Back story would help here, but I haven’t had the opportunity to write it yet … so let’s just say that Christian has been struggling a little quite a bit at school this last month. We (his entire team) don’t know what happened to set this struggle into motion, but it’s there and has been incredibly hard for everyone involved, especially Christian.

As Christian’s Team adjourned from an ’emergency’ meeting at school a couple of weeks ago, the principal (Mr. G) just asked me what my plan was for Christian coming back after his Spring Break. You see, my daughter and I continue our Spring Breaks through the end of the week and Christian goes back today. Initially, I planned on driving Christian into school in the mornings. Why wouldn’t I?? I’m home and then Brian wouldn’t need to make an extra trip into town…

…ah, but his point exactly…

…we need to keep the ‘status quo.’ Christian needs the sameness of a regular school morning. So, Olivia and I will rush out of the house as normal right around 7 a.m. for the rest of the week and Brian will drive Christian to school, as usual. The words ‘No School!’ were removed from the calendar and Liv & I talk in secret about our day-time plans.

I pray that all of this helps Christian. I am at a loss, otherwise.

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Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. [1 Peter 5:7]

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We survived our first week with our new crazy schedule.

I am enjoying working with my students at school. The classroom routine really just started to get established on Friday, so I’m eager to see how things go once we’re into a regular schedule there. I feel a bit rushed in the morning (and after school) to get everyone to where they need to be at the right time, but hopefully that will get easier with time, too.

Christian finally decided that school will be a good thing again. (Whew!) We were all happy that Miss R is his bus driver for both before AND after school. She and Christian just have an amazing understanding and trust with each other. I feel 100% safe having her transport Christian. (I’d love to keep her as his bus driver as long as he’s in school!) School seems to be going well for Christian. He is greeting people and using their names. He is taking charge of his routine in the lunchroom and no longer needs to have an adult sitting immediately next to him. (HUGE!) He is having some issues with tearing up paper (i.e. worksheets) and we have seen this behavior at home over the summer. I’m hoping we can figure out how to solve this, but I’m excited that things have been going as well as they have so far.

Olivia has been loving school. (She’s 2-1/2 weeks in already.) I’m not sure that she enjoys going to both before and after school care this year, she’s surviving. 😉 (Last year she constantly asked to stay. You’d think she’d be happier that she has to now!) She and I are still figuring out how to efficiently get out of the house in the morning, but I’m sure we’ll have it figured out by Christmas. 😉

Brian has been coming home to get Christian on and off the bus. It sounds like that is going well and that Christian is enjoying some “guy time” with Daddy. 🙂 (I don’t think Brian minds either.)

I hoping that next week goes as well as this week has…

Christian had Spring Break this week. Being out of routine is not necessarily easy for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for those on the autism spectrum. We have had our share of difficult “vacations” in the past. Many have consisted of screaming, endless crying, and major “tantrums” about not being able to be at school. It becomes an extraordinarily hard time for EVERYONE in the house. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned how we would handle this long week that laid bare in front of us.

But this week, this week of Spring Break, an entire week with NO school, turned out so different from all of our breaks in the past. I think that it is safe to say that this has been the best break from school that Christian has ever had! No joke!

Here are some things that I have learned during this week…

  • We can survive and thrive during a break. Whew! This makes the thought of summer vacation not quite so scary a thought anymore.
  • There is a Catch-22 to Christian sleeping later into the morning. I have learned this week that if he sleeps past 6am, I will probably end up washing any and everything that was on his bed. As much as I like being able to “sleep-in”, I would prefer to see my boy by 5am.
  • With the help of two of his therapists, Christian learned that being at the Children’s Museum in town with me and Liv is OK. We can have fun together as a family while there. My heart smiles.
  • Christian can walk his service dog, Pixar, really excellently by himself (if he has her on a hands-free leash), as long as I’m not around. Pixar has become too reliant on me. I have to distance myself from her so that she can lean on Christian more.
  • An obsession focus on WordWorld combining with Legos makes for some interesting days. I think I need a Lego intern to move in with us for awhile. (See pictures of our creations at the bottom of this post.)
  • Christian knows his bedtime prayer. He wandered into Olivia’s room when I was putting her to bed last night and started praying along. I was near tears of joy. 🙂
  • Christian spontaneously told Brian that he loves him a few days ago. I melted. Such fantastic words to hear, especially when offered so freely.
  • Christian and I can do a HUGE grocery shopping trip by ourselves with the help of a cart called the “Shop Along.” These carts have a bench seat behind the actual cart. Christian sat awesomely on the bench while I overfilled our cart. 🙂 (I have also learned that pushing an 80+ lb. child in a Shop Along with it overflowing should be considered an Olympic sport. I’m only half kidding. 😉 )
  • Christian is a technology master. One example of that this week — he found a word processing program on Grandma’s computer that she didn’t even know that she had. (He found it so that he could type credits at her house, of course.) He has also been using our “Movie Maker” program to create his own scrolling credits and inserting pictures that are saved on the computer. He can just about type as fast as I can. Incredible! 😀

Our favorite -- "DOG"

Our Cast of WordWorld friends -- "DOG", "FROG", "PIG", and "SHEEP" (We added "DUCK" a little bit later. He hasn't made the leap from the camera to the computer yet. 😉 )

I have shared many of the positive notes that have come home from Christian’s classroom this year. I have been excited that there have been so many of them. 🙂

This week has been a hard one for Christian, though. Here are the notes from the last two days…

[Yesterday] Christian has been going to first grade math sweep. The tasks that they do are a challenge to him and his behaviors are not good. Today we had to leave because of headbutting, screaming, and crying. Part of me thinks that he should be able to do the work, but he really isn’t even trying and becomes frustrated with trying to keep up with the fast pace.

[Today] Christian was MAD today. He was obsessed with [Bus Driver R] and Mom topics. He cried several time and lunged at me several times. I did not try first grade math because of his mood.

Christian has been struggling with sleep lately and maybe cutting some new teeth. The weather has been all over the place, which never helps sleep or mood. I just wish that he had the words to tell me what is going on and how I can help him.

Doing all that I can for now and just praying for “happier” notes tomorrow.

Here are a couple of notes that came home with Christian today…

Christian shocked Mr. G (the principal) this morning by stopping him in the hallway, giving him great eye contact, and initiating a greeting!!! 🙂

He also initiated a great conversation about my dog, who he heard me say had hurt his leg.

Good Day!!! 🙂

I’m always so excited to get great reports like this from school, but even more thrilled that it contained smily faces. Especially since it has been a rough couple of weeks!

Yep. My Liv is younger, but she plays the role of the Big Sister so often. Not that I think she minds much. She wants to be the older one.

It cut my heart a bit last week, though, when I sat down with Christian’s teacher and reviewed some of the recent testing that they had completed. We were curious to see what developmental level Christian was testing at as it had been three years since he last round of testing. The results showed that he is testing at a developmental age 2-1/2 years below his chronological age. OK. I guess I wasn’t too overly surprised by that, but what smacked me was realizing that my 23-month younger daughter had now surpassed my son by about 3-years+ in developmental age. That isn’t supposed to happen. It’s just not.

Thankfully, my kids don’t seem to mind who has what developmental vs. chronological age. I am praying that it will always be this way. I don’t understand God’s plans, but I know that he has great things in store for both of my beautiful children. I’m praying to feel the peace that this knowledge brings.

We survived Christmas break and finally made it back to the first day of school in 2012 yesterday. Our home was a buzz with electric excitement Monday evening.

However, Tuesday morning was disastrous. Epically disastrous. And pretty much, totally MY fault. I had overslept. When I did wake, I found myself scurrying to get Christian fed and fully dressed in under 5 minutes.

Suddenly, the kids realized that the bus was now sitting in our driveway. Panic ensued.

I shoved medicated toast in Christian’s hands while I attempted get his socks on his feet while he continually ran to the window to make sure that the bus was still there. And then the shoes…

…one shoe…

Pooploops…

the other shoe was NOwhere to be found.

The kids and I searched frantically for what seemed like forever. The bus waited. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE our driver and don’t know what I’ll do when the day comes that she is no longer Christian’s driver?!?)

We looked in EVERY conceivable place. ANY place where Christian’s shoes have hidden before. It was not there.

And then, there is was! Buried under Liv’s winter clothing pile. The lone shoe. I could NOT have been happier!

Christian and I worked teamwork magic to get that shoe on in record time. Awesome. Whew.

And then I opened the door.

My heart dropped through the floor.

The bus was g o n e.

My sweet boy was in tears. Completely and totally heartbroken. I felt like the worst mama in the world because I knew how important that bus ride was to getting back into our happy school year routine and I had blown it. Big time.

My mind started reeling as to how to “fix” it. Well, at least, the best fix that I could offer at the time.

I rushed both kids out the door. Dropped Liv off at her school, thankful for “before-school-care”. And rushed Christian across town to his school.

Yeah, I had this figured out. I would get him there soon enough that he could quickly get on his bus, if even just for a minute, before his teachers came out of the school. Maybe, just maybe, that would right the wrong that started off his first day back.

However, I hadn’t accounted for the driver having a new route. She got there later than usual. Christian did NOT have the chance to climb on his bus and sit in his seat for even a minute. His sadness was overwhelming. I handed him off to his capable teachers, as he cried and dropped and I felt incredibly small.

I waited eagerly to hear how Christian’s day had gone. I wondered and worried and prayed that it had turned around.

When his bus got home, I threw open his backpack looking for any sort of note about his day. This is what I read, “Rough day. Lots of tears.”

I felt horrible. Horrible that I could have made the difference in Christian’s entire day yesterday, but knowing that I had let him down. I vowed that I would make today better. SO MUCH more better. (I know. Not correct English, but I did feel that strongly about it.)

And today, well, today flowed smoothly. Christian was even standing in his coat and ready to go 15 minutes before his bus pulled in this morning. I was relieved. Greatly relieved. Perhaps today would move us smoothly back into our routine of school.

I still felt really bad for how yesterday had gone. I’m still disappointed in myself for letting that happen, but without that happening I would not have received this amazingly moving email from Christian’s teacher this morning. It read…

Last night I was thinking about Christian’s day and although he had a rough day I kept thinking of the positive things I saw.  I thought I would share them with you.

He could tell me exactly why he was upset and what he wanted – “No Bus”, “Mom come in the red car”, “Mom almost done”, “Mom no work”, “Olivia no school”, “No schedule”, “I do my worksheet then Mom come in the red car”,  “I want black blanket” (actually a black bean bag chair), “Go home later”, “Christian sad” “Christian mad”.  I thought it was good that he could express what he was feeling and what he wanted.

A social story about going back to school and work helped.

We used first/then and as long as we did only 1 thing at a time he did well.  He couldn’t handle the whole days schedule.

He really came out of his “funk” when it was free time. He wanted to play with the other kids.

Although he did some crying and at times wanted to be by himself, he did not hit or kick me.  He wanted a hug a few times (not sure if for pressure or for comfort but that doesn’t matter).

At the end of the day he started to cry about you coming to get him but he was easily redirected that it was bus or stay at school with me and not go home.

This is much different than how he would have handled it a year ago. I am glad his language skills have improved and he can tell us things better.  He is able to focus on things other than his obsessions.  He is less aggressive.  All things to celebrate, even on a rough day.

Progress. SO MUCH progress. I guess sometimes we need to have bad days just to see how much progress has been made. For that, I am thankful.