if he starts just handing us push pins for the heck of it?" C & I had already decided that it was ok if he harvested push pins for a bit :) The idea is to get him in the neurological habit of giving them away to a teacher instead of holding on to them & hurting himself. The more he hands in, the more he's likely to keep handing them in... it's worked with other perseverative habits, it should work again.
Today was B's CSE to get ready for 5th grade. It was pretty darned civilised... although we never get used to getting the comprehensive, warts-and-all overview of our kid. Not only did they agree to the increase in speech therapy sessions from 3 to 5 per week, but they took it as a given that the Integrated Special Classroom designation would follow B to his next physical classroom. The most surprising thing was that they actually offered us services B has never had before... I guess the city runs a summer-school programme for kids with autism to help them maintain their level of functioning (academic, OT, Speech & social) while regular school is out. It turns out that B is eligible for this service, so they very kindly offered. I described the plans we had made for B, including 2 weeks of computer camp where he'll learn how to design his own computer games. I explained that I essentially home-school during the summer, with a daily schedule of things to do, & mentioned that we'd written a book during last summer's home-schooling, among other things. We all decided that B would likely enjoy this more than summer school (understatement of the year :), & we thanked them for the offer. So- it's done for another year & B now has the support systems in place to help him make a good start in 5th grade.
My plans for today, besides the CSE meeting, originally included picking B up from school & taking him to see his psychiatrist right after... but events have caused me to add another stop. I've had another flare-up of arthritis, which has made even typing difficult (hence the less-frequent updates here), so I'm on my way to the doctor to see what she can offer :) I've been very aware for the past few days how much the pain saps my energy for helping/coping with B, so I'm ready for some relief. I'd cross my fingers but... ouch!