As Joey gets older, I’m seeing more and more changes academically. Although he is in the same 4th grade home room as Leah, the academic work has gotten more difficult and the current curriculum can no longer be adapted to Joey’s needs and he spends the majority of the day in the special education room when he is not in specials (gym, art, music, library) or doing one of his jobs.
When we went for the annual open house at the kids’ school the other evening, I have to admit, I was pretty heartbroken when I walked into their classroom and discovered that Joey does not have a desk in that room. This is the first year where he’s not been in a regular classroom. Now, before any of the inclusion parents go bashing our choice, keep in mind, that this is our choice that he’s in the SPED room most of the day.
But it hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Life always finds ways to say, “Hey! Things aren’t going the way you expected them to go!” I guess I was just expecting him to have a desk with his name on it in the home room like all the other years just like all the other kids.
When Joey was a baby, before we knew he was going to also have Autism, I wanted more than anything for him to be 100% totally included in the regular mainstream classrooms. Now, I know to meet his needs, this isn’t the case. We have to do what’s best for Joey, NOT what I dreamed for and wanted for him originally.
He needs true one on one support 24/7 in the classroom. He can do basic things like write his name, count to 10, can point to the correct letter, color, shape, etc. A great deal of his school work in now being done on his iPad. He seems to be more eager to work with the iPad than a piece of paper. He’s even started building sentences on his iPad as well!
It just hits home when I see the work Leah is doing compared to Joey and they’re in the same grade. Even though I know I shouldn’t be comparing them. It’s just so hard sometimes not to.
Over the past year, since we’ve allowed the school to pull Jojoe out of the regular ed classroom more, we have noticed some improvements in his socially, behaviorally and even vocally. He’s getting the true one on one attention he needs and for that, I am forever grateful to all the staff at the school who have worked with him.
Just last week I had a meeting with some of his team and the school lunch lady to see if we can start adapting the school lunches to where he’ll eat them and not just the same few foods at home especially since he’s done so good with me eating at some restaurants! So, on Monday, which was cheeseburger day, Joey went through the lunch time and got his burger. The staff put it in the blender to make it mechanical soft and wouldn’t you know, after covering it in ketchup, JOEY ATE HIS FIRST BURGER!!!! Talk about a proud mommy moment when I read the email from his teacher!
Thankfully, Joey is such a “big man on campus.” He’s still very much included in activities around the school. He even has the big task of working in the school’s recycling program where he goes to every class throughout the week and helps to collect the recycling from the rooms. He’s the school custodian’s best buddy!
I look forward to the future for all three of my kids, seeing what each of them can achieve but also at times, I’m terrified for them, especially Joey, not knowing what the future holds for him. But I cannot let my own personal anxiety get in the way, I cannot control what the future holds and need to live each day, one step at a time.