Whenever my son starts a new school year, the anxiety I feel seems to over take my emotional well being. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a mom who cries when their child goes to school. I am the mom that is excited for school to start!! But, when you have a kiddo that struggles socially there seems to be more planning involved. My son has a hard time making friends. He has a hard time reading people unless you are being obvious and straight up with him.
Last year we enrolled Joey into a private Montessori school. He was coming from a public school where he had an IEP, he had teachers wanting to push him into the Autism Support Classroom (he has a diagnosis and the more kids in the Autism Support Class, the more funds the school got).
For Joey we had 3 options for school.
- Stay in the public school setting. He would continue with his IEP and receive services through the state. Public school setting is more structured. So, if Joey didn’t want to do a work that the rest of the class was doing, he could have an episode. This would look like a behavior issue and we would get more push to go into an Autism Support Class.
- Go to our Pilot school. This is a very expensive private school geared towards kids who would be better in a smaller class setting, were on the spectrum but high functioning. This would actually be a perfect setting for Joey, but like I said, very expensive.
- Have him go to a Private Montessori school. Put him in a place where he can thrive, have opportunities to be social and be able to bring in HIS team. Expensive but doable.
We decided that for his Pre-K year we would go with the Montessori setting. This would give us an idea what his school life would look like if he didn’t have his supports in place (meaning no IEP) but still be able to bring people in if he needed it. From here we would see a couple things. Will he be okay in a larger classroom setting like what he would get in public school? Or will be be better off in the smaller classroom setting, and would we need to send him to Pilot?
What we learned, the bigger classroom was a struggle for him when he didn’t have supports in place.
We tried Montessori last year with him and there was so much we loved about the classroom setting. Joey got to dictate what he did in his day. His teacher was amazing and worked with him on creating a to do list with him. She made sure to work in little breaks for him. In a regular school setting the kids sit down together and work on a subject. But, for Joey, if he didn’t want to do Math when the other kids were, it would become a behavior issue. At Montessori he gets to dictate his day.
A New School
For kindergarten, we transferred to a different Montessori. Our new school is a public Montessori school and Joey can receive his services here. In order to get the services he needed we had to do a school autism assessment. He is now good to go at his new school.
So here is what makes my heart race. Joey is this amazing, brilliant little guy who struggles to make friends. He made 3 friends last year who were AMAZING with Joey and Joey misses them very much this year. So to start a new school I have to introduce all the new team members (new teachers and new school therapists) to the tribe. I have to make sure everyone is on the same page and that everyone is talking. I need to make sure his new teachers know how to best work with Joey without stepping on their toes. I need his new teachers to be okay with Joey having outside help (ABA Therapists) coming into the classroom to help him in different situations.
Meet Your Teacher Day
The day we met his teacher was not on the official “meet your teacher” day. We went a couple days before with his ABA Therapist. I wanted her and the teachers to meet face to face before some random person showed up in class one day. I wanted the teachers to be comfortable with our ABA and for our ABA to talk to the teachers on what they can expect with her in the classroom. When we got there Joey did not want to go into his classroom. He said, “this is stupid, it smells in here, this is boring, I hate it here, this isn’t my classroom.” We tried to coax him in but when that failed we just ignored his behavior. This worked! He slowly made his way in and started familiarize himself with the class. Yay!! He’s now excited to go to school!!
Time To Go To School
We’ve done our assessments, we have a short term IEP signed, we’ve met the teachers, and Joey’s Tribe has been introduced to each other. On the first day of school he doesn’t want to get on the bus. After school he struggles to walk with the other students to the bus. When he’s in class he has a couple issues but overall he transitioned well. Every morning he fights me, he doesn’t want to go to school. School is stupid. School is boring. So and so is in my class. Ding ding ding!!! That’s it!!
I emailed his teacher and asked if there was a certain kid in Joey’s class. She confirmed that he was. Last year this child was in the room next to Joey’s but they would play together on the playground. Then one day, Joey was done. And when I say done, he wanted nothing to do with this kid. He would tell me, “he’s mean to me.” Because I know my kid, you can never know which way to go. I always trust my son first but I also know because of his social struggles I have to look deeper into the issue.
Yesterday when Joey got off the bus he told me he met a friend on the bus and that he had a great day at school. I pray every day that he has a good day overall. I will always worry about him, I’m his mom, it’s what we as mom’s do. We love our kids so fiercely we want to do everything we can to protect them.