Over three years ago we started a journey with our family that we could have never imagined. Our son was diagnosed with Autism and we began seeing therapists in Richmond. One of our main therapies was ABA, it was a therapy we were not familiar with and we were struggling to understand. Desperate to get help we made the tough decision of choosing a program that involved a commute to Richmond several times a week.
Over the last three plus years there were days I wondered what we were doing loading three little ones up to drive to an early morning session and one or more child would fall asleep on the way there, or trying to kill a couple of hours in Richmond unsure if we had time to come home before picking Rowen up again. However looking back over the fastest three years I cannot imagine not having these services in our lives. I say ours because it has been an amazing learning experience for our whole family.
At the end of July we had our last day at our ABA program and although we knew this day would come COVID helped to expedite the process. Unfortunately the program that has brought us so much success and joy, over the past three years, has closed its doors. We are so sad to see such an amazing resource gone.
Rowen has left the program with a better understanding of his emotions and those around him, techniques to use to calm himself or others down when they need it, ability to ask peers to play and take turns and even how to win and loose. I am confident the skills he has learned from Bounding Higher he will use for his life and for that I will forever be thankful.
I am grateful for what this program has all brought to our lives in terms of growth and learning. We have met so many amazing people. I know with growth will come change and outgrowing things but it still feels bittersweet to be moving on from a place and people who have been such a big part of our lives.
During the same time this change was happening I started to consider what the school year would look like for Rowen, Grace and really our whole family. With a lot of contemplation and research we opted to take a year of homeschooling. I spoke with anyone who would talk about the topic but I also went to some of our main supports and people whose advice I respect and admire. Not only do I feel these people have lots of credentials and experience in the education and psychological field but they also know our family.
With so much uncertainty and with the loss of our ABA program (and also our SLP because we received this service through the same program) we decided to attempt a year of homeschooling. We had a lot of reasons for going this route and most are unique to our family. One of the main reasons and benefits to opting to school from home was if I registered us with a Distance Learning Program I gained access to funding that typically would go to our school. This funding could help us hire a new ABA and SLP and start a new program. I was so excited, really seeing the results of the last three years I knew Rowen had more he could learn and we had more we needed before saying good bye to these therapies. (***When kids with Autism turn 6 they go from $22,000 a year of funding to $6000 so I had been worried about December and the loss of funding we knew was coming, we currently spend every penny and then some out of pocket). Accessing funding was a big incentive for us.
Fast forward to now, we have hired and started with two new therapies and therapists. Both companies are amazing and we are excited about working with them and the unique programs and goals we have come up with. However what I forgot to account for was how hard Rowen finds transitions, new people, new routines and expectations and unknowns; beginnings of something new.
The past week and a half have been challenging. Our kids have been so resilient during this whole Pandemic. During the summer we have had the ability to keep things as “normal” for them as possible and have also spent the last 4 months making things as much fun as possible. None of us have had big worries (I mean besides the obvious ones that come with living through a pandemic). We have had somewhat reliable/consistent work, safe housing, good food and access to some of our favourite places (beach, ocean, boat, farm etc). We have really been fortunate.
Fall is here and has brought with it the reality that no matter what Fall brings we cannot isolate ourselves forever. We knew we would have to return to the world eventually and that it would look different. What I didn’t consider was the growing pains we would have along the way. I am so proud of Rowen (really all our kids) and his (their) ability to communicate his frustrations and feelings. However I am also tired and low on patience. The start of September has been a reminder to me to ask for help when I need it, take time for myself, take time to organize and prep and it makes for a better day and don’t be afraid to adjust expectations.
This coming week I am hoping to put all these reminders into action and start off feeling relaxed, supported and organized. I know that the more we go through the schedule the easier it will get. For now we are gonna enjoy the weekend!
As for the homeschooling part, that has been the easiest transition to make, and one the whole family is loving. Like all new things, we are working out the kinks and figuring out our rhythm but overall I am loving homeschool and surprised at how natural and “easy” this transition was. Looking forward to the fun field trips we have planned for the next few months as well as the group of homeschoolers we have met and are learning with.
Can’t wait to sharing our adventures with everyone and come back to blogging about our family! This may be the end of our old and familiar ways but it is the beginning of something magical.