Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Gift of Hope

Those of you on my facebook may have seen the announcement posted yesterday about my Timmy getting into the REACH program. It is an intense behavioral intervention program for autistic children that involves very small group dynamics, personalized instruction, OT/PT, speech therapy and immersion therapy involving playtime with normally progressing children in the school.  Timmy's room will have six children,and two teachers, and the specialists will EACH see him almost daily.

I almost fell on the floor when they called to tell me he got in, but I was literally reduced to tears during the three-hour parent session today as my heart filled with joy. His OT and speech therapists from his current school were in attendance, as well as the new teacher and the phsychologista for the school and the district. They gave us the results of his most recent ETR, spending 45 minutes telling us the progress he has made. They showed me a paper on which he has written his name from memory. He folded it in half. One side said, "Timothy" and the other said, "Tim Tim" (that's what Jessie calls him). 

The district psychologist referred to Timmy as a high functioning autistic, and from that moment on, my heart was overflowing. "High functioning" is what you want to hear when you are told your child has autism, because those two words denote a syndrome that can be compensated with behavioral training. In other words, it means Timmy has a chance of getting better.

I was assured Timmy would learn to speak and to use the potty very soon among many things I never thought he would be able to do--let alone by the end of Kindergarden! When the other five kids came into the room (we ran a little over with our tour of the room), I was surprised to note how similar they look to my Timmy. Not knowing any other autistic children personally, I didn't know they had a characteristic look about them. A little boy walked right up to me and said, "hi." He even sounded like Timmy. Then, I noted that these kids, these five-year-old kids, were reading their schedules and starting their day while I talked to the teacher. Yes, reading. She told me Timmy will do all of these things, too. And more.

I walked into that school with my guard up waiting for a list of things he cannot do to be read aloud to a room full of strangers, but I walked out with a handful of resources that I've been asking for for three years and a heart full of hope.

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