Janey went off on the bus this early morning. It's the first day she's gone to school in a month and two days. The road leading up to today has been long, and I am not sure she'll be there all day, but I am hoping this is the start of a bit of normality in our lives.
Over the weekend, Janey was tough. There was a lot of screaming and crying. Sunday, she lashed out at Tony for some of the first times ever. Usually he is spared her anger. She hit him hard, and then tried to bend back his fingers. As is more often the case, there was completely no warning. She was just fine, not even upset, and then she lashed out. It makes it all the more scary, because you can't brace yourself, you can't prepare a reaction. It just happens.
We decided on Sunday that we couldn't in good conscious put Janey on the bus on Monday without talking to her school more. I emailed her teacher and ABA supervisor, and amazing people that they are, they wrote me back on a Sunday to say we could have a meeting Monday at 9, and could bring Janey for a visit then.
Tony took Monday off to be with me. We were worried how Janey would act as she saw the school, since her last memory there wasn't a good one---leaving in the ambulance. But she was very cheerful as we approached. We met with four people that work with Janey---her teacher, her ABA therapist, the ABA supervisor and the autism specialist that is assigned to her classroom group. They are an amazing group of people. They listened to all our concerns, we planned together how we would handle various situations, and we laughed. That is a crucial piece for me somehow---that I felt at home and comfortable enough with these wonderful women that we could engage in a little black humor. In talking about Bradley Hospital, I said part of why more didn't happen there might because Janey was there over Thanksgiving, and she should plan her next crisis for a little better time of year---I was full of weak humor like that, but it was so good to just be able to talk about it all in a relaxed and open way.
The plan we worked out---Janey would go to school on the bus today, and last as long as she was able. If things were getting to be too much for her, and she was getting increasingly frustrated, the school would call me and I'd go get her right away. We'd avoided that in the past to not give Janey the idea that acting out was a way to go home early, but at this point, that is one of the least of our worries. If Janey's behavior ever was such I couldn't safely drive her home, I'd stay with her at the school as she calmed down, until it was safe to drive. And if things escalated even more, and we again ever needed to call an ambulance, the school would talk to me first, and if we all agreed we needed to call, Janey would be taken to one of two other hospitals besides Children's Boston, hospitals we have realized are better equipped to handle kids with autism.
We discussed Janey's lashing out, and everyone is aware how closely she needs to be watched, and what the warning signs are for her outburst, and how sometimes there are no warning signs. The school is ready and willing to work with her despite these issues, and that brought tears to my eyes.
So---we sent her this morning. It was touch and go for a while. She didn't want to wake up. The bus comes early---about 6:20 this morning. Janey fought getting dressed quite violently---taking her shirt off over and over, kicking off her shoes, screaming. What finally calmed her down enough to dress her and get her on the bus was that old faithful---Christmas songs. She started singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and I picked up on it and sang it over and over, and then switched to "Jingle Bells" and "Joy to the World" The familiar words and tunes seemed to make Janey able to calm enough to get ready. By the time she got on the bus, she was smiling. The driver and the two aides were so happy to see her and so kind and sweet to her. We are feeling, as we often do, very lucky to be part of the Boston school system.
And so I wait, for a call to get Janey, or for her bus to bring her home. I wait to see what kind of day she had. We wait for the next crisis---hoping there never is one, but preparing and making decisions in case there is. We keep on going, because that is what we have to do, and we try to be hopeful.