Updated: Jun 3, 2021
While everyone in the country is wrapping up their school years, ours has just begun.
It's been 18 months since I've dropped Andrew off somewhere and left him without me. School or no school..... 18 months of being at home. Entirely dependent on me; for recovery from his spinal surgery, for fun, for comfort, learning, therapy, nutrition, medical attention.......18 months of just us at home. Covid related isolation plus the initial surgery recovery.....Andrew had A LOT OF MOM TIME, family, and Andrew's PCA.
We got him through this crazy year like everyone .....using Zoom and Google Meets. This year has challenged us all in multiple ways. Combatting boredom at home, our PCA, Cassie stepped up by helping with all the hands on learning. Andrew's teacher would drop off once a month a new themed curriculum, always making learning fun for the learner and the presenter! Despite all our efforts, there isn't anything that beats in person learning. We were approved for a new "school" at Northway Academy out of Elk River, MN. It is actually a behavior therapy day program, about 20 miles from our home. 80 miles traveled daily to get Andrew there and back.....
Andrew is 16 now, and in the "9'th grade. He has missed probably 6 months out of each year at school for the last 7 years due to surgeries and recovery where he has been at home. Andrew is so unique, so complex, it takes Congress and then- some, to understand what needs to be done for him daily, just physically, much less cognitively.
Andrew has a medical diagnosis that prevents him from learning in a traditional setting and so he qualifies for this new setting for school. They will work on absolutely anything we throw at them. Pottying, communication, eating, manners, play, socializing, cooking......their day is completely molded around him instead of Andrew trying to fit into a system that isn't always for him.
Working with Northway to get them prepared for Andrew, it hit me that even for this specialized center, Andrew was unique to them. It took weeks for them to get all they needed to be ready for Andrew as well. They adjusted and came directly to our home so Andrew could start services as soon as possible. They sent out several staff to learn all that needed to be learned and boy, did it work!!! I thought I would be spending 1-2 weeks helping staff. I was there for 2 days....and the 2nd day, I was in their way.
They have a unique system to teach kids communication, and I am praying as they implement their program. Andrew is coming home happy and I am now on my 2nd day at home without him. I am finding myself taking deep breaths, talking to my friends, having time to "blog", and realizing it is time to fill my cup back up as a mom, wife, daughter, friend and for self care.
We just weathered another storm, and I thank God for HIS strength HE gives me. The resilience needed in this journey. I am thankful for HIS Grace. Until that next windy/stormy day, we are enjoying the peace at the moment. Always learning.
That BALL............is LIFE for Andrew right now! It is ALL he wants, ALL he cares about. Obsessive is an understatement. Big deal you say?? Actually, Andrew has never been able to hold a toy, or object on his own long enough to play with it. We have either had to hold it for him, or set something on a table for him to engage with it. Well, we found the golden ticket!!!!
Above video shows his therapist teaching Andrew to touch the picture of the ball to let us know he wants the ball. This will hopefully grow in to a communication board so Andrew will be able to share more of his wants and needs! Below, Northway is working with zoom calls from his traditional school Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher and facilitating the water activity.