Parenting a spectrum of girls

Posts tagged ‘elementary school’

September…aka torture for special needs parents

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Our family this weekend in South Haven, MI

                                    

Ah, September.  Apples, Leaves turning colors, crisp fall air and my favorite…Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  And, of course, school.

I have always loved back to school time.  It comes during my favorite time of the year, and just the smell of new pencils and wearing new school clothes is exciting.  I loved school growing up…not the social part (I didn’t have a lot of friends and got bullied a lot), but learning, after school activities and talking to teachers were always things I loved.

The year my oldest daughter started school I was a little sad to see my baby growing up, but she shared my enthusiasm for school and learning.  Due to her high intelligence she really needed to be in school as soon as possible, and she was also very social so she couldn’t wait to be a “big kid” and make new friends.  This year that same “baby” is leaping to another milestone and starting middle school as a 6th grader.  😥  She is ready, though!  She is in the advanced program and they will work with her at whatever level they need to.  She was ready for something more.  I am nervous for her, though.  I still have nightmares of being late to class because I can’t open my locker or find something in there I need.  I also know she likes to joke around and it borders on disrespect or sassiness, and that she gets super excited and talks too much.  Hopefully none of these things become an issue, and I’m sure the teachers expect that the incoming 6th graders will take a little training on the new, higher expectations.  I am grateful that I can check up on all of her grades and assignments online, even though I am sure that will not be an issue.

My youngest is much like my oldest.  She is starting preschool this year and is super excited about it.  She is laid back, very intelligent and extremely social.  While I am sad that she is old enough to be starting preschool (especially since she is the BABY!!!)  I have no worries about her at all.  She could charm the rattle off a snake and has enough intelligence to make her dangerous 😉  She, like my oldest, needs to be in school and is going to the same wonderful preschool the other started out at.  My only regret is that I can not drop her off at the classroom tomorrow morning since I promised my middle daughter I would stay with her.

Yes, M.  The middle child and source of 90% of my back to school anxiety.  Poor M has had an awful summer as those of you following my blog or FB page know.  She has been extremely anxious about starting Young 5s Kindergarten.  Unlike her sisters, she attended preschool as part of her day at daycare at the same center she attended since she was 8 weeks old.  (And for the record, it was the perfect place for her.)  I am glad she felt so safe in her cocoon of daycare, it made our life (and hers) much easier for years.  But venturing to the world outside daycare was a terrifying idea for her.  Then we found out her Y5 teacher was leaving a few weeks before school started!  We followed all of the ideas for preparing your child with autism for school.  We made multiple visits to the school, played on the playground, met the office staff, did social stories…none of it helped.  She insisted she was not going to school.

Then we were notified that a new teacher was hired, and off we went to meet Mrs. H.  She was amazing!  A special needs child’s dream!  The previous teacher left the notes I had provided on M (bless her!) And Mrs. H read them and greeted M right off with knowledge of her home life and preferences like “this must be your sister A, I heard you guys are best friends!”  She asked me questions, asked if I had questions, showed M around the room and concentrated on things M is interested in (like fire trucks and Junie B Jones books) and let her choose where she wanted to sit.  When we left I said “M’s new teacher is wonderful and so nice!” And M shook her head yes.  I asked her if she was excited to start school and she said yes, except she’s still afraid to learn to read.  We can work with that!  She now goes back and forth saying she is or is not excited for school to start but it’s a big improvement and if asked she always agrees that she really likes her teacher.  At open house (where we were only able to stay about 15 minutes because we had to rush to K’s open house) she enjoyed finding things in the classroom, but her behavior was very typically autistic.  She did not acknowledge that there were (many) other children and adults there.  You would have thought there was no one else in the room!  She did, however, frequently run up to Mrs. H and interrupt someone to tell her things or shove something in her face for her to look at.  She is not scared of her teacher (yay!), but she is obsessed with her (uh oh!)

Tomorrow will be interesting for M.  She picked her outfit (within the uniform type dress code), packed her bag and lunch and we are even bringing snack for everyone, so the surprises should be kept to a minimum.  She has her headphones, chewys and fidgets packed and her sleeping bag for nap.  I am dropping little sister (whose class starts at the same time) off early to daycare so I can stay with M until she gets settled (or until the teacher shoos me away), and I have the day off just in case I get “that” call that all us special needs parents anticipate and dread.  Today has been very rough.  I think she just wants to get the first day over with.  I just hope she doesn’t run out of the class or threaten to break anyone’s bones (like she threatened A with yesterday).

And I too am starting back on Wednesday, after a month off between my summer and fall classes.  I usually look forward to school myself, but this semester I am taking 2 requirements that are going to be easy and boring, but I just have to get them over with.  The professor might be able to make Communications fun, but I don’t think there’s much they can do about Intro to Early Childhood (especially when I’m already half through with my ECE degree!)  And of course we are also starting Robotics for Kaity and Dance and Soccer for Margaret.  Welcome back, busy schedule!  😛

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