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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Preparing for This School Year - August 2009

In preparation of school, we are not talking about it too far in advance. Last year was quite different, only because he was switching to a whole new building, but since he is returning to the same one as last year, I chose to withhold the S word until now, one full week before school begins.

Depending on the circumstances of how to handle the upcoming school year, I think its different for each child. Withholding the S word ensures Jacob of having no anxiety about school yet. All he needs is to hear a word, and it manifests setting off panic and non-stop attacks. Its not the typical anxiety everyone feels before a new year begins, it is magnified and repetitive for Jake. Besides himself, he would be driving everyone else in the household crazy!! I know my son very well, and he would be loosing sleep thinking about the upcoming school year. It would give him reason to dwell on negative thoughts concerning teachers and peers, also bringing up past experiences and events, so I am not giving him this reason. He is unable to put things into perspective and think logically about them. Besides, he is having such a wonderful summer, I hate to spoil it.

Being a typical Aspie, Jacob has a very hard time with transitions. The year before last was a complete disaster when he began a new school, (I moved him to a very small Lutheran school to public school), and it was just awful for him. Jake got lost in the halls, panicked over the bus, the class size doubled which overwhelmed him, there were several incidents with teachers and students, etc. etc. The year was full of crying and meltdowns literally every day. I know he did not learn a darn thing that year due to his mental state. It was awful to say the least. I blame no one but myself for this. I thought I did a good job preparing him for the changes, and assumed the school staff knew better. I failed at being Jacobs advocate; to explain who he was and obtaining what he needs at the school.

I learned from that experience, followed my instincts, and really focused on the transition process the before the beginning of last year. Jake switched schools again, but to move was with the rest of his peers to the 5- 6 grade school. The whole staff at the new school probably thought I was nuts. But the change went quite a bit smoother than the previous year. We must of visited the school a dozen times over the summer. Jacob would just wonder the halls to see where they lead to, he basically memorized the school layout, and visited any open rooms. Jake made contact with a resource room teacher several times, the principal. school secretaries, and ESAP. I explained thoroughly Jacobs mannerisms, his fears, his issues to everyone that would listen. I gave Jake's new main teacher a copy of my blog too!! I thought this was extremely helpful to him since he did not know what aspergers was. I don't think I could do any thing more to prepare him.

This year since Jake will be returning to the same school, the only thing different will be his main teacher, and of coarse the location of his class. Thank God his extraordinary resource room teacher, Mrs. H, will remain the same! This gives Jacob, (and I ), a huge comfort as far as this year goes. In my previous posts I have bragged about her, what an amazing person and gentle teacher she is. I know she will be a advocate for Jacob at school, which takes a lot pressure off. So, all that's left is contact with Jacobs new teacher, and I will try and fill her in as best as I can before school begins sometime this week. I am praying this new teacher will be open-minded, flexible, have a few tricks up her sleeve, and a sense of humor. Am I asking for too much??

I don't understand why special ed students don't get a meeting with their teacher before school starts. I realize it must be very difficult at the beginning of the school year when all teachers are setting up the classroom and getting everything ready. I think it would be very beneficial to the special ed students as well as the teacher to spend some time with those new students. Perhaps having an hour playing games with them, and another hour explaining her classroom rules. This would help those new students to get to know the new atmosphere and mix with the new teacher a bit. It would give the new teacher some perspective on her new students and a head start for the students. I think that would be a wonderful way to transition for Jacob! I'm asking myself why isn't this being done?

I have just now started to clean Jake's closet and drawers in his bedroom out, getting rid of the clothes that don't fit and deciding what he needs to begin school. During this process I have started to talk to Jacob about the beginning of school in a matter of fact way. His response was positive, inquired about Mrs. H, and how the summer has just flown by. I have shopped alone and bought some school supplies, without Jacob going with me and tucked them away. I think next week I will take them out and show them.

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