Seriously! It was amazing, and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it. I'm typing as fast as I can, smoke billowing off my keyboard, I'm just so thrilled to share this with you all!!! For once my child was accepted for who he is and how he thinks.
I had called ASM with the thought of seeking a play group for Dayton with children on the spectrum, a support system for Dayton if you will. Sandra (from ASM) had suggested the Social Skills Group and I thought, meh, not sure if that's what I'm looking for, but Dayton could definitely use some help in this area and agreed to enroll. Because we had missed 2 sessions, Sandra told me she would charge me $50.00 for the remaining 6 sessions. OK! Sold!
So off we go to our first session. Naturally, since I have no sense of direction, we get lost. And to make it worse, I'm trying to find the place in the dark. I'm hoping Dayton forgot the few choice words he no doubt heard me utter under my breath. Winnipeg drivers are so unforgiving... Super miserable about it and worrying that we're going to be late (I hate being late!!!). Finally, I find the building and we make it with five minutes to spare, whew!!! Parking was a little tricky, as it's all reserved parking, then I remembered Sandra telling me that it's reserved during the day, and that we are allowed to park in the evening with no concern of being towed. Whew! I'm a little anal, so naturally, I ask the security guard on duty and confirm that I'm fine parking in the parking lot across the building. OK, so we're in the building, we have to sign it with the same security guard, and we sit down to wait.
I love watching people, kind of a hobby of mine. Perhaps because of my line of work? Anyways, new surroundings for Dayton, and he's not quite sure what to do with himself. I ask if he wants to sit down, he says "no." I sit down, and he sits beside me. Both of us are kind of wide eyed, the deer caught in the head lights kind of look. We're so not fooling anyone around us, not that anyone is really paying attention to us. As I watch the kids coming through the doors, I'm thinking we're in the wrong group. Some pretty seriously affected children with autism came through those doors. I felt a pang of shame for my "ordeal" with Dayton's diagnosis, thinking these parents have it so much more worse. And then thought, perhaps not. The children I observed were obviously affected with autism, where as my little guy is very high functioning. His school seems to be in denial of his diagnosis. Dayton can speak, he can walk, he is potty trained, and looks "normal." God, I hate that word... "normal." What is "normal" anyways? And so his school treats Dayton as though he is "normal," and doesn't stop to think he may be overstimulated by sounds, sights and smells... Anyways...
The therapist comes to get the children, and Dayton and I missed her, trying to figure out his new iPod touch. The security guard rolls her eyes at us as she buzzes us in... We walk into the classroom, and there were more kids. Now I look at the kids I obviously missed in the waiting area... There's some there that to me seemed "normal." I'm thinking they may be neurotypical siblings, but no... Each and every child here has a diagnosis of ASD. I'm amazed! When you meet A child with ASD, you've met A child with ASD. Such a wide spectrum!
I hover around Dayton, wondering why there are no parents in this classroom. What do I do? I promised Dayton that I would stay with him if he needed me, but it seems I am persona non grata here... I help Dayton take his jacket off, hang it up on a coat rack and tell him I will be right outside the door of the classroom. I wave good bye, and assure him that I'm right by the door, and hear everything that's happening. Outside the door, I find these little, tiny pre-school chairs, and think I'd need about three of them to get even remotely comfortable, but chose one and sit, uncomfortably for an hour, waiting, listening, praying...
Dayton's shoulders rose to his ears, and his eyes move sharply to the right, so sharply I think it's got to hurt! He says no. And I immediately see how Dayton's school can see this behavior as defiant, but when I looked closer, he was not the only one doing this! The therapist didn't demand their attention, instead she asked them if they were comfortable. They both said "no." They both found a chair to sit. I wonder if he worded her question, knowing they would say no, as it probably wasn't comfortable in order for them to sit down, which is what she wanted? Hmmmmm...
At the end of class, the therapist asked the kids if they had fun. Naturally, a few of them said "no," and yet these huge grins on their faces, Dayton being one of them. They each got a snack during class and a prize to take home for coming out for the evening. Dayton left perseverating on the word "I."
Respect. That's what I saw that night. RESPECT for my boy, the way he thought and how he is. Respect is a mutual thing. Most people give their respect upon meeting someone... Consider yourself around a senior citizen... You just automatically respect and sort of in a way trust... Not our kids. They've been jilted so many times, that their respect must be earned first, especially their trust. This therapist knew this, and RESPECTED it.
If you can afford $100.00 for 8 hour long sessions, once a week, I strongly recommend contacting the ASM (Autism Society of Manitoba), and registering your child for a Social Skills Group.
For more information on ASM, contact them at:
They're located at 825 Sherbrook St,
For those of you not leaving in Winnipeg, check out the Autism Society Canada website: http://www.autismsocietycanada.ca/
then click here: Provincial and Territorial Societies. You can find an organization in your community that will offer the same kind of "social skills group" I've experienced. They will offer more groups for you to check out. Pick what you think you will find the most beneficial for you and your little one.
Consider yourselves hugged,