In just a few days, G. will officially be 6 and 3/4s. He is aging out of his day school and preparing to attend Beard School, Chicago Public School’s only therapeutic elementary. Out of the thousands of children G’s age, only dozens are lucky enough to attend – in an environment that includes all manner of therapists and therapeutic learning tools other CPS schools seriously lack.
Additionally, G. is aging out of his therapeutic playgroup.
For the past several weeks, he has been prepared by his teachers and group leaders to transition. But I can tell G. is no happy puppy about this. He is prone to outbursts of unexplained crying, whereas he is usually fairly placid. He continues to struggle to find the right words to speak with and this increases his frustration level.
At one point, he decided to hold his bowels in to “voice” his dismay: I can tell you last weekend was exciting to watch the speed at which a combination of Miralax and suppositories work and how much solid waste one young man can hold in his lower intestine. (Sometimes I frighten myself at the pleasure I derive from the small victories I have in life these days…).
It’s now been 8 months since J., G’s father and my husband, passed away. I look on at how far G. has come – he continues to learn and unlike many autistic children, he has not withdrawn inside himself. Since he receives psychotherapy at day school, he’s actually much more capable of expressing his emotions.
We have a babysitter who has formed a phenomenal bond with G. and works with all of our therapists to have continuity of care during the hours they’re playing together. I’m crest-fallen that she’ll have to go to an Air Force Reservist training camp for 7 weeks, just as G. leaves school and playgroup. More transition…
We both look on with some trepidation at the future in front of us. I understand that as many times as I can drive G. past “big boy school” and talk about him riding the yellow school bus, the darkness of the unknown is barely punctured. There are just more people, like his father, to say good-bye or “see you later” to.
I have few expectations for the next month that don’t include anxiety, as G. goes off into the summer without school, playgroup or his cherished babysitter. We’ve made plans for a 2-week break in NY to visit relatives – vacations are usually a time when G. thrives.
Off we ride into a new sunrise, hopeful as usual. I’m so very proud of G. for his advances. I revel in his laughter, I secretly cry when he speaks of friends at school.
I look on in thoughtful wonderment as he uses his hand to guide a toy, yellow Dodge car around the living room that contains a plastic, injection-molded figure that looks remotely like my deceased husband. G. says, “Going in Daddy’s car. Bye, bye, Daddy.” So far, as G. has transitioned, he has taken the things he loves with him: long may they keep him feeling safe and loved on his unique journey into the unknown.