Sunday, August 13, 2017

School Grey Four

August is upon us again, and this year marks Little A's fifth at his school. As student number 1, his birthday coincides with their anniversary, but since they started with a summer program in 2012, regular school only began a couple of months later.

Last year's troupe of teachers were amazing, and so was Little A's Holistic Program and its implementation. More so than in all the years prior, he made marked improvements across all areas, and we hope, and pray, this continues.

Summer was fun, but Little A, now 10, was very eager to get back to work, and in the few days' holiday constantly reminded me in writing that he was anticipating "school grey 4", after being told he would be a fourth grader this academic year.

I busied myself making sure he had a new, larger, set of school uniforms and shoes and that these were labelled clearly with his name (trusty sewing kit at the ready).

Grey Four is upon us then. We are ready!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Play Date

After the success of Little A's birthday party, a co-parent and I decided to make play dates, something so common among typical kids and so rare among those like ours, a regular thing.

Within the next few weeks, we managed one, at a soft play centre with Little A and his female classmate. She is verbal, and very sweet, and her mum and I are determined to foster bonds between our kids that will hopefully last a lifetime.

After playtime, we sat at a café and had a snack. The two interacted minimally, again, as is typical, but were quite aware of each other. One sat and quietly sipped a drink, while the other gobbled down food and then plugged into an iPad, but they made fleeting eye contact, and smiled to see each other in a setting outside of a classroom.

There is a week of "freedom" before fourth grade starts, so hopefully in this time we can manage some more together time with schoolmates. Or Little A can just enjoy the last week of home time before fourth grade begins on August 1st.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Turning Ten

2007 was a busy year. Apple launched the iPhone (a bandwagon I only reluctantly hopped on in 2015). Amazon released the first Kindle (I waited cautiously until version 2 came along in 2009, to see if it was worth the hype). JK Rowling published the final book in the Harry Potter series.

And my little family came into existence as Little A was born.

This year he enters the double digits. For the first time, he had a party with "friends" - the half dozen fellow ASD boys and girl in his class, plus his cousins. Previously, all parties consisted of mine and Big A's other godchildren, so this one seemed special somehow.

The birthday boy wanted to swim at the club near my parents' house, which was also the venue for my own tenth birthday party (with a guest list consisting of my sisters and two best friends) thirty one years ago. There were four swimming pools and a new room where we had food, cake and balloons.

I hope a good time was had by all, and that this is just the first of many playdates to come with this group. While it would be really fantastic if Little A made some neurotypical friends, there is something to be said for hanging out with fellows who "get" you, or don't care about your quirks because they have their own as well. While interaction might be minimal, you can tell that the kids enjoy being together, and feel comfortable in each other's company. Win. Repeat!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Aussie Adventure, Part 2

With a week to go before our one-year visas expired, Big A and I went back Down Under for a hopefully-not-last hurrah.

Once again, we spent a week in Sydney and Melbourne, but this time we knew where we wanted to go in each city. While the retail scene in Sydney is better, Melbourne can't be beat for nightlife, dining, arts, and culture.

We explored some of the "suburbs" this time, as next trip we hope Little A can accompany us. There is so much he would enjoy, with numerous nearby zoos (including a safari-type adventure), an island filled with penguins, open water whale viewing, and an operating steam train.

When we got back Little A went straight into summer school, a month of morning classes on weekdays which he thoroughly enjoyed, and very much looked forward to attending.

He begins his fifth year at this school in a few weeks, and continues to love it, something we hope does not change in the many years to come.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Birthday Party

Last April, for only the second time ever, Little A was invited to a classmate's birthday party.

When each class only consists of a dozen children, over half of which have limited or no speech, along with social skills challenges, parties (and other social interactive occasions) are a rare thing.

Until he was seven, all of Little A's own birthday celebrations were either held at school, or comprised of cousins and our fellow godchildren.

He has attended parties of cousins and fellow godchildren, but never with more than one or two other special needs kids present. This would have been a first, had Big A known to take him as I was away in Europe.

After arriving a day too late and making my apologies to the birthday celebrant's parents, I fretted that there might be fewer occasions like this in future and he had to have missed this one.

One of the other mums though, whose son had never had a "real" birthday party before, was thrilled to see the kids enjoy themselves, and decided to celebrate her child's birthday a few weeks later in the same place.

This time, I made sure Little A was present. He and his classmates had a grand time, and I gave the parents notice that the next birthday coming would be Little A's, in another month. This time, his party would be made up of classmates, and it would not just take place at school. We look forward to it already.

He, and his classmates, had a grand time.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Farewell, Third Grade

Today Little A officially becomes an incoming fourth grader. This year has been the best so far in terms of his improvements and achievements, behavior-wise, since he was diagnosed eight ears ago. Communication has also come a long way, and from what I observed in classroom structured activities, social interaction with his peers is getting better as well. 

I credit the leaps and bounds mainly to his fantastic pair of teachers. Both, but particularly the head teacher, went above and beyond the call of duty, and truly grew to love my son as much as his family does, and this genuine care over the ten month academic year translated into tangible gains across the board.

Another factor might well be the essential oil protocols we started last July. Little A's sleep has certainly improved thanks to the miracle plant that is Roman Chamomile. I like to think the calming and focusing blends had an effect as well, so much that by the third quarter they were hardly used anymore as there was no longer much of a need for them.

Finally, there is the constant that is Occupational Therapy, provided by living angel of a woman who has adjusted and readjusted Little A's programmes and goals over the past four years and watches him the most vigilantly of all. 

Miracles happen if you only know how to look for them. We have seen many in our son, just this past year.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Onstage Once More

When I hung up my pointe shoes two decades ago, I never thought I would one day find myself back in a "performing" capability, despite my definite return to dance as exercise last year.

Less than a month ago, Little A's school headmaster sent an email to ask if I might consent to dance at the school's fundraising show. How could I refuse? Another mum was a former dancer, and her daughter was Little A's classmate. She and another third grade girl were dancing a simple ballet number, so we opted to join them. We watched a rehearsal and then got together to work ourselves into the dance.

This was not much of a challenge choreographically, and we did want to keep the focus on the little girls, so our "dance" was more of an entrance, some arm waving, a few turns, and an exit. Still, we were thrilled to be back "onstage" and secretly hope it won't be the last time! Most importantly, it was for a very worthy cause, so if we are asked to do it again, I know what my reply will be.