Friday, 14 June 2013

Worth It

You know, when I signed Nathan up for Cisco Center initially, it was because I needed daycare, and because they were a special needs facility.  And Nathan liked it fine, he was always ready to come home in the evenings, but I think that's a good thing.  Everyone seemed nice, and I have been happy with my decision so far.

For the past week, Nathan has been going to Cisco for full days as his ECI class is out until extended school year starts on July 8th.  I have been very stressed out about the money- it costs $500 a week to send a child there full time.  And as I expressed to Cisco, who runs the center today, I get why it costs that much.  My child needs more individualized attention, he needs sensory stimulation, he needs many accomodations.  I mean, how many places have multiple swings upstairs, and an OT and speech therapist on staff?  Cisco Center is also meant to be more of a school than a daycare, so that also justifies the cost. They have a curriculum, and they have weekly themes.  I know that when Nate comes home with sand in his hair it's beach week!  It's just that constant dilemma of special needs children needing so many things, and these things being more expensive, because, well, they need to be.  It is going to be very difficult to keep Nate in this situation for the summer.  I have applied for grants, but won't know the outcome until probably August.  Today Cisco suggested sponsorship, asking people to sponsor Nate for a certain amount each month- it's a tax deductible/donation type situation.  But while it sounds like a great idea in theory, everyone has expenses and I just don't think it's very realistic right now. 

Here is what I know.  He LOVES it there.  John and I are both pretty sure that he was trying to say cisco this morning multiple times, and at one point we heard "fun" in there too.  Yes, this is the morning after I was talking about his regression.  I know.  Almost every day I pick him up he is soaking wet (with water)- at first I was like, what??  But really this is because they are providing him with the sensory play that he craves and needs- outdoor water play.  I know how Nate is- came downstairs from putting him to bed tonight and found my water glass on it's side and water all over the floor.  I didn't wonder for one second how that happened- he's my water boy, loves to watch water pour, move, drip.  It's a visual stim for him.  They made "donuts for dads" this week.  When I dropped Nate off this morning, he walked right over, sat at the table and was given the task of "shaker"- shaking the cooked donuts in a bag of powdered sugar to coat them.  And the bag was labeled "gluten free", so he only had contact with the gluten free donuts.

And these are just the benefits for him.  Last Friday he and I attended the end of year party at the center.  I met many of the parents of the kids in Nate's ECI classroom.  Made connections that will likely be very important for him and for me.  Connections with other moms that are walking in shoes very similar to mine. 

Cisco contacted myself and several parents a few weeks ago asking us if we would be interested in testing a communication app for children with autism.  The software developer had contacted him, I am guessng because it is a designated special needs center.  The requirement to do the testing was to have an ipad, so I said sure.  Unfortunately, it needed to be an ipad2 or newer, and ours is a 1 (which is perfectly fine for most of the apps we use) so I told him we were out.  Then the developer comes back and says he will loan me a new ipad with retina scan while we are working with the software and then donate it to Cisco center.  Several moms and I spent about an hour and a half walking through the app today (it's not on the market at all yet), not just learning how to use it, but offering the developer suggestions on how it could be made more user friendly and relevant for our children.  It was pretty cool. The other cool thing was that when I started offering suggestions, the other moms were nodding their heads and agreeing. For instance, there were about 200 possible things a child could find and touch in order to communicate their needs.  I was sitting there thinking that this was way too much for Nate to sort through right now, that he needed one screen of maybe 10 things at most.  When the other moms agreed, it made me realize that in this center, Nate is not "the most behind".  He is truly with peers.  And that's a very unique thing to find a mile from your house! 

So somehow, we are going to make this happen for the summer.  Don't get me wrong, if the grants come through, our net cost will not be horrible, it's just the upfront cost that is getting us.  But....I have never seen Nate excited to go somewhere before.  I have not seen him in a situation where he really seems to belong before.  As a parent of a special needs child, this is priceless. 

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