A family's story

Change is hard

Last week we found out that some of the boys in Tate’s “Instructional Kindergarten” class made enough progress that they are now in regular education classrooms. Two of the three who moved on have been with Tate since they were three-year-olds. How exciting (and nerve-wracking) the big changes must be for their families…and for these 3 boys who have had to work so hard to overcome some hurdles!

As those three boys moved on, Tate’s class got 3 new kids. I am not quite sure how that works…but my conjecture is that the 3 new “friends” were struggling in regular education classrooms and needed more help, more structure, and more intense therapy/intervention.

For any kid, losing 3 playmates, and subsequently gaining 3 new ones, would be a big change. There would inevitably be an adjustment period. But, for my little man, for whom routine and familiarity are necessary?? His whole world must feel like it’s crumbling down around him. He has to feel like a stranger in a strange land. School has typically felt like a safe haven for Tate, but lately, I bet he finds it tortuous.

We have noticed some increased anxiety. He has been stimming more when he gets home from school. He has been sleeping less at night. He is a little more aggressive…and a bit more agitated.

I tried to initiate Tate in a conversation about his “friends”. (I am torn with the use of that euphemism, but his teachers and school therapists call the classmates “friends”, so I stick with it for consistency’s sake.) I asked if he misses his old friends. “No, Mommy. Shoo!” I asked if he has some new friends. “I’m fine, Mommy. No.” Clearly, this wasn’t going to go any where.

When I picked Tate up today, his teacher told me that he was acting out a bit in class. He was covering his ears a lot, and he pushed a “friend”. I used this as my segue into my concern with his changed behaviors at home, and she said that she is seeing the increased anxiety, too. She also told me about the old “friends” leaving and new ones coming in. She said she and the aides, as well as the therapists, are trying to help Tate through the transition.

The biggest adjustment for Tate, I think, is that the 3 new “friends” are in the classroom full time with him. In the first part of the school year, the 3 boys who are now gone would integrate into the regular ed kindergarten classrooms in the morning, while Tate was at school. He went from having to share the teacher and 2 aides with 3 other kids, to having to share them with 6 other kids! To top it off, the new “friends” are louder, and cause more commotion, which sends Tate’s sensory system into overload.

I wish that better communication would have been sent home about the transition at school. I wish they would have done social stories with Tate and his “friends” to better prepare them for the changes. They are all probably a little freaked out right now…and that is good for no one.

I hope that this transition at school is at the crux of Tate’s latest behaviors. I also hope that in due time, he adjusts and goes back to being more like himself…which means that he will sleep some nights through the night, he’ll smile more, and he will not be on anxiety over-drive. Oh, and I hope his agitation goes away, too. Disgruntled Tate is not my favorite version of my son.


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