Thursday, December 17, 2009


Today was a big day. My husband and I met with the school district and enrolled Martin in our city's first autism classroom. The details look pretty good. A teacher who seems great so far. Two full-time aids in the classroom. Seven kids total, some who stay in the room all day and others who are mainstreamed for part of their days. The kids eat lunch together and have time for academic activities. They go out into the community once a week. They do yoga every afternoon. We are thrilled.

A few months after Martin's diagnosis, we realized that he needed intensive one-on-one therapy. At that time, such services were not available in our district. We took the Autism Scholarship and used the funds to purchase the one-on-one work that Martin needed. It's how he learned to talk. It was so important to have it at that time.

I think we've stuck with the idea that lots of tutoring was vital because of the impact it had on Martin. We had a great tutor for the better part of a year. Her work brought Martin into the world of language. When she left in August, we figured that what we needed was a new tutor. When things weren't going well at school, we wondered if we had the wrong tutor. We never really asked ourselves if Martin needed something other than a tutor. When things at school finally fell apart, we figured it was because we hadn't gotten the tutor part wrong during his school day, not that he might have been at the wrong school.

It was hard to figure this out even after we brought Martin home. When the new tutor wasn't showing real promise, we assumed once again that it was totally a tutor issue. But I think we're beginning to see that even with the best tutor, Martin would get bored after awhile. He's not interested in one-on-one work for hours on end. He wants to be with people. He wants to play more of a role in determining the course of his day.

I think that it took finding a viable classroom environment for us to see that school has more to offer Martin than endless tutoring. At least for right now. Things were very different a year ago. And they might be different a year from now. But on January 4, I get to walk Martin to school, just a few blocks past where his sister goes to the babysitter. I'll send him inside with his backpack, lunch, and yoga mat. And I'll hope for the best.

I know this decision won't make life perfect. And there are some losses. I've enjoyed eating lunch with Martin and seeing him throughout the day over the last two months. But I'm thrilled that there's a place in the system for him. And I'm glad to be relieved of at least some responsibility. So, here's to new things in the new year. Can I take champagne to elementary school?


  1. January 4 is my birthday, so on that day I'll pray that it will be a day that will birth a whole world of gifts and new adventures for you and for Martin.

  2. Wow, this sounds great for all of you! I'll be watching for more schooling updates and hoping that they tip solidly toward the positive.

  3. Champagne...probably not..but is sparkling cider on Martin's list? LOL I am thrilled for you all! -Jeanine

  4. January 4th is also Martin's great grandmother's birthday, Nanny Woods. I can hardly wait to hear how things go for Martin at school and for all of you who have been so encouraging and passionate about him. Martin is fortunate to have parents that care so much and want what is best for him.
    We will toast the new year when you are here over the holidays.
    Love, Mom and Dad

  5. I've never met you or Martin, but I've come to care about him through reading your blog. Best of luck with the new classroom!

  6. What wonderful news! So happy for you.

  7. heel click to the right, then to the left!