Joey graduated from second grade today. He will be moving on the upper elementary, that new school where the idea of teaching social skills and increasing language development seem to be alien concepts, and waxed floors trump all else. Today, Joey finished his life at the lower elementary, and we said goodbye to the team of Ms. H and Ms. Macy, who have supported him and had his back for three years.
The second graders presented what they had learned in a serious of songs, by class, to the school. Joey's class did social studies, singing about China and Egypt (Joey's half of the class did the Egypt Song, and he was so happy, he loves Egypt stuff). Then they has a slide show of their year, each class showing a few pictures and set to music; Joey had some darling pictures there. The kids got excited to see themselves on screen, and sang along with some of the songs. It was adorable.
However, you can imagine the hub-bub when the lights came on. The noise crescendoed when it was discovered one of the classes was left out, and it was announced that the missing slides would be fetched and the children all get to see them. Joey was unhappy, and came to me to sit in my lap and be hugged. The noise was too much. Ms. Macy came for him, asked if he needed a break, and he said yes; and even after more hugs, and some wistful looks in my direction, he decided he still needed to get out of the noise and be quiet for a bit. I was so proud of him when he told Ms. Macy he still needed a break, that it was too loud. As the rest of school- including his other two autistic classmates- got to their feet in an impromptu celebration dance and sing-along while waiting for the missing slides, Joey and Ms. Macy slipped quietly away from the auditorium and the din.
My baby is growing up. He's leaving second grade. He can control himself, ask for hugs and accept a break instead of melting down when overwhelmed. He can stand in front of his school and sing and sign about Egypt. He's doing so well. But he can't join into an impromptu celebration, and dance with his classmates, and squeal and wiggle with them. In the midst of such progress, there is also that reminder of the gulf that stands between my child and his ability to live in a society not made for him. Will the next set of school folks understand? How long will it take for them to understand, to pick up on the communication and cues he gives us that are not words? How much will he suffer until they do?