I've been waiting a few days to post an update on how it's going with Janey's move to the new school. I have a huge fear of jinxes---I'm a Red Sox fan, and I grew up with parents who believed very strongly that if you spoke about good fortune, it was absolutely necessary to knock on wood. So I am knocking on wood non-stop while writing this.
How is it going? It's going, so far, amazingly, astonishingly well! It's a smoother transition than I think anyone could have dreamed of. I am getting great reports from Janey's new school from her ABA therapist, who also worked with her at her old school. I haven't gotten any desperate calls about her behavior. She comes home tired and a little weepy, but that's after a 10 hour day! She is sleeping quite well, and she is taking the bus like she's taken it her whole life.
The bus alone is something that has given me respite beyond what I ever dreamed. For 14 years, I drove one child or two every day to the Henderson School. It was basically a 20-40 minute drive each way, through city streets. The drive got to be automatic, and I didn't feel like I really minded it at all. I listened to music and talked with the boys or tried to talk to Janey. But it took up a big chuck of day, and any Boston driving is stressful. Now, before 7 am, I go out my own front door and stand there, and a bus comes to get Janey. She hops on willingly, and I don't see her again until about 5 pm, when the bus brings her home. It feels like cheating---it feels unbelievably easy.
The morning, I had one of those moments where I was suddenly taken back through the years to my own childhood. As we walked to wait for the bus, the way the air felt or the light looked took me to a moment when I was probably Janey's age, waiting for the school bus in front of my own home. There are not a lot of moments of Janey's life that feel like they are similar to my childhood. I grew up in rural Maine, the older of two girls, Janey is growing up in urban Boston, the much younger sister with two older brothers. She is autistic, I wasn't. I lived in a world of books and friends and the ocean, she lives with videos and parents and the small urban backyard. But at that moment, I had a strange feeling that the moment was exactly mirroring one I'd lived before---a deja vu moment via her. It gave me a feeling of connection to her that was very special.
So---we are holding our breath. I think some people might wonder why we aren't more relieved, more relaxed and happy that things are going so well. We ARE happy, but we also know that with Janey, things can and often do change on a dime. She is cyclical, and we made the change during a very good point in the cycle. Of course I always hope the cycle will stop moving---that this will be how it is forever. But I know that's probably not the case. When the tough times come again, how will it go then? Will Janey scream and refuse to get on the bus? Will she cry all day at school, and bite and scratch herself? Will she stay awake all night and be manic with laughter all day? I hope not. I very much hope not. And if she does, I hope that being in a program completely designed for autistic kids will help. She couldn't possibly have been loved more at her old school, but maybe she needed more than love---maybe she needed a program designed especially in every way for children with autism. We will see.
So, for now, so far, so good. A huge thank you to everyone who has made this past week better than we ever imagined it to be.