[personal profile] jadedmusings
jadedmusings: (ATLA - Chibi :D)
Yesterday was our annual IEP meeting at the school for the kiddo. I went in anxious because the last couple of years have been us going round and round about them insisting the kiddo is on the autistic spectrum while I (someone who has actually worked with children on the spectrum) plus a couple of doctors have said he's not. Last year they were very pessimistic about his social skills and, well, I was on the verge of pulling him out and homeschooling until we found a suitable private school for him if we had another bad year.

Yesterday it was like I went to a meeting for an entirely different child. In May, they were convinced he was never going to get any better without a lot of intervention and assistance (even hinting at the possibility he might need an aide, or someone to come in every now and then). Yesterday, a mere five months later after he's had a summer break, they remarked that he's now eating lunch and talking with his peers, playing with them at recess, and he's even been giving at least one presentation in class where he's had to stand up in front of everyone and talk. He's, for the first time, spontaneously saying "Hi, Mrs. [Name]," to the teachers and principal when he passes them in the hallway, which catches them off-guard because he's always needed to be spoken to first. He's socially caught up and making friends.

One story his teacher told us was that one student in his class had his snack, but didn't want to finish it because it was too sweet. The kiddo saw and heard him say this and went over with his snack (cheese nips) and said to the kid, "Here, we can share mine if you like." Last year he barely talked to any of his peers and was a loner.

Academically, his math scores are damn near 100s (and have always been high), but it's reading where he's always lacked that he's picking up steam. He's reading consistently at/a little above grade level for the first time plus demonstrating far better reading comprehension (and his teacher says it'll only improve the more he reads). He's gone from reading the bare minimum required by his teachers to having to be told in class to put his book away and complete task. Now, the focus is on getting him to be better organized and to remember to turn in his work. (He even comes home and tells me, "I'm turning off the TV so I won't be distracted while I read." No, I am not making that up. Yes, I do consider myself lucky.)

As of yesterday he has completely exited out of the occupational therapy portion of his in-school therapies, and they are scaling back to one thirty-minute speech session per week. Since he was three years old he's been going twice per week, and for the first time this year his speech therapist mentioned the possibility of him exiting the speech therapy program next year. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard that as last year had me worried he'd be going to speech therapy through middle school at least.

He still obviously has speech issues, and verbally he doesn't like to speak more than one to three words in response to questions (unless he's the one who started talking first); however, when asked to write a paragraph about something, he will write several sentences that are punctuated correctly with proper grammar and sentence structure (despite still sometimes using improper grammar in his speech, i.e. "She seen a bird."). His occupational therapist read one paragraph he wrote about his field trip and said, "I know children in middle school who couldn't do that well." His handwriting is improving and letter spacing is damn near perfect, and he's catching up a bit to his peers by practicing cursive.

At home we're going to start working on his reading aloud. He still has a tendency to want to rush through words and trying to speak while inhaling. So every now and then I'll ask him to read a paragraph of what he's reading to me and I'll be helping him with projection and pacing (as well as occasionally reminding him about his "L" blends/sounds, one of his weaknesses).

As for the transformation, I credit the teacher he has this year. Technically she's a substitute for the fourth grade teacher who had a serious accident or medical injury before school started. This substitute took over for his teacher last year when she was out on maternity leave and is there at least through the holidays. She knew about the kiddo and his limitations, and he really connected with her last year and this year. She has let him sit with her on school trips and at lunch, and has encouraged him to be social. She loves him so much that I think she'd kidnap him and take him home if she could. I'm going to be keeping an eye out for a holiday present for her, something nice she can use along with a letter explaining to her how much this means to us. (There's no idea if the "real" teacher will be able to return this year, and the consensus seems to be there's now a possibility she will not return for the school year at this point.)

When we were walking to the parking lot after the meeting Sam said, "It took everything I had not to tell them, 'We told you so!'" Me, I've been too ecstatic and overjoyed to gloat about how we always believed in the kiddo and knew with the right amount of patience and understanding, he'd pull through. He's always blown away everyone's expectations of him, always surprising everyone (including me) with what he can do.

I worried yesterday was a dream so I've been telling everyone I could about it. Sam's mom gave me a hug and said, "You knew it all along," and she'd been someone to always back me up in my belief the kiddo was capable of far more than the school seemed ready to believe.

So my son has a bright future ahead of him, and he's really coming out of his shell socially and academically. It's been a long, very bumpy road, but now I see an end to it and I slept better last night than I have in months. To celebrate yesterday's news, we're going out after school to the mall, maybe a movie, and then some clothes shopping (which he won't be as happy about, but he needs new jeans since he's managed to put a hole in nearly every pair he owns). He's earned a huge treat.
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Wrathful and Unrepentant Jade

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