A family's story


My older boys start school 3 weeks from today. Before I do my celebratory cartwheels down the block, I have a lot of preparation to do for our foray into the 2012-13 school year. A lot. At these times, as my anxiety starts to rise while I make and revise my list of “Things to Do”, I wonder if families of “typical” children have as much stress…it’s something I would have asked my mom, but well…yeah….

Don’t get me wrong…I am certain that every family has a certain amount of stress that comes about with the beginning of a new school year. New teachers, new classes, more demands on children in terms of expectations, etc. I know everyone has that “Eleventh Hour” stress of “will-we-get-it-all-done-in-time”. But is there the utter feeling of panic ?

Monday is the district-wide residency event. Every year we have to prove where we live. We need not one, not two, but THREE  identifying documents. I have those set aside for our big day. That day, once we prove that we are, indeed, living well within district lines, they will hand me 2 envelopes. In the envelopes will be my boys’ teacher assignments. There are 3 sections of third grade at our school. Just about everyone that I have talked to wants the same teacher. That teacher happens to be Jake’s math tutor. I wrote a letter to our principal last spring, detailing the ways in which Jake learns/struggles/benefits in school (this supports getting his math tutor as a teacher). I talked to his IEP team about his placement. I have everything crossed from my toes to my eyes. Please, oh please, let us get this teacher. Jake is comfortable with her, she “gets” Jake, she pushes him enough, but not too much, and she is all about working with the resource teacher to enhance the learning experience.

Once I get the envelopes (and yes, I totally feel like we’re going to the Academy Awards…but without the red carpet…the fun, awesome “swag”, and the pre-and post-parties), I will be sending a message to Tate’s teacher regarding his schedule. The district wouldn’t meet with us at the end of last school year to work out a schedule for this year to accommodate ABA because schedules aren’t final until August. Ugh. I want to find out what classes and therapies he has when, and when I can pull him for the day during the week so we can do ABA. I am currently developing an ulcer over this.

Tuesday afternoon we get the official results and report from Jake’s evaluation. I will barely have enough time to digest what’s going on with my kiddo before I’m on the phone with Jake’s regular ed teacher and resource teacher (she at least will stay the same this year) to discuss and figure out if we need to meet again to adjust his IEP. I am fairly certain we will, because, well, they want to pull him back to a half hour of speech services (from his 60 minutes in grade 2), and well, his primary qualification for special ed is speech/language. I know…right??? The doctor informed us during our parent meeting that she totally disagrees with that and will word her report as such. (SCORE!) I hope that we can negotiate it for Jake.

Tate’s therapists are reading a social story with him right now. It is about his new school. He is doing ok with it. He knows the school, as it is the one that Jake attends. We have that in our favor.  I want to bring him to the school next week for a little walk through. We don’t need to go into his classroom, but I want to have him walk the halls, see the gym (which he hates thanks to all of the events we have attempted to attend there over the past 3 years), see the cafeteria, the library, and do the walk to the classroom. I’ll let him play on the playground, and walk in the parking lot. He can sit on the benches outside and check out the flag pole. His ABA therapists are totally game. Just have to make sure that the school is.

The more I read about special needs parenting and advocating, the more I realize that I need to put together packets of info for the teachers. Sooo, I am working on getting these together for the boys’ teachers. It’s the least I can do to help foster a mutually beneficial experience for everyone…but it’s just another thing that needs to get done to help my boys succeed.

We are starting the school year evening and bedtime routines next week, as well. I am going to try to get them to pick out their clothes the night before. I want to instill a reading time before bed, since no one wants to read when they get home from school. I am also hoping that limiting tv time right before bed..or within a half hour, helps a bit with readying their bodies for sleep. It will take a couple of weeks to get this established, so we have to start early.

Even though I get a certain “high” from school supply shopping, this hasn’t been done…I need to do that, too. I have discovered that none of the males in my household like this particular adventure. I have tried to pick up a few things when I go to the store, but Tate is quite adamant that school supplies are stinky and gross, so he’s had a couple of those I’m-laying-on-the-ground-and-writhing-until-you-let-us-leave moments. It was great. Especially when Cole joined in the “fun”. The supplies this year, at least, seem reasonable, and I won’t have to try to find a 25-pack of “white paper lunch bags”. What the what?! Yes, last  year I had to supply a package of 25 “white paper lunch bags”. I have absolutely ZERO idea what those were used for in the classroom. ZERO. Never saw those 25 bags again (Party-City, by the way, carries them…) Oh, and we had to buy a package of 2-gallon sized Ziploc bags for Tate’s classroom. Uhhh…thankfully my neighbor was able to give me some insight–Walmart (shudder).

So, we have all this prep work, in addition to trying to arrange some outside therapies, ABA therapy, Jake’s swimming, religious education, and possibly tae kwon do. Of course, I have the added worry about how anxiety will affect the boys, and whether they’ll be able to attend in class, and focus on homework once they’re home, and juggle their therapy and schoolwork, all while trying to allow them to be “kids” as well.

I wish it were as simple as packing up a backpack, buying a pair of new sneakers, giving my kid a few bucks on his lunch card, and sending him off to school with a kiss. But, alas, that is not our world. It takes a lot of preparation…a lot.



Comments on: "Preparation" (8)

  1. Thanks Lisa. Thanks a lot. I have done absolutely NO planning for the start of the school year yet and now I’m freaking out. We have 4 weeks left of summer so I guess I should get started … but it’s so much more fun to not think about those things. I just want to go to the park and the pool and have bbq’s. *pout* I really hope everything falls into place perfectly for you guys and that you get all the services and the teacher that you want for your boys.

    • I didn’t mean to cause panic!! I hope you and CC and the boys can continue to enjoy your parks, the pool, and bbqs. I also hope that your prep and everything for your boys falls into place nicely in time for school, too.

  2. Whoa. That is a lot of stuff to do. I hate that feeling of not knowing when things are totally out of your control. You have to wait for those class assignments and then you have to do battle if they are not as they should be. You have to make sure they are prepared so there is no additional stress on the boys. You have to deal with “thee” report for Jake. No wonder you so sound so stressed. And I know it must hurt to want to turn to mom for the answers and you can’t. Even though my mom is “here”, she lost the ability to tell me about the past long ago. I know that feeling of not knowing where to turn – but this is the place. I have found so much good advice from you, from Deenie and from everyone when I need it the most.

    All I can offer in concrete terms, is to go and do that school supply shopping now. You like it – plus – why bother taking the boys when they aren’t interested? You can get all the stuff you need. Make the hubs watch the boys and you will get away and get something crossed off your list!

    I think the waiting and wondering is the hardest part. I’m right there with you. Remember, we are all here with you waiting and will be here cheering you on whether you have to fight or celebrate! So, remember to take us with you in your mind when you start to feel that stress and know that we will try to help you through it here. xoxo

    • Thank you, Karen. Your support, everyone’s support, means so much to me. 🙂 I know we’re not the only ones waiting…I hope T’s school stuff gets settled soon. It just helps me relax a bit when I know more of what the plan will be. I guess my kids come by their anxiety honestly. 🙂

  3. I am sooooooooo right there with you, my friend. Certified letter to the school more firmly stating the reasons why Little Miss should have a certain teacher and all. But your post has inspired me to at least put together my to-do list and try to get my butt on track.

    It also inspired me to re-post some back-to-school tips I got from our local autism support organization. It sounds like you’re already doing a lot of them (good on you!) — but you know, every little bit helps, right?

    • I am so glad you linked your post! I love this list, Karla. I totally printed it out. I do many of these, but a few others are new to me..and great ideas. This list is a good one to add to my “binder of power”. 🙂

      I know you’re there with us. I wish they’d respond to your letter already!! Thanks for listening to my anxiety-riddled post.

  4. We are also gearing up for the first day of school which feels a bit like a three ring circus. Why? Because we have three kiddos getting ready for school in my house. My oldest is starting high school (HIGH SCHOOL!!), my middle kiddo had some trouble last year staying focused in class, so I have anxiety about that and THEN we have all the added “fun” of our littlest guy getting re-acclimated to his learning environment, schedule, paraprofessional and specialists.

    I hope everything goes as you hope it does this year and that the boys enjoy their school experience. I’ll cross my fingers to add to all your fingers. 🙂

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