Big Changes Are Coming!

July 10, 2009

Sorry for such a gap in posting.  Things have been quite busy around here and from the looks of the calendar, it’s not going to be too calm anytime soon (“Baby No-Name” is due in about 2 weeks!!) 

Anyway, Gavin has been doing a lot better.  He has mostly come out of his regression (there are many times he still won’t let us call him by his name). Otherwise, the isming has pretty much ceased, he no longer looks out of the sides of his eyes, he’s been a lot more conversational, and using pretend play.  Whew!  That was a challenging last couple of weeks!

Since being at the Autism Institute, Josh and I have made some major life decisions regarding Gavin and our family in general.  The biggest decision we’ve made is that we will not be sending Gavin to the universal preschool this fall.  Instead we will be conducting a Son-Rise program in our home 2-4 hours per day for Gavin.  We already know that autism is a neurological disorder where children have trouble processing the world around them which affects their ability to communicate and interact socially.  That being said, the essence of the Son-Rise program is to meet these kids right where they’re at, be the most compelling person in their lives, and cause them to WANT to interact socially with us and others around them.  We first must enter their world before they can enter ours. 

The problem with the school system in general is that they’ve got it backwards.  Schools try to squelch the behavior and force children to be more “typical” by putting them in a typical classroom and doing typical things.  If we know that autistic kids have trouble processing the world around them, putting them in a hustling, bustling loud classroom is definitely not the best thing for them.  (I always thought Gavin’s classroom at Walnut Street was WAY too busy.  He was in a tiny classroom and all four walls were covered floor to ceiling with pictures, decorations, toys, you name it.  I was over-stimulated when I was there!  Think about how he felt day after day).  I know the schools are trying to do right by these kids, but the preschool he was to attend this fall is comprised of two teachers and 18 kids……a little much for a guy who has trouble when we have a houseful of people! 

Instead, we will be using a distraction free playroom (or Focus Room as they call it) in our home.  There will be nothing on the walls, no toys that make noise, and the best thing about this room is that Gavin will be in total control.  We will do whatever he wants and we’ll ism for an hour with him if that’s what he’s feeling.  The goal of the Focus Room is to work specifically on social development in four areas: eye contact, communication, attention span, and flexibility.  Because ultimately, when Gavin grows up, it’s way more important that he can interact socially than be a math or science whiz.  Right now, it’s not at all about the academic side of his education.  IT CAN’T BE.  When we look back and remember when Gavin USED to be autistic, it won’t matter if he needs a little catching up in school.  We can always hire a tutor.  That wouldn’t be so bad!

So, we’re taking the rest of the summer to prepare for the baby and just have fun.  We’ll start our Son-Rise program at the beginning of September for up to 4 hours every day.  With the help of some of our amazing friends and family, Gavin is going to have the time of his life (we hope!) and we cannot wait to look back and remember when.

Another exciting aspect to our trip, is that both Josh and I have felt God calling us to work with other families dealing with autism.  We have no idea what that will look like yet, but we know we’re supposed to do something.  Josh has also decided to go back to school to get his Master’s in Speech and Language Pathology.  There are SO many kids out there who are in need of therapy and there are HUGE waiting lists for a lot of these services (especially with autism on the rise).  He’s been researching schools (no we’re not moving) and has found some good programs that are nearby.  We are so excited to enter this new chapter in our lives and to share with others what is totally possible for their children.

4 Responses to “Big Changes Are Coming!”

  1. Julia said

    Those life changes sound so exciting Em! please let me know if there is anything I can send you to help Gavin during his Son-Rise sessions!

  2. Elisabeth said

    AH! Speech and Language Pathology is soooo intriguing! I had a few weeks of field experience where I observed and eventually took over for a few hours each day for the SLP at a school in Omaha! I am so excited for Josh to start this next step, and am overwhelmingly happy that you are all taking such a serious change in course …wow, you weren’t kidding when you said “Big Changes Are Coming”– at all!
    A playroom with no distractions on it sounds perfect for him. There are times I feel the same way as you in classrooms– too much going on! See you Sunday!

  3. Courtney Wilson said

    Oh I LOVE this! All of it – the news about Gavin coming out of regression, the part about your amazing commitment to your child, and as the mom of a little boy who NEEDS speech therapy, the part about Josh going back to school. We sat on a speech therapy waiting list (at multiple places), so we know there is a shortage – of course, now we got cut off of the insurance, so speech therapy isn’t happening the way it should…could you fix those problems too 🙂 ?

  4. Paula said

    WOW!!!!! So much big news in one post!! We really need to talk soon so we can catch up! Hope to see you Sunday!

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