Yesterday arrived in an untypical manner with the morning starting with an appointment regarding our son. It was a therapeutisch project appointment, which means it involves all the agencies working with or previously working with our son. Lots of people, time, and energy trying to assist Kaeden in getting on and staying on the right track in life. Though I try not to, every time I attend one of these meetings I look around the table and am in disbelief at how much money my son costs the goverment and tax payers. And thankful that it doesn't all come as out of pocket expenses. And grateful that so many people are working for my son, to assure him a successful life, now and in the future.
Though many different areas of Kaeden's upbringing were discussed, the one that remains most hopeful and happy and joyous for me is the positive feeling surrounded by his living at school, in his home away from home. Yet again, we were treated to a very uplifting report about how well he does in the home, how he has friends and does his chores and never causes an uproar. How they get through the rough spots with him through humor, and how Kaeden has such a great sense of sarcastic humor. And though I don't need a report to tell me this, as I see it in his eyes or hear it in the excitement of his voice as he tells me a story, it's so nice to hear after years and years of always living with negativity, that my son is doing great! This fact lays a rainbow-colored layer over his less positive areas, like opening up a special prize and being rewarded with the one thing you have always wanted but never imagined you could have. I am truly just thrilled!
At school and at home, the verdict remains similar. Kaeden does well about 80% of the time but the 20% when things go wrong, it's something so big and bad that it throws a black cloud over the other 80%. His meltdowns remain filled with a frenzy of aggression and violence which put fear into those around him. Fear is not something easily forgotten, trust never earned completely back.
More news which was delivered during this appointment was a new school program they are working on implementing. This has me both excited and worried. It is a program not through the school, but through the group home, in compliance with school laws. It will be small groups of kids with issues exactly such as Kaeden (most importantly being unable to function with other people "getting in his way" causing him to rage out), supported by a full time teacher as well as additional staff. The classroom will be housed in a separate building from the home and the school, and the kids will have their designated work to complete, but with an allowance for them to complete it on their own terms, regarding time, place, etc.
Since Kaeden has been diagnosed with autism, it has been branded into me that this is a child who needs structure. That he can't function without a set schedule. That he craves a set forth plan. And now, in ten minutes, I am told that he is a first-choice candidate for a new school in which structure, planning, and scheduling is of the least importnace. It threw me for a loop. Kaeden needs assistance to accomplish what needs to be done. He can't even brush his teeth without having someone standby to make sure it gets done. Yet, they are going to give him the freedom to plan his own day, get through all of his lessons? That he is going to be responsible for managing his time on his own? Granted, his assistants will be there to help him, but this goes against everything I have been taught since learning about autism.
However, it excites me. My son, one of the laziest people I know (probably due to his inability to figure out how best to manage his time...too many outside factors which impact him), may have the chance to learn to manage his day and his time and his classes on his own! He may be able to figure out that if he first does his work, he will have the freedom to watch a movie. That if he completes his chores first, he can play a game of soccer when he wants, instead of only after school. That he knows what needs to be done, has the resources to ask for help if needed, and yet can do it all on his own. A completely functioning individual.
I have many more questions about this school and it's policies. I have questions about what coursework Kaeden will be allowing to partake in (woodworking is one of his faves, will he be forced to give that up?), and what will happen if he doesn't succeed in managing it himself. In addition, the school is still in the planning stages and they aren't even sure of all the logistics of it yet. But it sounds interesting. My son may be a guinea pig for this project. Am I willing to let him be?
So, that was a bit of news on the Kaeden front. I have to say, though I shivered and shook throughout the meeting (these things always have me a complete ball of nerves), I walked away feeling really positive and good about how things are going for my son. Though clouds covered the sky, it felt as if the sun were shining as I left the building. WE still have a long stretch ahead of us to assist Kaeden in becoming an independent, full-functioning adult. But it sorta, just kinda feels as if maybe, just maybe, we might be on the right track. Do I dare breathe a sigh of relief?
Not yet. But it does give me renewed hope.