The Roc has been sick, his throwing up while riding the bus to school on Monday morning was just a precursor to the breathing issues and high fever that were coming. It’s Wednesday and he’s home from school again today and I’m tired. Now I am physically tired as well as mentally exhausted. I “slept” in the Roc’s bed again last night, administering nebulizer treatments every couple hours, taking his temperature, lightly rubbing the broiling skin on his arms and belly, laying awake watching the fast rate of his shallow breath, and all the while debating whether to make a trip up to the ER. I was completely wide awake from 1 am – 3 am, and then at 3:30 am I brushed my teeth, got dressed and threw my contacts into the overnight bag I had packed for the hospital, only to have the Roc plead with me to go to sleep. I waffled and decided to do another treatment and keep my vigil. I was up all night.
But not only was I up because I was worried about the Roc’s breathing, I was up because my “anxiety induced insomnia” is kicking in. Yesterday I got an email from the school’s special ed coordinator confirming the date and time for the Roc’s school placement meeting. It is next Thursday. They all know already that I want the Roc to repeat kindergarten. His birthday is in August, so he essentially entered kindergarten this year a few weeks after turning 5. All year long as his classmates have been turning 6, my boy is still 5. So he’s young, and he’s a male – notoriously immature in comparison to girls of the same age, and every year when he is tested by his developmental pediatrician he is 12 – 18 months behind his peers. So this year I sent a chronologically 5 year old to kindergarten, but the reality is that I sent a barely 4 year old to school if you look at his development. And then add Autism and all it’s complications – receptive and expressive language issues, social skills, play skills, sensory issues, etc. to the mix and I see gobs of reasons holding him back at this early stage in his schooling will do the most good for him. Luckily when I spoke to the special ed coordinator on the phone a few weeks ago she made it seem as if having the Roc retained in kindergarten wouldn’t be a problem, but I see another potential problem that has me making mental lists in my head in the night and running for my computer to document it all as soon as the sun comes up in the morning.
I emailed the special ed coordinator asking who would be invited to the placement meeting and I was surprised when she responded that the special ed coordinator of the Roc’s feeder pattern school will be coming. That is the school he was supposed to go this year, the school that when I viewed the 2 inclusion rooms that share a special ed teacher and para last year I didn’t think would fit the Roc. Not enough help. Instead we choose the classroom set up he is currently in – 25 students total, 5 with some sort of need, a full time teacher, a full time special ed teacher, and a full time para all in that same room. A ratio of 5 needy students to 2 adults. Very good odds in my opinion. The Roc has done well in this classroom this year and in retaining him I want the same kind of set up again next year. I think his success is in direct relation to the amount of available help in the room. There are 2 kindergarten rooms in the district with this low needy student/adult ratio and I want the Roc to be placed in the second classroom next year. I already know that because the special ed coordinator from the feeder pattern school is invited to the meeting the district is planning on recommending the “less help” inclusion room, which they call “full inclusion.” I am guessing that they are going to justify it by saying that the Roc is too dependent on adults and needs to learn more independence and it will be his second time around being presented with kindergarten material.
So I am stressed and not sleeping. Stressed to realize that I will probably have to plead the Roc’s case for the more supported inclusion room. Stressed by the stress. Incredulous that I feel this way again, thinking that there are always going to be times during the year that I will lay awake at night pondering these decisions and worrying that I’m making the wrong choice, damaging him somehow.
Then of course I am second guessing myself, wondering if the Roc would actually excel in the “full inclusion” room. If he would become more independent the second time around if there wasn’t the immediate availability of someone to help him. If he would try harder to work things out for himself. If he would learn to ask for help. If it would be better to be around some kids that he would see again in first grade and beyond. If there would actually be enough help because he has seen the kindergarten material before and it wouldn’t actually get hard for him until half way through the year when they start to focus on writing and beginning reading skills.
I am torn.
I am stressed.
These decisions are hard.