Today, I went to Gray’s school for the morning to observe the systems that Kati has worked out with the teachers and therapists there. Of course, they are still new at this and they didn’t get the benefit of a week in Portland, but I am concerned. Now I don’t just have to worry about me or Barry undoing Hope’s training, I have to give over control to Gray’s days at school and the people who care for him there. I pray that they will be able to keep up the things they have learned. I pray that they won’t get overwhelmed with all of the straps and logistics of where to place Hope throughout Gray’s school day.
Tonight, Kati gave us an overview of the notes she has been taking throughout the week. She has her list of areas that we need to watch for signs of trouble:
-The large number of people who work with Gray makes it easy for inconsistencies to develop. Hope might get overwhelmed with so many different people giving her commands.
-Lena and Zoe need to be monitored in their interactions with Hope. Zoe is getting better, but she wants to give a lot of commands. Lena is really pushing her boundaries and is reluctant to give Hope a break when she comes home from school.
-Gray’s aggression when he has tantrums could easily become directed at Hope. This might make her start to shy away from him. Although it is part of ASDA’s training program to give the dogs treats and praise so that they don’t see tantrums as a scary thing, it is important that we watch them together and don’t put Hope in harm’s way. But, there is a fine line we must walk so that Hope and Gray have some space to figure each other out.
After watching Hope at school today, I can see how we need to protect her from burning out. There are so many areas where Gray can use her help. Pretty much every transition between activities is a challenge for him. Between physically directing him and heading off tantrums, I’m concerned that she might grow to hate him. We will have to watch that carefully.
Gray is a tough case. Every time a new clinician comes into his life, I am reminded just how severe his disability really is. It is often painful for me to “re-experience” the discovery of his deficits again and again, but I feel like I must endure this to keep up my search for interventions that will make his (and our family) life better. I see now how this amazing dog will be a game-changer. I think this is going to be worth all the effort.