In July 2013, we moved back to Ohio, well aware that Ohio offers a $20,000/year Autism Scholarship to help families better meet the needs of their special children. Some people use these funds to employ in-home paid providers of services while the other option is to choose one of several private schools who work themselves as providers. In my research stage, I stumbled upon a school in Dublin, Ohio (a 30 minute commute for us) called Haughland Learning Center. I was very pleased with the information on the web, so Nate and I attended a parent conference and left feeling it might be a wonderful fit for Liam!
The director of the school led the thorough presentation and I left feeling that the main goal of the school was to offer a safe place for ASD children to socialize, learn and succeed in all areas of life. There was a focus on acceptance of differences, the use of only positive reinforcement, and individualized curriculum implanted by highly trained teachers. We were so pleased to find a school that resonated with the principles of Son-Rise in so many ways! Being pre-K age, Liam qualified to attend the all day preschool branch of Haughland known as ABS Columbus. Liam's adjustment to school has been nothing less than phenomenal. He goes and leaves happily, and the teachers report his progress to us daily. They let us know when he gets moody but they handle his moods in such a positive fashion, they are very rare at school. They were very user-friendly easing Liam in, and they don't push or demand the children complete tasks but rather request and invite. Each class has just four kids to one teacher, and Liam has a different morning and afternoon teacher. The students rotate between group activities and 1:1 table time with the teacher, so they get plenty of breaks. They also have an open door policy so I can observe any time I want!
Liam is working on completing a Velcro binder of each day's activities, sitting during circle time while the teacher reads a story, following a visual schedule of fine motor activities, playing peer to peer games such as tossing a ball, and beginning to learn how to communicate by using PECS (Picture Exchange System). The school offers recess and has begun gross motor activity periods. They also hired specific therapists and will begin individual OT (Occupational Therapy) and Speech with each child. Most important, the attitudes of the teachers are positive and encouraging and I am so glad Liam has his own community to enjoy!
Even though the daily commute is not always easy, I get to be with Ruby throughout the day, work out at the gym, run errands, prep food and of course get some rest. When Nate, Mycah and Liam, I am better prepared for some positive interactions!