Everything is a baby step, until you have enough room in the rear view mirror to have another perspective.
On Thursdays, as I’ve mentioned a number of times before, I pick up the Monster from school so he can go to his gymnastics program at Rebounders. This gives me a few opportunities that I don’t normally have.
First, I get to see him in a school environment instead of at home. I usually arrive at school a few minutes before the dismissal bell, and linger outside the classroom to peek in and see how things are going. This often gets me a chance to see a very quiet Monster at a table with his classmates, and gives me an idea of how he’s behaving for Ms. A when we’re clearly not around to see it.
Second, it gives me a 20-30 minute car ride alone with the Monster to try to talk to him a bit, to see if I can’t eek out a little conversation from him, even if it’s guided conversation that’s talking about what’s going on outside the car. (I do try to get him to talk about his day, about school, and other things… but that’s like pulling teeth, and not just the “How was school today?” “Fine.” conversation that adults get from teenaged children.)
And third, it gives me a chance to see how he responds in a far less structured environment where he’s aware of how things work and excited for what he knows is coming.
So, that said, yesterday was Thursday.
When I did let myself into the classroom so I could get him going, he didn’t notice me until Ms. A prompted him that I was present, and then he untangled himself from his chair (Ms. A and his OT have put an elastic exercise band on his chair so he has something to simulate himself with that’s not distracting to his classmates) and went to go get his bag. I followed up on the last few days with Ms. A so I could let her know that I really am okay with how she’s doing, that my letter to her and the IEP Chair was not meant as a vote of no confidence in how she’s doing in the classroom… and then the Monster tottered up to me with his backpack, proffering it to me.
“Close the bag!” he insisted. (He’s not great with zippers, and his bag was half-opened.)
“Close the bag, what, Monster?” I prompted him.
“Close the bag, please!” Not a repetition of the original request, not a “Close it!” like we’d have gotten six months ago… or the “Can I have close the bag, please?” that we’d have gotten a year ago. A nice, proper request with good use of a verb.
And it’s the same with the walk out to the car. “Where are we going?” I asked him.
“Going to gymnastics with Miss [C]!” Nevermind, of course, that Miss C hasn’t been his teacher at gymnastics for a good six, seven months… but again, it’s a good sentence. It’s clear in intention and anyone could understand it.
He’s not really ready to be set off on his own yet at the zoo or playground, perhaps, but it’s miles from where he’s been, with miles more to go…