Friday, March 5, 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

After months of getting our head around Jack's diagnosis, researching, and talking to psychologists, teachers, aides and administrators, I think we may finally be on the road to help.

It feels a little bit like Oz's Yellow Brick Road. It started when something unexpected dropped out of the sky and into our family. While there was no singing or dancing or odes to The Lollipop Guild at the outset (aside from the musical stylings of Mr. Marc), we were in a strange land, no question about it.

Now that we've started our journey to the Emerald City (that being a healthy, adjusted Jack who needs no additional help in the classroom), we have found friends along the way. We call our teachers, psychologists, aides, social workers, family - everyone involved in Jack's care - TEAM JACK. Some of them have helped us to understand with our minds what is going on. Some of them have taught us to open our hearts. All have given us courage to move forward as a team.

We added another member to Team Jack this week. We met Austin, the young man who will be Jack's aide in the classroom for the foreseeable future.While he doesn't have experience with special needs kids, he seems like a great guy.

I am unconcerned about his minimal experience for several reasons: 1) Haugland is giving him a crash-course in behaviors and autism, 2) Our care coordinator Amanda will be in the classroom with him frequently during the first month to show him how it's done, 3) It is really the personality of the aide that matters to us and 4) Jack is so high-functioning that he doesn't need intensive intervention, just prompts, which anyone can provide. And Austin coaches Little League. How cute is that? A 20-something single guy who volunteers as a Little League coach. Bonus points, Austin, mad bonus points.

We also have a few people along the road who have thrown up obstacles. People telling us that Jack should be in an MRDD classroom, telling us what he can and cannot do. Only Jack is able to tell us that, really. Mixing my metaphors, we also have a resident Frau Farbissina. Who makes faces at our suggestions and, indeed, could be a sergeant in "the militant wing of the Salvation Army." While I wouldn't go as far as saying these folks are "Wicked" I would say that they are well-skilled in the art of throwing an occasional fire-ball in our path (we have yet to see the Flying Monkeys. I wait.).

Austin is an excellent (I know, you totally thought I was going to say "awesome" there, didn't you?) addition to Team Jack. Only time will tell how long it will take us to reach The Emerald City, but I know we are well on our way.

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