Thursday, April 22, 2010

Max is Registered For JK.

And then I barfed.

Wait. Let's back up a bit.

I was supposed to register Max for JK back in February. While I wish I was "just kidding", JK actually stands for Junior Kindergarten. In our public school system. I'm not sure when my baby turned into a boy on me, but here we are and once again I am faced with making really important decisions on Max's behalf.

I called the school in our neighbourhood and spoke with a very nice woman about our unique situation. Much to my surprise, she didn't cringe when I told her Max has Autism. In fact, there was a process set up for her to follow, and the school has a little boy with Autism in their Senior Kindergarten class this year. They were even making accommodations for this child from a scheduling perspective (a relief for me considering Max is in therapy every afternoon). All I needed to do was come in and fill out some forms, bring copies of birth certificates and property tax statements to get him "officially" registered to start this September. No biggie. The Special Education teacher called that afternoon and introduced herself. The ball was rolling.

It took me 2 months to go in and fill in the paperwork. And when I finally did it, I somehow "managed" to forget to bring all of that important documentation they required. I didn't return with that paperwork for another 3 weeks (and 2 calls and an email reminder from the school admin). After officially enrolling Max in Junior Kindergarten, I came home, felt light headed and went into my bathroom.

And then I barfed.

So here we are where we started.

The Special Education teacher is observing Max at daycare with a member of the Halton Autism team next Wednesday. They need to determine what his needs are and how they can best support him in the classroom. He will definitely require a dedicated EA (Education Assistant). At this point I'm not sure what other resources will be made available to him.

This is really happening and I couldn't be more stressed out about it. I know that if we decide Max isn't ready we aren't tied down to having him go to JK. I know that Max has shown me he can handle a surprising number of new situations, that he actually thrives when he is around other children.

But this is the real world, with real kids and adults that won't necessarily understand Max. Sure there will be people in place to watch out for him. It still scares me. It is a reminder that I can't protect him forever (like in this picture back in June 2009). I want to be able to shelter him from mean kids and ignorant adults. I want to keep him safe. But I don't want to hold him back.

Max deserves a chance to show us what he can do. Many people believe children with Autism should not be integrated into the public school system. They think they should be kept in environments that cater 100% to their needs. I get that. Many children with Autism are not able to function in an integrated environment. I think it's worth a shot though. We just have to be okay with backing out if it isn't what is best for Max. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.


  1. It's such a big step! It'll be so great to see him grow and learn!!

    Are you able to observe the class now and see how the EA and teacher work with the SK child that is Autistic? It might give you a better idea of what to expect and identify any potentially challenging areas so that you can work on them before school starts.

    I wish I had known how loud and chaotic the room was and how much of the kid's time was self-directed. We really had no clue and I probably would have done some things differently in order to help Charlotte adjust better.

  2. Hi Kat. JK is such a big step and my wife and I are also nervous about our son as he starts in the fall as well.
    Are you familiar with the IPRC process (The Identification, Placement, and Review Committee) which is the formal meeting that identifies the needs of the child? Typically this is done in May/June with yourself, his SLPs, OTs, other therapist as well as the school's principal and EA teacher.
    I could write a bunch more if you're interested, just let me know.

  3. Anonymous7:01 a.m.

    I believe in inclusion. Not only will Max benefit because he can learn from his typical peers, but the children and their parents (if they are open mined enough) can learn a lot from Max. Hopefully they will learn acceptance, tolerance, compassion. Lessons that are extremely valuable and need to be taught. Good luck. We will be down this read next year so keep us posted!

  4. I blieve in inclusion too, but in a very structured and developmentally appropriate way - which is not possible in any school system because of the nature of "school system" where our kids will just learn to cope. My son would only suffer, so right now I am keeping him out.

  5. Caroline5:19 p.m.

    I too believe in inclusion. And, since Max will be required to attend some kind of school by no later than grade 1, starting now is the way to go, to give him some time to get started and acclimatised, and to have the school acclimated to him, too.

    And, yes, the IPRC is vital -- from it flows all the other stuff that needs to happen. Try to believe that this will be a good thing, he is young and strong and ready to learn, if he's given a chance, and perhaps this will be that chance to step forward. I know you'll be working to help him along that path, and I'm hoping that the path will open up in front of him.

    I'll tell you that what you've described about how the school is going about preparing to receive him is encouraging, compared to many other schools out there. Have a little faith, in your boy and in the school, until they show you it's not warranted... and even if he didn't have autism, this would be a bit of a wrench, as I remember.... :-)