Well, first week of Middle School is complete and Josh and I have both survived!
Josh seems to be ok. He's still a bit on edge and has been a bit stressed going in in the mornings, though, not outright upset. They tell me he's had pretty good days, though he does seem to have an idea of time and gets very anxious about 10 -15 minutes before I get there to pick him up, a couple of days this deteriorated in to melt-downs. But his teachers said that was the only really tough time he's had. Given the state he's been in the last couple of months and all of the new things to adjust to with a new school, sounds like he's handling it reasonably well.
In his current program, he does PE with a general ed class. His aide takes him. At this school, he has to wear the prescribed school PE uniform - supplied by the school. Remember, this is middle school, so all these kids are 12- 14 years old. Josh is very very small. So his shorts apparently hit him somewhere below the knees... which makes me laugh but I feel badly about finding it funny! What I am told though, is that he LOVES PE. LOVES. IT. Which is wonderful, at least there is something he does at school that makes him really happy.
I've also noticed that he is eating. For the better part of last year, he never ate at lunch. He'd eat like crazy when he got home, but his lunches were coming back un-touched. So far, he seems to be eating most of what I'm sending which is amazing. It also suggests that he feels fairly comfortable there. So even though I don't really know how things are going from his perspective, I do have a few clues.
What I can tell you, is that from my perspective, things are GREAT. Not because he's back at school, though that is good for him as well as me. No, it's more about how the staff and school are compared to what I dealt with at his elementary school that is making such a difference. They communicate with me and I cannot emphasize enough how important that is. Not just about Josh, but about everything school related. At his elementary school I was in the dark most of the time which always made things that much more stressful. Paperwork is coming home when it is supposed to, I know about things ahead of time - knowledge is indeed power, even when it comes to simply having some control over a life where that can be hard to come by. They have invited me in to his class room, and it's big, calm, clean, and things just seem... good. Not sure how else to explain it. His class in elementary school was small and in a constant state of chaos. I always felt stressed as soon as I walked in. This new class is just the opposite. I think it speaks a lot of the staff as well as the environment, they are always calm, always make sure they tell me something positive about Josh that day - which is so welcome! His elementary school teacher the last couple of years was like a dark cloud of doom, only telling me negative things. It was so bad even Zach would complain about it - "Geez, can't she EVER say anything good about him??" I know Josh can have his tough times but I also know he can be wonderful, and the new staff get that. They also get that it's important to get positive feedback even if it's just telling me that how much he loves PE class. They have also gone out of their way to make things as easy for me as possible when it comes to the logistics of drop-off, pick-up, and times. With Zach's school starting at the exact same time this year and not being any where near Josh's school, I had nightmares about how to manage this. Zach's principal is wonderful and has arranged for me to be able to drop Zach off at 8am instead of 8:30, giving me 30 minutes to get to Josh's school. So far the timing is working well. And on Josh's end, they have him ready to go for me to pick up at 2:45 instead of 3pm so I can get back to pick Zach up at 3:15 when he is out. On top of all this, they let me drop him off and pick him up in the back lot of the school, where there is a door right to his classroom, instead of out front where it's always chaotic with the regular drop-off/pick-up line and busses.... I don't have to worry about parking, traffic, it's all very .... calm, and accommodating... and I. LOVE. IT. It may sound silly, but honestly, this kind of thing can make such huge difference. Less stress for me, means I have more positive energy for Josh and Zach. Just helps to make things feel better on a daily basis.
So as far as I'm concerned, Middle School is wonderful. Josh's mood overall I think is a bit better. A little more time being his usual cheerful self when he's home before he deteriorates in to the on-edge business of the last few months. We'll see how things progress as he gets more settled, but, the break while he's at school and his new staff being so great are certainly helping me, which is only good when it comes to the kids and life in general here.
Props to Tahoma Middle School!