School Update #1

250228_465261366867616_1625140658_nFour weeks ago, my daughter started at Open Mind School. So far, it’s been terrific, and every day I am more convinced that I made the correct decision when I placed Katie there.

Here’s the message that I received after the first day:

Katie arrived around 10:15 and we clarified the address to the driver as being 1060 instead of 1050. Katie transitioned easily to the homeroom and put her shoes and backpack by the lockers. She swung for 3 minutes while listening to the classroom lecture next door. She independently left the swing and went into the classroom. The class was doing a Go Noodle movement activity which Katie joined right away. She then participated in some breathing relaxation. 

The class learned about different types of poems including limerick, diamante, acrostic, etc. The class decided to write about pumpkins. With paper choices, Katie chose to write an acrostic poem using the word PUMPKIN. We used paper choices including the option “something else” to come up with adjectives for her poem. She smiled and made choices then wrote the words on her paper. She used the three stencils to practice spelling out the words she picked to include in her poem. 

Katie requested the swing so we took the stencils into the movement room and joined two other peers to swing and spell. Katie independently stopped the swing to spell words and then swung while we noted her responses in her notebook. 

12032051_10208118796992798_4848470933970356658_nShe transitioned to snack and requested to sit further from the group. At this time, peers individually went over to Katie and introduced themselves to her. She asked to swing when the students went to put shoes on for the outdoor ed block. This tends to be a louder time of day so we waited for the class to transition out and then Katie put on her shoes and joined the group on the hiking trail. She talked a lot about the water on the walk but stayed with staff on the trail all the way to the field. 

Katie left her jacket in the classroom but smiled when offered to wear a staff’s jacket once the wind picked up outside. Katie joined in a range of activities including stretching and sprints. At one point she laid on the ground and kicked staff or peers who walked by her. She was given space and a few minutes later she got up and walked back to the school to get ready for lunch. 

She went into a large group science lesson. Katie attended to the group intro and giggled when a peer put on his hood and made silly faces. Around 12:45 she requested songs like London Bridge and seemed agitated. This was the largest group she was in today, and we went to a smaller space to swing, do the science lesson, explore painting, and listen to music. 

She transitioned easily for pickup in the lobby. We loved having Katie join us at Open Mind today!

I cried when I read this. I think my parents might have cried when I read it to them over the phone. Katie went from doing kindergarten-level work over and over again to writing a poem on her first day at a new school. SHE WROTE A FREAKIN’ ACROSTIC POEM ON PUMPKINS AND SPELLED OUT ALL THE WORDS!

And she did this in a brand new place, clearly somewhat overstimulated. I was over the moon. I’m still over the moon.

For their November project, the children are learning about the California Missions. Katie selected Mission San Francisco de Asis (aka Mission Delores) and she will prepare a “persuasive paper” and present it to the class via PowerPoint. When I asked if this was possible, the teacher laughed and assured me it was.


Katie and I went to the public library that very night and checked out several books on Mission San Francisco as well as the entire mission system. Never has a report been more eagerly awaited.

It took me ten long years, but I finally think I found the proper school for Katie. I couldn’t be happier.

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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