May 31, 2013 0 Share

Going in Circles

illustration of man walking in circles.

We are now in our fourth week at Cody’s new program. Each Monday and Thursday morning I have been staying with him at the facility from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. to see how well he will do. My hope was to start gradually backing off and letting him stay at the facility by himself with the other clients and staff. But it doesn’t look like he is ready for me to start doing that.

Even with me there he has a hard time staying focused on the curriculum and the staff appears skittish about taking the lead in directing him in what to do.

There are a lot of worksheets involved, which do indeed teach good skills. Then they usually have a craft or play some sort of game which also involves developing fine motor function and problem-solving techniques. But sitting still for that long of a time is not Cody’s forte.

The program overall seems to be a very good program. And the other clients seem to enjoy it and stick to the tasks at hand very well. It seems though, that none of the other clients have the same issues with staying on track with completing the given tasks as Cody does. Perhaps it is because none of the other clients appear to be at the same place on the autism spectrum as Cody.

Cody will usually do well for about the first 45 minutes with a few prompts from me to stay in his chair and complete the worksheets. But after that he starts to become agitated and anxious. I try to take him outside for a few minutes so he can pace up and down the sidewalk and expend some of the nervous energy. Then he seems ready to go back in. But when we return to the class schedule, Cody is only able to stay focused for another 15 minutes or so. Then he is back to jumping up out of his chair to walk around.

One of the directors has put forth a good effort toward redirecting Cody when he does this. But the director has other clients to attend to as well. Cody listens to him initially, but it seems as though his attention deficit grows more prevalent as time wears on.

Cody’s case manager called last week to see how well he was doing. I explained what I had observed and she suggested he might do better without my presence. But I strongly question that. When I have to leave the room to use the restroom, I come back to find Cody wandering around the classroom and rambling on about this or that in a continuous fashion. At this point the director often attempts to converse with Cody about whatever subject he has mentioned while simultaneously assisting other clients. But if this is all Cody is going to get out of the program then it hardly seems worth our while.

So is it me? Am I jumping to conclusions too quickly? I say we are in our fourth week but the true sum of that is eight mornings, two of which we have missed due to illness and a prior engagement. However, knowing my son as I do, it usually doesn’t take me very long to be able to assess when things like this are going to work out and when they are not. And I have to say it isn’t looking terribly hopeful right now.

The case manager also suggested that it may work better for Cody if he had one day with a one-on-one aide and one day per week at the day program. I would be willing to try that, but I still don’t believe Cody will be able to make it through the entire six hours of a typical program day.

It may seem logical to perhaps cover the allotted hours in three-hour shifts by taking Cody to the program four mornings per week. But we’re talking about a 50-mile round trip each day, and this was all supposed to take place in my absence. The objective was for Cody to become acclimated to the class and work environment first. Then to increase attention span so he could focus on tasks in that he might be given in a job setting. It was also to teach daily living, safety and social skills. But if I’m going to be the one to direct Cody, teach him and keep him calm and focused on tasks, I can do that at home and save time and fuel costs. I’m starting to believe that may be the right way to go.