Bryce is beginning his fourth week of school and has done amazingly well! The current task is to stop him from singing "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" repeatedly in class - It is his current "happy song" that we are used to hearing every day (and night). This tells me that he's happy at school! ☺ But I can certainly understand how it could drive you nuts to hear it over and over again while trying to teach fifteen four-year olds! The report this afternoon was that he did NOT sing Rudolph as instructed - but he instead he sang the "Good Morning" song all day. We didn't say he couldn't sing THAT song! haha! Good for him! He's very clever - Like I said earlier, he loves to sing when he's happy! ☺
There was a lot - and I mean a LOT - of prayer that preceded Bryce starting school. I called on all of my prayer warriors at work and church to help me pray for him to transition well. Transitions are difficult for most 4-year olds but especially difficult for Bryce with his Autism. He started TWO new schools with all new classrooms, teachers, therapists, and classmates! He is attending the ESE program at Windmill Point Elementary where he also receives his language and occupational therapies. He is also attending a regular VPK afternoon class All Villages Christian School with neuro-typical children who do not have special needs like his ESE environment.
In addition to prayer, I created two story books for each school to help visually prepare him for his new schedules, people, and places. I took pictures of his teachers and classrooms at each open house as well as the outside and hallways to show him each step of the way. The books worked beautifully, and he transitioned seamlessly. Yay! and Praise!
The journey to the VPK decision was bumpy. We originally signed him up in January to secure a spot believing that he would develop enough to be ready seven months later. When we had his Individual Education Plan meeting (IEP) at Parkway Elementary with his teacher and therapists, his school team recommended that he do a full year of ESE instead of VPK. Although Bryce was progressing with more awareness of his surroundings, his awareness was causing more distraction and delays in other areas. With a little bit of sadness, we agreed with their recommendation and cancelled his spot at All Villages which I am sure blessed another family on their wait list.
As summer rolled, we saw lots of progression with Bryce. The sadness grew with the thought that Bryce may not have a chance to take the VPK challenge. In later July, we really felt led to enroll him. Once we placed the call, we received affirmation that this was God's plan. Not only did Bryce get the LAST AVAILABLE SPOT at All Villages, we learned that his teacher has a son one year older than Bryce who is also on the spectrum. She gets it!!!!!!
Bryce absolutely LOVES going to school! Chris and I take him to Windmill Point together before I leave for Team IP which is a nice change for our little family. Chris picks Bryce up for their lunch break together before Bryce goes to All Villages. With the new schedule, I am able to pick Bryce up on Wednesday and Friday afternoons which makes me extremely happy. I love being a part of his school routine! ☺
Another huge blessing to share with you ... Bryce had his ABA tech attending All Villages with him to assist as needed for an indefinite period of time. It was very helpful for us to have someone be our eyes and ears in the classroom. She let us know the expectations and how to help him. For example, he did not understand what it meant to raise his hand. We had to take a picture of him raising it to give him a visual tool. We have also helped teach him how to put his hand over his heart for his pledges.
After two weeks, Bryce's teacher felt that Bryce was ready to spread his wings without additional assistance. Wow! She sends home highlights from the day to give us topics to try and engage Bryce in back-and-forth conversation. It's a daily struggle, but this tool is very helpful. The Colter Family now knows the song "We are the Dinosaurs", an All Villages favorite. Each night, I play it on the piano while Chris plays it with the kazoo. Bryce likes to put his foot on the piano pedal to sustain the music while I sing the lyrics. It's part of our bedtime routine and is helping tap into the musical side of his brain. We also work on our pledges to the American and Christian flags each night. Lots of fun interacting in our home, and we LOVE it!