There are only two more days of school left, and I am sad. I bet that's not something you hear often from parents of children with special needs. But for this family, and especially for Ashley, it is so true.
Although the elementary and middle school years were very rough for Ashley, high school has been wonderful. I've written many times about what a positive experience high school has been due to a teacher that 'gets it', a staff that truly cares about educating ALL children, and people who see the whole child, not just the disability.
Ashley thrives in the consistency and routine provided by the school. She is comfortable there, and that means she can soak up all the education which she is being provided. The growth she has experienced in high school has been phenomenal. But summer is a different story.
Ashley does participate in ESY services during the summer. But, the services only last for 5 weeks, and then only for a small portion of the day/week. There is no time to build the routine Ashley needs to feel comfortable. The staff is different - the peers are different - the bus drivers are different - the schedule is different - and the location is different. All that different does not spell success for Ashley.
Also, in the past, when Ashley was not in summer school, she was home with an aide, or counselor, as the agency I use refers to the people they hire. If they truly were counselors, and if they truly did the things that were written in our agreement with the agency, summer would probably be a better experience. But the only things previous counselors have helped Ashley with over the summer is perfecting her laziness skills.
So, this year I am trying something different. Ashley will be attending a day support program along with summer school. Although there will be a lot of different there also, I'm hoping that over the entire summer, Ashley can build some relationships with staff and peers, and can get comfortable in the setting. If so, the day support program will be where she transitions to once she can no longer attend school (3 more years). And just to have an extra pair of eyes on Ashley at the day support program, I have contracted with Ashley's current vision teacher to provide a couple of hours of tutoring each week.
I am very nervous about next Monday and her first day at the day support program. But, I need to try very hard to not left Ashley feel that nervousness. I know that I have as difficult a time with change, perhaps even more difficult, as Ashley does. We would both be very grateful if you would keep us, and most especially Ashley, in your thoughts and prayers as the summer progresses...