Transition is kicking my butt. Transition, as in the things that schools should start doing when is student is 14 years old but wait until they are 18 or even older...Transition, as in putting families and students in contact with agencies that will provide support (or not) once the student leaves school. I've been through this twice already, so you would think I might have an easier time with it now. But that just isn't true.
Both Ronnie and Ashley are of the age to begin transition planning. Their school is doing a decent job holding up their end of the deal, and I haven't really pushed yet on the other agencies, so I can't complain too much about them just yet. The part that is kicking my butt is the realization that so very much is about to change.
People always say that children with special needs don't handle change well, especially a child with deafblindness or serious medical issues and deafness. But I think the main issue is that I am not handling change well.
When children approach this time in their lives, parents are forced to accept a future they may fear or dread. Everything is going to change - the security of going to a school setting each day, my knowing that my children are in school; as I've mentioned before, their peers are their same age, not much older adults; and the hardest thing of all for me to accept - my own mortality and wondering what will become of my children who currently depend on me so very much.
Yes, yes, I am doing all I can to make them as independent as possible. Yes, I have made financial decisions for their future. And yes, I will ensure services are in place as they enter adulthood. But then I see Ashley who starts signing 'Momma' whenever I just leave the room for a minute. And Ronnie who has already endured so much abandonment in his life will one day face it again. Will they understand? Ronnie, yes...Ashley, not so much.
And yes, I am an obsessive compulsive person and I make sure everything is how they need it to be. Who will do that for them when they are 30, 40 and 50 years old?
The reason I am sharing all this is that I want school staff and staff from other support agencies to understand that transition is more than just putting services in place. It's also managing change, response to change, and fears about that change. Try to be more sympathetic. Try to couch your discussions less clinically and more empathetically. Try to understand that transition affects more than just the student, and try to know, really know, how life-changing things are going to be for everyone in the family. The student that you show up at an IEP meeting to discuss options with is more, much more than just a student. He is a son, she is a daughter, a brother, a sister, a niece or nephew. Part of a whole, a whole which needs support during times of transition.