Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's a Privilege!

Since starting school in January, Abby's behavior and general happiness levels have improved so much. Not that she was a miserable kid before, she just had so many more behavior outbursts, so one could assume that she wasn't as happy. School has been a Godsend! She attends Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) and LOVES it. The bus drivers comment often on what a pleasure it is to pick her up in the morning, because she always has a smile on her face and a happy squeal to greet them.

Well this morning was unlike any morning we've had since she's started school. She fought me at every turn this morning. I always try to give her 10- and 5-minute warnings as we go along. I've found that if she knows what to expect, she is more cooperative when the time comes to perform a task.

"Abby, it's almost time to get dressed. Just a few more minutes." I said.
"NO! I want to sit on the couch and watch tv!" she screamed.

What? Where did this come from?!

"Abby, it's time to get dressed." I said.
"NOOOOO!!!" she screamed, throwing her toy across the room and herself on the floor.
"It's time to get dressed. 1..... 2..... 3." I said, taking a deep breath.

The 1-2-3 count works like a charm in our house. It's as if it has some magnetic pull and resistance is futile. Back when the 1-2-3 method was first introduced in our house, if Abby didn't come at the count of "3" I went and got her. There was no "3.5" or "4". For instance, if I say "3" and she isn't standing in front of me, that means that I am going over immediately, picking her up and dressing her. End of story. With proper execution, the 1-2-3 count can be brilliant!

So back to this morning. She screamed "NOOOO!!!" at every menial task that must be done in the morning. You can imagine that how much fun I was having. (Perhaps now would be a good time to let you know that I am fluent in sarcasm.)

Now I'm used to Abby not wanting to do what she is told, but usually she can be talked into it knowing that school is the reward. But today, and it broke my heart, as I was putting on her jacket, she looked up at me with tear filled eyes and without screaming (for the first time this morning) said, "Wanna stay home." Ugh! I wanted to keep her home with me and snuggle on the couch watching cartoons all day! But instead I said, "Honey, you GET to go to school! School is a privilege. It will be so much fun. All of your friends are there."

This is my new thing. School is a privilege. It's not something we have to do. It's something we GET to do. How fortunate are we in this country?!! Sure, I can gripe about the quality of our schools (cough-Idaho-cough) but we get to go to school. And it's even more spectacular that Abby gets to go to school. There are plenty of countries where girls aren't allowed to go to school, let alone a little girl with special needs. We are really and truly blessed.

I'm so thankful for Abby's teachers and her school. I'm confident that Abby will have a bright future, with teachers and teacher's assistants along the way who care for her and care about her education. And I will be there every step of the way, reminding her of the privilege she is blessed with, and reminding them of the importance of their job and how much they are appreciated.

Now let me remind you that I am not a perfect parent. I lost my cool once this morning and told her to "shut up" rather than "be quiet" during a particularly aggravating scream.
Most of the morning, what I was really tempted to say yell was,
"Shut up and quit yer screamin'!
Get your butt dressed and get on that bus!
Mommies' got a nap to take and a blog to write!"
But I tried really, really hard to use encouraging words.
And this morning, I did a pretty good job.

In the end, so did Abby. She whined a little bit when she saw the bus, but she sucked it up and had a smile for the bus driver.

I hope she has a good day at school.


Sally's World said...

school is a godsend when you have special needs kids...i don't think everyone gets this...its not just about the break, its about knowing they are safe with people equiped to deal with every aspect of our childs disability...

its routine, and that is great, coping mechanisms lol!

aaron loved his bus driver, no matter how bad he was feeling....he'd grin and love the bus...I think the assistant used to knock on the door and wonder what sort of house we had here....more than once i opened the door with my nose bleeding and a fat lip where aaron had lost the plot...and she'd look at me in wonder when Aaron grinned and skipped past her to the bus (obviously in the days he could walk)

great post.

honey said...

Hope Ab had a great day in spite of not wanting to go :)

Penny said...

Erin, when my daughter resisted school, it took me a long time to realize that she had a sore throat, often strep. If she is still "off" or you get an unusual report from school, consider checking her throat and ears.

(I homeschool now -- it's much better for us than what the public school offered our child w/ an IEP and autism.)

My name is Erin. said...

Thanks, everyone. Ab is still in a bit of a mood. I'll check her ears and throat. Thank you, Penny!

She had a good report from school. I'm guessing naptime will be a long one today. I probably just jinxed myself by writing that! LOL

Penny- Bless you for having the patience, the skill and the knowledge to home school. I know that it is not an option for us. I am a happier parent when I have some time to myself and up until this past Fall, I was a stay-at-home mom with Abby. She has thrived in ways I hadn't imagine possible since she started school. Thank you so much for reading and commenting today. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future. :)

courtney said...

It's humbling to contemplate what things would be like for the large population of children who recieve ECSE if, of all people, Ronald Reagan didn't pass the legislation requiring early childhood intervention to be part of IDEA and the Americans with Disabilities act. We would be so majorly screwed. I wonder what made him choose to help such vulnerable group. Were disabled people lobbying heavily that year with all their disposable income or what? (sarcasm insertion)

Trojan Gayle said...

An enjoyable and informative post. Its seems that Abby going to school has been great for both of you. I admire you approach to getting Abby to do stuff, your patience must get worn out at times. Any how look ing forward to your next posting. p.s love the pictures

My name is Erin. said...

Courtney- I always appreciate your sarcasm. It's nice to be able (when you are of our shared political persuasion) to be thankful for the Reagan administration. I may be questioning his economic theories these days, but at least this is one area where I'll give him a BIG thumbs up! *insert cheesy ad campaign smile & voice here* "Thanks, President Reagan!"

Jessica said...

hey Erin,
I'm just reading your sweet blog for the first time and i had NO IDEA that Abby was autistic. I guess I vaguely remember you being concerned about her speech when we saw you years and years ago. I used to have a coworker whose son was diagnosed high functioning autistic, but it wasn't until he was 7 years old and couldn't quite figure out reading. Many subtle signs had been there all along though. He is in high school now and doing great. I'm sure Abby will do well too! You have my admiration because parenting young children can be like herding cats sometimes...at least getting out the door with my two is. It isn't easy and must take even more energy when you have different challenges.

My name is Erin. said...

Thanks, Jessica! Herding cats is a perfect analogy. LOL! That's EXACTLY what its like. I may use that analogy in a future blog posting. LOL!

Penny said...


I never thought I could homeschool. We just got to the point where public school was so obviously not the right place. It was a long journey to get us to homeschooling (and now I'm considering bringing one more home--that just blows my mind that I'm thinking that!)

I blog about us, too. www.notnewtoautism.blogspot.com