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Walkin’ on Sunshine

One full week of school down and Lily is walking on sunshine. Seriously.  She’s elated.  I’ve never seen her this happy about school…. ever.  She’s feeling confident and she’s proud of herself. We’re proud of her.  She’s really working hard on handling this transition well.  I’m amazed.  This is how I always imagined my kid would be… if I’d had a plain ol’ boring, ordinary kid.  I keep asking myself… why exactly IS it going so well?  I don’t know. It’s not the meds ‘cause I never got that that prescription filled and now it seems like she doesn’t need it.  Her anxiety seems manageable.  She still has a mini-freakout every morning when it’s time to get out of the car and walk into school.  But it’s 5 seconds and she recovers quickly.  Is it a fresh start without all the bad feelings she associated with elementary school?  Has her frontal lobe developed just enough so that she can handle the new demands on her executive functioning?  Maybe all of it. What I really suspect, is that we finally have enough supports in place to allow her feel safe and confident at school.

Thanks to her IEP, Lily can wear a hat, chew gum and sit on a exercise ball, all of which help her focus.  The fluorescent lights are filtered so that the flicker doesn’t give her a headache and make her irritable.  She has a system in place, using index cards, so that she can ask her teacher for sensory breaks without drawing attention to herself.  She can eat lunch outside if the cafeteria is too loud.  She brings her lunch so she doesn’t have to wait in line where it’s noisy.

As far as organization goes, one of the 6th grade Special Ed teachers has been heading up the Lily containment effort.  I’ve been keeping her in the loop on any issues Lily tells me about and then she helps Lily on that end.  I let her know that Lily was scared of the power tools in Tech Ed (aka Shop) and that Lily was worried about being able to keep up in typing class.  She reassured Lily about both things.  I told her that Lily had some signed papers in her backpack that I thought might need to be turned in.  She helped Lily take care of that.  It’s been wonderful having that liaison at school.

Now, I know there are going to be ups and downs in all this.  In fact, the downs will probably start as soon as they start really getting to work in the classroom.  When Lily has to begin keeping track of assignments and start on them herself, I’m expecting some challenges.  But that’s where her Behavior Support Plan or BSP comes in. 

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Dreading the start of middle school

The countdown is on.  The day I’ve been dreading all summer is just around the corner… Lily starts middle school in a week and a half.  I’ve heard that there are other parents who actually look forward to sending their kids back to school.  I can’t imagine that, because for me, the school year is a lot of hard work and with Lily starting middle school, it’s going to be even more stressful.

This morning, I set up a special visit to her new school.  I know Lily needs extra time to learn her way around.  We walked around to all her classrooms and she was okay for awhile, but eventually she got overwhelmed and started to get upset.  She wanted to know exactly how things were going to happen, where they were going to happen, when they were going to happen… starting with getting off the bus–step by step.  I tried to do that and she seemed to calm down.

We still have 6th-grade orientation and back-to-school night before the first day of school, so I’m hoping that helps.  I mean, this is a twice exceptional kid who has months of adjustment every school year and this is at the same elementary school she’s been attending since Kindergarten.  A new school, plus all the added Executive Function demands of middle school… could be a rough transition.

That’s actually an understatement.  I’ve been trying to plan for her middle school transition for more than a year.  I shopped around for public schools, got Lily several evaluations, found her a psychiatrist, a psychologist, taught myself to advocate for her at school using www.wrightslaw.com and the book Wrightslaw:  From Emotions to Advocacy, shopped around for private schools, wrote demanding letters, attended many meetings, helped write a Behavior Support Plan and helped write a comprehensive IEP.  Thousands of hours and dollars later, I feel like we have good support in place for her, but the real test comes in a couple of weeks….

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