It's strange looking at this blog... It was almost a full year ago that I posted. However, so much has changed in that time. As Alec's parents, we needed time to accept the fact that his behavior had spiraled out of control so much, and we had tried so much -- that it was beyond even Rafi (his service dog). This hurt deeply, after all of our effort and the effort of our volunteers, family, and friends to get Rafi with Alec.
We have learned that not only are we dealing with autism, but ADHD, epilepsy, and now additional mental health symptoms that had us left with no choice but to pull Alec out of school in early December 2014. In March (2015) - a two week, out-of-state, inpatient hospital stay (child psychiatry specific to children on the autism spectrum) was also needed.
We saw this all starting with physical aggression toward those in Alec's life he was closest to. It started up, full force in October 2014. It started at school, it carried over to home with Mom and Dad, and then caregivers...and finally his little sister Dayna. After coming back from treatment at the hospital on higher doses of medication, we saw the aggressive behavior come right back. He was not displaying this behavior in the hospital's environment, so they could not effectively treat it.
We had some tough decisions to make. He was non-compliant and far too unpredictable to send him back to his last school program (pretty much the only program locally that takes children who are physically aggressive with "maladaptive" behaviors). For whatever reason, he would not ride the school bus safely, even with a 1:1 aide sitting right next to him. We had investigated all possibilities with the school and bus garage and could not ever figure it out.
We were now looking at residential school programs starting in April, at the recommendation of different professionals. For the purposes of being generic in this public blog, I will not be naming the school. The school that could accept Alec as a residential student is only an hour away from our home. Initially we were told that they would not have a spot for him in any of their residences until June/July. But then, a miracle happened. I received a phone call on May 4th (I will never forget the date) letting us know that they had an unexpected spot available for Alec. The relief was overwhelming, because we knew this program could support Alec in ways that we could not.
On Thursday, May 14th, we brought Alec to his new school, which we all refer to as his "college". He is obsessed with the Toy Story movies, and in Toy Story 3, the boy Andy grows up and moves away to college. We presented Alec with his own story where he would be going to college, but Mommy, Daddy, and Dayna would still be able to come visit.
Alec accepted this idea and was so excited to go to college like Andy that he happily helped us to pack up his belongings! The school and residence house staff gathered all details about Alec and were ready to bring him into the house on a very tight timeline. I was allowed into his room the day before, to decorate it just like his room at our home. I had some help from a friend and the room looks great! Alec thinks so too :)
Three weeks later: he is compliant with taking his medicine, sleeping well at night, interacting with his peers and the staff, and calling home almost every day. We hope to start regular Skype calls soon. We have visited the past two weekends, and he is genuinely happy and thriving in his highly structured environment. He is doing things he hasn't done in so long. This school is an amazing place, and it was a great fit for Alec. We are so happy that he is happy and attending school again. The photos below speak louder than words...
As a family, we are healing from years of chaos and the past six months, which were spent in a constant crisis mode. Now, time with Alec is spent in a much more positive mode. While we are at home, we know that he is away, but functioning at a healthier level and attending school, as well as learning critical life skills. Bill and I were only two people, but now Alec is blessed with a staff of about 20 people, working daily to help him learn, grow, have fun, and be the best version of Alec he can be. We are still partners in his life, but have a great team to help us realize his full potential - which we always knew was there.
It is the most wonderful thing to report this news. Even if in the future...whether it be days/weeks/months - if his behaviors escalate again, they have the staff and resources there to get him through it. He is finally going to places like the eye doctor and dentist again, for the first time in many years, because the level of support is there for him. Thanks to all of you who have supported us emotionally through this difficult time. We have come through with promise and hope again.