Dear Director of Special Education for County School System,
As you know, this year has been very difficult for my son. D has high functioning autism with debilitating anxiety that has kept him out of school the majority of this school year. We have worked since Thanksgiving to get him back to school. Finally, in February, The D Whisperer began working with D and our family. Despite some continued bumps in the road, we were finally able to start transitioning him back to school, this time at Different Elementary, several weeks ago.
The transition started out very well. I was hesitant, skeptical of the team at Different Elementary, in fact. I doubted that they would be able to meet D’s needs, especially on the days when his anxiety was so intense that he absolutely refused to get out of the car and attend school. After the trauma he experienced earlier in the year, I knew those days would come and I truly expected the team at Different Elementary to repeat those experiences, causing more trauma.
Boy was I wrong! This group of educators has truly exceeded my expectations and deserves to be recognized for their commitment to the children they work with!!
The team got their first real taste of D this week and it was intense!
Wednesday was field day and D had worked himself into a tizzy over the routine changes. He absolutely refused to get out of the car. Autism Support Aide, Assistant Principal, Special Ed Coordinator, and a couple of other individuals came to the car and gave him his choices, “You may walk into the building with Autism Support Aide or you may walk into the building with your mom.” Everyone was on the same page, everyone agreed that the worst thing to do would be for us to drive away with him in the car. Everyone was calm and supportive. No one tried to use embarrassment or force to get D out of the car and they were all very patient with him.
Yesterday made Wednesday look like a walk in the park. D was combative before we got to the school. He had decided he would not go to school and he was standing firm in that decision. The team at Different Elementary stepped up to the plate again. These ladies tag teamed to help D overcome his anxiety, attitude, and refusal to enter the building. They were understanding that too much talking was causing further agitation. They read and cared about what his body language was telling them. They understood when the talking was becoming too much or someone was overly agitating him. They were willing to back off and give him space for a bit. They were all very patient with him, and again never used embarrassment or force to try to make him enter the building.
Not only was the team great with D, but after noticing the situation from her window on Thursday, the art teacher came down and agreed to help with my younger children during her planning period. She took them away from the commotion and let them have some special color and paint time. As a former public school teacher, I know how precious the planning time is during this time of the year and was so blessed that she chose to give up her planning period to help us make D successful.
Once D entered the building, he had a great days according to his teacher. She helped him settle into the classroom, and clearly did not make a big deal out of the rough mornings. She has been instrumental in his transition, but has been especially instrumental in ensuring his success after two rough mornings.
While The D Whisperer was not at the school either of these mornings, she made it a point to come over to see D Thursday afternoon and spend some time with him. She was able to help him process the difficulties and determine what could make the mornings go a bit more smoothly. She also made it a point to meet D in the car rider line this morning since Autism Support Aide was out and she knew that would upset his day. The D Whisperer has done amazing things with D since she began working with him.
Again, the team at Different Elementary deserves to be recognized. They are a team that really knows how to work together and more importantly, they know how to make D feel safe, secure, and cherished even after rough mornings. They are an amazing group of professionals with a true heart for ensuring the success of D and the other children they work with.
Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish D could have been with them from the beginning. I truly believe his experience this year would have been much different.