Do you know how sometimes, even though you know in your heart you are making the right decision, you still lose sleep at night over whether it’s ABSOLUTELY the right decision? One week ago tonight, I was in that very place. That place of limbo between an end point and a new beginning.
I can tell you now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, placement in full-time preschool was 100% the right decision for Piper!
Certainly, David and I know in the long run that this was what she needs, and that ultimately, Piper will benefit immensely from the new structure and the overall experience. A week ago tonight, the big picture wasn’t what was keeping me up at night. The worries that were causing me to lose sleep were more immediate fears. Would she cry when we left her? Would she feel abandoned? Would she shut down and go off on her own and be lonely? Would she eat? Would she sleep? How horribly cranky would she be when we picked her up each day, having never been in school for more than three hours at a time? Ultimately, I knew we were doing the right thing, but in doing so, we were shaking up the life of an Autistic toddler-a very slippery slope.
Apparently, I didn’t need to lose sleep at all. Piper didn’t ease her way into her first week at her new school. She didn’t even put a toe in the water to test the temperature, first. She approached her new reality by doing one of her very favorite things-a cannonball. She fully submerged herself into the whole thing, and the little person that surfaced at the end of it all was a brighter, smarter, happier version of Piper than I have ever seen!
Each day, we’re provided a detailed sheet that covers everything about her day, from how many times she sat on the potty, if she napped (which she did every day, so I know she felt safe and comfortable), what toys and activities were her favorites, all the way down to how much she had eaten of each part of her lunch. My expressing a desire to know these minute details might seem like overkill to some, but this stage in her life is all about finding what kinds of things work into HER routine. If it works for her at school, we can learn from it and make it work for her at home, too. This kind of feedback is helpful beyond measure. Her teacher and assistants have told us daily, and genuinely, how much they enjoy her and how thrilled they are to have her as part of the class. Simply stated, we could not feel any better than we do about where she ended up.
The biggest victory of the week was one I learned of Friday afternoon,and is one which moved me to tears. When Piper was observed at her original preschool about a month ago, she was observed to have virtually no social interaction with any of her peers. She had two interactions of less than ten seconds each,and they were with her cousin. This broke my heart, and was a major reason we knew she needed the extra help. On Friday, we learned that in her first week in her new class, Piper has already made connections with two or three little boys, who she plays with regularly and refers to by name. As we were eating our pizza Friday night, I said “I hear you play a lot with a little boy named Matty.” She looked up from her food, smiled, and said “I like him. Matty my friend!” My heart just about exploded with joy.
I know this post is a lot of sunshine and lollipops, but for now that’s okay. We need those sometimes! I’m a realist, as well. I know Piper is going to have some bad days, maybe even rough weeks. To get off to such a beautiful start, though, makes this experience and all of these changes so much less stressful, and so much more positive and exciting.
Our little girl doesn’t even know it yet, but she’s a fighter and a champion. We are so grateful for early intervention, and the opportunity to change her life for the better with the support of family and friends and the guidance of the amazing team of people she has working with and for her. One week down, a lifetime to go!