When I had my first IEP meeting for Jack I went in full of anxiety. I left smiling ear to ear.
When I had my second, I walked out skeptical.
Today, I was was in tears.
But happy ones.
Today was confirmation of the idea that was presented to me just 6 weeks after Jack started preschool in his ASD classroom. He is ready to move on. In September Jack will part ways with the school ASD program and enter an inclusion classroom. He will no longer be in a special class with just kids on the spectrum and peer models….he will be in a less restrictive, more diverse environment with peers and kids of various developmental abilities.
And everyone, his teacher, the new teacher, all of his therapists, an ASD teacher friend of mine who has been helping us all along this journey…thinks he’s ready. The only one who was unsure was me.
Not only would he move to a new class, but it would be in a new school. The same school, in fact, that my daughter will be going to for kindergarten next year. It would make my life…wait a minute….EASIER. Gasp!?!? What’s that? I’ve been dancing the EI/Therapy/School/Life tango for almost two years now, flying out of one place to get home for the next session almost every day of the week…Easy? I don’t know how to handle that. I think part of how I survive in this life is by being so structured, mechanical in what we have to do every day. If things got easier? Well, I wouldn’t know what the hell to do with myself. (Though now that I’ve accepted the idea I’m intrigued to find out!)
So I went to visit the new class, and brought my skepticism right along with me. t I am very defensive when it comes to ASD, I learned the hard way that no one is handing out services like free lollipops at the bank…so I wasn’t ready for Jack to get the boot from the program I wanted him to be in so badly. And, well yeah, felt a little guilty about being enticed by the notion that my life could become a little bit more manageable.
But the skepticism all washed away. The teacher of the new class was amazing. She was older than my mother, yet had so much energy. She was in everything, with every kid, seamlessly transitioning from one thing to the next all while taking the time to help answer my questions. She understood my fear of Jack just becoming the “behavior kid” in class. She thought he could do well with her. And after seeing her, and how she dealt with kids in her class who were on the spectrum, as well as those who weren’t, I knew she was right….
But that night I still found myself sobbing to my husband. Jack’s current teacher had emailed me to ask how the visit went. And all I wanted to reply was:
“The teacher was great…but she wasn’t you. The class was nice, but it wasn’t yours.”
Jack’s teacher is amazing. She’s the type of teacher I wish every kid could have, on the spectrum or not. She’s energetic, engaging, organized, communicative, happy, LOVES her kids, loves her job, progressive, modern…she’s just, well, cool. And she is amazing with my son. Bottom line. So my problem was…that I didn’t want him to leave her.
But I knew that he had to.
So today, as I sat with her, his OT and the speech pathologist I apologized for “being a moron” with my ridiculous crying (if you know me you know I cry at basically everything.) Because I had to tell her that while I’m so unbelievably thankful that I get to see my son move out of the ASD program, I was so sad to see her not be his teacher anymore. I felt cheated because he only started in January and he didn’t even get a full year with her. If I had my way she’d be his teacher until he graduates and goes to MIT. Because Jack’s success this year wasn’t just because of a great program, but also because he had a great teacher. By the end we were both crying, so at least I’m not a complete moron, haha.
I hope, very much, that she is just the first of many. Because he deserves it. Jack has already proven what he can do. With the right support, there’s nothing that can stop him. And moving into the inclusion class is just the next step in that journey. And I’m so unbelievably proud of him.