How was your kid’s first week of school? This should not be a loaded question, right? I try to keep my answers brief. Simple.
“It was rocky. I’m hoping the second week is better.”
Right? Because no one wants me to go into detail, right? I have enough social skills that I know people don’t want me to go all Debbie Downer on them. Their kids had a great first week. They’re adjusting nicely to the routine, loving their teachers, riding the bus, etc., etc… No complaints. And I’m happy for them. Because I can be happy for them and a little bitter at the same time, right? Right?
I already wrote about Day One. The following brief summaries come from the communication log I get from his teacher daily.
Day two: No accidents. Yay! He did great until about 1:30, at which time he became very upset. He did write in his journal after the teacher wrote in highlighter (he traced over the words as best he could). Nothing major on day two. It even seemed promising.
Day three: He did well until around 11:30. He had many tantrums. He had marks on his face from scratching himself and hitting his head against the wall and floor. He had bite marks on his arms and hands. It was an intense day.
Day four: He did much better. He had one tantrum that lasted 45 minutes before he complied with doing whatever activity was requested of him. The Autism Specialist was in the classroom during that time and helped show the teacher how to handle his tantrums better. They feel he is testing her, so it will take consistency and time. He had more marks on his arms from biting.
Day five: He had a better day. He had more frequent tantrums, but they only lasted 2-5 minutes until compliance. He had one tantrum in the bathroom and then chose to use the toilet. The teacher is working on getting him to wipe himself with guidance.
Now that we’ve had a three-day weekend, and I’ve had some time to process, I can recognize just how stressed out Squeaker must have been. His teacher has real expectations of him, now. He’s no longer in pre-school, which was largely play-based. His teacher is expecting him to write, participate in activities, and take care of his own personal hygiene as much as possible. I’m thankful that his teacher is not comforting him when he injures himself. She’s made it clear to him that when he hurts himself on purpose, she can’t help him and that once he calms down, he still has to do what’s expected of him. Reflecting back over his week, there are quite a few positives there. On the first day, he had two poop accidents. He didn’t have any other accidents the rest of the week. He has had meltdowns all week, but they decreased in intensity by the end of the week.
Unfortunately, his meltdowns at home this past week were epic. They got worse as the week went on. As he learned to control himself a bit more at school, he fell apart more at home. I think this is pretty typical of children with Autism (or any children with emotional problems, really). If they hold it together at school, it has to come out somewhere.
Saturday was a terrible day. Sunday (yesterday) was great. It probably helps that we took him to the beach and he LOVES the beach. He had a few minor tantrums, but nothing big. I enjoyed my time with him yesterday, praised him every time he was calm and gave him lots of hugs and attention when he wasn’t throwing a tantrum. I had a good talk with his teacher on the phone on Friday, and I’m trying to make sure my husband and I are consistent with the verbage they’re using at school. We’re also trying to make sure we don’t play into his meltdowns and give him his way. So, when he’s doing what he’s supposed to do and when he’s calm, he gets lots of attention. When he’s hurting himself, he gets no attention, unless it’s just to take something away from him that he’s hitting himself with.
He’s got one more week of just being in his self-contained classroom before his teacher is going to try putting him with a regular Kindergarten class, just so she can make sure he understands the adults are in charge. Trying to set him up for success.
Yes, it’s been a rough first week. Here’s hoping for a better second week!