William: Our Autism Journey Update

This week marks the last week of William being taught by his beloved preschool teacher Ms. Launa. William has been in Ms. Launa’s class since he began attending preschool in 2014. William has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and because we are in the Laguna Beach school district William is in school Monday through Friday from 9am to 2pm. I feel very blessed to live in a city that has an amazing Early Childhood Intervention Program. The team of people surrounding William has been nothing short of miracle workers. William’s first IEP had 19 goals total and now he has 16 goals. The goals have all changed, they grow and change along with William’s progress but I have to say 3 less goals in the IEP feels pretty darn good (special needs mama’s feel me).

{Giant IEP binder pictured below}

During his day, William works on his social skills, adaptive skills, cognitive/academic skills and social emotional behavior. Within his school week he also has speech therapy to help his vocal skills, expressive language, receptive language, and learning how to have a conversation. Currently William understands social expectations as far as social greetings but does not like to respond to them unless directly prompted. I still have to say things like “William can you say hello to your friend?” and he will reply with a reluctant hello. This may not seem very exciting but I used not even have a conversation with my son so I feel like this is a huge deal.

William also has occupational therapy, which includes working on fine motor skills. One of his first goals in occupational therapy was to cut paper on a 6-inch line with a half-inch border with out deviating more than one time. William no longer has this goal in his IEP because it has been met. His current OT goals revolve around handwriting skills.

The program is intensive because a child on the spectrum has a lot to catch up on to be ready for kindergarten (and life for that matter). William has been in his school program for almost 3 years and he is a completely different boy from the first day he went to school. I feel like William is ready for this next step and I am excited for him. He will be at a different school and with a different teacher and I am a little apprehensive as to how he will do without his beloved Ms. Launa. 

Transitions have not always been the easiest thing for William however we have been prepping him for this transition for a while now. However, his best buddy Tano, who has been in school with him from almost the beginning, will be heading into kindergarten with him. I am so happy that those two cutie pies will have each other.

This September when William begins kindergarten, he will still be in a special class but he will get more participation with typical peers. He will have computer class, science, art, and physical education and be along side typical kiddos. The goal is to eventually have William in a mainstream classroom and I definitely think he will get there, however, I am in no rush. These things take time and patience, as does everything involving a child on the Autism Spectrum.

The following things I am going to talk about may seem a little heart clenching but the fact is I can actually talk to my son about these things. We have actual conversations, he understands and absorbs what I say and then responds….this is huge. William is aware that he is a little different, he will say things like “Everyone thinks I’m weird” or “They think I’m a coward.” 

I will ask him to tell me more about that, or why he feels that way and he will go onto describe an interaction or a social cue that he picked up on, ie: a weird look from a peer or a peer saying they don’t want to play. 

In some respects this may seem sad or you may start to feel sorry for him, but don’t. These are HUGE breakthroughs, he is picking up on social cues and making sense of his feelings and emotions and EXPRESSING them to Matt and I. He is talking about his uncomfortable thoughts instead of acting out in a maladaptive behavior. This is a WIN!

We are so in love with this boy, my heart could burst. William can write his name and count past 30. He’s lost his bottom two front teeth and (reluctantly) accepted the idea of a tooth fairy. William is still very much in love with all things fire trucks and his daddy. 

He loves to ride his bike and his scooter and chase the dog around. William and Lily play really nicely together now and the amount of sibling disputes I have to break up has been reduced by at least 75% woohoo! William loves having sleepovers at Grams’ house and play dates with his best buddy Tano. We have discovered that William is and extremely gifted photographer and we encourage him to explore that artistic outlet.

Photo by William:

I would not change one thing about any part of this journey. This boy has been God’s direct reflection of grace in my life. William is beautiful, intelligent, vibrant and exactly who God made him. We love you sweet boy!

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