This Time It’s Different

You’re my third and last baby and you’re starting Kindergarten tomorrow.

I’ve been through this before with your big sister, Lilliana…

And then your big brother, Landon…

But this time..it’s different.

First of all, there really wasn’t any of the usual preparation.

I didn’t take you school supply shopping. You had no interest in picking out a backpack or new lunchbox.

You didn’t care what your outfit was going to be the first day of school.

There was no discussions or excitement about making friends, riding a bus for the first time, or meeting a new teacher.

In some ways I’m in awe of that.

I wonder what it must be like to not have those cares about anything or anyone.

Opinions of others don’t matter to you, at least not yet. You’re still kinda in your own world.

I guess I’m happy you at least feel safe there.

The only thing I did was order you new red shoes so you would be “Rocking in Your School Shoes” like Pete the Cat..one of your favorites.

But you didn’t ask me to.

I just wanted you to have something.

Some sort of special thing or memory from your first day.

Second, I’m certain you don’t even realize you’re going, although we’ve talked about it for a month.

When I talk about school, you might think about your old school, classroom, and your beloved preschool teacher, Mrs. Peck. Perhaps you think you might see the only friend you ever made, Kate there.

Instead, tomorrow your little world will be turned upside down when you start a new school, with a new teacher, and new students.

This school is so big with so many new things to explore..which sounds exciting but for your Mama, it’s terrifying.

Most parents only worry about the drop off, will they cry? How hard will it be to leave? Will they make friends? Will their teacher be kind?

Not in our world kiddo.

This time around I have all these new worries.

Really frightening ones..

Ones that keep me awake or give me nightmares at night.

Because since you were two..you lost your voice…you literally went silent.

You regressed right before our eyes.

Because you have severe Autism.

You couldn’t communicate at all..you couldn’t even point.

Since then we have done everything in our power to help you, to get your voice back, to teach you how to tell us what you need, what you want or don’t, and if you’re hurt and where.

But we’ve only been able to get so far, my sweet boy.

So, when I send you off into that new big world with a campus as large as an entire park, unlocked classroom doors, and new strangers to take care of you, my PTSD is at an all time high.

Because I don’t think you could tell me if they were mean to you. If someone hurt you, or worse, sexually abused you.

I’m not there to chase after you or find you if you try to elope out of the school…and I know how smart and fast you are. I’m now researching GPS devices.

If you get hurt or sick, will they know? Would you be able to tell them in any way? Could you point to where it hurts? If you’re bleeding will you let them touch you?

Will you go to the bathroom on a regular basis? Or will you be too scared of the overhead fans and flushing toilets?

Will you hurt anyone else?

Will I get phone calls and notes that you injured a teacher by dislocating their jaw too, or will you push or head butt a student?

Will they know when you’re overstimulated? Will they know how to help you?

Will they give you squeezes with bean bags or let you have time in the sensory room? Will they know that sometimes you just need a tight space to find or deep pressure to calm you down?

I can no longer watch how they teach you or what you’re learning and how you are responding, like I did for the past few years when your ABA therapists taught me what to do in our own home.

I can’t be there to show them how amazing and capable you are. If they read your IEP they will focus on what you can’t do..they may not know your strengths.

I want them to know how smart you are.

How you can read and write and that you can even comprehend what you’re reading now. I want them to push you and use those skills to fly as high as you can go.

I hope they see how funny you are. That you have a sense of humor. That you’re silly and actually like to joke around.

I wonder if you’ll show them your different facial expressions as you try to navigate what they look like, try to imitate them and understand emotions.

My hope is that they’ll learn how kind and loving you are. That if they offer you a hug or a high five, you will most likely be their best friend and they’ll get a “thumbs up” and a “good job” out of you.

I really pray this year that they can help you socially, somehow…that they will teach you how to play and share.

It’s so clear to me when you’re around others that you now want that interaction, but I know you struggle, because you don’t know how to have those relationships.

I want them to let you be the wonderful you that you are…to accept your unique idiosyncrasies, to have patience with you.

I want them to smile as they watch you script and act out an entire episode or scene from your favorite show, or watch you dance like no one is watching.

I want them to treat your stims as special qualities, gifts you were given, or see them as your coping mechanisms to get through this harsh, bright and noisy world.

When you sing loudly, I hope they sing with you and hope they never try to change you..you’re perfect.

I also don’t want it to only be work for you and about meeting goals and test scores.

Because I want you to have fun, to be happy.

Because you are such a happy kid.

Putting you in a public school was a difficult choice. Most parents don’t agonize over that. It’s just the natural progression of life.

But we know that these choices could make or break your growth and development.

We know that your behaviors could get better..or unfortunately, so much worse.

We know that the right place and the right people are vital for your progress and that we risk regression if you’re not being challenged and expected to comply.

We also know that there’s about a fifty/fifty chance of this working.

What parent sends their child to Kindergarten worrying about their child not getting through the year?

An Autism parent.

We know there’s a chance you could get kicked out, put back into a lower level type classroom because of your behaviors.

We know that public school might not work and that we may need to look into other options for you such as full time ABA centers.

And all of these things I’m saying, is not me being negative, to those of you reading this, who don’t live in our world.

It’s just brutal honesty.

Because Autism changes everything..

Including your last child’s, first day of Kindergarten.

Because this time, it’s different.

Because he’s different.

But he’s not less.

This boy is my whole world.

His smile lights up a room.

His giggles keep me going even on the hard days.

He has taught me so much about myself.

He’s made me stronger.

He’s amazing.

He’s “Finntastic.”

And I really hope and pray..this world is kind to him.

And that one day,

As time goes on…

I might get a chance to worry a little less.

And that maybe one year, as a new school year approaches.

It won’t feel so different.

Written by, Sheryl St. Aubin

I’m Sheryl.. my husband and I were blessed with three beautiful, bright, brave and bold children…Finn (5), Landon(8) and Lilliana (12). Finn-a.k.a. Baby Bird, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (severe) when he was two and a half years old. Landon was also diagnosed recently. Our life has been an adventure. This past April, I decided to start sharing our life and created a Facebook Page and blog. You can follow us on Facebook..
https://www.facebook.com/followyourflockwiththreelittlebirds/
I wanted to create a place for knowledge, encouragement, support, and comfort from people who understand…who walk in the same shoes.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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