Okay, change can be scary. We knew what to expect in elementary school and we were comfortable, but it was time to move on. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Our change from the PPI program to elementary school didn’t go so well, so the idea of a change was less than appealing.
We have two junior high schools in our school district. It was decided that the junior high furthest away from our home was more suitable for Michael. The building had better accessibility and administration felt it was a better choice for Michael.
The school is obligated to provide busing. I once had an administrator call and offer me money to drive my son to school! I politely declined. I’ve been “punished” by scheduling my son as a first pick-up and last drop-off. When my son was scheduled for a 6 a.m. pick-up when school started at 7:40 a.m., I called the superintendent. By the end of the day, his schedule was changed. Be aware of your rights. A lift bus can be an “inconvenience” for schools. Many times we were told one was not available. It is up to the school to make one available. Don’t be bullied; remember you are your child’s advocate and believe me when I say your child is watching you during these early years and it will influence how he advocates for himself one day.
The hardest part about transitioning to junior high was losing our aide. Although our new school had an aide available in the building, it was decided that Michael no longer needed a personal aide. Our aide was not only a comfort to my son, she was a comfort to me. I had no worries when she was with him. If I forgot popcorn day, lunch money, homework, etc. she was there. She was our security blanket and now we were on our own.
What did we learn? Michael has no organization skills. His backpack was always a disaster, homework was misplaced or lost. Therapist and counselors worked with Michael. We bought him every type of organizer out there, but it was never used. I’d like to tell you what the magic fix was, but I still haven’t found it. Michael has made some improvements, but he still has a long ways to go.
Michael used the assistance of the aide for a little while at the beginning of junior high, but eventually it wasn’t needed. Some accomodations were made as necessary. Michael had a difficult time with locker combinations. Michael has some fine motor skill issues and a locker was difficult for him to maneuver. He carried everything in his backpack.
Michael played the saxaphone for a year. It was difficult for him to coordinate his fingers and he has a bit of a swelled tongue and he found it really wasn’t for him, but he gave it a try.
I can honestly say that junior high was a pleasant experience. I recall one difficult teacher out of the whole bunch, and we just ignored him. You learn to pick your battles and we believed it was a personality conflict between him and the teacher. The nice part about junior high – you are only with the teacher onc hour a day.
Here’s a hint. If you are struggling with a teacher or feel there is a problem, take your support team to parent teacher conferences. I found it helpful to bring my husband, mom, dad, and Michael’s dad to those conferences. It allows the teacher to see that your child has a support system in place and they are not in it alone.