It finally happened- I got the first call of the year from our principal. We are exactly 1 month into the school year so that is pretty good! Honestly, my reaction to the call was to laugh and in my head I thought, “Its about time they see some bad behavior”.
For new readers- my 7 year old has autism. What you need to know is that he is VERY high functioning (now) and has been in therapy since his diagnosis at 20 months old. He is the poster-child for early intervention. Despite the fact that he was pretty non-verbal until he was 3 1/2 years old – he won’t stop talking now, lol. Because of his therapy, he knows how to blend in and go under the radar for the most part. So, for new people meeting him they may never notice that he has autism.
He is also at a new school this year, so the staff has no idea where he used to be and the growth he has accomplished these past few years. He has an IEP in place and they know his diagnosis technically, but he is fully integrated into the general population- no special ed for him! I am incredibly proud of him and the hard work he has put in to get to this place. So, even though he graduated therapy this summer, yesterday’s call reminded me that his work is not finished- we have not magically “arrived”. He still has autism and always will.
While he looks typical I am constantly reminded that he is not just like all the other kids- he never will. I am ok with that.
You may be wondering why I got a call from the school. He screamed at the PE teacher and had a full on melt-down yesterday.
Why did he have a melt-down? Because of so many reasons that compounded throughout the day.
1- He stayed home sick the day before which threw off his weekly routine
2- He had a substitute in class
3- He had a fight with a kid on the bus
4- Finally, because the poor PE teacher was trying to show him the correct way to do a push-up and he couldn’t contain himself any longer
5- And probably a million other little sensory over-stimulations that I will never be able to comprehend
Sounds like pretty typical kid frustrations- but here is the difference…
My son doesn’t know how to communicate his frustrations effectively and when he gets overwhelmed with his emotions he literally bursts and needs a good 10-20 min of sensory deprivation to recalibrate.
So yesterday the school had to figure out really quickly how to give him what he needed- in a moment when he really struggles to communicate his needs. I do have to brag on them a minute- they handled it really well and I am thankful for that. But he was just a bit off the rest of the day and they really struggled with him. I am glad these episodes are few and far between now (2 years ago they were daily!).
I will call a meeting with the school soon and we will work to create solutions to prevent these episodes in the future- once they get a chance to see what I am talking about. I know so many parents who are afraid of IEPs and 504s, worried that their children will be treated different or singled out. I am SO thankful for our IEP because it gives me the opportunity to educate the staff, to be apart of their team, to help advocate for my child.
Its not me against the school….
me + the school= success for my son
For those of you mom’s stuck in the trenches of fighting with the school, fighting with AEA and struggling to advocate for your children- I feel you. I’ve been there and I have felt the struggle. Feel free to PM me if you need help navigating this system- its so tricky sometimes. Please know that there is HOPE!
Sweet mom of the special needs child who feels stuck in the trenches- it won’t always be this hard. There will be a day when you feel like you can breath again! You will find your groove and you will not just survive- you and your child will thrive because of all the hard work you both put into this journey. I see you- I see how hard you are working. You are not alone; you are not forgotten.