Feb 22, 2013 0 Share

New Beginnings

The author's son standing in front of a tree.
Photo courtesy of Michele Langlo

It has a been busy two weeks. We met with the program director and staff at the facility I discussed in my previous columns and for the most part we liked what we saw.

When we arrived we were seated in a conference room with the director and Cody’s service coordinator, Tonia. We discussed the things in Cody’s plan and how his imminent needs were learning everyday life skills and better communication with others.

During this time Cody paced around in circles nervously. I asked him to sit down a few times which he did, but it was clear the nervous energy was too much. Rather than have him go into a meltdown, I decided it was best to let him walk around periodically.

The program director, Cindy, asked if he had any ADHD meds on board. I explained to her we had tried them in the past and it ended in disaster. To my surprise, Cindy assured us that Cody was not alone in such an experience with those types of meds. She and Tonia almost simultaneously asked if Cody had ever had any occupational therapy, particularly the kind where what they called “a sensory diet” was employed. I said no.

A sensory diet is when weighted vests, blankets and other such things are used for short periods at a time. There are also different toys such as stress balls which are made with different textures on the outside. Using these things helps to calm nervous activity for many of those on the autism spectrum, and with great results for some. I told her I would get a referral from Cody’s doctor.

Cody and I agreed to spend the day in classes with them last Wednesday. (It is not typical for parents to attend these classes on a regular basis, but they allowed me to attend with Cody one day so I could have an idea of how their program is run and how receptive Cody would be to it.) We worked on making decorative tiles which the program participants make and then sell to staff and others at sales they hold weekly. This is a way for the consumers of the program to make money to spend when they go on outings.

We then went for a walk at the mall. It was a weekday and still fairly early in the morning, so the mall was not crowded. Cody and the other three people in his class enjoyed themselves very much. They were able to walk about by themselves as long as they were not out of line of sight.

When it was time to leave we walked through the food court. There are many fast food stands and many of them have employees who hand out food samples. The instructor explained to Cody and each of the other participants they could each have one sample. He explained that samples are for trying that particular food only to see if you like it. They are not for making a meal out of.

We then went back to the facility and had lunch. We were instructed to bring our own ingredients but participants are encouraged to make their own lunches. Cody and I made our sandwiches and ate with the others.

Once lunch was finished we made stress balls from balloons and corn starch, participated in a healthy eating class and then it was time to go home.

We still have all the paperwork to complete which will take up to a few weeks to be processed and approved through the Partnership for Hope Waiver, but we are going to give the new facility a try. It seems as though Cody may qualify for 18 hours of services there per week.

Cody’s doctor made the referral for occupational therapy but once again we were told Medicaid would not pay for these services for anyone over 21 years of age.

Tonia told us she is putting in a request from the service provider’s Board of Directors to see if they would help fund some services for Cody that were not covered by Medicaid or the Partnership for Hope Waiver. She said she could not put in a request for both speech therapy and occupational therapy so we had to choose which one we wanted. I told her that I felt speech therapy would be more important at this time.

In the meantime I will be doing research on what I could do here at home in the way of a sensory diet, and trying to keep a positive outlook on the new things in Cody’s future.