Most people get into April and May and think about how the school year is coming to a close. For those of us with special needs kids, it's a little different. It is the time of IEPs and setting goals for our kids for what we would like to see them accomplish in the next year.
This year is an important year for us. We have the big decision coming up for Kindergarten. Ayden is on the cusp really where we can easily hold him in ECSE a year or move him to kindergarten if we choose. We had planned for some time to keep him in he ECSE classroom if he wasn't talking yet, but life tends to throw you curve balls so here we are more than likely moving him forward into kindergarten. Here are the things we have to consider.
1) Ayden is entirely non-verbal. He has about 5 words, but doesn't use them spontaneously. He is just beginning to use "mommy" to get my attention, but other than that it really is forcing verbal interactions from him. He is effective at using PECS in our home, but as far as school goes it isn't as successful. I'm unsure whether they just aren't pushing as much or if he just is following his normal pattern of difference at school. Either way, he almost certainly will need an aide to communicate. This in itself is the reason we initially had made the decision to delay entering kindergarten. We wanted to give him that extra year to get more speech down and possibly be able to enter kindergarten without an aide - essentially giving him as normal of an environment as possible. While we still would love for this to happen, I think it is naive of us to think even if he starts speaking in the next year that he would not need some help. I doubt he will just start talking in full sentences.
2) Ayden has made huge gains socially this year. He plays with other kids now, interacts, and even attempts to communicate. We've known for a while that Ayden does much better peer modeling with children that are older as well. This puts us in a unique position where moving him to kindergarten would keep him with the same kids, keep him as one of the younger kids in his class, and potentially help him continue the social development he has progressed to this school year (which according to the ASD coordinator is mostly on par for his age). By holding him in the ECSE classroom, we could lose that. I have no doubt he would make new friends easily as well, but most of his class will be moving up and keeping him with kids that are familiar with him is also a huge bonus.
3) Our school district has moved to an all day kindergarten program. This is actually fantastic for Ayden. His current team at school is recommending that we move him to 1/2 day ASD (autism spectrum disorder) classroom and 1/2 day general education kindergarten room. We also have the option of putting him an all day general education room with para support. Either way, we can have him in therapies (speech, occupational, physical). There are downsides to both of these options - and unfortunately the choice we make will also decide which school he will be attending because the ASD classroom is only available for him at one school.
There are a lot of decisions within these three listed and other small things that are all going to impact our decision, but these are the large ones. Thankfully, I have some great resources that come in the form of other amazing FXS parents via our Fragile X Facebook group giving me advice and ideas. I probably don't mention this enough, but I'm very thankful for each and every person in that group. We have about a month until our decision needs to be made for sure and an IEP setup - so we'll see where that takes us.