Day 10: Navigating, with Special Needs

I never get used to my youngest son having special needs.  Sometimes I get so excited about his amazing progress over the last year that I convince myself his apraxia is temporary, or is almost conquered.  And in some ways, it is.  He can communicate without frustration in almost all scenarios right now, which is a huge success for a boy who, even 6 months ago, couldn’t verbalize a thought clearly.  And he has chipped away most of the shell that kept his personality hidden from us for the first two years of his little life.  He’s a rock star, in so many ways.

But this week we had his annual evaluation and went over his goals as he transitions to preschool and then kindergarten.  How much do I hate having to worry about kindergarten when he hasn’t even reached his third birthday?  A lot.  And then a lot more.

This is my huge fear about Little K and school: perception.  Speech in particular is one of those things that people are judged by almost immediately because it makes such an obvious first impression.  K’s brain signals seem to get particularly mixed when he is in a new situation, with new people, or under any kind of pressure.  Anxiety equals, for him, a motor breakdown when he opens his mouth to speak.

K is smart.  So smart, and so kind, and so excited about a life he can finally talk about.  And I don’t want him to get into a public system that crushes that, either by way of teachers who don’t have the patience it takes to understand him or by peers who judge him too quickly and shut him down.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.  Listening to the district representative today as she described the hoops and testing he will have to go through gave me a clearer picture of the advocating I will have to do once he enters the system.

So we keep learning how to do it.  How to navigate this path that we didn’t expect to be on, and how to make sure we are a big voice for him when his little one falters.  We have so far to go, and what I have to come to terms with is that we’re on this journey day by day by day, just as we’re in a different journey with our oldest son, and just as you’re all in your own journeys with your kids.  But hell, if you have any suggestions for not going crazy as I steer toward the dragon that is public school with a special needs child, I’m all ears!

4 thoughts on “Day 10: Navigating, with Special Needs

  1. I cannot help a lot, since I really do not know the schooling systems where you live. However, my siblings and me all but one have dyspraxia, and problems with vocalizing our thoughts.
    One of the things I learned from how my mother handled things: be in time with picking a school, and make sure you know the teachers, and they know you. A school that is close to home, and teachers that already know your child, will make the school a less strange place to start with, and your child’s anxiety a little less. On the other hand, you can tell the new teachers on forehand how his speach is affected by his apraxia, but that there is nothing wrong with his knowledge if he cannot express himself from the start – or draw straight lines from the start, like one of my sister’s teachers tried to do. She is a university student now, and one of the best, even when the teacher thought she was behind when she was 5. 😉
    You already have help I notice, since you had an annual evaluation with people? I hadn’t (I’m too old for that I guess…) but my siblings had an ambulant coach, to help them fitting into school, and to correct the teachers when neccesary.

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  2. My son has some special needs as well, it’s ironic, today my blog post was about not sabotaging his success. He’s 13, and I have learned that as much as I try to shelter him from situations that I feel he will fail in, the more angry he gets at me for putting those limits on him. At his age, it’s all about conformity, and the last thing he wants is to be different from his peers. But the fact of the matter is that he IS different, and there is nothing he can do to change that.

    My best advice as he starts school is to be aware of what’s happening there, become friendly with the teachers, because they will largely determine your child’s success. Help build his self esteem so that he doesn’t feel scared of his limitations, but instead has goals to surpass them. No one will advocate for your child the way a you will. You will encounter bumps on the way as you learn to deal with it all, but hopefully your boy will grow to be a happy, well rounded, and productive adult. That’s all any of us can hope for.

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