In my last blog, I discussed my sonʼs longtime aide and how we dealt with her possibly leaving.
Then, the aide got a new job and we had to deal with that transition. I talked to my son about why she was leaving and made sure he understood that it wasnʼt his fault. It’s just the way things go sometimes.
How did we transition from a long term aide to a new aide?
The school district wanted to assign a new aide to my son. His IEP is mid-year, so they felt there was no reason to call an IEP and have the aide provision removed.
So, they assigned a new aide to my son.
The teacher and the RSP person made sure they communicated with the new aide that the child she was getting did not need a whole lot of assistance. He was quite independent. And, the parents had expressed an interest in transitioning into having no aide.
The new aide was instructed to back off at certain times during the school day. They did not want her to “take over.“ He was not a young kid with behavior issues. He was a fifth grader who could do a lot all on his own.
Was the transition easy?
It was relatively easy for my son because we were already beginning the process of him having more freedom. He had expressed that himself, so we were being supportive of his wishes.
For me, however, it was a bit of a challenge.
First, I realize now that I was just used to my son having someone to look out for him. I think it was a crutch. I knew we (the parents and the child) had to let go of that crutch. I’m not sure I was ready, though.
Second, the challenge had nothing to do with the new aide. I was questioning whether we should even bring in a new aide or let my son go cold turkey. The new person was a decent aide, she was very different than our old aide, though.
How was the new aide different?
The old aide started with my son when she was nineteen and finished working with him at age twenty-five. She was young, hip, and fully “connected.” (A Smartphone, texting, email, etc.)
I could text her in the morning, for example, if my son forgot something at school. We communicated easily.
When she began, the district didn’t have in place any regulations for parents directly communicating with the school aides. So, we communicated. She was fine with it and so were we. Everyone was respectful and proper.
A couple of years ago, the district put in a “no direct communication with school aides” policy.
To her credit, my son’s aide felt the new rule didn’t apply to us. We had already established a very comfortable and reasonable protocol. It worked well. And, we weren’t about to change it.
We had grandfathered in our direct communication with each other.
With the old aide, we had developed a very specific and comforting way to communicate. Texts, emails, sharing photos of school events, meeting at school to chat.
Plus, over the years, I helped the school aide learn about autism. I had leant her reading materials over the years. She always thanked me and said that they were helpful.
So, the new aide was a mid-60ʼs woman whose first language was not English. She was a sweet woman, but communication was a challenge because she did not have a Smartphone or a computer.
Still, because the transition happened with two months remaining in the school year, I didnʼt balk. I let the new aide continue to allow my son as much space as possible and I accepted the lack of clear communication.
Yet, I did prod the RSP person to make sure she understood that this was a child transitioning off of the need of an aide. He was to be treated more with the idea of independence.
What happened in the next grade?
That aide was not back, and my son was assigned a male aide. He had never had a male aide before, and I’m all for it.
We’re going to begin the no-aide transition in the spring, but for now I feel a male aide is “cooler” for a boy (and his male peers).
Itʼs hard for parents to watch their child grow up so fast. I admit to being attached to the idea of an aide. But, I have to let go. We all have to let them be independent at some point.
In my third installment of transitioning with an aide, I’ll discuss our most recent decision—that involves the dreaded middle school!
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