In December 2008, I shared Moose’s Story…the story of his evaluation and eventual diagnosis of autism, and the start of his school experience. I have shared lots about him here and there since then, but I figured a story like Moose’s deserved a follow-up.
Despite my reservations at the time (which, I guess were totally unfounded), he remained in the early childhood program at his school for the remainder of that school year, and then for another two full school years, having two amazing teachers, and several loving para-professionals help him. Things seemed slow at first…he started out as a three-year-old basically unable to speak, and it took over a year for that to change. Homework, at first, even simple things like counting and colors, was a challenge. But Moose is nothing if not a hard worker, and he kept at it, and eventually became so successful at all of it that we were having to tell him to stop talking, and his homework became boring because it was so easy for him. He even won a “Rising Star” award at his school, because of the progress he made!
At that point, he was ready to go to kindergarten, and we were very fortunate that his school also had a special ed class at that grade level, to ease the transition. He remained in a small group setting, with a wonderful teacher and more assistants, in familiar surroundings, but also had activities in which he was able to join with the “regular” kindergarten class. He continued to make progress, winning more awards, and talking to us more about school and his friends.
At the end of that year, it was decided that what would be best for him would to be mainstreamed. He would go to first grade at his school, with children he already knew, in a regular classroom. This was such a relief to us, to see how far he come, and know that he was able to do normal first grade work. He would continue to receive support, especially in speech and occupational therapy, but for the most part, he would be treated like any other first-grader. And again, he excelled. Homework was not a challenge, and his teacher constantly told us how much she loved having him in class.
He’s in third grade now, and that standard has remained pretty much the same in the past two years. He is at the top of his class academically, although he does struggle with figurative language in reading, which is totally normal for someone with autism, and not unexpected. He especially excels at math, which is completely effortless to him, and spelling…he was the alternate for the district spelling bee for his class last year! And his teachers still constantly tell us what a loving, special boy he is, which we, of course, already knew…but it’s always nice to hear it from someone else.
I still don’t know what the future holds for Moose, but that’s true for all of my children. I know he’s a smart, hard worker, a loving boy and good friend. I know from past experience that he can rise to any challenge, and surprise even us, the people who love and know him best, with his success. So I’ll be watching to see what he does next in his remaining years at the elementary school, and what surprises junior high will hold for us!