Back in May, I baked a ginormous batch of my most sinful cinnamon rolls, and I packed up a plate of them—still warm—and took them over to the middle school. I opened our meeting there with a quick disclaimer: I will always ask for a lot, at these meetings. I’m there as my child’s advocate, and I want what I want. But, I always bake. I’m not there to make anyone mad. I want us to be a team. I am not averse to greasing the wheels with butter and frosting. Know this about me.
My speech (and my baking) were well-received. Our team from the elementary school came, too, and they were fantastic. On-task, forward-thinking, quick to tell the new team what they’ve learned about how Monkey works and how he’s best supported. They spoke of what a bright and loving kid he is under the right circumstances, and how most of the time he’s a delight. My mama bear heart, squeezed with trepidation at the start of the meeting, swelled with gratitude and pride. And make no mistake, we asked for a lot of things. We laid out what we felt he would need to succeed in middle school.
And they said yes, to everything we asked. So I began to make peace with him being ready to move on.
A little while after school ended, doubt came back to visit me. Still, I know that uncertainty is part of the game, here. I was okay. Monkey was having a good summer, relaxing and enjoying and generally being easygoing. So we were okay.
But then in mid-July I contacted the public school—as we’d agreed I’d do, back when I was taking home an empty, frosting-smeared plate—only to discover that the carefully laid out plan had fallen through a crack roughly the size of the Grand Canyon. Because in the time since our meeting, the special ed coordinator had been replaced. As had the principal. The school was in flux, and no one seemed to remember my Monkey and the promises they’d made back in May.
While I dealt with the polite-but-firm emails about certain dates and tasks and things we’d been promised, Monkey made it clear he was still struggling, and I began to wonder if I was having the wrong fight. Why was I trying to bend the public school to my will when maybe it was totally the wrong place for him?
I started a second track: Alternate school arrangements. But I kept on with the middle school, because they had promised things they weren’t doing.
Today is Wednesday. School starts on Monday (at the public middle school). We have not yet decided where or if Monkey is going.
Because they promised us we’d be paired with his parapro well ahead of the start of school, and that person hasn’t yet been hired. Because they promised us his parapro would receive intensive training on working with autism spectrum disorders, and now they’re saying they’ll do it “as soon as possible.” Because they took notes at the meeting and promised the person hired to work with Monkey would be selected based upon compatibility with his particular needs, and the person doing the hiring wasn’t at that meeting and has never met my son. But at least they’re “terribly sorry” and “really hear and understand my frustration.”
In the next two or three days, we’ll go to open house at the middle school. We’ll go visit what I’ve been referring to as the Crunchy Hippie Alternative School. And Otto, Monkey’s dad and I will continue discussing the various homeschooling permutations and how they might work.
Monkey is tolerating his medication change well; no side effects yet that we can see. But no improvement, really, either. Yet. The right decision for the kid he is today might not be the right one for where he’s at in a month. And if I’m being completely honest, it’s a lot easier to focus on the school district having screwed up than to think about how even if they had delivered down to the letter, I still wouldn’t know what to do.
A few nights ago, Monkey appeared downstairs well after bedtime. “I’m sad,” he said. “You said I could come get you.”
I thanked him for telling me. I laced my arm through his, steered him back upstairs, and tucked him in. Then I laid down next to him, stroking his hair, suggesting he think about something happy. He said he couldn’t think of anything.
“How about when you went caving with Daddy? That was neat, right?”
“Yeah, but kind of creepy, too. I don’t think that’s a good one.”
“Okay. Hmmm. How about eating donuts at Grammie’s? Daddy was there with you, and you got the chocolate kind, and the doggies were milling around, hoping you’d drop a piece.” And then did a terrible imitation of his uncle’s dog, who apparently brays with discontent any time his owner is out of sight. Monkey giggled. Then he exhaled, slowly, like he’d been holding his breath for a long, long time.
“Thank you, Mommy,” he said. He almost never calls me Mommy. “That worked. I think I can sleep, now.” I smoothed his hair one last time, kissed his forehead, and bid him sweet dreams on my way out.
Here’s to at least one more rabbit in my hat. Please.
You got this, Mir. You do.
I will happily donate any good kharma points I have earned to helping Monkey and you find that very special rabbit in your hat. Wishing you a peaceful transition, wherever you wind up.
Here’s to, not just one rabbit, but two coming out of that hat –and you know how they breed, so that should set you up– so really, here’s to all the rabbits you need!
Good luck making all those decisions. You’re doing a great job.
Praying that all will be well and very well…
you ARE doing it. one moment at a time. you are guided by love and you ARE doing it!
Hugs to you. Those of us with spectrum kids understand. I just keep telling myself he’ll be a fine adult. They grow out of some of this stuff, right? We just do the best we can…
I’m with allysha in hoping there’s more than one rabbit in the hat and that they’re busy doing that things rabbits do, so that you never run out.
Hugs and good thoughts heading your way! I don’t know if it helps, but remember that none of the school choices are forever-and-ever-amen: if it doesn’t seem to be working, you can change courses.
And a good bad dog imitation can solve all sorts of problems :)
Just remember, in the coming months, that the decision you make in the next few days will be the best decision you could have possibly made with the information you have at this time. No one can do any better than that and I am certain you have more information and you three will have thought this out more thoroughly than most. It might be hard to remember that but please try.
Sending prayers, hugs, good thoughts, good karma, and dreams of fabulous gluten-free cinnamon rolls your way.
holy heck you’re awesome. i’m in tears, having just read “hush, baby” and this one. good heavens you are all due for some rabbits and some fairy dust and some magical glitter and some chocolate (for you!) and some grace and peace. i know you will get it–the grace comes in the moments like the ones you describe, and the peace from knowing that you will be led where you need to go when you need to get there. you’ll know what to do. i just know that you will.
I just started running again after a VERY long break. And I get through the new miles by promising myself I can decide to stop after this next little bit. I look ahead of me and find a car, a street sign, something adequately far (or close) to focus on. And then I get there and I find a new one. It’s silly how well it works.
To mirror what’s said about – you’ve got this Mir. You’ll find the next rabbit and the one after that. Just focus on the one you have to pull out this one time.
I’m holding my breath for all of you. I’m a big believer in using humor in sad or stressful situations, and I’m glad it worked for Monkey. Who wouldn’t love a bad dog impression?
If I come across any extra rabbits, I will remit them toot sweet.
Best of luck with your choice, Mir. The alternative school does sound like an intriguing idea, to me. Of course, no choice is not changeable down the road if you don’t like how things are going…
Stop making me cry… I am terrified of R’s upcoming year… The district pulled her parapro and now they switched principals on us…. Ugh. Best wishes for your decisions…
I vote crunchy hippie school. Try it for a year, see how it goes. You can always readjust later, but for now Regular Middle School can’t care for your child. There is no 100% right answer, so take a step forward, assess, readjust, step again. Hang in there, Mama
You can’t risk harm to Monkey or to others, but I have heard that if you need to push for resources for Monkey, you probably can’t just opt out of the situation because you (however correctly) predict that it will be inadequate and inappropriate. That degree of strategy might not need to be part of your planning — if you have other options that will be appropriate, but if support from the school district (in the form of paraprofessionals, or outside specialists, or accommodations) are necessary, you might need to consider strategy (perhaps even a special education advocate?)
I got nothin’ but hugs from afar. And prayers. You got this. It will be ok.
Let love take you by the hand and show you the way.
I read this and I think about how you are holding YOUR breath and I am glad you have people around you that you can go to when you are feeling sad. I also think it’s awesome that Monkey remembered what you said and did come to you when he was sad… he could have just stayed in his room and that would have been truly sad. HUGS!
Rabbits. LOTS of Rabbits to you. Is it true that if a school cannot give your child what they need that they are responsible for paying for that resource for your child? I don’t know if that is a state thing or a country thing. I know it to be true about blindness, deafness and certain learning disabilities. If they are unable to keep these promises they acknowledge making, wouldn’t the public school be responsible for paying for Monkey to go to the Crunchie Hippy school?
You have so many decisions to make but what you have said about the public school makes me worried. You don’t want something thrown together (obviously, or you wouldn’t have been making plans for this year MONTHS ago), you don’t want an underqualified or undertrained parapro. I feel like these bums stole your cinnamon rolls. Good Luck, Mir.
I feel for you, after all the planning meetings, this must feel like a kick in the stomach, and that just plain sucks. I pray that between now and Monday, you will receive some kind of sign that will make the way forward clear.
So glad to hear that Monkey came to get you when he felt sad – go Monkey!!! I love that boy.
You’ll always find a rabbit in your hat, Mir; I know you, and I know you will. Plus, it’s a magic hat, right? If you don’t find any rabbits at first, just dig a little deeper and picture my backyard; we’ve had LOTS of rabbits hopping around here for some reason, and I’m perfectly happy to let you grab a few.
Is Crunchy Hippie Alternative School public or private? Because if it’s public or if money’s really not an issue, that might be a good middle path.
Wishing you luck and strength no matter what you choose.
I wonder if it ever occurs to you that one of the rabbits you’ve got in your hat is the ability to tell your story, and Monkey’s, with such grace, realism and determination. I hope someday, when you can breathe again and take a minute to step back and look, you’ll see that this is a gift, to more people than you will likely ever know.
My deepest wishes are with you on this journey your family is taking. And I’m with the commenter up there. You’ve got this. You do.
p.s. What does Monkey think?
How I wish you lived near me… My homeschooled Aspie just graduated from high school and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I was so fortunate to find a support group.. (OK, I helped start it) where kids celebrated one another. I was blessed to find coop classes (OK, I taught them) that were geared to the way my unique learner learns!
Alas, you are not here, (OK, considering it’s a melting 115 degrees today you might think this is a good thing) And truly there is no one size fits all.. even for Aspies.. But I know your momma bear heart.. and I know that you will find a way where the way seems hidden.
I’ve said this before, but if you have any questions at all about the benefits and downfalls or homeschooling an Aspie, I’m an email away.. been there done that, could write a book… Oh yeah, I am!
Here’s to rabbits jumping out of hats like, well, bunnies!!!
Hugs to you. I’m having a rough day with my 19yo, and I’m ready to swear off parenting forever. It’s nice to hear that there are bright spots in the clouds, even if the clouds are large and dark.
I was so torn between commenting/not commenting, but in the end I decided it’s better to express compassion that not. I am so sorry that it’s hard right now. I’m sorry for all the uncertainty, I’m sorry the schools are not all they should be.
I guess, if there’s anything positive I can offer is that it’s okay to do your best, make a decision and move forward. Will it be the right decision? Unfortunately no one knows that right now, but you do your best, hope for the best and correct if you need to.
I think as mothers we are so hard on ourselves and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we hold ourselves to impossible standards. You’re a great mom, you do your best for your Monkey, and that really will be good enough.
Sending you lots and lots of rabbits. And maybe a bottle of wine or three.
Mir, wishing you strength and love to carry you through and see the way. (And remembering that “the way” can be changed if it isn’t working out.)
I went to a crunchy hippie alternative (public) school, and I loved it. That’s just me, not on the spectrum, but right now, my old school has a whole program for kids on the spectrum. Because crunchy hippies are warm and inclusive like that.
If yours has a parapro or any experience with kids on the spectrum and their needs, it could end up being a good choice. Mine, at least, was not so hipped on rules, and tended not to have ironclad ones that would result in kids facing principals saying ‘sorry, you broke the rule, no exceptions, here’s your gigantic consequence.’
But that’s me thinking out loud, without any of the info you have as to why the other choices might be better ones, so I’m not actually offering advice. Just support.
Also, your rabbit was wonderful, and I know you have more where that came from. And Monkey is really lucky to have you (and you to have Monkey).
I can’t fathom middle school. Right now, we are crossing our fingers, toes, and eyes that my boy can get through third grade. Bottom line: The public schools don’t really care. They are doing what is mandated but don’t see past that, in my experience. And my sister’s experience. And the experiences of numerous other parents of ASD kids I know. It sucks out loud, but you are doing everything right. Keep pushing. Keep fighting. And keep doing silly dog impressions.
(((hugs))) Whatever you decide Mir is the right decision even if that decision has some pitfalls. I have to deal with the school for my SB kid and getting her needs settled….and alert them to the probability of surgery again this year and all that entails..ugh!
I just keep thinking how lucky Monkey is that he has you. None of this is easy, and that fact that you just keep searching for one more rabbit to pull out of the hat … that’s a tremendous effort and you’ve chosen it for the good of your boy. Lots of kids, Asperger’s or not, don’t get as much of that as they need, and your boy has you. No matter what else happens, that’s the best thing.
Your kids are so lucky to have you. I know you will make the best decison for your family, but also that if circumstances change, you will roll with it and adapt.
My family had to make some similar decisions for the upcoming school year, and it really helped me once I realized that whatever we did, it wasn’t written in stone. If it didn’t work out, we could figure out a plan B. So now I have 1 kid starting high school at a small, private school (he has major organizational issues, and will hopefully get the help he needs there) a 4th grader who we are pulling out of school and homeschooling (pray for me!) and a 7th grader who will be staying at her same school, although she wants to be homeschooled. (Just trying to help her with her homework is always a battle. It just wouldn’t work!) I hope we have made the best choices for each of them.
Hang in there! You’ve got this!!!! (and the rabbits, too)
Whatever decision you make will be the right one for the right time. Whatever happens, whatever you do, don’t feel guilty and second-guess yourself if the situation changes. Because that’s what life is and how life goes: you think it’s good, and it is. Then something changes, and it’s not. The “not good” isn’t because of the decision you made, but rather the change in circumstance. You have shown that you can roll on, and no matter what happens, you and Monkey and your entire family will do just that.
Roll on, Mir.
I hope that whatever choice you make turns out to be the best choice for all of you.
If those promises were in the IEP (always get promises documented in the IEP), you have grounds to nail them for non-compliance. If you decide to go the homeschooling route, ICORS has a list for families who are homeschooling children on the autistic spectrum.
That is really not right. I hate it when promises are broken and all you get is, “I hear you.” Great. Really friggin’ helpful! Grrr!
I will be crossing my fingers, arms and eyes that this all gets resolved the way you need it to.
Mir, you rock. You have talked to everyone, I mean, you even have input from Temple Grandin for heaven’s sake. You have everything inside you to make the decision, and I say go with your gut.
Your information+your excellent mother’s intuition will help you make a decision. And I’m sure that if you choose home, and he levels out during the year and the school gets it’s act together, or you choose crunchy school and it turns out home would be a better fit you can re-choose again, later in the year, when you have more and better information.
Good luck finding your Monkey a middle school solution. I can not help but also think about your Chickadee in all this. She knows Monkey, she knows the middle school as it is today (not like when I went to middle school in the stone ages). Does she have anything to offer?
I wish you all the best and that you, Otto and Monkey’s father find peace in whatever choice you make.
Man, I would be so disappointed in that school. I’m sorry they’re letting you down. Good luck with moving forward; I hope one of the options seems like the right one by Monday.
Sending hugs and love and brownies.
‘Cause brownies always make things better.
What does Monkey say to homeschooling? Why are you so afraid to jump the fence and give this a shot? It’s not permanent… it can be changed. Isn’t it worth the shot? Maybe the reason you feel so out of wack about school is because your gut is saying NO and as a mom… the gut is always right?
I say this with care. Although it sounds harsh.
Jump the fence, Mir, it’s not sooo bad over here.
I think Monkey would THRIVE knowing he doesn’t HAVE to fit in at school. Let him live in HIS WORLD… it may be nice in there?
That’s really awesome of them to let you know that they really hear your frustration…wonder if they could really hear a big middle finger, too? Not that it would help, but it would probably make you feel better for a minute.
Wish I could offer some assvice or comfort, but alas I cannot. All I can say is that Monkey is one lucky guy to have you as his mom. You’re doing the very best job that could possibly be done. You are heroic. And you WILL do the best thing. Even if you don’t know what it is yet. Hang in, all the moms are pulling for you guys!
Is he crafty? Could he make a ‘happier place’ scrap book? Not to take the place of you being there to chase away the sads, but to look at together and use as a jumping point for happy stories.
I kind of have the feeling I’m looking at the same sort of problems as we head into another school year for my Monkey. Last year the teacher accepted what he could accomplish, this year the expectations (for the Grade) is higher, and who knows if the teacher will be as lenient. I also hate having to start all over, every single year.
The only thing you have to do today is get through today, gather information, and sleep on it. That’s all.
Oh, schools. Don’t get me started on schools. My daughter ‘only’ has central auditory processing deficit and the local schools couldn’t even get their acts together on that. I was even more glad to be finished with public schools when she was done than I was when I graduated myself.
It does feel good, though, when we manage to find the right happy thought for them, doesn’t it?
Wishing you all the rabbits you need and more.
sending you a hug and keeping my fingers crossed for you all. :)
Whenever I have a tough decision to make (like you do now), I think of the time I got my “dream job” and eventually it turned into a nightmare. To the point I would run down the stairwells and cry-when I was 7 months pregnant no less. My takeaway, even the “perfect” decision has its own drawbacks. Nothing is perfect. We can only try to do the best with what we have. Great luck.
Hugs and love for all of you. For always.
I think what you did for Monkey is exactly what I needed somebody to do for me tonight. Of course, I wasn’t able to communicate my needs and it ended in a fight. I’m glad your evening ended better, and I’m pulling for you and Monkey.
It seems to me like you already know what the answer is. I was always taught to know God’s will in your life, you evaluate the circumstances. It appears that the circumstances of the school dropping the ball are pretty big red signals. That being said, I understand your trepidation. If I had to homeschool my monkeyesque child, I am sure neither of us would survive. But, you are FAR more patient than I when dealing with special needs. Praying for you and sending you lots of hugs.
Continuing to pray for you (all).
Oh it just breaks my heart to hear about his struggles. I know you will find the best path for him. It seems that the public school is sending you signals already that they are not the place for him. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Just thinking of you – and totally hearing that today’s ‘right’ isn’t necessarily tomorrow’s ‘right.’ Struggling a bit with my youngest on that – and wishing there were a road map with ‘here there be dragons’ marked bright and big so I knew what to avoid…
I’m hoping those rabbits are multiplying in that hat as quickly as they can . . . wait, that sounds kinda gross, but you know what I mean!
I feel for Monkey, as I know that feeling of being trapped in the bad thoughts keeping you awake all night, but he’s too young for the antidepressants which have finally helped me! :-(
Dammit, Mir, you’re making me cry here! You are such an amazing mama bear.
It is not the same, but it took me almost a year to decide where Michael would go to kindergarten. And in the end I’m not sure I made the right decision.
My BFF likes to say “you do the best you can, and you know better, you do better.” I think that is all any of us can do.
My heart goes out to each of you. I hope that his new meds help him be the best monkey he can be. I hope it made you feel good that your son felt comfortable enough to come to you in his time of need. Some parents would have fussed at him saying he was just trying to stay up later than his bed time. By you going to him it just validated the fact he can trust you and ask for your help and you will be there for him. You know better than anyone the â€œfixâ€ isnâ€™t always that easy. You will do anything and everything in your power to help Monkey. You will make the right choice for his schooling. You know your son better than anyone else. You know what signs to look for if Monkey is having problems and you address them quickly. You try to make it a learning experience so that he might be able to make adjustments if the same situation comes up in the future. You keep in close contact with his teachers, counselors, the principal and anyone else that will be in contact with your sweet little man. You are Monkeys biggest advocate guiding him in the best possible way you can. You are a wonderful mom! I wish you and your family nothing but the best.
Wow … you told him he could come to you when he’s sad … AND HE DID! That Monkey’s gonna make it! You are his best advocate and you’re doing a terrific job. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and you are in the thick of it, friend! Hang in there. I am thinking of you so often!
I’m getting ready to send my youngest (dev delay, autistic tendencies but not dx autism) to Dev. preschool in 2 short weeks. I’m nervous and unsure if this is really the right thing, so I can definitely feel you there.. I’m confident that in the end you WILL make the right choice for Monkey, for you and for everyone involved. Good luck!
I recommend charter school or alternative schools. My daughter for some reason struggled for the last couple years in the public school. They gave up on her and after much talking, much everything, we moved her to a charter school in March. The difference she had in the three months she was there before school break was amazing and heart breaking. I wish I had done it sooner. Public school doesn’t work for all kids. You have a good mom heart you will make the right decision!
Oh this makes me SO angry! So do you spend your time and resources FORCING the school to fulfill their legal obligations, and meanwhile, throw your child into chaos, or do you just bail out? Is the crunchy, hippie school private? My daughter is going to start at a private school because I KNOW that she will not get what she needs at our public school, but I’m still bracing for impact because it’s not really the right fit either. I don’t know WHAT is the right fit.
Let’s run off to the wilderness together and forget all this school system, IEP crap. (But it has to be near a Starbucks, a Target and a half-way decent mall. And no wildlife. Or too many bugs. But no SCHOOLS. And other judgy adults. And mean kids whose parents never taught them to accept kids with differences.) Ok, I’m hijacking the comments.
You are an AMAZING advocate and you know Monkey best. He’s way ahead of the pack because he’s got you fighting for him.
Could it be that this will be a case of being thankful for unanswered prayers regarding this public school? I wish you weren’t in the midst of this uncertainty and stress, but I have faith (with extra to spare in case you are running low right now).
Just wanted to offer another set of cyber-hugs. I hope it helps in small and big ways to know all of us out here on Team Mir (& Monkey) (& Otto & Chickadee) are thinking, praying and rooting for your family.
Just happened to be thinking of you tonight. Sending you and Monkey many virtual hugs.
All we can do is make the best decision with the information we have at hand at the time. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I’ve often heard that kids on the spectrum fall through crevasses and the IEP follow through rate tanks once they hit middle school. This is really making me dread our last year of elem school with our Aspie. Like previous posters have said, if things they are promising are in the IEP and not being provided, you have every right to pull out the legal guns. I know the schools just *love* when you do that. I had to do it when it was determined by the group who provides services for kids 3-5 here that my youngest needed speech and a further eval, but never received the speech services. There have been budget cuts and frankly, no one wants to provide anything they can get away with not providing these days. It’s so sad. (((hugs))) It sounds like you care too much to let your child fall those those cracks. You’ll figure it out. We always do somehow.
I have lots of thoughts but the short version is orginial middle school might have worked but having dropped the ball is highly unlikely now. So that leaves hippie school (i like hippies) and homeschooling imo.
More importantly, hugs for you and slaps for a system that undid so much of your hard work. Unfortunately as my mother said to me (and I now say to my kids) – Life isn’t fair but you still have to muddle thru.
And I echo the many rabbits wishes!
I’m hoping and wishing with ya, Mir, but really – it’s not necessary. You don’t need another rabbit because you always have been and always will be enough. Sending you peace, dear.
You are grounded and amazing mother.