We met with his new teacher today here at the house, and what a nice and on-top-of-things person she is! We were very impressed and very thankful she’ll be his teacher. She invited us to visit the classroom this afternoon so we went over to the elementary school just a little bit ago and sat in on the class for about an hour. They’ve done brilliant things with their classroom space and we were blown-over impressed with the whole thing.
It’s a recently-minted school – this is their third year – with 900 students overall (regular classrooms plus special ed classrooms), with three levels for autistic kids (Pre-K, K-2nd, and 3rd-5th). It still has that new-school feel to it. Of course, with new school comes better equipment, so that’s always a plus.
J-Man wandered around the room and looked at everything. He seemed quite happy there, even though he would always come back and cling on to one of us for a bit before he explored some more. It was nice to see him adjust quickly to the space, though adjusting to the routine of a six-hour class is going to be a lot like dropping him into Outer Mongolia for the first few weeks.
The teacher told us how other kids in the class have progressed since starting. One had only one word when he started at age 3 and now a year later is showing off so much great language. They were following their picture schedules and tapping sticks along with the music and using words to ask for things and engaging in pretend play with Cookie Monster (!!!!!!) and so much stuff that we’ve only been able to dream of J-Man doing. It almost brought me to tears to imagine J-Man maybe doing these things within a year.
I can already tell there’s one boy in the class who’s practically J-Man’s soulmate in development. It’ll be interesting to see how right we are about that. We need to come up with code names for the other kids so maybe we can talk about them a little too and how J-Man interacts with them.
It’s going to be really hard to drop him off tomorrow. The drill is to pull into one of the handicap slots up front about 15 minutes after the rest of the school starts (staggered start so the special ed kids can ease in and out without all the carpool traffic), and the teachers come and get him. We don’t have to do it quite this way, but they suggest going cold turkey and not walking them back to the classroom. That is not going to be easy. But whether we go back there or not, none of this is going to be easy for a while.
It helps a lot to have seen the classroom and met the teacher and the assistants. We were so impressed with them and that gives us some comfort in the midst of all these transition anxieties. I guess it’s not just J-Man who struggles with transitions.
The IEP process has come to an end for now until the next cycle of it comes around. School starts tomorrow, and all this hard work has paid off with a great school, great class, and great teachers. But now our little boy won’t be so little anymore. He will have to learn a whole new routine – and so will we – but to see how well his classmates are doing brings some new light into his future. We’ve had almost no one older than him to be around for any length of time to get some grasp of what all is possible for him. Now that we have that little bit, it unlocks a whole new set of stories waiting to be told.
And we know that if anyone can do it, he can.