However, even this has been problematic for Ethan in a variety of ways through a variety of phases. From separation anxiety in the nursery to biting other children in the toddler room and pushing kids in the preschool class, we are weary of this "church battle." But going to church is VERY important to us, so we keep doing all we know in order to keep Ethan in church. I even sewed a "church bag" for him to take with him which contained headphones, weighted lap pad, fidget toys & chew toys. And we have been extremely blessed with amazing volunteer teachers who genuinely love our Ethan.
Ethan started showing signs of success in the church environment about the same time that he began the preschool program at Easter Seals. There is not a doubt in my mind that these things are related. (Love Easter Seals!) He was becoming so successful that this past Spring Ethan began attending our Wednesday night kids program. This seemed like his niche. He loved going on Wednesday nights. And once again, he had an amazing group of teacher volunteers who welcomed him each night with open arms.
Well, summer came, and so did many changes for our church.
1. The Wednesday night program ended for the school year, and in it's place was the summer program. It is similar to PE class....relay races, games, messy play. We sat down together, and Ethan & I went through the summer schedule....to see what he would enjoy doing & what he would need help attending. Throw in a couple of Wednesdays cancelled for church camp, Fourth of July, VBS, our vacation....needless to say our consistent Wednesday night routine had gone out the window.
2. He moved up a grade in Sunday School. He has been in the Preschool room for 2 years, and now he is moving to the Kindergarten class. Two of my best friends were his teachers previously, so I was sad that he wasn't going to be in their care anymore. However, I was THRILLED for him to move up into the Kindergarten room. His new teachers have a WONDERFUL reputation with lots of experience, and there is only one grade level in his new classroom. It's ONLY Kindergartners. All of the other Sunday School room are groups (1st-2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, etc).
Using our church's directory, I was able to show Ethan who his new teacher was going to be. Plus, he already was familiar with his new teachers because he would go to their room for music time while he was in the preschool class. I also called his teacher for the transition to her class occurred, and we discussed all things Ethan. And.....Ethan transitioned into the Kindergarten room beautifully.
3. Our church has recently built a new addition to our building. All of Ethan's activities will be in the new addition. Not only is everything new to him but the new "gym" echoes so bad it could easily set him off....I know it sets me off! :0) To help with this, Ethan & I have walked through the new building once a week. We talked about where he will be on Sunday mornings & Wednesday nights. We talked about where his cousins will be, where his friends will be, where Mom & Dad will be, what fun things he will get to play & do & learn. I tried my best to help Ethan view this change as a wonderful thing. (Because it really is a needed space for our church, and it's better designed/suited for this type of ministry.)
Our church moved into the new building on the Sunday after our VBS. The kids were to go into the sanctuary for a performance relating to VBS as well. Since VBS is still something that Ethan will need an aide to attend & that hasn't been available yet to us, he did not participate in VBS this year. I decided that this particular Sunday should not be Ethan's first time in the new building. The 2nd Sunday was similar with a Back To School event in the sanctuary. Once again, I decided to wait. Finally a "typical" Sunday arrived, and Ethan went to the new building.....successfully!
Ethan was in his new classroom...in the new building for one day. That was August 18th. Since then, Ethan has cried.....hard cried EVERY Saturday night because he knows that church is the next day.
UGH.....what else could I be doing to help him? We were all ready for success, and now this? Is he just destined to not attend church the way it's traditionally designed? Should we find a church that is smaller in size?
Here we go AGAIN.
Our first visit to the new building....April 2012
Look how little he is!
I know that we needed more classrooms but I
was most excited about this space!!!!!