Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Anxious To Make It Better

When I was young and in school, I would start to get both excited and anxious this time of year. Knowing the start of school was right around the corner brought thoughts of new starts along with a new backpack. I loved the smell of new books and stacks of perfectly lined paper. I looked forward to packing my lunch in a shiny clean new lunchbox, and all my pencils were sharpened weeks in advance.

I also experienced a little anxiety. Would I fit in? Would I have lots of friends? Would I be able to find all my classes, and would I be able to keep good grades? But the excitement always overshadowed the anxiety. I wish that could be the case for Ashley.

Ashley loves school, but transitions are difficult. This year brings a multitude of those transitions – high school, a campus type of school, different teachers and aides, different students, a different layout to the classrooms, lunch rooms instead of lunch room, and new nurses and other administrators. She should have had some preparation in her last year of middle school to help with the transition, but she didn’t.

More often than not, students exiting middle school visit the high school they will attend. They meet the staff and walk around the school so the experiences in September are not so overwhelming. But that didn’t happen for Ashley, and when you throw in the fact that she is deafblind, it’s easy to see why I am so anxious.

I’m going to do my best to make the beginning an exciting time for her – new clothes, new shoes, a new backpack and lunchbox – but I’m not sure what else to do.

I could use some ideas….


Cheryl said...

I have some minor vison problems, and although I don't wear glasses (I "see fine") I have the sense of direction of a flea. I get lost EVERYWHERE. High School--anxiety producing. There was only 5 mins between classes and I didn't have an aide w/me who knew where they were going. I get turned around so easy.

Thankfully my brother was going into his sr year when I was starting. What we did, my guidance counsleor who has a son w/severe impairments & was very understanding, gave us my schedule & my elevator key a week before school & my mom sent both of us off & after the briefist most vague directions it was "go. get lost" (w/him following behind me). VERY helpful. When I started college I got in my brand new powerchair and did the same thing (although that time I had much more space to cover, did it alone, & got so turned around, I was going in circles, I think it took 4-5hrs, but it WORKED beautifuly. Had the whole campus down by the end of the day.

Since in your case no one has ever been there before you could get her schedule and do your own dry run before you take ashley. Since she is blind you may want to go a couple of days if you have that much time. That way she gets to practice a few times w/someone she trusts & is comfortable w/before getting left w/an unfamiliar aide.

Michelle Morgan-Coole said...

I too would suggest taking her to school before it starts. Even if it was just the day before it would still be better than nothing. The Blue Jay had about four or five trips to her new high school before the last school year ended (some with her classmates and some separate) but I will stay take her up the day before school starts so she can find her locker and her homeroom and meet some of her teachers. Surely in Ashley's case that's the least they can do.

Dalya said...

what if you get chip to talk to her about how much fun he had in HS? about his experiences and such, knowing someone who cares (and is closer in ages to her) has felt how you're feeling can be very helpful!!