Today something I have been dreading happened. Mr Rockstar’s aide was unable to come to co-op and sit with him.
First let me give you some background on why when I got the email at 11pm last night I could hardly go to sleep I was so worried. Last year at co-op Mr Rockstar never had a good day without me sitting with him. Some days he was ok as long as I was there but the two times I tried to leave it took 1) a TON of prepping ahead of time for him to even walk into his classroom without me and 2) they always had to come get me within an hour or two because of some inappropriate behavior/meltdown. It wasn’t just co-op but also Sunday school, etc.
Because of all the issues we had last year, I was jumping for joy when I learned that we could hire a behavioral aide to sit with Gus during co-op this year. This freed me up to give Miss Princess and Miss Tomboy more of my attention at co-op plus the behavioral aide would probably get more participation out of Mr Rockstar than I would. The only downside was the cost. Between therapy and medication, we have had mortgage payments the past less than what we pay each month for Mr Rockstar. Sigh. Thankfully with an aide sitting with Gus I was able to volunteer to tutor my girl’s class at co-op and what they pay me to tutor would almost exactly cover the cost of the aide for Mr Rockstar. It was a win-win for everybody.
Except when the aide can’t make it. I knew surely at least one day this year the aide would not be able to come and it terrified me. But I figured we would cross that bridge when we got there….I just thought I had more than 3 weeks to figure it out.
*Cue scary music*
Last night at 11pm I got an email saying Mr Rockstar’s aide had a family emergency. The Children’s Autism Center could send another aide but they didn’t have anyone Mr Rockstar knew that they could send….so it would be a complete stranger.
I ended up deciding we would try today sans aide since a completely unknown aide might cause more problems than help. Thankfully Mr Rockstar has had a good first couple weeks at co-op, has a couple close friends in his class and an amazing teacher. Plus lately he has been having more good days than bad days.
The only downside is I only had about an hour in the morning to prep him and if things went downhill I would be tutoring another class so….yeah.
During co-op his aide usually draws stars on her notebook as a positive incentive system for Mr Rockstar. It gives her a way to encourage him to participate and remain appropriate. At the end of the morning she gives me Mr Rockstar’s star count and he either gets 5 min of Minecraft on Saturday for each star or $0.05 for each star. I decided to tell him that since his aide couldn’t sit with him today he had to mark his own “checks” and “x’s” (Mr Rockstar doesn’t know how to draw a star yet but he recently has started grading his own math work giving himself a check mark for a correct answer or an “x” for an incorrect answer. Usually it has something to do with a competition he has created with an invisible friend while he does his work. I’m not sure on the rules but he always beats the invisible opponent lol). I gave him a piece of paper and instructed him to give himself a check for good listening and participation and an “x” if the teacher needed to correct him.
Sounds crazy right? But it gave him something to focus on that would draw his attention back to appropriate behavior. Since I wasn’t in his class I am not 100% sure how well this worked but they never had to call me to intervene which is better than ever before at co-op. Plus after class Mr Rockstar proudly showed me his tally sheet:
I know sitting through a 3 hour class without any screaming, aggression, personal space violations, etc might not seem like a big deal but it feels like a big step to me. Maybe this kid will grow up and be ok after all.