It's September, which means school is in full-swing. This year is a major milestone for us—my five-year-old son, Cooper, began kindergarten in August.
Of course with this milestone came the usual fears and concerns. Will my child be happy in school? Will his teachers know how to handle his development delays? Will his classmates like him, despite his differences?
It's been a month since Cooper's first day of school. I'm not gonna lie—those first two weeks were tough! At his school, teachers grade student's behavior on a color scale—green is perfect, yellow is a warning, orange means time out, red means no recess, and black, well black is the end all, be all. If you get black, you either receive corporal punishment or get sent to the principal's office. For the first two weeks, Cooper came home with a red or orange mark nearly everyday. He just couldn't seem to be quiet or stop playing in class.
At home, my husband, Cody, and I tried everything, from taking away privileges to offering a reward system for good behavior. Then, at the end of the second week, a fear my husband and I had joked with friend over just a few weeks earlier came true. Cooper came home with a black mark. Thirty minutes after we arrived back home from school, I received a phone call from his teacher. Cooper had received a spanking at school for throwing a fit in the classroom and brandishing a pair of scissors at another child.
Needless to say, I was horrified. I couldn't believe my child's behavior. Was this what I should expect for the next nine months. I also began to question if my son's teachers truly understood the seriousness of Cooper's delays. Because he attended the school's pre-k program last year, we were able to establish an IEP early. Though Cooper had been determined by an outside source to be more than a year behind his age group in cognitive, language, and social skills, the school's special education department did not feel he needed to be in a special education classroom full-time, rather a special ed teacher would be coming to his classroom each day to work with him on his classwork. After all the trouble Cooper had been in during those first weeks, I was beginning to question if that determination was the right move.
HOWEVER, since the dreaded black mark debacle, Cooper has been a changed child, according to his teachers. He's come home with a green mark everyday, and what's more, he's actually absorbing the information he's being taught. We still have several issues to work through, including determining what writing hand he'll use(he's ambidextrous), a topic I'll be discussing in the next blog, along with the fact that my child has to sit in a separate desk away from his classmates.
Have you ever flown with your disabled child?