I actually have something of moderate interest to write about!
Asher is smart. He's really smart. I'm not just biased as his mom, I swear. He reads at around a second grade level and can do beyond-Kindergarten-math in his head. We tried to get him into Kindergarten last year, but they wouldn't take him because of his birthday. We didn't push it too much because we felt like the social aspect of Kindergarten was just as important as the stuff he'd be taught.
We were right.
Asher has struggled a lot with social stuff this year. Standing in line, dealing with loud, chaotic environments like the cafeteria, the gym, and music...all of that has resulted in lots of "intervention" from the staff, mostly just pulling him to the side and taking him out of the chaos. We've gotten two calls within the past few weeks from the principals about his hitting another student. We had the parent-teacher conference after the first call and talked a bit about it but didn't go into a lot of detail. I arranged a time to go and observe him in class to see if I noticed anything, and did that last Wednesday, the 30th.
What I observed is that yes, he is a little lippy with the teacher, but he generally ignores the other students and does his work in a fraction of the time it takes them to do theirs. His lippiness, while not acceptable, I get. She's asking him to do things he already knows how to do. He's bored and frustrated. So after the second call, which came in on Monday, I set up a meeting with the principals to discuss his behavior and possibly advancing him.
All the teachers I've interacted with of his have had lots of positive things to say about him. They all seem to really, genuinely like him. One today told me he's one of her favorite students. He's sweet, intelligent, goofy, and actually has interesting things to say. Everyone is acknowledging how smart he is, and that he's intellectually at LEAST on a 1st grade level. Socially, however, he's not.
The principals felt like if we moved him to 1st next semester, he'd struggle even more. The 1st graders are more mature and are better at behaving than he is, simply because they're older.
They pointed out that he seems to have some sensory issues, mainly in crowded, loud environments. At times he curls up in a ball or hugs himself saying he's cold, even when it's hot outside. He loses his temper more quickly in those situations and lashes out. Apparently these are some symptoms that he may have a sensory processing disorder of some kind, primarily with noises and crowds.
Once they began talking about the different things he does and what seems to trigger them, looking back I realized he's done this for a while. We've found ways of coping with them at home, and since he's our oldest we're just not that aware that this is necessarily anything out of the ordinary.
So we came up with a plan for Asher. We're sending in a written request to have him evaluated for sensory issues. It's too late in the semester to get it done before break, but they'll do it next month. Then they have a meeting and go over the results and decide if he warrants some special education classes or sessions or something to work with him on coping mechanisms and to see what they can do in the classes where he gets most overwhelmed. Then we'll more than likely have another meeting to get that all put into motion. This could take a couple months. I hope its done before the baby is born, but there's a chance it won't be.
In the meanwhile, we're not waiting to get those results back to work on his intellectual stimulation. Starting on the first day of the new semester, he'll go to a 1st grade classroom for some more challenging classes. We're going to start with reading and possibly add math later. I don't think 1st grade reading is going to be that hard for him, but that's where they'd like to start and they're hesitant to put a Kindergartener with social issues in a 2nd grade class, which I agree with.
At the end of the school year, we'll see how he's done with the 1st grade classes during the day and whatever coping we can work out and have him take an advanced placement test to see if he needs to go to 1st next year or just move on to 2nd.
We're looking into the Threshold Program, a program run at HSU for gifted and talented children over the summer. It's by invitation only, and the children have to be nominated and then take a test to see if they qualify. It's a bit of a process but it sounds like it would be a great thing to get Asher into if we can. There's a fee for it, but it's not that much and if it would help him, it's definitely worth it.
It's a little overwhelming but at the same time, a relief to have some kind of plan in place. We've noticed his issues this year more than before simply because he's been around kids a lot more this year and so the issues have been more visible.
Austin and I feel good about this plan of attack, and hope that the evaluation show that yes, he needs this special attention at school to help him cope with his issues. That or that they can point us in the right direction to get him some help outside of school. We're comfortable with him staying in Kindergarten for the rest of the year with the addition of harder classes to help keep him engaged and interested. We love his teacher so I'm relieved that we don't have to get to know a new teacher so soon.
Starting school for the first time is rough and Asher has actually done fairly well, all things considered. He keeps all the adults entertained, though he does have an arch nemesis in his class (that's a whole weird thing....). He doesn't dread school, which is good, so hopefully if we get some things figured out, we can make it something he really enjoys. Fingers crossed.