Yesterday I got an email from the elementary school principal inviting 5th grade parents to a middle school orientation. Thankfully it’s not until March and they are just telling us now to make sure we have it on our calendar. I am not ready to be a middle school mom.
I think under normal circumstances it would be difficult enough… but this is for my oldest son, my Asperger’s son. I keep telling myself it will be OK, but I’ll admit my heart is pounding in my chest right now thinking about it. I’ve never been a worrier about the future… I figure it’s not worth my energy now to worry about things that may or may not happen – I have enough to deal with today! But this… this definitely gets my head swirling around in the “what if”s.
Academically, he has always been strong. His problem has been his social skills, his work ethic, and his temper when he feels out of control of the world around him. Problems started back in kindergarten with a handful of bad tantrums at school, got slightly worse in 1st grade with his interactions with other students, even worse in 2nd grade, and then fell completely apart in 3rd. He did not want to go to school. Wasn’t going to sleep at night because it meant waking up and going. He hated it there and made sure everyone knew it. He was teased and bullied and then he teased and bullied others. It got to the point where I was being called in at least 2 times a week to calm him down because they couldn’t handle him. He started having grand mal seizures while sleeping and the neurologist said that stress and lack of sleep would set them off. Well, he wasn’t sleeping because he was stressed… so that was a set-up for disaster.
So I did the only thing I knew to do… I pulled him out of school and home-schooled him. Thankfully, I knew someone who did the same thing with her son and she walked me through what to do. We made it through 3rd grade by the skin of our teeth. Then my son told me he wanted to go back to school for 4th grade. I was terrified, but we sent him back. The first day was uneventful and fine, but then on day 2, he started falling apart again. After a week or 2, I emailed the teacher, the principal, the director of special education, the director of pupil services and I think even the Superintendent and told them that I was not planning on homeschooling him again and they needed to figure out how to work with him at his school or to find a placement that could (translation: work it out or spend $50,000 -100,000 of district money sending him to another school).
Within a week we had an IEP meeting with a whole lot of professionals. The result was that he was moved into a support classroom with an Emotional Support Teacher, Mrs. S. This brings me to the thankful part of this post… Mrs. S. has been a lifesaver for my son. She loves him, she guides him, she protects him, she’s his advocate, she’s his cheerleader. She senses his mood and his needs and figures out how to approach him. He has started not just making it through but thriving again at school. He no longer wants to “blow up the school” (fyi… those were his words… but don’t worry, no one ever perceived a real danger there) and doesn’t even mind going. Sure, he’d rather stay home and play video games, but what 11-year-old wouldn’t? He even has said that he’d like to be a teacher one day. My eyes get all teary thinking about where we are today compared to where we were.
Through Mrs. S’s guidance, he has also formed friendships. He has one friend that stands up for him to the other kids, who will listen to him talk about Mario for hours, and seems to genuinely enjoy being around him. This friend (who I’ll call Friend S) happens to be that same boy whose mother had helped me in 3rd grade when I home-schooled my son. Friend S has impacted my son in a way that I don’t even know how to put words to it other than I am thankful. So through tears I type that I am so thankful for Mrs. S and for Friend S.
But, here’s why I’m so scared for next year… Mrs. S doesn’t move up to middle school with my son. She stays at the elementary school to be a blessing to many other families. And Friend S, well his mother got a teaching job at a Christian school and he’ll be going there next year instead of our middle school. So we’re back to square one. Yes, there’s an autistic support teacher there, so hopefully it will be OK… but what if it’s not?
“Breathe,” I tell myself as my heart speeds up again. God has promised never to leave or forsake my son (or me) and I suppose that means even in middle school. So I’ll try my best to live in today and thankfully, it’s only January and I have 2 1/2 months before that orientation…
♥Becki, imperfect mother of an Asperger’s child