Today Angel Begins Kindergarten. No one went to work today. We all wanted to be here to put Angel on the bus and see him off on his first day. He seemed a bit excited although he was a little cranky at first because he wanted to spend the morning on his iPad. (Note to self: Hide the iPad on school mornings.) It was a team effort but we got him on the bus on time. Now, we are headed to his school to meet his teachers as well. Not a planned visit but I am sure they won’t mind. In case you wondered, Angel will be in a self-contained classroom for children with autism.
As a part of my effort to make Angel’s transition easier, I sent his new head teacher and therapists a “Getting to Know Angel Packet.” Each packet included an introduction letter from us and completed questionnaires from his preschool teachers and therapists. The questionnaires included information about the activities Angel enjoys, “reinforcers” that he responds to, and methods used to get him to calm down when he gets very hyperactive or experiences sensory overload.
To help with Angel’s transition, his new school sent a welcome packet that included resources and information that will be helpful for us. Angel also got a red tag with an engraving of the name of his school for his backpack. This tag lets the staff know that Angel needs to be supervised at all times while he is at school. His school also sent a folder with pictures of some of the staff. This is awesome because he was able to see what they look like before his first day.
Still, I have to admit that I am nervous about this transition. Angel will be going to a new school in another part of the city. He will have new teachers, therapists, and classmates. Even the bus ride will be a new experience. He will have a new bus driver and matron and his commute will be longer.
I am also nervous because Angel had a 1:1 para in preschool. He has not been assigned one for kindergarten…yet. His new school wants to observe and see if he “needs” it. I already know that he does, so getting him one is on my to-do list. I say this because Angel is the child who needed to wear a weighted vest to get him to attend during class activities and therapy.
I am proud of my Angel. Today, he is more prepared to enter kindergarten than he would’ve been if we had not fought to get him ten hours of ABA and additional speech therapy after school.
The road to kindergarten was a long and bumpy one for us. The “Turning 5” process in New York City is not for the faint of heart. In spite of it all, we got through it thanks to hard work and a wonderful team. Everyone of us did our best to ensure that Angel got an appropriate placement.
There were times when I went into IEP meetings ready for a fight and there was no need to fight because everyone realized that Angel had needs that needed to be met…NOW!
I could write a novel on our “Turning 5″ experience but today our focus is on Angel. My baby is a big boy now and it brings tears of joy to my eyes.
What has been your child’s experience during the first few days of school? How are you holding up? Please share your story. I look forward to hearing from you.