Last Thursday James got to experience what for him was (I think) a dream come true, and for me it was definitely a dream come true! James was given permission to attend “seminar” at Rivendell School. For those readers who don’t know about Rivendell, it is a unique and wonderful school for children grades K-8. It is the school where James’ three older siblings attended and where we just assumed he would go as well, until he got autism. The school and its families are a big and treasured part of our lives and James not being able to go there was one of the many losses that came with autism.
Fortunately the Rivendell community has stood by us through all the years and has been pulling for James. He has been eating lunch with the 7th and 8th graders twice a week this year and the headmaster has eagerly followed all that James has been learning and saying through RPM. I asked the headmaster on Thursday if there was a chance that James could go to a seminar just to practice sitting with a class, paying attention and possibly spelling on his letter board. He said “how about this afternoon”? The 6th graders were going to discuss Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant and James was welcome. When I came home and told James and his homeschool teacher about the opportunity James literally jumped up and down. His smile was huge.
It went better than any of us (except James) expected. He sat calmly and quietly, and he had no trouble with the large table of 16 students sitting in the large busy multi-purpose room, but most importantly he spelled out thoughts and answers and was a full participant in the discussion! Apparently he pointed out that one reason the Giant might have been selfish is that he spent 7 years with his friend the Cornish Ogre and there was limited conversation or “language” in that time and perhaps that led to some of the trouble. James certainly picked up on the dearth of conversation in the Giant’s life and wanted the class to know that might make him misunderstood and selfish!
So a very big “first” for James to be in a class where he can express thoughts and be a part of the conversation. It just makes sense that it would take place at Rivendell, for Rivendell “was the perfect house, whether you liked food or storytelling or singing or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness”...J.R.R. Tolkien.