It’s been a long five months in quarantine. Teaching virtually while supporting my own two children and their virtual schooling was a challenge, to say the least.
Bicycling uphill in reverse with no hands while reciting the digits of pi is also doable, but I’m not jumping at the opportunity.
Needless to say, each of us in the Solka household have been excited for the new school year, as unique and daunting as it surely will be during these COVID times.
I’ve been hustling and bustling to get my new classroom ready for a new grade. Playing the game of social distancing Tetris to fit up to 18 students 6 feet apart in one room was a welcome challenge to keep me plenty occupied.
Our daughter, Coralynn, is starting middle school. Eight classes! Watching how pumped she was to stock her zipper binder full of supplies gave me back-to-school nerdy nostalgia.
And Dad? Well, Dad is going to miss us so much that he won’t possibly know what to do with himself … right?
But most eager of us all is certainly our sweet Bubby, Brian.
While learning remotely during the end of the last school year, he would literally try to throw himself into the iPad with his teacher, rocking back and forth during his lesson in his favorite recliner. Brian did his best, but we knew he wanted to be in the video with his preschool teacher so badly.
His attempts to join her, knowing he would never be able to again, were gut-wrenching. There was not a dry eye in the house during her farewell video before summer break.
Fear not, we keep in touch with his preschool teacher regularly. In the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) world, you become like a family because you have the same kiddos and teachers for longer periods of time than in the general education world. My belief as a parent is that it takes the most special and best kind of person to be an ESE teacher, because I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences with Brian’s teachers.
But this boy is a Ponce de Leon Panther now, and he’s gotta get ready for his biggest school year yet: kindergarten!
When the bus pulled up to our house on the first day, he knew exactly what to do. He walked right up to it, ready to board. As he went up the steps, you could tell he was so stoked, because he started squealing and flapping his hands. Separation anxiety is not his vibe.
In just his first week of kindergarten, Brian has already met one of his first learning goals. This was not a goal one normally would think of as a kindergartner’s goals, such as writing one’s first and last name or counting to 10. No, Brian met an individualized education plan goal we’ve been working on since he lost the skill during his LGS-induced regression in previous years.
To all of our excitement (including Brian’s new teacher), Brian showed that he was able to play with a toy as it was designed to be played with for a predetermined amount of time.
This was so exciting because all he has done recently is try to stick things in his mouth or toss them the moment they are placed in his hand. Undertaker action figure, you are obsolete!
The new toy is nothing exceptional. It’s a rattle of sorts, with twisty appendages and fidgety surprises at each end. Brian loves the shiny, bead-filled ball that he can spin with his thumb at the very top of the toy. As he spins and spins the shiny, rattling orb, he stims less and less.
As a momma bear who has spent countless days and nights just trying to make sure he is safe, I am positively thrilled to learn that his sweet, bubbly personality has an opportunity to shine through and surprise us all at school.
An M&M sticker (his favorite candy) is placed on the corner of his chair tray, and I can’t wait to see what he surprises us with next.
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