Saturday, September 14, 2013

Has Your Family Has Adjusted to the New School Year Schedule? My Family Is Still Acclimating to the Additionally Lengthy Day!

     With our school district converting to the continuous calendar school year just over a year ago, it has taken our special needs family some time to get used to having longer Fall, Christmas and Spring breaks during the school year and a shorter summer break. Our youngest son, who is in fifth grade, has autism. His slightly older brother, who is in sixth grade, was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Between the already short but, action-packed summer and me starting a new full-time job in the Special Education Department at the sixth grader's middle school, my family hasn't stopped spinning since school let out the end of May!

     I have been a substitute teacher for the last three years and I have really enjoyed the flexibility of being able to choose when and what job assignment I took. I started substitute teaching at the middle school where I had several long-term substitute teaching assignments in the Special Education Department. This is where I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of some amazing educators, office staff and administrators. Towards the end of the first year, I made myself more available to the teachers at my youngest son's elementary school in order to get to know those whom would be working with my son who has high-functioning autism. 

     This last May, I was encouraged by the elementary school Principal to apply for one of the five positions for Pre-K Assistant. Pre-K was being added to our elementary school and I was considering my options. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to step outside my comfort zone and pursue the chance to work as a full-time assistant at my son's elementary school. It was my neighbor who persuaded me to follow through and get my Para Professional Certification. She directed me to where I could take the practice test and gave me the number to call to schedule my appointment for the test. Ultimately, it is her to whom I am eternally grateful and thankful for her friendship and support.

     The elementary school, where our 5th grade son Nathan attends, starts at 8:20am. The middle school, where our sixth grade son Vincent attends and where I work, starts at 9:10am. There is also the after school Faculty, Special Education Department and Autism Team meetings that are held weekly. I still leave the house by 8:00am but, most of the time, I don't arrive home before 5:00pm. It makes for a very long day, especially after having an active day in the autism classroom. The boys sometimes have to stay with me at the school until I am ready to leave but, I try to have snacks and a small reward for their patience with my busy schedule. 

     My husband tries to pick our boys up, if he is available to, in the case of my having a scheduled meeting after school. It's not always possible for him to rearrange his schedule, or drop what he is doing, to keep our boys from sitting through an occasional meeting. The boys and I are each thankful when Daddy can save them from having to sit quietly, and in a designated spot, in a crowded room with a bunch of teachers for almost an hour. My husband will become more available as the winter approaches because I married a "pool man". About a third of his customers close their swimming pools during the winter months which allows him to finish his daily route earlier in the day. I think that he is more than happy to help, with our boys after school, since I am working full-time now.
     I am enjoying the new school year and looking forward to our family settling into a routine. It's almost time for students to have their school pictures taken. Their parents will be able to order picture packages, as well as yearbooks at the middle school. I ordered one when I started working as a substitute teacher three years ago. It's nice to be able to look back at those students and teachers whom you spent the year working with. If you are reading our autism blog for the first time, please check out Great Places We've Been Featured and Our Guest Bloggers. I hope your family has a wonderful school year and I hope to hear from you when you have a chance!


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