With Di (Noah's aide) having 6 weeks off school with her broken arm, Noah has been going to Newstead Heights (special school) full time for the past 5 weeks. At first I was very nervous about it, as Noah has only ever been with Di when he has been at school for the past 3 years.
Three aides were all trained to work with Noah. They are great aides and are used to working with special needs kids, but there were a few 'Noah' things they had to know how to do, before he could go without Di. This included knowing when and how to suction him, how to help him empty his bladder and what he is meaning when he does certain things.
After one worried phone call from one of his teachers (he has two) about whether it was 'normal' for Noah to sleep all day (it is!), things went really well. We especially love him catching the bus to school each morning. The aides were fantastic and one of the teachers we just love. She is so great with the kids, and makes it really fun to be there. When the kids arrive she makes such a big fuss about each of them - often singing a 'good morning' song to them. She sees all the little things that Noah does and thinks it is so exciting. She puts him in the sensory room while he is having a neb, so he can have a good look around at all the beautiful lights instead of just waiting for his neb to finish.
I told her that I was more than happy for no 'work' at all to come home from school with Noah. Sometimes we will get work sent home and I know the aides have done it 'with' him with their hands over his hands etc and have talked to him about it as they have done it, but to me it doesn't mean anything. I would much prefer to have something written in his communcation book to say that he enjoyed putting his hand in shaving foam, or enjoyed listening to music, than have some beautiful painting sent home that I know Noah didn't really have much to do with.
One day when I went to pick Noah up, this teacher says to me 'Noah had a terrible, terrible day today'. I could tell by the tone of her voice, that he had an awesome day. She told me he was in the sensory room, getting his feet rubbed by the aide, while he had his neb. Later in the day he was put in front of a canvas and given a paintbrush and she said they just left him for 10 mins or so. She said it was sooooo great, as he sat there and made very, very small little movements with the paintbrush, BUT he did it all on his own. She was so excited about it, and so was I. It's so nice when he had people that work with him that see how these small little things mean so much. This is the pic of Noah painting that came home on the school newsletter.
There was also this pic of Noah enjoying the bubble machine.
Things have been so great there, that we have decided to send Noah there three days a week next year. This year he has only been going one day a week (until Di broke her arm) and on that day Di also went with him. Next year it means he will miss out on having a full time aide with him on those three days, and will be enrolled at both Punchbowl and Newtead. He will get a full time aide at Punchbowl for two days (Di) and the other three days he will just be a part of his class group and use the aides there that are assigned to that group.
I believe each child is given something crazy like a total of 14 hours per week of aide time when they are at Newstead (spread over the week). This is a HUGE drop from the 30 hours a week that Noah gets at Punchbowl, and it was the main reason I haven't sent Noah to school there more than one day, but things have worked so well there even without Di, that we are happy to send him and know that the he will be well looked after by all the aides that know him now.
I feel bad for Di having a broken arm, but it has been a blessing in disguise for us and Noah as we know that Noah will have a great year being enrolled at both schools next year.