Safety Guy, age 4.
I had a great conversation with another special ed teacher at school today. We had a conference day, so the kids were only there until mid-morning. After that was a round of meetings. Usually I don't have to stay for those, but I was asked to this time. After the bureaucratic stuff, another resource teacher and I worked on some details for upcoming state testing: accommodating the needs of the resource students who are supposed to receive extra time to take tests, or have the questions read to them. After we waded through that task, we began talking about our students, and our own kids.
It was the first time I've had an extended period of time to talk with this veteran resource teacher. Our duties don't bring us together often. I found out today that her kids are almost all grown, and that her youngest son is in high school and has issues very similar to Safety Guy's Aspergers.
It was good to talk to another teacher about how our own kids have grown and learned over the years with their different needs and sensory issues. It was even better to talk with another mom who really understands what it's like shepherding a son with special needs through junior high and high school. The educational issues, the school bureaucracy stuff, the social hurdles the boys face, the typical teen boy crap, the mom-guilt over doing too much/too little/too quickly/too late, the second guessing our parenting choices, the "how much do I let them screw up before I intervene so they learn the life lessons without hurting themselves too badly" issues - she gets all of it.
It was pleasant to talk to her, just to get to know her and to share our burdens. It was also a relief to know we have an ally in our son's education. You see, she's going to be one of the teachers on the team who will be working with Safety Guy next year, and probably in the years to come. She's been teaching for a long time and is very good at what she does. More than that, she really cares for the kids she teaches. Best of all, she understands how I feel as a mother dealing with the school as we try to work together to help Safety Guy. She's been on the receiving end of less-than-tactful comments about her son's needs from education professionals (she shared one story, and I was immediately offended on her behalf that a teacher would put down a student in the way she related). She's had to fight for services from a tight-fisted school district. She put in hours and hours of work with her son after school to review and reteach things he worked on during the day. She helped him overcome or work around his sensory issues. Now that he's older, she's letting her son test his independence while helping him make good choices, which is never an easy balancing act for any parent, but is even more tricky with kids with Aspergers or similar psychological and character traits. I think I can learn a lot from her.
It's good to know I'm not alone.