Tuesday, 10 June 2014

School Days

The first day of school can be nerve racking for the best of us. I don't really remember my first day of school, but we did move a lot, and I remember some of my subsequent first days. Everyone looking at you, not knowing anyone, trying to make friends with people you know nothing about, and trying to orient yourself with your new surroundings.
Now I'm a pretty social person, well at least I used to be before I became a mom and have lost touch with the outside world ;). I have a fairly easy time striking up a conversation with someone I don't know, and I can adapt pretty quickly to a new place; But, it is still tough. You second guess yourself, doubt all the things that normally draw people to you, say things you wouldn't normally say, behave like a different version of yourself.
I can only imagine going through all that, if I was particularly uncomfortable in new settings or social situations. If I was someone who clung for dear life to routine and familiarity, and was being ripped from both. Not to mention the whole LEARNING aspect of it all.

I have been worried about little man going off to school for a long time. So much so, that I have many times considered home schooling, or getting a job at his school so that I can be on hand for him (I don't think the latter is even possible, but I'm a desperate woman.)

There are other reasons why I worry too, like his lack of understanding to what is appropriate and inappropriate, for example feeling the urge to go to the washroom, stripping down buck naked and THEN proceeding to walk to the bathroom. It doesn't seem to matter how many times we discuss it, he keeps doing it. This would not be good in the middle of the classroom.
His temper, MY GOD the temper on this kid... we are used to it, been happening since he was 1. Little man gets embarrassed, angry, anxious, overwhelmed, insert negative emotion her, and KABOOM! Ginger snap! We know how to best diffuse him, we know when he's ready to move on or continue with the activity. A stranger wouldn't know any of that. They may even treat him like a crazed lunatic and not a child in need of assistance regaining his composure.
And then there's the kids. I know, kids are mean, everyone gets bullied at some point, yada yada, but that sucks! I don't want to send my baby off to slaughter and just have to accept it because "kids will be kids". Little man may meltdown, scream, hit walls sometimes, and look a lot to an outsider like he's poorly behaved, but in reality, he does nothing with malicious intent. He is sweet and kind, and would never tease someone or pick on them to make himself feel better. He certainly is a target for it though, isn't he... sitting duck.

Last year, Little man was four, and poised to go into Junior Kindergarten. He has come a long way since then, and looking back, I can't even imagine what life would have been like this past year if he had started school then. We made a decision to skip JK, and put him into SK this coming fall. We met the natural bit of criticism about our choice, some people agreed, some didn't understand it at all, and some thought that school would be the best tool to help him socially. Because of my own anxieties about him going to school, I had to weed through my feelings and decipher which were based off of a general fear for him and his academic future, and which were legitimate, and warranted waiting. We chose to wait. Despite what people said, despite what all the other parents were doing, despite the fact that he said he wanted to go. We did talk with him and discussed five year old school instead of four year old school and he seemed content with that. We did what we felt was right.

The last thing we wanted for our son, was to go into this already scary, difficult new world, with an inability to dress himself, or say what was bothering him, or be in the same room as other children. Seemed cruel to just shove him in and go "He'll learn, He'll sort it out." We wanted to set him up to be as successful as possible.
So over the last year we have worked on social skills, controlling anger and outbursts, and following direction. He may not be able to handle these things as easily as a neurotypical child, but he has made marked improvement and is going to face everything with a confidence he did not have a year ago.

I'm still scared. I have no idea what is in store for him/us, and I'm not going to lie, I cried while I filled out his registration papers, but at least now, we can give it a go, knowing that the entire time, we had his best interest in mind and made decisions for him, not the masses. I will be his advocate at school, and anywhere else for that matter, and we will cope with all these new, scary things together, all while learning a little something from the curriculum too ;)

Having an A-typical child requires an A-typical approach. They will spend the better part of their lives having people try to make a square peg fit into a round whole. But what is right for some, or even most, may not be right for your child. Take the time to make these decisions for yourself, don't just fall in line. Don't just do what everyone else is doing. Be an example to your child to stand up and choose their own path, make the right choices for THEM.