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Transitioning My Nonverbal Child to Middle School

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Transitioning to middle school — I am not a fan.

It has only been two days of summer school at middle school so far, and I am a mess. Taking my nonverbal son from a school environment where he knows all of the adults and they all get him because he was there for so long and moving him somewhere where he doesn’t know any of the adults is terrifying.

I understand the transition to middle school is probably hard for all parents, but I feel like adding the nonverbal aspect multiplies the anxiety and fear. He has some words he says, but his responses are not always reliable. Most seventh grade students can answer, “Are you riding the bus home today?” However, with my son, you may ask the question and although I do not know what he is thinking, I imagine perhaps he thinks it sounds fun, and he could reply, “Yes.” Once on the bus, he would have no way of communicating with the driver and could get off the bus who knows where. This is only one of many terrifying situations that cross my mind when sending my child to an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people.

Transitions are hard and make you think about everything that can go wrong. There is so much trust we place in complete strangers when it comes to our children. At the end of the day, we send them to school in hopes that they are spending time with loving and caring individuals. The reality that I can’t protect my child 24 hours a day and follow him around everywhere he goes is a hard one for me to swallow personally, but I know it is not logical and he has to learn and grow.

We have been so blessed in elementary school with amazing teachers and paras who loved and cared for him and helped him progress on a daily basis. My greatest hope is that he is surrounded by more of the same as he continues into middle school. I pray that they can see the amazing boy who tries so hard despite his daily challenges. I pray they come to love the amazing smile and laugh that melt my heart on a daily basis. I hope they push him to learn even when it appears like he doesn’t understand. The success of my boy depends not only on him, but all of those around him at school.

As a student, I didn’t spend much time thinking about teachers and who they really were as a person, but as a parent, it is so completely different. It is my greatest hope that the new teachers and paras will continue to love him through his struggles and celebrate his successes like we have experienced in the past. I am sure that things will get easier as we get to know people better and they get to know him better. But lets be honest, by that time, we will be transitioning to high school.

Originally published: June 7, 2018
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