In a week and a half my son enters Kindergarten. He survived, and thrived the previous two years at the Title I preschool. Granted, his classroom had a total of ten children, a regular education teacher, special education teacher, and a paraprofessional all there to help these ten children cope with the four hours they were in the classroom. It was in this environment that we were referred to genetics, neurology, psychology, and eventually a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified, Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder. In the small classroom he blossomed. He went from two word phrases to complete conversations. He is ninety percent potty trained. In the last month of school he finally played with another child (after two years with the same children).
On the other hand, his teacher had him sit on the elephant on the first day of school and the rest of the year he would race to that spot. He would shed his coat and backpack, push people out of the way to get to that spot, and when his teachers began to either stand on that spot or put other children there he would have a meltdown. (The teacher’s began to do this as a way to help him learn flexibility).
He craves proprioceptive and vestibular input. He likes to bump into people. It feels good. He is a sensory seeker, and avoider – not sure how that happens but I see it on a daily basis. Each day when I got him off the bus, after riding for less than five from school, either a child or the bus driver would inform me that he wasn’t keeping his hands to himself. I don’t know how many times the bus driver would say to me “You need to talk with your child about how important it is to keep his hands to himself.” I would smile, say “okay”, and attempt to have the conversation with him. “But I didn’t do anyfing.” Would always be his response. He thinks very much in the moment, and when talking to him about past transgressions he doesn’t quite get it – because it isn’t what is happening RIGHT NOW. Right now he ISN’T doing “anyfing”!
In a week and a half my son enters Kindergarten. He will have one teacher. He will be bunched up with 25 other students. He will spend 15 to 45 minutes on the school bus. He will be pulled out of the classroom for speech therapy, and one on one specially designed instruction focused on social skills. They have an hour a week built into the schedule for him to take care of his sensory needs – which means when he is having a meltdown the teacher can send him to the resource room for some sensory input.
While I worry, he is excited to ride the school bus. Every day he asks to be taken by his “New School” when we pass his “Old School”. “Mommy, I growed too big for my old school.” “Yup, you did.” We talk about all the fun things he is going to get to do. We play “school” to keep his skills up, and I’m super amazed at how he has started to “get it” when it comes to rhymes and beginning sounds. I know his two years at the preschool has put him ahead of some of the other students which will enter Kindergarten without the intense instruction he received.
BUT! In a week and a half my son enters Kindergarten. I find myself a bit anxious as that first day looms ahead of me. While my son is excited I make sure to stay positive – but inside I am a quivering mess. I’m going to share something with you all. It isn’t any big secret if you know me, especially since I share it with most people anyways. I suffer from anxiety. This sometimes causes me to worry about things that I have no control over. It reminds me a lot of my son (In fact one of the first doctors we saw said that his abnormal fears of loud sounds, toilet flushing, etc. were his way of mirroring his momma’s anxiety). I admit right now I am stressed out about how he is going to do in a classroom of 25+ students. I worry that he will fall between the cracks. I stress that he will be a lonely child like his father and mother were as children (we were both introverts – not necessarily by choice).
In the last couple of days I have had my mother, one of my best friends, and his state appointed case manager tell me that everything is going to be fine.
Mom – “Remember how you struggled with learning to read? Look at you now, you have your Masters Degree in reading!”
My Friend – When I told her his school case manager (different from the state’s case manager) was a lady I worked with in the high school four years ago she said “See, no worries”. She then gave me some great advice about being relaxed about school starting (and it really is some great advice I plan on using).
His Case Manager from the state – “You never know – HE JUST MIGHT SURPRISE YOU!”
Each one, in a roundabout way, has told me to take a chill pill. One of them even agreed when I said to them, “So, I just need to stop worrying so much and take a chill pill.” I was saying it a little out of sarcasm (which always has a hint of the truth when I use it), but it still stung when they said, “YUP”.
In a week and a half my son starts Kindergarten, and I am a mess. I know that my sweet, sweet boy will make the teachers fall in love with him (he does that to EVERY adult he has ever come in contact with). I know that he will have a blast drawing trains when he should be coloring the pictures that start with the /r/ sound. I know we will get through this! I just wish that I had someone put their arms around me and say “It’s okay, He’s GOING TO BE OKAY.” And not “Take A Chill Pill”