One door closes, another opens (#350)

I was determined that Charlie’s last day at his now “old” school be the best possible. I had bought gift cards for all of his teachers weeks ago, made a point of going to the store for flowers, happily posted our thanks.

And Charlie had a really good last day, whizzing through his programs and being extra alert and attentive during a final OT session—–despite the fact that (anticipating the day) he work up at 4am and fell asleep a bit later in our bed and that I (trying too hard?) forgot to give him his medication.
Consequently, I literally flew into the car at 9:12 am (with my mom calling out the door, “drive safely!”) and delivered Charlie’s medicine to his teacher. I noticed several bags filled with plastic containers and binders in the reception area—-Charlie’s program materials—-and Charlie’s teacher and I loaded them into my car. I was grateful and not only to have the materials, but because those plastic containers and velcro’d strips of paper with laminated cards attached can give Charlie a sense of continuity—–can help him to know that, even though he is in a different school come Monday, the things he learned and the people he learned are still very much “around.”

I was thinking about all this as I drove off with a trunk full of Charlie’s learning—–and I was driving to Charlie’s new school, where I took several photos for a “transition book” and had a good talk with his new teacher. We talked about how Charlies does getting on the bus, and how he might do with a slightly longer school day, and how he will have to go through yet another transition in a few weeks when the regular school year ends and ESY begins.

The transitions never do cease, whether for Charlie or for all of us, was my thought as I drove way from the “new” school that is now “Charlie’s school.” Anthropologists talk about “rites of passage” that help humans mediate between transitional stages in life, such as the change from adolescence to adulthood: We have ceremonies—graduations, weddings, bar mitzvahs—to mark these changes.

But it is precisely these sorts of ceremonies that Charlie cannot always participate in. There was no “preschool graduation” for Charlie (he went from special ed preschool to self-contained autism classroom, in the same school building, in adjoining classrooms). When the second-graders at his former public school had a “moving-up ceremony,” Charlie was never part of it (he remained at that public school while he was third-grade age).

I suppose we might have to devise Charlie-specific “rites of passage”—-though I suspect these will be a bit short on ceremony and rather low-key. Charlie does better with this. As today was his last day at his old school, we were all careful to keep things fairly ordinary: Charlie came home, had a big snack, did ABA, went to the mall with my parents (my dad wanting to take advantage of New Jersey not having a sales tax), had his Friday “brown noodles.” Fell asleep with his hands wrapped tightly in Daddy’s blue blanket.

One door closes, another opens: A cliché, but too true today in Autismland.

One Response to “One door closes, another opens (#350)”
  1. KC'sMommy says:

    All of our thoughts and best wishes to your beautiful Charlie as he moves on to his new school!
    Ordinary yes! K.C is just like Charlie when it comes to having things low key.
    KC’s Mommy

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