The Levels Program

Myriam stimming. (It's a self soothing behavior, in this case, spinning
but can also be any repetitive motion.)
     Sometimes, out of nowhere, reality bitch slaps me in the face. Often times it's the little things, the nothing things that make me realize how different my path is from the "normal" mommies. Sometimes, it's bigger; somehow more significant. The past couple of weeks was all of that and more.

     Today I was reminded why we seldom leave home and why we NEVER vary from our routine. Wednesdays in our town means $1.99 Happy Meals, so we decided to take the kids to McDonalds for dinner. I sat in awe as my children flailed and spun, spoke loudly, rapidly and with echolalia-ic phrases and noises. They reached across the table, snatching food and shoving it in their mouths.
     I was mortified. They're 7, 7, and 8 years old. Did I not teach them ANY table manners? What is happening here?
     After we finished eating, I was clearing the table and Porter dashed out of the restaurant, barreled into the drive thru lane, and across the parking lot to our van. My heart sunk. It's not just about impulse control, but also about being a flight risk.

     Monday we had Myriam's Spring concert. It was nice as far as these things go. In fact, it was better than most of these things, by a lot--a lot, a lot! My daughter was placed on the top of the risers, which meant I had a clear view of her while she flapped and fidgeted and did very little singing.
     One of my friend's daughters had a solo and she was amazing but I sat and cried though the whole thing because it made me realize, that I was singing solos (not well) at this age but my daughter probably never will. In fact, I don't know that Myriam will ever do anything that I did. And I'm not talking about solos and plays, I'm talking about dances, dating, marriage and children.

     All of this "focus" is because of one thing. When school resumes, after Spring Break, Myriam will be taken out of the regular classroom and put into the Levels Program. She's unable to keep up with the pace of third grade. This program will give her more one-on-one attention. It will also concentrate on self sufficiency, eventually covering topics such as self hygiene, running errands, balancing checkbooks, cooking, cleaning, and such. It will also cause her to switch districts with every school change. (Level 2 covers 3-5th grade and is located in our current district. Level 3, grades 6-8, is fifteen miles away. Level 4, grades 9-12th, is twenty-five miles away. Level 5 is on a local junior college campus.)
     Mainstreaming is over for her, as it was for Porter a few months ago. And although, I think, I handled this IEP meeting professionally and intelligently, my heart was breaking. All of those convos with teachers and SpEd professionals, where they told me that by third grade she would be a completely different kid was wishful thinking, at best. That tale of  "that one autistic kid" who started off much worse than Myriam and now you wouldn't even know it, isn't our story.
     I know it could be worse, that they both could be lower functioning. Sometimes I think it would be easier if they were.

Peace Out!
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