Mrs. Rose Barton was (she has retired) the Special Education resource teacher at Mt. Vernon Elementary when Mancub first met her. She swiftly consulted with me; arranged consult with the child psychologist at the school; set up observation of Mancub for herself and the child psychologist. It was determined that my darling son was certainly mis-categorized as EBD (emotional behavior disorder) by his former school. Both professionals determined that he was not acting out and perseverating to gain control. His surroundings were setting it off and he was clearly frustrated and upset. Not an expert in the field of autism, Mrs. Barton sought out help from her colleagues and researched Asperger Syndrome.
When she first approached me about the possibility my son was 'special needs' I'll admit to feeling defeated and devastated. No lying. Immediately, I pictured my child being harassed and bullied for being different. I made some phone calls to friends and family members who were educators. With their reassurance that it would be the best thing for Mancub to be tested and given an IEP, I signed on the dotted line. A course of tests, personality surveys etc.. were administered.
An interesting sidebar: As I filled out the survey, many of the traits stood out about myself as I was growing up. I'd been pegged as an overly emotional child with outbursts. I would quickly become frustrated and confused in crowds or situations where the din would overwhelm me.
Over the course of his second round of Kindergarten with the most lovely and understanding teacher, he made great progress. An IEP was developed and meetings with me were regular. We quickly learned that Mancub had to remain on schedule and be given plenty of forewarning if that schedule was going to be altered. Simple things as me taking a different route driving him to school could result in disastrous outcome. It took time for us to figure it out, but, in the carpool lane if we weren't permitted to drive all the way up and let him open his door, it was a recipe for a ruined day. It took the command of the principal to the aides and teachers running the carpool lane to leave our car alone. If there was a substitute, I would lock the doors, crack the passenger side window to tell them the agreement of prevention.
Every day wasn't filled with sunshine and lollipops after his initial diagnosis. I'd get phone calls that he'd had a meltdown because the wrong bread was on his plate or they'd run out of chocolate milk. P.E. class was horrendous as the noise inside the gym was pure torture. I'd cry in silence knowing that my son was suffering and I couldn't fix it with a hug. I couldn't get inside his mind to feel what he was feeling.
We both cried a lot. I couldn't keep him sheltered from real life despite my instincts to protect him from the big bad wolf. By the end of that school year we'd made strides with behavior modification (both his and ours). Many accommodations were made to maintain a quality of life and ease. Mancub's situation mandated people learn about Asperger Syndrome and autism spectrum ... something they knew little about. It was something I'd never heard of, but educated myself.
These first steps were very difficult. It wasn't as if diagnosis with Asperger Syndrome meant a magic wand had been waved and he was healed of everything that caused him woe. We had to face summer break which might take us back a few steps. Who would be his first grade teacher? Would it be the right fit? Just when I thought we were on the right track, it became apparent that our train would derail before the first day of school even started ...
... to be continued: First grade and the unyielding teacher