Just Breathe … and go to my happy place

Mom: “What can you share about your special ed program, and the transition into middle school (my son has high functioning autism)?”

Administrator:” We treat them ‘normal’ … ” (in fairness, they did finish the sentence but I turned off.

Mom: “You mean … because they ARE normal, right???”    (sidebar: very out of character for me to respond that way but SERIOUSLY?!  This is a parent orientation.)

Yes, this was the low point of my first visit to the (now potential) future middle school for our little guy in the fall.  It started off great – upbeat, positive, good info.  Administration and student speakers talked about working hard to make the middle school transition a great one for the kids and talked about how they accomplish that.

But no special ed info at all.  None.  As it wrapped, they pointed out someone to answer questions.   I wish they had not … I was feeling pretty good.  That little snippet above was the jewel of the exchange.  It did neutralize a bit after that, but basically this person seemed to think it was sufficient to tell a parent of a child with special needs that they will be in a ‘normal’ classroom and the teachers are experienced. Nothing about transitions, or IEPs, or how their curriculum is modified, etc etc.  Any actual questions … I should schedule an appt for those.  Apparently parent orientation was not the right place to address these things.


So I stewed as we toured the sixth grade classrooms, ruminated while we hit the gym, and was about to re-approach for a second attempt.  Can’t leave this bad taste in my mouth about the school I thought.  And thankfully the next person I asked the same basic question was so kind, and very helpful.  And the information was encouraging.  It’s not that the school couldn’t address my concerns – its that the spokesperson did it horribly.   Which brought me right back to our gifts … know what they are and play to your strengths.  Of all the people they could have assigned to speak to new parents, I KNOW there was someone who had a gift for connection and engagement that could have left us feeling so different.

So how do I feel … frustrated!  disappointed!  I hoped for so much more – like encouragement, a supportive middle school team, partners.  And it may be there yet … but not the ‘first look’ I wanted.    But before I drive myself nuts

I am going to just breathe … and go to my happy place 


(as depicted by a wonderful artist and friend, Clayton Singleton, in this great painting.)


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