Hello Middle School–An Update

back-to-schoolMy daughter Katie has been in middle school a little over a week. I am happy to report that despite my initial fears, things appear to be working out. She had a great first day. A great first week, in fact. Well, except for an incident while waiting for the bus, but since no one told me exactly what happened, I’m assuming it was a minor “everything’s new this week” meltdown and nothing more.

Wishful thinking on my part? Possibly. But even one major meltdown in a week of heavy duty transition is not too bad for a child on the spectrum. I’ll take it.

I am both stunned and thrilled by this unexpected outcome. Is it possible that this district has turned the corner and righted what was horribly wrong? Is it possible that the third time will be the charm?

I am cautiously optimistic. If we hadn’t had such a tortured history with this district in the past, I’d be over the moon. But trust, once lost, is slow to return. That said, I am trying my hardest to wipe the slate clean and give these individuals, who for the most part were not involved in my previous tale of woe, the benefit of the doubt.

So far, the new team has exceeded my expectations. Katie enjoys her new teacher, Mr. M. She likes her new 1:1 aide, who has a wealth of autism experience. The behaviorist is phenomenal.    Both P.E. teachers (adaptive and regular) are working to transition Katie into the middle school program. The Principal and school staff have been welcoming and enthusiastic about including Katie to the fullest extent possible. I haven’t met the occupational or speech therapists yet, but I hear good things. Given that this is a mixed disability class (as opposed to exclusively children on the spectrum), I already know that Katie will be forced to step up her game from a speech and social skills perspective.

large-3The campus is beautiful; the classroom peaceful yet stimulating. There is an adjacent room where Katie can relax and calm down. She can also access sensory equipment plus a park with a swing is located adjacent to campus. Katie even has two friends who were with her in Mr. F’s class three years ago. One girl in particular is thrilled to see Katie again. I am hopeful that a true friendship will blossom.

Best of all, the team seems determined to solve the mystery of what Katie needs in order to truly learn and thrive. Is it possible that at long last we have found Katie’s Annie Sullivan? Only time will tell, but so far the signs seem promising.

I know problems will arise. I know issues will need to be resolved. But I feel that Katie might have a shot here. I cannot tell you what a relief that is.

I hope the feeling lasts.

Until next time,


About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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