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!