You may remember that I was not thrilled about sending Gavin to school. I was fearful of the whole idea. I'm thankful to say that my fears were all for nothing! School is turning out to be such a blessing for Gavin and even me too! I am still fearful of him getting sick while there and I'm tired of driving him back and forth each day, but otherwise everything else is going great!
In fact, I'm so comfortable with the whole school idea that Joel and I are even considering having him take the bus to and from school soon. Gavin's teacher told me that he could have a personal aide on the bus that would sit with him each day. This would eliminate my fears of him riding the bus. I worry that he might have one of his gagging/spitting-up episodes or have a seizure and no one would be there to help him. Plus, he can't talk to let me know what happened, so having an aide would eliminate these potential problems.
Anyway.....back to school. Gavin is getting so much wonderful therapy at school and he seems to be making tiny strides since he's been attending school. He has definitely blossomed socially. He is less apprehensive than he he used to be. He even seems happy when I drop him off there. He doesn't cry for his teacher anymore, unless she has his AFO's on his feet for too long anyway. He still does not tolerate his AFO's. I think it's because he is so spastic in his hips, legs and ankles. His feet are so used to pointing that it probably hurts to have them in the more normal position. (Joel and I have also decided to give Botox a try for Gavin. His teacher really recommends it and thinks that this would help him to be able to try sitting better and also his ankles wouldn't be so tight, so he might tolerate the AFO's better.) The other day, his teacher said; "I think that I witnessed Gavin's 1st temper tantrum." She said that he threw quite the fit after having his AFO's on for about 10 minutes. She said that it was quite funny, but she felt bad for him too. As soon as she took the AFO's off, he was totally fine and happy. It's actually a relief to me, to know that he can express his feelings to let people know that something isn't right with him. He should be wearing his AFO's most of his waking hours, but at the rate we are going, this will never happen! Hopefully, Botox will help to change this.
It is so cute for me to watch Gavin in action at school! He often times has a look on his face, of being proud of himself for doing the things that they are having him do. In the car, on the way home from school each day, he "talks" to me about what he did and he seems quite happy about the whole thing. That is, if he doesn't crash and fall asleep on the way home.
His teacher, aide and therapists are AWESOME! They are all so caring and definitely know what they are doing. We had conferences this week and the report that we got was a good one. They think he is doing well, but due to absences, he has not met his goals yet. He has an 81% attendance and they thought that if he was there more often, he would be able to meet his goals. I asked them how they knew this? The goals that they have in place for him aren't that big, but due to Gavin's stroke, we have been told that he will likely not progress much further. I said this to his teacher and she said that they never look at a child as not being able to accomplish goals. Their philosophy is to just keep working at them and to strive to reach the goals. I think this is a great philosophy! I told the teacher that I tend to not look for great gains in Gavin, just as a protective measure for myself. I really can't get my hopes up or look beyond today, because if I did I wouldn't be able to get through each day. She said to just leave it up to them then. She also gave me a book to read from their school library. It's called, "You will dream new dreams." It has stories from parents who have walked similiar roads of uncertainty and struggles with their children. I'm excited to begin reading it today!
His teacher said that although she doubts Gavin will ever walk one day, she does have hope that he will progress. She said that she could not do her job if she didn't see progress with these children. She said that she has been told that "this child won't do......." and many do end up doing more than expected. She said that she has already seen growth in Gavin and she gets chills watching him respond to visual therapy. She says it's very exciting and that every tiny step is HUGE with our special children! I walked away from our conversation feeling so renewed and I am very happy with her and the school!
The biggest progress that Gavin has made is one that came from help from his speech pathologist. I had told her that Gavin HATES having his teeth brushed, so she scheduled a time for him and I to work together with her. We did this a couple of days ago and I am SO GLAD THAT WE DID! I learned that there is something called "teeth brushing etiquette." I made this term up since our session together. Gavin has been trying to tell me that I was rude when I brushed his teeth! She didn't say this, it's just another thing that I came up with since I learned proper "teeth brushing etiquette."
Gavin has always disliked having his teeth brushed and I dreaded doing it to him! I used to just do it quickly to try to do the job and just get it over with. The other day, I learned that this is not proper etiquette. With children like Gavin, who have sensitivity issues, I should have been taking it very slowly and working my way up to brushing his teeth. (Just so you know, I thought that I was taking it slowly by telling Gavin that I was going to brush his teeth and by placing the toothbrush on his lips first so that he knew something was going into his mouth, but this wasn't slow enough for Gavin.)
Remember how I said that "children don't come with instructions?" Gavin definitely did not! His brothers used to love brushing their teeth and wanted to carry the toothbrush around for hours just sucking and chewing on it. This is so not the case with Gavin! I learned that first I need to have Gavin play with the toothbrush and feel it...then I have to massage around his mouth with my fingers to help desensitize his mouth...then I need to sing songs and gradually move the toothbrush up to his mouth...then I need to enter the toothbrush into his mouth a certain way...then I need to keep his head somewhat forward to help to keep salivia from going down his throat and brush for a short time and then let him swallow...then I need to sing some more and play some more and then brush a little bit more..........I think you have most of the idea.
Anyway, this totally works for Gavin! For the first time, maybe ever, I brushed his teeth without him having tears and screaming! It took a LONG time, but it was worth it! I will just have to make it part of playtime and therapy time. In the world that we live in, we are always trying to hurry up and get things done, but I am finding out that Gavin likes to takes things slow and that he wants to know what is going on. This is probably a good lesson for all of us, don't you think?!
Here is Gavin during mouth cleaning now:
It's a night and day difference from before! I guess it would be very unenjoyable for someone who can't see very well or understand what's going on, to have someone just shove a toothbrush in their mouth unexpectantly! Gavin has just been trying to tell me this, but I just didn't understand! Poor little man!
Now, if we can just figure out a way for him to like bathtime...............?!?!?
"A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel." Proverbs 1:5