Friday, January 27, 2012

I shouldn't post when things are great.....

So.... My last post was over month ago.  I posted about Mark's great performance at his dance class and how much he had improved to be there.  I even posted that I never knew when something might  happen to ruin it all.  But I really didn't expect it to happen, especially so soon. 

The kids had no dance class for a week because of Christmas.  The holidays really uprooted our lives for that week, along with an abnormal work schedule for me.  When it was time to return to dance class Mark would not walk through the door to class.  He said it was too loud, the music was giving him a headache.  His teacher convinced him to enter the room and to sit and watch.  Mark eventually joined the class in dancing after the tap portion was done. 

The next week was the same.  He wouldn't enter the room.  He said it was too loud, especially the tapping and that he would get a headache.  At this point I think that I should have taken him and left.  But since the teacher did get him dancing the previous week, we tried the same thing.  Mark was sitting on the side watching everyone.  And I was in a chair in the waiting room watching through the window.  Part way through the class the teacher motioned for me to come in.  She said that she had asked him to join and he spoke very rudely to her.  I do not know exactly what he said, but I do know that the F word was part of it.  So I took Mark out and he sat in the waiting room for the rest of class. 

Before I tell the rest... I will say that Mark is the master of escape behaviors.  When he was young he would just run away.  Right out the door and leave.  As he got older he would yell, hit, cry, scream, etc.  Knowing that those behaviors would get him removed from the place that he didn't want to be.  He's been told 100 times to "use your words."  Well, during his old Mario obsession, he learned the F word.  And how powerful it can be.  Now when he wants to leave a public place, he doesn't hit, yell, scream, cry, run away, throw stuff, or any of those things.  Now he just yells "F"  Nothing is faster or easier.  And it gets him removed from whichever location he wants to leave.  Library...  Waiting Room.... Dance....  After all, there are other kids around. 

So... After the dance class I was thinking about withdrawing him from the class.  The other option was to come up with a plan to get him back into the class that he used to love, pre-teach, and take it step by step.  Mark said that he still wanted to take the class, that he just had a headache.

Well, I got a call from the secretary for the dance school.  She said that Mark was not welcome back in their dance classes.  That other parents complained and will pull their children from the class if Mark comes back.  So that's the end.  4 months of perfect behavior, never an issue from him in class, in the end means nothing because of his powerful word "F."  One bad week.  I can't blame the other parents for not wanting their children exposed to such a word.  The dance school told me that Kaiya is welcome to take dance with them....  To which I was thinking, "Why wouldn't she be? Just because she has a brother with autism who has no self-control and will do whatever it takes to escape somewhere he doesn't want to be at that moment?"  (because it can happen anywhere, even places he normally likes)

I did write to the owner that made the decision to follow up and apologize for the disruption that Mark caused to the class.  She never returned my e-mail.  It does make me think that they would be happier if the entire family left the dance school.  But Kaiya has her costume and is excited all about the show, she loves her class and her teacher... so she stays. 

As for Mark, he's afraid to even walk into the dance school waiting room now.  I went in last week to get Kaiya and he hid his face in my shirt and clung to my back.  This week he wouldn't go in at all.  I had to let Kaiya go in alone and have Kaiya walk out alone.  I'd like to think that Mark has learned something from this.  But he just doesn't get it.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Dancing

Tonight was the last day of tap classes until after the holiday season...  The kids have been practicing special routines in class for the past couple of months.  Today they invited all of the parents in to watch!  Kaiya made sure that she was wearing a Christmas color (green).  She was very proud of herself and all of her hard work.  She hasn't taken dance since kindergarten and she's taking intermediate tap.  She's been working hard to catch up! 

Mark has also been working very hard!  Not only has he been practicing his dancing, but he has been working very hard just to attend the class.  To put things in perspective:  Last year Mark wouldn't have been able to go through the door without difficulty.  He wouldn't have been able to be there alone with so many kids.  And following directions along with the group?  No.  I can't tell you how many bad experiences we have had in the past with Mark and group classes.  This year he often says that he isn't going to dance today... because the music is too loud, it hurts his ears.  There are too many other kids and they might touch him.  He hesitates at the door and usually has to make a last minute bathroom trip, therefore being a little late into class.  But once he is in the class he participates fully.  He tries hard to follow along and do everything that his teacher asks him to do.  He's pretty serious compared to most of the other boys, which is funny if you know how he can be at home!  Today he performed to the song "Let it Snow." 

A lot of people will think that Mark is "there."  He overcame something that was difficult for him and now we can check it off of our list and move onto the next thing.  The thing about autism though is that you can't just check a skill off, consider it complete, and move onto something else.  At least not with Mark.  Mark has been dancing for 4 months.  Each week, when dance class ends, I am thankful for that one successful week.  Because I don't know what next week will hold.  It's always in the back of my head that at any time something could happen.  Something that will change the way that the teacher and others think of him.  Something that will make him unwilling or unable to enter the classroom again.  I don't worry about it because I've been through it and I know that it's always stepping forward and then stepping back.  But I also don't sit back and take his success for granted.  No matter what happens next month, he was successful today. :-)