One of the ideas brought up by the preschool teacher was to try and visit the elementary school before summer time. The intent was for C to see how the classroom works so that it wouldn’t be a complete surprise in August.
Visit 1: Morning. This was calendar time, which we feel will be a strength eventually, but while he was tuned in and able to keep up for a lot, he was wanting to wander around the room and see everything.
Their perspective: He couldn’t sit and attend to calendar time entirely, but he did enjoy it and was able to count up to 160 (how many days they’d been in school) with the class.
My perspective: I was totally fine with him not sitting still the whole time and feel that it is natural for him to want to see everything in a completely new environment.
Visit 2: Afternoon. The teachers wanted to see how he would do sitting at the table working.
Their Perspective: He found a second exit from the bathroom and “ran away.” I was called to come get him.
My perspective: in the 2 minute drive, I had come up with why he had tried to run away, which was that he had never been given the chance to see the building; there was no tour or explanation. I never heard how the work part of this ever went, but he was only there about 20 minutes before the class bathroom break. Apparently, he was actually missing for a few minutes (this building is a huge maze) so by the time I got there, he’d been lost, found, and then in and out of a meltdown because he didn’t understand what was going on. My guns blazing and telling these staff members they were going about this all wrong was not exactly received well right away, but talking to his current teacher and the autism consultant helped them understand what I was meaning better.
Outcome: it was determined that a tour would be helpful, so it was scheduled for the following day, after school hours so things would be more empty.
Visit 3: Tour. His current teacher, the autism consultant, and I walked around the building with him. He had some places he wanted to go, but was able to continue on the tour without trouble (though we did have to spend some time in the library looking at the fish). We also spent a little time in the classroom talking to his teacher for next year.
Their perspective: this “might” help.
My perspective: This will definitely help at least a little. He was able to see the main parts of the building which could eliminate his desire to wander. Now if he does wander, they will have an idea what places were interesting to him and can check there first.
Visit 4: Lunch.
Their perspective: just his current teacher was there and so the two of them sat at the end of the table of current K students. She said he was very happy and she was so glad to have a relaxed and happy time with him since things have been so demanding lately. He sat and ate his lunch, but was sad to leave because he thought he was going to the classroom (the K teacher said it was time to go back to the classroom). His teacher for next year was trying to help get him out the door.
My perspective: this was an area he succeeded in! The other 2 kids and I sat in the car and hung out since we didn’t expect this to be longer than the brief lunch period. While I wasn’t happy to have to collect him crying from the front doors, we had had a minor victory, and it is also good that he wants to be there.
Overall, I’m not sure how big of a difference this all makes. We skipped a final visit that would have been in the morning again. I would have liked to see if he did better having knowledge of how it all worked, but ultimately we decided he probably wasn’t going gain anything from it. His teacher for next year should be a good fit, and oddly enough, was my youngest brother’s first grade teacher many years ago!