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Time for Change

Change is never easy. You read all the time about how change is hard for autistic children to understand. That transitions to new people and situations can be so challenging for them. But as one chapter of John's education ends, and another begins, I wonder if it's harder for our children, or for us?

Today is the last day of second grade for my child. After today, John will never again be a student at his primary school. He will leave his teacher, his bus driver and aide, the staff, and everyone else to transition to another school. He will have a new teacher, a new bus, a new school come August.

For the parents of typical children, this is a normal progression. Their child has a new teacher every year. Possibly a new bus driver. Going from one school to another is normal at this grade level, and maybe a little exciting. But for myself, and other children in Exceptional Education, this is scary.

You see, like many children in a self-contained class, John has been blessed to have the same, amazing teacher for three years. He's had the same wonderful bus aide and fantastic bus drivers. The school staff knows him and treats him with kindness and love. They all know him inside and out, and I never have to explain anything to them. They know when he doesn't feel well, when he's having a rough day, when he's sensory seeking, and when to push him to work harder. They know what a big deal it is for him to have finally learned to use the bathroom independently, and get so excited when they hear a new vocal from him or he tries something new. They communicate and work with our private therapists to make sure that we're all on the same page. And they forgive me when I have a "mom moment" and forget something important.

Everything is in place for a smooth transition. We've had our IEP meeting and all the goals are ready to go. I've met his teacher, and she is going to be great for him! Her focus is on real-life skills, which is something John truly needs. She's already met with his private therapy team, and wants us all working together. His "new" school is where he attended ESE Pre-K, and was my home school for many, many years. The staff is just as wonderful, and I know he is already loved there. His 3-5 years are going to be fantastic. But eyes well up with the thought of what we are leaving behind.

Like all autism moms, I know the importance of preparing my child for transitions. For the past two weeks, I have been preparing John for the end of school. I tell him every day:

"You have ____ days left with Stubbs."

"You'll have a new bus team for ESY and then another in August."

"Your ESY school will be your all-the-time school from now on."

"You're going to have an all-new team for third grade!"

He listens to me, and I think he understands. He's a pretty laid-back kiddo, and usually handles change pretty well. So as I say it, I wonder... am I preparing John for this transition, or am I preparing myself?

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