Wednesday, September 01, 2010

autism and junior kindergarten. are we ready for this jelly?

Max and Nicky (one of his super wonderful daycare teachers)
Max starts junior kindergarten next Wednesday. Seven sleeps until we take his little world, throw it up in the air and see where all the pieces land. Then we will all scramble around for a month trying to figure out who goes where and what’s that teacher’s name again and when does Max get picked up on what day and who’s picking him up and what’s that special ed teacher inferring and I don’t think I like that person’s attitude and bloody hell why isn’t Max sleeping through the night and why is his toilet training going sideways yet again?

Yeah, it’s going to be GREAT.

Starting junior kindergarten (jk) is a huge milestone for Max. It’s a necessary step in helping him learn how to socialize with new people, deal with new environments, and all that good stuff. But to say it will be very stressful on all involved is putting it mildly.

As parents, it scares Scott and me to death. It’s the first step to putting Max out in the big scary world where we can’t control every little aspect of who interacts with him and what he is exposed to. Granted, there will be many people working with Max to ensure he is safe and happy (familiar faces along with new faces). I suspect Max will probably handle it better than we do.

His new teachers are going to have to figure out how they are going to run their program which is streamlined for neurotypical kids while also finding a way to include Max. This is always a challenge because it will take Max a while to learn their new routine, and it will take them a while to learn the ins and outs of Max – what he loves and what upsets him.

Many of the kids in his room will be away from their moms and dads for the first time, and for all of them it will be a new world with foreign expectations. Add to that the kid named Max who doesn’t talk much and doesn’t act like the rest of them and why does he always leave right after lunch? And why does he get so upset when the lights get turned off or when he gets the least bit wet? Why does he have his own teacher with him all the time?

Max is going to feel overwhelmed and exhausted as he has to work twice as hard to self-acclimate in this completely new environment.  The majority of the faces will be unfamiliar, the kindergarten room is huge, the outdoor play area is a great wide open space, and the number of kids in the room will be double what he is used to. If you have ever travelled somewhere new where you don’t speak the language and you feel lost in your surroundings you have a hint at how Max will feel. Except you can look up the words you need to know in a translation book and figure out where you need to go with a map. Max doesn’t necessarily have those tools at his disposal yet. And while he may not be able to articulate that he misses the daycare and the teachers he is used to, I suspect that deep down he will be confused as to why only his sister Cameron is getting dropped off at the daycare he loves so much and now he is getting taken to this new place.

So, I guess we better all eat our wheaties over the next while. I am going with the “take it a day at a time” mantra in the hopes that this helps me not completely lose it over every lost lunchbox, parent permission form and milk money demands. Giddyup.

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