For Gilbert, 2015 has started off with a bang so far.
One week into the school year and we’ve already been advised of two camps that he’ll be able to attend this year – as long as I can convince him to give them a try…  He’s not keen on staying overnight with “other kids” but I’m hoping to get him to at least give one camp a try. Surely he can’t pass up a week away from the classroom???
We’ve also recommenced speech and occupational therapy, launching into strategies to assist in maintaining self-control, appropriately responding to others and regulating sensory input. Very important for a soon-to-be 11 year old who faces the onset of puberty plus the added challenge of an overseas adventure to Disney World in April.
We’ve also already met with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to confirm Gilbert’s care plan for the year. This year’s plan is again working towards increased independence via the aforementioned speech and occupational  therapy sessions, together with quarterly psychological sessions and provisions for orientation and mobility assistance for his vision.
I’ve contacted Guide Dogs Australia to seek some assistance to help Gilbert start catching the bus home from school. Less than two years out from high school, we are determined he will be able to confidently use public transport by the time he transitions from primary school. He’s received his bus pass and while less than thrilled with the prospect of travelling home by bus he is at least not railing against any mention of the plan like he was last year.
Gilbert’s Itinerant Support Teacher Vision (ISTV) has also been in contact with his thoughts for the year ahead. We have a lot of work to do in the next two years to get him ready for the transition from single classroom schooling to the high school environment. Currently, he has a big screen on his desk in the classroom which projects his work and whatever is being shown on the smart board. He loves it but it’s not going to be a practical solution for when he has to move from classroom to classroom.
We need to take advantage of this year to trial more portable solutions with a view to getting him used to the new technology during next year. That way, he can solely concentrate on the transition to high school rather than also having to transition at the same time to a new way of learning. That’s the plan, anyway.
To say that I am overwhelmed at the prospect of all this change and all these new challenges is a vast understatement. I am scared witless that we will not be able to transition him effectively. That we will not have enough time to find a more portable solution that suits his learning style. That we will make him more anxious by throwing all these changes at him in the space of less than two years.
The responsibility of being a special needs parent and trying to keep all the balls in the air weighs heavily on me. I’m afraid we will forget something simple and vital. I’m scared he won’t be ready. I’m terrified we’ll stuff up and blow our chance to give him a positive and smooth transition to high school.
And this is just how I feel – imagine what Gilbert will be going through once all of these plans start being put into motion…
We’re lucky we have fabulous support from his school, his therapists and from wonderful organisations. I am forever grateful for their expertise, experience and advice. I just hope this will all be enough to get him (and us) through the next inevitable upheaval of life.
Any new challenges coming your way this year?