Let Him Soar
I remember thinking when Caden started Pre-School… I was so glad he had such a long time before Kindergarten. He would have time to work on his behaviors, and his motor skills, his social skills and his academics. When he started Kindergarten, I remember thinking the same thing… I was so glad he had years ahead of him before middle school. I had no idea what each year would bring for Caden, but I was always grateful for “time”. Kinder, first and then onto second. We were so happy with the progress Caden was making and all the hard work he put in to his OT, speech and academics. He was one of the hardest working kids. Third grade came and went and then 4th which was a huge year for him. It was also the year I started having major anxiety. This “time” that I had always been so grateful for was running out. Fifth grade was coming quick and I started to panic over what Caden’s future would look like. I knew through my years of experience that I needed to advocate for Caden and start looking at options for helping him academically and deciding on where he would attend middle school.
I have always maintained very good relationships with all of my kids teachers, especially Caden’s. I make it a point to connect with his Educational Development Teacher - whom thank god, I really like. I have always felt that the school district provides what they need for our special kids… but they definitely do not go out of their way for anything extra. There are a select few teachers I have encountered that have gone above and beyond for Caden, and I love them for that. The teachers and aides follow the district rules - and I know that they do care for the kids, but do they really have an invested interest in their future? I think they do what they can to help them through each year until they are off to the next school and no longer under their watch. Which is what I suppose they are taught to do.
Knowing Caden is below grade level and only getting so much individualized help each day, I feel panic set in. He sits in the classroom trying to take in as much information as he can. With all his sensory issues, just sitting in a chair takes up most of his energy and focus. Caden has low communication between his brain and his muscles. For him, all the sensory takes up about 80%, leaving him 20% to grasp anything being taught. So he is basically getting snip its. How far can he go in life with snip its? This is something I am not going to just sit back and see what happens in the next year. I had thought about pulling him out of school before 5th grade and sending him to a private school where his older brother goes. I know that the year being spent at the private school would be invaluable, but it would also be a huge financial strain for us. After several discussions with counselors and therapists, teachers and Psychologists, we all came up with a plan for 5th grade. Caden will remain at his elementary school and graduate with the kids that have stood by his side for the past 6 years. He has a really amazing class and an awesome group of buddies that really love him and look out for him. Caden wanted it this way too. So we are saving money by not sending him to private school, but we are putting his academics in overdrive, with several days with his Ed therapist to get him up to speed.
As summer is coming to a close, I am nervous and anxious not knowing what this year will be like for Caden. The kids are getting older and more mature, and obviously the work is getting more difficult. I will need to make some decisions on where we will be sending him for middle school, as the application process starts early. Everyone says Caden would be fine at our middle school. It is so big, he will find his “people.” I know he would get support with his academics, but I don’t want him sitting in the halls by himself, eating cheetos. As much as he loves his friends, and I know they care about him… they are kids and they will all take on a sport, or new group of friends, or hobby or interest… it is just the way it is. So as of today, we are leaning towards private school with his brother. His class will be 8-10 kids and his friends from elementary school will remain his friends from the neighborhood.
It is so hard being a parent and trying to do the right thing for our kids. None of it is easy. With Caden, whether or not to send him to local or private school is a gamble, but I can only do what I think is best for him. And it is for him. The easy choice for me as a parent if I were selfish, would be to put him at the local school, that he could walk to and is free. As I see his older brother soaring out of his first year at his school, I can’t help but dream of the amazing things that may come with Caden going there too. So I will take deep breaths as Caden’s last year at elementary school begins and watch him prepare his wings to soar.