Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ty's Graduation

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for us all- Ty graduated from Giant Steps autism preschool!! Bitter because we are sad to leave all the people we've come to love at Giant Steps who have done so much for us and sweet because Ty graduated from all autism services (except for speech which he'll get through the school district next year but lots of neurotypical kids get speech too)!!! After over 3,000 hours of ABA therapy, attending, social groups, floor play, etc. and countless hours of driving to and from school and therapy, we've finally come to this point! 
Ty started school in Sept. 2012 at 2 1/2 years old and hasn't ever stopped going 28+ hours a week- a part time job! He's worked so hard and even went to school during the summers. I don't know very many toddlers/young kids that have worked as hard as he has and been to so much school. Amazingly though, he never once didn't want to go or complained about being gone so much. I, of course, sometimes felt guilty about sending him to so much school so young but now I KNOW it was what he needed and has made all the difference in the world. We've also been SO blessed that he received such amazing services. I can honestly say he couldn't have gotten any better services in this entire state of Utah- he got exactly what he needed and the VERY best and we didn't pay a dime. How incredible is that?? Heavenly Father led us to exactly what we needed and somehow things all worked out. It's not to say there wasn't an immense amount of prayer, faith, fasting, research and hard work involved or that all our problems are solved and Ty is "cured"- no such thing. But he's learned to overcome some issues, tolerate others and deal with the things he struggles with. If he's overly tired or hungry, I'm reminded that yes, he does have autism :) But it's starting to be less apparent when he's in a group full of kids his age. So far at T-ball we haven't had one single tear, nothing even close to a meltdown or any type of abnormal behavior. No one on his team even knows he's autistic. How crazy is that?? This kiddo has come so far these past three years!! 
If only I could've had a little glance into the future back when we got that official diagnosis at 2.5 years. My heart would've been calmed and I would've gotten more sleep at night. :) But this is life, right? Building that faith, knowing that Heavenly Father is going to help us through no matter what and somehow, all will work out for our best, is what life is all about.
Now onto kindergarten!!! 
We've decided to do a private school (too much $$$$!) but I felt that this is what he needs for our last year in Utah. Every single step of the way, when deciding where Ty should go and what therapies to do, it's always come down to how I felt- always. Even when it wasn't logical or seemed like a slim chance he could get in to where I felt he needed to go, if I felt that was right then somehow it worked out for the best. Words could never explain it. And TJ has been so wonderful in just putting complete trust in me. So I've come to rely on those feelings and this next step in mainstreaming to private kindergarten feels best. It's Kids Village, the same school that Levi has gone to in Orem. They are both SOOOO excited to go to the same school. There will be only 12 kids in Ty's morning class and it's an accelerated kindergarten class, which I'm pretty sure will be perfect for him since he's already reading complete books and doing simple addition and subtraction. One of his best friends from Bridges will be going there too and they have been SO welcoming to Ty. Not one single hesitation once they learned he came with a diagnosis and history. Total acceptance and excitement for him to come. The owner has an autistic son and understands so well. I just feel so lucky we get to go there and Ty cannot wait for August. 
I am a little concerned about all the time we'll have now since Ty has been so used to structure, routine and a full day of school. Now he'll go from 9 am-noon. But next year he'll have speech, start piano, soccer and basketball to fill up our afternoons. We also have implemented a job chart/routine at home that is working amazingly well and has led to less screen time since they have to earn it. I'm hopefully that next year we'll settle into our new routine and that he'll do well!! Fingers crossed!!

Well, it seems crazy that we're ending this chapter and starting a brand new one but if he can go forward with the same zeal and determination as he has, he'll do awesome!! :)

They sang about about 6 songs that were super cute with hand actions and movements. Ty had been practicing at home so he was ready! It's funny- I'd always hear him in the back of the car or playing with toys while singing some of his graduation songs. :)

Ty had 9 kids graduating from his class in Saratoga Springs that we've gotten to know so well- Hunter, Katie, Colton, Eveah, Xander, Robbie, Taye, and Jace. There are 5 Giant Steps classes across Utah County and about 12 kids in each of them. Ty was #120 when I put him on the waiting list in October 2012. I prayed SO hard for one entire year that he would get into GS. I just knew he needed to go there so bad!! They initially told me there wasn't room for him and he just barely missed the cut off. I was devastated and was scrambling to find something else since I had relied on him getting in for so long. But about a month later Janeen called and said there was one spot that suddenly opened and Ty got in!!!! I was SOOOO happy and knew our prayers had been answered. And I've been so grateful ever since. 

This guy was Commissioner Lee, some high up official that advocates lots of money for GS since it costs thousands and thousands of dollars for each kid to go there for a year and it's run by through government funding. Ty was called out to help hold the card and give it to him :)

Aunt Ginger and Ruth were so supportive and sweet to come watch Ty even though they have been watching Dezi's 5 boys for the last few days since she's at scout camp. But Ty was so happy to have all his cousins there and they even brought balloons!!

We just love Miss Ann!

My grandparents drove all the way down to come watch too- they're always so supportive of us and it's nice having them there!

Ty's favorite- Mr Nick!!!

We just love all our teachers!!

It was very nice- after the graduation they provided Brick Oven pizza and snow cones for everyone at the park! The boys loved it and it was a great day!

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