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Friday, September 5, 2014

School Starts, My Anxiety Rises

Janey started school yesterday.  Although her classrooms are sort of ungraded, she is starting 4th grade.

As always, although I'd been feeling a bit eager for school to start, the first day seemed to come suddenly.  However, we got out to wait for the bus on time.  It was supposed to pick up Janey at 6:29 am.  At 8:30, we finally gave up and drove her to school.  No bus showed up.  Not at all.  Now, if you have a child with autism, or, as a matter of fact, if you have any child at all, you can imagine that waiting outside your house for 2 hours for a bus that never shows up is not easy.  And of course, you can't go back in the house, because the minute you do that, the bus will show up.  Or you will think it might have.  It was a long 2 hours. The picture show the start of it, as Freddy was leaving for his first day of his senior year (he takes the commuter rail to school)

When we got to the school, we were told there were all kinds of bus problems, and that "you need to call the hotline".  Well, I had.  I'd called the transportation hotline twice at that point, each time was on hold for over half an hour and then was cut off.  I called twice more during the day, figuring that around noon there would be less volume.  One of the times, I stayed on hold for 45 minutes.  I never got through once.  When we were at the school, one of the school employees said something that is one of my least favorite things to hear "The only way to get this fixed is for you to stay on it as a parent".  NO.  I looked up and saw the staff directory for transportation for the Boston Public Schools runs twenty people.  That isn't the bus drivers or aides, that is the transportation ADMINISTRATION.  It is THEIR job to make sure kids are picked up by buses.  It is THEIR job to provide a hotline that actually works.  I am sure most of those 20 people make more than my husband does.  I emailed 3 of them yesterday, letting them know the bus never came.  No answer.  No surprise there.

I am ranting a bit here.  But it's this kind of thing that I find lacking in the schools.  There are wonderful teachers, principals, staff---I've barely ever met anyone that I would not trust my child to happily.  But it's a broken system in so many ways, and that affects the education.  For example, for summer school, the bus almost never actually reached our house before school was supposed to START.  It had more places to go before it got to the school, which is a 20 minute drive from our house even if you go straight there.  So the 5 hours of summer school was never 5 hours.  Janey's school this year runs from 7:30 to 1:30.  The bus showed up today at 7, with lots of other kids still to pick up.  They aren't going to get to the school. by 7:30.  And school seems to actually end at 1, not 1:30, to start getting kids on the buses, which is a huge job, I am sure.  So every day, there is teaching time lost, lots of teaching time.

These issues affect all kids, not just kids with autism, but like so many issues, autism makes it tougher to deal with them.  Janey needs consistency.  I considered just keeping her home yesterday, because if we drive her one day, she wants to be driven every day.  She needs the routine of the morning, not to get them when it's over.  She needs every hour of instruction she can get.

I realized yesterday part of what was upsetting me was that it was my first day in many years not taking a child to the Henderson School, Janey's old school.  I know she is doing well at her new school, and that there are great teachers and therapists there.  But I've never met her teacher in person.  She has a new ABA specialist this year, who I have also never met.  I don't feel like part of her new school.  I didn't know a soul in the office yesterday.  I felt the sting of having to change schools all over again.  I wanted the day to be like other first days, a happy reunion of friends I've known for years, with so many people greeting Janey and being excited to see her.  I have to remember that is MY issue, not Janey's.  I think she's happy where she is.

Rant over.  I feel better having written about it.  I hope everyone who reads this is having a great start to the new school year.  Sit back and have an extra coffee.  That is what I am about to do.

1 comment:

Sabrina Steyling said...

Oh. My. Gosh. I can understand your frustration, that would put me through the roof! Especially when the people "in charge" are not being held accountable for their actions - or lack thereof...

This stinks. And you're right about Janey needing consistency. That's important for anyone, adult, child, special needs or not. I sure hope that for your sake, and for Janey's, things improve quickly!