B was feeling a lot better this morning & very much looking forward to the Halloween events planned for school today, as well as trick or treating in the evening. He was wearing most of his costume to school, since it was black pants & turtleneck (he was going as a spy), & then brought the spy gear to school in his backpack, to be festooned later when everyone got dressed for the party. He's never gotten dressed for school so quickly as he did today :) I dressed up, too, since it seemed a shame to do my door-greeting job on Halloween costumeless... I wore my wizard's robe & my "dragon optional" (it velcros on) witches hat (with the dragon on, of course). It was a hit ( I even got to do some Mulan lines, when one of the kids asked me why I had a lizard on my hat & I said it was a "dragon... dra-gon!" :) I was not the only adult dressed up- Paula, our director, dressed as a queen for the whole day & she looked really neat. B & I had quite a lot of stuff to haul to school. I had 4 bags of props for paper bag skits for the party (create-your-own skits using the props) plus we had a pumpkin for math class, plus our regular stuff. I decided I'd just stay at school after finishing-up with the greeting, since B's party started at 10:30... actually, that was one of the potentially problematic parts of the day. They had to have their party in the morning since they had spanish & music classes after lunch (these teachers are supplemental teaching staff & have less-flexible schedules). We got safely to school & I did my greeting thing, & then came back upstairs when B was having OT. His OT & I chatted a bit while he legoed, then B was done & off to math class (they were doing things with the pumpkins, estimating their weight & then weighing them, estimating how many seeds they had, then counting them- it was pretty neat). While I was waiting for the party I put the warp for a scarf on the school loom for a project the kids are planning to do. They have been working on some fund-raising events for the Heifer Project & one of them is to weave a scarf communally & then raffle it for Heifer. The warping took up pretty much all the time before the party began. Another parent was setting up refreshments for the party while I worked & one of the kids was making Halloween cookies with his OT. The rooms had been decorated the previous afternoon & it all looked very festive.
Last year the Halloween party cooked-up by the room-parents was really over-the-top (by the school's usual standards), with a huge inflatable spider that played scary music as part of the decor, huge amounts of food- including a lot of candy, & a series of games that the kids were shuffled in & out of for the afternoon. I helped out, but was rather appalled by how little the kids were involved in the process. This year the teachers & administration of the school tried to reclaim some of the festivities, asking that it be kept simpler & that no candy be served (sweets like fruit, cake, healthy cupcakes, & the like were fine). This upset some of the parents, but I was glad to see the changes. I was also curious as to how Halloween was celebrated on the "big kid" floor... I had suggested the paper bag skits to B's teacher as a chance for the kids to make their own fun & Jen really liked the idea. After the kids changed into their costumes & had noshed a bit on the goodies (B was upset by the ice in the punch that was moulded to look like a brain...) we started the skits. Most of the kids were ok with the idea, but while I was vetting a group of the older boys a couple flat-out said they wouldn't do it (not very nicely, I might add). One of the teachers, who had been with a group of more amenable girls, heard the comments & suggested we switch groups, which I was happy to do. The girls & I decided to put on a fashion show of the latest "ghoul styles" & we had a lot of fun with it. The teacher with the balking boys managed to get all but one of them to participate in their skit. B & 2 friends (the boys shook-out in 2 very different groups, mostly divided by age) seemed to have fun with theirs & it was really funny, but B was upset later because he said they didn't have enough time to really do their skit... which was true because we had only 2 hours for the party & lunch & there was a very involved scavenger hunt planned by another parent happening after the skits... After a bit more nosh they headed out on the scavenger hunt, on the grounds of the school. The hunt had been planned by a mom who had an older boy in the class, one of the boys who has no learning difficulties (a minority in B's class...). They were looking for bones that fit together into a skeleton, colour-co-ordinated for each group (they kept the same groups as the skits), with clues attached leading to the next bone. The winners were told they had a special prize... It had taken a lot of work to set it up, & unfortunately some of the clues had detached from the bones, so a couple of the groups (including B's) were completely at sea & frustrated. The bigger boys ended-up winning, & the prizes were cans of crazy string, which they were supposed to have used on the teachers, but instead used on anyone who came near. One of the girls became very upset when she was sprayed & lost it with the boy who sprayed her. She ended up being sent home, she was so upset... B & another of the boys in his group ended-up in tears because the hunt was so hard & they were exhausted from running around. Being on the spectrum, they all were driven to finish it, though, so I tried to help them out... Then, of course, they all had to come in, eat lunch, & then get back to work (riiiiight...). B was having a terrible time getting over the frustration & even getting his lunch in his tummy wasnn't helping him get back on track. I had been planning to leave & come back at regular time to get him but I didn't feel comfortable leaving him in a state of near-meltdown. His consultant teacher was putting out so many fires that I felt I should stay with B. I was getting pretty darned tired myself... Eventually, when it became clear that B was not going to be able to cope with the afternoon, I just took him home. My gut feeling about the party is that they really needed to have the kids participate more in the actual planning & setting up, rather than having things done for them. Keeping things really simple would have met more of the kids' needs, too. I could really see how having such a diverse group of kids, maturity-wise & diff-ability-wise, made planning activities that would meet their needs really difficult, but, to be honest, I didn't see any evidence that the kids' needs had been taken into account by the parents who planned most of the party. It was more of a "make sure they have lots of stuff" mentality. Sigh.
B played quietly all afternoon, either with legos or on the computer. I actually took a nap on the sofa (B turned the computer audio way down for me) because I was blasted by the morning. Grammie called at about 4:00 to say she was still not feeling well, so she wouldn't be coming over :( C called at 4:30 to say that the autism conference was over & he'd be home soon.
The neighbourhood party started at 5:30 with pizza in the park. B got suited-up with his night-vision goggles & spy hand light added to the bandolier of gear already around his waist (later C put his navy watch cap on him, too, to make him look even more spy-ish). B did pretty well in the park until there were a lot of squesling little kids there, then he wanted to go home. He & C started out trick or treating at about 6:15- it was dark, so why wait? They were back after just 1/2 an hour & B was ready to come in for the night. Most of the other kids had barely started... B has always enjoyed trick or treating in our neighbourhood & our neighbours have always made a big deal of B's costume, loading him up with candy &, for the past couple of years, money for UNICEF. This year, C said, B was much more uncertain about approaching peoples' homes & ringing the bell by himself. Noticing this, C steered B to houses where he knew the people & that seemed to help. Not long after they got back home our japanese teacher, Tomoko, arrived. She has never really experienced Halloween here in the US & was ready with her own bag of candy to add to ours & her camera :) C told us where the coolest pumpkins & luminaria were & we took a walk around the neighbourhood so she could photograph them. We got B to put his gear back on so she could take a pciture, then C got one of us (I had some silly hats available & she chose one shaped like a crab to wear). Then we just handed out candy & Tomoko took pictures. Her family in Japan is looking forward to seeing what Halloween is all about (at least in our neck of the woods :).
B was in bed by 8:30 & asleep, as I read to him, by 8:45. I felt bad that things were so stressful for him this year. He'd really been looking forward to all of it... I am already thinking of suggestions for school, so that things might go better next year, particularly for the kids on the spectrum. C & I sat for a bit & he told me some about the conference, but we were both too tired to go into details. He said that the speaker from the CDC was very good & that he learned a lot. I promise to report as soon as we've been able to go over it all together. I hope that everyone who celebrated it had a lovely Halloween!