Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Year One-2010 In Review
My intention was to start a blog over a year ago...when our adventure began, but...
To say 2010 was a little crazy is definitely an understatement. I don't think we've ever had a year before so full of changes and upheaval as we did last year. Just a couple of weeks before our twins' third birthday in February we received an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis on Andrew. After a year in early intervention services for speech for both Aidan and Andrew, I knew there was a problem beyond a simple developmental delay. With a friend's recommendation and our pediatrician's blessing, we looked into Mitchell's Place--a comprehensive school with an interdisciplinary approach for children on the autism spectrum. There are occupational, speech, ABA therapists, and child psychologists onsite working together to provide individualized education plans and goals for each child. We hit the ground running, and in April Andrew was placed in the one-on-one Teach Me (ABA) program. Ms. Lori worked with him on basic behavioral/social skills while also integrating him with periods of inclusion into the classroom of 50% neuro-typical and 50% spectrum children. He made such progress in Teach Me that he was put in the Early Learning Program in August (with Aidan); being pulled out daily for his ABA, speech twice a week, and OT once a week. I could go on even more about this very special place, but I will save for another post. Suffice it to say, Mitchell's and the wonderful people in it, have been one of our biggest blessings.
In May, T.J. graduated high school. It was such an emotional time for me, and I was a very proud mom. I knew it was the beginning of his future as a grown man, and to think that only last week he was playing t-ball and collecting Pokemon cards, was just blowing my mind! All five of us went for Aidan and Andrew's first movie at the theater to see Toy Story 3--and I cried through a lot of the movie because it brought everything full-circle for me, and how quickly our Blessings grow up. Seeing my little boys enjoying the movie with their big brother, who at one time had idolized Buzz Lightyear himself, was one of those moments that will always have a special place in my heart.
The first of August, T.J. decided to attend his first year of college at Florida College in Tampa-a far cry from Jeff State here in town; but a great opportunity to be out on his own for the first time. I knew it was the right decision, but it was so hard to let him go nine hours away!! With only 3 1/2 weeks to prepare, we gathered all the necessary supplies for dorm life, filed all the paperwork, and packed him up. It was such a blur, but somehow we pulled it off. It has been a great experience for him and allowed him to fly on his own, make decisions, and LEARN HOW TO DO HIS OWN LAUNDRY! ;) T.J. has really applied himself to his studies and made the Dean's List first semester and we expect him to do the same this semester. We are so proud of him!!
We enrolled both boys in Mitchell's Place Early Learning Program, so I went back to work full time in the office. Julie left after many years (the exact number escapes me) to work with another restaurant company as their bookkeeper. Those were big shoes to fill!
September 26th we lost a wonderful man in our family. Todd Joseph McQuillan died very unexpectedly in his home on a Sunday afternoon. Why is it the value of a person is not often fully realized until they are gone?? He was dedicated and passionate about every aspect of his life: his son, family, God, and his profession as law enforcement officer. The honor bestowed upon him at his funeral and graveside service was utterly awe-inspiring.
Aidan and Andrew both really enjoyed school and seemed to be adjusting well. Despite that, there were a couple of issues in the back of my mind about Aidan--he was not meeting some important social milestones at school (avoiding eye contact, limited social/play skills with peers) and we noticed some sensory processing problems such as extreme discomfort with teeth brushing, hand washing, and washing his hair. Around Thanksgiving, after his teacher completed her standard evaluation on Aidan she did on all her "typically developing" students, we all sat down, discussed the results, and I asked the all-important question, "Is Aidan anywhere on the autism spectrum?" They felt he was high-functioning ASD and a follow-up psych evaluation confirmed it. It was decided at the beginning of the year we would have Aidan in an ASD slot in the early learning program just like Andrew, pulling him out for daily therapies.
"That's it, no more!" (as Andrew would say) for this post. I will save all the boys' milestones and accomplishments for future entries. Suffice it to say, many good things have transpired in 2011 and much work still to be done. I'm closing with a mantra I learned from another special needs mom, which I've adopted as my own: "In my house there can't be any 'supposed to be's' anymore. Just where we are now."