Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Another shattered dream

Since Sunny was a tiny toddler and even before he even started kindergarten I worried about the school he would attend some day. I told our paediatrician about my fear of him having to attend a special needs school. She tried to calm me down and said that it was much too early to worry about that, that he was still so little and that there could still be so much progress in the next years. She asked me not to think about that for the time being but to concentrate on the now and to foster and stimulate him as good as possible, like she knew I already did anyway. I felt a bit like a fool because I worried about something still so many years ahead, with our future certainly unknow. Yet my gut feeling about it never left me in all these years.

Last week there was a meeting with Sunny's kindergarten teachers. In September this year, when school starts again after the summer break, Sunny has to go to school because of his age then. And as we discussed his possibilites it became clear that he would have to attend the special needs school that the kindergarten belongs to. And I have to admit I still have a very hard time accepting this. I cried most of the meeting.

Of course, in the end it is our decision which school he will be attending. But our choices are limited, with inclusionary schools and kindergartens still more a plan than a reality in our country. And him visiting a regular school is impossible. The classes are often very big, sometimes up to 30 kids or more. The noise, the peripherals, the large number of kids, the expectations of him sitting quietly in class for 45 minutes straight and learning stuff that is not individualised but following a strict plan... he would not be able to manage that. I am realistic enough to see that. He would be too consumed by all that would be happening around him that his attention would not be sufficient anymore to really LEARN something. He needs an environment that has little distractions, small classes like in kindergarten, clear structures and an individualised plan according to his skills. I know that. But it still hurts like hell. Of course you could think that maybe the school wants to talk us into something because it tries to keep its students (this is what is often said here, mostly of people who are not familiar with the SN system at all) but we were told exactly the same thing back in October 2012 when we stayed at a therapy facility for three weeks and I talked to the psychologist about the school question. But back then I heard it and did not hear it. Did not want to hear it. I was in denial. Because I still hoped it would not happen like that.

My dream had always been that we let him stay in kindergarten for another year and that he will then be able to attend a regular school after that year. But our kindergarten, being a SN facility, is not allowed to keep him for another year. School laws in our country are very strict, there are due dates depending on the date of birth when a child has to go to school. Homeschooling is not allowed here at all. In general, the prolongation of kindergarten is theoretically possible but it is not easy to get the permission and it is only granted if it is clear that the gap a child might have as a reason for the prolongation will be closed after the additional year. And, let's face it, this is not going to happen in our case. Because back in October the psychologist also told me that the gap had widened since she saw Sunny the last time - although he is constantly making progress, but not fast enough. I could fight for Sunny to be granted the prolongation and we might even have a chance. But he would still have to leave his kindergarten since they are not allowed to keep him after his due date for school so we would have to find another kindergarten for him and his needs and there is none. Apart from that I do not think it would be good for him if we transferred him to another kindergarten for one year. So we do not really have a choice but to accept this.

Giving up on dreams is always hard. So far this is the dream that giving up hit me the hardest. Living in limbo is like that, you never know what will happen or how things will develop. You hope and pray constantly and when another dream dies, one of so many other dreams you already buried, one you had for so long, one you really clung to, you grieve and mourn what will never be. I know I will get used to this like I always get used to the things I cannot change. How else would I be able to cope and move on but with hope and acceptance in my heart? And maybe I will even see the good in the situation eventually. But right now my heart is broken.


  1. Oh sweetie. My heart is broken with you. I could not help but cry reading this. For you, for Sunny, for me, for Tucker and for all of us with kids who are making progress but just not fast enough. For how stuck we get into having to listen to teachers and therapists and psychologists tell us what we don't want to hear and what we don't want to be true.

    Maybe it's part of our jobs as moms to never really accept things because that we we keep fighting for our little people's rights to an education that is the best suited for them. Maybe us wanting as much as possible for our kids is what helps them make the progress that they do actually make. You are a great mom to Sunny. It's hard to accept that the best thing is sometimes not the thing our dreams gave us before we knew more. The important thing is that he IS making progress! And he will continue to make progress!

    I'm so sorry your heart is broken today. I'm sending huge cyber hugs and thinking about you.


    PS - I was surprised that homeschooling is not an option. I'm not sure what people have to do in the US to homeschool, but it's at least allowed. Would you want to homeschool him if you could?

    1. Oh sister of mine, I love your comment so much, it is so heartfelt! And yes, you are probably right on all you said! Received the hugs and they warmed me!

      Re: the homeschooling thing: no, I don't think this would be an option as the social contact with other kids is very important for Sunny. Besides, homeschooling as a concept is completely unknown to me and I do not have a clue at all how it even works.

  2. just like kristi said, i'm heartbroken for you and sunny. but, when life gives you lemons, you just have to find a way to make the lemonade a little bit sweeter. find out what you can do as a parent to participate at his new school. do they allow volunteers? do they have class trips and parties? do they have sports teams? is there a parent/teacher association? throw yourself at every opportunity they give to you. don't get overwhelmed by the "where" of his placement, instead get excited about the ways you can participate in his new school. learn about the programs they offer and how it will help sunny. set up a time to take a tour and meet the people there. by the time september rolls around, you and sunny will both be ready for adventures ahead!

    1. Hi Misty, I love your comment! You know, I am always like that. When I receive bad news I hide in my cave and lick my wounds for a few days but I always bounce back after some time and tackle what is in front of me. I am just too much of an optimist to do otherwise. And therefore I will of course totally do what you suggested. As for the parents' association I am already participating in it. I will have to find about the rest. As far as I know volunteers are not allowed in our schools. xoxo

  3. Aw, I'm sorry about the disappointment. I hope good things today bring you some smiles and encouragement. And if you're interested, you just got nominated for the Liebester award (special needs edition) at http://boynamedsilas.blogspot.com/2013/01/liebester-award-special-needs-edition.html. Good luck to you guys!

    1. Oh wow, thatnk you so much, Alana! I am really humbled! I hope I will soon find the time to answer all the questions in connection to the award!! Thank you!! xo


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