Sunday, November 17, 2019

Mom is Back, and We Visit CIP and Indiana University

My wife returned from Japan a week ago. Kai and I had a great week together while she was gone, but he was very happy to have Mom home.

This weekend we took a trip to Bloomington, Indiana. It was about a five hour drive from our home north of Chicago.

A few weeks ago, we had gone to a college fair specifically for students with disabilities. One program that interested us is called College Internship Program, better known as CIP. CIP supports college-age students on the autism spectrum by providing academic support, training in life skills (as students live in apartments), executive functioning training, social skills development, and career support.

CIP also has a summer program for high school students where they can attend for two weeks and get a taste of college life by living in a dormitory while learning about what college would be like while also partaking in fun, summer camp-type activities.

The closest CIP location to us is in Bloomington, just a few blocks from the campus of Indiana University, and this weekend they had an Experience Day where we could meet the staff, hear about their program, go to a model apartment like the ones where their students live, and meet a few current CIP students. Ir was a great opportunity to learn about both the full-time and summer programs.

We came away very impressed. Our long-term goal for Kai is that he be able to live independently and get meaningful employment. CIP would provide great support in transitioning to independent living, while also providing Kai with the supports needed to succeed at college and provide him with the skills he would need to find employment. I don't think we can support Kai in this way as well as the many specialized CIP professionals can. But the cost of the program, and others like it, is extremely high. If Kai were to get into IU, entering him in the CIP program would essentially more than triple the cost of college versus going on his own without the program. And so this may not be an option for us, but we have two years to weigh the cost versus benefits, and to see if this would even be feasible.

The summer program, though, would provide a nice introduction for Kai, and give him experience in living away from home (i.e. away from Mom and Dad). Kai has always resisted the idea of overnight summer camps, but after meeting the CIP staff, hearing about the program, and seeing the Bloomington area, he seemed less resistant to this program. We're thinking through our options for next summer (including a potential return to Exceptional Minds), but the CIP summer program is something we'll give serious consideration.

After the Experience Day program ended at about lunchtime, we wanted to see some of the town and IU campus.

Our first stop was to get lunch at Bloomington Sandwich Co.

I had a tasty Italian beef, Kai had the Italian combo with beef and Italian sausage, and my wife had a great Reuben sandwich.

After lunch, as we walked toward the IU campus, we saw several trees wrapped with knitting.

We found out that this was part of the Wrapped in Love project to support victims of domestic violence.

And then we made it to the IU campus and entered through Sample Gates.

As we walked through Dunn's Woods, we were struck by the beauty and serenity of the campus. The following is Rose Well House which is one of the oldest structures on campus, and one of Indiana University’s most enduring symbols.

And here is the stain glass from one side of the roof of the Well House.

The following is a photo of Kai and I standing in front of Kirkwood Hall, which houses the School of Art and Design, and is one of the beautiful old buildings on campus.

As we walked further, we came across charming Beck Chapel.

And just beyond was another serene, wooded area.

IU is right up there as one of the most beautiful college campuses I have ever been to. My wife was very impressed with the campus as well. I don't think she imagined that such a beautiful college could exist in the middle of Indiana.

Kai enjoyed the campus as well. I think the entire day opened his mind to the thought of college life.

It is uncertain whether Kai will attend any four-year university, let alone Indiana University, but this trip helped us all envision one possibility of what Kai's life beyond high school could potentially be like.

Now we have a lot of thinking to do.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Fending for Ourselves While Mom is Away

My wife wanted to go to Japan on her own. When we go as a family, it has to be in the summer when it is extremely hot and humid. The weather makes it harder to travel with Kai, and my wife doesn't get to spend as much time seeing friends or doing her own things. We decided that a fall trip on her own would work out.

And so she left this past Thursday. We said our goodbyes before I took Kai to school as her taxi would come a few minutes later.

She will be in Japan for 10 days which means that Kai and I are on our own at home. I am working remotely from home, planning my schedule to be able to take Kai to school and pick him up afterward, and to get him to his swim lessons, tutor, and family therapist as well.

Any sort of change is hard for Kai, and you had to figure that Mom leaving would be difficult for him. The day that my wife left he had a rough time in one of his classes, but it's hard to say if that was because Mom had left. And then he had a blowup at end of his swim session, but that might have been tied to the emotions from school.

Still, he's been fine otherwise.

We had a big early snow on Halloween and he still did his chore of taking out and bringing back the garbage containers.

Yesterday we resumed his cooking lesson.

While Mom is away I decided to make oven fried chicken. Kai and I love fried chicken but we don't have it too often. Using a mix such as Shake 'n Bake, or, in this case, Oven Fry, makes it pretty easy.

I reviewed the instructions on the box with Kai, and then had him do the first step of beating an egg.

Then he moistened each piece of chicken in the beaten egg and pressed it in the Oven Fry coating,

We baked the chicken in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, turning the chicken at the 20 minute mark.

While the chicken was cooking, I had Kai heat up a can of baked beans. We had shown him how to use can opener before, but he needed a little refresher.

I don't particularly want him eating a lot of canned foods, but it is very convenient and he can get by pretty well if he knows how to do this.

I sauteed some beans in butter as a side dish.

The end result turned out pretty well.

I want Kai to feel comfortable in the kitchen and by preparing a variety of foods, the more second nature it will become for him.

Another week to go before Mom is back... wish us luck!

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