We had only been there one other time last year. The waiting room is clean & colorful & a good size. And the "wall" dividing the sitting area & play area is actually a gigantic fish tank.
Inviting wall art, too, & cute tooth stools. Also as you can see, Grover came along for bravery reinforcement.
I was very proud of him for being so calm. In an attempt to create a social story for him on his iPad, I continued to take positive pictures of him in a setting that is often quite the contrary.
I was most impressed when he eventually, willingly, sat in the patient chair. He even smiled & posed:
But what's equally fascinating, is that he voluntarily removed his hat & put Grover to the side, when he sensed it was time to get down to business.
I was just speechless at this point... even more so when he allowed the dentist to interact with him a little bit. I actually caught this pic of H smiling with the man. Unfreakingbelievable.
But again... the fact that the end did not begin until then, is actually a tremendous success. This is hands-down one of the most anxiety provoking environments for him so even though we barely got through the beginning part of the exam, & it ended there, I have to count everything leading up to that as serious improvement.
The best part is I later found out that he did such excellent work at school that day (?!), they assumed he was on something from his appointment that morning. (Ha!) Definitely one of the most unexpected & confusing things I've heard in a long time. But I'll take it.
So speaking of school, the other big event this week was his annual IEP. That morning I sent him to school with little Teacher Appreciation goodie bags, because it was Day 5 of WOYC (Week of the Young Child), a NAEYC program (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
Here are Days 2 through 5, because we missed Day 1 (which was upsetting when I saw it was Purple). These are the other 4 in order of appearance:
The IEP may have been the same morning that I sent him to school with those little goodie bags, but I deny bribing. However I can't say the same for the bagels & juice I walked in with.
The Gen Ed teacher spoke first. He shared that Hayden is finally interacting with him more & using his name. (I took the opportunity to look at the Case Manager for a second & reiterate that transitions can take a fair amount of time for Hayden to adjust. I was planting the seed for a later segue regarding a meeting with next year's Gen Ed teacher). He also said that although Hayden needs help sharing materials during Science, in some ways this is an improvement from beginning of the year. At that time he was uninterested altogether... vs now... apparently he wants the materials for himself. And sometimes his speech needs to be maintained at a lower volume, because the teacher feels like he is speaking over Hayden. (I could see that)
When his Special Ed teacher spoke, she said although Hayden is (unfortunately) once again demonstrating a refusal to attend to task sometimes... his overall behavior is definitely improved. He is more easily recognizing when he's feeling overwhelmed. Furthermore, he takes less time to calm from the incidents. We also believe that his new treatment regimen is helping him transition better.
Sometimes there are isolated circumstances when his inability to regulate will escalate to a meltdown. He may take it out on his Aide. They're also using techniques to get him to recognize this & remind him it's inappropriate. The teacher prompts him to apologize in such incidents (after he has calmed), but he doesn't like doing so. Therefore she recorded "sorry" & encourages him to use the button... which he doesn't always do, but she can make it incidental by pushing it towards his hand (insert me shaking my head at him).
So if he is in meltdown-mode, they will remove him from the situation so his peers do not see him like that. They have a quiet spot to bring him to so he can sit (with some sort of partition to maintain a level of privacy), & allow himself to essentially get it out of his system.
A noteworthy detail though, they've observed that even if he's having a tantrum, he now speaks in full sentences. You can't blame the speech therapist for being somewhat proud of this. When it was her turn to share progress & goals, she had a lot of great updates to offer as well. I always love her notes because she is awesomely observant. Such as, noting:
- He asks questions during structured activity
- He uses conjunctions now, such as "but"... I am hungry but I don't want that one
- He correctly uses phrases such as "that's not the point"
- He can recognize if she doesn't understand what he says
- He will say it in a different way so she does understand (insert big smile:)
And despite the fact that it's a continuous adjustment for me, that these are the ways we must measure Hayden's progress...
I do live for these "WOW" moments (to quote his former teacher), & I am grateful to experience them.
He loves life. And that's what matters.
The other night I went into his room because it sounded like he was talking to someone.
This is what I found.
(See what I mean?)