Since I have all of this on my mind, what I am doing, what I am planning, I thought I would share with you all -- because I have a suspicion that you are doing the same thing! Let me break it down for you:
Matthew finishes his first year of developmental preschool (technically half a year since he started in December), and any fears I had last fall about him progressing past his IEP and being kicked out of Developmental Preschool have been squished. Matt is not neurotypical. He is definitely marching to the beat of his own drum, and I suspect more and more that he has Aspergers, which I may look into having diagnosed this summer.
The value of the diagnosis would be for advocating and for services. But right now, he is getting the services he needs, and I am not sure that they would diagnosis it this young – I have actually been told by our Autism Center (where I take Gabe), “Well, 4 is a little young.” My response was that I am NOT your average mom who hasn’t even heard the word Autism yet – I am clear on what the criteria is for diagnosis, and I am clear that Matthew meets it – probably just barely – but meets it nonetheless. I am proud to say that Matt is who he is. I am not worried about the label.
But, the schools will be, and those damn insurance companies sure are, right? So, we'll see.
Next fall he will be back in the same class: Same days, same time. That should make it fairly easy to transition back to school from summer, and sure is a weight off my mind from a planning perspective. I only wish they had something during the summer that he could continue in. For a kiddo that is as obsessed with Routine as I am with Diet Pepsi, that would be handy. At least next year he’ll be happy to be in the class photo. But super disappointed when he finds out that he is one of 2 kids in the current 8-kid class that is returning next year -- his best buds will go onto Kindergarten. Bummer.
I am considering putting Matt in a preschool for typically developing kids one day a week next year – Fridays when he doesn’t have Developmental Preschool class. But I am not sure how he will handle it. He still gets kicked out of the YMCA childcare regularly (OK, so I quit taking him, when he can’t succeed, what’s the point?), so I am not sure. A preschool environment should be more organized than the YMCA, but not as supported as his current class (no visual routines, etc.). The goal would be to slowly expose him to a typcial class as a way to prepare for Kindergarten. But maybe I am just ahead of myself here.
Summer is going to be filled with OT for Matt, and some good old fashioned small motor skill work here at home. He is just now trying to translate his OBSESSION with letters to writing– since writing is still hard for him (he is four), he taught himself to type. Really. He just opens up Word, adjusts the font to his preferred size (100pt) and then types away at his favorite words – he can probably spell 50+ words…maybe more…3-5 letter words, plus his name -- then he changes their color (another little quirk; each word in decending order has to be colored the 'right' color in the rainbow -- in order -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet).
He is really into patterns in letters, like word families, and how you can add “s” to “park” and get “spark” – or any other way that one letter can change a word. Fascinating! As you might guess, this little love of his allows him to read. Pretty well too. So let’s guess that summer will be filled with letters too.
At least we have put a pause on Thomas the Tank Engine. *sigh*
Matt is also doing a summer day camp one week that is geared towards kids with challenges – specifically those in Developmental Preschool and their typically developing siblings. Nick is going to join him as is a kid from his preschool class, the son of one of my friends, so I am transporting. Wait until we get to Gabe, then you’ll realize that transporting is how I am really going to spend most of my summer.
So, that is my agenda for Matt this year: Finish Developmental Preschool, perhaps a diagnosis this summer, OT, letter work, and then back to his same teacher next fall.
Nick (Kindergarten Ends)
Nick is finishing Kindergarten as happily as he started it. I am impressed at his reading skills, which have mostly been increased through reading at home. He is currently reading a Chess Strategy book that he checked out from the library. You can find him WELL PAST bedtime in his room engrossed in learning the different strategies and memorizing each new move. Either that or Star Wars. But since Star Wars is his FAVE, it is nice to see another subject creeping in.
Next year Nick will be in first grade. I am really hoping for a specific teacher – one that Gabriel had last year – and Nick truly has his heart set on it too. Sweet boy. I want nothing more than for him to get this teacher for a list of reasons – the most important being that we have an established relationship with this teacher from him working with Gabriel, and Nick feels comfortable with him. I think this teacher can help Nick with the skills I want him to work on.
Which brings us to summer: Nick needs some small motor skill help too. He just doesn’t love to write, and he sure doesn’t love to color, but I need to get him doing more writing. He struggles with coming up with ideas on what to write (I think this is a perfectionist attitude—he has to think of the *right* thing), and because of that tries to just do the minimum. He is capable of more, so I want him to reach his potential here. We will be doing some fun writing assignments this summer.
He will also be in camps. I haven’t enrolled him in all of them yet, but he is doing a wrestling camp (with Gabe) and a the summer camp with Matthew. I am also going to put him in a few others – including a tennis camp that he has been asking for.
So Nick’s plan is, finish Kindergarten, hang at home this summer with some fun camps with his friends, then head to the big 1st grade! They test for the Highly Capable Program in first grade and we are hopeful that Nick will qualify this year! They start the program in second grade. We won’t know until NEXT April. I hate to wait.
Gabriel (Second Grade Ends)
This has been a rough year for Gabriel. He is getting older and the pressure of increased social and academic challenges has proven more than he can handle. As most of you know, we have moved him to a private school, which is working out well.
He loves his school (who doesn’t love Gross-ology for science?), and is learning some valuable self-advocacy and social skills. I am optimistic that it will translate to more academic success as well. Fingers crossed.
This summer Gabriel will be in full time summer school too! WOOO HOOO! We have truly needed this the last three years – and couldn’t find anything – or afford anything. This year, I am TRULY optimistic that I will be able to minimize the chaos by keeping him busy. Nothing more difficult to manage than Gabriel when he is bored. Ugh.
But the summer school solution comes with a transportation nightmare. I have to drive him to school every morning by 8:45 (about 20-25 mins away) and then pick him up at 3:00pm. That is the bad part about the routine; but the good part is that Nick, Matt and I will be up and out of the house every day! That means, perhaps, for real this year, I will actually take them to the Zoo or the Aquarium or the Beach or some other fun summer activity that I only threaten to do because really Gabriel is too fired up to be taken anywhere.
This might be the summer that I actually DO THINGS with the little boys. I know, you’re shocked.
The overall plan for Gabriel is this: Finish school at his private school, attend the same place for summer, then the do it again in the fall. Routine. Consistency. Love it!
And that's what I am seeing in my crystal ball today.
I always have high hopes, and great plans for summer, but rarely does it work out that way. I am truly hopeful that with Gabriel busy (and out of the house) during the day, it will translate to a overall more relaxed at home climate in the evenings. One can only hope.
I hope all of you are finding solutions to your daily challenges, and that your Crystal Ball is revealing some great ideas for summer!