Saturday, August 27, 2011

School is Coming

This is something that parents look forward to, probably more than most things during the year. This is also something that children look towards, some with anticipation, some with dread as it is a clear milestone for them. Return of routine. Return of strict structure. Return of goals. And return of worry.

School is where we see the most progress in both Rachel and Simon. This is where they learn how to be with their peers and where they assess their ability to cope in various settings. They introduce as many settings as possible to teach them to cope. And they use these experiences to determine placements. This year, at their IEP meetings in the first couple of months of school, we will be targeting their kindergarten placement. It will be too early in the school year to make assignments, but I have goals for each of them and they are both attainable, if everything goes well. But we have to work. I'm gearing myself up for a VERY busy year. It's quite worrisome, but I know everything will work out fine.

Yesterday was open house. Yup, 3 of them. Simon's was at 11, Rachel's at 2 and Daniel's at 4. There were issues at all 3. When we went to Simon, I had both boys (Rachel was at her last day of gymnastics camp at The Little Gym (which she LOVED). We pulled into the parking lot and Simon threw a FIT. He did NOT want to go. He didn't want to get out of his seat, even though I had been telling him that we were going and he was going to see his teacher (Ms. Evelyn) who, although she has never been his teacher for school before (but has been for camp), he is familiar with her since he started the program. But no...."NO SCHOOL!" he kept shouting. Well, I suppose I should be happy that he recognized we were at "school" and that he was expressing his opinions so effectively. But, starting Monday, he'll be back there. I eventually got him inside, promised I wasn't leaving and he did have fun once he started recognizing his friends, teacher, and, most importantly, books. We were there for nearly an hour and he did eventually relax and have fun. The bus will come to pick him up on Monday and we may have some issues there, but I hope his anticipation will outrank his fears and trepidations.

After picking up Rachel from camp, we headed over to HER open house. We got there pretty much right on time, along with the rest of her school. And, unlike Simon's school, this is a full elementary school (Simon's school has a total of 12 students currently) which means that we were facing a lot of kids, parents, teachers, would be overwhelming to anyone, much less a 4.5 year old girl with autism. Daniel was excited to be there....another place for him to explore. Simon knew it wasn't HIS school so he too was fine. Rachel was SCARED. She tried to hide behind me. When the principal got down on his knee to say "Hello" to her, she just clung to me even tighter. He recognized the need to back off and addressed her later in her own classroom rather than in the crowded entryway. She has been asking about "Ms. Suzanne" since summer school has ended, even though she will no longer be in her classroom. As we were going down the hallway, she suddenly seemed to understand that her teacher was changing and decided to give "Ms. Suzanne" the cold shoulder (how DARE you switch me to someone else's class). But again, as she recognized where she was and all her favorite things were still there, she seemed to settle into it all.

I had a lengthy conversation with her new teacher about what I was hoping to see about her kindergarten placement and how the Focalin should really help with her attention issues that we were seeing last year. We are still waiting to see whether she will be joining the morning or afternoon pre-K, but once we know that, we will be able to determine if we need to start administering the medication before she leaves for school or during lunchtime. They intend to wait a couple of weeks before making that determination, and I will allow that to happen. But again, since my goals for her are aggressive, I can't allow myself to become complacent.

Then we were waiting for Kevin to come home so I could take Daniel to HIS open house. After all, he had been to the other 2 (and had a blast since their classrooms are full of toys). By the time he came home and we walked down the hill, the Open House at his school was over. We were able to figure out who his teacher was, find the classroom and review the class roster (only 2 kids from his class last year are in his class this year, but fortunately, one of them is someone he considers a friend) and none of the other kids he talked about last year are in his class. But we never got to meet the teacher. So, on Monday, Daniel will get to meet his teacher for the first time. He has actual DESKS this year, which is a change. But what was his impression of the classroom? BORING!!!!! I tried to explain to him that he (in first grade [and a typical first grade classroom]) wasn't going to find a room full of toys like his brother and sister, who were in pre-K. But I think he's a little jealous.

But the boys both go back to school on Monday. Rachel starts on 9/6. Our extracurricular activities are also starting again these next couple of weeks. Our lives are about to go back to being a series of routines. Everything we do will be based on schedules, because that's just the way we are. And I think everyone here will be happy about it!!!!!

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