Thursday, October 20, 2011

I ❤ Miss Amelia

My Princess 'Rella is enrolled in an art class with a small group of homeschoolers. The class meets once a week for almost two hours.

The studio has not enrolled a student on the autism spectrum before, I was told. (I suspect they've had some Aspies but no students with the challenges my daughter has.)

Our primary goal with the class isn't art. It's self-regulation.

And in the beginning, 'Rella had no problems.

However, she had one class where she was dysregulated and her behavior showed that she was dysregulated. To an outsider, she appeared to be "acting out". To the other kids in the class, she was misbehaving and out of line.

That kind of behavior embarrasses her. And me, too. And I understand that when her dysregulation and anxiety rise, she has little control over the behavior, which presents mostly with lines from TV shows (delayed echolalia) that come from the evil villains on cartoons. Not a pretty picture.

One challenge for us is that this course is a year long. She's better with short-term classes. She is ready to "be done" with art.

She has expressed to me that if she acts out in class, she won't have to go any more.

I don't want her to have to act out to get out of events that are difficult. And I believe that she is competent to handle this art class and I want her to stick with it.

So, this week, Miss Amelia, the teacher, warned me that this week's lesson would be challenging and that it would begin with a lot of her talking. The lesson was drawing a cube, and Miss Amelia talked about all the different aspects of drawing a cube.

Miss Amelia told 'Rella that she could draw while Miss Amelia talked. I am so glad that Miss Amelia understands that 'Rella simply is not able to sit and attend without something to do with her hands, something tactile and kinesthetic.

Miss Amelia began to talk about the cube.

'Rella was quiet for a few minutes. I was holding my breath, waiting for an outburst and hoping it wouldn't happen.

From the library-slash-parent lounge, I heard my kid screech out, "I hate my mother and father!" out of nowhere. I knew her anxiety had spiked. Crap. :(

I slipped into the classroom and set three lifesaver candies down beside 'Rella and returned to the lounge.

And waited. Miss Amelia talked a little more and then she gave the entire class a drawing break, something my girl needed.

Then they went back to the lesson.

And my girl completed it. Quietly. Regulated.

A small victory; yet it is a big victory, too. She needs lots and lots and LOTS of these little victories.

I slipped back into the classroom and whispered into 'Rella's ear, "I am so proud of you."

The remainder of the class was artist's choice - the kids got to do whatever they wanted. 'Rella drew a little longer and wanted to leave. I was fine with that. She wanted a smaller art pad and we headed to the craft store to buy one.

Art class is a setting with mostly typically developing children, one where the staff members have had no "autism training", a setting where my child could be viewed through the lens of behavior without understanding the issues that lie beneath the behavior. And the staff seems to "get" it - at multiple levels - without that training, and they want my child to be successful.

I ❤ Miss Amelia.

1 comment:

Di said...

Nice one Penny, how fortunate to have a Miss Amelia!

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