Two years ago, when Will started attending the Jordan Center for day care, we were a little nervous how he would act around typically developing peers. Will surprised us and did exceptionally well - often enjoying the special times when his teachers weren't looking and his friends would climb up with him on his chair to share a toy.
Will was the only kid in his day care class with special needs. He loved it. He got so much love and was just a regular member of the class. He used to laugh so hard when he would hang out with those kids. Laugh. He was doing so well, in fact, that when the time came to move on to pre-K at an elementary school - in a class that was a better fit to his needs but surrounded by other children with special needs - we were nervous that he would miss the interaction with his typically developing peers.
The first couple of months of Will in pre-K went like a blur for us. Will had his adenoids out. Matthew was born. Will's seizures started. Between all of this, he got a bit more crabby. It is hard to know why. He's was sick a lot, got less attention with a baby brother around, and the seizure medications are notorious for making the user feel cruddy. We tried to supplement his mood with special parent time and a cranial osteopath. The effects were short-lived.
Though not much at the beginning, over the past year Will's moods, his propensity to cry loudly and let you know he doesn't like what you're doing (or not doing), and his gagging have led to many notes between us and Will's teachers. His quarterly IEP results revealed that his attitude was affecting his ability to learn in the classroom.
We were all left kind of scratching our heads. We tried many things to make Will happier, but nothing was changing. We went the opposite direction and tried to put him in time out (like his brothers) if he misbehaved. We ignored his protest cries. We sang and tried to make him laugh to get the protests to stop. No change.
Will gets upset when Matthew climbs on his chair. He doesn't mind it when Luke plays with a toy or snuggles with him, but that seems to be a special 'twins thing.' Since Will left the Jordan Center, no other young person is allowed to encroach on Will's space without some very loud, very angry sounding cries from Will.
That is, until Joey entered Will's life. Joey is the 8-year old son of Will's teacher, and he often spends time in Will's classroom. Though there are several children in Will's class, Joey started spending a lot of time with Will. After the touchy issue earlier this year with older kids in the classroom, I was a little nervous at how the whole thing would work out.
But imagine my shock, surprise and JOY when we started getting notes from Will's teacher about how Joey told her which toy was Will's favorite, started bringing CDs in to school for him to listen to because "surely Will would enjoy this," and just makes Will laugh all the time. Laugh. Like he hasn't laughed in almost 2 years. It doesn't seem to matter to Joey that Will can't talk, or run around on the playground, or get himself a drink from the water fountain. They've found a way to communicate.
They're buddies. This might sound strange, but I don't know if I ever allowed myself to believe that Will would have friends outside of his brothers. I suppose at times I sell humanity short, and believe that there won't be anyone in the world outside of his brothers who takes the time to actually get to know the beautiful Will soul and befriend him. Know his likes and dislikes, what makes him laugh, the music he enjoys... all of that.
Will still has his cruddy days. He still has bad moods and protests the things that he doesn't like. But the difference now is that isn't all the time. When Joey comes around, Will gets to blow off some steam with his pal. And who doesn't feel better after that?