Monday, October 8, 2018

End of an ACT Clinic Era

It's been two months since we finished at ACT clinic, and I still get emotional looking at these pictures!

Stockton turned 5 this fall, so since he isn't officially a "toddler" anymore he graduated from the Autism Care for Toddlers Clinic and started preschool in Lincoln. It's been amazingly wonderful not having the drive to Omaha hanging over my head three days a week, but my heart still swells painfully when I think about all that ACT Clinic has done for Stockton and for our family. I will never, ever forget the time we spent there and how perfect and wonderful the program and people always were. 

Original ACT clinic post - it's amazing to look back and see how much he had already changed by then and especially how much he's grown over a year later!

Janelle was one of Stockton's most favorite helpers. For weeks after Janelle left Stockton asked where she was, or said goodnight to her when he was getting ready for bed, or asked to look at her picture on my phone. She was getting married towards the end of the summer and that's the only excuse Stockton allowed for her to be gone. He loved her so much, and we are so grateful that she felt the same way.

Saying goodbye to Logan was so hard! She has been with us from the start, advocating for Stockton, helping us through challenging behaviors, and providing so many ideas and resources for supporting our family. She is professional without being cold and friendly without compromising expectations. She took a job back East and left early in the summer, and it made me dread the goodbyes for everyone else.

Hard to believe how many days we came here over the two years!

Phew, the last morning drop off was rough for me, knowing that it was his last day. ACT Clinic has been such a staple in our lives for so long, it felt so weird thinking that this was the last time I was going to drop him off here.

Alex was the first therapist that Stockton bonded with when we very first started coming, and they have had a special relationship ever since. Alex always looked out for Stockton and Stockton was always mad when Alex wasn't there. Stockton doesn't immediately bond with very many people, but he recognized a safe, fun person in Alex and made sure he stayed close by. We're so grateful for Alex - he made everything silly for Stockton (which is how he likes it!) and really facilitated Stockton's comfort and familiarity with ACT clinic. Whenever a new therapist was assigned to work with Stockton, they had Alex also work in the pair so that Stockton would have positive associations with the new therapist.

It was impossible to get pictures at pickup the last day because Stockton was SO SAD. I've never seen him like that. I didn't realize that he was aware of this being his last day - we hadn't lied to him, but we also weren't super specific about when ACT clinic was going to be over. He definitely knew though, and his reaction was heart-breaking. From my Facebook post that day:  A bittersweet day for us as we wrap up two years (over 350 drives!) of going to Omaha for ACT clinic. What a special place - every single person I've met there is committed to encouraging, supporting, and leading these children to success in a personalized, respectful, and sweet way. They have loved Stockton as we do and we will be forever grateful for their impact on our lives. Stockton was very sad in a way that I've never seen before - he couldn't look anyone in the eyes and when I asked him to say goodbye he covered his face and said, "I can't." He cried when Alex, who has been with us from the start, gave him a hug. I don't think there is anything more meaningful to a parent than to see another adult care for your child in such a profound way.

Hanna worked with Stockton after Logan was gone and normally Stockton loved giving her a fist bump, but he was too sad to even do that.

Veronica, Megan, Hanna, and Alex
These are some of the most special people we know - they are dedicating their lives to helping children like Stockton begin school with an amazing foundation and the skills they need to be as successful as they can be. It's not an exaggeration when we say that what Stockton learned at ACT clinic will impact him positively for the rest of his life. Thank you ACT Clinic!!!!

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