Turning the Corner
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change-948024_1920Recently it feels that my daughter and I have turned a corner, crossed some invisible line. Partly this is due to Katie’s placement at Open Mind School (OMS) and partly due to our use of the rapid prompting method (RPM). It’s also due to Melissa, Katie’s wonderful tutor/companion, who not only teaches Katie when she isn’t at OMS, but also facilitates communication and social skills with the help of her two adorable daughters. It’s also due to Katie’s newfound independence at Via Services’ respite weekends plus her increasing ability to regulate her sensory system using tools such as the Zones of Regulation. Not to mention her expanding verbal skills.

All in all, I feel that we are “connecting the dots” and filling in gaps. Katie’s skills are merging and expanding. It’s an exciting time, and I’m so proud of my daughter for the gains she has made.

I’m confident that OMS was the right choice, but that is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. After years of effort, the pieces are finally falling into place. A beautiful picture has begun to emerge. And we aren’t done yet.

This week Katie began track practice with the Tri-Valley Rockets, a Special Olympics team. We signed her up and bought a new pair of running shoes with violet laces. Katie was beyond excited. As soon as we arrived at practice, she joined her teammates and followed directions, stretching and warming up.

int@sog1Theresa, the coach/coordinator, approached and greeted me. Katie said, “Hi, Theresa.”

Theresa, surprised, said, “Hi. What’s your name?”

Katie stared off at the trees for a moment, “Hi, my name is Katie.”

Theresa smiled, “Katie, I’m so glad to meet you and welcome you to our team. Are you excited?”

Katie made eye contact with her and grinned. “I’m excited!”

Theresa high-fived her, “Me too! We’re going to have fun.”

Katie, practically dancing now, said, “Yes, please!”

This was probably the most sustained conversation that Katie has ever held. If we achieve nothing more than that and following directions without any negative behavior this season in track, I will be pleased. But I suspect Katie will surprise me once again.

Katie ran the 100 meter with one of the lovely young women from the high school who volunteer with Special Olympics. In addition to running, Katie practiced the long jump and threw the softball and turbo javelin.

My dad joined us at practice, and afterwards, he worked with Katie on her long jump skills. By the time they were done, Katie was so tired she no longer wanted him to join us for dinner!

I couldn’t have asked for a better first practice and I’m anxious to see how this experience unfolds.

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Meanwhile, OMS has launched a swim program with the neighboring swim club. Every Friday, Katie and her classmates receive swimming lessons adapted for kids on the spectrum. The OMS staff are also teaching Katie the basics of volleyball as well as piloting a physical literacy program taught by the Circus School of San Francisco. There will be a circus performance at the end of the school year!

Academically, Katie is working on multiplication and division as well listening to chapter books such as BFG and Charlotte’s Web and answering questions via RPM to demonstrate comprehension. She’s doing science and art projects and writing letters to a pen pal. The class recently learned about the Nobel Prize, the solar system, and the rules for writing haiku poems. And yes, Katie wrote some. I’m dying to read them.

On top of this, Katie will start soon with a new ABA provider. We were sad to lose Brad and Juan and the others at Autism Spectrum Therapies who had been a part of our lives for years, but so far I have been really impressed with the therapists I’ve met at ACES. It took more than a year to work my way through the maze of approvals and authorizations to start ABA therapy under new insurance, but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We will be starting soon and I can’t wait to see what occurs.

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I’m feeling like we have finally turned the corner, and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Until next time,
Cynthia

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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