Every baby is a gift, even if the wrapping is a little different.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Moving, School, Testing, Oh My!

We moved to Texas in August. That was quite the project in and of itself--moving 9 people, stuff, cars, etc. It took us two days to drive from Colorado to Texas (we spent the night along the way because I was too, too tired to keep driving).

Up to this point, I've been homeschooling my son. Except for the first two kids, I've homeschooled all the rest for kindergarten so I could make sure they were reading. Once you can read, you can do anything, but you have to have the basic building blocks to begin reading.

I've been working hard with my son over the last two years to help him gain that foundation. He is now reading simple words. And the most exciting part is that when he comes to a word he doesn't recognize, he is sounding it out and then saying it (a score on two counts because it means he's using the phonics I've taught him AND he's saying the words so it's helping with his speech).

One of the reasons we moved was to offer him more opportunities and experiences, including the opportunity to attend school. We researched areas and found that the school district we moved to has a good reputation for special needs education and opportunities.

We enrolled him in the neighborhood school per Texas law. Since he's never had any testing done, he is currently a regular student in the elementary school. We have asked for testing so we can see where he's at educationally and what his challenges may be. I already know that he recognizes letters and numbers and knows how to say them. I already know that he can read simple words like cat, dog, mom, dad, in, out, up, down, how, now, you, your, etc. I already know that he can put a simple sentence together based on a book he's read. The testing will give us more insight so we can create a unique educational plan suited to his specific needs.

We hope to keep him at the neighborhood school and keep him included in his class. He really likes his teacher and the kids in the class and his older sister attends this elementary school and makes sure he gets to class in the morning and picks him up after school to bring him to me. (She loves having this new responsibility).

We met with some of the school staff for a 504 meeting to give him some accommodations until the testing is completed and we can do a formal IEP. I was very pleased with the 504 meeting. The staff that attended was so positive and upbeat. His teacher said he has her heart and they all said they're just in love with him. But the best part was when they said that they went into this thinking about what they could do for him and what benefits they could offer him--it was all about what they could do for him. But, they've found that he's doing things for them. He's teaching kids in the class things they could never learn any other way. They are benefiting from him.

That makes a mama's heart so happy.

Yes, my son learns differently. Yes, he does some things differently. Yes, he speaks differently (for now). But different isn't bad, it's just different. Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't run away from differences, but celebrated them and allowed each other to be different?

We've had a ton of adjustments in the last month. My son has done so well with all of them. His behavior is better now than when he started school. He's learning the schedule and routine of going to school. The kids wave to him and talk to him. The staff has been so kind to him. I know it's been difficult for his teacher to try to meet his needs along with 22 other kids and I'm hoping that one of the results of testing will be that he gets an aide--at least for a while.

For now, I feel good about things.