Thursday, January 7, 2010

Small Group for Small People

Down the Rabbit Hole we go, folks, into the land of tiny group therapy. Completely surreal and yet I am thankful it exists.

Jack started his group classes yesterday with the STAR (Social Training and Rehearsing) Group at Children's Hospital. While it was heart-wrenching to walk into the room and see five tiny chairs arranged in a circle, just like I imagine adult group therapy to be, it was a relief to talk to some of the other parents there.

Our new friend Ryland had a complete meltdown when it was time to enter the room. "This is completely normal," explained his nonplussed mother, "Transitions are the worst for us." HALLELUJAH. Are you telling me people look at YOU like you're a horrible parent, too?

As we were leaving, I heard another mom having a heated debate with her 4-year-old son about how they were NOT going on the elevator this afternoon. I smiled silently. I had relented upon arriving and explained to Jack that we will go up one time and down one time and then we are done with the elevator. However, this is the kid who goes to the mall not for the play pit, but for the elevators and whose favorite part of the zoo is the door to the aquarium. I feel your pain, sister.

Misery loves company, it is too true. None of parents are miserable. Just challenged. A PDD-NOS diagnosis ( or any diagnosis on the autism spectrum) brings with it many things. Answers, questions, fears and frustration. It was a relief to be sitting among parents who share many of these challenges.

Jack did really well. I was so proud of him for not melting down when I left and for participating at all. You really can't compare kids on the spectrum, since autism affects each and every kid in a different way. That being said, I was so happy to see that none of his "behaviors" flared yesterday.

This morning, we were on to bigger things. The Occupational Therapist from the district was in J's class when I left today. I am eager to hear hat she has to say. She explained that she was going to work with Jack on tracing and shapes (to which I thought, good luck, lady. Why don't you just throw scissor use in there, too??). I hope she gets to watch him play as well. Both the office manager at the JCC and my friend Julie understood that Jack is fine one-on-one. If she wants to evaluate him for school, though,l she is going to have to watch him in a group, where he tends to get a little squirrely.

Today I am spending the morning calling therapists to see if any of the ones on our insurance are taking new patients. Was it Confucius who said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"? If so, it feels as if the baby steps are starting to actually amount to something. Being Jack's mom is the most rewarding, challenging and worthwhile thing I could ever hope to do with my life. Though our journey may be of a thousand miles, I am glad to be on it with him.

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