Once a week, I attend a behavioral therapy meeting to discuss my son’s progress and setbacks. At these meetings, I discuss any concerns I have. They discuss ways to tackle those concerns and then discuss what skills my son has mastered and the new programs they will introduce to give him additional skills.
I love these weekly meetings because I get to see the growth my little guy is making in the nearly 30 hours per week he spends in behavioral therapy. In addition to the tutors who work with my son one-on-one, there is usually a field supervisor (tutors’ supervisor) and an assistant director. The director of the ABA program, a very mellow guy who I have liked since I met him last year, is usually not there. He is like the rock star of behavioral therapy. He’s practical, cuts to the chase and gets results.
At yesterday’s meeting, the ABA director was present and he threw a bit of rocket fuel into the way my brain has been thinking about my son still being my baby. We’re getting ready to prepare him for kindergarten.
You see, the little guy was given an invitation to participate in his preschool’s graduation. This is coming up in mid-June. The tutor asked me whether I wanted to have my son participate or not, just in case he stayed in preschool one more year. As an Asian part-tiger mom, this question caught me off guard.
In my head I’ve had no doubt that he will be going to kindergarten in the fall. This was the first time, someone actually said out loud that he might not attend. So naturally, this issue was the first concern I brought up at the weekly ABA meeting. The director asked me what I wanted. So I told him. I want my son in kindergarten in a neurotypical class with a full-time aide. I do not want to wait because, academically: (1) he can read beyond his grade level; (2) he can spell beyond a 1st grade level; (3) he knows what words are spelled orally in front of him; and (4) he can do simple math equations. He is bored in the preschool reading group. Socially, he is probably at the level of a 2 year old.
I felt a bit foolish asking for this because I’m the mom, not the expert on whether my son is actually ready for school. But, true to form, my behavioral therapy director is trying to help me achieve what I want to happen. He watched my son perform a couple of programs and then took me into a conference room with the field supervisor to discuss my request.
He told me that certain specific steps have to be taken to get him into kindergarten, just based on watching my son briefly. First, my son’s vocal tone is a bit loud and strange and he needs to work on modulating it to assure that he is not viewed as odd by his peers. There are programs for this and they will begin working on one immediately.
He also said that it is imperative that my son immediately begin play dates. The tutors and assistant director have been working forever on getting his play skills to a level where a play date can occur. Honestly? My son has never, in his life, had a play date. This is partly because of the isolated area in which we live and partly the complete lack of children of any age in any vicinity to play with. His only socialization comes from his friend, “B”, the preschool, gym and social skills classes he attends.
The ABA director told me that I need to, immediately, begin scoping out a private school for kindergarten. Currently, because of where we live, there is only one school with a kindergarten in our entire town. The kids in this kindergarten will be children that he grows up with from grade school to middle and high school.
We do not want him to be viewed as odd from the very beginning by the children he goes to school with for 12 years. So, for kindergarten, the director thinks it is important that my son start outside of his school district while he learns to assimilate his behavior to that of the other kids. So, right now is the time to check out the schools before classes are out for the year and determine what would be his best fit.
The director said he could not guarantee that my son would not have to repeat kindergarten but that we should give it a try. He is going to re-evaluate the little guy’s cognitive skills through testing again as it has been almost a year since his initial evaluation.
I feel, all of a sudden, like my son is growing up a bit. It’s the very first time I’ve felt that way or had to think seriously about school. He is, still, in my eyes, my little baby boy, even though at nearly 5 years old now, almost 4 feet tall and 50 pounds. It seems like just yesterday, he was in his first preschool class singing songs, like this one:
I know he can’t be a baby forever but he’s just so cute now!! I guess it’s time to take that first step on the new journey called school. How did/do you feel about your child starting school?