Today was the Monster’s first day of school for the year.
In prior years, he’s been off at camp for the entire summer. We’ve been fortunate that the JCC Camps here all offer ESY (Extended School Year, for those not in the know) integrated into the camp program – while he might not get the general education services that he’d get by attending the city schools’ program, he’s been getting speech and OT, which are what he needs far more than the academics. But this year, since he’s at an 11-month school, he actually has school during the month of July, and so…
Off he went this morning on his yellow bus to go meet his classmates.
The whole concept of an 11-month school is still weird to me, to be honest. School ended only three weeks ago, and he’s suddenly back into the thick of things (the school year begins for him in July – this isn’t a continuation of the prior year). He’ll be at Gateway through the end of the month, have two more weeks of camp, and then we have two weeks off before the school year resumes at the end of August. But moreover, I remember ‘summer school’ as a child as being something that was always threatened as a punishment, and… well, as an adult, and the parent of a child with special needs, I’m coming around to seeing how this is a good thing for my son, and how it’s something that I wish that more children could take advantage of.
It’s not that it’s really a shorter day than camp – he was starting at 9 and ending at 5 with camp, as opposed to the bus coming at 7:45 AM and dropping him at 3:30 PM – as much as it’s more of the normal structured schedule. (I know from being a camp counselor that no matter how much you ‘schedule’ the day, there’s going to be down-time, and that’s the bane of the existence of most children with ASD. Chaos is a bad, bad thing.) So while he’s back at school, and while R is going to camp, he’ll be getting all of his critical services in an environment with which he’s familiar, and hopefully the extra month of school helps him to build towards his goals.
Plus, the excitement for the summer is that next week, we have the Assistive Technology training session for his ‘talker’ device, which I hope should be a benefit to him. He’s been more non-verbal of late than usual, and while we have the rudimentary book we use at home for him to point to things, anything that helps him express himself is a very good thing.