Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Hoopla

On Friday I had plans to take Audrey to the boys' school to witness their Halloween Hoopla. Hadn't figured out how to split the time between classrooms and figured I'd wing it. I got to the school a little after 2:45p and saw a packed parking lot. I had to park around the corner and dragged Audrey toward a throng of parents that were snapping pictures at the stream of little kids in costumes taking a turn around the building. After a minute of watching, I noticed that the kids were slightly taller and remembered that the preschoolers had probably already passed by. I looked at the other end of the building and saw other parents beginning to migrate in that direction. I also saw the first sign of costumes rounding the corner so I scooped up Audrey and ran to stake a spot. I was rewarded a few seconds later by seeing Ronin's teachers and then a small, gray-hooded shark. I cheered for him and when he spotted me, Ronin's eyes got big and he shouted, "Mommy!" He ran for a hug, which I gave, and then ushered him back in line while reassuring him that I'd be inside in a few minutes. Then Nikko's class followed and I saw him walking with his jacket of his black skeleton costume. Ms. Winters the Tootsie Roll was holding his hand and pointed me out to him. Nikko ran over to us and got big hugs. He whined a little bit when Ms. Winters ushered him back toward the school. I stood with Audrey for another few minutes taking random pictures of other kids when I realized that I should head back inside and go into the classroom. I went to Ronin's room first, figuring that if I went to Nikko's room he would not let me go without a fight. Ronin was so proud to see me and was very confident in singing the songs and dancing the dances for the parents. Even Audrey was invited to sit in front with her brother. I was in his classroom for about thirty minutes when I decided that I should spend time in Nikko's class.

Ronin was allowed to come with us. While trotting down the hallway he wanted to shed his shark costume so I let him. We went into Nikko's room as they were finishing a song and I couldn't spot him at first. I think Nikko saw me because he was heading my way from the back of the kids. He led me back to his red booster chair, which Audrey automatically claimed as her own. The kids were gathering to do a class picture and Nikko didn't want to sit with Ms. Winters. I saw Mrs. Napoleon motioning on the other end of the kids so I pushed Nikko toward her and he obliged while protesting. Then the Hoopla was over and I was asked if I was taking the boys home. I said yes, definitely, and they would let the bus driver know. I think Ronin was disappointed that he wouldn't get to take the bus home, but there was no point in making them wait around. Some kids in Nikko's class said hearty Hello's to Ronin. A boy named Tommy, who was in summer school with Nikko and whose mom I saw at the parent meeting, came up to Nikko and gave him a hug good-bye. The mom had told me in the hallway on Monday that Tommy talked about Nikko all the time. That really surprised me. Another boy, dressed in some kind of brown monster suit, stood in front of Nikko and said "Good Bye, Nikko." Nikko didn't even look at the boy, so I turned Nikko toward him and said, "Say good bye," but I don't think Nikko did. It made me wonder for a quick second if the boy minded, or if anyone that said HELLO to Nikko and didn't get a greeting back was ever offended or thought Nikko was being rude. For those who don't know that Nikko has ASD, I could see how they might think that about Nikko. But I really hope his current peers have some understanding. I think they all know that Nikko isn't that fluent with his words. He's not necessarily non-verbal because he CAN say words, can sing songs and script things, especially when prompted. But when he's not prompted, he has no spontaneous speech, only whining and shrieking. Does that mean he's technically still non-verbal?

Mrs. Napoleon told me that Nikko had a good day, despite the overstimulation of the hoopla, despite the changes in routine and loud noises. I'm very glad to hear that. I noted that his whining only happened when he saw me in his classroom setting. Figures.

Ronin is the second shortest kid in his class. I thought he was the shortest until I saw a little girl dressed in a purple fairy costume that seemed to be tiny. Maybe Ronin's shark fin gave him some height. In any case, he looked dwarfed amongst his peers. Nikko is getting taller and now seems average height. I thought about something that made me pause, however. When it's circle time or a group setting on the main carpet, all the kids get a piece of circle rug to sit on that has a picture of a bug or flower. Because Nikko has had problems sitting still and following commands, he and perhaps another SN kid would sit in the plastic booster chair. I noticed it today when we came in the room, and noticed it even more when the room cleared at the end of the Hoopla. It was the only booster seat on the carpet. I know he needs something to contain himself because if he were left to sit freely, Nikko would probably end up laying on his stomach, his favorite position at home. That's not appropriate in the classroom. It still made me sad to know that he stands out from his peers in another way. If he sat on a carpet circle, I would bet that the staff would expend energy trying to make him sit still and pay attention, and that would most likely be disruptive. I wonder if I'm just trying to reassure myself about it.

Today we went to a Halloween/birthday party. Nikko wore the same skeleton costume, Ronin was Bob the Builder, and Audrey was dressed in black with a cape. Nikko didn't eat very much and was carrying around a DVD case to a Wii game in addition to his green and orange frogs that he got from a school loot bag. Nikko didn't socialize with anyone and started getting obsessed with some small cupcakes that had a dab of orange frosting on them. He'd pop the frosting into his mouth and not finish the cupcake, of course. Otherwise, he darted between rooms and maintained a fair mood.

One last note: I was flipping channels before lunch and saw that the Temple Grandin movie was on HBO. It was 45 minutes into it, and normally I don't like jumping into the middle of a movie. I'd prefer to watch it from beginning to end. But since I was curious about Temple Grandin and was always missing the movie, I tuned it. It didn't take me long to get up to speed, but I'd like to go back and catch the beginning at another time. From what I did watch, I was extremely impressed with the movie. Claire Danes' portrayal of Temple Grandin was remarkable. She was only acting, but her mannerisms and her lack of eye contact, head jerking and posturing reminded me so much of my dear nephew, who has asperger's. It was uncanny. Like I said, I'll go back and watch the beginning very soon. I'm glad I caught part of it after all.

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