31 Aug Brenda’s Corner: High-School. A New Chapter.
Written By: Brenda Agnew, Client Liaison
Grade 9. Maclain is starting Grade 9 next week, and I don’t honestly know where the last ten years have gone. Most parents feel this way, so I know it is typical to look back and wonder how your child is already starting high school, even though it feels like yesterday that I was crying as I made my way with him into kindergarten. My older son is heading into Grade 11, so we have already had one high school transition happen in our household, and I worried about him. But with Maclain, it is different. I worry a million times more about having a neurodiverse son up next.
Saying Good-bye is Never Easy
Maclain spent almost ten years at the same school, with most of the same staff, same classmates from year to year, and he knew just about everyone, and everyone knew Maclain. He made incredible friendships, learned more than anyone ever expected he would, changed perceptions, broke barriers, opened eyes. It wasn’t without tears, lots of tears from both of us, and a lot of advocacies and teamwork and some good mixed with some bad. He is the only kid I know who hated missing school, who wanted to go to school and who was happy to be there each day. We both knew that school inside and out, and it was a small, close-knit and supportive community. With very few exceptions, Maclain was always included, always a part of events and happenings. He was loved by most who met him. He had the same educational assistant for eight years, a second mom to him at school. She knows him as well as I do and loves him just as much. When I would send him to elementary school, I would drop him off and drive away most days just fine, knowing that he was loved and cared for and had friends, and I was up to date with the happenings in his class and education. Things were pretty under control, just the way I like it. We worked hard to make it happen that way.
Did We Make the Right Decision?
Having a child with special education needs, a physical disability, and a hearing impairment can often complicate the most straightforward situations. But now, add in the rigors of high school, the size of the building, the number of students, the social pressures, and it all feels too much to comprehend. I can’t imagine how Maclain feels if I am this nervous and emotionally charged, and school hasn’t even started. He is the one that must do all the hard stuff. My job is to advocate making sure he has the things in place to make his success easier. If falling asleep at 5:00 pm after his orientation is an indicator, it might be an exhausting year: eight teachers, eight classrooms, eight different groups of students. So much to wrap our heads around.
Trust the Process
Maclain will be the first student in our high school system at our board who requires full-time assistance and credit-earning. This has never been done before. I am reminded of this repeatedly since we first started talking about high school way back in Grade 5. He is breaking barriers yet again and paving new paths for the kids who come after him. I am so proud of him for all that he has accomplished and continues to accomplish and his unbelievable bravery. Sometimes, I wish it was easier, that things were simple, and we didn’t have to lose sleep over the what-ifs. Are we making the right choices with high school? Did we advocate for something that might be too hard for him to navigate both socially and academically? I guess we will have to find out.
My new motto has become “hold the vision, and trust the process,” and starting high school will give us a great chance to test it out!