So Deane began high school this morning.
He has been pretty excited since we took a tour of the school in the spring. He was happy that he knew one of the kids in the class, liked the pool and the gym where a class was playing basketball.
Recently his excitement has been mixed with the sadnesses of leaving a school he was at for seven years and a little apprehension. Last night, he was walking the emotional tightrope of disappointment that summer was over, excitement about a new beginning and uncertainty about what was going to happen.
It took him a long time to get to sleep.
I also had a hard time getting to sleep. While we’ve been encouraging Deane to look at going to high school as a great new adventure, I hadn’t really taken the time to process the idea my self.
I am a little stunned by having a child in high school – how did that happen so fast? How would Deane handle a new situation? Would there be enough focus on the academic-related subjects such as communication and numeracy? How involved would the therapy staff be?
In addition, for the first time I was worried about Deane’s safety. He has always gone to segregated schools where all the kids were disabled. The physical grounds, the entire staff and everything about the school was done for the sake of students with a variety of handicaps. Now for the first time he is going to a program that is part of a “regular” high school.
The school is fully accessible including an elevator and a great pool in which they do therapy. The program is designed for students with developmental disabilities and focuses on integrating them into the activities of the rest of the school. It has a great reputation within the disabled school community.
The fear that gripped me for the first time is that Deane could now be in the situation where he could be the subject of teasing, bullying or threats. What makes my stomach turn are the stories of disabled kids being tormented by those who think it is funny to pick on someone who can’t defend themselves. Communication devices stolen, being left alone and unable to call for help or worse left in danger. I had never thought of Deane being in that situation.
In the light of day, I know that his program has dedicated and experienced teachers, staff and volunteers who would not let any of those things to happen. On our visit to the school, we were left with nothing but positive feelings. One of the goals of the program is to expose and educate other students about people with disabilities.
When the school bus arrived, Deane was happy because a friend who was on his bus last year was there again. As I kissed him goodbye, I couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling. An integral part of being a parent is worrying about your children. Having a disabled child means sometimes you worry about different things.