My elementary school-aged kids finish the school year up tomorrow, which gives me reason to reflect on how this school year has gone for Jack, my autistic son. He will have just completed first grade, something that I wasn't sure he could do at this time last year.
I remember how hard kindergarten was for him. The transition to elementary school took the entire year. We started kindergarten with a phone call from the principal and an early pick up on the first day. We ended kindergarten with trepidation as to what laid ahead.
See, my oldest son is just one year ahead of Jack in school, so I was all too aware of what Jack was going to face in first grade. Weekly homework packets, long spelling words, and subtraction with borrowing awaited.
I hate to say it, but I didn't think he was going to make it. I think I may have uttered the words "sink like a rock" to my husband.
To my surprise, Jack stepped up. Yes, there were behavior issues and calls from the administrators, and don't even get me started on the homework hell we went through this year. But he hung in there. It turns out that even though he didn't like to do his homework, he loved practicing his spelling words. Even if he hated subtraction, he loved addition and counting coins. He might not have had appropriate behavior every day, but he did okay and he even made a new friend.
To see where Jack is today and where Jack was a year ago is to see a child who has made incredible strides. Age, time, and learning has helped him so much. He is growing into a very cool kid.
The really great thing about his success this year is that I can see his potential for success in the future. I see what my older child has done in second grade this year and I worry that Jack won't be able to handle it. But then I think to myself that I had these very same fears last year, and he did okay.
Now my challenge is to take that knowledge that Jack will continue to grow and rise to the occasion and turn it into heartfelt belief. Because have you seen what second graders have to do these days?
Jean writes about her life and family at Stimeyland. She runs an autism events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. In addition, she writes a column called Autism Unexpected for the Washington Times Communiities. You can follow her on Twitter as @Stimey.