Saturday, January 7, 2012

Caleb and his Ice Cream....

My husband and I stood in the developmental pediatricians office.. STUNNED and Overwhelmed.  We had so many questions, and few answers. Suddenly everything was in slow motion. I could hear the words being said to us, but for some reason it didn't seem real. It was as if I was stuck in my own personal nightmare.

My husband and I were at this appointment with a representative from the Early Intervention Program. The developmental pediatrician started talking straight to this representative, in a bold, and insistent way.  Dr. Hyman started outlining in great detail all the services she was prescribing for Caleb, and that he needed a classroom NOW, and this lady had exactly one week to find one for him, or she was going to answer to HER.

As she was describing these treatments, I quickly became lost in the conversation. Dr. Hyman started rattling  off abbreviations that I had never heard before. She wanted OT, PT, Speech Therapists in the room with him at all times, a 8:1:2 classroom with 1:1 aide, sensory integration mind was SPINNING... I had no clue what any of this was, and did not want to interrupt the discussion with the intervention worker to find out. I WAS SO LOST, CONFUSED AND SCARED....

As we were leaving the developmental pediatricians office, the intervention worker informs us of the next step. Observing and choosing a classroom. She proceeded to tell us that we would have appointments set up to go visit various places throughout the city, and we would pick the one we thought Caleb fit into best. All I could think of was....What exactly do we look for? I had never done this before! How do we know which class is the best one for him? Shouldn't someone help us with this? I was praying for some kind of sign, to signal me which one was the right one. I came to know later, exactly how crucial appropriate classroom placement was.

My husband and I went to three classrooms before we saw the birth to three class at Monroe #2 Boces Program. (We were instructed to take Caleb to each facility and observe how he responded in each environment). We were running out of options and would have to make a decision soon. We had not seen anything extraordinary up to this point. NO SIGN....

We first enter the classroom, and we were greeted politely by the teacher, and she introduced herself, and squatted down to the floor to be eye level with Caleb and greeted him with a hello. As the teacher was telling us details about the classroom the aide was with the other seven children and started gathering them around a table. She then raised her voice slightly and said:

"CALEB! We are going to have ice cream for a snack, would you like some?" HE DID NOT RESPOND.. NO REACTION at all.  At that time, he was nonverbal, and Caleb did not acknowledge the presence of anyone he was not intimately associated with. The reaction was not a surprise to us.

The aide, when not getting a reaction from him then said "CALEB... if you would like some ice cream, you HAVE to sit at the table with everyone else." NO RESPONSE. NO REACTION...

The aide, then set a bowl of chocolate ice cream with a plastic spoon in front of an empty chair. "Here you go Caleb, Here is YOUR SNACK, but you HAVE to sit at the table." Caleb stood there, no reaction. Caleb then proceeded to wander over to the table, sat down, and had his snack. WE HAD FOUND THE PERFECT PLACE. THIS WAS IT!!! THIS WAS OUR SIGN....

We called the Early Intervention worker, informed her of our classroom choice, and she set up transportation for the following Monday. Caleb was only three at the time, and would start school doing half days, and travel in a small bus with a car seat. I was dreading putting my baby on a bus, and was not looking forward to it.

The first day of school was always an emotional one, but he was only THREE..and so little. Just the thought of it, would make me start to get emotional..... This was a new world now. Our life FOREVER CHANGED BY AUTISM....


  1. Nice work, Honey. Ice cream is still a motivator but he has come a long way in 15 years.

  2. Love this story. What a great outcome! Don't you just love Dr. Hyman? She's no nonsense, get it done! The Kirch Center has been a Godsend along with the other providers on Matthew's team.

    1. I love her! She has been instrumental in Caleb being as functional as he is. Caleb asked for a meeting with her last spring so he could "thank her, for helping him be the man he became!" How sweet is that? Dr. Hyman cried when he said those words to her. It was a very emotional time. I felt like I said goodbye to an old friend, I knew I would never see again. (She was no longer Caleb'd dr because of his age).


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