Viewing the Moon with Brownies

IMG_0191If I needed further proof that chaos and change was my new normal, than I need look no further than yesterday. While I was helping Nate and other Eastbay Astronomical Society (EAS) members set up for a “girls only” star party in San Leandro for local Brownie and Junior Girl Scout troops, I received a call from a supervisor at our new ABA provider. I’ve been working to get my daughter Katie established with a new provider since we were forced to switch her to Medi-Cal in January 2016. No, that’s not a typo. January 2, 2016.

Despite repeated follow up calls and polite pressure, it had taken eight months for the new insurer to simply accept that Katie had autism. Seriously? She’s been receiving services from the Regional Center of the East Bay (RCEB) since the age of two and been in special education classes with our school district since the age of three, but this isn’t enough proof for you? Apparently not even a two-inch stack of reports was enough. I had to file a grievance to get things moving. That, and a one-page handwritten worksheet from the RCEB finally did the trick. Another six months of waiting for a provider to have availability. Several, months of assessments and meetings….

Then, just as the star pastry was about to start, nearly 18 months after I began the approval process, the supervisor excitedly told me that we would finally start Katie’s in-home therapy in just four days on Monday and Thursday from 9 to 12 p.m.

“That’s when Katie does her tutoring,” I said as I mentally scrambled.

I had been afraid this would happen. ABA providers typically have to work around school schedules. In the aftermath of the in-home school crisis (read about that here), and before I’d found Melissa, tutor/sitter extraordinaire, I’d been willing to take whatever time slot would get us help as quickly as possible.

Since then, things had changed. Katie’s behavioral issues had died down to a minimal level with Caroline’s departure. Her new school, Open Mind School (OMS), was reporting only sporadic incidents, the same as at home. We had settled into a schedule that was working well: three days at OMS, two days of tutoring with Melissa in the mornings and facilitated play with Melissa’s daughters in the afternoons.

I asked if this was the behaviorist’s only available time slot. Of course it was.

The supervisor reminded me that I’d said we were available.

I mentally sighed. I’d have to rework the whole schedule to make room for ABA. I said I’d work something out with Melissa and hung up.

boy-1846204_1920Nate saw the look on my face. “What’s up?”

I told him and he said, “This is the only time they can do it? Seriously?”

I nodded.

“Well that sucks. What are you going to do?”

“Don’t know yet.”

I pondered my options until the Brownies ran over to where we had set up the telescopes. Then I was distracted by the girls’ excitement at seeing the moon’ surface up close for the first time. I love this part of EAS’s work. I never tire of seeing children’s wonder at the night sky, knowing this might spark a lifelong love of science. And hearing their comments. One little girl exclaimed, “It looks just like a Cheeto–except it’s not orange!”

The Juniors were just as excited, and I was happy to let them come back for look after look. Without boys present, the girls didn’t hold back the way they usually do. They pressed forward and asked nonstop questions while they stood in line. That’s when it dawned on me. I wanted learning to be like this for Katie. Fun and exciting. If ABA therapy could do that, I’d make room for it.


Somehow, someway.

Until next time,

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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