december 1, reagan started a new, self-contained autism classroom at a new school. mid-november, we had a meeting with his school team to update his IEP and figure out what the next step for reagan's education plan should be. reagan's kindergarten teacher used to always call reagan a "puzzle" and she was absolutely right. he's bright but holds all the information inside of him. his current teacher had 30 kids in her class and didn't feel like she could spend the time she needed to working with him. so, he was reevaluated, again, and it was determined that transferring to a new school environment would be a more beneficial placement for him. except for the fact that all the administrators forgot he is AUTISTIC and change is very difficult for him. thomas and i were both hesitant at first at putting reagan in a self-contained classroom. your neuro-typical children and my neuro-atypical child need to be together. they both have things to learn from each other. social awareness goes both ways. however, we were in agreement with the district that changing his school placement could be the best thing for him educationally, but reagan would be the ultimate decision maker on whether it would work. you can't force an autistic kid to do anything without it affecting every other aspect of his life. the vice-principal at our IEP was absolutely incredulous that we would allow reagan to have a say in the school transfer. for a man who spends a lot of time around kids, he certainly didn't act like a man who spent a lot of time around kids. forcing is an absolutely effective way to parent. you should watch me give athena blythe a bath. force has it's place. however, force and autism are oil and water. we were going to encourage reagan in any way possible to try to the new school, but we also have been his parents long enough to know that you have to let your kid think it is their idea in order for things to go more smoothly(also works in marriage!).
we spent about 2 weeks coaxing reagan into the idea. the first suggestion went over like a lead balloon. he spent all afternoon crying about the prospect and a solid hour sitting on my lap, clinging to my neck. i sort of reveled in it as this level of emotional connection is VERY unusual for reagan. he normally only clings to me for comfort out of abject fear of something(often a dog outside while he's playing. he's especially wary of a chihuahua on our street who roams around while wearing a sequin sweater. dogs in sequin sweaters are unnatural and freak me out too). otherwise, i am the macaroni and cheese maker and the car driver. (randomly, last night, he did say "i love you" to me at bedtime. he does that about as often as halley's comet rolls by.) we did multiple new school drive-by viewings. we met with his new teacher. we spent an afternoon playing at the new school playground and riding bikes at the parking lot. we counted 18 planes that flew overhead and i took that as a VERY positive sign as reagan loves a nice airplane sighting. we talked about the various car line changes that he would experience and the school start and end time changes. scarlett would remain at the previously assigned school, which was sort of a kick in the teeth, but pulling her for reagan's needs again is just one less thing i want her to talk to her therapist about someday. she'll transfer to his school next year. it's hard for her too because their recess times overlapped and she would always seek him out on the playground so they could play together. ironically, the new school is geographically the closest to our house(less than 2 miles) yet still not our officially zoned school, so i'm on the lookout to buy or rent a house in that school zone for ease of scarlett's registration in a very crowded district. bonus, thomas loves when i am in house hunting mode. imagine pregnant house hunting mode! with reagan attending the new school, drop off/pick up and car line at two schools takes about an hour. TWICE A DAY! being an adult is just what i thought it would be like. fun, fun, fun! all the time! enough of that pity party.
reagan finally conceded to the change and he had a little going away party with his former class. then he went immediately to a little welcoming thanksgiving party at his new school. what our schools need are more parties and more sugar is what i always say!
reagan with his former autism liaison, miss burger, whom i liked to call miss booger, because it annoyed reagan.
and reagan's former teacher, mrs. fletcher. she was a gem, but 30 students, including 6 autistic kids is a bit much for anyone. i would not blame her if she had a secret chocolate chip stash in her desk(like ME!) to help her cope.
the change has been a little bumpy but reagan keeps working at it. reagan has been there for 2 1/2 weeks and he had a lot of new anxiety to work through and the return of some old anxiety friends too. new bathrooms in public places can be very daunting. common core math that his own mother can't figure out is very annoying to him too. the new boys in his class have been very welcoming and i think having only 7 boys total in the class has been a nice, quiet reprieve for him. extra noise bugs me too. he (mostly)readily completes his work and he gets all sorts of help with things he struggles with. it's hard to say after only a short time, but i think we may finally get the academic success that i know he is capable of. we have even started weaning off his medication. fun reagan is able to get his work done and robot reagan can hopefully go away forever. fun reagan is the best. i'm ashamed to say that "fun reagan" is the best nickname i could come up for him, as i pride myself on being an expert nicknamer, but "fun reagan" is the really the most apropos.
last night he did ask me, "mom, when will have have girls in my class again?"
(autism in girls has a much, much lower incidence rate.)
"i don't know, reagan. maybe there will be a girl in your class next year?"
"i hope so. i just love girls."
it's nice to know i'm included in that.