I’m feeling very much the square peg (working full time in corporate America, paying thousands of dollars a month for Alpine mostly out of pocket, doing DAN with Dominic) in the round hole of Alpine parents (who are primarily Stay At Home Mom’s married to Military husbands, paying under $50 a month for Alpine because they have Tricare but who don’t do DAN because Tricare doesn’t pay for it). We’ve been trying to be more sociable with other parents and its tremendously interesting the differences in situation. Its hard to create intentional friendships with people when you very literally have only the fact that your children both have autism in common. Especially when their autism is SO different.
At Alpine, the majority of the kids are far more affected behaviorally than Dominic is. Yes, he’s had his ups and downs with behaviors that we’ve managed to correlate to really out of sync levels of the excitory neurotransmitters aspartamate and gluatamate. At our April parent meeting, the behavior data they gave us was fairly bleak with multiple non compliance episodes per day, to the point that they were timing them and he was losing 30+minutes of therapy per day because he was in a non compliance episode (which is not terribly far off from what we used to call temper tantrums – arm flailing, crying, refusing to do work requested of him, sometimes self injurious behavior like hitting/biting himself) . However, in the 14 therapy days since that meeting, he’s had exactly 1 non compliance episode and the stimmy stuff is way down. So hopefully we’ve turned a corner there.
Anyway. He’s in general much better behaved than the majority of the kids at Alpine. He will follow instruction. He does not run away from adults at any given time. He doesn’t purposefully destruct property. He’s very affectionate.
But, by the same token, he doesn’t fit well in a group of neurotypical children because of the almost complete lack of conversational speech. He can and does use single words (and sometimes 2-3 word sentences) to get his needs met, but he has pretty much zero conversational speech.
We are hoping to try something fairly radical for Dominic this summer… and that is to enroll him in the YMCA summer day camp for the week in July that Alpine is closed. I’ve spoken to the Y, and they say they can support a high functioning kiddo like Dominic. I’ve spoken to his case manager at Alpine, and he thinks that it would be an excellent experience for Dominic to spend a week getting some neurotypical socialization… We are going to percolate on it a bit more, but I hope we decide to do it. It would be an excellent trial, which if it goes well, could mean that he could do the YMCA summer day camp all summer next year (and honestly, I must be jaded, because I’m actually excited at the thought of ONLY spending $2500 for summer care for Dominic. This summer will be almost 5x that)