I did the unspeakable today! I actually called our local Regional Center to cancel services. GASP!! Can you believe it? It’s truly unthinkable right? What was I thinking?
I will tell you what I was thinking. I talked to Mateo and I listened to Mateo. He is getting older and has a voice of his own and it’s time I begin to listen to that voice he fought so many years to use. After the triuphant success of one week at Summer Camp, I came to the realization that between school and track and other activities Mateo really is ready for the “real world”, and has been for some time.
He was no longer benefiting from his Social Group, he was not enjoying going every week, in fact he dreaded it. He had a wonderful therapist for quite a while and she recently left.
His replacement actually asked if Mateo was ok and if everything was ok at home (when speaking to our friend who took him weekly) because he seemed non-responsive today. Excuse me new therapist, have you worked with children or people with Autism at all before? You are new, he has a new group, and you are wondering why he is not communicating with you?
Well for me that was pretty much the last straw, but we (Reuben, his respite worker/our close friend Shawnta and I) had talked about ending Social Group for a while.
So as Mateo snuggled by me on the couch last night I decided to ask him.
“Mateo do you like Social Group?”
He laid beside me, eyes looking down at his hands as they fidgeted and said, “No”.
“Do you think you are ready to stop going?” I asked.
Still looking at his hands he replied, “Yes.”
The important thing about all of this is that we need to replace Social Group with another social activity where he can connect with other kids and socialize, but doing something he enjoys. We had talked about programs like 4H, Karate or Gymnastics. So I wanted to give Mateo the choice.
So I said, “What do you want to do instead? You could work with animals and do projects in 4H, do Karate or Gymnastics?”
“Work with animals,” he replied happily. Well that answered that.
It is obvious that he is ready for something new and that he has officially outgrown Social Group. I can’t believe I called the Regional Center to ask them to stop services. I never thought I would do that, but I think it’s time to let Mateo’s voice be heard. Social Group was great for him, but he’s ready to take on new challenges and learn new things, meet new kids. The thing I liked about it was him spending time with other kids with Autism, but there are other activities in the area we can attend on our own.
And I am hopeful that some other child will now benefit from those services that Mateo was no longer benefiting from. Hopeful that the money will be directed to a new child without a voice and without the skills to communicate to their peers. Here is to another huge milestone!! I am so very proud of that kid!