It is funny but just as soon as you get used to something, that something changes. I am sure everyone can sympathize with that, right? Well, this is how I was feeling about Elizabeth’s new school year, her last year in elementary school.
I had managed to figure out a few things:
- How the school worked
- How to advocate for her needs
- How to make sure all the IEP goals were met
- The things I needed to do each day to keep communications open
- The need for me to visit the school for monthly check-ins
And suddenly, we were looking at our LAST year in this building. Our last year with this group of aides and intervention specialists….it almost made me scared for the next step.
Being a person who likes control, (I am continually working on this part of my personality), I felt frightened of the next step for Elizabeth, middle school. At the same time, I felt excited for the next stage of her life and the new challenges that awaited her.
Elizabeth’s fourth grade year was actually quite smooth. I was able to continue my monthly check- ins, incorporate the goals of the IEP into our school work at home, and communications between the school and our home were flowing quite well. I was so proud of Elizabeth and how well she was doing in school. She had gained confidence in herself and her social skills. In fact, I received many notes home regarding her gains in social skills. Those notes made us all feel proud and excited at the same time.
We continued our work with Mary that included asking more thinking, open ended questions such as: “How do you think you should act in church?” as opposed to the previously asked “Please behave in church”, or “Let’s talk about the things you did properly in church” as opposed to the ever present “Elizabeth, please use good behavior”. I learned that the thinking language was the next step in her growth, as it allows for her expression and language and it is not led by my words. We also continued the oral-motor protocol from before, even if she was not the happiest speech student to participate in this protocol of oral stimulation.
Something new to add to our daily lives was the realization that she is a “tween”, and as such some topics and concerns need to be addressed. As children progress to middle school, the thought of puberty and all it brings does cross one’s mind. Something to keep in mind with children with dyspraxia and SPD is that talking about new things early and often is the easiest way to introduce things. And if you can do this talking BEFORE the time you might be needing them to act on this information, you will be more likely to have success.
With this in mind, Mary introduced a book to me titled “Taking Care of Myself” by Mary Wrobel. I would quite highly recommend this book to anyone with children at the crossroads of their lives. The book is easy to read and understand, easy to discuss, and full of pictures for visual learners. As you can see, our work with Mary has changed a great deal. Gone are the gross motor exercises and the work to get any sounds made, and in its place are the higher-level thinking questions and the focus on the typical areas of a middle school child.
It is so hard to believe that Elizabeth is a middle schooler. It is so hard to believe how far she has come and to believe that our crying, scared, blue-eyed infant has grown into a confident, happy, bright-eyed tween. As I say in my book, “Middle school, here we come!” Words cannot ever truly express the depth of our love for this special child or our belief in her or even our thankfulness that she is in our lives. I know those who have a special needs child will understand and may be nodding their heads right now.
For those who have read my book, you will know this is technically the end of the “journey” covered there. For those of you following my blog or my Facebook page, you will know our journey has continued and Elizabeth is now 18 years old. I look forward to writing future posts about Elizabeth’s life past those covered in my book, because we all know ….the journey continues.
Michele writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Follow her story since the beginning here.