This week has arrived. It was always going to arrive.
It’s probably more correct to say, this week was always going to arrive again.
My son began full day school again this week. For two and a half years he has been working hard at Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI). That’s the only publicly-funded option for ABA therapy in Ontario.
During that time, he was in a program in one city for a year and then a program in our hometown for eighteen months.
Before he started IBI, he had been in senior kindergarten on a fulltime schedule.
Had he stayed in one city he would probably have been discharged at the end of last summer.
The schedule up until this week had been Mondays in school and the rest of the week in therapy. His teacher adored him and knew that he was making great progress, but she often expressed one sentiment over and over again; when my son was in school fulltime, then she would know what he could do.
Now we will all know what Daniel can achieve in school.
IBI allowed an environment for Daniel to flourish. The staff was committed and excellently trained. They are wonderful, caring professionals. Everybody loved Daniel.
They educated us, the parents, too. With IBI, parents must understand the principles of ABA. The refrain of “antecedents, behaviour and consequence” were like an ear worm in trying to support what Daniel was learning, while also informing me when I would report back about how things were going at home.
Spending two and a half years doing anything leaves a big impression.
As much as I think Daniel was ready for fulltime school in September, the schedule rolled out differently.
My son was with me the full week of his final days at therapy. I talked to him about school starting soon. On the last day of IBI, he was not his usual cheery self in the morning.
Picking him up for the last time, he lingered for a long time. His whole team walked out with him and his Sully balloon, their farewell gift to him.
He did not want to leave. He usually rushed to go, but he stuck close to his team. Daniel is a very sensitive soul and I was not at all surprised that he appeared to be hesitant to leave.
I was very surprised at how misty-eyed I started to get. I thought this would be no big deal. Wrong.
The therapists were such an important part of all of our lives for so long. What we had built was a village for Daniel, and we were all a little sad at leaving this village for our next journey.
My daughter, who is as filled with hope as I am, found the perfect way to tell us this was not an end. She piped in with “don’t worry, Daniel. You can always come back for a visit.” With that, smiles returned to many of our faces and we left. My last view of the inside of the therapy centre was watching a sad little boy making a slow walk toward the door, with his sister at his side and Sully firmly in her grasp.
Making the next step, even when it is one we have taken before, can be tough on most people.
The journey to the next village may signal great progress, but we still have to leave our old village behind.