In 8 days, I will be bringing my 3 children down the street for their first day of school. Big Brother will walk in and join his friends in 2nd grade, and the twins will be heading into kindergarten.
I never thought I'd be here. For the longest time, the thought of all 3 kids attending the same school was almost a pipe-dream. But with hard work by everyone, we are there. Ballerina will be entering a general education classroom for the first time ever (after being in special education programs since she was 27 months old) and Music Man will be in a special education classroom with mainstreaming opportunities.
This next week is going to be all about preparation. I have to be prepared to introduce a whole new routine (including the lack of buses as the school is just down the street from our home) and a whole new set of rules. I will be meeting with their teachers on Thursday evening at Back-To-School-Night (for kindergarten, BTSN is before school starts to prepare the parents) and then Open House will be on Friday afternoon so they will have a chance to meet their teachers face-to-face. We already know who one of Music Man's classmates will be and we have a play-date scheduled with that child for Tuesday afternoon (they have never met -- I know this child through Ballerina's activities) so he will have at least one familiar face in the classroom (other than the teacher and paraeducator) on the first day of school. Overall, I think he's going to do fine......once he gets there and learns what the expectations are, we'll be good to go.
Ballerina, on the other hand, I'm still trying to figure out what to do. I need to let her teacher know what to expect and how to handle situations as they arise. I don't know enough about her teacher (yet) to know how much experience she has working with children on the spectrum or with other special needs. I found a letter another parent wrote to their child's kindergarten teacher online, and I plan to tailor that letter to suit Ballerina and our current situation. And, since I will be picking her up from school every day, I hope to be able to have regular conversations with the teacher to see how she is handling the transition and what (if anything) we need to change.
And then, again hopefully, in a month or so I will be able to start volunteering in the classroom and seeing what's going on for myself. If my presence there is going to cause problems, I won't do it. But I volunteer in Big Brother's classroom and would really like to do the same thing here. It gives me, as a parent, a wonderful insight into what happens while my children are at school.
Sending Big Brother off to kindergarten was supposed to be difficult, but it wasn't. He was ready and so was I. Sending the twins to kindergarten is proving to be VERY hard. I don't know if it's because they are my "babies" or if it's because of the Autism, but I don't have the same confidence that they are ready. And I don't have the same confidence that I'm ready.
I have 8 days to fix it all!
Ilene is a happily married Stay-At-Home-Mom living in the Washington, DC area raising her 3 rambunctious kids, 2 of whom are on the spectrum. Parenting twins is VERY different from parenting a singleton (not harder, just different) and that fact isn't made any less by adding Autism to the mix. But that's just the way it is sometimes.
Come and read her stories at My Family's Experience With Autism.