I am so very thankful today for acceptance. In this case, for the acceptance of my son by the staff and students at his new school which has literally made my year.
Gilbert had his first formal transition visit to his local public school yesterday. We were all nervous and anxious about it, not really knowing how he would fare outside his special education classroom.
We met his current ASPECT teacher in the school office and were then taken to the COLA for morning assembly. Gilbert sat next to me and stayed still and quiet for the duration, which was a really great achievement in itself.
But when I started to leave as the students went into class, he got anxious and started holding onto me asking whether I could come in to class with him too.
I knew I couldn’t stay but stayed positive and encouraged him to go to the classroom with the coordinator and his ASPECT teacher. He started to get upset and I feared for the success of the visit at the very first hurdle.
I eventually disengaged myself from his grasp and he went with the teachers (not very happily mind you, but it showed all was not lost!) I walked anxiously back to the car to go to work, hoping that he was okay and that he wouldn’t have a meltdown the minute he got into the classroom.
I was on the edge of my seat all morning, waiting for a phone call to let me know how things went. In the end I couldn’t wait any longer and ended up ringing the school at lunchtime (sad, I know!).
Despite my fears, things had gone well. He was happy to enter the classroom once the other kids had gone inside and sat up the back while the class did their news. He also participated in reading groups before each child came up to him individually to introduce themselves.
This could have gone either way, but happily, for all of us, he enjoyed meeting them all. He even told me that Riley liked Scooby Doo (which is one of Gilbert’s favourites at the moment!) and that Jenna wanted to play with him in Lunch 2!
For most people this wouldn’t mean much, but for us, this was amazing. Listening is not a strong suit for anyone on the autism spectrum and for him to remember 2 kids out of the 20 odd introduced to him PLUS remembering what they said to him, that is beyond fantastic.
What was more encouraging was his enthusiasm for the follow up visits that have now been planned. He is most excited about the all day visit that will happen in a few weeks time. He has already asked if he can wear the full school uniform on that day and was most upset when I told him next week’s planned visit has been delayed – all very encouraging signs for him.
While Gilbert really embraced the visit, I am so thankful and grateful that the school has embraced him. They have painted the many poles dotted around the school to make it easier for him to see them, they talked to the kids before he started and told them his name and asked that they welcome him and look out for him.
They have listened to the vision and autism special education teachers to learn how best to teach him. They have consulted us and have included us in most decisions surrounding him. Most of all, every teacher, every aide, every one of the support staff have made the effort to say hello to him and make sure he feels welcome and safe whenever he has come to the school.
I believe this genuine care for him has made the difference in his attitude to transitioning to the school and I believe this care and attention will be the reason for the eventual success of this process. I know it is still early days yet, but I am so very thankful and grateful for the welcome we have received so far – it means far more than the world to me!
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That is so great to hear, Kirsty. Definitely something to be thankful for. Having such supportive anc caring people around him is so important. Let’s hope it continues. xx
Kel, I hope so too! But the school have been so good helping us through Matilda’s Aspergers diagnosis that I am quietly confident that they can work with Gilbert to successfully integrate him into the school community. Mind you, we’re still keeping our fingers and toes and everything in between crossed – just in case!
What a great experience for you all. So good that the school is so supportive.
Laney, it’s all you can hope for. You can prepare your child until the end of time but if the school is not welcoming and willing to give things a go, then it simply won’t work.
I am thankful every day that the school has supported us through Matilda’s Apergers diagnosis and is now so willing to help us integrate Gilbert – we are really, really lucky!
This post has made my day.
I can’t even think ahead to school for our little man, but I can just imagine the knot in your stomach as your boyo faced the unknown without you.
You must be SO proud of him!
Kate, I am so proud! He was so, so nervous beforehand. He had been having so many problems over the last few weeks as his anxiety about the transition increased.
To have him go into the classroom willingly, not have a meltdown and actually remember the names of some of the students in his class (knowing how much stress and anxiety he was under), that was an extraordinary achievement for him.
I know it is still early in the process but the signs are good and he is looking forward to going back (in fact he no longer wants to go to his special school – another issue, but ultimately a positive one!) so we’re really happy right now!
That’s so great that your son had a good first day! Hooray for the school doing all they can to help 🙂
The school is definitely doing all they can to make it a smooth transition for him – hoping their enthusiasm (and Gilbert’s!) continues into next year!
That is brilliant. I hope the rest of the transitions go just as well.
How wonderful it is that the school has been so accepting and welcoming.
It is certainly a good start. I know it is early days and we will certainly face more challenges but I am so happy with how things are going right now. I could not ask any more of the school, they have been fantastic so far!
Thats wonderful to hear Kirsty!! I hope its all positive experiences from here on!! 🙂
So do I Kirsty – fingers and toes and everything in between crossed!!!
what a great start – positive and encouraging for you and your little man. and I don’t think it was lame that you called at lunch time… I would have done exactly the same thing…actually I don’t think I would have made it to lunch 🙂
Now – remember to keep breathing ok? 😀
Vicky, I was lucky to have made it to lunch – I don’t think I was particularly productive at work on Tuesday morning!!!! Thanks for the reminder to breathe…I do need that little reminder sometimes!!!
That is so great to read. Bravo one boy! I get how hard that step was. So very pleased for you and hub & all ! Remember, anytime am happy to be there for you ( figuratively) education/school wise. Denyse x
Thanks Denyse! The whole transition process is a hard one, particularly when, as a layperson, I don’t understand the funding process at all. I still don’t know how much funding he will be eligible to receive (inevitably it won’t be enough) but it was so good to see him so well accepted on his first visit. It gives me hope that we may be able to pull this one off after all…
That is so wonderful. I’m incredibly happy for you… also I broke and called the school at recess on Heidi’s first day, so you are stronger than me 😀
Thanks Marita, I was so relieved when i found out he had gone well but only really believed it when i saw him in the afternoon and he actually shared some of the things he did (that was fantastic in itself!)
I wanted to ring the minute I got to work as I was so worried when I saw the mood he was in when I left! I only held on until lunchtime as I actually had to do some work (but I suspect I didn’t do it to my usual standard!) but rang the minute that was finished. Fingers crossed the next few visits work out so well…he’s certainly keen to go back, so there’s a start!