I spent hours working on this thing. Finding the exact right pictures to use. Making sure that he knew I loved him, even though I was leaving. Piecing together a picture of the map, including where the child lives and where I'm moving to, to make the abstract more concrete. Figuring out a coping mechanism to incorporate into the book that he could use if he missed me too much. (Looking at a picture of me and calling me.)
But despite all that work, when it was finally done I was scared to read it to him. What if he got upset? What if it wasn't the right time to say? I was extremely worried about it, to say the least.
Ultimately, though, I felt I couldn't put it off much longer, and, using the iPad as a bribe, got him to sit down with me and read the story.
Not only did he not react badly, which is what I was so, SO afraid of, he actually LIKED the story! I'd incorporated lots of cool pictures of us doing fun things together (in the introductory part of the book), and he loved going over them as I asked him questions to keep it interactive. (Q: "What are you pretending to be in this picture?" A: "A ghost!" Or, my favorite part, as I read the page with "Miss Creigh loves you!" he responded, "Love you!")
And he UNDERSTOOD. After we were done reading, I asked him some questions to ensure comprehension.
Q: "What's Miss Creigh doing?"
A: "New house!"
Q: "Is Miss Creigh's new house close or far away?"
Q: "Who is going to be your new nanny now?"
A: "That one!" [Pointing to the new nanny who was standing next to us.]
Q: "Is Miss Creigh going to visit?"
He got it, you guys. I'll keep going over the story to ensure comprehension, and the new nanny and parents know where the book is, but HE GOT IT. Another reminder that we don't give kids on the spectrum the credit for understanding things that they deserve. And, whether because he actually did understand last week when I told him and just needed time to process, or because we'd already started transitioning in the new nanny who he loves, or the comfort of the story or whatever reason, he was okay with it.
This is better than my wildest dreams, you guys. I am so INCREDIBLY relieved right now. Leaving will still be hard, intensely so. But this makes it so much better.