Backpacks by the door, lunchboxes ready to be packed, outfits laid out, and two kids sound asleep before eight, could only mean one thing: School is back in session!
With the start of a new school year come new challenges, especially when you have a special needs child. All children and parents are worried.
- Who will be the new teacher?
- Which kids will be back in your class this year?
- When will lunch be? Will we get to play on the playground?
- Will the work be too hard?
When your child has special needs you get to add these additional questions.
- Will we get our favorite therapist back?
- Will all the pieces of her IEP plan come together?
- Will her teacher see the child beyond the needs?
- Will she make friends? Will kids be mean to her?
- How many phones calls and emails will I have to make to be sure it is all going as smooth as it can for my child?
This school year I vowed to stress less and trust more, it lasted less than two hours into the school year. Shortly after arriving at school, we were faced with our first challenge of the school year. While I struggle to keep stress at bay, my daughter seems to be rising beautifully to the challenge thrown her way at the start of this new year. Part of her specialized plan got lost in translation and they are having to work to fix that oversight. The staff at my daughter’s school have gone over and above to make sure my daughter is having the best start of the school year, despite the behind the scenes work being done to work out some glitches. I’ve lost count of how many emails I have already sent to teachers or other members of her team. I delegated the phones calls to my husband, which spreads the stress around a little bit more evenly. Despite all the behind the scenes groundwork to help her support team learn about her and her needs, my daughter is having a great first few days. She sees no challenges, just friends and great teachers.
She is happy to be with some of her friends from last year and seeing the rest of her friends on the playground is a highlight. She is getting to see her brother at lunch – he started Pre-K this year – and that makes their day. So far, she is working hard on the review work they have started and is so proud of what she has already learned this week. Her teachers are sharing positive attitudes and good first day work. All the stress I feel is quickly erased when I see her skipping down the walkway to my car at three o’ clock. The smile on her face tells me all I need to know, she is happy and she is cared for. This mommy will always fight for her needs but her happiness is really the key.
The challenges of having a first-time Pre-K child, in any type of school, are totally different than the ones facing my special needs daughter. He is thrilled to be in school finally (he has visited the school for years to see sissy), but learning rules and procedures is a little hard. He is already making new friends, and I laugh that they all seem to be girls. Going outside twice a day to play on the playground may be the favorite part of the day for now. However, he also seems excited to read and learn on the cool big computer screen in the room. I get lots of hugs when he comes out to the car, but it quickly becomes whiny time when the exhaustion catches up to him. The little boy who napped two hours a day, now gets 40 minutes. Which means mommy spends after school hours balancing keeping him happy and keeping him awake. Waking up and moving out the door early is a change for him as well. He is used to breakfast and leaving the house on a much slower schedule. He has also risen to the new changes in his life and seems to be enjoying being in a class and learning. I love watching him grow and become independent in a new way. His hugs at the end of the day warm me to the core.
The school year is off to a good start. The backpacks are still shiny and new and the faces still eager and smiling. I know that things will soon settle into a routine and the newness will slowly fade away. We will face more challenges and more bumps on the path, but stress can be managed and bumps can be smoothed out. I will look to my children as good examples and face each new challenge with a smile and with grace.
This mommy has new challenges to face as well. I look forward to sharing them soon.