Our ESY started on Monday.
ESY is "Extended School Year." These are the services Joey receives during the summer from the school system because having an 11-week break in services turned out to be a bad idea, even in the eyes of the school. When we first got ESY, it was one of the Holy Grails of Special Education here. The school personnel fought us with everything they could, and I am still convinced that preschool ESY is a Holy Grail in this system. Which is, of course, stupid. Many special needs kids require year-round schooling to retain skills. I think it would be a good idea for non-disabled kids to have year-round school to retain skills. But that's another post.
Last year, the summer was a disaster of epic proportions, leading to a school year disaster of epic proportions. Joey was anxious, depressed, wild, angry, and a general mess all year. The school personnel were not properly trained to deal with his needs, or understand his disabilities. The result was a lot of bolting, acting out, and general display of Unhappy Grumpy Anxious Depressed Joey.
Then came Monday.
We jumped up and down and stomped our feet and screamed and fussed in our way, and the school decided to put Ms. H and Ms. Macy in charge of Joey's ESY this year, and Ms. H will be managing Joey's school program come fall. Ms. H and Ms. Macy know Joey, they are well acquainted with autism and the needs of autistic students, and they are both talented educators. Does it make a difference? Oh, hell yes.
Yes, we started the first day with a bolt. We had prepped Joey for the return of his beloved Ms. H and Ms. Macy, and he was so eager to get to school- something I had not seen in a year- that he bolted down the street to get there when the bus was a little late. This morning, I made him wait at the door. He stared out of it, saying, "Bus! I am waiting for the bus. Where is the bus?" until it arrived, right on time.
And when he had gotten off the bus the last two days, I saw someone I haven't seen in a year: Happy Joey. Complete with words to tell me about his day, and who was in his class, and that they played games, and he saw "the twins and Jack-Jack" and wanted to go visit them this afternoon ("Let's go see Aunt Christina and the Twins and Jack-Jack, Mommy! After the pool!"). Happy boy telling me where he wanted to eat lunch and tidbits about his morning (he's still not good at self-narrative, but he's trying!) and missing Andy and wanting to get a shovel at the dollar store and we were going to the pool after lunch and... babble babble babble, happy babble of a happy boy.
That, my friends, is the difference a little expertise and understanding makes.