Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Day of Fourth Grade

I just dropped Jason off. He's a fourth grader now. At least that's what they tell me. My special little boy with the book like IEP and more time spent out of the classroom than in is in the fourth grade. I've spent the past week conferencing with teachers, the guidance counselor and his new therapist discussing my son, his struggles and how we will handle this new year. This will be a hard year for him.

We learned last year that despite our best efforts, Jason won't 'catch-up' with his peers. His issues are deeper than more complex than we had thought and the damage much more lasting. As he continues to grow, he will fall further and further behind his peers. We see this more and more everyday. In essence, as I have said so many times this week, Jason is a 6yo trapped in a 10yos body.

Yesterday was "Meet the Teacher" day and Jason walked excitedly through the building telling everyone about his new backpack. Contrary to the thoughts of the kids and parents he talked to, he wasn't bragging. He was excited. Just like he was about his Star Wars backpack in Kindergarten and his Army back pack in 2nd grade. He was simply sharing his joy with others. Much like a kindergartener, he still hugs his teachers, talks to everyone he knows and wants to be friends with everyone.

My view of the day was different. The 2 other boys we had our conference with were polite, but cold. He's known them since Kindergarten. He was blatantly ignored by several students and I was glanced upon with disdain by some of the parents. I overheard one kids tell his mom, "That's Jason. He's a space cadet." Jason didn't hear this, he was too busy talking about the bird he had just seen.

This type of thing isn't reserved for school either. We've seen school mates at the store and such over the summer and Jason is ignored, even while their parents are standing there. Something I would never permit my kids to do, yet it happens to my son all the time. We have 2 neighbors who are in Jason's grade and neither boy can be bothered with Jason. One boy will, on occassion, but only because his parents are friends with us and won't permit it. Yet, every summer, Jason will ring their bells and ask them to play. And every summer he is ignored or bullied or told to simply leave. This year I finally had to forbid him from playing at that end of the street as now their little brothers of these boys are doing this.

So today I woke my son up, prayed with him and sent him to school. A school where I know the staff understands him and will do all they can for him. A school that is championing for him in all the areas they can. But also a school where he has no friends, no one to eat lunch with and will likely be treated on the playground like some sort of social pariah. A school where he will spend the first 7 days lost in class as they set up the schedule for his interventions. A school he hopefully won't come home from in tears.

Andy and I are looking at options and praying about how to move forward with Jason's education. The academic demands of fourth grade are going to be a lot for my little man to handle. Homeschooling is not a good match for him as he is too oppositional. We are praying for his safety, guidance and for a clear path from here. Our options are getting limited unless we get a different diagnosis. Ready or not, he's off to school.

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