I find it really hard to blog when things are super challenging. I am so exhausted all the time, and overwhelmed, and all I want to do is sit in front of the TV and not think. Or, better yet, sleep.
So, what is challenging now, you ask. School. Coram. The two together.
The first few days were beautiful. Coram slipped right into the new school, and it almost seemed like his aide wondered why she was there. He was doing so well. In retrospect – there was very little expected of any of the kids those first days.
A week ago Friday, everything went awry. The class was sitting on the carpeted area, and for whatever reason, Coram threw himself on the floor. The aid, Joanne, took him into the hall to talk it out, and he started making random vocalizations, kicking the door, and butting his head into the wall repeatedly.
I got the call at work, and had to go to the school to sort it out. I told Joanne that it would be a very bad idea for me to take Coram home, as it would be sending a message that he could go home if he misbehaved. So, I hung around the school with them.
Coram can't handle direct conversation when he's upset. So I swung with him on the swings, and we talked a bit without looking at each other or even acknowledging that we were talking. I found out that he needs more centres time, and he needs a 'shape of the day' (a picture of what is going to happen in what order). He also doesn't like sitting on the carpet, with 24 kids in a small space. He felt like he was being asked to sit perfectly still, in a perfectly straight row, and he couldn't handle it all.
Just after lunch, Coram was able to calm down and go back to class. I sat in the back of he room, and he did his best. After a short while, he needed to leave the class again, and his aid took him to a play area, and he was able to relax and let me go home. There was an hour left in the day, so going back to work was out of the question for me. Sigh.
One Monday, Coram refused to go in to class at all. He stood outside the door, head butting me, pulling on me, and making grunting noises. The resource teacher and the principal wanted to meet with me, so Coram went to play in the sandbox with Joanne. The principal wanted us to only have Coram in school until recess for two weeks, then transition him to staying until lunch for two weeks, then move to full days.
If I had agreed to this, I would have not been able to keep my job. I asked if we could do until lunch for two weeks, as to recess is too short of a day for me to work at all. So that is what we decided. We also set into place several reward systems, similar to what Coram had at his school last year.
The week went well for a few days. Coram was getting his stickers, and his prize box rewards, and they were even able to do some reading comprehension and spelling testing with him to discover he is functioning at grade level in both areas.
On Friday again, everything went crazy. I'm not sure why. I can guess at several things – there is a spelling test every Friday and Coram is such a perfectionist that he can't allow himself errors, so he would rather not do the test. Also, I was a bit grumpy and rushed in the morning and he may have been reacting to that. Or it could have been just the end of a long week and he was tired.
Whatever the reason, Coram refused to go in. He stood in the hall, pulling on my arm, head-butting me, and making repeated grunting noises. He would not use any words, and would not co operate with anything. Joanne and I tried several tactics, using humour and distraction and rewards, but nothing worked. At 10 am, we went to see the principal and explained that I was supposed to be at work at 9 am, and asked for his help. He told me to go, and restrained Coram so he couldn't run after me.
I left for work with tears in my eyes. I felt so helpless, and so trapped. I wanted to go home, hide under the covers in the bed, and stay there all day. But I have been working so little during all of this, that I simply could not allow myself to skip work, so I made myself drive there, almost on autopilot.
I got a call about 20 minutes in that Coram was back in class, and had settled. He was very anxious, but was at least in class and attempting to co-operate. He was not running. I was relieved for that, and was able to just focus on getting some work done.
So, Monday is a new day, and a new week. The principal was careful to remind me that of the 5 day week, 3 had been very successful days, and so overall it was a good week. He feels that next week will be better, and is trying to help me maintain positivity.
However, I am having a hard time feeling positive. I know that Coram cannot go back to his old placement, as they won't take him now that he has an Autism diagnosis. There are two classes for Autistic children in the district, but they are for profoundly Autistic children, which Coram is not, and do are not appropriate. Add to that, neither of them have any space for him. So, essentially, there is nowhere else for Coram to go. Which means that if we don't make this work – I am probably looking at home schooling or something. The principal is evasive about this, saying we would have to discuss our options if we can't make things work at this school. But I can't see any options.
I don't feel emotionally prepared to home school, and I really don't want to have to give up my job. I just started this job in the summer, and I really like it. It's nice to have the extra income, and I get a sense that I am really accomplishing something when I am there. I feel like it is slipping away from me, and I am helpless to stop it.