Max goes to school

Starting school is a big adjustment for all children, so Max was not alone on this day and milestone. We did all we could do to prepare Max for this new chapter in his life. Deciding to enrol Max into the public school system was a big decision, we as parents had to make. We knew that Max needed help in certain aspects of his life and socializing with peers was at the top of the list. The Mother in me just wanted to protect him and home school him, and avoid added anxiety and awkward moments school would bring, however deep down I knew it was the best thing, yet the hardest thing to do.
I did my homework and researched the options that would best fit Max and his learning style. I got nervous and anxious myself thinking of Max trying to blend into the classroom and fit into the routine, the loud school bell, the crowded hallways, the close interactions with peers just to name a few things Max would have to learn to adapt to. The more I laid awake at night thinking about this the more furious with the school system I got (and even society). Why did my child have to adjust to this one size, should fit all classroom mold that was presented in most classrooms across Canada? This is a public school so children from all sorts of backgrounds attend and why should they have to adapt to one set of school standards. Really does the school bell have to be that loud inside the hallways of the school, or did the children really need to stand quietly in a line? I told myself we would just give it a try and see what happens and worse comes to worse, we will home school.
I was pleased to meet Max’s teacher Ms. Stewart. She’s fairly new to the education system and fresh out of school with experience working with children on the spectrum, so she was eager to learn all she could to help Max enjoy his year. We met Ms. Stewart late summer to go over areas of concerns we had and things we would like to work on. We were disappointed to learn that Max did not qualify to have an EA with him throughout the day. Max got a tour of the school and his classroom. I went online and learned about social stories that would help with transitions, I wrote one for everything and we would read them over and over again.

As the early school year unfolded so did Max’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). We learned that it is mandatory for the school to develop an IEP for every student who is identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC). The IEP will include a lot of information regarding children like Max and their education. Included in this will be the annual goals and learning expectations for Max, method of assessment that will measure progress along with Max’s strengths and needs related to learning. Parents of other children with AS I met through a support group I joined shortly after Max was diagnosed stressed the importance of building a strong IEP with Max’s growth and well being the priority, since an IEP is a document that will travel with Max, from elementary school right through high School and even college.
The principle and Ms. Stewart tried to reassure me that they were going to do all they could the help we wait and see what happens!

Part II

Max is now in Grade 3 and enjoys and thrives on his routine he has come accustom to. Schedules are a must each day to let Max know what he is in for, now sticking to that schedule is sometimes a challenge. Some challenges and bumps we have face are simple things like a supply teachers or a closed computer lab due to repairs. Over the years the people working with Max can sense or can sometimes predict what will set him off; at times we avoid any upsets and at other times when time/space is available we introduce “change” to help teach him see change will happen (I consider it tough love).
Academically just as we predicted Max has excelled and is at top of the class and socializing with peers will be an ongoing challenge. I have enrolled him in many group activities as possible, summer camps, Beavers and science classes all year round. I try to build on one of his interests and incorporate peers with it. He has his bad days that consist of frustration or feeling overwhelmed, but also good days of excitement and progress!

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