Sunday, August 5, 2012

Detour Ahead

“As believers, we will never be permanently disappointed. Somewhere down the road, God will cause it all to work out for our good.” --Joel Osteen

In previous blog entries, I have described our efforts this summer to place Alex in a day program for disabled adults and our enthusiasm about finding a local program we found to be ideal for meeting his needs. In addition, we were delighted that Alex recently qualified for state disability funding that would pay for this program as well as respite care and behavioral therapy. Under the impression that everything was rolling along nicely toward our goals, we were hopeful that Alex would be enrolled in the day program before Ed and I go back to our jobs as teachers in a few weeks. As the old saying goes, “Man plans; God laughs.”

Alex’s state funding went into effect this week on August 1st, and we assumed that his services would be starting shortly after his caseworker had submitted the budget and had it approved. However, a little over a week ago, we received an apologetic e-mail from the agency that runs the day program telling us that they had concerns about Alex’s behavior, due to his history of aggression prior to his hospitalization.  Originally, they had thought he could be in a group of four with a supervisor, but they decided he might need one-on-one supervision instead. Moreover, they currently don’t have the staffing to give him one-on-one supervision.

Their recommendation was that we have a behavioral therapist complete a comprehensive evaluation to see how much supervision Alex might need in the day program as well as to assess his behavior. We had already chosen an agency whose therapists have extensive experience with autism to work with him for the behavioral therapy component of his state services. In fact, we had met with their primary therapist last month for a behavioral assessment, and we were impressed with her knowledge of autism and her interaction with Alex.

The same day we received the disappointing news that Alex’s admission to the day program would be delayed, we also received a very nice e-mail from the behavioral therapist we had met last month, assuring us that they would be able to provide the comprehensive behavioral evaluation and report the day program had requested. This therapy agency had assigned a behavioral therapist for Alex, and they expressed enthusiasm about working with him. The e-mail explained that this process would take about sixty days, so we figured that this would likely delay Alex’s starting the day program for at least two months.

While the process isn’t going exactly the way we’d planned, Ed and I know that things happen for a reason, and we believe working with the behavioral therapist prior to beginning the day program will be a good experience for Alex. Besides working on negative behaviors, such as his impulse control, where he grabs for things instead of asking first, for example, they will also work on positive behaviors, including life skills and self-help skills. We know he will truly benefit from these lessons that will help him improve his social skills and make him more independent.

In the meantime, we continue to work with Alex so that he complies with requests, follows directions, and answers questions when he is asked. Essentially, the delay of the day program gives us more time to make sure he is ready to learn and cooperate once the time comes for him to participate. We look through our eyes of faith and see that God’s plan is better than ours and know that He is working behind the scenes to make sure the path for Alex is smooth, as all parents want for their children. While initially this delay seemed like a setback, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that it’s actually a setup so that Alex will be ready, and only God knows when that ideal time will arrive. Once again, we realize that one of the most important lessons of parenting a child with autism is learning to wait patiently, yet expectantly, knowing that things will eventually work out in the end.

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3


Tammy said...

I have a few years before I have to go through this. It seems like it gets even more difficult as our children get older, and become adults.

K. C. said...

I'm always impressed, yet never surprised, by your positive attitude and faith. Things will work out in the end, and if they don't, it's not the end. :)

Pam Byrne said...

Tammy, I pray that you never have to deal with these issues. However, I think parents need to know the possibility of aggression is there so that they can start looking for help, should the negative behaviors arise.
Take care,

Pam Byrne said...

Hi K.C.,
Thanks for your nice note; your friendship and support has been such a blessing to me. :) I loved your quote. I often think of the line, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." To which I would quote one of my favorite lines from _Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "I'm not dead yet!"