A family's story

The boys finished their first week of school. In the grand scheme of things, they had a relatively good first week. Jake made it through without any meltdowns or shut downs. We did discover that he needs a more substantial snack in the morning to make it through to lunch, but that was easily rectified. Tate had a good sense of expectations, and it is a blessing that he has the same classroom and teacher this year. He has been able to rely on past experience to better understand what is expected of him in the classroom. Cole is my flexible little guy–he did great at a new preschool with a group of kiddos he didn’t know. He already has 3 new friends.

On the down-side, it was hot. The classrooms were muggy and stale. The hallways were oppressive. I don’t know how the teachers and kids made it through five days in that sweat-hole. Jake looked like he had showered when he got him, his hair was so drenched with sweat. Tate’s classroom has a window air-conditioning unit, but he still had to have lunch and specials in non-a/c rooms. The district did a good job of monitoring the kids and provided industrial fans and water stations and even juice pops on Friday as a refreshing treat. However, I suspect that little learning was accomplished in those 5 days. The heat broke, but the temps are supposed to be back in the high 80’s by the end of the week. Blargh. Just. Blargh.

I had been in constant communication with Tate’s teacher about his transition to the school year. Each day she remarked that he was doing great, and that he was even taking a lead with some of the classroom activities. He was ready to learn all week, and he even got to pick a prize for excellent behavior on Thursday. I held my breath. Taters was having a great start.  He was adjusting. And then, he wasn’t.

On Friday when I came to get him for therapy, his teacher was with him. First, he had just had an accident in the bathroom. He didn’t make it. That hasn’t happened in such a long time. And, then, well, he spit in a peer’s face during music. It was one of his friends from his self-contained classroom. Music is a very, very difficult “special” for Tate. It’s loosey-goosey. It’s noisy. It’s chaotic. Typical peers move around a lot, and not predictably, let alone the other kiddos from Tate’s classroom who push into that class. It’s generally an every-kid-for-himself type scenario. Tate loves music and singing. He does NOT love the chaos and lack of structure. Because of the atmosphere, it was hard to determine whether the spitting was provoked or if it was just Tate being unable to regulate himself.  We all agree that the heat on top of the long first week back on top of the chaos was the perfect storm for Tate to become dysregulated and behave unexpectedly. He did get a “red” mark in his behavior card, but hopefully it is a one-time occurrence.

Tate did express remorse over the spitting incident. He went up to his friend and genuinely apologized. When his teacher probed to see if Tate understood, she said that he really did seem to understand that spitting was not appropriate, and that if his friend was bothering him, there were other things Tate could have done. He now has some options on his visual schedule to choose if he is feeling bothered. I hope it helps.

On Wednesday we had Jake’s curriculum night– the one where the teacher goes over everything planned for the year. I totally fell in love with his teacher. She is in this profession for a reason..and it isn’t the money. It is obvious that she loves what she does, she loves her class, and she wants to teach more than just to the test. LOVE it. I am also super excited that she is all about student responsibility. It’s not her job, nor our job, as parents, to write assignments down, have the right materials, and get it turned it. Of course we guide and support our children, but, ultimately, it is THEIR responsibility to get their work done. This will be HUGE for Jake. I know that we’ll have to take his weaker executive functioning skills into account, but I know this is going to be a great way for him to gain more independence and grow. We’ll have a few bumps along the way, but I know he’ll come out on top.

I was all high on my “Jake’s-teacher-is-amazeballs” feeling when I spoke to Jake’s resource teacher. She brought me down. Way down. Jake is adjusting to fourth grade fairly well. He is in good spirits, is self-talking through some of the daily rough patches, and is eager to learn. Those are great. However, he is much more aware of how different he is. And we all know how much that feeling SUCKS. It just does.

The school’s OT brought Jake’s arsenal of tools into his classroom Tuesday during the time when Jake’s resource teacher pushes in for Reading. The entire freaking class was there. Jake froze. He started to tremble a bit when the OT tried to get him to stand up so she could put the chair cushion on his seat, and the slant-board on his desk for handwriting. (Quite honestly, Jake doesn’t need that damn thing. His printing is fine. Spacing is another story…we need to work on that.) I feel like she should have slapped a big ‘ol sticker on his forehead while she was at it. Ugh. Luckily, the resource teacher talked him into walking to get a drink, which he did, and that movement got him over the embarrassment. But, still. Oh. my. heart.

In general, though, Jake is loving fourth grade. I think he likes being one of the “big” kids. He relishes the role of being a role model. (He has oodles of experience as a big brother.) He likes the kids who sit in his desk “pod”. He has friends on the playground who don’t care about his seat cushion or slant board or the fact that he is in resource for more minutes than he is in the typical classroom. So, there are a lot of positives. (Oh, and Jake is going to start playing viola in the orchestra. He is very excited about it. Their first session is tomorrow. Oh, my ears. I am accepting recommendations for superb noise-cancelling headphones!!)

Oh, and not to leave out Cole…he is in the integrated preschool program. He’s a neurotypical child mixed in with other typical kiddos, as well as kiddos with IEPs, like Tate. He is LOVING preschool. His teacher told me that he’s a great role model, and that he is wonderful about including everyone. He has helped out kiddos who aren’t able to do some of the fine motor play, and he wants everyone to play on the playground outside. She said he’s the life of the party. Oh, she knows him well!

I hear all about his day from the moment Cole gets in the van until we pull up the driveway at home. He tells me about calendar time, about the songs they sing, about what projects they make, and the games he plays on the playground. I absolutely adore the window into his world. I cherish it more than words can say, because, well, I know the other side all too well. It’s a breath of fresh air to not have to wonder about what was done and how he feels about it.

One week down….and many more to go!


Comments on: "One week down….several more to go" (2)

  1. I played viola in school too!

    • That’s awesome! I played clarinet for a year. Not my thing. He brings it home tonight. I am hopeful that he likes it and learns to play fairly easily!

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