Sometimes it amazes me how much happens in our lives between blog posts. On Friday morning, one of the specialists from Wildwood School called me at work and she asked for the status of Jonah’s admission into Springbrook and Tradewinds. It’s not great news. Tradewinds (in Utica) has accepted him but they’re full and we have to wait indefinitely for a spot for Jonah. Springbrook may or may not take Jonah, depending on whether they can squeeze him in among the kids they’re bringing back to NY from out of state.
Then she told me the functional behavioral assessments aren’t working – that almost always they can determine the cause/antecedent for a child’s behaviors – at which time they can then implement a plan, which almost always works, at least to some degree. But with Jonah, the functional assessments come out different every time. Avoidance, say, or attention-seeking. And oftentimes, nothing at all. Even during preferred behaviors he will sometimes aggress, lightning-quick and without any warning whatsoever.
She told me Jonah’s quality of education is now practically gone; they’re just managing him at this point. I realized suddenly that, in a sense, I’ve been an ostrich mom, hanging on to the ‘promised placement’ I used to fear and now long for, burying my head in the sand until I can entrust Jonah to the hands of other people – professionals…experts…specialists who will help our boo get better…people who will unburden me from everything I don’t feel like I can take anymore. With that realization came some sort of a second wind…an epiphany that no one will help us the way we’ll help ourselves, though Wildwood sure is trying. They are kind and encouraging, diplomatic and sensitive.
They’re helping me look into other options – other residential places they’ve seen and are very happy with…the Anderson Center, they say, in Staatsburg NY, near Kingston, though we once scheduled a tour there and canceled it, back when I thought I could be picky about schools and we wanted something closer. Wildwood also suggested ruling out physical causes for his aggression – something we’d suspected but weren’t sure if we should pursue because of the trauma all the doctors and travel and tests would cause for Jonah. Was it worth it, we wondered, when the so-much-more likely cause was simply a severe symptom of autism? Now it looks like something else really is going on – physically, or neurologically, or God-knows-what. I know it’s time to do more.
So I approached my boss all a-wreck, explained the situation briefly, and asked if I could take an hour or two to make some phone calls, please. She was very understanding and said of course. I went back upstairs, closed my office door, cried, cursed, swallowed half an extra dose of klonopin, and breathed in and out, in and out, in and out…slowly getting my shit together.
First I left a message at The Anderson School to schedule a tour…then I called a parent or two, for advice and guidance. I left a message with a doctor here in Albany who (one parent told me) can run a full round of blood and genetic tests. I called Boston Children’s Hospital to make an appointment. I called Jonah’s pediatrician to order a sedative so I can get him there. I called a homeopath. I went online and ordered fish oil chewables. I researched PANDA and gluten/casein diets – the former I’d never ever heard of, the latter was something we’d always dismissed for Jonah, since it never seemed he had any stomach issues, really, and we didn’t think there was much more than anecdotal evidence to support trying it. Also, since Jonah’s recently been clinically diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, I called the Arthritis Foundation as well, told my story, and was promised they’d get back to me soon.
Now momma-ostrich is awake and determined, shaking off the sand. We’re gonna figure some shit out no matter what I have to do.
That was Friday.
Today M and I picked up Jonah to give Andy a break. It was a beautiful springtime day in the 60s with sunshine, high pulled-cotton clouds, and that wonderful new-season-scent that pervades everything. We went to the woods behind Russell Road park and Jonah practically skipped down the path, smiling and happy.
He loves the woods, is gleeful in the forest. He was so good for us.
We let him slide in the dirt and toss handfuls of pebbles, hug birch trunks and throw twigs around. (He was unable to hurt anyone, even if he’d wanted to, though he was as far from aggressing as I’ve seen him in a while). Unencumbered by rules and regulations, alive and free to do as he pleased, he scampered – digging in the leaves and earth, running down the path ahead of us, laughing… again my sweet, fun, awesome little boy.
When he’d had enough of this particular forest, he requested train, donut, and waterfall, all his favorites and all within reason and reach. After a speeding train and a third of a donut, which he politely handed back to us: no donut – we drove on to the falls. For the first time this year we walked down to the water, though he didn’t ask to go in. Again he cavorted, explored, told me bye bye – and as I walked 10 feet or so away, he stood watching and listening to the falls, at home in his little zen-place.
In the midst of the storm of our lives, it was a pretty good hurricane eye.