Kyle will start his high school journey in just a few short weeks. I have had so much anxiety and too many sleepless nights leading up to this big transition! I have tried to mentally prepare myself for this change the last couple of years, but how can one really *really* be prepared for that first day when the bus pulls up to your house and you send your big 13 year old non verbal, anxiety ridden, autistic son on his way to a big different school. With a different classroom, a different teacher and different “aides”, and different classmates. And a completely different schedule. How do I prepare my heart for that first day, that I know will ache if he starts to meltdown because things are much different than he knows? I’m not sure…I just hope I’ve done enough to prepare us both.
He has been at the same elementary school since preschool…that’s 10 years of the same. We have been so lucky with all those who have been a part of Kyle’s elementary years. We have formed lasting friendships and I know they care deeply for Kyle and his success. This last year Kyle’s teacher and the principal (both whom I consider friends) both walked (and talked 😉 me through the process of transitioning to high school. They both came with me to tour the high schools and gave me their honest opinions. Then when it came time for Kyle’s transitional IEP with the high school rep, Kyle’s teacher was there to give very specific notes on how Kyle works and thinks and processes. She knows Kyle probably as well as I do. After each step toward this change I have felt a little better.
I have said lots of prayers for comfort through this process and feel like every single time I have needed comfort it’s been there. I have been put in contact with the right people through this hard process and they have reassured me with the exact things I’ve needed to hear. The high school staff has been more than accommodating and has been so kind responding to all 500 of my emails voicing my concerns! His new teacher has even called me and text me to set up a time for her to meet Kyle and myself before he starts summer school (seriously? People who work in special ed are amazing)! A Facebook friend contacted me letting me know her husband would be working in Kyle’s class-they came by and met Kyle this last week so he would have another familiar face and so they could get to know Kyle! I have learned that having people who can “hear” and understand the many “voices” of Kyle eases my anxiety and reassures Kyle as well. So I’m hoping when he walks through those different doors and sees some familiar faces it will help put his anxiety at ease.
As with anything new and different practicing *sometimes* helps Kyle…so we have been driving to the high school. We talk about the new school while we drive there. We talk about riding on the bus. We point to the new classroom. We plan on getting pictures of the teacher and other adults in the classroom to show him as well as a picture of the bus. So far he has reacted positively! And I’m hopeful with us practicing it will help relieve some of his anxiety come that first day.
If I have learned anything about Kyle it’s that people will fall in love with his goofy grin and his infectious laugh in no time. And it won’t be long before his new teachers are new friends! And I’m sure he will learn his new schedule quickly….and learn the ins and outs of his new school….and get to know the personalities of his new classmates. I know all this. Its just getting past those first few NEW days.
Sometimes I think I fall on the spectrum with my transitional anxiety and my fear of change (Poor James)! Kyle and I are quite the pair! I hope that I have prepared us both well enough that when that bus pulls up to the front of our house in a few short weeks, neither one of us has a melt down! Here’s to being hopeful! 😬💙