New Year, New Behavior, Part 5

“Back to School” is in September on most people’s calendars. But for Nigel, it’s the second week of March. At least this year, anyway. That’s when he will be starting back at the middle school for the last three months of eighth grade. The details will be hammered out at his IEP meeting early next week, and I am already preparing my arsenal of points and questions for the team. Nigel had initially indicated some interest in attending his IEP meeting for the first time, but when I brought it up with him earlier this week, he had reconsidered. This got me wondering if he is indeed ready, even with the new medication.

When I picked him up from his social skills class on Monday, his behavioral therapist told me that he’s been doing really well. He walks around the school with her to pick up the other kids who attend the class, and he is comfortable doing that. Wait. This is Big News. Let me reiterate that. He is now comfortable walking around the school. He has come a long way from how he felt just a few months ago, when I wrote this post in October, which describes his fears and anxieties about being back on campus when his weekly social skills class first started.

So as we drove home after class this week, I asked him, “Do you think you’re ready to go back there for two classes a day?”

And this is what he said, in his steady, beautiful voice: “I think I’m ready to go back for a full day.”

Had I not actually been driving the car, I would have had a much harder time regaining my composure. My son is so brave. And my heart leapt just thinking about his indomitable spirit, after all he has endured. But we’re going to start him off with two classes, just to see how it goes. I’m still so concerned about the bullying. He’ll be thrown in with the same kids, and while I’d like to think that in his fifteen-month absence they might have gained some maturity, I’m not betting on it. But I’m hopeful.

14 thoughts on “New Year, New Behavior, Part 5

  1. Fearless Females

    Wow. He is brave. But it also seems like he is moving past the “past years” of being bullied by not being afraid of the school? Maybe I’m being naïve but is there anything the teachers can do to educate the students in the class…to alleviate bullying by talking to them and teaching them to respect differences?

  2. Rhemashope

    I’m just learning about Nigel, but after all he’s been through… I’d say I need some of his bravery. I know where he gets his courage from: you. To change everything to homeschool him, and now, to release him back into that environment? You and Nigel make a gritty pair.
    Best wishes!

  3. pweshes mama

    His courage is so admirable considering what he has been through only just a short time ago.. I think everyone can learn from his braveness and his ability to just confront his fears and push through… Good luck to both Nigel and mommy and I pray this second chance will be a whole new and better experience for the both of you.. and yes, I also hope the bullies have matured up and simply realise what an amazing person Nigel is for what he is doing and how they should be applauding him instead.. 😀

  4. M

    this is based purely on what I witnessed, and this was a long time ago…but what i remember is that the bullying became much less intense as the surrounding social networks become more complex. i can vividly recall, around 8th grade, watching the clique thing begin to intensify. and as that happened, bullies sort of vanished a bit…there was still verbal teasing, but nothing as brutal as in the earlier grades.

    it’s ironic, but young kids…they can actually be more cruel than older ones.

    the transition that happened…it was a relief, and it was a bit easier to make it through day to day school mechanics.

    it also meant new challenges of course. but with you there supporting him, and the new medication and other forms of support…it’s really an exciting change. exciting, scary, amazing…i can’t even begin to imagine the range of emotions you’re feeling…but it’s so huge that he’s wanting this, challenging himself. Rhemashope is right: you guys are a pair of toughies.

  5. Michelle O'Neil

    I haven’t been reading you long enough to know, but have you ever heard of the Circle of Friends program that educates peers about their classmate with autism?

    We have not officially implemented it, because Riley’s school environment has been so supportive but it does seem to help if the other students have a good understanding of what his issues are.

    Maybe Nigel is too private for that, but Riley is little enough to willingly allow me to explain Asperger’s to her peers.

    What a brave boy you have. And you are a brave mom.

  6. Yvonne

    Have you heard of Force in Pink? I’m proud to say it was started in my province – and is catching on like wildfire throughout Canada. Could be a great way to promote autism awareness and fight against bullying if you could get a couple other students and teachers on board! Sending you a link to their website just in case you want to take a peek!

    http://www.forceinpink.org/our-story/

  7. Tanya Savko Post author

    Everyone, thanks for your encouragement.

    M – As always, I appreciate your insight and the fact that you readily share your experiences.

    Fearless, Michelle, and Yvonne – Thanks so much for your suggestions. Unfortunately, I have talked myself blue in meetings and phone calls trying to get the school administration to pleeeeaase have some sort of autism awareness/developmental differences presentation of some sort. Or some program like Circle of Friends. I have begged them. I have brought in articles written about how beneficial these programs are. I am quite disappointed that this school has not taken action in that area. Perhaps I wasn’t “squeaky” enough. I’ll keep trying. In any case, I’m hoping that Nigel can just make it through three months of part-time classes, and then he’ll be moving on, hopefully to a more open-minded place.

  8. Yvonne

    Tanya, I just have to comment one more time on your response – because my son is in his “grade 12” year and that is precisely why I am so glad it is almost over for us. WHY should we have to “talk ourselves blue” about any kind of program to promote awareness and acceptance? WHY do we have to fight tooth and nail to change things or get something we feel our child needs to be successful in the school system. It IS very disappointing and just plain sad. Don’t give up – because if you do, nobody else will make it happen! I’ll be thinking about you and Nigel for the months ahead.

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