First Day of Summer Programming
Cameron is participating in Summertime Programming this year, because it will help him to stay more focused on the social aspects of school. He does not need the extra academics; he will maintain the knowledge that he has acquired for a very long time, perhaps a lifetime.
The problem lies in the fact that without Summertime Programming, he will not transition well to the expectations that will be in place once he returns to school for the regular school year. He will be defiant, combative, and lacking in any kind of socially acceptable behavior. In short, he will become monster child, once demands are placed upon him.
We agreed to Summertime Programming under one condition: He only has to go twice a week. This will last through the rest of July and to about August second. This will fulfill our desire for him to have a regular Summer, while also taking his educators’ recommendations into consideration.
I woke him at about 5:40 this morning. He reluctantly crawled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom, much like a sleepwalker.
I told him that he could turn the television on as soon as he had gotten dressed. His sleepy voice replied, “Okay.”
His first moment of mild panic came when he tried to figure out how his new shorts worked. They are double sided, so they have no tags to show him where the back is.
Unaware of his problem, I sat at my computer and waited to see if he needed help. His panicked voice soon came from the bedroom.
“Mommy! I don’t know how to do these shorts!”
I walked into the bedroom, noted his problem, and quickly suppressed a smile. He didn’t need to feel like I was making fun of him.
I turned the shorts around a few times. I could see why he was confused. I eventually found the logo on the bottom edge of one of the legs. I pointed it out to him. I said, “This design goes in the front. When you want to know front from back, this will go in the front.”
I left him to get dressed. I returned a few minutes later.
“What do you want to eat?” I asked.
He said, “No eating at home. Eat breakfast at school.”
This didn’t really surprise me. He often eats a little bit of breakfast at home, and then eats a packed breakfast at school. We do it that way, because he won’t participate in the school breakfast, as they have nothing he’s willing to eat.
I told him that I would be packing his breakfast in a paper bag, as usual. I also mentioned that he would only be carrying that, not the book bag that he is used to carrying.
He went into another mild panic. “But why? I want my book bag?”
“Why do you need your book bag? You won’t be eating lunch at school; you only have a half day. There won’t be anything in the bag but your breakfast.”
“But I want my book bag.”
I knew he was only reacting this way because to not take the book bag meant to deviate from the norm. Kids on the spectrum don’t do well with even such little changes.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll look for your book bag.”
He appeared satisfied, and I left the room. I saw him turn back to the television as I walked out.
Try as I might, I could not find that book bag anywhere. I finally resigned myself to breaking the news to my little boy. His reaction was more mild than I had anticipated. I simply told him that I didn’t know where his daddy had put it, that he could carry just his lunch today, and that we’d ask daddy where it was later, so we could use it next time.
Instead of the fit that I had expected, he simply said, “Okay.”
A couple of other changes occurred before he left for school. His driver was a different from his regular driver (which we had been informed of and had prepared him for), the van was different, and the driver came in the opposite end of our driveway than his normal driver comes in.
As the driver parked, he did it in such a way, that the back of the van was sitting on the higher end of the driveway, and the front end was pointed downhill. He wasn’t in front of our steps, as Cameron’s usual driver is.
Cameron said, “Is he gonna park like that?”
I said, “I guess he is.”
I took him around the van, opened the door, and asked the driver where he wanted Cameron to sit. The driver responded that Cameron could sit wherever he wanted to.
I said, “Well, he usually sits in the front seat in Valerie’s van, so I think I’ll have him sit there in yours too.”
As I fastened Cameron into his seat belt, he said, “Doesn’t he know where he’s going?”
I knew that this question was presented out of nervousness about all of the changes. I assured him that the driver knew exactly where he was going and what he was doing. I finished by saying, “I’ll see you around 12:00.”
Cameron said, “Okay.”
I glanced at him, noting his worried look, so similar to the one he had displayed on his first day of Kindergarten, almost two years ago. I tried to give him a reassuring smile as I closed the door.