Cough, Cough, Wheeze

Excuses: I’ve had a chest infection for just over three weeks now, and while it isn’t getting any better, it also isn’t getting any worse. It is my constant companion, and I am realizing that we don’t have a very healthy relationship.

In one week, Joey will have his IEP meeting; at that point, I will find out whether he is eligible for services through the school district and, if so, what services they think it appropriate to offer him. Everyone who works with him has assured me that he absolutely qualifies for special education; there is one program in particular that sounds like a good fit. Well, in a sense: it is geared toward kids who need more than just occasional speech therapy, kids who have low to moderate special needs. But it would take him away from me four hours a day, five days a week—I can’t imagine. He has been doing better at the Buddies program, the twice-weekly two-hour special needs pre-preschool he’s been attending for the last month and a half, but not so much better that I imagine anything other than his crying and crying if I leave him at school. Ugh. If he does end up in the program, I’ll have to work out some kind of transition plan with the district. How does this kind of thing normally go? I know that weepy, typical five-year-olds get dropped off for kindergarten and do okay, but Joey is just three and he doesn’t work the same way as a lot of other kids his age. This is what keeps me up at night. —Well, this and the coughing.

Part of the IEP meeting involves me talking about Joey’s strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been thinking about what to say. His strengths are his sweet and mellow temperament; his energy; his love of books; and his love of music. At least, those seem like things that might be relevant to his education. His weaknesses: communication; poor motor planning; social skills; some tendency to (mild) aggression when very frustrated or confronted with loud noises.

The boys have colds right now, and are about a month overdue for haircuts, so Joey looks like a Renaissance cherub with a headcold.

It’s Official

It’s been awhile, huh?

It’ll take me awhile to account for the three weeks, but in brief: we went to visit my sister Kate for a week, and then had some intense times here for a week, and then Mr. Book came for a week.

It was lovely to see Kate; she’s a warm and dedicated godmother to the boys, and flew us out in part because she wanted to build her relationship with them. They warmed up to her quite a bit over the course of the week, which was lovely to see. She also bought them overalls, so they’re extra snazzy little dudes this fall. Of course, it was over 90 yesterday, so it doesn’t feel much like fall yet. But in a couple of weeks, I’m sure we’ll be there.

My brother lives with Kate in the Midwest; he’s still on the kidney transplant list, and my mother has almost completed the process to become a donor for him. In the meantime, he’s doing dialysis every night. He loves his little nephews, but he’s obviously uncomfortable with little kids—he holds Kit as though he might at any moment explode. Kit has responded to his discomfort with a major charm offensive, going out of his way to grin at and flirt with his uncle.

The morning after our return to California, Joey was assessed by a psychologist and diagnosed with autism. That felt pretty terrible, although it means that Joey will continue to get behavioral therapy (ABA) through the state—the effects are good, even if the news is lousy. In the meantime, Joey is supposed to start going to a special education program at a local school when he turns three . . . but I haven’t heard anything from the school district. I asked Joey’s caseworker, and she said that I shouldn’t worry, that sometimes it just takes time. I have a meeting with that caseworker, Mariposa, on Wednesday, and will try more forcefully to get a phone number of someone in the school district whom I can call to get things moving. Joey will turn three in six weeks, and while on one level I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t actually start school until January, that would mean his going without speech or occupational therapies for more than a month.

When I found out that Joey would be transitioning to school, I asked his ABA supervisor, Jennifer, whether he might be able to join a group they run for kids up to 36 months that is sort of like two hours of preschool twice a week; it’s called the Buddies Program. Joey had his first day of Buddies on Thursday, and he cried and cried—Jennifer and the woman running Buddies each separately pulled me aside to tell me that it’s like this for all kids at first, and don’t worry. Joey calmed down once I was out of sight (in a waiting room, listening), but when I heard them practicing trick-or-treating I stuck my head out to see, got spotted—and started Joey weeping again. Poor little dude.

I want to talk more about this, but ABA is about to start. Wednesday, I’ll write again.