The outpatient program was a tough period for us – all of us. Mickey liked the program just fine, but there were some logistical concerns. The program was located 50 minutes away from our house and the program transportation didn’t service our county. They did service my parent’s house though. Because of the issues we were having with Mickey’s school and a complete lack of dealing with him, though that is what the program was structured to do, we made the decision to move him to an even more restrictive school environment. This was just to be from after spring break until the end of the year, so, about 6 weeks. That would also get us through the end of the program.
The reason for this decision was the program hours. Minnie and Mickey both go to bed at 7:30 and Mickey had to catch a bus at 6:04 am. The program was from 4pm until 10pm 5 nights a week, plus a 45 minute ride back to my parent’s house and then another 20 minute ride home. There was no way Mickey was going to be in any condition for a typical school day, especially when he was already struggling. The more restrictive environment could be flexible and were able to build in rest breaks for him.
We geared up to start both the same week, but the program got delayed four more weeks due to a staff change, so in the end it was only two weeks before school got out for the summer, which was in some ways a relief.
My dad graciously offered to pick Mickey up from school each day and transport him back to his house where program transportation would take him the rest of the way. The program was intensive, and included group sessions, individual therapists, a psychiatrist and a psychologist working with the kids every day. By the end of week two, we were finishing the school year and the psychologist called to tell me they were adjusting his diagnosis. If you read the earlier posts, you know that at this point, even though every mental health professional that had worked with Mickey believed he was on the Autism spectrum, we actually had a bi-polar rule out diagnosis (along with pervasive developmental disorder NOS, oppostional defiance disorder and adhd). Well, the psychologist in the program finally did what we knew to be correct – he ruled out bi-polar. The diagnosis was struck from him file and he was diagnosed with moderate Autism, ADHD, ODD, sensory processing disorder.
Most people wouldn’t be relived by the alphabet of diagnosis, but we already knew it was Autism Spectrum. He met almost every characteristic and we had been doing therapy as such for two years. So, it wasn’t a huge news flash, but it did open up some options for us educationally – if the program worked and we could get back on track.
The one thing they did was shift him off of stimulants for his adhd. What a difference, almost from day 1. Even on Mickey’s good days previously, it was like he was always on the edge. A good day could go from good to bad very quickly. The stimulant was contributing to that, but of course we didn’t know that until we came off the stimulant. We tried a couple of different ADHD meds, and that took a while, but we finally hit on one. In the meantime, it was like sitting with a jumping bean – he actually never stopped moving, talking, etc. He could focus on nothing. He would collapse in bed at night exhausted from the non-stop movement. I am glad we had a summer to work on that, because his poor teachers….
He actually liked the new school and the program. There was equine therapy, animal therapy, and he really liked his individual therapist. We took a break from our other therapists for the program and let it work. While all of us were exhausted and his adhd meds were still not right, by two weeks in, we were seeing definite results. Once school got out the logistics got tougher as the program shifted to a morning program. Grandpa had to help out again**
Every morning at 6:10, I would drop Minnie off at daycare, then drive 20+ minutes in the opposite direction of my 50 mile commute, to drop Mickey off. Grandma would head to work, and Grandpa would give Mickey breakfast and get him out the door for the program van which picked him up at 9. The van dropped back off at around 2. Grandpa would keep Mickey until I got off work and I would repeat the loop. For four weeks. I do think Grandma enjoyed her morning visits with Mickey though. Every single morning we would walk in, Grandma would emerge from her room just about ready to go to work and Mickey would exclaim “Wow, Grandma!! You look beautiful!!”. He meant it and she would beam. It almost made this six weeks of mad juggling worth it.
**My parents are awesome. They are the only reason that I knew I could be a single mom. I was raised with complete and utter stability. Our life was tough sometimes, but they are still married and more importantly in love, they weathered good and bad times, financial prosperity and bordering on poverty and they did it with two kids who grew up secure in the knowledge that they were loved and that their parent’s had their back. They attended every softball game, band competition, concert and activity they could and now they do so for my kids. My mother, who hates the Nutcracker, has sat through 9 performances in the last 3 years and will do 3 more this year. I very very rarely ask them to babysit – usually about twice a year, but on things like this where I desperately needed their help, my dad dropped everything to do so for six weeks. That is who they are. I adore them both and so do my children and the feeling is mutual.