Reed has 10.5 days of school left until summer vacation. This has gotten me thinking lately about how far he’s come since we started at this school at the beginning of Kindergarten. Preschool in the local school district was a nightmare, so we made the decision to move to a Charter school 15 miles from home. I am so glad we did. I cannot imagine where Reed would be if we had tried to stick it out in the city schools. Granted, we didn’t have a diagnosis then, but they weren’t the least bit interested in helping him. They were only interested in what he could get for the school. They were almost drooling at the thought of the FM sound-field he’d get as a hearing impaired student, but didn’t want to do any testing to qualify him. Instead, they expected me to drive him 60 miles to his audiologist, even though they knew I had no car at the time. Yeah. Not gonna happen. He ended up not getting anything at all because they were just completely unwilling to help with anything. They actually threatened to suspend him from Preschool for behavior issues, and told us on numerous occasions to do something about him. As if we weren’t already trying. Within just a few weeks of starting Kindergarten, his new teacher had picked up on a few behaviors that I was oblivious to (Reed is my first child, so how was I supposed to know all kids weren’t like this?). I mentioned them to his behavioral therapist, who diagnosed him with PDD-NOS. I mentioned this to his teacher the next day, and she quickly scribbled down all the information I could give her (which wasn’t much at that point) and promised to look into it. I got a call from the school psychologist a few days later asking for permission to begin testing him for ASD, and asking if we’d agree to let them assign him a one-on-one aide to see if it helped. I was elated. Finally we had found a place that wanted to teach him. They genuinely wanted to help him, and they were. Gradually, the outbursts at school grew fewer and farther between. He loved his aide, and began to love school too. We upgraded his diagnosis to Asperger’s in the spring and haven’t looked back. Well, that’s not true. It seems all I can do is look back. And I’m liking what I’m seeing.
This year has been so fabulous, I’m almost afraid to talk about it for fear of jinxing it. So far this year, he’s only had 2 days that his teacher described as “not good” and one of those we realized after the fact that we’d forgotten his morning meds. Things got even better when we discovered the magical vitamin that makes him sleep through the night almost every night. I am so proud of him I’m practically giddy. He has been filling his sticker chart like a madman, and is a mere one sticker away from the 2nd to best prize. One more week and he’ll win the grand prize: an expansion pack for his train set. I guess I better start saving up my money, huh?
I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the fantastic people who have helped Reed get to where he is at school. First, his Kindergarten teacher who was the first to catch on to some important clues that led to diagnosis. I am so grateful for her comments in that parent-teacher conference. She was kind and mentioned them not as accusations, like the last school, but as observations. She was very patient with Reed all year, even when he overturned the bookcases at the end of nearly every school day for the first 6 months of school. You have to really love your students to put up with that. Then there was his first aide, Mrs. C. Reed’s birthday is just a few days off from her grandson, who lived out of state. She loved him like her own flesh and blood even though she wasn’t supposed to get attached. She brought him little trinkets all the time, and sent him emails a few times a week telling him how proud she was of some accomplishment or letting him know in advance what was coming up in the classroom. He was very upset when she moved across the country. She still emails occasionally to ask how we’re doing. She played an important role in his turnaround in school, and will always hold a special place in my heart. His teacher this year is so wonderful I scarcely know where to begin. If you looked up ‘structure’ in the dictionary, you just might find her picture. Her classroom is ordered, her students well behaved. She has complete control over that classroom every time I stop in, and yet she’s almost always joking with a student or offering someone encouragement or help with an assignment. She doesn’t let them get away with anything, but it’s not because they’re afraid of her. They respect her, and for 7 and 8 year olds that’s saying something. I’m selfishly hoping they keep Reed in this class for another year (he’s in a split class so staying here wouldn’t mean being held back) just so we can have her another year. That’s how much I love Mrs. B. And last, but certainly not least, Mrs. G. I was terrified when Mrs. C announced she was moving. Reed had bonded so well with her that I didn’t think anyone else could possible be as good as she was. Mrs. G proved me wrong tenfold. She is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Ever. Seriously. She can get him to do amazing things. Things that I cannot even get him to do. When she first started, I used to send in little notes in the morning, or drop him off myself so I could warn her about his mood. “He was up early and is wound up.” or “He had a meltdown because we were out of the cereal he wanted. He might take a while to recover.” I don’t have to do that anymore. If he’s having a bad morning, he tells her so when he arrives in the classroom. She can predict how he’ll react to a situation before it even happens and is prepared to help him through it. Substitute teacher? No problem. She has his things moved to her desk and he works with her for the day. School assembly? Piece of cake. She talks to him about it ahead of time and stakes out seats close to the exit in case he needs to get up and take a walk. Even little things like rescheduling a spelling test have some sort of solution already worked out before he ever gets to school. She’s even babysitting both kids for me so I can sit through my brother’s wedding uninterrupted. What’s not to love?
Okay, I guess that’s enough rambling from me. Off to accomplish something other than Myspace for the day.