No matter how we talk, prep, encourage and praise a new school year is stressful. The plan… Back to bedtime 30 minutes earlier, talking about lunch possibilities, get sensory tools for the backpack, let her pick as many of the school supplies she can, and invest in a gum company for the upcoming supply of chewing needs. We even have an accommodation for meet the teacher early so it’s calmer and quiet. We have her habitation provider meet us so we can be freer to talk to the teacher. I bring notes, advice and an open mind to the new person responsible for my Bitty Boo.
Well… the confidence of heading from Johnna’s classroom toward her own diminished with the last turn in the quiet hallways and she lowered her head, stuck her tongue out of mouth, gripped her hands super tight, turned and walked the opposite direction. Kate followed and talked calmly with her while we met the teacher in the room. Johnna was excited to recognize Sammy’s teacher’s son and we went about our updating routine, communication needs and encouragement that he seek put her prepared tool kit and speech to text supplies for the first day.
We could hear Sammy outside the door and I peeked put. She was almost ready. We brought her the colorful strip to write her name on for her desk. She hid behind her dad and sat there. She eventually wrote it in hiding and the teacher offered to leave the classroom for a minute so she might go in and she crawled in, mumbling and baby talking then yelling because someone else was there, the teacher’s 4 year old. As she went under a desk we decided that would be hers and put her items in it. As she finally stood and looked around she got calmer and her teacher had quietly re-entered the room.
He asked her some simple fun questions and we helped highlight her love for bugs and dragons. She may not have made eye contact but she did give a high five when asked and our 30 minute meet the teacher time was over. And it went well all things considered. We praised her for talking to the teacher and giving him a high five.
We left with a brief chat with the principal in private as he placated us with “she’ll be fine once she sees her friends.” And I reminded him of her heartbreak as kid after kid declined her offers of friendship or took our phone number from Sammy only to go days and days with her repeatedly asking me if anyone called and they hadn’t. Her one kinda friend didn’t socialize much herself and the return to Sammy doesn’t bring the joy of rejoining friends. He listened and stopped the untruth with a nod and agreement to the challenges faced last year.
Sammy was down the hall joyfully ready to leave. We rejoined them and headed home. We went out for dinner and ahe had her favorite… crab! She finished her evening reward time on the iPad and went agreeable to bed at school bed time only to obsess and have extreme anxiety about starting school later this week. The picture shows her efforts to try and disengage with her favorite things. It didn’t work.
2 hours of tears, talks, repositioning, and changing from bunk to bunk to floor. She finally was able to shore at 10pm. Tonight was positive conversations in the afternoon and evening. Routine reviewed for the first day of school. She could do it with a good demeanor. She ate a nice dinner and talked about healthy snacks for school. Then bedtime came, seemed calmer and boom… every item thrown from the top bunk. Tears and reflection again on the fears of going back Thursday and this time I provided reassurance and melatonin. And only one hour of anxiety about the process of Back to School.
Every year… beginning and end of the school year. We try to duplicate what worked in the past and focus on her positives and favorite things. And every year my heart breaks watching my Bitty Boo struggle. And as she gets older, now 10, she becomes more aware of her challenges and Want a to hide from thwm and those who don’t know her well enough to see her smile, hear her laugh and watch her create amazing pictures and crafts! May this year prove to be the one with a connection with just that one kid that can support each other as she faces middle school next year. Someone else that can take away that loneliness she battles all school year long. Maybe this is the year.