This stay-at-home thing is really putting our new house to the test. We had no idea when we moved in here a year ago how much we would be appreciating the extra space. We can be at home together. All the time. And not kill each other (so far).
My son and I have developed a fairly decent weekday schedule. We toggle between active engagement on various things and downtime (for him) so that I can work or find other creative ways to ignore my still lengthy “to do” lists.
Since we’ve been gifted more time at home together, my son is making steady progress on learning how to do his household chores. Enough so that I’m already scheming which things I could move from my list to his.
He even expressed an interest in my sewing machine, and actually learned how to stitch a few runs for some cloth masks – perhaps a new skill in the making? (The sewing part, not the mask-wearing part. That won’t be sustainable for him, so we’ll be staying isolated a lot longer than most, I’m afraid.)
Another slight “plus” side to this new reality? My pandemic-induced anxiety is off-set somewhat by reduced stress in other areas—for example, my son and I are not locking horns in our daily battle to get out the door for a half-hour commute. Now, he can join in his virtual sessions in his pajamas if he wants…and me, too (off-camera, of course).
His OT and speech therapists see him once a week remotely, and his day program has set up several Zoom sessions each weekday that participants can join in on – for their regular morning meeting, skills lessons in cooking, job interviewing, and art, and for exercise.
They’ve even gone on “field trips” hosted by one of their awesome providers, who has set up virtual tours of Disneyland, national parks, and the Seven Wonders of the World. I learned a little bit, too, listening in.
My off-screen presence is required at his remote sessions, to help him stay on task and navigate the controls. This format is still challenging for him. He is participating, or trying to, more than I initially thought he would, but it does require a lot of verbal interaction, which is difficult for him. We have to get creative about the visual or written prompts he often needs.
This means that I am re-learning what it means to be a “para-pro” for my kid. A good aide keeps verbal prompts to a minimum, gently redirects attention to the teacher, and definitely does not interrupt repeatedly with “helpful” suggestions, in exasperated tones, or reprimand with a “mom” voice when the student is looking anywhere but the screen.
I’m remembering that there was a good reason therapists sometimes suggested I sit in the lobby while my son was in session.
Of course, he doesn’t reliably follow all the instructions in these sessions—I remind myself that even when they meet in person, there are some days when he’s certainly not winning any “participation” awards—but his providers always take it in stride, and find other ways to engage him.
So even though being there for his multiple Zoom meetings is challenging to my personal work schedule and my nerves, it is giving me a peek into his world away from home.
I’m appreciating even more the superb skills of his team, because I’m getting this rare chance to see them in action.
I can watch how he interacts with his providers and the other day program participants, relationships that have mostly developed out of my view. It is clear that they all like each other so much. They enjoy seeing each other’s faces and genuinely miss being together.
And if my kid seems to be particularly adept at laying down in corpse pose for most of his remote yoga session?
I’ll remind myself that it’s OK. He can still be with his group, listening and watching.
And his “aide” can use that time to take in the benefits of the yoga lesson just off-screen, and breathe deeply.