Everyone is on pins and needles for the start of school. The routine change, lots of things shifting it’s unsettling for everyone. But for a special needs Mom it’s different. You begin mentally preparing long before the first day occurs. This year my special needs child changing schools to middle school, going from 180 children total K-5 to a school with 250 Fifth graders. Panic doesn’t begin to describe it.
So you meet with the school nurse because medication is involved. You meet with the guidance counselor and remind him in a more firm than gentle way your child has a plan and you expect the plan to be followed. The plan is of course the one you fought so very, very hard for last year. The one you researched memos from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services to add gusto to your stance about what your child’s needs are. The one you spent more than the cost of two family vacations on to have your child evaluated privately. You agonized over every bullet point. Finally, sensing that you would not get one more compound sentence from the school, you reluctantly sign off on it. Then you realize it’s on the new guidance counselor’s desk and he will ‘remind’ your child’s new teachers to sign off on it. And the specials you say, knowing that “specials” especially art, music and unstructured PE are more a burden than an educational experience for your child. But since the teachers my child has 5 days a week haven’t seen it yet how will the specials?
You buy new shoes, clothes, and every school supply listed and then some. The clothes are so your child *looks* like every other kid. So they blend in so they have finally a chance with their classmates to make friends. A friend -just one would be fine. Then you see a peer your child pestered in town recreational sports and that boy from the old school that won’t even make eye contact with your child at open house and you know no new pair of sneakers will solve the social problem.
You want your child’s teachers to realize you pay attention; you comply with their school supply list and even bought extra tissues. Somewhere deep inside you hope the extra tissues helps win the new teachers over. Or maybe the tissues are for you in the moments you just can’t hold it in one more second as the first day of school approaches. Either way, extra tissues are a must.
To all the special need kids’ parents sending their greatest love and greatest challenge back I am thinking of you these tough first days of school. If you need extra tissues see me, I have enough to go around.