Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oxygen masks dropping all over the place

In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop automatically from above.  To secure the mask, place the elastic band behind your head, the cup over your nose and mouth and breathe normally.  If traveling with a small child, secure your mask first before assisting your child.

How many times have I heard this shpeel and yet somehow I never seem to get it?  The last two weeks have been out of control, the  feeling is exactly the same as being on a plane with terrible turbulence -- the kind where they stop serving the peanuts. Where the flight attendants sit down and fasten their seat belts and where those folks sitting in the emergency exit rows start fumbling for those safety cards because they had their noses buried in the Wall Street Journal when they were going over how to open those emergency doors and now they are grumbling and looking embarrassed, because they volunteered that in the event of an emergency they would help others find safety (but in reality they took the seat for the extra legroom).  Meanwhile you are left trying to look and feel calm and not picture the plane falling out of the sky and to try and look as relaxed as that surfer dude next to you who is sleeping through the whole thing.  And all the while you are just hoping that they would announce SOMETHING from the cockpit, that it is just turbulence and that everything will be okay and how much longer it would last.  

That's pretty much what the last two weeks have been like for me.  If you wonder why, read my last couple of posts.  I got a lot of nice emails, comments on Facebook etc. offering me lots of support and encouragement and I am so grateful for that.

Here's the update.  

After lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of back and forth between us and Maya's school, I guess we have gotten what we wanted from them for this interim period.  Finally after lots of explaining, reasoning, and just the ever-so-slightest hints of my legal knowledge and lack of fear of exploring my rights, we have succeeded at least in getting her current school to give us time to explore other schools and therapeutic centers so that we can make a good decision for Maya.  It took a lot of emails and phone 
calls in my crummy Dutch all bordering on the not very friendly, and a lot of them seeing that the head games they were trying to use to make us fall down on our knees and be grateful for them trying to stick it to us, including the friendly threats of putting Maya out on the curb were not going to make us back down.  

Here's the deal:

Maya will stay at her current school until a new school is found and we have been told to take the time we need to make a good decision.  We have agreed to take Maya out of her therapeutic group because it is doing absolutely nothing at all for her, and since she is receiving no therapy, and also the other kids are quite threatening for her (some of them have very severe tantrums bordering on the violent and Maya just has a very hard time understanding that), we have just agreed to take her out of the therapy group.  Full stop.  

Next Thursday we will have a meeting with her current school and the head of her old school to finally try and figure out why the advice of both places is so different so that Leo and I can make a better decision over which course of action might be better for Maya and so we can stop saying WTF all the time.  

We have made an appointment in January to see one school and have called another school and 2 treatment centers, where we have been told we can also come in January to see them and discuss what they can offer Maya, but we need to call back after the first of the year to make an appointment.  

I also have the name of a great child psychiatrist specialized in autism who is willing to see us and see if perhaps he might be able to provide Maya with some therapeutic intervention in this interim period or longer, although Leo and I want to see these schools and stuff first to see what there is, if there is something we can feel good about and if so, how long the wait is.  Also this guy lived for a couple years in America so I feel good that he will probably also have a good understanding of the differences in American and Dutch culture.

So, this is all good stuff, it's such a pity that I had to spend so much blood, sweat and tears on it, and to get what we asked for we had to go through 8 rounds in the ring.  I need a rub down.  

Not that there are not some irritation factors still lingering.  

One is that because Maya will give up her spot in the therapeutic group, this means that her health insurance will no longer cover the cost of transportation to and from school.  We can get transport through the municipality but trying to reach them is like trying to get an audience with Queen Elizabeth when she is taking a bath.  You call and call and call and no one answers, then someone answers and they tell you that you have the wrong department, and you call the other department and they don't answer or are busy for a whole day, you finally get through and they tell you that the person you need to speak to doesn't work on Wednesdays, so on Thursday you call again and she is sick and Monday you call again and it's "oh, the rules have changed and now transport is organised through my aunt Fanny's cousin's dog's veterinarian."  Finally after some cajoling the school has agreed to try and arrange this for us.  

The other headache has to do with Maya's school hours.  Now she goes from 8.30-11.30 to school and then to her group for lunch and then home at 14.00 (that's 2 PM).  In the afternoons at Maya's school only the middle school age kids stay in school for lunch and the afternoon (the others, like Maya go to their therapy groups).  So Maya can have lunch in the classroom, but then all the kids left at school have an extra long recess for 45 minutes and they are only supervised by one teacher for this period and the school thinks that this will be too hard for Maya and that there is a chance that she may be pushed around and intimidated by the older kids.  We also don't want that, but then the only other option is for her to come home either before lunch (11.45 or just after lunch 12.15) and Leo and I feel that this is a little bit too short of a day for her.  Plus with the transport not sorted (and if there is no room for Maya in the transport, we may not get it at all) this will mean that we will need to worry about getting Maya to and from school ourselves.  Monday and Tuesday are no problem because either Leo or I are home those days and can take her and pick her up.  Wednesday Maya doesn't have school.  On Thursday and Friday if we don't have transport, either I have to take her (with 2 trams) and get to work about an hour late, or Rodrigo, our nanny has to take her and pick her up with two trams, so by the time he gets her there at 8.30  and gets back home, he can pretty much turn around in 45 minutes and do the whole thing over again to pick her up in time at 11.45.  Finally, after explaining both the difficulties from both what is good for Maya and the practicalities our family counselor has offered us on Mondays and Tuesdays to be with Maya in a one-on-one setting, to read with her, write with her and help her do some quiet school work until 14.00.  On Thursday and Friday she is not able to do that so we have agreed in the first week, to let her stay until 14.00 and if it is really a no go, on Thursday and Friday she can come home after lunch at 12.15.  I must say it was the very first act of true kindness we have seen from them and the first time where I have seen them prioritize what is best for Maya over their rules.  Miracles do happen I guess.  Still, for all my sarcasm I am grateful for that at least.

Tomorrow is Maya's last day of school until January 3rd so it is nice she will get a break now as she definitely knows something is up.  We will use this time to prepare her to leave the group --I think she doesn't care at all about the group and it will largely be a relief, but for the past 2.5 years she has always had a combination of school and group and just school will be very strange for her I think.  

The casualty:  Maya's Monday swim lessons.  Those are organized with the group and Maya can no longer go if she is not in the group.  That will be a huge disappointment for her as she absolutely loves her swim lessons, but luckily a lot of the places we are looking at also offer swimming (tailored for special needs kids), so hopefully she can pick that up again.  I have looked into a few private swimming lessons which are specialized for autistic kids but there are huge waiting lists.  But hopefully Rodrigo will take her swimming on Wednesdays to replace what she misses from Monday swimming.  

So, for now, still a difficult time, but my mask is on, I have adjusted the elastic band to fit my nose and mouth, and now I just have to help Maya with hers.

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