The beginning of every school year brings our anxiety levels back to the red zone. We know that with each year more is going to be expected of our son and we worry about how he’ll meet these expectations. Is the teacher going to be a good fit? Will she understand him, work with him yet push him? Will the curriculum be too difficult? Will the homework be too much? And the worries go on and on. Then school starts and after a few weeks we get into a routine.
This school year was no different in that regard. We panicked when we saw the spelling list and weren’t sure how he would handle two hours of uninterrupted reading instruction in the classroom. Timed math test seemed impossible and our jaws hit the floor when we found out about oral book reports. I cannot stress the importance of the relationship with the teachers and other professionals working to help your child. We voiced our concern with the teacher who has been more than accommodating. We informed our occupational therapists of what was happening in the classroom and she incorporated some of it in his therapy. As always, we do something related to school every day at home. Our consistency has paid off.
In November my son was re-evaluated for his IEP plan. He had been pulled from class for special instruction in math (which meant he didn’t have to do the timed math test, a small blessing). At the time of the evaluation he tested at grade level and on target with his peers. So they decided he would stay in the classroom that he longer needed to be pulled for math. The teacher individualized his math work to catch him up completely. She also eased him into those dreaded timed test which he wasn’t nearly as nervous about as we were. He was happy to get to stay with the class but said he was sad that he wouldn’t be going to see his math teacher.
Our occupational therapist has to turn in goals to the insurance company to get approval for coverage. December was time to evaluate how he was doing on current goals and to set new ones to turn in. He had met all his goals previously set. This is like hitting a grand slam in our world. We turned in new goals and were only approved for twelve sessions for the next six months. Initially that made us very nervous. But what it really means is that he is progressing and we don’t need our OT as much as we did, which is the ultimate goal (although we dread the day it is all over as she has been a weekly part of our lives for two years now).
A few weeks ago there was note in his folder explaining that they would be starting book reports and informed the parents of the grading criteria. They did a few practice runs in class before they were graded but I was still not sure how he would handle this. He is very sensitive to people laughing at him when he does something funny but didn’t mean for it to be funny and goes into meltdown mode if he is miss-understood. So we were nervous. We took this to OT and she worked with him on giving an oral report to the class (body language, eye contact, not fidgeting etc.). At home we focused more on the written portion and practiced a few times the night before. His first book report he made a 95 and 105 on the second. Another grand slam.
His most recent score came with conquering his word list. Much like site words in kindergarten, they are given word lists and have to be able to read the whole list before moving on to the next level. He was pulled from class a few times a week for extra help working on these words. This week he came home and told me he had a present in his backpack. I asked him what it was for. He said that the teacher, who had been working with him on his words, gave him a present for learning his words. He said, “I don’t have to go see her anymore because I don’t need to.” This individual instruction caught him up with the rest of the class. SCOOORRREE. I was so freakin’ proud.
These are all perfect examples of this team of people working together to help my son. We didn’t want him to need special instruction but are so glad we weren’t too proud to allow him the help he needed. It can be hard at times to know when to push or when to back off. My husband and I have learned we don’t have to figure this out all on our own. We are so thankful for the people who pushed him (and us) when needed. Those same people are also willing to say let’s let him get comfortable with this task before moving on. This balancing act has led to a series of touchdowns that we continue to celebrate.