When last I wrote (journey back to preschool), Monkey Boy had made it through two years plus a few weeks of Special Education Preschool. Originally, his IEP was supposed to carry him through kindergarten. However, the changing laws had other plans. I can’t remember the reasoning, and maybe it’s because I didn’t totally understand it at the time, but it had to do with the fact that they changed the cutoff age for the diagnosis of Developmental Delay from age six to age five. I also think it had something to do with the timing of when the law was passed versus his eligibility meeting. If the meeting came before the change, he’d have an extra year. His teacher was really hoping the law would pass later rather than sooner. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
His eligibility meeting wound up being scheduled after the law was passed, and because he had done so well (he was only about six months behind at the time) and had no other diagnoses, he lost his IEP. I don’t really understand why Developmental Delay has an age cutoff because it’s not like it just goes away. Monkey Boy learns things when his brain is ready to learn them, not before, but once it “clicks”, he pretty much has it. The first thing I remember him learning like that was colors. I thought he would never grasp the concept, and then one day, he knew them all. It’s been the same way with letters, numbers, reading, math facts, etc. It’s one of the things that make school so frustrating for both of us to this day.
So, off he went to kindergarten in the fall of 2009. I had talked to the principal the summer prior, and she was supportive of my concerns. I’m not sure what I expected, but he acclimated to kindergarten fairly well. His preschool had been in a different public school, so there were times on and off throughout the year where he expressed his dislike of the change. But, otherwise, he did fairly well and was still only about six months behind his peer group in the spring of 2010. His teacher was very supportive throughout the entire year, and they had SST (Student Support Team) meetings periodically to see how best to help him. The biggest concern that year was his focus and attention, and his teacher implemented several strategies to help him. We all agreed that he had done well enough to move onto first grade.
(To backtrack a moment, when preschool was ending, I did consider sending him to a private preschool for one more year before sending him on to kindergarten. Having a late May birthday meant he was on the young side of the entering class, and I had held Master Yi-Yi back from kindergarten for that very reason, so I had always thought I’d do the same thing with Monkey Boy. But, I didn’t really want to remove him from the public school setting, since he had done so well, so I just figured I could hold him back from kindergarten or first grade if necessary).
My concerns were still fairly minimal that summer after kindergarten. The older he gets, the more the gap between Monkey Boy and many (but definitely not all) of his peers widens. I don’t think it’s totally atypical to have that discrepancy within an age group, but I am very much aware of every nuance that seems “different,” and I hate to see him slipping closer to the bottom. Worst of all, he is now aware of the differences, constantly refers to himself as stupid, and just wants to give up. But back then, we were still in the “happy” phase where he tried so hard and was so proud of his accomplishments.
He was chosen to go to summer school, but we had already had a trip planned to Disney World that overlapped two of the three weeks. If I had known way in advance, I would have changed the dates, but we’d had the reservations for a year and had multiple family units joining us. It’s unfortunate because looking back; I think summer school would have been very beneficial. That was also the summer when the “bug phobia” started.
In hindsight, I wish I’d given more thought to his apparent lack of stamina. I don’t think anyone thought much of it because his muscles themselves were relatively strong. I still have trouble wrapping my brain around the differences between muscle strength and tone. He has low muscle tone, but doesn’t appear to have weakened muscles. Even though he turned six that summer, he still needed a stroller for Disney World (I bought one that went up to 65 pounds), and he continued to use a stroller at Kings Dominion for two more years. It seems like something should have tipped me off. Because now that I’ve been introduced to the concept of Retained Primitive Reflexes, and I’ve had that “aha” moment, so much more makes sense.
In the fall of 2010, he entered first grade. Little did I know at the time, how much I should savor that year, as it was one of his last “good” years in school to date…