This is where Autism has caused the need for creative thinking, balancing, and flexibility.
Mason started his 2nd year of PreK in our school district's TLC program. This is a program specifically designed for kids on the autism spectrum needing assistance w/language skills. Most of the kids in the class have little or no verbal skills.
The teacher/student ratio is small. 3:5
1 teacher, and 2 aides, and 5 kids in the class.
I'd like it to be 1:1 ratio, but for now, I think this is manageable.
Problem #1 - His school is not at our home campus, and is 20 minutes away from our house.
Problem #2 - Claire-Marie attends 2nd grade at a different school. Her start time is the same as Mason's
Problem #3 - Kyler started middle school this year. Ugh. That stresses us out all by itself. I remember middle school. Note to self, continue the pep talks with Kyler.
3 different schools
For both Kyler and Claire-Marie, we're too close to their schools for the bus, but too far to walk. Mason is eligible for the bus, but he'd have to be picked up at 7am, spending nearly an hour on the bus since school starts at 8.
We were in a pickle.
Fortunately after the first couple of days we've worked out a schedule for now. Our ever so gracious neighbors allow Claire-Marie to ride to and from school with them. Ironically our neighbors have also been affected by autism. Their 9 year old son Chris resides firmly on the spectrum. He’s an amazing kid.
Chris' cousin lives next door to us as well and attends the same school as Kyler, so since they're officially "big" kids now, they've elected to ride their bikes to/from school everyday, weather permitting of course.
Learning a few months ago that their son was autistic, we've become good friends. We watch out for each other's kids, trade information on therapies, etc. We'll be having them over for a BBQ soon as a thank you for the rides to and from school this year. They have been a true lifesaver for us.
Back to Mason and the start of school....
In the past couple of weeks prior to school starting back up, I verbally prepped Mason for the inevitable, school.
He had a great year last year. Met almost all of his goals, and showed strong progress in a lot of areas that concerned us. But he loved his summer off. When therapy sessions weren't occurring he commanded the home computer. If a sibling was on when he wanted to play, he'd stand behind them saying "Get Down Claire" or "Get Down Kyler" repeatedly until tired of his repetitive sentences, they'd relent and forfeit the coveted chair allowing him to resume his reign.
School started Monday August 27th.
Day 1 - This day was what we imagined it would be. Some crying and verbal protest when Rashele turned into the school parking lot. All in all it lasted only a few minutes. He soon adapted to his new teacher and new classroom. Fortunately he has a familiar face in the class, the aide Ms Jodi. We love her. She was with him last year, and has a great bond with Mason. He's reluctantly bonded with her. All personal relationships are on Mason's terms and dependent on his mood that morning.
Day 2 - Better than Day 1. No crying. He did his tasks appropriately. Let the teacher/aides know when he needed to go to the bathroom on his own. That was a big step for him. He's learned very quickly how to initiate conversation when it comes to potty time.
Day 3 will be coming to an end shortly. We'll get a break from juggling taxi service for a few hours until the other 2 monsters come home from school.
While many friends of ours with kids on the spectrum have had bad experiences with local school district to provide services, our experience has been a good one. I don't know what we've done right, but we feel we've gotten everything we've asked for. This in itself is frustrating, as I wonder maybe I'm missing something... maybe we're not asking for the right services....
Autism does this to you... makes you second guess everything.
Even the good stuff.