Getting Simon in school five days a week last year was probably the best thing ever for him. His teacher was really wonderful and patient, and we saw a lot of improvement in his learning ability. Next year we're likely to put him into regular preschool as well as the developmental delay school, making for an all-day thing. I'm a little worried that it might be too much for him, but we'll see.
Part of the journey in understanding what resources are available involved a few therapy options, and we settled on one that involves two hours, twice a week, at home. This ABA therapy is interesting because the therapist is looking for ways that Simon specifically responds to his environment in order to build constructive behavior. Remember, one of the problems with autism is that kids don't rationalize or respond to their environment in the same way other kids do. They don't have the same motivators either, so while a lot of kids may ride a bike or brush their teeth because they know it will please someone else, those more typical motivators aren't there. The therapist finds ways to get him to respond.
This therapy isn't cheap, and I'm dreading the bills that are forthcoming (I've only seen the insurance rejections so far, which we expected). Still, even after less than two months, the outcome of this therapy has been nothing short of amazing. The thing that I've gained the most is that parenting on instinct doesn't work very well because your instincts assume a certain mode of thinking. Understanding the alternate mode that Simon works in makes it easier to act and respond in a less emotional way that actually helps him.
I'm not going to lie, I don't have a huge role in any of this. The research and vetting of services is all Diana. I don't know how any parents that both work could ever manage this. All I can do is act on the findings of the therapist. Last week was interesting because I was home while she was here, working from my office. I could kind of hear how she worked with Simon, and this was the point where it was so obvious that she's worth every penny.
I think at this point that Simon is going to grow up to be fully functional, and potentially awesome. He exhibits certain cognitive abilities that are pretty fantastic, especially in areas of retention, and more and more in spatial observation (the latter of which he doesn't yet apply to play, but I think he'll get there). My biggest concern today is him starting regular school on time. Screw these parents who want to "redshirt" their kid so they have some bullshit "advantage" in school. I want my boy to be on time and go from there. The next six to nine months will be critical in that respect.
The biggest relief I have right now is that Simon is engaging in imaginative play in ways he never has before. Whereas he used to just park and organize cars, now he's starting to "drive" them. And for better or worse, he responds to Disney World activities in aways I would not have guessed. He sings the song from Journey Into Imagination, he plays with his monorail to simulate stopping in the hotel and picking up passengers, he opens and closes imaginary doors at our stairs... this all came up in the last month or two. It's really awesome.
I hope beyond hope that Simon's future is really one of those circumstances where his different wiring actually benefits him instead of completely hindering him. My enthusiasm for that outcome is sometimes tempered by the emergence of some of the more stereotypical behaviors, like the meltdowns, shutdowns and hand flapping, but at least he hasn't shown any real desire to withdraw and stop talking to people. In fact, he can order food with authority in a restaurant, and randomly says "hi" to kids at theme parks. That's encouraging.