It dawned on me the other day that February 5th will mark our 5-year anniversary at Jake’s school! FIVE YEARS!!! Wow, I keep saying this number over in my head and I can’t believe it has been that long, or short, of a time. We all have watched Jake blossom and become a more independent kid and able to do so many things we had only hoped he would do. It is the coolest thing to see our hopes and dreams open up before us and it’s even better than anything we could have imagined!
Jake had turned 3 on February 4, 2012 and was discharged from the early intervention service in my state that same day. The minute the child turns three they are “handed” over to the school system. That was probably one of the scariest days of my life! I had been with Jake every day, monitoring his therapies, tracking his progression and regressions. Keeping constant tabs on his developmental growth and in just one day I was to hand my son over to strangers and have them take care of him in a school setting. Jake would have therapists at school, aides and a teacher and they would all work with him while I was on the outside looking in, so to speak. I was involved but I had to let go a little and trust. Scary!
I remember getting a call from the preschool teacher a few days before Jake was to start school. She asked if I had any questions and I laughed. I knew this school very well; Allie went there from 2nd-5th grade. I knew many of the staff but knew nothing of the special needs program. Boy, did I have questions for her. She was calm and sweet and promised she would keep me in the loop. I remember walking Jake to his classroom that first day; Jake’s sweet teacher was waiting for us, and I was shaking. Jake seemed oblivious to everything but had a huge smile on his face. I talked with his teacher for a few minutes, I watched Jake as he started playing with all the new toys and I left. In the beginning, Jake was in school from 9-12. I remember that first day being the longest 3 hours of my life. Fortunately, all my worries were replaced with trust and confidence in this team that would be working with Jake. He has loved his school from that first minute until now. Everything has worked out better than I could have ever dreamed. God has a way of taking care of my boy and me!
Since preschool we have been blessed with the teachers, resource teachers and therapists for Jake. Each of these women hold a very special place in my heart. Each person has been different but each one has challenged Jake a little more, loved him along the way and has given him the tools he needs to succeed for the next year. I could write a book about these wonderful people who have touched not only Jake’s life but mine. Each year I am a nervous wreck; praying and hoping that this will be a great year and Jake will have a connection with the new teacher that was picked out for him. I don’t think that will ever change but one thing is for certain; I trust the principal’s that place Jake with a teacher that they believe is a good fit. Jake is well taken care of and because of all these things; I know he will continue to thrive.
Here we are, nearly 5 years later, and this baby is a big kid now. Jake is meeting goals and progressing in a way I had only dreamed he would. Jake’s entire IEP team cheers him on, watches him to ensure he is advancing while working on behaviors that need attention and making sure he is challenged each and every day! Most of the staff at the school seems to know Jake. When they see him they always smile, give him a high-five and are always encouraging him to be his best! Jake has had his setbacks; we have had concerns and it hasn’t been a perfect 5 years BUT I wouldn’t trade these years for anything.
Like Jake, I have grown a lot in these past five years. I have learned to let go a little and to trust the people working with Jake. I love it when I get an email, a text or one of his people come to me to tell me the awesome thing Jake did that day. I have learned to challenge Jake more. I am learning to push my anxieties aside and let Jake show me what he can do. This letting go and letting someone else take over has been the hardest part of sending Jake to school but I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this was and is in Jake’s best interest.
Jake’s school isn’t about making Jake fit in and adapt to what other kids are able to do. They meet Jake where he is, encourage him and help him to become the best that he can be. I love that they look at Jake as an individual and not just another child with special needs. He is important to the staff and I feel they want to see him succeed almost as much as I do.
Thank you, BSE, for a great 5 years! I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else!