Thursday, December 31, 2009

Andrew's New School

On Monday Andrew will go to a new school. After a slew of evaluations and meetings, the Center for Preschool Special Education has recommended that Andrew attend a school for kids with Special Needs. They've also recommended that he receive lots of therapies to help him in the areas where he really struggles.

Andrew and I visited the school and spent time in his new classroom a few weeks ago before we made any decisions. The classroom is smaller and a lot more structured than his other classroom. There are more teachers and the teachers have more training in working with kids like Andrew. It seemed like a classroom where Andrew would thrive and I was ready for him to start the next day!

Andrew has not been diagnosed with anything as of yet. And Dave and I are just starting to talk through what that journey would look like and if it's something we're ready to do. And I find it hard to explain why he has such big needs. He gets overwhelmed and overstimulated easily and when he is feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated, he either shuts down or goes bananas. He's not one to conform with a group, which made learning in a classroom challenging.

He seems like a kid of extremes to me. The things he is good at, he's really good at. The things he struggles with, oh my goodness. He tested two years above his age level in his mathematical reasoning. He has around 40 sight words that he can read at a glance. But saying hello to a friend? Transitioning smoothly? Following directions? Controlling his energy when he feels like he is bursting at the seems? That is where the real work is. Academically we are not worried in the least. His big needs are in the social and sensory processing spheres.

This has been a hard process to go through. I found it confusing and stressful to hear all kinds of analysis from all kinds of evaluators. I found it hard to keep perspective on who Andrew is. There were many, many surprises along the way. Lots of tears. Lots of sleepless nights. But also lots of new found pride in who Andrew is and who our family is. And when I think about the big picture I know he'll be fine. I know he'll be awesome, actually.

I am excited about the next chapter beginning. I am looking forward to settling into the new routine with the new school. I can't wait to see the growth that is just around the corner.

Yesterday Andrew and I put together his parent-teacher communication notebook. It would seem that when I am feeling anxious about change, I tend to over-craft. (Remember when I was preparing for Isaac's birth?) I was probably a little too excited to get his notebook together. But, my friends, I must prepare you. This is the tip of the iceberg. The new school not only needs a special notebook, but I will have to pack Andrew lunches everyday. A special bento lunchbox has been ordered and my head is swimming with adorable lunches. It's going to be awesome.


Maria Ontiveros said...

What a wonderful, self-realized post. Congratulations on the start of your new journey. You are obviously supportive, loving parents, and I'm sure Andrew thrives because of that!
By the way, I love the word "over-craft."
Lots of hugs from someone who loves your blog (even though we've never met),

{melissa} said...

Fabulous post and homelog (that is what we call them at my school ;-)) Sometimes it may seem so overwhelming, but you have already realized the most important part:remembering who Andrew truly is. And what he is is wonderful. Everyone has their strengths and challenges, some kids just tip those scales a little more.
Just love him for who he is and be there to guide him on the speedbumps.
I have been so blessed by each and every one of my students (who, by your description sound a lot like your sweet guy). I find they often hold the key to unlocking my realization of the important things of life.
Happy New Year!

Tara Whalen said...

I love how you said... "And when I think about the big picture I know he'll be fine. I know he'll be awesome, actually."
YOU are awesome!

debs14 said...

Andrew is so lucky to have such observant and loving parents. This has been picked up fast and the sooner you start the next part of his educational journey the better. He's a good learner, you know that, so it is only a matter of time before he learns those social skills that his over-enthusiasm makes him overlook. My friend Karen specialised in working with kids with these kind of needs and once a plan of action is put in place you will see tremendous results. Is he happy? Is he healthy? If you can answer yes to both of those, that is the important thing. I really hope he enjoys his new school and I bet he has the absolutely best packed lunch in the whole place!

Deb said...

Love your attitude in this post! I can feel your excitement. I just know this will be so good for Andrew, and I know that's part of your excitement too.

I had to chuckle when I read how you are excited about packing fun lunches for him. Once and crafter, always a everything!

JIW said...

I love the folder...when I'm facing change or something I'm unsure of, I do the same thing..I go into over-crafting mode and come up with all sorts of crafts and projects that
Funny how we respond to change, isn't it?
With such an involved and loving family, Andrew will continue to blossom and become all he is meant to be!

Shannon said...

I think you will find having a child with special needs opens up a whole new, amazing world. Enjoy the ride. Have you ever read Welcome To Holland?

Wendy said...

Andrew's new school sound terrific. I'm looking forward to hearing about his journey and seeing how amazing he becomes.

And, of course, you know I'm psyched to see the bentos you pack for him!

Robyn said...

Wendy I probably spent an hour on your site one night last week figuring out what boxes to order and where to find them! You are my bento inspiration! I don't know about that baked tofu though...But I have to get one of those food markers you have! "I am the banana!" LOVE it!

TARA said...

You and Dave have made the right decisions for Andrew and he's going to do great. And let me tell you, I think the super lunches are going to be part of that. My mom used to make AWESOME holiday lunches for us. I kind of felt badly for the other kids because they totally wished they had a lunch like that. But on the other hand, they enjoyed seeing what was in it with me and my mom would pack enough for sharing. If Andrew will be getting these on a regular basis, I think he's going to make some new friends pretty quickly. Yeah, it's all about the lunches...and the great mom behind them.

Rhona said...

Andrew is a lucky little boy to have parents like you and Dave to share this new journey with him. I'm sure he's going to enjoy his new environment and can only benefit from it.

Cat said...

I am so happy that Andrew will be getting this help. I have so many questions I can't seem to write anything that make sense. I look forward to reading about how this goes. Thanks again for sharing.

Ruth said...

How lucky Andrew is to have parents such as you! I hope he has one amazing day!

Lain said...

My method of asserting control is research. Whenever I'm nervous, I do tons and tons of research!

Have you seen Wendolonia's blog? Tons of fab Bento box ideas for her little boy.

I swore I would never do that -- I just didn't have the time -- but she rubbed off on me, and now both my girls have Bento boxes. :)