Well that might not be true, I really dislike “moist”. Regression is definitely one of my least favorite words though. Logan is now in his second year of special education preschool and the amount of regression we’re seeing makes me want to tear my hair out and weave it into a rug and then stomp out all of my frustrations on it. Or something like that.
Before we moved I contacted the local special education preschool coordinator and provided her with everything I had from his previous school, and considering we have an entire drawer in our filing cabinet dedicated to Logan, it was a lot. After reviewing the information she decided to place Logan in a classroom that is designated as AU, or autism specific. I was a little questionable about that because Logan had been in a DD, or developmentally delayed, class last year and had done quite well. Towards the end of the year he was spending the last half of the school day, which for him was only about an hour and a half, in the integrated preschool classroom. The integrated classroom is for students that are high functioning or considered at risk. In order to qualify for services a student must display at least a 15% delay in one area, but what about those kids that display 14% or 13%? They’re considered at risk, and placing them with high functioning students not only helped them receive services they otherwise would not have also helped the delayed students. I loved this setup, and Logan positively blossomed in this environment.
While Logan’s teacher in Charlottesville and I agreed he’d do great in an all day integrated classroom, we did see some regression over the summer. It’s bound to happen when an autistic child goes from a constant daily routine and required socialization and education to the more nebulous happenings of summer break. While we tried to keep things on a similar schedule and offer stimulation to him, there’s really no way to completely simulate the actions of the school year. I wasn’t sure the AU classroom was a great fit for Logan but, after being reassured it was possible, I figured it’d be an okay introduction to a new school and a full day of school and then we’d move him up to the more challenging classroom when he was ready.
I knew he was ready after only two weeks of school, and it’s now November and he’s yet to be moved to the DD classroom. His teachers and school coordinator and assigned psychologist all agree he should be moved, but there’s been hold up after hold up. It’s just a combination of a dozen different events converging to make things more difficult than they really should be. Logan has regressed further, his burgeoning verbal and social skills hampered by a lack of similarly skilled students in his classroom. He had potty trained over the summer and now he has accidents several times a week. At the end of school last year I’d say he easily knew 20-30 words, now we’re lucky if he clearly pronounces 10. He no longer tolerates other children, not even in his vicinity, and he has even withdrawn from me and Andrew.
It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when every single word, every sign, every moment of eye contact and adaptive skill is hard won, it hurts. There’s really no other way to describe it. Two steps forward and three steps back is a lot more like dragging yourself up a mountain only to discover it’s a sheer cliff face on the other side. In the most recent meeting we had with Logan’s IEP team we were going over the remaining hurdles to completing Logan’s IEP which would allow us to start the transfer process and I was just so frustrated and worn out I couldn’t stop myself from crying.
I’m losing my son again, bit by bit and word by word, he’s shrinking back into himself. After seeing so much of his amazing personality I don’t want to go back to the time when Logan existed in his own world. When the wheels spinning on his firetruck was more interesting than any person could possibly be. Even me. I love my son, I love everything about him, if all I had of him was his simple presence that would make me happy. But I know there can be so much more. I know Logan can be affectionate and warm and sympathetic and share his excitement and his fear, all of those things people think autistic children aren’t capable of. I just don’t want to go back, I don’t want regression to take Logan’s voice away again.