We went to the ‘intake interview’ with the new social skills therapy company today. The brick was excited about the prospect. Here is the program……two hours an evening for a week (total of 10 hours) of social skills training (this is where they introduce the kids to the concepts of social skills, why they are important, how we use them, why we use them and get them used to the lingo), then a planning meeting where all the middle school kids pick what they want to do for outings during the bi-weekly events all summer. Plus there is a bowling group that also meets bi-weekly. Sounds pretty good, right? The brick thought so too.
We arrive and go back with the director. She starts the ‘get to know you so I can be sure we put you with the right group’ conversation and questions and the brick does ok, until he gets bored. Then he starts using poor social skills (playing with his shoes, not looking like he is paying attention, laying on the couch) and gets called on it. INSTANT shut down and he leaves the room. I know he is going to the lobby and that he will not leave, so I leave him alone. Great, we just failed the interview!
The director and I continue to talk and it becomes obvious very quickly that she does not think he is ready for the group. I do not fully disagree, but where else do we go? What else do we do? To work on group skills, social skills, getting along with others you need a group. You cannot achieve these skills in 1:1 behavior therapy.
I am in tears and pleading our case. She asks if this is ‘typical.’ Hhmmm?? How to answer….Do we see this daily? No. Is this how he responds to anxiety ridden new situations where he is called out? Yes. Help us, please?
She goes on to finally state that he is not going to be allowed in the adolescent group because they cannot risk his walking off. I get it; I really do—but now what? What about the 5th grade LEGO group? She suggests. YES!!!! He will be the oldest, but only by a matter of months (he will be entering 6th grade) and he LOVES LEGOS!! That may work. She also suggests we arrange more 1:1 therapy, but more for counseling than ABA. Ok, maybe??
Meanwhile, he has come back into the room, sulked, been asked a few questions and thrown the tissue box at the director’s feet. SIGH!!! Really bud?? You want friends! You want help! You want to learn these things! You told me so. You tell me so regularly. Why do you strike out so much??? I am so confused! Out he storms again.
The director and I wrap up. She says “I am not giving up on him. Let me figure this out and talk with some of my staff. We will get him in somewhere.” Really? You are going to work with us? You are not just going to send us on our way? I think I love you!
We wrap up and the brick and I leave. I am still teary and he knows it has to do with his behavior. I try to downplay it, but still let him understand that I am upset that he sabotaged another activity. I do NOT use those words with him though.
Then he says “Can I go apologize?” WHAT?? “YES! Yes you can. Do you want me to come?” So in we go and he apologizes. The director responds with something like “Thank you, it means a lot that you came back. I hope you decide to come back and join one of our groups. We would love to have you.”
SIGH!! Maybe this will work out……
We head home and I drop him at the house so I can go work. I am off to do speech therapy with an 8 year old with Down Syndrome that I have been seeing since before her 2nd birthday. I have seen her grow up, I adore this family! I walk in to a stay home dad and the girl. The dad states he has bad news to share—he looks like the world has ended. My first thought—they lost Medicaid and they have to drop my services. Nope—worse!! Her heart condition has worsened and she will need open heart surgery, fairly quickly, because her heart is double the size it should be and one of her valves is basically not working, it just kinds flops around not really controlling any blood flow. And when she has eye surgery a few years ago, they almost lost her several times because her oxygen levels drops really low when she is on anesthesia. The surgical team was supposed to meet Monday, but were actually meeting at that moment and they are scheduled to go in next Friday to discuss the surgery plan. WOW! I fight back tears. After the last two hours this was not what I needed to hear. I love this child and her family (probably more than I should—there is a professional line). They will be in my prayers….
And I thought my day was bad?!?!