Today was Janey's last day of school. Not much will be different next year---she will be in kindergarten again, in the same room, same teachers, same therapists. Which is a good thing---I love her room, her teachers and mostly her therapists. I hope next year is the year it all comes together and she starts learning. We have been getting a lot of progress reports, and they do get a little depressing, although everyone tries to be cheerful. She met really none of her goals. The main progress this year has been that she will wave or say bye and once in a long time, hi, when greeting or leaving people. She can do fairly well tracing a straight across line or an up and down line. She counts pretty well, at home more than at school. She will spell her name, again, more at home. Sometimes we think she knows the letter "A". But the other things, that they call Readiness, are not really there---things like naming body parts, naming colors (although she will choose a color correctly when she is given two choices, sometimes), knowing letters and numbers, knowing shapes---well, it's very slow progress. Her talking goes up and down. Sometimes it seems like she's making progress, because when it goes down and then goes back up, it seems like all of a sudden she's talking more, but usually it's a return to baseline, or slightly less. The crying was pretty severe all year, at school and at home.
Her teacher gave her a big packet of worksheets we can work on this summer. I also bought a huge pile of workbooks, and we are going to have school time every day. Sometimes I see glimpses of the "other" Janey---the one that somehow would exist if she wasn't autistic, and I think she would be like me at that age---she seems to enjoy worksheets and structured homework. By this I mean she doesn't cry too much during it, and she caught on quickly to the table and chair I set up for her workplace. It think it's predictable and one-on-one attention. Teaching her can often feel like pounding my head against a wall, though. It can be very frustrating. The ABA she's gotten has been inconsistant and plagued with personnel changes, but her current ABA guy seems very good, and still, she didn't meet any of her modest goals there, like responding to her name 80% of the time. I don't think ABA is going to be her ticket out of all this. I have to hope, and I usually do think, that she is learning things we aren't realizing. There are those glimpses when she is rewarded with M&Ms or something when she can name amazing amounts of items, if she's in exactly the right mood. It's the analogy I've heard a lot---it's like she has a disorganized file cabinet or card catalog in her head. It's all there, but just almost impossible to access, and most of the time, she's isn't very motivated to try.
The medication seems to be a mixed bag. She is still crying a lot. When it got hysterical, we tried the higher dose for a few days, but that made her extremely tired and a little zombie-like, which is not at all what we want. So we lowered it back down to the lower dose. She still seems tired and quiet (she went to sleep at 6pm tonight) but not quite as much. Overall, I can't say it's been a huge success, except for those amazing few days.
Wish me luck with the summer. I dread it in many ways. But then again, I've dreaded summer my whole life, so I can't put that all on Janey.