We had planned on sending Lukas to the same school Sarah attends again this fall. It's an incredible school that teaches four languages (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Sign Language) daily and their academic program (though not developmentally appropriate) is amazing. We thought that Lukas would thrive with that sort of intellectual stimulation.
We put him in last summer. He lasted a whopping 7 weeks and had 6 ear infections, 2 trips to the ER and 17 visits to his pediatrician. Not kidding.
So we put him in a little church preschool "Mom's Morning Out" program three mornings a week. He had 2 teachers and at the most, six kids. The beginning of the year went well. His teachers loved him and he was well behaved. Until he wasn't. He headbutted a kid. He headbutted his teacher. He threw tantrums and hit his head on the floor. He pulled toys on top of himself in anger. Was very destructive.
But God bless his teachers. They really tried to figure out how to help him. They continued to love him. They told me he had an okay day - even when he didn't.
One of my hardest moments in this journey so far was engaging in a discussion with his teachers and another parent (who was worried that one of her twins had autism). Lukas' teachers began to describe all of Lukas autistic behaviors. While interesting, it was DEVASTATING to hear.
But then we got his autism spectrum diagnosis. And we knew that Sarah's school wasn't an option. There are 18 kids. 2 teachers. A VERY rigid schedule and a lot of expectations. We have essentially a nonverbal child with tantrum issues who doesn't like to comply. Not a good match.
So I waited a few weeks (honestly, I waited so that I could discuss it without crying) to let Sarah's school director know that he won't be coming in the fall. She was cold. I don't know if I caught her in the middle of something or what, but there was no compassion. She told me she knew about his diagnosis (Sarah's teacher mentioned it) and that was it. I'm not sure what I expected, but this is a woman I've known since Sarah was 18 months old. I don't think she likes me very much since I tend to buck the system a bit (coming in late, missing school for playdates, etc.) but I expected some compassion. None. She seemed relieved. (Again, just my interpretation).
So that leads to today. I accidentally overpaid Lukas' church preschool tuition. I went in to the office to pay the right amount and the office manager wasn't there, but the Principal was. She mentioned offhand that its so rare to find out that you've overpaid. I mentioned Lukas' diagnosis and the fact that I just paid 250 dollars for his ABA assessment (which was the amount of my over payment) and so it was a fantastic surprise.
I said that the past few weeks have been hard and that his therapy was going to cost $2600 a month (yes, you read that right!) and so this over payment was such an amazing blessing.
And then the tears came.
The Principal told me that she has a 25 year old daughter with special needs. And that she remembers the place I am now - where it is overwhelming and scary. She told me that God put Lukas in my life to change me. And that Sarah will be a better, more loving and compassionate person because she has Lukas in her life. That we ALL will be better, more loving and compassionate as a result of knowing him.
And then she said, "Once you get his schedule set and if he needs socialization, we'd love to have him back in the fall."
She said that she'd LOVE to have him back in the fall.
And then she said, "And we'll give him a 100% tuition waiver too."
I made it to the parking lot before the ugly cry started. And it was ugly and long. I had to pull over on the way home.
Grateful for her gentle words this morning.
Grateful for her compassion.
Grateful for those who can look past the problem behaviors and love my little boy for the beautiful, delightful child he is.